In April 1609, King Philip III of Spain signed an edict denouncing the Muslim inhabitants of Spain as heretics, traitors, and apostates. Later that year, the entire Muslim population of Spain was given three days to leave Spanish territory or else be killed. In a brutal and traumatic exodus, entire families were obliged to abandon homes and villages where they had lived for generations, leaving their property in the hands of their Christian neighbours. In Aragon and Catalonia, Muslims were escorted by government commissioners who forced them to pay whenever they drank or rested. For five years the expulsion ground on, until an estimated 300,000 Muslims had been removed from Spanish territory, 5 per cent of the total population. By 1614 Spain had successfully implemented what was then the largest act of ethnic cleansing in European history, and Muslim Spain had effectively ceased to exist.
Blood and Faith is a riveting chronicle of this virtually unknown episode, set against the vivid historical backdrop of the history of Muslim Spain. It offers a remarkable window onto a little-known period in modern Europe—a rich and complex tale of competing faiths and beliefs, of cultural oppression and resistance against overwhelming odds.
Matthew Carr is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Observer, The Guardian, The New York Times and on BBC Radio. He is the author of The Infernal Machine: An Alternative History of Terrorism; Fortress Europe: Inside the War Against Immigration; and The Devils of Cardona.