Conversos, Jews, Moors, and Christians

medieval sword and red ribbon


It’s 1491. The Moorish Kingdom of Granada is about to surrender to the combined armies of Isabel of Castile and Fernando of Aragon. The population of the kingdoms of Spain is divided into three main groups. The largest is comprised of Cristianos Viejos, Christians of old, people of ‘clean blood,’ of heritage untouched by the other two groups: Jews and Moors. Somewhere in between are Conversos or New Christians.

Supposedly, Conversos had “mixed blood.” Which means their parents or grandparents converted to Christianity, voluntarily or not. In fact, some were Christians, others hidden Jews. It’s their Kafkaesque dilemma that inspired me to write The Red Ribbon. Imagine having to hide what you are, what you believe. Who could you trust? Not your Jewish brethren (For the complete outlook). Jews regarded you as apostates. Not Christians either. Christians suspected you, despised your origins, called you ugly names. You could not hold certain offices. They forbade you from entering religious or military orders. And you were squarely in the sights of the Inquisition.

The Red Ribbon is the story of Iñigo and Ynés. He is a Christian of old lineage, knight and officer of the Military of Order of Santiago, a veteran of the wars of Granada. To him, the solution for the ills of Spain is the union in faith of the peoples of Spain. Ynés is a Converso, a young widow, and a skeptic in matters of religion. The novel recounts the escape of Ynés and her family across a wintry landscape, a journey they make with Iñigo as their escort. It is a journey from prejudice and conflict to love.

Five centuries have passed since the setting of my novel and we still debate the question. Can people of deeply held beliefs to coexist?



About Adelaida

Adelaida Lucena de Lower is a writer and avid reader. She has just finished THE RED RIBBON, a novel about prejudice and love set in 15th century Spain. She is writing and researching the next. Think Moorish invasion, Goths, treason, mayhem, and brother against sister.