Charles Reginald Haines.

Christianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) online

. (page 5 of 15)
Online LibraryCharles Reginald HainesChristianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) → online text (page 5 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


adire, nisi nos comites habeatis? Numquid sine nobis aeterna
vos cruciamina non adurent?"

[4] _Ibid._, sec. 31.

[5] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," sec. 32.

[6] _Ibid._, sec. 33. "Ipsi optimates et priores palatii."
George, being a foreigner, could not be charged with apostasy
like the others.

[7] _Ibid._, ii. c. xi. Alvar's Life of Eul., iv. 12.

[8] On a "sublime solarium," Eul., "Mem. Sanct.," c. ii. sec.
2. See Ortiz, "Compendio," iii. 52 (apud Buckle, ii. 442,
note.) "En lo mas cruel de los tormentos subió Abderramen un
dia á las azutens ó galerias de su Palacio. Descubrió desde
alli los cuerpos de los Santos marterizados en los patibulos y
atravesados con los palos, mandó los quemasen todos paraque no
quedase reliquia cumplióse luego la órdsa; pero aquel impio
probó bien presto los rigores de la venganza divina que volviá
por la sangre derramada de sus Santos. Improvisamente se le
pegó la lengua al paladar y fauces: cerróssle la boca, y no
pudo pronunciar una palabra, ni dar un gemido. Conduxeronle,
sus criados á la cama, murio aguella misma noche, y antes de
apagarse las hoqueras en que ardian los santos cuerpos, entró
la infeliz alma de Abderramen en los etemos fuegos del
infierno."

He was succeeded by Mohammed I. (852-886), a less capable and more
bigoted ruler than his father. No sooner was he on the throne than
Emila, a deacon, and Jeremiah a priest of St Cyprian's church, near
Cordova, following in the footsteps of so many predecessors, came
before the Kadi, and reviled Mohammed, - the former being enabled to do
this with the more point and effect, as he was to a remarkable degree
master of the Arabic language.[1] Emila and Jeremiah won the prize they
coveted, and were put to death (September 15, 852). The customary
prodigy occurred after the execution, in describing which the pious
Eulogius breaks into metre, saying, "Athletas cecidisse pios elementa
fatentur."

On the following day occurred an outrage which the most bigoted
partizans of the martyrs must have blushed to record. Two eunuchs,
Rogel, a monk of Parapanda, near Elvira, and Servio Deo, a eunuch of
foreign extraction, forced their way into a mosque, and by way of
preaching - as they said - to the assembled worshippers, they reviled
their Prophet and their religion. [2] Being set upon and nearly torn in
pieces by the infuriated congregation, they were rescued by the Kadi,
who imprisoned them till such time as their sentence should be declared.
They were condemned to have their hands and feet cut off, and be
beheaded; which sentence was carried into effect.[3]

[1] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct," ii. c. xii. Arabic boasts a larger
vocabulary of abuse than most languages: see the account of
Prof. Palmer's death in his Life by Besant.

[2] _Ibid._, c. xiii. secs. 1, 2.

[3] Eul. (1.1), adds: "Et ipsa gentilitas tali spectaculo
stupefacta nescio quid de Christianismo indulgentius
sentiebat."

Upon this fresh provocation the fury and apprehension of the king knew
no bounds. He might well be pardoned for thinking that this defiance of
the laws, and religious fanaticism, could only mean a widespread
disaffection and conspiracy against the Moslem rule. In fact, as we
shall see, the Christians of Toledo raised the banner of revolt in
favour of their Cordovan brethren at this very time. Mohammed therefore
seems to have meditated a real persecution, such as should extirpate
Christianity in his dominions.[1] He is said even to have given orders
for a general massacre of the males among the Christians, and for the
slavery, or worse, of the women, if they did not apostatize.[2] But the
dispassionate advice of his councillors saved the king from this crime.
They pointed out that no men of any intelligence, education, or rank
among the Christians had taken part in the doings of the zealots, and
that the whole body of Christians ought not to be cut off, since their
actions were not directed by any individual leader. Other advisers seem
to have diverted the king from his project of a wholesale massacre by
encouraging him to proceed legally against the Christians with the
utmost rigour, and by this means to cow them into submission.[3]

These strong measures apparently produced some effect, for no other
executions are recorded for a period of nine months; when Fandila, a
priest of Tabanos,[4] and chosen by the monks of St Salvator's monastery
to be one of their spiritual overseers, came forward and reviled the
Prophet: whereupon he was imprisoned and subsequently beheaded (June 13,
853). His fate awakened the dormant fanaticism of Anastasius,[5] a
priest of St Acislus' church; of Felix, a Gaetulian monk of Alcala de
Henares; and of Digna, a virgin of St Elizabeth's nunnery at Tabanos
(the latter being strengthened in her resolve by a celestial vision),
who, pursuing the usual plan, are beheaded the following day; their
example being followed by Benildis, a matron (June 15).[6]

