What religious changes have Iberian people experienced?
Instability was rife in southern Iberia in the high to late middle ages, and the lack of unity among the Moorish inhabitants was their downfall. The identity of al-Andalus began to evolve again with conquest from a new wave of Jihadist invaders known as the Almohads. With an established caliphate in North Africa, they formidably took advantage of small states within Muslim controlled areas of Iberia. The Almohads moved the capital from Córdoba to Seville where they completed their construction of the grand mosque, the Giralda in 1198. This mosque was inspired by the Almohad built Koutoubia in Marrakesh. As an example of Islamic architecture, the Giralda served not only as a place of worship but as a statement of Muslim dominance in the region. The Almohads changed the urban landscape of al-Andalus. Mosques were erected, and churches and synagogues burnt down with Christians and Jews inside them. Historian Maribel Isabel Fierro said of the Almohad caliphate: “This was a revolutionary movement and as a revolutionary movement they produced revolutionary violence”. Square coins were introduced to signify a ‘new era’. The face of cities such as Seville was changing, and Islam was becoming more prevalent as many Christians and Jews, for whom the Almohads had no deference, fled north to Christian Toledo where there were architecture and customs evoking Andalusian culture. Those who stayed were pressured to convert. Some did but often in name only, secretly maintaining their practices toward their true religion at home.
During the twelfth century, the Reconquista became allied with the crusading movement in the pursuit to spread Christendom. Popes Urban II and Innocent III offered the Reconquistadores the same indulgences as the crusaders and contributed proceeds to their respective missions. At the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, Caliph al-Nasir was defeated by Alfonso VIII of Castile and the Kings of Navarre, Portugal and Aragon. Widely regarded as a pivotal moment in Spain’s history, this is the conflict which finally overwhelmed the Almohads’ ability to resist and spurred Christian kingdoms on to the objective of completing the Reconquista. With al-Andalus again reduced to taifas and Emirates, Christians started to move south repopulating previously lost land. Muslim Spain’s heartland was captured, but it was not for another twenty-four years that Christian Spain managed to capture Córdoba, once the seat of the Umayyad caliphate. Ferdinand III of Castile was a military leader during the annexation and was determined to reign in al-Andalus. He had no intention of abandoning the aesthetic metropolis of Córdoba and strived for it to be an exclusively Catholic city. Muslim residents were driven out and replaced by Christian settlers. The physical identity of al-Andalus was therefore subject to re-Christianisation with regards to its new inhabitants and architectural features.