The Treaty of Granada which surrendered Granada, the last Muslim-controlled area in medieval Spain, to King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile seemed to be quite generous, magnanimous and honorable. In return for the surrender, the Christian victors promised pretty much safe conduct and religious tolerance for Granada's inhabitants. The treaty was pretty specific in guaranteeing the Muslims' right, including related to religious practice and guarding them against forced conversions. Some of the provisions include:


  • That their mosques, and the religious endowments appertaining to them, should remain as they were in the times of Islam.
  • That no Christian should enter the house of a Muslim, or insult him in any way


  • That the Christians who had embraced Islam should not be compelled to relinquish it and adopt their former creed.
  • That any Muslim wishing to become a Christian should be allowed some days to consider the step he was about to take; after which he is to be questioned by both a Muslim and a Christian judge concerning his intended change, and if, after this examination, he still refused to return to Islam, he should be permitted to follow his own inclination.
  • That no muezzin should be interrupted in the act of calling the people to prayer, and no Muslim molested either in the performance of his daily devotions or in the observance of his fast, or in any other religious ceremony; but that if a Christian should be found laughing at them he should be punished for it.


But in the end, within a couple of years the victors revoked the tolerant provisions in this treaty, and a total persecution and expulsion of Muslims (and Jews) from Spain would follow. See Spanish Inquisition, Persecution of Muslims in Iberian Peninsula, Expulsion of the Moriscos.

My question: did they (the Muslim residents) expect the Christians to respect this treaty? The answer can be based on any written records from their side (I understand this might bias highly on their middle-upper class who left written records), or if that's not possible, from what could be reasonably expected based on previous observation of such treaty in this period and place, or the reputation of the Castilians prior to this surrender (the Christians and the Muslims in Spain had both been in Spain for the past 7 centuries or so, I'm sure there must have been precedents such as truces, peace treaties or alliances and expectation about how likely they were kept).

  • Your question is almost impossible to answer without multiple contemporaneous sources - which do not exist. I can recall several instances where public opinion was retrospectively revised in people's memories to fit later revelations. Subsequent writers claim that of course everyone really knew, and no-one contradicts them, but it isn't actually the case. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 10:44
  • @TheMathemagician Why do you think contemporaneous sources do not exist?
    – user69715
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 7:46
  • @TheMathemagician I find your claim that contemporary sources to be very surprising. If you have good reason to believe that to be the case, "it is impossible to know because ..." is as good an answer as any, please consider posting it.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 13:34
  • I haven't studied la Reconquista deeply but I've never seen a contemporaneous Spanish Muslim source cited. Of course that doesn't prove its non-existence. Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 19:46
  • @TheMathemagician Maybe not in today's Spanish sources (or other Western sources based on them) The Spanish authorities following the reconquista were not very tolerant towards Spanish Islamic culture, so it's unlikely that Spanish Muslim works survived. My understanding is that there were significant emigration of Muslims following the fall of Granada, and they might have left surviving works elsewhere.
    – user69715
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 21:55

3 Answers 3


From additional research I have clarified this answer to better reflect the documentation from Spanish Historians who have provided much more detailed commentary and record of the events of the Grenadian War.

Your initial question asks if the Grenadian people believed that the Spanish would be faithful to the terms of the surrender. The Spanish Wikipedia article references Luis María de Lojendio in his historical chronicle Gonzalo de Córdoba (p. 90), and has this to say about the negotiations:

Las últimas negociaciones secretas incluyeron el respeto a la religión islámica de los que decidieran quedarse, la posibilidad de emigrar, una exención fiscal por tres años y un perdón general por los delitos cometidos durante la guerra.

Which I have roughly translated with the assistance of Google Translate to:

The last secret negotiations included respect for the Islamic religion of those choosing to stay, the possibility of emigrating, a tax exemption for three years and a general pardon for the crimes committed during the war.

It is clear that the terms of the surrender were secret and known only to the signing parties. Which had later consequence as the Grenadians found out..

Antoni Simón Tarrés a modern Spanish Historian published La Monarquía de los Reyes Católicos (A Chronicle on The monarchy of the Catholic Kings) (page 56). His work is referenced later in the Wikipedia article mentioned above, in which we can glimpse the reaction the Grenadian people had to the terms their leader had handed them over unto.