[1] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct," ii. c. xii. "Non iam solummodo de
mortibus resistentium sibi excogitare coepenint, verum etiam
totam extirpare ecclesiam ruminarunt. Quoniam nimio terrore tot
hominim recurrentium ad martyrium concussa gentilitas regni sui
arbitrabatur imminere excidium, cum tali etiam praecinctos
virtute parvulos videret." A similar project is attributed
(mistakenly, without doubt) to Abdurrahman.

[2] _Ibid._, iii. c. vii. sec. 4. "Iusserat enim omnes
Christianos generali sententia perdere, feminasque publico
distractu disperdere." Cp. also Alvar, Life of Eul., iv. 12.
"Rex Mahomad incredibili rabie et effrenata sententia
Christicolum genus del ere funditus cogitabat."

[3] _Ibid._ "Multi insaniam modificare nitentes per trucem
voluntatis iniquae officium diversis et exquisitis occasionibus
gregem Christi impetere tentaverunt."

[4] _Ibid._ iii. c. vii. secs. 1, 2. Fleury, v. 520, says he
was a monk of Guadix.

[5] _Ibid._, ch. viii. secs. 1, 2.

[6] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," iii. ch. ix.

The cloisters of Tabanos had furnished so many fanatics that the
Government now suppressed the place, removing the nuns and shutting them
up to prevent others giving themselves up.[1] One of these however,
Columba,[2] sister of Elizabeth and of the abbot Martin, contrived to
escape. This Columba had persisted in remaining a virgin, in spite of
her mother's efforts to make her marry, which only ceased when the
mother died. She now gave herself up and was beheaded (September 17).

Just one month later Pomposa,[3] from the monastery of St Salvator,
Pegnamellar, suffered the same fate. Then there was a pause in these
executions, which was not broken till July 11th of the following year,
when Abundius, a priest, was martyred. He seems to have really deserved
the name of martyr, for he was given up to the authorities by the
treachery of others,[4] and did not seek martyrdom.

Another similar period elapsed before Amator, a priest of Tucci
(Tejada); Peter, a monk of Cordova; and Ludovic, a brother of Paul, the
deacon, beheaded four years before, shared the same fate (April 30,
855).[5]

After nearly a year Witesindus, a repentant renegade; Elias, an old
priest of Lusitania; and Paul and Isidore, young monks, gave themselves
up to execution[6] (April 17, 856.) In June of that year a more
venerable victim was, like Abundius, betrayed to his destruction. This
was Argimirus, an old monk, once Censor of Cordova (June 28).[7] Exactly
one month later Aurea, a virgin and sister of the brothers John and
Adulphus, whose martyrdom has been already mentioned, was brought before
the magistrate. Descended from one of the noblest Arab families,[8] she
had long been left unmolested, though her apostasy to Christianity was
well known. She was now frightened into temporary submission; but soon
repenting of her compliance, and avowing herself truly a Christian, she
gained a martyr's crown (July 29).

[1] So Miss Yonge.

[2] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," iii. c. x. secs. I, 2.

[3] _Ibid._, c. xi.

[4] _Ibid._, ch. xii. "Quorundam commento vel fraude gentilium
ad martyrium furore pertractum."

[5] _Ibid._, ch. xiii.

[6] _Ibid._, cc. xiv. xv.

[7] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," iii. c. xv., "Quorundam ethnicorum
dolo vel odio circumventus."

[8] _Ibid._, xvii. sec. I, "Grandi fastu Arabicae traducis
exornabatur."

The next example affords a similar instance of real persecution.
Ruderic,[1] a priest, whose brother was a Moslem, unadvisedly intervened
as a peacemaker, in a quarrel, in which his brother was engaged. With
the usual fate of peacemakers, he was set upon by both parties, and
nearly killed. In fact his brother supposed him to be quite dead, and
had the body carried through the town, proclaiming that his brother had
become a Mussulman before his death.[2] However, Ruderic recovered, and
made his escape, but being obliged to return to Cordova, met his
brother, who immediately brought him before the Kadi on a charge of
apostasy. His life and liberty were promised to him if he would only
acknowledge that Christ was merely man, and that Mohammed was the
messenger of God. On refusing, he is imprisoned, and finds in prison a
certain Salomon, also charged with apostasy from Islam. The two
fellow-prisoners contract a great friendship and are consequently
separated. After a third exhortation, they are condemned to death, but
not before the judge had done his best to bribe them to forego their
purpose by offers of honour and rewards.[3] They were executed March 13,
857, and their bodies thrown into the river - even the stones sprinkled
with their blood being taken up and cast into the water, lest the
Christians should preserve them as relics. Ruderic's body was washed on
shore, fresh as when killed; while Salomon, not being equally fortunate,
informed a devout Christian in a vision, where his body lay in a
tamarisk thicket near the town of Nymphianum.

