cover image

Deza and Its Moriscos

Religion and Community in Early Modern Spain

Patrick J. O'Banion

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 08/2020
Pages: 396
Subject: History
eBook ISBN: 9781496221599


Deza and Its Moriscos addresses an incongruity in early modern Spanish historiography: a growing awareness of the importance played by Moriscos in Spanish society and culture alongside a dearth of knowledge about individuals or local communities. By reassessing key elements in the religious and social history of early modern Spain through the experience of the small Castilian town of Deza, Patrick J. O'Banion asserts the importance of local history in understanding large-scale historical events and challenges scholars to rethink how marginalized people of the past exerted their agency. Moriscos, baptized Muslims and their descendants, were pressured to convert to Christianity at the end of the Middle Ages but their mass baptisms led to fears about lingering crypto-Islamic activities. Many political and religious authorities, and many of the Moriscos' neighbors as well, concluded that the conversions had produced false Christians. Between 1609 and 1614 nearly all of Spain's Moriscos—some three hundred thousand individuals—were thus expelled from their homeland. Contrary to the assumptions of many modern scholars, rich source materials show the town's Morisco minority wielded remarkable social, economic, and political power. Drawing deeply on a diverse collection of archival material as well as early printed works, this study illuminates internal conflicts, external pressures brought to bear by the Inquisition, the episcopacy, and the crown, and the possibilities and limitations of negotiated communal life at the dawn of modernity.  


Patrick J. O'Banion is a former professor of history. He now teaches church history around the world with Training Leaders International. He is the author of This Happened in My Presence: Moriscos, Old Christians, and the Spanish Inquisition in the Town of Deza, 1569–1611 and The Sacrament of Penance and Religious Life in Golden Age Spain.  


"It's not easy to piece together the information needed to make sense of Morisco life on the ground, but O'Banion has done it admirably well. Deza and Its Moriscos is a major contribution to the field."—Trevor J. Dadson, author of Tolerance and Coexistence in Early Modern Spain: Old Christians and Moriscos in the Campo de Calatrava

"Innovative, well-structured, well-argued, and thoroughly documented. The virtues of Deza and Its Moriscos include a careful and nuanced reading of the massive evidence from the Inquisition trials as well as more local sources, the skillful way it probes instead of pushes the evidence, the constant attention to the importance of individuals within broader social groups, and a consistently level-headed assessment of what were often highly complicated situations."—James S. Amelang, author of Parallel Histories: Muslims and Jews in Inquisitorial Spain