Aben Humaya

Heir to Cordoban caliphate, military leader


Early life

Aben Humeya was born Fernando de Valor into a Morisco family and claimed to be of noble lineage, descended from the Umayyad dynasty. However, this is improbable for the Nasrids of Granada had not in early years, based their legitimacy on Ummayad descent. The name Aben Humeya is the hispanicized version of the Arabic name Ibn Umayya, meaning “Son of Umayya” and hinting to a descent from the Umayyads.

Prior to the commencement of the Morisco revolt, Aben Humeya had been a town councilor of Granada and had been under house arrest for pulling out a dagger in the city council.
The Morisco revolt (1568–1571)

It is alleged that to provoke a rebellion which would give him a proper reason to expel the Moriscos of southern Spain, Philip II broke his promises previously made in treaties made with the Muslims and issued an edict requiring Moriscos to give up their Arabic names, their traditional Moorish dress, and even prohibited the speaking of Arabic and Berber. They were also told that they would have to give up their children to be educated by Christian priests.

The increasing persecution of the remaining Morisco population of the former Kingdom of Granada, led to the outbreak of armed rebellion. The revolt was planned by Ferag ben Ferag, descended from the royal house of Granada and Diego Lopez Ben Aboo. They carfully ascertained the dispositions of the inhabitants of the Alpujarras, where the best stand could be made against the royal forces, solicited aid from the kings of North Africa, and persuaded the local bandits to embrace their cause.

On Christmas Eve 1568, representatives of the Crypto-Muslims from Granada, from the Alpujarras, and from elsewhere clandestinely assembled at the Vale de Lecrin to acclaim de Valor as their king whom they renamed Aben Humeya, and apostatized. Aben Humeya also took four wives, hailing from many areas, in order to strengthen the political alliances on which he relied.1

The insurrection led by Aben Humeya took the form of guerrilla warfare against the Castillan forces in the Alpujarra mountains. Initially numbering only about 4,000 men, the rebel forces quickly grew to about 25,000. The insurgents murdered the few Christian families and priests who lived in their village and destroyed churches and sacred images.

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Aben Humaya

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