Hitherto the aider and abettor of these martyrdoms had himself contrived
to escape the penalty, which he had urged others to brave. Whether this
was due to any unworthy fear of death on his part is not clear, but it
may have been owing to the respect in which he was held by the Moslem
authorities. To these he was well known as a man of irreproachable
character and unaffected piety, and several Arabs of high rank, who were
his personal friends, shewed themselves anxious to screen him from the
effects of his folly. Eulogius[4] was descended from a Senatorial family
of Cordova, and was educated at the Church of St Zoilus, where he
devoted himself to ecclesiastical studies, and soon surpassed his
contemporaries in learning. With his friend Alvar he sat at the feet of
Speraindeo, an eminent abbot in the province of Baetica. Besides a
sister Anulo, Eulogius had two brothers engaged in trade, and another
brother, Joseph, who seems to have been in government employ.[5]

[1] Eulog., "Lib. Apol.," sec. 21 ff.

[2] So the Inquisitors in Spain used to pretend that their
victims had abjured their errors before being burnt.

[3] Eul., "Lib. Apol.," sec. 27.

[4] Life by Alvar, c. i. sec. 2.

[5] Eul. ad Wiliesindum, sec. 8, "Joseph, quem saeva tyranni
indignatio eo tempore a principatu dejecerat:" unless this is a
metaphorical allusion to Joseph in Egypt.

Eulogius became early noted for his practice of asceticism, and his
desire for the life of a monk,[1] and for the glory of martyrdom. When
strong measures were taken by the authorities, in concert with
Reccafredus, Bishop of Seville, to stamp out the mania for martyrdom by
threats, stripes, and imprisonment, though many were frightened into
submission, Eulogius, Alvar tells us,[2] remained firm, in spite of his
being singled out as an "incentor martyrum" by a certain Gomez, who was
a temporising Christian in the king's service.[3]

[1] Life by Alvar, sec. 3, "Ne virtus animi curis Saecularibus
enervaretur, quotidie ad caelestia cupiens volare corporea
sarcina gravabatur."

[2] "Hic inadibilis (=firm) nunquam vacillare vel tenui est
visus susurro." - Life by Alvar, sec. 5.

[3] This man, says Alvar, sec. 6, by a divine judgment, lost
his hold on the Christian faith, which he thus scrupled not to
attack. See below, p. 72.

There is no doubt that Eulogius did all he could to interfere with and
check that amalgamation of the Christians and Arabs which he saw going
on round him. Believing that such close relations between the peoples
tended to the spiritual degradation of Christianity, he set himself
deliberately to embitter those relations, and, as far as he could, to
make a good understanding impossible. To discourage the learning of
Arabic by the Christians, he brought back with him from a journey to
Pampluna the classical writings of Virgil, Horace (Satires), Juvenal,
and Augustine's "De Civitate Dei."

At the time when these martyrdoms took place, Eulogius was a priest, but
for some reason he tried to abstain from officiating at the mass on the
ground that he was himself a great sinner.[1] However, his
ecclesiastical superior[2] (? Saul, Bishop of Cordova), soon made him
take a different view of the question by threatening him with anathema
if he neglected his duty any longer. Coming forward as a prominent
champion of the extreme party in the Church, he was imprisoned in 851,
where he wrote treatises in favour of the martyrs, and was released, as
we have seen, by the intercession of Flora and Maria on November 29th of
that year.

[1] He pleads his "delicti onera," ch. i. sec. 7. Perhaps he
was infected with one of the "Migetian errors" of the previous
century, which was that "priests must be saints." Saul, Bishop
of Cordova (850-861), in a letter to another bishop (Florez,
xi. 156-163), refers with disapproval to those (? Eulogius) who
held that "sacramenta tunc esse solum modo sancta, cum
sanctorum fuerint manibus praelibata;" and he quotes Augustine
and Isidore against the error.

[2] Pontifex proprius.

In 858,[1] on the death of Wistremirus, he was chosen by
the votes of the people[2] to succeed him as Bishop of Toledo;
but from some cause, perhaps by the intervention of the
Moslems, he was prevented from occupying his see. The
people then determined to have no bishop, if they might
not have him.[3] Yet, adds the pious Alvar, he got his
bishopric after all, for "all holy men are bishops, though
not all bishops holy men."

