Friday, April 25, 2008

San Juan de los Reyes



San Juan de los Reyes is a church in Toledo that Ferdinand and Isabella built with the intention of it being the place where they would be interred. (The architect was Juan Guas., according to Wikipedia.com) But when they conquered Granada and expelled the Moors completely from Spain, it was in Granada where they finally chose to be interred, not Toledo. The church in Toledo remains, however, and is located toward the top of the large hill on which Toledo is built. There is a is a little plaza in front of the church, and it overlooks the surrounding area. I stood there and took this video.

As I thought about these monarchs, their great victories but also their expulsions from Spain of the Jews and Moors and the installation of the Inquisition, I began to think of them not so generously. (After all, I am a Democrat.) Then we visited this church. I noticed an odd decorative feature on the outside walls, chains arranged on them hanging down. Carol read about the church from the guidebook, and we were informed that the chains were those of Christians whom Ferdinand and Isabella freed from the Moors when they took Toledo. Ideologically I moved a bit to the right at that point. Reality has a way of moving people in that direction, I think.


6 comments:

Walter said...

that's fascinating about the chains. It's good to visit a place - visit the primary source. I think we forsake primary sources for commentary and interpretations so often.

Paul said...

I agree, Walter. It also occurred to me that Ferdinand and Isabella may have been schooled by the Moors in methods of suppression and thought control. I don't know that as a fact, of course, but in terms of judging them with regard to their explusion of the Moors and the Jews and the institution of the Inquisition, it is important to view their behavior in context. Part of that context would be the behavior of the enemy when it was in control. As to the Jews, I would think that they were simply allies of the Moors, and had worked out an accomadation with Moorish culture and become themselves embedded in Moorish society. That may have been justification enough to the minds of the Catholics that they had to go as well (not that Jews were a favored class to begin with).

Jana said...

This is fascinating. Thanks.

Walter said...

I think it would also be incomplete to start the ball rolling with the Moorish occupation.

The sins of the fathers visited upon the sons. It's not hard to imagine connecting the dots all the way back to the garden. Like a disease to its source.

Paul said...

Before the Moors, the Visigoths (Christian), before the Visigoths, the Romans, before the Romans, the Iberians or somesuch. At least according to a very helpful museum in Cordoba. As to the Visigoths, we learned in Toledo that the Visigoth "rite" is still celebrated each week in the big cathedral there. We read that the Visigothic rite had continued in some form under the Moors, but that when the Catholics drove out the Moors they also attempted to suppress and eliminate the Visigothic rite. However, it persisted and, finally, an accomadation was made. So in this Catholic cathedral in Toledo, each week there is a Visigothic service with a Visigothic priest. Whether there are other places in Spain where those rites are celebrated, I do not know.

Sean said...

very interesting