By the end of the eighth century Arab rule was well entrenched in the city of Cordova. But in its process of establishing military rule, it had created very hard feelings among many of the Spanish people. Naturally, those who objected most to Moslem rule were the Christians, but they were not the only Spaniards who wished to remove the Arab influence.
The animosity between the two groups was high. The Moslems exacted a high price. Constantine had established the right of the monarch to summons the church bishops to Council, but now in Spain that authority passed to the Arab Sultans. The Sultans used their power to wreak havoc on the church. When Councils were called, if a bishop was vacant his position was given to Jews or Moslems. While Christians lived under a treaty which allowed them, as one of the conditions, to keep their cathedral, they were eventually forced to sell half of it to be turned into a Mosque for the use of the influx of Arabs moving into the region.
Often, under torture or under threat, Spanish Christians “converted” to Islam, and once they did they were caught in a steel trap. These were called the “Renegades” because they had apostacized. A minority of them remained “secret Christians.”
Moslem rule brought out of some people the worse of human character traits. The Christians were known to evade, where possible, taxes imposed upon them. But with the help of the local Bishop, who went around the parishes making up a “prayer list” of the Christians and their relatives, then promptly handed it to the Moslem leadership, tax avoidance and evasion was stamped out. This, in itself, was the result of the Muslims selling off the office of Bishop to the highest bidder who now had a vested interest in keeping in good with “management.” Treaties with Christians were abandoned at will, and under pressure from the Moslem theologians, the Government was encouraged to “shows its zeal for Islam” by increasing taxes on the Christians. Many were sent into poverty.
But these tactics were not peculiar to the Moslems in Spain. What occurred in Spain “happened in every other country conquered by the Arabs; their rule, at first mild and humane, degenerated into intolerable despotism.”[ref]
Reinhart Dozy, Spanish Islam: a history of the Moslems in Spain, trans. F.G. Stokes (London: Chatto & Windus,  1913), p. 239.[/ref] When the Muslims are in the minority they behave differently than they do when they gain more power. If not halted, they maim and kill at will.
The Renegades who were “secret Christians” were those who had rejected the apostasy of parents and relatives and returned to the Christian faith. They joined other dissatisfied Spaniards in revolt against Moslem rule. Insurrections broke out frequently and in different locations. The Arabs put down any insurrection ruthlessly. But for those attempting to return to Christianity, life was difficult.
These were indeed miserable, for they could never return to the fold. On this point the law of Islam is inexorable. Once the Renegade pronounced the Moslem profession of faith, he was a Moslem for ever, however importunate the cries of his conscience. It mattered not whether the fateful words were spoken in a moment of anger, of weakness, or of distress — when money was lacking for the poll-tax, or under fear of a degrading punishment at the sentence of a Christian judge — in any case apostasy from Islam was death. The descendants of Renegades, who wished to return to the pale of the Church, were in a yet sorrier plight—for they suffered for the fault of an ancestor. The law declared them Moslems because they were the children of a Moslem; and they, too, would forfeit their lives if they denied Mohammed. Islam claimed them in their cradles and followed them to their graves.[ref]Ibid., p. 240.[/ref]
The Muslims were constantly putting down revolts. They arose sparodically everywhere. The city of Toledo, on the other hand, had just a small number of Muslims living in it since Muslims had chosen to occupy farmlands. And it was this city that attracted the attention of the Sultan in 806 A.D. so much, that he hatched a diabolical plan to gain control of that city.
He appointed a Spaniard, named Amrûs, as the new city Governor. Amrûs was made aware of the Sultan’s plan and went along with it. As Governor he convinced the inhabitants of Toledo that he too was against the Arabs, and encouraged them to build a new castle in the town, which he promptly had his troops occupy. The Sultan also sent some troops to the town, and they were accompanied by Crown Prince Abd-er-Rahmân, then 14-years old.
Amrûs invited the Spanish nobility of the town to an event where they would have the chance to meet the Crown Prince. They were so enamored by the young prince who, under guidance from his father, had beguiled the Spaniards into accepting him, that it was requested the Crown Prince occupy the castle where the Spaniards could spend a longer time with him. A feast was planned, and the nobles invited.
Upon their arrival, however, the nobles were not permitted to enter in a group. They had to enter the castle one at a time, while their horses were led to another doorway. Inside the castle was a trench that had been the source of much of the clay required for the building of the castle. And by the trench were Muslim swordsmen. As the Spanish nobles entered one by one, the sword fell — as planned between the Sultan and Amrûs.
Estimates, which appear somewhat unreliable, put the death toll at between 700 and over 5,000. In the opinion of some historians, this event eclipses the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre around 750 years later in France. This day in Spain has been called the “Day of the Fosse”, a day of atrocious treachery by man against man. In the words of Dozy, “A blank stupor fell upon Toledo, deprived thus, at a blow, of all her wealthiest and noblest citizens, and no avenger of the Day of the Fosse was found within her walls.[ref]Ibid., p. 249.[/ref]
Amrûs, as it turned out, was a man who “regarded neither religion nor morality.” When the opportunity came for self gain, he knew no limits. Happy to sacrifice his fellow countrymen, when the offer of a principality under Frankish protection was offered to him, he obligingly betrayed the Sultan to the son of Charlemagne.
It took another 600 years for the Spaniards to finally dispense with Moslem rule in Spain. To this day the Arab influence in Spain can still be heard in the exciting and demanding flamenco music and dance.
But the Day of the Fosse will be remembered as one of the great tragedies of the Christian faith and a reminder that those things held dear in our culture were often purchased with the blood of the martyrs.