[1] "Life of Eul.," Alvar, ii. sec. 10.

[2] "Communis electio."

[3] Fleury, v. 547, says another bishop was elected in
Eulogius' lifetime; but Alvar's words are "Alium sibi eo
vivente interdixerunt eligere."

In the following year he was again imprisoned as being a disturber of
the public peace, but as on a former occasion he had been allowed to
support and encourage Flora and Maria, so now was he permitted to finish
in prison a book in defence of the martyrs,[1] which had the direct
tendency of inciting others to go and do likewise. The occasion of
Eulogius' second imprisonment was as follows: - Leocritia, a maiden of
Arab extraction and of noble birth,[2] had been secretly baptised by
Liliosa, the wife of Felix. Her parents, learning her apostasy, cruelly
ill-treated, and even beat her, in order to make her renounce Christ.
She naturally turned to Eulogius and his sister Anulo for advice in her
afflictions, expressing a wish to escape to a part of Spain where the
Christian worship was free. As a first step to this, she leaves her
parents under pretence of going to a wedding, and takes refuge with
Eulogius. Her parents, furious at her escape, get all sorts of people
imprisoned on the charge of aiding her; and she is at last betrayed and
surprised at the house of her protector. They are both dragged before
the Kadi, who asks Eulogius angrily why he persists in defying the laws
in this way.[3] The bishop defends himself by pleading that Christian
clergy are bound to impart a knowledge of their religion, if asked, as
he had been by Leocritia.[4] The judge then threatens to have him
scourged, but Eulogius, preferring death to so painful and degrading a
punishment, repeats the lesson which he had taught to so many others,
and reviles Mohammed. Even so the judge shows a disposition to treat him
with leniency, and he is remanded to prison with Leocritia.

When brought up again before the royal Council,[5] an influential friend
makes a last effort to save him, saying: "Fools and idiots rush on their
own destruction, but what induces you, a man of approved wisdom and
blameless character, in defiance of all natural instincts, to throw away
your life in this manner?" He urges Eulogius to say but one word of
concession in the hour of peril, promising that he should afterwards be
free to exercise his religion as he pleased, without let or hindrance.
But the bishop could hardly turn back now, and he rejected all such
offers with the ejaculation, "If they only knew the joy that awaits us
on high!"

[1] See Eulog., Letter to Alvar, Florez, xi. 295.

[2] Alvar, Life of Eulog., i. sec. 13.

[3] Alvar, "Life of Eulog.," i. secs. 14, 15.

[4] This kind of proselytism was not held to be a capital crime
by the Moslems. See Dozy, ii. 171.

[5] Alvar, "Life of Eul.," v. sec. 15. Fleury v. 548.

On his way to execution, when struck by one of the bystanders on one
cheek, he turned the other meekly to the striker. He was beheaded on
March 11, 859, and Leocritia four days later. Miraculous appearances
honoured the body of the martyred bishop, which was buried in the Church
of St Genesius, whence it was translated in the next year to his own
church of St Zoilus, and in 883 was given up, together with that of
Leocritia, to Alphonso III. (866-910) by express stipulation.




CHAPTER V.

CONTROVERSY CONCERNING THE MARTYRS.


With the death of Eulogius the series of voluntary martyrdoms comes to
an end, and it will be convenient at this point to consider the whole
question of the relation of the Church to the civil power, and how far
those "confessors," who were put to death under the circumstances
already related, were entitled to the name of martyrs. Unfortunately the
evidence we have on the subject is drawn almost entirely from the
apologists of their doings, and therefore may fairly be suspected of
some bias. Yet even from them can be shown conclusively enough that no
real persecution was raging in Mohammedan Spain at this time, such as to
justify the extreme measures adopted by the party of zealots.

If we except the cases of John and Adulphus, and of Nunilo and Alodia,
the date of which is doubtful, there is not a single recorded instance
of a Christian being put to death for his religion by the Arabs in
Spain before the middle of the ninth century. The Muzarabes,[1] as the
Christians living under the Arabs were called, enjoyed a remarkable
degree of freedom in the exercise of their religion - the services and
rites of the Church being conducted as heretofore.[2] In Cordova alone
we find mention of the following churches:[3] the Church of St Acislus,
a former martyr of Cordova; of St Zoilus; of the Three
Martyrs - Faustus, Januarius, Martialis; of St Cyprian; of SS. Genesius
and Eulalia; and of the Virgin Mary.

