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Between Christians and Moriscos

Juan de Ribera and Religious Reform in Valencia, 1568–1614

Benjamin Ehlers

Publication Year: 2006

In early modern Spain the monarchy's universal policy to convert all of its subjects to Christianity did not end distinctions among ethnic religious groups, but rather made relations between them more contentious. Old Christians, those whose families had always been Christian, defined themselves in opposition to forcibly baptized Muslims (moriscos) and Jews (conversos). Here historian Benjamin Ehlers studies the relations between Christians and moriscos in Valencia by analyzing the ideas and policies of archbishop Juan de Ribera. Juan de Ribera, a young reformer appointed to the diocese of Valencia in 1568, arrived at his new post to find a congregation deeply divided between Christians and moriscos. He gradually overcame the distrust of his Christian parishioners by intertwining Tridentine themes such as the Eucharist with local devotions and holy figures. Over time Ribera came to identify closely with the interests of his Christian flock, and his hagiographers subsequently celebrated him as a Valencian saint. Ribera did not engage in a similarly reciprocal exchange with the moriscos; after failing to effect their true conversion through preaching and parish reform, he devised a covert campaign to persuade the king to banish them. His portrayal of the moriscos as traitors and heretics ultimately justified the Expulsion of 1609–1614, which Ribera considered the triumphant culmination of the Reconquest. Ehler's sophisticated yet accessible study of the pluralist diocese of Valencia is a valuable contribution to the study of Catholic reform, moriscos, Christian-Muslim relations in early modern Spain, and early modern Europe.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Series: The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science

Title Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiv

In February 1610, the archbishop of Valencia, Juan de Ribera, petitioned King Philip III to close the schools in the capital city dedicated to educating the children of moriscos, or baptized Muslims, in the Christian faith. Founded nearly a hundred years earlier, these schools represented the hope that the children among this religious minority could be induced to lead Christian lives despite the widespread ...

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pp. xv

I would like to thank the following people and institutions for their support of this project: the Fulbright Commission; the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Culture and United States Universities; the Center for Humanities and Arts of the University of Georgia; Richard Kagan and the history department of the Johns Hopkins University; Jorge Catalá and the history department of ...

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Prologue The Formation of a Tridentine Bishop

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pp. 1-8

Juan de Ribera lived most of his life in the kingdom of Valencia, but his roots were firmly planted elsewhere. Born in Seville around 1532, Ribera grew up among the well-laid gardens and classical statuary of the Casa de Pilatos, home to the prestigious Enríquez de Ribera lineage. His ancestors on the Enríquez side of the family descended from King Alfonso XI (r. 1312–50), making Ribera a distant cousin of Ferdinand the Catholic and thus of the ...

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Chapter One. Two Flocks, One Shepherd: Christians and Muslims in Valencia

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pp. 9-35

In March 1569 Juan de Ribera traveled eastward across Spain and took possession of the archdiocese of Valencia. In this new post he discovered a deeply divided flock,with Old Christians and moriscos separated by economic status, language, race, and religion. Ever since the Islamic conquest of Valencia more than eight centuries earlier, Christians and Muslims had engaged in a struggle for control of the region’s...

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Chapter Two. The Limits of Episcopal Authority: The Pasquinades of 1570–1571

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pp. 36-57

In the early morning hours of 10 August 1570, a thirty-four-year-old priest named Antonio Pineda posted handwritten copies of a broadsheet on the doors of the archiepiscopal palace, the school for morisco children, and the University of Valencia: We the students of the famous, celebrated, and illustrious University of Valencia, to you, Mr. Juan Ribera, bastard son of the filthiest, ...

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Chapter Three. Reform by Other Means: The Colegio de Corpus Christi

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pp. 58-79

On 24 October 1591, Juan de Ribera appeared before the civil court of Valencia declaring his desire to be established as a “son and resident” of the city, with all the prerogatives, privileges, and immunities enjoyed by natives of the realm under the kingdom’s laws. The archbishop presented several witnesses to attest to his residence in Valencia and to his many contributions to the city.1 The judges signed his ...


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pp. PS1-PS8

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Chapter Four. From Moriscos to Moros: Ribera and the Baptized Muslims of Valencia

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pp. 80-104

In 1583 the elderly morisco Francisco Zenequi appeared before the Inquisition of Valencia, accused of practicing Islam. As a resident of the coastal region of Gand

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Chapter Five. Disillusionment and Its Consequences: Ribera, Philip II, and the Valencian Moriscos

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pp. 106-125

On 14 May 1582, the grand inquisitor Gaspar de Quiroga wrote to Archbishop Ribera expressing his optimism that Philip II would heed his advice and follow through with the expulsion of the moriscos from Spain. Quiroga stated that he had forwarded Ribera’s report to Philip II “so that he will see the many excellent reasons that you give for remedying without delay the damage caused by the moriscos, bad neighbors ...

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Chapter Six. Justifying the Expulsion: Ribera and Philip III

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pp. 126-150

In the decade after the accession of Philip III (r. 1598–1621), a host of clerics and laymen renewed the debate over the morisco question. The famous arbitrista Martín González de Cellorigo, a lawyer in the employ of the Inquisition and the chancellery of Valladolid, criticized the prospect of expulsion as contrary to “the mercy that Your Majesty demonstrates toward all.” He attributed the continued apostasy of the New ...

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Conclusion: The Ideal Bishop and the End of Spanish Islam

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pp. 151-157

On 6 January 1611, Juan de Ribera passed away within the walls of his principal contribution to the city of Valencia, the Colegio de Corpus Christi. The drive to procure his beatification and canonization began at this moment, precisely when Ribera turned his legacy over to his followers. The success or failure of the many campaigns for the canonization of early modern Spaniards depended upon the influence ...


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pp. 159-214


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pp. 215-235


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pp. 237-241

E-ISBN-13: 9780801889240
E-ISBN-10: 0801889243
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801883224
Print-ISBN-10: 0801883229

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 8 halftones, 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science