The Ornament of the World

by María Rosa Menocal
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In the Alhambra Summary

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Last Updated on April 9, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 205

This chapter describes how in 1492, the Catholic monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand ascended the steps of the Alhambra. Christianity had overtaken Granada, but Muslims were still granted religious freedom. The ruler of Granada at the time, Boabdil, had surrendered the city with no bloodshed. Though Muslims had lived among Christian Spaniards for centuries, it would be difficult for the Granadan Muslims, as they were used to living insularly. Soon, the laws about religious freedom were repealed, and the Muslims in Granada were persecuted, often forced to convert to Christianity and renounce the Arabic language.

Shortly after Isabella and Ferdinand took Granada, all Jews were expelled from Spain. Isaac Abravanel, a Jewish adviser to the monarchs, convinced them to make the date of expulsion August 2, a day associated with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews were scattered, and many went to Safed, where they introduced some of the first instances of the Spanish language to Palestine. Other Jews converted, becoming part of the fabric of early Christian Spanish society. However, many of these so-called “New Christians” were still persecuted. One of the Jews who was expelled left with Columbus; he was to serve as a translator of Arabic when Columbus arrived in the Indies.

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