Moorish novel: characteristics and representative works

The Moorish novel Is a native Spanish literary genre characterized by neoplatonic love, religious themes, which embodied the plural reality of a Spain where the Moors, Jews and Christians lived in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

At first the character of the Moorish novel was realistic, recounting the complex interaction between the Muslims and Christians especially in the war of Granada. In these novels exaltan qualities like the bravery of the heroes, the honor, the generosity and the love, which is idealized and always transcends all the borders and difficulties.

Moorish novel A magic carpet, which can be used to transport passengers quickly or instantly to their destination.

In the Moorish novels there is a great description of the customs and tries to promote a utopian coexistence between Moors and Christians. It also has a historical background as it includes real facts and figures that have been documented in history. The main characters are Muslims, most of the narrative is in the third person and the stories of these novels are usually brief.

The Maurofilia

The Murofiliaca literature that characterizes the Moorish novel is one that tries to improve or idealize the image of the Moors, projecting them as equals and trying not to reflect the negative perception they had at that time. Maurophilia seeks equity and projects the Moors with equal rights as Christians and is characterized by attitudes of respect and even affection towards the secular enemy.

The Murofiliaca literature also describes how the customs and cultures were mixed in the border zone where the Christians adopted moriscos cultural habits. The knightly ideas of hidalguía, gallardía, valor and honorabilidad were similar for Moors and Christians in Moorish novels where in some examples, even the defeated Moor generates the sympathy of the chronicler.

The Moorish novel of the XVI century

The Moorish novel of the XVI century has works of necessary reference. These are"The history of the Abencerraje and the beautiful Jarifa, the works of Ginés Pérez de Hita on the civil wars of Granada and the work of Mateo Alemán with his History of love between Ozmín and Daraja.

1- History of the Abencerraje and the beautiful Jarifa (1565)

It is a love novel of a Moor that falls prisoner when it was arranged to marry with the love of its life. Jarifa. This Moor named Abindarráez tells his captor Don Rodrigo de Narváez, notable knight and Alcaide de Antequera, about the Abencerrajes of Granada, men of renown victims of a false rumor that expressed that some Abencerrajes conspired to kill the King of Granada and so Divide the kingdom of Granada.

The King, decides to order to kill the Abencerrajes burning their properties and forcing them to leave the lands of Granada. Abindarráez, a young man born in Granada, vows eternal love to Jarifa, who, taking advantage of his father's willingness to travel, calls the young Abindarráez to marry in secret, and it is the moment that Don Rodrigo de Narváez takes him prisoner.

Don Rodrigo feels compassion for the young man and gives him the opportunity to go to marry his girlfriend, with the condition of returning in three days. Abindarráez arrives where Jarifa, marries her and she for not separating from him, returns with her husband to surrender with him also like prisoner.

The couple arrive at the castle of Narvaez, who leaves them free, and helps them to obtain the pardon of the father of Jarifa before the clandestine nuptial act. Abindarráez and Jarifa send to Don Rodrigo a sum of money in gratefulness to his freedom, but this one, it renounces to receive the sum doing honor to its chivalry.

Characteristics of the history of the Abencerraje and the beautiful Jarifa

It is a short story that unfolds before the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula, which was ruled to the north by the Christians and the south by the Moors. It is a novel that exalts heroism and the word as a symbol of honor.

It is a Moorish novel with characteristics of the novels of chivalry in which values ​​such as courage, honesty, forgiveness and love stand out. The virtues of the heroes of the novel (both the young Moor Abindarráez and Don Rodrigo) are idealized as in every Renaissance novel and idealized love, a love fundamentally cuts, very common in sentimental novels.

In this novel exists the maurofilia in where the values ​​of a Moor are equal to those of a Christian. This Moorish novel bears many similarities with the pastoral novel and the Byzantine novel and the Renaissance ethic is a primordial ingredient in this novel. It is necessary to emphasize the fact that the Abencerraje had an incomparable success inspiring numerous romances, including the own Don Quixote of La Mancha, is believed the Abencerraje and that its beloved is Jarifa.