[1] De Gayangos on Al Makk., i. p. 420, says the word means
"those who try to imitate the Arabs in manners and language."

[2] Eulog. Letter to Alvar. After the death of Flora he says he
spent the ninth hour in prayer, then "auctis tripucliis,
vespertinum, matutinum, missale sacrificium consequenter ad
honorem (Dei) et gloriam nostrarum virginum celebravimus."

[3] Florez, x. 245.

Of the last of these there is an interesting account in an Arab writer,
who died in 1034.[1] "I once entered at night," he says, "into the
principal Christian Church. I found it all strewed with green branches
of myrtle, and planted with cypress trees. The noise of the thundering
bells resounded in my ears; the glare of the innumerable lamps dazzled
my eyes; the priests, decked in rich silken robes of gay and fanciful
colours, and girt with girdle cords, advanced to adore Jesus. Everyone
of those present had banished mirth from his countenance, and expelled
from his mind all agreeable ideas; and if they directed their steps
towards the marble font it was merely to take sips of water with the
hollow of their hands. The priest then rose and stood among them, and
taking the wine cup in his hands prepared to consecrate it: he applied
to the liquor his parched lips, lips as dark as the dusky lips of a
beautiful maid; the fragrancy of its contents captivated his senses, but
when he had tasted the delicious liquor, the sweetness and flavour
seemed to overpower him." On leaving the church, the Arab, with true
Arabian facility, extemporized some verses to the following effect: "By
the Lord of mercy! this mansion of God is pervaded with the smell of
unfermented red liquor, so pleasant to the youth. It was to a girl that
their prayers were addressed, it was for her that they put on their gay
tunics, instead of humiliating themselves before the Almighty." Ahmed
also says: "the priests, wishing us to stay long among them, began to
sing round us with their books in their hands; every wretch presented us
the palm of his withered hand (with the holy water), but they were even
like the bat, whose safety consists in his hatred for light; offering us
every attraction that their drinking of new wine, or their eating of
swine's flesh, could afford." This narrative is in many respects very
characteristic of an Arab writer, who would not feel the incongruity of
an illustration on such a theme drawn from "the lips of a maid," or the
irrelevancy of a reference to swine's flesh. But the account merits
attention on other grounds, for it shews how little even the more
intelligent Moslems understood the ceremonies of the religion which they
had conquered, though they might be pardoned for thinking that the
Christians worshipped the Virgin Mary, both because Mohammed himself
fell into the same error, and because probably the Roman Church and its
adherents had already begun to pay her idolatrous worship.

The chief church in Cordova at the conquest seems to have been the
church of St Vincent. On the taking of the town,[2] the Christians had
to give up half of it to the Arabs, a curious arrangement, but one
enforced elsewhere by the Saracens. In 784 the Christians were induced,
or compelled, to sell their half for 100,000 dinars, and it was pulled
down to make room for the Great Mosque.[3] In 894 we find that the
Cordovans were allowed to build a new church.

[1] Ahmed ibn Abdilmalik ibn Shoheyd, Al Makk., i. 246. I quote
De Gayangos' translation.

[2] De Gayangos on Al Makk., i. 368, says the cathedral was at
first guaranteed to the Christians. Some time later than 750
they had to surrender half of it; in 784 they were obliged to
sell the other half, and in return were allowed to rebuild the
destroyed churches. For the "church of the burnt" see above, p.
29, note 1.

[3] This was not finished till 793. The original structure cost
80,000 dinars. Several Khalifs added to it, and Hakem II.
(961-976) alone spent on it 160,000 dinars.

Besides these within the walls, there were ten or twelve monasteries and
churches in the immediate neighbourhood of Cordova: among them the
monastery of St Christopher, the famous one of Tabanos, suppressed as
above mentioned, in 854;[1] those of St Felix at Froniano, of St Martin
at Royana, of the Virgin Mary at Cuteclara, of St Salvator at
Pegnamellar; and the churches of SS. Justus and Pastor, and of St
Sebastian.

We have given the names of these churches and monasteries[2] at or near
Cordova, both to shew how numerous they were, and also because from one
or other of them came nearly all the self-devoted martyrs, of whom we
are about to consider the claims. Except in cases like that
above-mentioned, the Christians were not allowed to build new
churches,[3] but considering the diminution in the numbers of the
Christians owing to the conquest, and the apostasy of a great many, this
could not be reckoned a great hardship. Moreover the Christian churches,
it was ordained, should be open to Moslems as well as Christians, though
during the performance of mass it seems that they had to be kept closed.


1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryCharles Reginald HainesChristianity and Islam in Spain (756-1031) → online text (page 5 of 15)