The Expulsion of the Moors from Portugal

Afonso Henriques, a reader and frequent commenter here at Gates of Vienna, sent me a wealth of material last month. He included several translations of Portuguese news articles and blog posts, accompanied by his own introductory note.

I procrastinated over the material because so much time-consuming close editing would be required. In the end I decided to post only his introductory note, which concerned a couple of news articles. Here are brief excerpts from them, to give you an idea of what Afonso is referring to:

Lisbon: 11 thousand of the 15 thousand inhabitants of Socorro are immigrants

The “borough” of Socorro, in Mouraria, possesses some 15 thousand inhabitants, 11 thousand of which are already foreigners, the president of the “borough”, Marcelino Figueiredo (from the Social Democrats) has told Lusa.

Two men killed with a knife in Mouraria

A eye witness alerted the PSP (Public Security Police) and identified the suspect.

Two men, of 29 and 34 years old, were killed with a knife late last night, in Mouraria, Lisbon. The victims, who originated from Punjab, an Indian State, had been in Portugal for little longer than one year, and lived in the Terreirinho Street, the same street where their bodies were found on the floor almost lifeless and where the alleged murderer resided.

These were the incidents that prompted Afonso to write me. Here’s what he said (somewhat edited for clarity):

Hi Baron Bodissey,

Because Gates of Vienna is mainly an anti-Jihadist blog (though much more than that) I felt that the first text that I send to you should be related to it. And now, I found what I may describe as the first Muslim “cultural enrichment” in our country since the end of the wars between Americans and North African Berbers, when the Moors ceased to attack our Southern costs in search of slaves and concubines.

Afonso IIIOur “relationship” with Islam started in 711 with the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. In 1249, Muslims were disempowered with the conquest of the Algarve by D. Afonso III, King of Portugal and the Algarves (plural, as the Algarve, or Al-Gharb, the West in Arabic, was then composed of seven Moorish kingdoms.). But the Muslims only lost their foothold in the Peninsula in 1492 with the Conquest of the Kingdom of Granada by the Catholic Kings of Spain, namely Isabella II of Castille who commanded the troops that expelled the last Moorish King of the Peninsula, Boabdill.

The Muslim (and Jewish) population, however, were not expelled until 1497. And after that, or better, especially after that, the Moors started to viciously attack our coasts searching for slaves and concubines. In 1415 the counterattack started with the Portuguese conquest of a very important Muslim trade city in Northern Morocco, Ceuta. It was in fact, the beginning of European Colonialism.

After the American war against the Barbary Pirates in the early 1800s and especially, after the subsequent European control of the North African costs, the attacks on our coasts ceased. We can only remember the incident of El Perejil in 2002 (I was in Southern Spain back then!) since that time.

– – – – – – – –

But now it seems that the Moors are attacking again. I will leave you some articles [about conditions and incidents in the borough of Socorro, in Mouraria, as mentioned in the excerpts above] I gathered and translated and you may do whatever you want with them.

Fortunately this incident did not involved directly Portuguese or “Western” peoples but it is nonetheless sad and worrying. It is also very worrying this happened in Portugal and not in the Central African Republic.

I must emphasize that things like this happen, if not every day, certainly every week since multiculturalism arrived in town. Though, usually, it is not that bad, as deaths occur but are not frequent. Also, the perpetrators are rarely Muslims due to their low numbers in the country (around 1%).

MourariaBut first I want to talk about Mouraria and Socorro. Those are neighbourhoods of Lisbon. They are situated in the Historical Centre and are becoming more and more degraded. I must add that both neighbourhoods are not merely some two or three hundred years old. Both are millenary neighbourhoods and so you may now understand the cultural importance of both. Socorro is actually just a “borough” of the neighbourhood of Mouraria.

