By Loraine – JC Admin ( from the archives).
This week marked the start of that BIG fiesta in Javea, so for readers who would like to take a light-hearted look at the history of the Moors and Christians, here are my scribblings…
There probably are not many of you who have not been to see these two Labour v Tory type punch-ups at some time or another and marvelled at the costumes, pageantry and “winederful ” Spanish partying. But how many actually know what started it all? Well, I have to be honest, I was not sure myself, so, I went on a Google crusade, determined to establish the whys, whens and wherefores of this huge annual Spanish fiesta.
Are you sitting comfortably? Have you got a beer, wine or coffee to get you through all this? OK, then I will begin…
Around 711 AD, when apples were fruit, Ipads were only worn by half blind sailors, Health and Safety checks meant ensuring your arrows were the right way up in your bolsa and the cannon was pointing away from your mates, the Muslims sneaked into Spain via Ceuta on the north African coast.
Strangely enough, they met with very little resistance.. perhaps because they invaded during siesta or coffee and brandy time, or it may well have just been that these guys coming over were actually quite cool and pretty damn clever. The invader dudes, whilst not exactly looking like Cap’n Jack Sparrow or Highlander, were a bunch of lads full of super new ideas and clearly pretty cultured. From astronomers to farmers, all arrived and immediately told the natives that all would be “muy bien” The Moors had a few chats over flagons of vino with the rich and famous of the land and promised them that they could keep all their stuff and that not ALL of their power would be removed.
In return for the favour, the Hacienda would cough up some 8th century Euros to pay for the newcomers fees and expenses. The Spanish said ” sounds fine to us” and so life went on for a while, much as it had before.
However, the cunning Moors were not all they pretended to be…. Hispania had more or less resigned themselves to their land now being in the hands of this alien race, who, in fact, were a far from peaceful bunch. Over the following 50 years or so, they brought in numerous Arab, Syrian and Berber pals but then ensued a good deal of punch-ups between them all.
The Arabs were the posh lot, who looked down on the Berbers, who were common uneducated warmongers. BUT, the Berbers were well pissed off with the Arabs’ snobbish attitude and so gave vent to their combative streak against their snooty fellow invaders.
Despite their superiority complex, the Arabs were not averse to marrying and having children with local females and this led to a big change in the look of the average Spanish citizen, who, back then, were blonde blue eyed bombshells! “Al-Ándalus”, as the Islamic invaders were known, quickly got their feet under the table, established political independence, a monarchy and armies.
Up in t’north King Alfonso II was a tad irritable about nasty strangers entering his country and throwing their weight about, and launched an attack from Asturias. That didn’t go to plan!
Meanwhile, down south, everyone as getting along spiffingly but the Christian kings in the north were rattling their cages big time and by the early part of the 10th century the only B&Bs you could find in Spain were battles and bloodshed.
So, in a nutshell, the Christians decided to get their asses in gear and in 1085 Toledo was recaptured, Cordoba fell in 1236 and Ferdinand, (who was being nagged no end by his Mrs.) finally reclaimed Granada in 1492.
So there you have it. Of course, without all that history, the Spanish summer festivals, re-enacting the many bloody battles, would not exist! But knowing the Spanish folk, they would have found another excuse to dress up and party!