Dreams of al-Andalus; A Survey of the Illusive Pursuit of
© 2002 by the American Baptist Quarterly a publication of the
American Baptist Historical Society, P.O. Box 851, Valley forge, PA 19482-0851.
Around 1481, a
local chronicler from Seville narrated a most incredible story centering around
one of the city’s most prominent citizens, Diego de Susán. He was among Seville’s wealthiest and most
influential citizens, a councilor in city government, and, perhaps most
important, he was father to Susanna—the fermosa fembra (“beautiful
maiden”). He was also a converso,
and was connected with a group of city merchants and leaders, most of whom were
conversos as well. All were
opponents to Isabella’s government.
According to this
narration, Susán was at the heart of a plot to overthrow the work of the newly
created Inquisition. He summoned a
meeting of Seville’s power brokers and
other rich and powerful men from the towns of Utrera and Carmona. These said to one another, ‘What do you think of them acting thus against us? Are we not the most propertied members of this city, and well loved by the people? Let us collect men together…’ And thus between them they allotted the raising of arms, men, money and other necessities. ‘And if they come to take us, we, together with armed men and the people will rise up and slay them and so be revenged on our enemies.’
The fly in the
ointment of their plans was the fermosa fembra herself. Fearful for the safety of her Christian
lover, she revealed the plot to authorities.
Those involved were quickly arrested, thus giving reason for imprisoning
some of Seville’s most prominent leaders.
Andrés Bernáldez recounts that:
A few days after this they burned three of the richest leaders of the city, namely Diego de Susán, who was said to be worth ten million maravedis and was a chief rabbi, and who apparently died as a Christian; Manuel Sauli; and Bartolomé de Torralva. They also arrested Pedro Fernández Abolafia, who had been chief magistrate and was a great lawyer; and many other leading and very rich citizens, who were also burnt.
Seeing the consequences of her betrayal, Susanna was reported to have entered a convent. But her tormented soul would give her no peace even there. She degenerated to a life of absolute poverty and shame, roaming the streets without a home or a friend.
story has been widely believed, and by now has circulated for generations,
Henry Kamen has demonstrates that it is a total fabrication. For one thing, Diego de Susán died well
before 1479 (when the events were supposed to have taken place), the plot is
absolutely undocumented in any official records, and there was no Susanna. But, while untrue, the story did serve its
purpose—it furnished good reasons for a subsequent repression of the conversos
by the Inquisition. It raised in
the popular mind the belief that Spain was under attack by highly placed
traitors who were spinning clandestine plots to control the government. Thus, the work of the Inquisition came to be
seen as being essential for the nation’s survival. In this, the Susán story joins the ranks of many similar narratives
associated with this epoch of Spanish history.
Second and Third Punic Wars, Rome conquered Carthaginian Spain. Roman legions gradually brought the area
into submission in a series of wars extending from 154 to 133 BC. This was the source of an economic boon for
Rome because the area was rich in silver and lead mines among other
things. It also created a window of
economic opportunity for entrepreneurs, including communities of Jews who began
to immigrate into the province, probably as early as the first century BC. Called Hispania by the Romans, the region
flourished materially and culturally, developing important connections with the
empire’s power centers.
Spain was also an early center of Christianity. The probability that significant Jewish communities already existed in Spain may have been a source of the Apostle Paul’s strong interest in preaching there. The details of when and how Christianity came to the province are not clear, but Tertullian in the early third century wrote that: “all regions of Spain know the faith of Christ.” The entire population by no means embraced Christianity at that time, but the faith was widely dispersed in significant urban centers.
In the fifth
century, hordes of “barbarian” tribes repeatedly overran Spain—first, the
Vandals, then the Sueves, followed by the Alans, and finally the Visigoths.
With the Visigoths, came radical changes to the culture and church of
Spain. A Gothic kingdom was created
within the Roman state. Under
Visigothic rule, the administration in general remained Roman and the language
of government continued to be a Latin vernacular. But, most of the non-Gothic Christian population and clergy
remained rather hostile to the new governors since the new rulers were Arian in
their Christology. The Visigoths ruled
Spain from 507 to 711, and their administration brought several important
changes to the social interaction of the province’s population.
In 587, King
Reccared (586-601) converted from Arian Christianity to Roman orthodoxy. This brought an end to religious
separateness in Hispania and accelerated the process of romanization. After Reccared, Visigothic kings functioned as
the masters of the Spanish church. They were regarded as divinely authorized to
control ecclesiastical affairs.
Somewhat reminiscent of the Byzantine emperor in the East, royal
supervision of all aspects of life within the kingdom was considered inherent
in the king’s very position as head of the Christian community. Thus, the king’s
position depended upon the existence of a body united in its Christian faith
over which he might rule and within which excommunication might effectively
function. Consequently, a necessary
concern of the king was to prevent activities that might threaten or undermine
the faith which held society together. The stage was now set for policies which
would make life difficult for Spanish Jews.
Reccared was the
first king to implement an active anti-Jewish policy, and certain of his
successors extended those policies even farther. Eventually, Jews were forced to either be baptized as Christians,
or face exile. As unwilling “converts,”
some Jews continued to practice their Jewish faith in secret. These so-called
“Judaizing Christians” became the focus of further royal action as exemplified
in several Visigothic law codes, among them the code of King Recceswinth
(649-672) and the code of King Erwig (680-687). Erwig’s Code was especially oppressive, for not only did Jews
have to choose between baptism or exile (after flogging and confiscation of
property), they also had to report arrival and departure to local officials
whenever they traveled. Local clergy
were made responsible for seeing that local Jews were under worthy Christian
supervision—especially during time of Jewish festivals—so that secret Jewish
worship could not take place. A
Visigothic king’s power to enforce such decrees, however, was largely dependent
upon the disposition of local officials willing to carry them out. This legislation was frequently not
enforced, especially when it threatened the economic interests of the king’s
subjects. By the eighth century, Spanish Jews lived under conditions close to
Isídore of Seville was among Spain’s few
intellectual luminaries of this period. He perceived that some sort of
Christian order had to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of Roman civil
institutions. His renowned Etymologies
was an effort to elevate the Visigothic regime to a level worthy of Roman
succession. However, Visigothic rulers
were not even remotely capable of such attainment. Royal administration was so ineffective by
the eighth century that when the Islamic conqueror-immigrants forced their way
onto the scene, very little core was left holding Spanish society together.
eighth and eleventh centuries, a semblance of the political order and
prosperity which had existed under the Romans returned to Spain. Maria Rosa Menocal describes this period in
her recent book entitled, The Ornament of the World.
There was a vast economic revival: the population increased, not just in the invigorated and ever more cosmopolitan cities, but even in the once decimated country side, where new crops and new techniques, including irrigation, made agriculture a prosperous concern; and the pan-Mediterranean trade and travel routes that had helped maintain Roman prosperity, and which were vital for cultural contacts and continuities, were reconfigured and expanded.
conquerors constituted the remnant of what had earlier been the mighty Umayyad
Dynasty. Between 661 and 750, the
Umayyads had ruled the Islamic world from their capitol in Damascus. They had
extended Islamic rule westward from Tripoli to Tangier, northward throughout
the Iberian Peninsula, and eastward to include modern Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. But, in 750, their fortunes had turned. The rival Abbasids managed to seize control
of the Islamic empire, moved the capitol to Baghdad, and slaughtered the entire
Umayyad family except for Abd al-Rahman, who alone managed to escape. He fled
to the farthest outpost of the Islamic territories, arriving in al-Andalus in
755. The following year he led a band of loyal Syrian and Berber soldiers to
defeat the local emir in a battle near Córdoba, and became the new governor of
this westernmost province of the Islamic world.
al-Rahman began his rule of al-Andalus, the Islamic conquerors constituted
perhaps one percent of the overall population.
