Mudejar, Spanish Mudéjar, (from Arabic mudajjan, “permitted to remain”),الـ موديخار/ الـمُدجَّـنون " any of the Muslims who remained in Spain after the Reconquista, or Christian reconquest, of the Iberian Peninsula (11th–15th century).
In return for the payment of a poll tax, the Mudejars—most of whom converted to Islam after the Arab
invasion of Spain in the 8th century—were a protected minority, allowed
to retain their own religion, language, and customs. With leaders
assigned by the local Christian princes, they formed separate communities and quarters in larger towns, where they were subject to their own Muslim laws.
Mudejars were highly skilled craftsmen who created an extremely
successful mixture of Arabic and Spanish artistic elements. The Mudejar
style is marked by the frequent use of the horseshoe arch and the vault,
and it distinguishes the church and palace architecture of Toledo, Córdoba, Sevilla
(Seville), and Valencia. The Mudejar hand is also evident in the
ornamentation of wood and ivory, metalwork, ceramics, and textiles; and
their lustre pottery is second only to that of the Chinese.
By the 13th century, the Mudejars, especially those in the kingdom of Castile, had abandoned Arabic for the Castilian spoken by their Christian neighbours. They continued to write in Arabic, however, giving rise to their characteristic aljamiado literature.
valued for their artistic and economic contributions, the Mudejars
faced increasing difficulties as Christian princes strengthened their
grip on Spain, imposing an intolerable tax burden on the Mudejars and
demanding forced labour and military servicefrom them. The Mudejars
also were expected towear distinctive clothing and by the 14th century
were forbidden to pray in public. When Granada,
the last Muslim stronghold in Spain, fell in 1492, the situation of the
Mudejars deteriorated even more rapidly. They were now forced to leave
the country or convert to Christianity. Those who stayed and accepted
baptism, the Moriscos
(Spanish: “Little Moors”), often did not truly convert and practiced
their Islamic faith secretly. Christian authorities continued to
persecute them, and by 1614 the last of an estimated 3,000,000 Spanish
Muslims had been expelled from the peninsula.