Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada
Washington Irving

Part 2 out of 9

its walls, and it had a strong castle or citadel built on a rock. In
preparing for the siege of this formidable place Ferdinand called
upon all the cities and towns of Andalusia and Estramadura, and the
domains of the orders of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara, and of
the priory of San Juan, and the kingdom of Toledo, and beyond to
the cities of Salamanca, Toro, and Valladolid, to furnish, according
to their repartimientos or allotments, a certain quantity of bread,
wine, and cattle to be delivered at the royal camp before Loxa, one
half at the end of June and one half in July. These lands, also,
together with Biscay and Guipuscoa, were ordered to send
reinforcements of horse and foot, each town furnishing its quota,
and great diligence was used in providing lombards, powder, and
other warlike munitions.

The Moors were no less active in their preparations, and sent
missives into Africa entreating supplies and calling upon the
Barbary princes to aid them in this war of the faith. To intercept
all succor, the Castilian sovereigns stationed an armada of ships
and galleys in the Straits of Gibraltar under the command of Martin
Diaz de Mina and Carlos de Valera, with orders to scour the Barbary
coast and sweep every Moorish sail from the sea.

While these preparations were making, Ferdinand made an incursion
at the head of his army into the kingdom of Granada, and laid waste
the Vega, destroying its hamlets and villages, ravaging its fields of
grain, and driving away the cattle.

It was about the end of June that King Ferdinand departed from
Cordova to sit down before the walls of Loxa. So confident was he of
success that he left a great part of the army at Ecija, and advanced
with but five thousand cavalry and eight thousand infantry. The
marques of Cadiz, a warrior as wise as he was valiant, remonstrated
against employing so small a force, and indeed was opposed to the
measure altogether, as being undertaken precipitately and without
sufficient preparation. King Ferdinand, however, was influenced by
the counsel of Don Diego de Merlo, and was eager to strike a
brilliant and decided blow. A vainglorious confidence prevailed
about this time among the Spanish cavaliers; they overrated their
own prowess, or rather they undervalued and despised their enemy.
Many of them believed that the Moors would scarcely remain in their
city when they saw the Christian troops advancing to assail it. The
Spanish chivalry, therefore, marched gallantly and fearlessly, and
almost carelessly, over the border, scantily supplied with the things
needful for a besieging army in the heart of an enemy's country. In
the same negligent and confident spirit they took up their station
before Loxa.

The country around was broken and hilly, so that it was extremely
difficult to form a combined camp. The river Xenil, which runs by
the town, was compressed between high banks, and so deep as to
be fordable with extreme difficulty; and the Moors had possession
of the bridge. The king pitched his tents in a plantation of olives
on the banks of the river; the troops were distributed in different
encampments on the heights, but separated from each other by deep
rocky ravines, so as to be incapable of yielding each other prompt
assistance. There was no room for the operations of the cavalry.
The artillery also was so injudiciously placed as to be almost
entirely useless. Alonso of Aragon, duke of Villahermosa and
illegitimate brother of the king, was present at the siege, and
disapproved of the whole arrangement. He was one of the most
able generals of his time, and especially renowned for his skill in
battering fortified places. He recommended that the whole disposition
of the camp should be changed, and that several bridges should be
thrown across the river. His advice was adopted, but slowly and
negligently followed, so that it was rendered of no avail. Among
other oversights in this hasty and negligent expedition, the army
had no supply of baked bread, and in the hurry of encampment there
was no time to erect furnaces. Cakes were therefore hastily made
and baked on the coals, and for two days the troops were supplied
in this irregular way.

King Ferdinand felt, too late, the insecurity of his position, and
endeavored to provide a temporary remedy. There was a height near
the city, called by the Moors Santo Albohacen, which was in front of
the bridge. He ordered several of his most valiant cavaliers to take
possession of this height and to hold it as a check upon the enemy
and a protection to the camp. The cavaliers chosen for this
distinguished and perilous post were the marques of Cadiz, the
marques of Villena, Don Roderigo Tellez Giron, master of Calatrava,
his brother the count of Urena, and Don Alonso de Aguilar. These
valiant warriors and tried companions-in-arms led their troops with
alacrity to the height, which soon glittered with the array of arms,
and was graced by several of the most redoubtable pennons of
warlike Spain.

