Mudéjar is the name given to Moors or Muslims of Al-Andalus who remained in Iberia after the Christian Reconquista but were not converted to Christianity. This term is used to contrast with both Muslims in Muslim-ruled areas (for example, Muslims of Granada before 1492), and also in contrast to Moriscos who were forcibly converted and may or may not have continued to secretly practice Islam.

By extension, “Mudéjar” refers to an architecture and decoration style in (post-Moorish) Christian Iberia that was strongly influenced by Moorish taste and workmanship, reaching its greatest expression in Medieval Aragon, Andalusia and the city of Toledo. The distinctive Mudéjar style is still evident in regional architecture, as well as in music, art, and crafts, especially Hispano-Moresque ware, lustreware pottery that was widely exported across Europe.

The Treaty of Granada (1491) protected religious and cultural freedoms for Muslims in the imminent transition from the Emirate of Granada to a Province of Castile. After the fall of the last Islamic kingdom in the Battle of Granada in January 1492, Mudéjars, unlike the Jews who were expelled that same year, kept a protected religious status, although there were Catholic efforts to convert them. However, over the next several decades this religious freedom deteriorated. Islam was outlawed in Portugal by 1497, the Crown of Castile by 1502, and the Crown of Aragon by 1526, forcing the Mudéjars to convert or in some cases leave the country. Following the forced conversion, they then faced suspicions that they were not truly converted but remained crypto-Muslims, and were known as Moriscos. The Moriscos, too, were eventually expelled, in 1609–1614.

The word Mudéjar is a Medieval Spanish borrowing of the Arabic word Mudajjan مدجن, meaning “tamed”, in a reference to the Muslims who submitted to the rule of the Christian kings. The term likely originated as a taunt, as the word were usually applied to domesticated animals such as poultry. Another term with the same root, ahl al-dajn (“people who stay on”), were used by Muslim writers, notably al-Wansharisi in his work Kitab al-Mi’yar.

This term is used to contrast with both Muslims in Muslim-ruled areas (for example, Muslims of Granada before 1492), and also in contrast to Moriscos who were forcibly converted and may or may not have secretly practiced Islam. A related word is mozarab, which refers to a Christian individual living under Islamic rule.

Mudéjar style

In erecting Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance buildings, builders used elements of Islamic art and often achieved striking results. Its influence survived into the 17th century.

The Mudéjar style, a symbiosis of techniques and ways of creating architecture resulting from Muslim and Christian cultures living side by side, emerged as an architectural style in the 12th century on the Iberian peninsula. It is characterised by the use of brick as the main material, in particular for bell towers. Mudéjar did not involve the creation of new shapes or structures, unlike Gothic or Romanesque, but applied the elements of Islamic art and architecture to medieval Christian architecture. Such Islamic influences included ancient Arabic calligraphic scripts, Kufic and Naskhi, which follow repetitive rhythmic patterns.

The dominant geometrical character, distinctly Islamic, emerged conspicuously in the crafts: elaborate tilework, brickwork, wood carving, plasterwork, and ornamental metals. To enliven the surfaces of wall and floor, Mudéjar style developed complicated tiling patterns. Even after Muslims were no longer employed in architecture, many of the elements they had introduced continued to be incorporated into Spanish architecture, giving it a distinctive appearance. The term Mudejar style was first coined in 1859 by the Andalusian historian and archeologist José Amador de los Ríos.

Mudéjar often makes use of girih geometric strapwork decoration, as used in Middle Eastern Islamic architecture, where Maghreb buildings tended to use vegetal arabesques. Scholars have sometimes considered the geometric forms, both girih and the complex vaultings of muqarnas, as innovative, and arabesques as retardataire, but in Al-Andalus, both geometric and vegetal forms are freely used and combined.

Historians agree that the Mudéjar style first developed in the town of Sahagún, León under Christian rule, as an adaptation of architectural and ornamental motifs, especially through decoration with plasterwork and brick. Mudéjar then extended to the rest of the Kingdom of León, Toledo, Ávila, Segovia, etc., giving rise to what has been called brick Romanesque style. Centers of Mudéjar art are found in other cities, such as Toro, Cuéllar, Arévalo and Madrigal de las Altas Torres.

It became most highly developed in Aragon, especially in Teruel but also in towns such as Zaragoza, Utebo, Tauste, Daroca, and Calatayud. During the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, many imposing Mudéjar-style towers were built in the city of Teruel, changing the aspect of the city. This distinction has survived to the present day. Mudéjar led to a fusion between the incipient Gothic style and the Muslim influences that had been integrated with late Romanesque. A particularly fine Mudéjar example is the Casa de Pilatos, built in the early 16th century at Seville. Seville includes many other examples of Mudéjar style. The Alcázar of Seville is considered one of the greatest surviving examples of the style. The Alcázar expresses Gothic and Renaissance styles, as well as Mudéjar. The palace originally began as a Moorish fort. Pedro of Castile continued the Islamic architectural style when he had the palace expanded. The parish church of Santa Catalina (pictured) was built in the 14th century over an old mosque.

While international interest tends to emphasize Mudéjar masonry, including the sophisticated use of bricks and tiles, Spanish scholars also have a view on Mudéjar carpentry, and last not least on the combination of both; several churches with slanting wooden ceilings, supported by transverse arches of stone, called diaphragms.

Portugal also has examples of Mudéjar art and architecture, although the examples are fewer and the style simpler in decoration than in neighbouring Spain. Mudéjar brick architecture is only found in the apse of the Church of Castro de Avelãs , near Braganza, similar to the prototypical Church of Sahagún in León. A hybrid gothic-mudéjar style developed also in the Alentejo province in southern Portugal during the 15th–16th centuries, where it overlapped with the manueline style. The windows of the Royal Palace and the Palace of the Counts of Basto in Évora are good examples of this style. Decorative arts of Mudéjar inspiration are also found in the tile patterns of churches and palaces, such as the 16th-century tiles, imported from Seville, that decorate the Royal Palace of Sintra. Mudéjar wooden roofs are found in churches in Sintra, Caminha, Funchal, Lisbon and some other places.

Latin America
Latin America also has examples of Mudéjar art and architecture, for example in Coro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Venezuela. Other examples of the style in Latin America include the Monastery of San Francisco in Lima, Peru, and the Iglesia del Espíritu Santo in Havana, Cuba.

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