The word Mouraria (Moorish neighbourhood?) derives from Mouro (Moor), and actually, when Lisbon was conquered in 1147 by the first King of Portugal — the man who (re)conquered more land in the Peninsula for the Christians — D. Afonso Henriques, with the help of the European Christian Crusaders (mainly from Britain, Ireland, Normandy and Eastern “Germanic” France) made Mouraria a de facto ghetto, the only safe place in the city where Muslims and Jews could live. This continued until 1497 (with the edicts of expulsion) but most Moors fled Lisbon anyway after the massacres that followed the capitulation of Islamic Lisbon.

Mouraria thus became a poor neighbourhood and, after the Muslims, it was a place in which prostitution and other not-so-recommended practices thrived. Poor people inhabited it and it became a great centre for the National song, Fado, with all its sadness.

Today it is well known for drug traffic, especially the Martim Moniz area. By the way, Martim Moniz was a noble Portuguese who participated in the Conquest of Lisbon and became a hero by giving his life of his own free will, being crushed by the closing doors of the passage to the Muslim castle. That place received his name for his bravery. Today it is a paradise for drug dealers and pimps of Brazilian prostitutes.

It would have been impossible to conquer Lisbon if it weren’t for Martim Moniz’s bravery.

Afonso Henriques
Lisbon, Portugal

12 thoughts on “The Expulsion of the Moors from Portugal

  1. President Madison-sent the fleet to finish the job that Jefferson had started against the Barbary pirates.

    “It is a settled policy of America that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute.
    The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none.”

    If officials from my US gvt. have acted otherwise—I want it to be revealed.

  2. “The Muslim (and Jewish) population, however, were not expelled until 1497. And after that, or better, especially after that, the Moors started to viciously attack our coasts searching for slaves and concubines. In 1415 the counterattack started with the Portuguese conquest of a very important Muslim trade city in Northern Morocco, Ceuta.”

    The 1415 date in the third sentence doesn’t seem to fit with the description in the second sentence in relation to the date 1497 in the first sentence. Perhaps 1415 was a typo?

  3. Enrich, my bad.

    The muslims had controle of our lands until 1492; They were expelled both from Portugal and Spain in 1497.

    We started to pay back, to controle muslim territory in 1415.

    That was the counter-attack.


    As I’ve said, Portugal gain control of all his lands, ending the muslim control in 1249. Spain was only able to do this in 1492.
    By 1415, the Portuguese were already conquerin territory in Moroocco. That was our conunteratack.

    However, only in 1497, with the edicts of expulsion and the “Leis de Limpeza de Sangue” (Cleaness of Blood laws) were all muslim and the vast majority of moors and Jews expelled. In 1497 those laws were already enforced in both Portugal and Spain, Spain had this laws one or two years earlier, I guess.

    The “Cleaness of Blood Laws” stated that: All moors and Jews had to fled the Penisula.
    And that anyone who wanted to have a middle to high ranking work in the Kingdoms had to proof that he had no moorish or Jewish ancestry untill the fourth or fifth generation.
    The laws lasted untill the end of the XVIII century (French Revolution influences?).

    However, the Jews were quiet successfull in trespassing this law.

  4. Thank you Afonso for your contributions to this site.
    I find historical posts such as this fascinating as I clearly learned nothing in high school about world history.
    I then moved on to a degree in building technology but, I did minor in architectural history. So, I learned history through the lens of the built environment as it related to the societies in which it was constructed.
    My point in telling you this is that I can’t think of a single building I studied in Portugal. Hence, I know nothing of your country!

  5. Alfonso,

    Thanks for your clarification.

    On another note, I can see the reason for expelling Muslims — since they invaded in the first place, treated the Christians cruelly for centuries, and if allowed to remain after the re-conquest, would be dangerous within society.

    But I cannot see why Jews would be expelled: Jews never invaded Spain & Portugal; Jews never treated Christians cruelly; and Jews would pose no physical dangers to society if allowed to remain.

    So what were the reasons given for expelling Jews?

