6 Jul, 2019 @ 11:05
3 mins read

Loraine Gostling tells the epic history behind Spain’s Moros y Cristianos festival, all from a crumbling laptop

OK so.. I have poured 5kg of crushed ice in a waterproof cooler bag and placed it strategically between my knees and my poor ageing laptop (aka Steve).

I am not sure that Steve will be with me much longer, as this heat is making him emit some very peculiar whirring noises and he may not even survive to the end of this column.
I had better type quickly then eh?

This is not easy, as Steve no longer has any letters on his keypads and despite several administrations of Chinese Bazaar sticky labels over the past few months, I can only see the letters that would spell something rude in Russian. 

This week, as it is now the BIG fiesta season, I plan on giving a ‘Lol’ lecture to all the readers who have an insane interest in the history of the Moors and Christians – but knowing me as I do, this may not actually happen.

I will really try to not wander off on tangents about how lovely horses are, or why my fat cat eats far less than my thin cat, or why the most gratifying thing to happen to me this week was treading on three frozen peas that had escaped the curry, landed on the floor and become the most welcome cooling sensation since this damned heatwave started 100 years ago.

So, back to the Moors and Christians then.

There probably aren’t many of you who have not been to see these two Labour vs Tory-type punch-ups at some time or another and marvelled at the costumes, pageantry and ‘winederful’ Spanish partying.

But how many actually know what started it all?

Well, I have to be honest, I was not sure myself, so after giving Steve his meds for the night, I went on a Google crusade, determined to establish the whys, whens and wherefores of this huge annual fiesta.

Are you sitting comfortably? Have you got a beer, wine or coffee to get you through all this?

MOVING ON: Columbus set sail in 1492 believing the round earth would find him a new route to Asia

OK, then I will begin…

Around 711 AD – when apples were fruit, Ipads were only worn by half blind sailors, health and safety checks meant ensuring your arrows were the right way up in your bolsa, and the cannon was pointing away from your mates – the Muslims sneaked into Spain via Ceuta on the north African coast.

Strangely enough, they met with very little resistance…perhaps because they invaded during siesta or coffee and brandy time, or it may well have just been that these guys coming over were actually quite cool and pretty damn clever.

The invader dudes, whilst not exactly looking like Cap’n Jack Sparrow or Highlander, were a bunch of lads full of new ideas and clearly pretty cultured.

From astronomers to farmers, they all arrived and immediately told the natives that all would be ‘muy bien’.

The Moors had a few chats over flagons of vino with the rich and famous of the land and promised them that they could keep all their stuff and that not ALL of their power would be removed.

In return for the favour, the Hacienda would cough up some eighth century Euros to pay for the newcomers fees and expenses.

The Spanish said ‘sounds fine to us’ and so life went on for a while, much as it had before.
However, the cunning Moors were not all they pretended to be….Hispania had more or less resigned themselves to their land now being in the hands of this alien race.

Over the following 50 years or so, they brought in numerous Arab, Syrian and Berber pals but then ensued a good deal of punch-ups between them all.

The Arabs were the posh lot, who looked down on the Berbers, who were common uneducated warmongers.

BUT, the Berbers were well pissed off with the Arabs’ snobbish attitude and so allowed their combative streak to take hold.

Hell…my wordcount, like the temperature, is a bit on the high side!
Despite their superiority complex, the Arabs were not averse to marrying and having children with local females and this led to a big change in the look of the average Spanish citizen, who, back then, were blonde, blue-eyed bombshells!

‘Al-Andalus’, as the Islamic invaders were known, quickly got their feet under the table, established political independence, a monarchy and armies.

Up in t’north King Alfonso II was a tad irritable about nasty strangers entering his country, and launched an attack from Asturias.

That didn’t go to plan!

Meanwhile, down south, everyone is getting along spiffingly, but the Christian kings in the north were rattling their cages big time and by the early part of the 10th century the only B&Bs you could find in Spain were battles and bloodshed.

So, in a nutshell, the Christians decided to get their arses in gear and in 1085 Toledo was recaptured, Cordoba fell in 1236 and Ferdinand finally reclaimed Granada in 1492.

So there you have it.

Of course, without all that history, the Spanish summer festivals, re-enacting the many bloody battles, would not exist!

But knowing the Spanish folk, they would have found another excuse to dress up and party!

PS….Steve made it…

Loraine Gostling

Kicking off a new column, Loraine Gostling AKA ‘LOL’ of Javea Connect promises to steer clear of Brexit...well, almost

1 Comment

  1. An excellent read on the topic is “The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain”. It certainly shows how the Muslim invaders starting in 711 killed and enslaved countless people and many of the ideas they brought were stolen from Byzantine and Greek scholars. The Muslims who arrived were mostly warriors, they built great buildings, but they also destroyed almost every ancient church and Visigoth structure in their path. Other than that, your article was a funny read. Thanks.

    Location : Costa Blanca

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