Blood and Faith

The Purging of Muslim Spain

A New York Times Editors’ Choice and a major new historical exposé of the tragic fate of Muslim Spain, with haunting resonance for the present

“A fascinating account of perhaps the first major episode of European ethnic cleansing and, just as importantly, the story of the beginning of the conviction that ‘blood’ matters more than belief; a conviction that led, in the end, to modern racism.” —Kwame Anthony Appiah

A centuries-old story with remarkable contemporary resonance, Blood and Faith is celebrated journalist Matthew Carr’s riveting and “richly detailed” (Choice) chronicle of what was, by 1614, the largest act of ethnic cleansing in European history.

Months after King Philip III of Spain signed an edict in 1609 denouncing the Muslim inhabitants of Spain as heretics, traitors, and apostates, the entire Muslim population of Spain was given three days to leave Spanish territory, on threat of death. In the brutal and traumatic exodus that followed, entire families and communities were forced to abandon homes and villages where they had lived for generations, leaving their property in the hands of their Christian neighbors. By 1613, an estimated 300,000 Muslims had been removed from Spanish territory.

Blood and Faith presents a remarkable window onto a little known period of modern Europe—a complex tale of competing faiths and beliefs, cultural oppression, and resistance against overwhelming odds that sheds new light on national identity and Islam.


“Offers a grim lesson about religious and racial repression in our contemporary age of contested faiths.”
—David Levering Lewis, author of God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215
“Carr deftly narrates the complex events leading up to this little known but horrific episode as a warning against religious intolerance and xenophobia.”
Publishers Weekly
“Balanced and thoroughly researched history.”
Literary Review (UK )
“A splendid work of synthesis.”
The New York Times Book Review

Books by Matthew Carr

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Sherman’s Ghosts
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The Infernal Machine
A History of Terrorism

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Fortress Europe
Dispatches from a Gated Continent

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Goodreads Reviews