El 25 de noviembre de 1491 fueron firmadas las Capitulaciones de Granada, que concedieron además un plazo de dos meses para la rendición. No hubo necesidad de agotarlo, porque los rumores difundidos entre el pueblo granadino de lo pactado causaron tumultos, sofocados tanto por los cristianos como por los fieles a Boabdil, que acabó por entregar Granada el 2 de enero de 1492

Which I have roughly translated to with the assistance of Google Translate:

On November 25, 1491 the Treaty of Granada was signed, which also granted a period of two months (for the Grenadians) to surrender. Before this period ended, rumors that spread among the Grenadian people of the agreement caused riots, stifled by both Christians and Boabdil loyalists, which eventually gave Granada over on the January 2, 1492

Rioting in this case, is a direct result of the Treaties signing. So it is evident that a group of the Muslim Residents of Grenada had no trust in the Spanish to Maintain the treaty.

  • 1
    I don't feel this answer my question. The Moriscos rebellion happened a long time after the fall of Granada, they might have more to do with the post-treaty actions of the Catholic rulers than with the Muslims' initial expectation of the treaties. About low literacy rate, I think Granada had a class of learned people which must have left written records?
    – user69715
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 17:31
  • I have edited the question to better reflect your question, well at least I hope. I am still searching for more detail about the Boabdil Loyalists and what they expected from the treaty as they did help stifle revolt and therefore must have believed the Spanish would maintain the treaty. Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 22:29
  • 1
    Thanks. Submitted an edit for your answer a little bit to make the translation more understandable, if that's ok?
    – user69715
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 23:50
  • 1
    Cheers, I haven't been able to find any more for now. Maybe someone will come across with a more complete answer. Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 0:01

The Spanish Muslims had "some" reason to expect that the Spanish would observe their rights.

The "Reconquista" had been going on for several centuries, and the Spanish had (earlier) more or less observed treaty terms in the newly reconquered territories. This "observance" had become less as time went by.

Three things made the fifteenth century version "different."

  1. The Reconquista was completed, not "in progress" by 1492, meaning that people could think, "let's settle up the final scores."

  2. Protestantism was becoming a threat, and the Spanish inquisition was influenced by the anti-Protestant "inquisitions" going on elswhere, and

  3. There was the incalculable contribution of this one man, Tomas de Torquemada, the personal confessor of Queen Isabella. He himself came from a family of converted Jews, and sometimes "converts" are harder "on their own kind" than "native sons."

  • Could you explain your assertions that "the Spanish had (earlier) more or less observed treaty terms in the newly reconquered territories" but it became less so as time went by? For example by adding example or citation that shows this.
    – user69715
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 17:46
  • @user69715: Added a link that provided a factual basis for my comments. The interpretations are mine.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 22:07
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    Protestantism is an anachronism for this. Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 12:19
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    @FelixGoldberg: In Castile (1502) yes; in Aragon (1526) no since Martin Luther had posted his 95 theses in 1517 and appeared before the Diet of Worms in 1521. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 23:07

When historians tackle this kind of issue, they normally do so without taking into account the most important thing of all: the human factor.

Both Christians and Muslims, conditioned for centuries to loathe one another, could not renounce "the old ways" just because some kooky treaty was suddenly signed and ratified. Individual cases depended heavily on how much money this or that family had; whether they could be attacked with impunity; whether the living conditions of their neighbors were dire enough to justify such attacks in their own eyes; and so forth.

The role of the Spanish Inquisition in this, and other matters, is highly exaggerated and cannot withstand close scrutiny. Depending on what sources you choose to get information from, the actual number of heretics burned at the stake during the rule of Torquemada, a man of partial Jewish heritage who hated Jews indiscriminately, is laughably small compared to other movements in history that involved killing people.

OF COURSE Christians, especially those who were financially challenged, attacked Muslims. OF COURSE Muslims, especially those who were financially challenged, attacked Christians. That's because humans in general don't deal in morality, fairness, judiciousness, and so forth: when your lifestyle isn't everything you hoped for when you were younger; and when you're guaranteed (sort of) impunity, all you need to attack your more successful neighbor is an excuse.

  • 2
    So are you saying there was no expectation that the treaty would be observed? Also, could you cite some sources? For example that Christians and Muslims were hopelessly conditioned to loathe each other, and that the role of Spanish Inquisition for the killing and expulsions were very small?
    – user69715
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 1:33

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