Loxa was commanded at this time by an old Moorish alcayde whose
daughter was the favorite wife of Boabdil. The name of this Moor
was Ibrahim Ali Atar, but he was generally known among the Spaniards
as Alatar. He had grown gray in border warfare, was an implacable
enemy of the Christians, and his name had long been the terror of
the frontier. Lord of Zagra and in the receipt of rich revenues, he
expended them all in paying scouts and spies and maintaining a small
but chosen force with which to foray into the Christian territories;
and so straitened was he at times by these warlike expenses that
when his daughter married Boabdil her bridal dress and jewels had
to be borrowed. He was now in the ninetieth year of his age, yet
indomitable in spirit, fiery in his passions, sinewy and powerful in
frame, deeply versed in warlike stratagem, and accounted the best
lance in all Mauritania. He had three thousand horsemen under his
command, veteran troops with whom he had often scoured the borders,
and he daily expected the old Moorish king with reinforcements.

Old Ali Atar had watched from his fortress every movement of the
Christian army, and had exulted in all the errors of its commanders:
when he beheld the flower of Spanish chivalry glittering about the
height of Albohacen, his eye flashed with exultation. "By the aid of
Allah," said he, "I will give those pranking cavaliers a rouse."

Ali Atar privately and by night sent forth a large body of his chosen
troops to lie in ambush near one of the skirts of Albohacen. On the
fourth day of the siege he sallied across the bridge and made a
feint attack upon the height. The cavaliers rushed impetuously
forth to meet him, leaving their encampment almost unprotected. Ali
Atar wheeled and fled, and was hotly pursued. When the Christian
cavaliers had been drawn a considerable distance from their
encampment, they heard a vast shout behind them, and, looking round,
beheld their encampment assailed by the Moorish force which had been
placed in ambush, and which had ascended a different side of the
hill. The cavaliers desisted from the pursuit, and hastened to prevent
the plunder of their tents. Ali Atar, in his turn, wheeled and pursued
them, and they were attacked in front and rear on the summit of the
hill. The contest lasted for an hour; the height of Albohacen was red
with blood; many brave cavaliers fell, expiring among heaps of the
enemy. The fierce Ali Atar fought with the fury of a demon until the
arrival of more Christian forces compelled him to retreat into the city.
The severest loss to the Christians in this skirmish was that of
Roderigo Tellez Giron, grand master of Calatrava, whose burnished
armor, emblazoned with the red cross of his order, made him a mark
for the missiles of the enemy. As he was raising his arm to make a
blow an arrow pierced him just beneath the shoulder, at the open
part of the[1]corselet. The lance and bridle fell from his hands, he
faltered in his saddle, and would have fallen to the ground, but was
caught by Pedro Gasca, a cavalier of Avila, who conveyed him to his
tent, where he died. The king and queen and the whole kingdom
mourned his death, for he was in the freshness of his youth, being
but twenty-four years of age, and had proved himself a gallant and
high-minded cavalier. A melancholy group collected about his[2]corpse
on the bloody height of Albohacen: the knights of Calatrava mourned
him as a commander; the cavaliers who were encamped on the height
lamented him as their companion-in-arms in a service of peril; while
the count de Urena grieved over him with the tender affection of a

King Ferdinand now perceived the wisdom of the opinion of the
marques of Cadiz, and that his force was quite insufficient for
the enterprise. To continue his camp in its present unfortunate
position would cost him the lives of his bravest cavaliers, if not
a total defeat in case of reinforcements to the enemy. He called
a council of war late in the evening of Saturday, and it was
determined to withdraw the army early the next morning to Rio
Frio, a short distance from the city, and there wait for additional
troops from Cordova.

The next morning early the cavaliers on the height of Albohacen
began to strike their tents. No sooner did Ali Atar behold this than
he sallied forth to attack them. Many of the Christian troops, who
had not heard of the intention to change the camp, seeing the tents
struck and the Moors sallying forth, supposed that the enemy had
been reinforced in the night, and that the army was on the point of
retreating. Without stopping to ascertain the truth or to receive
orders they fled in dismay, spreading confusion through the camp,
nor did they halt until they had reached the Rock of the Lovers,
about seven leagues from Loxa.*

*Pulgar, Cronica.

The king and his commanders saw the imminent peril of the
moment, and made face to the Moors, each commander guarding
his quarter and repelling all assaults while the tents were struck
and the artillery and ammunition conveyed away. The king, with a
handful of cavaliers, galloped to a rising ground, exposed to the
fire of the enemy, calling upon the flying troops and endeavoring
in vain to rally them. Setting upon the Moors, he and his cavaliers
charged them so vigorously, that they put a squadron to flight,
slaying many with their swords and lances and driving others into
the river, where they were drowned. The Moors, however, were
soon reinforced, and returned in great numbers. The king was in
danger of being surrounded, and twice owed his safety to the valor
of Don Juan de Ribera, senior of Montemayor.