  6. Erich: Alfonso …

    Man alive, I can hardly blame the loquacious one for getting a bee in his bonnet. Y’all, learn to cut and paste if you’re not prepared to get someone’s user handle straight. It’s frickin’ Afonso!

  7. Thank you Zenster,
    that little annoying l, always there…


    I was making a long post. For you to understand why the Jews were expelled, you would have to understand the context of the whole situation but it was gtting too big and I had not reached even half of what I had to say. So, I will only simplify and probabily you will not get the whole picture and will label me an anti-Semite. But here it goes:

    First, the Christians and the muslims hated but both despised the Jews.

    Second, the Jews during the conflict did not took a stance. They were sometimes mediators and they were seen by both muslims and Christians as the ones who were seeking profits for themselves, not wanting to take sides but not caring over Christian or moorish bloodshed as long as it benfited Jewish interests.

    Third, in the beggining of the conflict the Jews saw the muslims as “Semitic Brothers” who would save them from “Christian opression”. They even opened the doors of some cities to the muslims. I believe Toledo was one of them, if so, it was the most important city in Hspania, the Capital of the Visigothic Germanic Kingdom who rulled all the Pennsula.

    Fourth, the Jews were usually not poor. They were a steady middle class of comerciants and stuff and because of that, they had more privileges than the average citizen. Nobody wants to see a foreign being granted benefits while your own people starve.

    Fifth, the Vatican fought the Jews because, not did they only killed Our Lord Jesus Christ, they were also a bad influence on the Catholic people.

    There was a widespread feeling against the Jews. And they were expelled by that, by the fact that they would never convert to Catholicism and also due to pure anti-African Nationalism (Moors, Jews and Arabs all came from Africa).

    In dayly life the Jew was seen as the other, a bad other who would suck your blood for money and marry your daughters if he had a chance. I think all this make a good list to expell the Jews.

    I’ll translate to you a classic from Portuguese literature from the XVI century, when those laws were empowered for long and the Jews were wanted by the Holly Inquisition. You’ll see how the Jew was seen in society (the stereotypes came after Jewish actions, but still are sterotypes).

  8. This is called “O Auto da Barca do Inferno” (The “Auto” of the boat to hell) and it was written by Gil Vicente to be a play for Royal amusing at request of the King himself. It was made in order to satirise all the society and was very polemical back then. Nonetheless, the King enjoyed it. It was polemical because the Nobel ends up in hell and the only who goes to the paradise is the fool.

    The action passes in the purgatory. There is a river and two boats, one for hell and the other to paradise. The Devil is there judging the people in order to get them into his domains.

    Oh! you came in bad time!…

    Is it so this boat one that can suit me?

    This boat is property of its owner.

    Let me pass, take my money.

    And that goat, will it come?

    Of course, the goat will have to come.

    What a dispensible passanger!

    Without the goat, how will I go there?

    Not even me, no, not even me wil take “big goats” (mother-fu*+ers).

    So have this four coins
    and more will be paid to you.
    For what will be done for you
    let me pass the “big-goat” (mother-fuc*er)!
    Do you want another coin?

    No, you will not go not even with me.

    Why will not the Jew go
    Where all the others go?

    And the Nobel man, who gave him…

    Me, not me?
    It was the farmer, the colonel,
    punish those fools!

    Bad luck to you, insignificant,
    dirt, sadness, fire, wood,
    Let shit come to you!
    Let bad luck help you!
    Or God, let him help you
    If in him you believe!
    Do you took money from the farmers?
    Tell me, son of the horned one!

    The Fool (from the people):
    Were you who stole me the goat, you “big-goat” (mother-fuc*er)?
    To me you look like
    An insect
    killed by fire.

    Jew, they will pass you then,
    because there is more poor people coming.

    The Fool (from the people):
    And he urinated at the door
    of the church of Saint Gião!
    And he used to ate meat
    on the day of Our Lord! (In the Catholic tradition, nobody can eat meat on that day)
    And he squezes Our Saviour, (It may mean two things. Disrespect toward Jesus and, according to far leftist Historians, masturbation)
    And urinates on the fishing boats!