Unable to appeal to the rival Abbasids for aid, al-Rahman had to take
advantage of what he found available from the remnants of the Roman past as the
material from which to revive the Umayyad Dynasty. “What could be salvaged was salvaged and reused; what had to be
reinvented was.” The Muslim rulers intermarried and
intermixed with the Christian and pagan populations, “not only making the
Andalusian Muslim community vastly larger, but thoroughly interweaving ethnic
and cultural heritages.” This created a distinctive culture, quite
unique to the early medieval world; one in which contradictions came to be
tolerated and which led to positive and productive results.
For the several
centuries of their hegemony over Spain, the Visigoths had remained a minority
of outsiders. The Umayyads, in contrast,
became intermixed with the Iberian culture. By 900, for example, the ancestors
of a Muslim from Córdoba were as likely to be Hispano-Roman as Berber, or some
mixture of each. The result of this
weaving together of cultural and religious threads, was a culture of tolerance
which recognized that Jews, Christians, and Muslims had a common history. Christians and Jews were clearly subordinate
in this culture, but their differences were at least tolerated. This arrangement has sometimes been referred
to as convivencia—a living together; a relationship between unequals. In
Arabized Jews rediscovered and reinvented Hebrew; …Christians embraced nearly every aspect of Arabic style—from the intellectual style of philosophy to the architectural styles of mosques—not only while living in Islamic dominions but especially after wresting political control from them; …men of unshakable faith, like Abelard and Maimonides and Averroes, saw no contradiction in pursuing truth, whether philosophical or scientific or religious, across confessional lines. This vision of a culture of tolerance recognized that incongruity in the shaping of individuals as well as their cultures was enriching and productive. It was an approach to life and its artistic and intellectual and even religious pursuits that was contested by many…and violently so at times…and yet powerful and shaping nevertheless.
While most Jews,
Christians, and Muslims of al-Andalus did not see this at all as a betrayal of
their faith, many outsiders, given the mindset of their day, did see this as
problematic. Pope Innocent III, for example, saw Spanish
Christianity as “a collection of disunited and all too heterodox Christians so
lackadaisical in their faith that they permitted Jews to live indistinguishable
from them in their midst….” The Almorávid Muslims observed the freedom
and toleration which characterized Andalusian Islam as heretical and something
to be corrected. Consequently, when the
Almorávids conquered and annexed Andalusia to their Moroccan territories in
1090, they attempted to impose a considerably different view of Islamic society
on the Andalusians–Muslim, Jew, and Christian. The situation was made still
worse when the Almohads gained control in 1144.
Their antisecular and religiously intolerant version of Islam was totally
irreconcilable with the core of Andalusian tradition.
mid-eleventh century the culture of al-Andalus was under serious threat. The Abbasid center in Baghdad began to lose
its hold. In 907, the Fatimids in Tunis broke with the Abbasids, and Andalusia
and Tunis became rival kingdoms.
Serious struggles broke out between al-Andalus and Christian kingdoms in
the north and Islamic kingdoms to the south. In 1090, the more fundamentalist
Berber Muslims from North Africa brought an end to the Umayyad Dynasty and to
the culturally tolerant dream of al-Andalus.
By the fifteenth
century, Spain’s layout looked something like the following. To the west lay Portugal, with a population
of under one million and interests strongly focused on maritime exploration and
trade. Al-Andalus had a population of about 500,000, mostly farmers and silk
traders, and largely Muslim. To the
north lay mostly Christian kingdoms with a total population of about six
million, Castile constituting about two-thirds of the territory and
three-fourths of the population and the remainder scattered throughout Aragon,
Valencia, and Catalona.
between communities had led to a mutual tolerance among Christians, Muslims,
and Jews known as convivencia.
Evidence of this exists in scholarship, politics, and theology. For example, by the mid-eleventh century,
Toledo had become the intellectual capitol of Castile. It served as a center for the translation
into Latin of ancient works on philosophy, science, and mathematics—most of
which had been preserved and transmitted to the west via Muslim scholars from
their intellectual center at Bayt al-Hikma in Baghdad (founded in 830 by
al-Ma’mum). Among the significant philosophers, whose works were translated and
circulated in Western Europe, were Avicenna, Ibn Sina, Averröes, and
Maimonides. Ferdinand, King of Castile from 1230-1250 called himself the “king
of three religions.” Ramon Lull (d.
1315), the famed Catholic lay missionary to Islam, composed a dialogue in
Arabic in which the principle characters were a Christian, a Muslim, and a
Jew. Even when conflict broke out, a
thirteenth-century writer argued, it was over land, not religious differences. This gradually began to change, however,
after the Almorávid takeover in 1090, when a different kind of Islam came to
The seeds for
religious conflict had been planted as early as 718 when Pelayo, together with
Visigothic leaders who had escaped the initial Islamic incursions under Tarik
in 710, created the kingdom of Asturias in northwest Spain. Pelayo’s victory over Muslims at Covadonga
in 718 has been identified by some as the beginning of the reconquista,
a holy and patriotic campaign to restore Christian rule to Spain. In 899, the
“discovery” of the bones of James the Greater, accompanied by the construction
of the church of Santiago de Compostela, provided a rallying point for the
reconquest. Santiago Matamoros (James
the Moor-slayer) became the national patron saint. The dream of reconquesta
was given birth.
Christian conquests of territories, together with their forging of alliances
among Christian princes, drove the so-called Moors from Spain. The last Muslim stronghold, Granada, fell to
Ferdinand and Isabella on January 2, 1492, ending the centuries-long reconquesta.
period of the reconquest, popular religious understanding was not as clear-cut
as one might imagine. Confusion of
belief existed among adherents of all three major religions of Spain. Religious practices were often a mixture of
community traditions, superstitions, folklore, and imprecise dogmatic
beliefs. The church, the synagogue, and
the mosque did little to remedy this problem.
A friar lamented the ignorance he found in Castile in the mid-sixteenth
century, writing that “out of 300 residents, you will find barely 30 who know
what any ordinary Christian is obliged to know.” In the town of Soria in 1487, a resident
commented, “the king is off to drive the Muslims out, when they haven’t done
him any harm.” “The Muslim can be saved in his faith just
as the Christian can in his.” In Cuenca in 1490, inquisitors report that a
Christian claimed, “the good Jew and the good Muslim can, if they act
correctly, go to heaven just like the good Christian.” Many Jews and Muslims held similar
views. However, such attitudes of
tolerance changed dramatically after Ferdinand and Isabella came to the throne.
