Creating Christian Granada: Society & Religious Culture in an Old-World Frontier City, 1492-1600

Article excerpt

Early Modern European Creating Christian Granada: Society & Religious Culture in an Old-World Frontier City, 1492-1600. By David Coleman. (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 2003. Pp. xii, 252. $39.95 clothbound.)

"When did Granada become a Christian city?" With this question, David Coleman begins his book, insisting that the superficial response, "1492," is only the beginning. Coleman's answers illuminate complex processes of the early modern world. He clarifies the Castilian incorporation of Granada, the influx of immigrants, the transformations of the indigenous inhabitants, and the religious reforms developing in the frontier city. Although a unique example, Granada's history framed Spanish American experience, Tridentine reforms, hoaxes, multi-ethnic societies, and, according to Coleman, a better way to understand the "policy that underlay early modern Catholic reform."

People and events of post-conquest Granada vividly emerge. Domingo Ferez de Herrasti, a Castilian soldier, benefited so successfully from his public positions that he was often accused of corruption. Or Yaya el Fisteli, a Muslim from Malaga, who lived in Granada, and when baptized in 1498, became Fernando Morales with positions on both city councils. Francisco Nunez Muley lobbied both Charles V and Philip II but remained frustrated in defending his morisco traditions. Pedro Sânchez and Juana González, Christian immigrants, came for frontier opportunities but ended up beggars.

Coleman balances archival materials with secondary histories. He examines cathedral sources, chancellery cases, municipal notes, and notarized documents. He blends the histories of Granada and analyzes religion in the sixteenth century. Council of Trent details are retold through the experience of Peclro Guerrero, Archbishop of Granada from 1546 to 1576 and leader of the Spanish delegation during the last period. At home in Granada, Guerrero overruled clerics who wanted to challenge his authority. Coleman points to the force with which Guerrero signed "PETRUS granatens" and not just the normal "P. granatens." Coleman sympathizes with the Archbishop of Granada, but the portrayal conforms more to an Italian observation that Guerrero was "harder and more obstinate than a rock." Coleman notes the irony of the surname:guerrero means warrior in English. Even Pedro, Guerrero's given name, is apt. The fighting, rock-like Archbishop of Granada had to work in a world of compromises. No one leads by brute force.

The first chapters of Creating Christian Granada identify the Christian immigrant community and Granada's indigenous inhabitants, the mudéjares and moriscos. …