THE BASQUES WILL MOST LIKEY DISAGREE BUT THEY DID HAVE HAD OF GONE SOMEWHERE, I WOULD THINK MOST JUST WENT HOME
El Murabet sultans created a Berber empire which covered northwest Africa as far as Algiers and southern Spain. The El Murabetun, led by Tashfin, swept up from the desert, founded Marrakesh in 1060, captured Fez in 1069, and then pushed on into Spain. Muslim Spain, in the time of the romantic Cid Campeador Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, was divided into 23 Taifas, or petty principalities. The El Murabetun had little difficulty in dominating them on the pretext of helping to defeat Christian armies, as they did at Zallaqa near Badajoz in 1086. They took Granada, Cordoba and Seville in the south, Badajoz, Valencia and Saragossa in the north, although they were unable to hold them for long. Tashfin’s son, Ali, ruled the empire from 1120 to 1143 and it was with him that the once fierce and austere Almoravids abandoned the veil to become luxury-loving potentates in Andalusia. In a short period of a hundred years, the Almoravids lost all power in Andalusia. It was not long after that the ‘Reconquests’ had began, in which by about 1200A.D., most of the Islamic control was removed by uprising Catholic armies. Nearly all Muslim leadership fled the Iberian Peninsula, most Arabs left while nearly all Berbers remained. Some of them (the Berbers) remained scattered throughout southern Spain, however, most of them were in Granada. Parts of Moorish Spain held out until the late 1500’s, but Granada was the last Islamic stronghold in Spain. However, the collapse of the Moorish Empire did not occur overnight as it may seem. It took centuries and the wars were fought on many fronts by such renowned leaders as King Alphonso and his valiant warrior El Cid. Following the Reconquest of the Catholics, an uneasy truce was observed, during which the remaining Moors of Portugal and Spain converted to Catholicism, adopted Spanish names, kept a low profile, and like most Moors, generally practiced Islam and spoke Berber or Arabic only in the home. There is no doubt that our Moorish ancestors involved themselves in this act along with the others, as it was absolutely impossible for them to do otherwise. If our Moorish ancestors had resisted, they would’ve been burned at the stake by the Catholic Church and the so-called ‘Saulnier’ family would’ve never existed at anytime after this. The low profile kept by the Moors worked for a short while, but eventually, the Church’s pressure on the Moors grew irresistible. In 1492, Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, was taken by the soldiers of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and the Moors were expelled from Spain. In 1496, to appease Isabella, King Manuel of Portugal announced a royal decree banishing the Moors from that portion of the peninsula. The Spanish King Philip III expelled the remaining Moors by a special decree issued in 1609. Fully 3,500,000 Moors, or Moriscos, as their descendants were called, left Spain between 1492 and 1610. Over one million Moriscos made their way to France where the vast majority of them became Huguenots. It is in France where many of the last descendants of the Almoravids, as well as other Berber groups settled. It was along with these that our Moorish ancestors made their trek into southern France, and were eventually titled by the native Franks as the ‘Saulnier’ ( also spelled Saunier, Saunie’, Sonier, Sonnier and Sonie’ ), from El Murabetun to supposedly ‘dwellers in the willow’, our Moroccan name and history and our Moorish identity soon forgotten through time. After becoming Huguenots, the family later legitimately made immigration to the Americas. Fifty-three years after the last Moors left Spain, Louis Saulnier was born in Vitre (Bretagne), France. Louis later became the first ‘Saulnier’ to set foot on American soil arriving in Acadia (Nova Scotia) in Canada in 1685. Louis was also on the 1693 census taken at Beaubassin. He and his wife, Louise Bastinaux, also known as Pelletier, had 13 children. Louis died on the 10th of March in 1709. The family eventually spread all throughout the United States in areas such as Louisiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina and California. Pierre Saulnier, of the 3rd generation, was deported to Liverpool, England, but later settled in Cayenne (French Guyana). His daughter Francoise, was also exiled to Liverpool where she married Alain Hebert while they were both prisoners in that country.