By the late
medieval period, Spain had the largest Jewish community in the world, which was
still very small in comparison to the Christian and Muslim populations. In the
thirteenth century, Jews probably constituted just under two percent of Spain’s
population. Under the Almorávids, many Jews had fled to other lands to escape
the severe persecutions. Civil war and political rivalries served to dissolve
the tolerance many Christians had earlier developed for the Jews. Anti-Jewish canons adopted by the Fourth
Lateran Council and the Council of Arles in 1235 sharpened the divisions. These tensions reached a crisis in the 1370s
and 1380s under the fanatical preaching of Ferrant Martinez, archdeacon of
Ecijc. In June 1391, urban mobs vented
their frustration over economic hardships by attacking local Jews. Many died at the hands of these mobs. In August, those not murdered were forced to
accept baptism or face exile. This is
the origin of the conversos (new Christians) in any really significant
to Christianity in Spain were called conversos. But the term was not limited to them. Their decedents were also labeled conversos. Even after generations, when
many descendents retained little knowledge of their Jewish heritage, they
continued to be singled out from the rest of the Christian population. Consequently, the conversos suffered both at the hands of Christians, who doubted the genuineness
of their conversion, and of Jews, who saw them as traitors of their ancestral
The fall of Granada to the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella, seen as a
sign of divine favor, encouraged these rulers to issue an order of expulsion
for Jews in Castile and Aragon. The
order was given on March 31, 1492, and Jews had until July 31 to either leave
or accept baptism. Likely, the monarchs thought their order
would produce mass conversions rather than mass emigrations. Largely that is what happened. The reports of mass emigrations by Jews at
this time seem unfounded, and many who left found life in other places just as
difficult as it had been in Spain. Many émigrés later returned to their homes
in Spain. Henry Kamen has produced
statistics to show that there were probably just over 80,000 Jews in Spain when
the expulsion order was issued.
Probably, about half of those “converted.” In 1497, Portugal also
ordered Jews in its territories to convert, and the province of Navarre did the
same the following year.
Likely Ferdinand and Isabella believed they were solving many of the
problems of civil division in Spain by forcing all citizens to embrace the same
faith. In reality, the expulsion order
only added to the problems. For
generations, many church leaders had imagined that a “converso danger” existed
in the Spanish church. Now, what had been imagined as being a problem, indeed
became a problem.
The conversos, for the most part, continued to occupy the same professions as before
the expulsion order—traders, tax agents, moneylenders, farmers, tailors,
cobblers, etc. Consequently, many
people easily identified the conversos with the old Jews, both socially and religiously. In addition, many conversos
gained important public offices now that they were “Christians.” By the time the Inquisition was being
created, conversos held five of the most important posts in Aragon. In addition, conversos came to hold some of the highest posts in provincial courts and in the
Spanish church. This enraged many citizens, especially the “Old Christian”
aristocracy. Soon, conspiracy theories began to circulate.
By the mid fifteenth century, many believed that the “New Christians”
were intentionally infiltrating the church and threatening to take it over. A
tract by friar Alonso de Espina entitled Fortalitium
fidei contra Judaeos contributed greatly to
this notion. The work planted seeds of hatred against Jews, not just as a religion,
but also as a race, which was a new development in anti-Jewish attitudes.
Alonso painted the issue in racial terms in order to attack the conversos. What he, in fact, helped create was an
attitude of anti-Semitic ethnic cleansing which Benzion Netanyahu in his book The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-century
Spain presents as an important source for the
Nazi Holocaust. Alonso de
Espina’s tract also served as a draft proposal for the Spanish Inquisition.
In 1449, the Old Christian faction at Toledo became convinced that
Alvero de Luna, King Juan II’s minister, was favoring Jews. Under the leader, Pero Sarmiento, the Old
Christians succeeded in having a
special statute known as the Sentencia-Estatuto passed, legislating that “no person of Jewish descent could hold
public office or benefice in the said city of Toledo, or in its territory and
jurisdiction.” Appeal was made to Pope
Nicholas who rejected the statute and excommunicated Pero. But, given the
unstable political conditions in Castile at the time, Juan II found the Sentencia-Estatuto
represented powerful forces which he needed on his team. He asked Pope Nicholas to suspend the
excommunication, which was done on August 31, 1451. This was a major victory
for the Old Christian party and, although the meaning of this event was not
clear at the time, it marked the birth of political forces which would help
usher in the Spanish Inquisition.
What all this suggests is that political events, not heresy, were the
true reasons for the Inquisition’s creation.
Was there really a converso danger in the Spanish church?
Nothing in the extant records supports such a conclusion. Although it is
clear from those records that a circle of politicians and clerics who
influenced crown policy thought this was the case. The converso controversy broke out at a time when the monarchy was occupied in
pacifying a realm devastated by civil wars. Threats existed on all sides—local
populace, dissident nobles, clergy, the breakdown of law and order. In the
midst of this, from 1482 onwards, the monarchy was drawn into a long and
expensive war against the Muslim kingdom of Granada. There were lots of enemies one might identify. So, on September
27, 1480, at Medina del Campo, the Spanish Inquisition came into definitive
The machinery of the Inquisition was regulated in accordance with the
needs of the monarchy. Isabella was engaged in efforts to reform the organs
controlling Castile’s central government and needed the Inquisition to aid her
against established powers which were resistant to her reforms. In 1481-82, Ferdinand reformed the tribunal,
aiming to resurrect the old papal Inquisition, but with a clear intention of
bringing it under monarchical control.
After some papal resistance, he eventually succeeded in getting what he
wanted. By the mid-1480s, the Inquisition was moving against conversos
in Barcelona, Saragosa, and Valencia.
At first, the general populace was less than supportive of the
Inquisition’s work. This created the need for stories like the one told at the
beginning of this paper. When Pedro Arbués, a strong advocate of the
Inquisition was assassinated in Saragossa Cathedral in September 1485, popular
attitudes changed dramatically. Conversos
were accused of planning and carrying out the assassination. Whether that was
true or not is very questionable. What
is not in question is the impact this had on popular attitudes toward the conversos. After this event, citizens became more
thoroughly and generally anti-converso. The legacy of al-Andalus’
culture of tolerance was forgotten.
The generation of Spaniards whose worldview was thus being reshaped
with the rise of the Spanish Inquisition, was at the same time stirred by the
broadening intellectual horizons of Renaissance scholarship. Philosophies of Italian and Netherlandish
humanists began to impact the cultural and religious life of Spain. Italian humanism had its greatest impact
through Antônio Nebija, Spain’s most noted philologist. After studying in
Italy, Nebija accepted a post as professor at Salamanca in 1505, becoming one
of the earliest Spaniards to promote Renaissance learning. Netherlandish Christian humanism most
influenced Spanish intellectuals through the writings of Erasmus of
Rotterdam. Both movements placed great
emphasis on recapturing New Testament Christian experience through study of the
Bible in the original languages.
Another important promoter of Renaissance learning in Spain was
Cardinal Ximénez de Cisneros, archbishop of Toledo from 1495 and Inquisitor
General from 1507. He founded the
University of Alcalá in 1509, which became Spain’s center of humanist studies.
Among the noted Erasmian professors of this school were Pedro de Lerma, Juan de
Vergara, and his brother Francisco de Varga.
Probably the most noted achievement of this body of scholars was the Complutensian
Polyglot Bible, published in 1522.
