On This Day
1609 – Philip III of Spain issues the decree of the “Expulsion of the Moriscos”.
The Expulsion of the Moriscos (Spanish: Expulsión de los moriscos) was decreed by King Philip III of Spain on April 9, 1609. The Moriscos were descendants of Spain’s Muslim population who had converted to Christianity because of coercion or by royal decree in the early 16th century. Since the Spanish were fighting wars in the Americas, feeling threatened by the Turks raiding along the Spanish coast and by two Morisco revolts in the century since Islam was outlawed in Spain, it seems that the expulsions were a reaction to an internal problem of the stretched Spanish Empire. Between 1609 through 1614, the Crown systematically expelled Moriscos through a number of decrees affecting Spain’s various kingdoms, with varying levels of success.
Although initial estimates of the number expelled such as those of Henri Lapeyre range between 275,000 and 300,000 Moriscos (or 4% of the total Spanish population), the extent and actual success of the expulsion order in purging Spain of its Moriscos has been increasingly challenged by modern historians, starting with the seminal studies carried out by François Martinez (1999) and Trevor J. Dadson (2007). Dadson estimates that, out of a total Morisco population of 500,000, a figure accepted by many, around 40% avoided expulsion altogether and tens of thousands of those expelled managed to return. The places where the expulsion was particularly successful were the eastern Kingdom of Valencia, where Muslims represented the bulk of the peasantry and ethnic tension with the Christian, Catalan-speaking middle class was high; as a result, this region implemented the expulsion most severely and successfully, leading to the economic collapse and depopulation of much of its territory, worsened by the bubonic plague which hit Valencia only a few years later. The Kingdom of Aragon was, after Valencia, the part of the peninsula with the largest rate of expelled Moriscos and suffered the consequences as disastrously as Valencia, according to Henri Lapeyre.
Of those permanently expelled, the majority eventually settled in the Barbary Coast (Maghreb), with around 30,000 to 75,000 people ultimately returning to Spain. Those who avoided expulsion or who managed to return to Spain merged into the dominant culture. The last mass prosecution against Moriscos for crypto-Islamic practices took place in Granada in 1727, with most of those convicted receiving relatively light sentences. By the end of the 18th century, indigenous Islam and Morisco identity were considered to have been extinguished in Spain.
Born On This Day
1921 – Mary Jackson, African-American mathematician and aerospace engineer (d. 2005)
Mary Jackson (née Winston, April 9, 1921 – February 11, 2005) was an American mathematician and aerospace engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which in 1958 was succeeded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She worked at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for most of her career. She started as a computer at the segregated West Area Computing division in 1951. She took advanced engineering classes and, in 1958, became NASA’s first black female engineer.
After 34 years at NASA, Jackson had earned the most senior engineering title available. She realized she could not earn further promotions without becoming a supervisor. She accepted a demotion to become a manager of both the Federal Women’s Program, in the NASA Office of Equal Opportunity Programs and of the Affirmative Action Program. In this role, she worked to influence the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, engineering, and mathematics careers.
Jackson’s story features in the 2016 non-fiction book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race. She is one of the three protagonists in Hidden Figures, the film adaptation released the same year.
In 2019, Jackson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. In 2020 the Washington, D.C. headquarters of NASA was renamed the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters. NASA held a virtual ceremony for the naming.
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