The marques of Cadiz beheld from a distance the peril of his
sovereign. Summoning about seventy horsemen to follow him, he
galloped to the spot, threw himself between the king and the enemy,
and, hurling his lance, transpierced one of the most daring of the
Moors. For some time he remained with no other weapon than his
sword; his horse was wounded by an arrow and many of his followers
were slain; but he succeeded in beating off the Moors and rescuing
the king from imminent jeopardy, whom he then prevailed upon to
retire to less dangerous ground.

The marques continued throughout the day to expose himself to the
repeated assaults of the enemy: he was ever found in the place of
the greatest danger, and through his bravery a great part of the
army and camp was preserved from destruction.*

*Cura de los Palacios, c. 58.

It was a perilous day for the commanders, for in a retreat of the
kind it is the noblest cavaliers who most expose themselves to save
their people. The duke of Medina Celi was struck to the ground, but
rescued by his troops. The count de Tendilla, whose tents were
nearest to the city, received several wounds, and various other
cavaliers of the most distinguished note were exposed to fearful
jeopardy. The whole day was passed in bloody skirmishings, in which
the hidalgos and cavaliers of the royal household distinguished
themselves by their bravery: at length, the encampments being all
broken up and most of the artillery and baggage removed, the bloody
height of Albohacen was abandoned and the neighborhood of Loxa
evacuated. Several tents, a quantity of provisions, and a few pieces
of artillery were left upon the spot from the want of horses and
mules to carry them off.

Ali Atar hung upon the rear of the retiring army, and harassed it
until it reached Rio Frio; Ferdinand returned thence to Cordova,
deeply mortified, though greatly benefited, by the severe lesson
he had received, which served to render him more cautious in his
campaigns and more diffident of fortune. He sent letters to all
parts excusing his retreat, imputing it to the small number of his
forces, and the circumstance that many of them were quotas sent
from various cities, and not in royal pay; in the mean time, to
console his troops for their disappointment and to keep up their
spirits, he led them upon another inroad to lay waste the Vega of



Muley Abul Hassan had mustered an army and marched to the relief
of Loxa, but arrived too late; the last squadron of Ferdinand had
already passed over the border. "They have come and gone," said
he, "like a summer cloud, and all their vaunting has been mere empty
thunder." He turned to make another attempt upon Alhama, the
garrison of which was in the utmost consternation at the retreat of
Ferdinand, and would have deserted the place had it not been for
the courage and perseverance of the alcayde, Luis Fernandez Puerto
Carrero. That brave and loyal commander cheered up the spirits of
his men and kept the old Moorish king at bay until the approach of
Ferdinand, on his second incursion into the Vega, obliged him to
make an unwilling retreat to Malaga.

Muley Abul Hassan felt that it would be in vain, with his inferior
force, to oppose the powerful army of the Christian monarch, but
to remain idle and see his territories laid waste would ruin him in
the estimation of his people. "If we cannot parry," said he, "we
can strike; if we cannot keep our own lands from being ravaged,
we can ravage the lands of the enemy." He inquired and learnt
that most of the chivalry of Andalusia, in their eagerness for a foray,
had marched off with the king, and left their own country almost
defenceless. The territories of the duke of Medina Sidonia were
particularly unguarded: here were vast plains of pasturage covered
with flocks and herds--the very country for a hasty inroad. The
old monarch had a bitter grudge against the duke for having
foiled him at Alhama. "I'll give this cavalier a lesson," said he,
exultingly, "that will cure him of his love of campaigning." So he
prepared in all haste for a foray into the country about Medina

Muley Abul Hassan sallied out of Malaga with fifteen hundred horse
and six thousand foot, and took the way by the sea-coast, marching
through Estiponia, and entering the Christian country between
Gibraltar and Castellar. The only person that was likely to molest
him on this route was one Pedro de Vargas, a shrewd, hardy, and
vigilant soldier, alcayde of Gibraltar, and who lay ensconced in his
old warrior rock as in a citadel. Muley Abul Hassan knew the
watchful and daring character of the man, but had ascertained that
his garrison was too small to enable him to make a sally, or at
least to ensure him any success. Still, he pursued his march with
great silence and caution; sent parties in advance to explore every
pass where a foe might lie in ambush; cast many an anxious eye
toward the old rock of Gibraltar as its cloud-capped summit was seen
towering in the distance on his left; nor did he feel entirely at ease
until he had passed through the broken and mountainous country
of Castellar and descended into the plains. Here he encamped on
the banks of the Celemin, and sent four hundred corredors, or fleet
horsemen, armed with lances, to station themselves near Algeziras
and keep a strict watch across the bay upon the opposite fortress
of Gibraltar. If the alcayde attempted to sally forth, they were to
waylay and attack him, being almost four times his supposed force,
and were to send swift tidings to the camp. In the mean time two
hundred corredors were sent to scour that vast plain called the
Campina de Tarifa, abounding with flocks and herds, and two hundred
more were to ravage the lands about Medina Sidonia. Muley Abul
Hassan remained with the main body of the army as a rallying-point
on the banks of the Celemin.