It was a classic of Renaissance scholarship, consisting of six volumes
with Hebrew, Greek, and Chaldean texts printed in parallel columns along side
the Latin Vulgate.
This broadening of intellectual horizons through Renaissance learning
became threatened in the 1520s by the appearance of two other
movements—illuminismo and Protestantism.
The Inquisition became alarmed over both and set about to eradicate any
trace of each.
Early in his career, Cisneros had been generally supportive of the
spiritual and devotional movements in Castile. Among those who benefited from
his patronage was a Franciscan friar named Francisco de Osuna, author of the Tercer abecedario espiritual. His followers developed a mystical
spirituality known as recogimiento—“gathering up” of the soul to God.
Out of this movement a unique adaptation developed known as dejamiento,
whose adherents were known as alumbrados (also as dejados or illuminists). The alumbrados
came primarily from among the reformed Franciscans and Jesuits, but their
doctrines influenced a wide range of persons. Their most noted leader, Pedro
Ruiz de Alcaraz, began teaching his distinctive views around 1511. A primary emphasis of the alumbrados
was “God’s love and humanity’s utter incapacity.” Alcaraz’s views led him to
reject the Roman church’s system of indulgences, meritorious works, and adopt
the theological concept of “sola gracia.”
He came to these convictions well prior to the publication of Luther’s
Ninety-five Theses. These views, together with the extravagant
visions and revelations claimed by the alumbrados, caused them to be strongly persecuted and especially sought out by the
The mixing of mystical, Erasmian, and heretical influences made the
third decade of the sixteenth century both a creative and dangerous period for
Spanish Christians. By that time,
Charles V had become both king of Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor. His pivotal role in the empire’s handling of
Martin Luther contributed to Spanish inquisitors’ heightened sensitivity to
Lutheran ideas. They were vigilant to
detect and eradicate any Lutheran ideas in Spain before they might take root,
and felt they had found them in the alumbrados. In light of the historical
context we have developed to this point, it was incredibly devastating to the
fledgling illuminist and Protestant movements in Spain that so many of the
persons implicated were conversos—Isabel de la Cruz, Pedro de Alcaraz, Francisco Ortiz, Bernardino
Tovar, Juan de Cazalla, and Agustín de Cazalla. In Germany, no ecclesiastical or imperial machinery was in place
to move definitively against Luther in his early attempts to reform the
church. A generation passed before
truly serious counter measures were taken.
By then, Luther’s theological reforms were too deeply embedded to be
wiped away. Protestants encountered a
very different situation in Spain. The
Inquisition was already organized and functioning when Lutheran views began to
surface. The embryonic reforms stood
Juan de Valdez (d. 1541) is sometimes given the distinction of being
the first “Lutheran” author in Spanish.
In reality, his doctrine was not Lutheran, but a combination of Spanish
mysticism (perhaps with some alumbrado influence) and Erasmian-style humanism. His brother, Alfonso (d. 1532), also embraced Erasmian views and
served as a secretary of Charles V. He
is best known for his Dialogue between
Lactantio and an Archdeacon in which he strongly
criticized papal immorality and secularism.
Juan exerted considerable illuminist influence through his emphasis on
the importance of Bible study and individual conscience. When the Inquisition began investigating his
views, and it became clear that Alfonso would not have sufficient influence at
court to protect him, Juan fled Spain and moved to Naples. He spent the rest of his life dedicated to
spiritual meditation. A group of
Italian aristocrats was drawn to his teachings, which centered more around
individual sanctification than church reform.
Following his death, his work was carried on by Julia de Gonzaga.
Juan’s emphasis on personal spiritual life and Bible study tended to
diminish the importance of the liturgical rites of the church, a tendency also
found in Protestantism. However, his views were distinct from those preached by
Lutheran and Calvinist reformers.
Several of his followers, on the other hand, did become genuinely
Protestant; the most noted being Bernardino de Ochino. Ochino was General of the Capuchin Order in
Italy, who had to flee to Geneva after embracing Protestant doctrines. Perhaps Juan’s distinctive views on Christ’s
atonement contributed to Ochino’s adoption of concepts of the Trinity that were
similar to those of Migel Servetus. His support of Servetus in the
confrontation with John Calvin forced Ochino to move to Poland and finally to
Austerlitz, where he died in 1564.
Spanish commercial, academic, and political relations with Germany and the Netherlands meant that Protestant
views were certain to find their way into Spain in spite of the king’s efforts
to the contrary. In 1519, some of
Luther’s earliest writings appeared in Spain.
The following year, Luther’s commentary on Galatians was translated into
Spanish. Over the next several years,
other of Luther’s writings reached Spain, mostly via the Netherlands, which was
under Spanish control at this time.
Part of the reason for this was early confusion over the differences
between Erasmus’ views of church reform and those of Luther. Consequently, Luther’s works became quite
popular among Spanish humanists, and the Inquisition took measures to stop
By the end of Charles V’s reign, the first Protestant communities (or
churches) had been established in Spain—mostly in Valladolid and Seville. A small evangelical circle emerged in
Valladolid, evidencing the influence of Valdesian and Protestant writings. Seville was most open to penetration of
Protestant ideas since it was Spain’s center of international commerce, and a
larger “Protestant” circle developed there.
Consisting of more than one hundred persons, it was divided into small
groups for security reasons. For the
most part, however, these congregations do not show evidence of embracing
genuine Lutheran or Calvinist doctrine as much as they do Catholic views under
the inspiration of Protestant writings.
Julián Hernández, a member of the Protestant congregation in Seville,
was among the most courageous and significant advocates of Protestantism in
Spain. He made trips to Geneva and
Germany where he bought Bibles and Protestant books, transporting them back to
Spain on mules and hidden among cargos of fine wines. In his travels throughout Spain, he distributed these works,
planting seeds of Protestantism wherever he went. He was assisted in this effort by Juan Ponce de Leon, who
distribute the books, and by the monks at the monastery San Isidro del Campo,
located three kilometers outside Seville.
Around 1560, Julián gave a New Testament to a man
pretending to be his friend and was reported by him to the Inquisition. His faithful witness during the three years
of interrogation and torture, which followed, became a lasting inspiration to
the Protestant community in Spain and attracted the admiration of many Spanish
Catholics as well. “Courage, brothers,” he wrote to some
friends while in prison. “This is the hour in which we must show ourselves to
be valiant soldiers of Jesus Christ. We
must give faithful witness of that faith before men, and in a few hours we will
receive the witness of [Christ’s] approval before the angels.” He was burned at the stake on December 22,
1560, in Seville.
Two noted preachers of the Seville cathedral at this time were Juan Gil
and Constantino Ponce de la Fuente.
