Family Barrera, 1625

Things here in Spain have taken a turn for the worst. While many still believe that everything is going to turn out alright I truly believe that our country is in decline. Many of the skilled labor that our country once had have left the region. First, the Jews had to leave or convert to Christianity. Those that converted faced accusations that their conversions were not sincere and even presently Marranos are taken before the inquisition. Even all these years later after their forced conversions most people do not know how to identify them. They are neither truly Jewish nor Christian. For this reason they are often seen as untrustworthy and some people are hostile towards them. Next, the Moriscos were driven from the country from 1609 to 1614 by Phillip III. These people were once Muslims who converted to Christianity for political reasons. They were forced to convert or leave the country. However, even though they converted to Christianity they were eventually forced to leave anyway. They were not allowed to take many their possessions with them and their valuables including their land was confiscated.  Many of the Jews and Muslims that were driven from the country relocated to lands under the control of the Ottoman Empire like Constantinople where their skills are valued and they are able to live openly as Jews and Muslims.[1]

Unlike in some other places in the Mediterranean Christians here did not convert to Islam or Judaism. If they had converted they would have had to leave the country. However, I have heard accounts of people returning to the country after being held captive by the Ottomans and claiming to the inquisitors that they had been forced to convert to Islam in order to avoid being treated badly. These renegades are usually allowed to rejoin our society without repercussions. However it is hard to tell if they converted because they had to or because they wanted to and so many people do not fully trust them even though they claim they have returned to Christianity.[2]

My family now only does business with old Christians. However, business is hard to come by now days. The economy is suffering greatly and so there are not as many merchantmen needing ships. The government has begun to tax the poor very harshly however much of the money goes to the nobles instead of the crown. Valencia, one of the ports I do a lot of business in, has suffered greatly. Hundreds of thousands of Moriscos have been forced to leave from there. Since it was a Muslim port it makes sense that it was the hardest hit by the expulsion. However, so many people leaving has greatly hurt my family’s business and it does not appear that things will improve anytime soon. Some fellow Christians are trying to take over jobs that the Moriscos had previously held, however they do not have the experience that is needed for them to be successful.[3]

 

-Mariona Barrera, 1625


[1] Eric R., Dursteler, Venitans in Constantinople: Nation, Identity, and Coexistance in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2006), 103-129.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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