We learn from the same source that the gold bracelets were sometimes smooth, and sometimes "covered over with devices" (cubiertos de estampas por cima). The technical name of these was albordados. The silver bracelets were also either smooth, or stamped, or twisted in a cord (encor-dados). Bangles for the ankle, upper arm, and wrist are mentioned as continuing to be generally worn, while one of the Ordinances complains that "Moorish axorcas are often sold that are hollow, and filled with chalk and mastic, so that before they can be weighed it is necessary to rid them of such substances by submitting them to fire, albeit the fire turns them black."
The weapons and war-harness of the Spanish Moors were often exquisitely decorated with the precious stones or metals. Splendid objects of this kind have been preserved, and will be noticed in their proper chapter.
The ruinous and reckless measure known to Spain's eternal shame as the Expulsion of the Moriscos, deprived this country of a great - perhaps the greatest - part of her resources. Fonseca estimates this loss, solely in the quantity of coin conveyed away, at two million and eight hundred thousand escudos, adding that a single Morisco, Alami Delascar de Aberique, bore off with him one hundred thousand ducats.1 To make this matter worse, the Moriscos, just before they went on board their ships, fashioned from scraps of tin, old nails, and other refuse, enormous stores of counterfeit coin, and slyly sold this rubbish to the simple Spaniards in return for lawful money of the land. In the course of a few days, and in a single quarter of Valencia, more than three hundred thousand ducats of false coin were thus passed off upon the Christians. Besides this exportation of good Spanish money, the cunning fugitives removed huge quantities of jewellery and plate. Chains, axorcas, rings, zarcillos, and gold escudos were taken from the bodies of many of the Morisco women who were murdered by the Spanish soldiery; but the greater part of all this treasure found its way to Africa. In his work Expulsion justificada de los Moriscos (1612), Aznar de Cardona says that the Morisco women carried "divers plates upon the breast, together with necklaces and collars, earrings and bracelets." It is recorded, too, that the Moriscos, as they struggled in the country regions to avenge themselves upon their persecutors, did unlimited damage to the ornaments and fittings of the churches. "This people," says Fonseca, "respected not our temples or the holy images that in them were; nor yet the chalices and other objects they encountered in our sacristies. Upon the contrary, they smashed the crosses, burned the saints, profaned the sacred vestments, and committed such acts of sacrilege as though they had been Algerian Moors, or Turks of Constantinople."
1 There was, however, from long before this time a prohibition to export from Spain the precious metals, in any form, whether as objects of plate or as coined money. The penalty for a repetition of this offence was death. Another law prohibited all foreigners who were resident in Spain, not excluding the Moriscos, from buying gold or silver in the bar (Suma de Leyes, p. 46). It was also forbidden to sell the jewels or other objects of value belonging to a place of worship (ibid. p. 87).
Legends of hidden Moorish and Morisco wealth are still extant in many parts of Spain. The Abbe Bertaut de Rouen1 and Swinburne among foreigners, or Spaniards such as the gossiping priest Echeverria, who provided Washington Irving with the pick of his Tales of the Alhambra, have treated copiously of this fascinating and mysterious theme. The Siete Suelos Tower at Granada is particularly favoured with traditions of this kind. Peasants of the Alpujarras still declare that piles of Moorish money lie secreted in the lofty buttresses of Mulhacen and the Veleta, while yet another summit of this snowy range bears the suggestive title of the Cerro del Tesoro, where, almost within the memory of living men, a numerous party, fitted and commissioned by the State, explored with feverish though unlucky zeal the naked cliffs and sterile crannies of the lonely mountain.2
Reducing all these fables to the terms of truth,
1 This entertaining and inquisitive tourist describes, in 1659, a wondrous cavern in the south of Spain, "ou l'on conte que les Mores ont cache leurs tresors en s'en retournant en Afrique, et ou personne n'ose aborder de peur des esprits que l'on dit que l'on y voit souvent. Mais comme il commencait a se faire nuit, je n'eus pas le loisir de m'y amuser beaucoup." With this our author shelved his curiosity, and prudently retired.
2 Leonard Williams. Granada: Memories, Adventures, Studies, and Impressions, p. 90.
Morisco Jewellery (Found in the Province of Granada)
Moorish and Morisco jewellery and coin are sometimes brought to light on Spanish soil. Such finds occur, less seldom than elsewhere, within the provinces of Seville, Cordova, Granada, and Almeria (Plate xiv.), but since they are neither frequent nor considerable, although the likeliest ground for them is being disturbed continually, we may conclude that nearly all the Muslim wealth accumulated here slipped from the clumsy if ferocious fingers of the mother-country, and found its way, concealed upon the bodies of her persecuted offspring, to the shores of Africa.1
Sometimes, too, an early gold or silver object would be melted down and modernized into another and a newer piece of plate. This was a fairly common usage with the silversmiths themselves, or with an ignorant or stingy brotherhood or chapter. Thus, the following entry occurs in the Libro de Visita de Fabrica belonging to the parish church of Santa Ana, Triana, Seville. In the year 1599 "the large cross of silver-gilt, together with its mancana and all the silver attaching thereto, was taken to the house of Zubieta the silversmith, and pulled to pieces. It weighed 25 marks and 4 ochavas of silver, besides 5 marks and 2 ounces and 4 ochavas of silver which was the weight of the three lamps delivered to Zubieta in the time of Juan de Mirando, aforetime steward of this church. It is now made into a silver-gilt cross."1
1 Ford was more hopeful as to the preservation of this wealth in Spain. "No doubt much coin is buried in the Peninsula, since the country has always been invaded and torn by civil wars, and there never has been much confidence between Spaniard and Spaniard; accordingly the only sure, although unproductive, investment for those who had money, was gold or silver, and the only resource to preserve that, was to hide it." - Handbook, vol. ii. p 682.