Morisco slavery, written by Carlos Javier Garrido García

I defended my PhD thesis named “Slavery in the kingdom of Granada in the last third of 16th century: the case of Guadix and its land”, on 12nd January 2012, in the University of Granada. Directed by Manuel Barrios Aguilera, I obtained a distinction grade cum laude. Below, I will explain a small overview of the PhD thesis and I will provide the web links to consult the fully text.

The slavery in early modern Spain

The slavery, which had its golden epoch in Roman Empire to the point of configuring a society in which the economy depended principally on the slaves’ works, experienced a general setback in Middle Ages, slavery maintained its importance just in Italian and Iberian Peninsula, mainly, thanks to the conflicts with Islam in the slavery core and North Africa which provoked that many people were forced to enslave because of their religious belief.

In the case of Iberian Peninsula, the slavery was reinforced at the end of Middle Ages and at the beginning of the Modern Age, on the one hand, by Portuguese discoveries in the coast of Africa, which generated a new source of people who were enslaved, an occurrence known as the black slave trade and, on the other hand, because of the end of Reconquest, the conquest of Granada kingdom and the immediate expansion of the Castilian people to Africa.

The slavery achieved a remarkable importance in Portugal as well as in the south and Mediterranean areas of the kingdom of Castille and Aragon, although, in this case, slavery did not achieve to configure a society made up of slaves as it happened in Antiquity. In the case of Castille, the slavery phenomenon will achieve its paroxysm in the last third of 16th century, on the one hand, thanks to the inclusion of Hispanic Monarchy of the kingdom of Portugal, which favoured the supplying of dark-skinned african slaves and on the other hand, thanks to Islam confrontations happened in the Mediterranean Sea, such as north-african prisoners, mainly in Melilla and Oran, as well as in the Peninsule, as a consequence of the morisco rebellion from Granada in 1568-1571

The uprising of Morisco people from Granada: the slavery

At Christmas in 1568, the uprising of Morisco people from Granada kingdom was originally initiated in Las Alpujarras, and it will be spread to the different towns from that area in the following two years. This uprising, which was the result to the extent of the more and more intense economic exploitation of the minority that old Christian carried out, and it was also due to the sharpening of the pressure exerted on people to become cristianized, it means that, the uprising was an obvious verification of the total failure in integrated politics that were carried out by the Crown since their forced speeches in 1500. An immediate consequence was, on the one hand, the murder of old Christian, in the side of Morisco people, especially ecclesiastics and desecration of churches; and on the side of old Christians the consequence was Morisco enslavement, most of all in their non-belligerent sector, women and children.

These enslavements and its immediate insertion in the market produced a strong debate in high stages of politicians and ecclesiastics proceedings of the Crown. In fact, forcing people to become in slaves in case of a war was a measure that was imposed for those infidel people and de iure,moriscos were Christian since year 1500. However, in March of the year 1569, the monarch made an important decision after consulting his theologians, morisco population could be enslaved if they commit an offense of divine or human lese majeste, that is, revolting against the Crown and God, in this last sense, it means that they had always faked their Christianism belief. The only limitation was to take the norm that boys under 10 years and a half and girls under 9 years and a half wouldn’t be considered as slaves but they would be part of the old Christian administration so that they could be educated in faith and Castilian culture, so they would be free from any link when they are 20 years old.

Morisco slaves: quantifying and evolution

It has been estimated that over 25.000 morisco people were enslaved during the war. Nevertheless, in recent investigations it has been demonstrated that most of those people were exported out the kingdom. This fact, in addition to the numerous liberations and a high mortality rate, would explain that there were few morisco slaves left in the kingdom of Granada, as well as in the different kingdoms from the Crown at the end of 16th century. Once that these people were released after having been subdued to slavery, they would suffer the consequences of both expulsions in the kingdom of Granada between 1570 and 1584 and the general expulsion in 1609-1614. In fact, some Moriscos who stayed in the kingdom suffered what was considerated as a main objective of the slavery by Professor Phillips: the incorporation of a population which was strange at the beginning so it was introducing in the society through a violent action. It could be considered that the enslavement during the uprising was the last attempt of introducing in Granada a population that had resisted to be slaves for almost 70 years so that, when the war broke out, Castilian people changed their mind and thought the kingdom of Granada and its population were still related to Islam religion so, it was a piece of land to be conquered.

Morisco slavery is considered a source of capitalization to repopulate Granada

On the other hand, the kingdom of Granada became in a seat for an important market of slaves, it was the result of the enslavement, which generated a lot of profits, made during the war in Granada kingdom. It was essential for later reconstruction of the area andto consolidate elites for the new society that was repopulated since the profits of the market had an impact on a part of the population of kingdom that was established because of the first repopulation at the end of 15th century.

The slaves market in Guadix

One of the main centres of this market was Guadix, since it was one of the main cities in Granada Kingdom, a seat of a jurisdiction of a corregidor that was extended along the east part of the kingdom and it was also one of the four episcopal seats that was founded in the same place after Castilians conquest. Besides, this market had an important function during the war in the rearguard of castilian military operations, as well as its proximity with the place where they fought, what provoked a high incidence rate of moorish slavery in the city.