Juan, commonly known as Egidio, came under suspicion by the Inquisition
after being nominated by Charles V as bishop of Tortosa. He influenced Diego Derojas and Augustín
Cazalla, who became influential in reform efforts at Valladolid. In 1552, Juan was forced to recant ten
propositions, but he died a natural death in 1555. Constantino took an interest in Protestant writings, although he
probably never became fully Lutheran in his theology. How his attraction to these writings originated is unknown, but
already by 1543 he was active among “Protestant” sympathizers in Seville. Following a trip in the entourage of Philip
II through the Netherlands and lower Germany in 1548, his study of Protestant
writings was renewed. He became
Seville’s new cathedral preacher in 1556 over the objections of the Inquisitor
General, Fernando de Valdés. His
writings were examined for heresy, and he was arrested by the Inquisition. He died in his cell of dysentery two years
In 1558, the Inquisition began to prepare for a decisive move against
the growing number of humanists circles with inclinations toward
Protestantism. A letter Charles V wrote
to his daughter, Juana, on May 25, 1558 when she was serving as regent in Spain
while Philip II was in the Netherlands, supplied the motive for this. “Believe me, my daughter,” he wrote, “if so
great an evil is not suppressed and remedied without distinction of persons
from the very beginning, I cannot promise that the king or anyone else will be
in a position to do it afterwards.” This letter marked a turning point in
Spain’s policy for dealing with religious innovators—they would be treated as
threats to the state as well as to the established church.
In Valladolid, Protestantism had made inroads among the nuns at Santa
Clara and San Belén. In Seville, it had
passed from San Isidoro to neighboring monastic houses, and was beginning to
take root among the citizens of the region.
Those who saw Protestantism as a serious threat to the Catholic Church,
felt that desperate measures were needed.
Warned of the impending danger, the monks at San Isidoro discussed
their situation and decided to allow each to do what he thought best under the
circumstances. Twelve decided to leave
the monastery, split up, and take different routes out of Spain. They agreed to meet the following year in
Geneva. Among these were Juan Pérea de
Pireda, Casiodoro de Reina, and Cipriano de Valera, each of whom played an
important role in the history of the Spanish Bible.
after these monks had departed Seville, the Inquisition took swift action. In Seville, eight hundred persons were
arrested by the Inquisition. In Valladolid eighty were imprisoned. Many of those condemned, confessed their
“heresy,” denounced it, and were sentenced to various punishments. Many others died in prison before they ever
received a final verdict.
The first auto de fe against the Protestants occurred in Valladolid on May 21, 1559. Fourteen persons were burned as heretics, dozens
of others were given public punishments less severe. The second auto de fe was conducted in Valladolid on October 8. The first auto de fe in Seville took place on September 24. Among those burned at the stake
were four monks from San Isidoro who had decided to remain in Spain. Seville’s second auto
de fe occurred on December 22, 1560. Fourteen persons were executed this time,
among them Julián Hernandez. These autos de fe
continued for the remainder of the century, with about a dozen people being put
to death for “Lutheranism” each decade.
Besides this, others suffered less severe punishments, such as
confiscation of property, imprisonment, and public disgrace.
The Spanish “Protestants” destined to have the most lasting impact were
among those who decided to flee Spain.
Communities of Spanish refugees soon appeared in Antwerp, Strasbourg,
Geneva, Hesse, and London. As political
fortunes shifted, these refugees had to continue their flight to other
places. Even in exile, they were not
safe. The Spanish crown tried to
repatriate such persons by various means, including occasional seizures outside
Spain. Those captured were sent home to
face the consequences there and provide a message of warning to others who
might be contemplating similar flight—the long arm of Spain’s Inquisition could
potentially reach you anywhere you might choose to flee. In a few cases Spanish Protestants in exile
were even assassinated, Juan Díaz being the most noted example.
de Enzinas is probably the most noted figure among the Spanish Protestant
exiles. In 1543, he published his
Spanish translation of the New Testament, based on the Greek text produced by
Erasmus. Francisco dedicated this
translation to Charles V, personally presenting the emperor a copy in
Brussels. Charles promised to study the
work himself. The result was Enzinas’
arrest for spreading heresy. Francisco
remained in prison for over a year, when he managed to escape and make his was
to Wittenberg. He spent the remainder
of his life moving from place to place among the refugee centers.
In 1556, Juan Pérez de la Pineda published his version of the New
Testament. This was soon followed with
a translation of the Psalms. When he
died, he left his entire estate to be used to publish Spanish versions of the
Bible. Even so, Alonso del Canto, an
agent for the crown, was able to inform Madrid that this translation was in the
works prior to its release, thus enabling Spanish authorities to be on the
lookout for copies as they made their way to Spain.
Casiodoro de Reina was the most outspoken of the group to flee the San
Isidoro monastery. Arriving in Geneva,
he did not hesitate to criticize Calvin and the city fathers for burning
Servetus. He said that in so doing,
Geneva had become a “new Rome.” After
that, he spent the remainder of his life moving from place to place—Frankfurt,
London, Antwerp, and other places.
Finally, in 1569, he managed to publish his Spanish translation of the
New Testament. In 1602, Cipriano de
Valera revised Casiodoro’s translation, which became the most used version of
the Spanish Bible among Protestants into the twentieth century.
With the great autos de fe to the year 1562, Protestantism in Spain was almost totally
extinguished. The Inquisition became so
vigilant in its search for any seed of Lutheranism that it moved in full force
against anything even remotely similar to Protestantism. Probably most of those accused of
Lutheranism were in no real sense Protestant.
For example, any disparaging remark against images, clergy misconduct,
required fasts, or the Inquisition was taken as a sign of Protestantism. In 1568, a peasant woman’s comment that “all
those who die go straight to heaven,” was interpreted as a rejection of the
doctrine of purgatory, and thus an indication of Lutheranism. As these examples illustrate, most cases
reveal the ignorance of the inquisitors rather than a serious presence of
Protestantism. In this, the
anti-Protestant Inquisition of the sixteenth century was reflective of the
tactics used against the conversos in prior ages.
Because the Inquisition’s severe autos
de fe literally burned Protestantism out of
Spain, there was little dissent upon which to build or with which to connect
when Protestants became active again in the nineteenth century. Yet, several persons of evangelical
conviction made valiant evangelistic efforts, even though they had to begin a
completely new work in a very hostile environment.
In 1834, unwittingly, certain Protestants and Spanish liberals revived
the dream of al-Andalus following Spain’s dismantling of the Inquisition. A few
extraordinarily courageous people began to test the waters of toleration by
distributing Bibles and evangelical books.
It was in this environment that the British and Foreign Bible Society
sent evangelist George Borrow to Spain. Apparently, his sole mission was to
distribute Bibles, for he did not attempt to establish a church of any sort. The effect of such efforts is largely
unknown, although around 1860 several Spaniards who had somehow come to embrace
the evangelical faith went to the English colony of Gibraltar to further their
training in Christian vocation. This was providential, for when a short-lived
republic was created in 1868;
these evangelicals were prepared to move quickly in establishing Protestant
communities in several major cities. Manuel Matamoros García was the acknowledged
pioneer of this so-called “Second-Reformation”.
Matamoros was the son of a career army officer and anticipated a
military career for himself. He attended the Academia Militar de Toledo,
but his father’s death and the subsequent loss of financial support forced him
to drop out. He returned home to
Málaga, but was forced to enlist in the Seventh African Regiment, headquartered
in Seville. Apparently, during the
interval between leaving school and entering the army, he had visited Gabraltar
where he had been introduced to the Gospel. Once in the army, he shared his
Protestant convictions with a few trusted friends and with the chaplain. Someone eventually reported his confidential
conversations to superiors, who forced his dismissal. When he returned to
Málaga, he began preaching. Soon he was
preaching secretly throughout Andalusia, at great personal risk. A group of young Spaniards was attracted to
his preaching and joined in his evangelical commitment. Francisco de Paula Ruet and Antonio Carrasco
were the most noted among these disciples. Matamoros was apprehended in 1860,
and testified that he no longer accepted the Catholic faith. He was sentenced to 9 years in prison. Serious health problems led to his release
in 1863, after which he spent the rest of his life in France and Switzerland
writing and directing the secret publication of the edición malagueña del Nuevo
Testamento de Reina y Valera. He died
in 1866 at thirty-two years of age.
