Today in European history: the “Reconquista” ends (1492)

January 2, 1492 was the official end-date of the cleverly-named Reconquista, as it is the date upon which the last Muslim hold-out in Iberia, the city of Granada, was formally surrendered to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. While this obviously is a date of significant historical import, it’s also a little anti-climactic. All the terms of Granada’s surrender were negotiated in November, 1491, in the Treaty of Granada, which ended the 1482-1491 Granada War. There’s little to add here that I hadn’t already mentioned in that post:

Ferdinand and Isabella’s combined army besieged Granada in April 1491, and the surrender of the city was by this point a mere formality. The treaty is actually a marvel of religious tolerance that would be completely discarded in the insane forced conversion/expulsion/Spanish Inquisition period that was to follow over the next couple of centuries. It stipulated that Muslims in Granada should keep their property and places/freedom of worship if they chose to stay and allowed safe passage to North Africa if they chose to leave, that they should be governed according to Islamic law and not forced to convert to Christianity, and even that they should be exempt from taxation for some interim period of time. Boabdil went off into exile in Fez, where he lived until his death in 1533.

Apart from putting the cap on the Reconquista, in itself important, the surrender of Granada and the consolidation of all of what would become modern Spain gave Ferdinand and Isabella the space to consider a far more ambitious project: the search for a sea route to the Far East that could bypass both Ottoman control over the eastern Mediterranean and Portuguese control over the “around Africa” route. We all know where that led.

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