Tribute of 100 virgins

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The Tribute of 100 Virgens (Spanish: Tributo de las cien doncellas) was a mythical (but at times taken to be historical) annual tribute of a hundred virgins, paid by the Christians of northern Spain (Asturias) to the Muslims of al-Andalus. Fifty were to be of noble birth.[1] To maintain its independence and not be conquered, the Christian Kingdom of Asturias in northwestern Spain, the myth says, paid this tribute to the neighbouring and dominant Islamic Emirate of Cordoba.

The Tribute has been called "historically apocryphal but ideologically accurate... It plays an intriguing role in the formation and affirmation of reconquista ideology in the later Middle Ages, and also remains a powerful site in Spanish national cultural memory to this day."[2]

In 783 AD, Mauregatus of Asturias succeeded to the Kingdom's throne with the help of the Cordoban Emir Abd al-Rahman I. According to the myth, Abd al-Rahman demanded, and Mauregatus agreed, to an annual payment to the Emirate of fifty noble and fifty lower-class virgins as payment for his help.[citation needed] In 788, Counts Arias and Oveco revolted against king Mauregatus and killed him in revenge for his having granted the Moors such a repulsive tribute. His successor, Bermudo I of Asturias, tried to negotiate for a tribute of money instead. Bermudo was succeeded by Alfonso II of Asturias, nicknamed "the Chaste", who fully rejected the tribute and had to deal with military consequences. He won the Battle of Lutos and killed the Moorish Captain Mugait, thus achieving his goal: no more tribute. The next king, Ramiro I of Asturias, with the help of Bernardo del Carpio defeated the Moors at the (fictitious) Battle of Clavijo. The Moorish rulers were reportedly scared, by the growing military strength of the northern Christians, into giving up demands for the tribute.

There is an implicit attack on the licentiousness of the Moors in this myth, specifically in that what is being demanded was virgins. (The Moors' sexual libertinism, or alleged sexual libertinism, was a key thread in Christian attacks on it and in motivation for the Reconquista.) One of Abd al-Rahman's successors, Abd al-Rahman II, was said to have limited his sexual partners to virgins, i.e., he did not make love with the same woman twice, presumably because he preferred the variety. (See es:Abderramán II#Familia e hijos.) It should be remembered that the legend of the tribute of the 100 virgins did not begin during the reign of Abd al-Rahman I, but much later.

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  1. ^ M. Manzanares de Cirre, "Las cien doncellas: trayectoria de una leyenda", PMLA, Vol. 81, No. 3 (Jun., 1966), pp. 179-184,, retrieved August 15, 2015.
  2. ^ Emily C. Francomano, "The Legend of the Tributo de las cien doncellas: Women as Warweavers and the Coin of Salvation", Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, Vol. 32, No. 1, Autumn 2007, pp. 9-25,, retrieved August 10, 2015.