Ok so.. I have poured 5kg of crushed ice in a waterproof cooler bag and placed it strategically between my knees and my poor ageing laptop ( aka Steve) as I am not sure that Steve will be with me much longer, as this heat is making him emit some very peculiar whirring noises and he may not even survive to the end of this column unless my prayers to Babbagia, the American God of Laptops , and the freshly made laplolly actually both work.
I had better type quickly then eh?…. which is really not easy, as Steve no longer has any letters on his keypads and despite several administrations of Chinese Bazaar sticky labels over the past few months, I can only see the letters which would spell something rude in Russian.
This week, as it is now the BIG fiesta season, I plan on giving a “Lol” lecture to all the readers who have an insane interest in the history of the Moors and Christians, but knowing me as I do, this may not actually happen.
I will really try to keep to my topic and not wander off on tangents about how lovely horses are or why my fat cat eats far less than my thin cat ( Soooo unfair!) or why the most gratifying thing to happen to me this week was treading on 3 frozen peas that had escaped the curry, landed on the floor and became the most welcome cooling sensation since this damned heatwave started 100 years ago.
So, back to the Moors and Christians then……. 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 after giving Steve his meds for the night, I went on a Google crusade, determined to establish the whys, whens and wherefores of this huge annual 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.
Hell.. my wordcount, like the temperature, is a bit on the high side! But notice how I have not digressed… yet.
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!
PS….Steve made it 🙂