In addition to Matamoros and his followers, other Protestant
evangelistic efforts came from missions in Britain, the United States, Holland,
Sweden, and France. This uncoordinated
aid had the effect of splintering the fledgling Protestant presence in
Spain. Among the competing efforts were
those of the Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Darbyites, and Baptists.
After the monarchy was restored in 1874, things became more difficult
for Spain’s Protestants. Twenty-one of their leaders were arrested and given
long prison sentences on charges of plotting against the state. Only negative world opinion succeeded in
having their sentences commuted to exile.
Much of the ensuing century would be trying for Spain’s evangelical
churches. Legislation, civil
institutions, and popular attitudes permitted little tolerance for non-Catholic
people. They were often misunderstood,
maligned, and accused of subversive activities. Yet, they somehow manage to survive under the monarchy.
During the years between the royal restoration in 1874 and the outbreak
of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Francisco Giner and Don Miguel de Unamuno
became pivotal visionaries for reviving the dream of al-Andalus. They are exemplary of a small minority of
Spanish Catholic liberals during this era that promoted religious toleration
and pluralism. They exerted important influence on a rising
group of students, teachers, writers, and statespersons. Giner taught law at the University of
Madrid, and sought to remain within the Catholic tradition. However, his liberal views on democracy,
personal freedom, and toleration were incompatible with the hierarchical ideals
of both the Spanish government and church. When he died in 1915, he could not even be buried in consecrated
soil. Yet, he left a legacy of
toleration which influenced some of his disciples to become leaders in founding
of the Second Republic in 1931. Miguel
de Unamuno never became Protestant, but was ecumenical and evangelical in
spirit. He rejected the widely held notion that “the
Roman Church and the Spanish soul were made for each other,” and spent the last
years of his life in exile for various of his convictions.
The Civil War years (1936-1939) were especially hard for Spanish
Protestants. They were strong supporters of the Republic,
which became a source for many of their political problems when Franco won the
Under the Franco regime, Protestant religious activities were severely
restricted. Protestants could not
display any external sign identifying their meeting places as churches. No publicity could be given for their
services. Congregations could not
publish literature for distribution.
They could not legally propagate their faith nor have schools for their
children, even though Protestant children suffered great discrimination in
public schools. In some regions, they
could not even have religious services for burial of their dead. Only in rare cases could Protestants be
legally married (only if one of the two had been baptized as a Catholic). In addition, Protestants were effectively
eliminated from certain professions because the training could only be obtained
in schools requiring at least a nominal assent to the Catholic faith.
Spanish Protestant survival under these very difficult circumstances
was possible only because of their incredible faith commitment and their strong
links to sister churches abroad. In 1978, a new constitution, with guarantees
of individual and collective rights to religious freedom and the separation of
church and state, began a new day in Spain’s religious history. The Organic Law
of Religious Freedom of 1980 implemented the constitutional provision for
religious freedom. This freedom
introduced new possibilities for Protestant churches in Spain, but also
included certain restrictions. In order
to enjoy the full benefits of the law, it was necessary for religious
organizations to be listed in the Register of Religious Entities. This created a complicated legal impediment
for some religious groups and fell somewhat short of full religious freedom.
have constituted a very small group since their beginnings in Spain in the
latter half of the nineteenth century.
The country’s first known Baptist presence came via two students from
Spurgeon’s College. Soon after their
arrival, they decided that uniting with the Brethren, who were already
established in Spain, would be their best avenue for ministry. Thus, they did not initiate any Baptist
work. William Ireland Knapp, a Baptist
from America, was the first person to undertake a specifically Baptist
witness. Having served as a professor
of modern languages and only recently graduating with his Ph.D. from New York
University, Knapp arrived in Spain in 1867.
He began independent evangelistic effort soon after his arrival, but his
most successful work began in 1869—during the years of the short-lived first
republic when the “Second Reformation” launched by Matamoros was reaching its
apex. Knapp conducted a seven-month
evangelistic effort in Madrid, resulting in 1,325 professions of faith. By 1870, he had organized five small
Early in his work, Knapp wrestled with the issue of whether he should
form these congregations as part of a united Protestant church in Spain, or
organize them as a specifically Baptist work.
He decided initially to cooperate with the Presbyterian Church in Spain. While not changing his Baptist convictions,
he felt the success of his work depended on a wider Christian unity. Soon a Presbyterian congregation of 1,400
members was functioning in Madrid. By
mid 1870, however, Knapp’s views had changed.
He writes: “On August 3rd I called the Presbyterian church
together, laid before them all the facts of the case, with which they were
fully acquainted before, and asked them to decide by a perfectly free vote
whether the church should continue as a Presbyterian one or a Baptist. The vote was unanimous in favor of baptism
in its true sense. I then asked them to
dissolve formally the Presbyterian church, which they did.” By the end of August, 1870, Knapp had
baptized thirty-eight people and organized the first Baptist church in Spain.
With the support of the American Baptist Missionary Union, Knapp
initiated work in Alcante and Valencia.
As late as 1873, he was highly optimistic about the future of Baptist
work in Spain. In 1874, everything
changed abruptly. The restoration of
the monarchy brought renewed opposition and repression. Few people would attend Protestant services
any longer. Knapp grew increasingly
discouraged over the lack of results, and in 1876 decided to return to the United
States. The Spanish Baptist pastors he
had trained to continue the work were unable to meet the demands of this
ministry, and Knapp’s churches and missions soon disappeared.
Eric Lund, a Swedish Baptist, took up Baptist work in Spain in
1877. He initiated his efforts in
Galicia, but soon moved to Figueiras in Catalonia where a Baptist church was
organized in 1881. Supported first by
the Swedish Baptist Union, then by the American Baptist Missionary Union, Lund
started other missions which had resulted in ten churches and 115 members by 1896. In 1900 Lund left Spain to begin Baptist
work in the Philippines.
Other Swedish Baptists joined Lund’s evangelistic work in Spain. Charles A. Haglund, John Uhr, and Nils John
Bergtson focused attention on the region of Valencia, organizing a church there
in 1888. The missionary strategy of
this group involved establishing numerous small churches in the villages. By 1915, there were 350 Baptists in this
In 1921, as a consequence of the London Conference a year earlier,
Southern Baptists assumed responsibility for the work in Spain. In 1922, a
seminary was opened in Barcelona with the vision of making the work more
permanent and indigenous through training national leaders. However, the school was closed in 1929 due
to a lack of students and funds.