    Sus, sus! Let’s go!
    You, Jew, will go swiming,
    Because you’re such a bad person.
    If you want, take the goat with you!

    So the Jew is so despizable that not even the Medieval devil can share a boat with him. The Jew will go to hell swiming while the others go by boat. This illstrate well how the Jews were seen in Portugal and Spain and their expuslion prevented many massacres, others happened nonetheless.

  9. Thanks Afonso,

    you wrote

    “also due to pure anti-African Nationalism (Moors, Jews and Arabs all came from Africa).”

    Are you saying that all (or most) of the Jews in Spain at that time came along with the Moorish invasions somehow? Or did Jews immigrate from Africa into Spain separately (before) the Moorish invasions?

  10. If you see our position in a map you’ll understand that we’re very close to Africa.

    From imemorial times that wind from the South is a bad sign here, I mean, since memory exists…
    This is because Southern winds came usually in the Summer and… voilá, they bring extremely hot air from the Saara desert. And because temperatures rise exponentially, especially in the South where temperatures can reach 45ºC in the Summer – I’d say that normally there are two weeks per summer with average temperatures surpassing the 40ºC in Southern Portugal and in South and interior Spain. That being said, at least in all Portugal (I suppose it may even reach the centre of Spain) with such high temperatures, when the wind blows from the West, (usually, there’s no to little wind or it cames from the West in the Summer) the wind is cool (not freezing or cold), smells like the ocean, and is quiet refreshing, not too wet but refreshing and leaving that Atlantic smell and “freshness”.

    When the wind cames from the South, it is dry and hot, too hot. A wind with no trace of humidity and suffocatingly hot. Actually, if the temperatures are hot, it will be difficult to breath against the wind. In Alentejo, in the Summer, people traditionally build houses in East-West disposition, then, older people sit outside with their chairs facing North, or any other disposition, but with their houses to the South of them. The result? Even in the more suffocating days, in those places protected by their homes from the Southern winds, will be no hot wind there. And the dawn in those places is fantastic because you can’t feel the wind, you feel the cold and humidity of the night, the sky darkens and when the stars and the moon are rising in the skys you still feel the warm of the hot day around you, a confortable warm that feels like the land is hugging you…

    Anyway, sorry for my extrapolations. I said all this because I wanted you to consider that South became, even before the muslims, equated with bad due to the Southern winds which gave rise to many popular sayings. From the East, the same happens but usually in Autum (the Fall Season?), and not so much because of the high temperatures but more because those changes in temperature may destroy the quality of the wines in the entire Nation. A saying that cames to mind is “De Espanha, nem bom vento nem bom casamento.” (From Spain, there will not come a good wind nor a good marriage) I can’t recall a saying about the Southern winds, that’s what happen when you live in a too muticultural and socialist rulled city. Traditions are discredited.

    Going to the centre of the question, the Jews came centuries before the muslims. They came from boat from Northern Morocco. Some, but few came from Italy to South-Eastern Spain, but the majority came from North Africa. Then, the muslims came also from North Africa. The majority of the Sephardim Jews went to Morocco or the Netherlands. There are presently some 5 thousand Jews in Portugal but I think the majority now is Post Second World War arrivals.

    The Jews did not came with the muslims. The Jews came before islam! But, once the South was “bad” it became even worst after the arrival of the Jews. When the moors came it apeared to have been confirmed, no good could came from the South. The South only lost its negative conotations after the Explorations and Colonialism, a victory over the dreadfull South.

  11. Afonso Henriques wrote:

    “the only who goes to the paradise is the fool.”

    You forget the 4 knights killed in combat.

    I studied that play in school too. 🙂

  12. I guess I did not study it as well as you… And I tryed to read it on my own independent of school but I never finished it. The same with the Lusíadas.


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