Chapters in this thesis

Methodology and sources

In first chapter, I broach the methodology I have adopted and the sources that have been used in the process, which include a wide variety, such as notarial, parochial, judicial, inquisitorial, civil administration and investigation files sources.

Historic framework

In second chapter, I analyse the historic framework in which the slavery is going to be developed in Guadix and its Land in the last third of 16th century.  Thus, I broach the historical evolution between 1489, when the area was conquered by Catholic Kings, and 1630, when historiography considered the repopulation of the kingdom was concluded, after morisco expulsion.   In addition, firstly, I study the slavery in that area before 1568 to understand morisco slavery in its historical background, so, it’s necessary to consider the attitude of morisco people in the presence of slavery and the checking of slaves’ presence in the city through parochial sources.

Secondly, it must be taken the development of morisco revolution in 1568-1571 in Guadix and its land as an essential point to understand massive enslavements that were produced at that time and how the old Christian society, which was really affected by this conflict and the following expulsion of the extended morisco population, could face that situation.

The debate about moriscos enslavement and the control of enslaved population

In third chapter, I analyse the debate and control which was made because of the spoils of war that were obtained during the morisco uprising. I start analysing the debate about morisco slavery who were arrested during the war until it was taken a real final decision in March 1569, when it was penalized adults enslavement and how unfulfillment of expulsion public announcements was another consequence to the beginning of slavery, however, this fact was less extended than the other consequence of having stirred up against the Crown and having apostatized the Christian religion.

Following that, I try to approximate to the high volume of people who were enslaved in Guadix during the morisco uprising, using either the Mármol Carvajal chronicle and registers which the jurisdiction of the corregidor from Guadix carries through to control and distribute it. In fact, the arrest of morisco population during the conflict was the beginning of a process controlled by civil and military authorities which started with the arrests register, which was trusted to third persons, and finally, its distribution.

Evolution and distribution of slaved population in Guadix and its Land

In fourth chapter, I analyse the evolution and distribution of slaved population in Guadix and its Land in the last third part of 16th century. The arrests during the morisco uprising were many in the area, added to the redistributing nature of Guadix during the war since the city was used as rearguard zone by christian troops. However, as it occurred in the rest of Spain, the volume of morisco slaves was decreasing constantly.

And with Guadix and its Land, I verify how this reduction of morisco slaves was possible thanks to overseas exportation, expulsion decrees of male morisco slaves, problems which ecclesiastical authorities set out to the ecclesiastic and single ignorant possession of women slaves in their reproductive years, many liberations and a natural dynamic that was clearly regressive.   In that way, census datum from 1580 are very clarifying to this drop of morisco slaves which continues until the end of the century.

In addition, I study in this chapter the evolution and distribution of slaved population in Guadix and its Land between 1569 and 1599 through the analysis of parochial sources, so it is confirmed that the phenomenon is predominantly concentrated in the Sagrario parish, in which civil and religious elite of the city was settled, whereas in those parishes in which middle class (Santiago and San Miguel), lower class settled in the new caves neighbourhood (Santa María Magdalena) and new inhabitants who replace morisco population (Santa Ana) predominated, the number of people was much lower, as in the rural areas which were analysed such as Gor, Huéneja and Alquife, are the only towns in the area that preserve parochial registers from the period mentioned.

The functioning of slave market in Guadix

The fifth chapter is about the functioning of slave market in Guadix between 1569 and 1578 through the buying and selling study. Once this evolution is analysed, I study market items, slaved people, per their volume, ethnicity, gender, age, origin, names and surnames, as well as actors in the market, such as sellers, buyers and owners. Furthermore, I add an analysis of prices about its volume, evolution, variation per gender, age, ethnicity of slaves and taxation system.

Slavery life

In sixth chapter, I write about slavery life, studying life conditions of enslaved people, which were determined by marginalized society and lord treatment; their emotional life and reproductive ability were determined by sexual exploitation suffered by women slaves and by the cohabitation predominance opposite to matrimony: their piousness, which was very joined to syncretism phenomenon, witchcraft and magic, and “criptoislamismo”, it means that morisco people didn’t use to show their real religious belief in public; and, finally, their labor exploitation, that is the slavery used as a way of ostentation, it was a productive factor with economical profitability and a change instrument.

Freedom access and freed slave population

In seventh chapter, I write about the analysis of freedom access and freed slave population. I start with an analysis of the procedures to freedom access of slaves, then I continue with the study of the letters of “ahorría” (a person gets their freedom after the condition of slave) which were consented in Guadix between 1569 and 1578 and judicial access for freedom to morisco population who were illegally enslaved due to the fact of being minors or moorish who had never stirred up. Finally, I analyse the destiny of freed slaved population, which was very troubled by their slave past and racial and religious prejudices which were predominant at that epoch about racial purity.

Consequences of morisco slavery

In eighth and last chapter, to sum up, I set out some demographic and social hypothesis about the consequences of morisco slavery in Guadix and its Land, stressing on the importance of this phenomenon to understand the reinforcement of urban elites in Granada kingdom and the appearance of rural elites in repopulating areas.

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