Southern Baptists decided to limit their work to evangelistic programs
until a larger community of Baptists could be developed. The Unión Evangélica Bautista Española was
formed by Spanish Baptists in 1922. In
1929 the Union was reorganized into the Spanish Baptist Convention, which itself
was renamed Unión Evangélica Bautista Española in 1957. By 1930, Spanish Baptists numbered about
In 1931, the Second Republic was founded. Although the new government offered increased religious liberty,
Spanish Baptists were still too small to effectively sustain the work
alone. The Great Depression of the
1930s, meant very limited funds and personnel support from Baptists in
America. This was worsened by the
Spanish Civil war from 1936-1939, followed by the Fascist regime under Francisco
Franco. Since Baptists were
overwhelmingly loyal to the republican government, they were looked upon with
disfavor by the new regime. The war
resulted in the loss of equipment and members.
By 1940, Spanish Baptists had declined by twenty-five percent.
Under Franco, Baptist work declined further. Between 1939 and 1945, only the Baptist church in Madrid was able
to remain open. The end of World War II
brought some relief, but Baptists and other Protestants continued to suffer
government closure of churches, fines and prison sentences for even low-key
evangelistic activities, exclusions from many jobs and universities, and
prohibitions from public identification of church buildings and services. In 1956, Spanish Baptists helped organize
the Committee of Evangelical Defense to influence the government to grant
greater religious freedom. Despite the
hardships, by 1958, Spanish Baptists had grown to 2,200.
In 1967, the Law on Religious Liberty was passed, granting greater
religious toleration. However, the
Unión Evangélica Bautista Española perceived that this law still relegated
Baptists to a second-class status. The
Union urged its churches not to register with the government under the law. Several churches disagreed with this tactic,
and registered anyway, thereby creating major controversy within the
Union. In 1978, a new constitution,
followed by the Organic Law of Religious Freedom of 1980, gave Protestants full
rights. This does not mean, however,
that Protestants enjoy the same privileges at all levels as the Catholic
In 1949, a division occurred among Spanish Baptists when the Southern
Baptist mission informed Samuel Vila, president of the Spanish Baptist
Convention, that he and his church could no longer continue in the convention
because of funds they were accepting from another Baptist denomination. Two churches with 400 members withdrew from
the convention immediately. These and
like-minded churches formed the Federacion de Iglesias Evangélicas
Independentes de España in 1957. Today
this body constitutes the Second largest Baptist denomination in Spain.
In 1955, World Baptist Fellowship became the first of several
fundamentalist Baptist groups from the United States to initiate church
planting efforts in Spain. They organized
their work under the Comunión Bautista Independiente, which in 1990 numbered
about 825 members in 36 churches. Other
Baptist bodies active in Spain include A Convenção Batista Brasileira (1977),
Strict Baptists (Asociación de Iglesias Evangélicas Bautistas Independentes de
España), Free Will Baptists (1976), Conservative Baptists International (1985)
and the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada (1985).
None of the writings of either Spanish Protestants or Catholic liberals
reflects any perception that in pursuing the illusive goal of religious
toleration and freedom they are attempting to recapture a dream which was once
a reality in Spanish culture—the dream of al-Andalus. It was the vision of al-Andalus that laid the foundations of
modern Spanish culture—the interweaving of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim
bloodlines into a distinctive new culture.
In that culture of convivencia, religious communities were allowed to embrace and practice the
convictions of their own faith, while being invigorated and inspired to
creative heights through the challenging perspectives of divergent groups. That cultural anomaly enabled Spanish Jews
to reach new levels of literary and philosophical achievement. It influenced European Christians toward new
accomplishments in philosophy, theology, architecture, and science. It spurred Umayyad Muslims to some of the
greatest cultural achievements of their entire history. Yet, neither the wider Muslim, Christian,
nor Jewish communities could see this as a positive thing. Each, when it had the power, attempted to
force religious uniformity regardless of individual faith conviction.
In many ways, since the 1978 constitution and the 1980 Organic Law of
Religious Freedom, Spain has recaptured the dream of al-Andalus. According to the Register of Religious
Entities, the Federation of Protestant Churches represents 350,000 Protestants,
the Federation of Spanish Islamic Entities, located in Córdoba, represents
450,000 Muslims (not counting illegal immigrants who may constitute another
250,000), and the Federation of Israelite Communities of Spain representing
approximately 25,000 Jews. However, at
least 50,000 Jews regularly attend religious services in 13 of the 17 provinces
of Spain. There are also 3,000
Buddhists registered (although there may be another 6,000 who practice that
faith, but are not registered).
The first section of the Register of Religious Entities includes 11,081
entities created by the Catholic Church and 570 non-Catholic churches,
confessions, and communities. The
second section (called the general section) includes 329 entities which do not
have an agreement with the government.
The third section contains canonical foundations of the Catholic Church
and includes 153 such entities.
The Register contains a total of 899 non-Catholic churches,
confessions, and communities in all its sections. These include 747 Protestant church entities with 1,643 places of
worship, 5 Orthodox entities with 5 places of worship, 3 Christian Science
entities with no place of worship, 1 Jehovah’s Witnesses entity with 873 places
of worship, 1 Mormon entity with 30 places of worship, 15 Jewish entities with
15 places of worship, 99 Muslim entities with 45 places of worship, 2 Baha’is
entities with 12 places of worship, 3 Hindu entities with no place of worship,
and 13 Buddhist entities with 13 places of worship. In a sense, al-Andalus has been revived.
However, many people sense a need to move beyond convivencia—a
living together in a relationship between unequals—to one of full
equality. For example, a senior
Protestant leader argues that Protestants should have “the same tax exemptions
as Catholics, the same access to legal services, the same right to establish
foundations, the same presence in the communications media, and better
treatment in the matter of religious groups.” In 1999, a senior Muslim leader complained
that thirty Muslim girls in Granada had been required to remove their veils for
their national identity card photos, while Catholic nuns were not required to
remove their head coverings for their cards. The government income tax includes a box
that allows taxpayers to assign 0.5239 percent of their taxes to the Catholic
Church. Protestant and Muslim leaders
would like their adherents to have a similar option. [note, negotiations
underway in 1999].
Jewish leaders, on the other hand, would like for their adherents to be
able to make the same designations, but do not want the information included on
the income tax forms. Their reluctance
stems from past treatment, which included persecution and expulsion from the
country for persons identified by the government as Jews. The Jewish community has also asked for a
one-time reparations payment for their community’s historic experience of suffering. A spokesman says, “Jews would not claim
compensation for their lost patrimony, but would like the State to take back
part of what was once theirs and is now in the hands of the Catholic Church. These properties could then be used jointly
by Jews and Catholics.”
In April 1999, the Helsinki Human Rights Federation presented a report
to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that included
criticism of Spain for failing to implement its commitment in the 1984 Budapest
Document on freedom of religion and conscience. The report criticized Spain for discrimination against “new
religions,” which are often considered by authorities to be dangerous and
destructive, while older, established religions receive financial and other
privileges from the State.
