RESISTANCE BY MUSLIMS TO CHRISTIAN
RECONQUEST AND ASSIMILATION IN THE
Lawrence J. McCrank
Imagine a Muslim highland pastoral and woodland paradise in northeastern Spain, that after four centuries of prosperity and semi-autonomy due to its mountainous isolation, suddenly came to a cruel and bitter demise with the Christian Reconquest after the mid-twelfth century. It was a world lost to written history, except through folksong and legend embellished as tragedy and romance, reinforced by ruins and an awareness that the area, the Priorat of Catalunya Nova, is culturally distinctive still to this day.
One tale tells of a beautiful Muslim princess, 'Abd al- 'Azia (transcribed variously, i.e., Abd-elazia), devoted to her lover and lord “el rey moro,” or “rezuelo,” named Almira Almoniniz.1 This is perhaps a corruption of the sobriquet amir al-mu'minin, or “Prince of believers, ” rather than a personal name. Indeed, one Catalan chronicler, Pere Tomich, relying on some sources no longer extant, names a certain “Dentença” as the Muslim master of the Mountains of Prades who ruled from the castle of Siurana. He attempts to link this to a latter surname associated with the barony of Falset in the mountains of Prades, as if to suggest that the Muslim lord of Siurana was a Mudejar who, after the Reconquest, had retained some holdings there, but this is assuredly a corruption.2 So the exact identity of____________________