2- Ginés Pérez de Hita. Description of his works

It is considered that Ginés Pérez de Hita is the best exhibitor of the Moorish novel. Author of History of the bands Zegríes and Abencerrajes, Moorish knights of Granada, of the civil wars that were in her and particular battles until the King Don Fernando V won it (1595).

His work"Civil Wars of Granada"is considered very important for having had great influence in Cervantes, Calderón de la Barca, Washington Irving, among others.

At the time that Perez de Hita writes the civil wars of Granada was undergoing a process of acculturation of the Moors. The first part of the Civil Wars of Grenada provides a platonic perspective of the harmony between the Muslim and Christian communities, trying to extol the human virtues as an essential element in both, as was done in The Abencerraje.

Pérez de Hita narrates the history of the kingdom of Granada and describes the tensions between the Abencerrajes and the Zegríes. Pérez de Hita describes in his work the Granada society of the time, where chivalric stories of love, jealousy, rivalries, stories of bordering and Moorish loves predominate, where gallantry stands out. In the last chapters of the first part of his work, Pérez de Hita describes the dramatic departure of the last Moorish King of the Iberian peninsula.

The second part of his work on civil wars is based on facts lived by the author, Pérez de Hita, who narrates the process of repression to which the Moors of Granada were subjected. This work is much more realistic than the first and narrates the atrocities committed by the Moors, although it does not stop appearing the maurofilia that exalted the Moors.

This second part ends with a strong criticism of the way the Moors of the Granada region were evicted meaning, according to the author, a great loss for all Spain. Pérez de Hita makes a notable protest for the policy of the Christian government in his work.

In this second part is to expose the protest of the Moors in a situation of almost slavery: "... to come out of such remarkable works and pious slavery..."(p.5); "... for almost a hundred years the Christians have robbed and usurped our happy glories and esteemed trophies in the past times for ours acquired and won... but with insatiable hunger for our lives and haziendas, providing that they take away our old habit and Our sweet language (which we can not tolerate or suffer)... the rich tributes and uniforms that make us pay so out of all reason... calling us every day by pattern in their Churches, as if we were their slaves... What greater misfortune than not having freedom ?"

3- History of Ozmín and Daraja de Mateo Alemán (1599)

This novel of love inspires Cervantes himself in his works"The English Spanish"and"The liberal lover".

The story of Ozmir and Daraja is characterized by two Muslim protagonists and as in other Moorish works, is a novel in which idealized the relationship between Christians and Muslims. The novel unfolds in Seville, in the times of the reconquest and the same begins with the taking of Baza, in 1489, and culminates a little before the entrance of the Catholic Kings in Granada in January of 1492.

Daraja, the beautiful daughter of the mayor, is kidnapped and given away by Queen Elizabeth to Don Luis de Padilla, who has a daughter of the same age and a son named Rodrigo who falls madly in love with Daraja. Daraja is engaged to a young man of the Grenadian nobility named Ozmín, who is ill with love afflicted by the absence of his beloved and who, upon receiving news of Daraja, embarks on a dangerous road to Seville in times of war.

When he arrived in Seville, he asked for a job at Don Luis's house, where he was already a gardener and managed to see Daraja"between jasmine and myrtle." In a confrontation with locals, Ozmín is sentenced to death. Almost when it is executed, by a real provision, its execution is stopped.

The Queen receives the couple in Granada, where Ozmir and Daraja are baptized Christians, changing their names to Fernando and Isabel and having as their wedding godparents the Kings. They stay in Granada where they were happy and had"illustrious generation".


  1. Martín, E. (2004). Maurophobia / Islamophobia and Maurophilia / Islamophilia in 21st century Spain. Website: 21-1-2017, of the CIDOB Foundation.
  3. Wikiapuntes. (2012). The Moorish novel. Website: 21-1-2017, of
  4. Carrasco Urgoiti, M. The popular culture of Ginés Pérez de Hita. Website: 21-1-2017, from Fundación Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library.
  5. Ft. Guille, J. (2010). The Moorish novel. Website: 21-1-2017, from Blogger.
  6. Dominguez Arjona, J. (2012). THE HISTORY OF LOVE OF OZMÍN AND DARAJA IN SEVILLA. Website: 21-1-2017, by Galeón.

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