For decades, Spanish Protestants survived very difficult circumstances
through exemplary faith commitment and strong ties to sister churches
abroad. In the latter half of the
twentieth century, many of those churches became largely self-sufficient. In 1975, the Unión Evangélica Bautista
Española assumed greater responsibility for the administration and support of
its work, and today is essentially independent. The 1978 constitution and
subsequent laws have helped guarantee individual and collective rights to
religious freedom and to the separation of church and state. That freedom has introduced new
possibilities for Protestant churches in Spain, but also forces them to rethink
their relationships. This is never an
easy process. Most Spanish Protestants
come from traditions and/or have had experiences in their struggles for
survival that cause them to be reluctant to trust ecclesiastical alliances or
ecumenical cooperation. For example, in
1990, of all the Baptist groups in Spain, only the Unión Evangélica Bautista
Española was a member of the Baptist World Alliance. Lack of appropriate cooperation among Protestants can be a
hindrance to their work and augment fragmentation—a potentially serious problem
in light of the fact that they make up such a small percentage of the Spanish
In significant ways, the early medieval experiment of al-Andalus
provides a good model for the pluralistic world in which we live today. Spanish history offers the world’s religious
communities insight into both the creativity which is possible through learning
to live together in pluralistic diversity, and the paralysis and stultification
which comes with religious intolerance and repression. We can, and likely will, pursue many
possibilities as we confront an increasingly diverse and pluralistic
world. In my view, however, history
cautions against exclusivistic, isolationistic, and intolerant approaches. Our best options require interaction,
communication, and appropriate cooperation, even across confessional
lines. If the dream of al-Andalus
teaches us anything, it is that cultures prosper best when people of differing
faith convictions learn to respect each other’s basic human rights, allow personal and collective freedom of
conscience and appropriate religious expression, and learn what might
appropriately be shared and what must be carefully guarded. Baptists have historically dreamed of their
own version of al-Andalus. We need to
preserve that dream in the face of reactionary forces which have emerged with a
very different agenda for our world today.
As an alliance of Baptists who share the challenges of pluralism and
secularism, the Spanish dream of al-Andalus could help inspire us to our noblest
ideals and encourage us to renew our commitment to be advocates of religious
freedom, which has been a guiding principle from our birth.
 Relación histórica de la Judería de Sevilla, Seville: n.p., 1849, p. 24, cited in Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition; A Historical Revision, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997, p 46.
 Andrés Bernáldez, Memorias del reinado de los reyes Católicos, ed. M. Gómez-Moreno and J.M. de Carriazo, Madrid: ?, 1962, p. 99, cited in Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition; A Historical Revision, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997, p. 47.
 Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews, vii, trans. in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, p. 158.
 P.D. King, Law and Society in the Visigothic Kingdom. Cambridge: University Press, 1972, p. 129.
 María Rosa Menocal, The Ornament of the World; How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain. Boston, New York, London: Little, Brown and Company, 2002, p. 25.
Ibid., p. 26.
 See, Gabriel Jackson, The Making of Medieval Spain, ?: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1972.
 Menocal, Ornament of the World, p. 27.
 Ibid., p. 54.
 Ibid, p. 28.
 See Anwar G. Chejne, Muslim Spain; Its History and Culture, Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1974.
 Ibid., pp. 11-12.
 See Thomas F. Glick, Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979.
 Menocal, Ornament of the World, p. 46.
 See W. Montgomery Watt, A History of Islamic Spain, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1965.
 Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 1.
 See Joseph E. O’Callaghan, A History of Medieval Spain, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975.
 Norman Roth, Conversos, Inquisition and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Madison: ?, 1995, pp. 34-35.
 Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 6.
 See J. H. Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, London: Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd., 1963.
 Benzion Netanyahu, The Origins of the Inquisition in fifteenth-century Spain, New York: Random House, 1995.
 Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 33.
 Justo L. Gonzalez, Uma História Ilustrada do Cristianismo, vol. 6, A Era dos Reformadores, São Paulo, Brasil: Vida Nova, 1980, p. 202.
 See Edward Boehmen, Spanish Reformers of Two Centuries from 1520, 3 vols, New York: Burt Franklin, 1965, and Alfredo de Castro, História de los Protestantes españoles. Cádiz: Inmprenta, Librería, y Litografia de la Revista Médica, 1851.
 See M. Menendez y Pelayo, Hist”oria de los heterodoxos españoles, 2 vols., Madrid: Bibloteca de Autores Cristianos, 1956.
 John E. Longhurst, Luther’s Ghost in Spain. Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1969.
 Thomas McCrie, Reformation in Spain, Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publishers, 1842.
 See John Stoughton, Memories of the Spanish Reformers, London: The Religious Tract Society, 1883, and Daniel Vidal, Nosotrios los Protestantes españoles. Madrid: Cuadernos y Ensayos Marova, 1968.
 Cited by Gonzalez, Era dos Reformadores, p. 201.
 Archivo General de Simancas, section Patronato Real, leg 28, f. 37, cited in Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 95.
 Camto to Eraso, Brussels, 12 May 1564, in Archivo General de Sinamcas, section Estado, leg, 526, f. 125, in Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 99.
 Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 98.
 George Brown, A History of the British and Foreign Bible Society, vol II, London: Bagster & Sons, 1859.
 George Barrow, The Bible in Spain; or The Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of an Englishman in an attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1896.
 Richard Herr, The Eighteenth Century Revolution in Spain, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969.
 Dale G. Vought, Protestants in Modern Spain; the Struggle for Religious Pluralism, South Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1973.
 See Arajuo C. Gardia and Kenneth Grubb, Religion in the Republic of Spain, London: World Dominion Press, 1933.
 Jaques Delpech, The Oppression of Protestants in Spain, Boston: Beacon Press, 1955, p. 9.
 Jorge Cesar Mota, D. Miguel de Unamuno e a Bíblia, Boletim No. 14 (Nova Série), Departamento de História No. 9, Curso de História das Religiões No. 1, São Paulo, Brasil, 1978.
 Antonio Montero Moreno, La Persecusión religiosa en España; 1936-1939, Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1961.
 See Ray Alan, “Franco’s Spain and the New Europe,” Commentary (September, ?): 233-236.
 See Juan A. Monroy, Defesa de los Protestantes españoles, Tonger: Ediciones Luz y Verdad, 1958.
 Delpech, Protestants in Spain, p. 13-14.
 Aimé Bonitas, The Church in Spain, trans from Franch, Commission on Inter-church Aid, Refugee, and World Service, Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1984, p. 3.
 Ian M. Randall, “’The Blessings of an Enlightened Christianity’: North American Involvement in European Baptist Origins,” American Baptist Quarterly XX (March 2001): 20.
 W.I. Knapp, circular letter published in Missionary Herald of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (1 June 1870): 83-84, in O.E. Simmons, “A Critical History of Southern Baptists in Spain with Implications for Future Ministry,” D.Min. thesis, San Francisco Theological Seminary, 1982, p. 75.
 W.I. Knapp, letter published in Baptist Missionary Magazine (December 1870): 448, cited by Simmons, “Southern Baptists in Spain,” pp. 75-75.
 See Albert W. Wardin, ed., Baptists Around the World, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995, pp. 282-83.
 See Robert G. Torbet, A History of the Baptists, 3rd ed., Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1963, p. 194.
 See John David Hughey, Religious Freedom in Sapin; Its Ebb and Flow, Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1970 (reprint).
 U. S. Department of State, Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Spain, Washington, D.C.: Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, September 9, 1999.
 See Juan A. Monroy, Liberdad religiosa y Ecuminismo, Madrid: Editorial Irmayol, 1967, and José Desumbila, El Ecumenismo en España, Barcelona: Editorial Estela, S.A., 1964.