Chen the Christians conquered the kingdoms of Valencia and Murcia, the îqlim of Vera, of which the vega of the river Antas was part, became the eastern border of the Kingdom of Granada on the eastern side, as Jerónimo Münzer, a German traveler who passed through here in October 1494, tells us about a “beautiful and fruitful plain” and a “small river that with its irrigation makes the land quite fertile”. But what Münzer saw was the town of Antas for the simple reason that it was under construction at that time.
The origin of Antas is the story of an eviction. The eviction of the Muslim inhabitants of Vera and Mojacar expelled from their homes after the capture of these two Nazarite towns in 1488 by the Christian armies of the Marquis of Cadiz. Once these two cities fell, the inhabitants of the farms and villages of Bédar, Cabreras, Lubrín, Serena, Sorbas, Teresa and also the city of Mojácar went to Vera, capital of the jurisdiction, to pay homage and submit to King Don Fernando, according to the chronicler Bernáldez. The names of Antas and Turre, logically, do not appear.
The Marquis of Cadiz had to accommodate his soldiers and install his command. In this way Mojácar, for being fortified, and Vera la Vieja (the one of the Holy Spirit) for being fortified and also being the capital of the district, were chosen as lodging for the Christians. The former inhabitants had to leave their homes and settle elsewhere. Captain Garacilaso de la Vega, appointed Captain General and Chief Justice, was in charge of directing the expulsion and relocation operation. The Mojacar Muslims settled on the banks of the river Aguas where they founded the town of Turre and those of Vera on the banks of the river Antas where they founded the town of the same name. This is the reason why we do not find neither in turre nor in Antas vestiges of Muslim constructions, apart from the cisterns and the network of irrigation ditches, qanats or mills that are pre-existing structures to the intalación of the population since here were a good part of the irrigated lands of the Muslims of Mojácar and Vera. This also explains why this was the place chosen: payments where they had their terraces. Antas is, therefore, a village with a modern town planning (that is to say of Modern times, not Medieval) and whose layout recalls that of the vera nueva rebuilt on the plain after the earthquake of 1518: a central square and a quadrilateral layout of straight streets that cross each other.
The Moorish population
The first written reference on the inhabitants of Antas is the fiscal census of 1495 studied by Professor Del Cerro Bex according to which there were 125 inhabitants in Antas, that is to say a population of approximately 562 inhabitants. In 1504 we find another reference, also of taxes, in which 52 neighbors of Antas appear who paid “444 pesantes and six money” which does not imply that half of the neighbors registered nine years before had disappeared; being a special tax requested by the kings it is possible that it was only applied to the richest. Again Antas is mentioned in the census of 1561 with 170 residents and, on the eve of the uprising of the Alpujarras, another census, that of 1568, attributes to Antas a population of 180 residents or more than 800 inhabitants.
At the end of the war of the Alpujarras in 1570 all the Moors of the Kingdom of Granada were deported to other regions of the kingdom of Castile. Also those of Antas in spite of the fact that they had not participated in this war and that many of them had taken refuge in Vera under the protection of the garrison as it is mentioned in a notarial document dated in Vera on April 17, 1570.
The houses and lands were empty of inhabitants after the deportation and, as in all the Kingdom of Granada, the properties of the Moors of Antas were cut down and distributed in lots to the new settlers, 80% of whom were from Murcia. That is to say that these Moors who founded a village, created new agricultural structures and enriched the land could hardly enjoy it because only 80 years had elapsed between their installation and their deportation. However, its presence is still alive through the toponyms – Aljáriz lake, Cajete wadi – and the network of terraces, irrigation ditches, ponds, etc… that today constitute a part of the agricultural wealth of Antas.
It can be said that the Moriscos of Antas distinguished themselves from the rest of the inhabitants of the jurisdiction of Vera for several reasons.
The most significant is that its population was increasing throughout the sixteenth century as opposed to what happened in most of the villages where the population was decreasing, sometimes dramatically as in Cabreras and Teresa.
In the 16th century, the whole area suffered a continual drain of inhabitants who abandoned everything and went beyond. In the Municipal Archive of Vera you can consult the documents on the auctions of the Moorish goods of Teresa, Cabreras and some of Zurgena fled beyond. On the other hand, there is no mention of a Moorish from Antas who fled. The flight of the Moors was, in my opinion, the main cause, although not the only one, of the Moorish demographic crash in the 16th century.
When historians speak of the Moriscos, they always highlight two aspects of their personality: first, their belonging to a community of faith -Islamic- in spite of being baptized and outwardly practicing the Christian religion, and second, their deep attachment to the land.
The first aspect was what pushed them to flee, thus showing their rejection of the acculturation advocated by the dominant power, since for them belonging to a faith community was not only religious practice but also social and cultural practices – the baths, the dress, the language, the dances, the festivities – since in Islam religion and society are confused. The pragmatics promulgated by the monarchs throughout the 16th century gradually curtailed the social and cultural practices of the Moriscos.
As for the second aspect – the deep attachment to the land – it is something highly identifying of the Moorish being. Apparently, for the Moorish of Antas, the bond with the land was stronger than the socio-religious bond. When the war of the Alpujarras broke out, the great majority of the inhabitants of the area adhered to the cause of Aben Humeya. Antas did not join the fight perhaps because they thought that by doing so they would save their land and crops. Either because Vera’s militia was too close. But all this does not mean at all that the Moors of Antas were perfectly acculturated or integrated into the Christian community; on the contrary, they felt more than ever in solidarity with their brothers and faithful to the Moorish community. The fact that they did not participate with weapons does not mean that they remained inactive. Like many of the Moors of Bédar and Serena, those of Antas undertook what today we would call a “humanitarian action” by paying the ransom of the Moors trapped, between 1568 and 1569, by the Christian militias of Vera during the rides through the villages of the interior with the excuse of the “good war” when in reality they were only looking for booty. They mainly captured women and children who were then sold as slaves in Vera. The Antas Moriscos paid the ransom individually or else they were quoted to free their brothers, even if they were originally from villages far from Antas, such as Huécija or Felix. One third of the notarial documents of 1569 edited by Cabrilana Ciezar refer to these ransoms.
After 70 years trying to acculturate them, the Moors of Antas had not forgotten the asabiya or precept of Mohammed in which the prophet exhorted his people to give alms and help against the unjust actions.another fact that singularizes the Moorish of Antas is that it seems that he maintained with the old Christians of Vera a little less conflictive relations than the rest of the Moors of the zone. This was due, perhaps, to the fact that the proximity between the two places facilitated closer and more continuous contacts and it was possible to speak of an almost mixed community with a dual character: old Moorish-Christians and peasants-citizens. The Antusos went to work in the lands of Vera where they had terraces granted by the City Council.
All of which established a relationship of economic interdependence between the people of Vera and Antas, since the Veratenses, mostly military, could not take care of the land and the Antas people were “thirsty for land”. The Moorish of Antas is first and foremost an orphan. The fertile lowlands of the Antas River became, in his expert hands, a prosperous region that attracted even Moors from other inland areas.
The Antanans prospered and tried to expand their properties. But all this depended on good relations with the Council of Vera and in general with the dominant minority. These relations of socioeconomic dependence were very similar to those that the Moriscos had with their lords in the neighboring lordships, because although Antas was royal land, the Council of Vera acted as an authentic lord over jurisdiction. Vera gave Antas economic security and protection in case of conflict. This would explain the non-escapes beyond and the non-participation with weapons in the war of the Alpujarras but in no way means that culturally the Antusos were more assimilated than the other Moriscos of the area.