BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


History of the reign of Philip the Second, king of Spain

by William Hickling Prescott

Excerpt:

PHILIP THE SECOND.

BOOK Y.
CHAPTER I,

THE MOORS OF SPAIN.

Conquest of Spain by the Arabs. — Slow Recovery by the Spaniards. — Efforts to convert the Moslems. — Thi'ir Homes in the Alpujarras. — Their Treatment by the Government. — The Minister » Espinosa.—Edict against the Moriscoes.— Their ineffectual Remonstrance.

1566, 1567.

It was in the beginning of the eighth century, in the year 711, that the Arabs, filled with the spirit of conquest which had been breathed into them by their warlike apostle, after traversing the southern shores of the Mediterranean, reached the borders of those straits that separate Africa from Europe. Here they paused for a moment, before carrying their banners into a strange and unknown quarter of the globe. It was but for a moment, however, when, with accumulated strength, they descended on the sunny fields of Andalusia,

VOL. III. 1

met the whole Gothic array on the banks of the Guadalete, and, after that fatal battle in which King Roderick fell with the flower of his nobility,' spread themselves, like an army of locusts, over every part of the Peninsula. Three years sufficed for the conquest of the country, — except that small corner in the north, where a remnant of the Goths contrived to maintain a savage independence, and where the rudeness of the soil held out to the Saracens no temptation to follow them.

It was much the same story that was repeated, more than three centuries later, by the Norman conquerors in England. The battle of Hastings was to that kingdom what the battle of the Guadalete was to Spain; though the Norman barons, as they rode over the prostrate land, dictated terms to the vanquished of a sterner character than those granted by the Saracens.

But whatever resemblance there may be in the general outlines of the two conquests, there is none in the results that followed. In England the Norman and the Saxon, sprung from a common stock, could not permanently be kept asunder by the barrier which at first was naturally interposed between the conqueror and the conquered; and in less, probably, than three centuries after the invasion, the two nations had imperceptibly melted into one, so that the Englishman of that day might trace the current that flowed through his veins to both a Norman and a Saxon origin.

It was far otherwise in Spain, where difference

of race, of religion, of national tradition, of moral and physical organization, placed a gulf between the victors and the vanquished too wide to be overleaped. It is true, indeed, that very many of the natives, accepting the liberal terms offered by the Saracens, preferred remaining in the genial clime of the south to sharing the rude independence of their brethren in the Asturias, and that, in the course of time, intermarriages, to some extent, took place between them and their Moslem conquerors. To what extent cannot now be known. The intercourse was certainly far greater than that between our New-England ancestors and the Indian race which they found in possession of the soil, — that ill-fated race, which seems to have shrunk from the touch of civilization, and to have passed away before it like the leaves of the forest before the breath of winter. The union was probably not so intimate as that which existed between the old Spaniards and the semi-civilized tribes that occupied the plateau of Mexico, whose descendants, at this day, are to be there seen filling the highest places, both social and political, and whose especial boast it is to have sprung from the countrymen of Montezuma.

The very anxiety shown by the modern Spaniard to prove that only the sangre azul— " blue blood" — flows through his veins, uncontaminated by any Moorish or Jewish taint, may be thought to afford some evidence of the intimacy which once existed between his forefathers and the tribes of Eastern origin. However this may be, it is certain that no length of time ever served, in the eye of the Spaniard, to give the Moslem invader a title to the soil; and after the lapse of nearly eight centuries, — as long a period as that which has passed since the Norman conquest, — the Arabs were still looked upon as intruders whom it was the sacred duty of the Spaniards to exterminate or to expel from the land.


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