Date: Thu 01 Feb 1996 - 16:51:32 EET

        A small clarification. Peter Metcalfe uses the Reconquista as a model
for fast conversion through force. The real picture was a bit different.
        One of the reasons of the success of Islam in the first years of
expansion was its tolerant nature. Christians and Jews were tolerated, as
companion monotheists, only slightly deluded, as long as they accepted muslim
overlords. That reduced significantly resistance. In Spain many of the
conversions in the Eighth century were not after the conquest, but the
following years, when the muslims taxed higher the unbelievers. It was more a
matter of economic pressure. Until the eleventh century the muslims were
extremely tolerant, and only when pressed by the christian kingdoms did
they force conversions.
        Similarly the christians started less tolerant, but when their
territorial gains were important, they accepted whole muslim populations
without trouble. At the end of the Reconquista, more than a 10% of the
population were muslims.
        It was at the end of the fifteenth and the sixteenth century when the
religious persecutions began. In one year all the jews were converted or
exiled. The same happened some years later with the muslims. That was real fast
(but not Convert or Die, rather Convert or Lose everything but your life). The
infamous Inquisition prosecuted those that had converted but kept their old
        I have always thought that the Spanish Reconquista was a typical
example of the interactions between three major religions in a reduced
geographical area, for seven centuries. When French and German crusaders burnt
a muslim village in Aragon, the king ordered them killed to a man, as the
muslims were his subjects first, and muslims later.
        This has been a bit longer that I thought, I hope it is useful.
        Hasta la proxima.

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