1492 On the Other Historical Side…
In the western world we are all acquainted with Christopher Columbus and his “famous” discovery of the New World, which precipitated one of the most consequential periods in the history of the world. The initial historical record and narrative that informed the world has been preempted by several contemporary renditions of Columbus’ journeys. The most current renditions argue on the side of an infamous Christopher Columbus, and the subsequent development of the New World. Be that as it may, the outcomes associated with Columbus’ voyages are a matter of historical record, and it is up to the researcher or student to make their own value judgment. But there can be no argument that the story of Christopher Columbus notwithstanding the rendition, speaks only to a popular account in the context of the Greco-Roman historical narrative. Therefore, alternative historical accounts must be researched and examined regarding Spain during 1492, which goes beyond the conventional New World discovery narrative.
By way of a brief review, Spain was ruled by the Moors (North African Muslims), who conquered Spain in the 8th century for 700 years leading up to 1492. While being ruled my Moors, Catholics and Jews lived in peace and prosperity as they were able to freely practice their faith. Accordingly, many of the Jewish faith that currently live in America refer to the 700 years under Moorish rule as the “golden age” of Jewry. Likewise, Roman Catholics prospered and lived comfortable lives under Muslim rule. Respective Spanish Christian monarchs were unable to reclaim control of Spain until 1492, when Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand with the help of the pope succeeded in recapturing Spain. The King and Queen of Spain reclaimed the country and reestablished the Roman Catholic realm, and Columbus was dispatched forthwith to claim new lands on behalf of the Spanish crown. Accordingly, the Columbus side of 1492 is well recorded and was formulated and presented as American history.
In the wake of the Spanish monarchs return to power, Jews were abruptly departed, converted or killed, and the Muslim population experience utter barbarity. Shortly thereafter the infamous Spanish Inquisition was engaged, and history records in explicit and graphic detail the fate of those condemned to the Inquisitors… Thus, Roman Catholic rule again prevailed in Spain and the Church remained in place for almost 200 years, until the Protestant Reformation. And along with the Protestant Reformation came the demise of Roman Catholic monarchy’s exclusive rule of Spain. The Protestants pioneered secular government in the context of a separation between church and state in Western Europe. However, Roman Catholicism remained a popular and influential religion in the country.
While the Moors were defeated after 7 centuries of rule in Spain, Islam was on the raise in the Near East by way of the Ottoman Empire as they sacked Byzantium (Orthodox Christians) and took Constantinople in the eastern capital of Roman Catholicism. From the 1500s until the end of WWI (1918) the Ottoman Empire controlled Constantinople, and the name was changed to Istanbul, and they (Ottoman Empire) gained control of the greater Middle East a/k/a the Levant, as well as Jerusalem. In fact the Ottoman Empire held the Islamic Caliphate, until the Caliph resigned in 1924, as was required by the European powers (Britain and France) after their victory in WWI. The defeat of Germany, and the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East enabled Britain and France to design a new Middle East in their geo-political, economic and strategic interests.
The Middle East as we currently know it today was formulated during this period and the outcomes now emerging are organically connected.
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We in the West have a very romantic perception of the Middle East and its ancient and tumultuous history in the context religious, military and geo-strategic activity. And it is popularly referred to as the cradle of civilization. The romantic perception can easily be traced to the period of WWI when the, blond and blue eyed, British Intelligence Officer popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, rallied the desperate Arab Bedouin to unite and make a consequential contribution to the victory of the western military forces against the forces of the Ottoman Empire which sealed the victory in the defeat of Germany. The acclaimed British actor Peter O’ Tool, if memory serves, in the role of Lawrence of Arabia, had the movie industry and the western world virtually at his reportedly large feet. At the end of the day Lawrence was not able to deliver on the deal of an independent Saudi Arabia. The entertainment aspects and public relations initiatives associated with promoting this major cinematic production of history, overshadowed the subtext and backstory associated with the prevailing geo-political, economic, and strategic advancement of the western powers.
Be that as it may, WWI (1918) formulated the framework that is the design of the region today as we know it, and the end of WWII (1946), witnessed the final touches of the design of the Middle East as engineered by the western powers, Britain, France and America in particular. The greater Middle East, referenced as the Levant by the Arabs were ultimately turned into over twenty respective new “nation states” with a strongman Sunni Muslim ruler, empowered, enabled and sustained by western allies. The arbitrary boundaries of the new nation states had no organic affinity to ethnicity and culture. The region known as Palestine and Jerusalem were under the authority and control of the British government (Belfour Declaration) until the partition in 1948, established the State of Israel.