In medieval times, Christians on the Iberian peninsula fought wars to expel Muslim rulers from Europe. This protracted conflict, known as the Reconquista, was concluded in 1492 when the last of the Muslim rulers surrendered. Less than a hundred years later, in 1565, the Spanish Empire’s conquering impulse had carried it across two oceans into Southeast Asia, where Christian Spaniards, once again, confronted and fought against Islam. Though there are distinct differences between these two Christian-Muslim conflicts, there are also important similarities. As the Reconquista had done in Spain, Christian-Muslim conflicts in the Philippines—known as the Moro Wars—shaped local perceptions of Islam, established political and cultural boundaries, and attached personal loyalties to one or the other of these two global religions. This paper analyzes this process by focusing on two Christian conquests of Moros. The first of these was the conquest of Manila. When the Spanish arrived, Manila was a developing Moro settlement with ties to Islamic rulers on Borneo, Mindanao, and Jolo. Over several decades the Spanish gradually coopted Moro authority in Manila, and then finally expelled it through the prosecution of several conspirators involved in the Tondo conspiracy. This conquest established the political and cultural center of the colony and its emerging multiethnic colonial community. The second conquest happened on Min danao. Unlike the conquest of Manila, the conquest of Mindanao was never completed. Though the Spanish colony won several battles, Moro authority continued to thrive in the region. By focusing on the triumphal entry of a Spanish army following one of these victories, this paper shows how the constant Christian-Muslim conflict reaffirmed and gave personal meaning to the boundaries separating the Moros and the Christians in the archipelago. Together these two different conquests demonstrate how the revival of the Reconquista contributed to the creation of the Philippine colony.


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pp. 285-310
Launched on MUSE
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