The foraging parties scoured the country to such effect that they
came driving vast flocks and herds before them, enough to supply
the place of all that had been swept from the Vega of Granada.
The troops which had kept watch upon the rock of Gibraltar returned
with word that they had not seen a Christian helmet stirring. The
old king congratulated himself upon the secrecy and promptness
with which he had conducted his foray, and upon having baffled
the vigilance of Pedro de Vargas.

He had not been so secret, however, as he imagined; the watchful
alcayde of Gibraltar had received notice of his movements, but his
garrison was barely sufficient for the defence of his post. Luckily,
there arrived at this juncture a squadron of the armed galleys,
under Carlos de Valera, recently stationed in the Straits. Pedro de
Vargas prevailed upon him to take charge of Gibraltar during his
temporary absence, and forthwith sallied out at midnight at the head
of seventy chosen horsemen. By his command alarm-fires were lighted
on the mountains, signals that the Moors were on the ravage, at
sight of which the peasants were accustomed to drive their flocks
and herds to places of refuge. He sent couriers also spurring in
every direction, summoning all capable of bearing arms to meet him
at Castellar. This was a town strongly posted on a steep height, by
which the Moorish king would have to return.

Muley Abul Hassan saw by the fires blazing on the mountains that the
country was rising. He struck his tents, and pushed forward as
rapidly as possible for the border; but he was encumbered with booty
and with the vast cavalgada swept from the pastures of the Campina
de Tarifa. His scouts brought him word that there were troops in
the field, but he made light of the intelligence, knowing that they
could only be those of the alcayde of Gibraltar, and that he had
not more than a hundred horsemen in his garrison. He threw in
advance two hundred and fifty of his bravest troops, and with them
the alcaydes of Marabella and Casares. Behind this van-guard
followed a great cavalgada of cattle, and in the rear marched the
king with the main force of his little army.

It was near the middle of a sultry summer day when they approached
Castellar. De Vargas was on the watch, and beheld, by an immense
cloud of dust, that they were descending one of the heights of that
wild and broken country. The van-guard and rear-guard were above
half a league asunder, with the cavalgada between them, and a long
and close forest hid them from each other. De Vargas saw that they
could render but little assistance to each other in case of a sudden
attack, and might be easily thrown into confusion. He chose fifty of
his bravest horsemen, and, making a circuit, took his post secretly
in a narrow glen opening into a defile between two rocky heights
through which the Moors had to pass. It was his intention to suffer
the van-guard and the cavalgada to pass, and to fall upon the rear.

While thus lying perdu six Moorish scouts, well mounted and well
armed, entered the glen, examining every place that might conceal an
enemy. Some of the Christians advised that they should slay these
six men and retreat to Gibraltar. "No," said De Vargas; "I have come
out for higher game than these; and I hope, by the aid of God and
Santiago, to do good work this day. I know these Moors well, and
doubt not but that they may readily be thrown into confusion."

By this time the six horsemen approached so near that they were on
the point of discovering the Christian ambush. De Vargas gave the
word, and ten horsemen rushed upon them; in an instant four of the
Moors rolled in the dust; the other two put spurs to their steeds
and fled toward their army, pursued by the ten Christians. About
eighty of the Moorish van-guard came galloping to the relief of
their companions; the Christians turned and fled toward their
ambush. De Vargas kept his men concealed until the fugitives and
their pursuers came clattering pell-mell into the glen. At a signal
trumpet his men sallied forth with great heat and in close array.
The Moors almost rushed upon their weapons before they perceived
them; forty of the infidels were overthrown, the rest turned their
back. "Forward!" cried De Vargas; "let us give the van-guard a brush
before it can be joined by the rear." So saying, he pursued the
flying Moors down hill, and came with such force and fury upon the
advance-guard as to overturn many of them at the first encounter.
As he wheeled off with his men the Moors discharged their lances,
upon which he returned to the charge and made great slaughter.
The Moors fought valiantly for a short time, until the alcaydes of
Marabella and Casares were slain, when they gave way and fled
for the rear-guard. In their flight they passed through the cavalgada
of cattle, threw the whole in confusion, and raised such a cloud of
dust that the Christians could no longer distinguish objects. Fearing
that the king and the main body might be at hand, and finding that
De Vargas was badly wounded, they contented themselves with
despoiling the slain and taking above twenty-eight horses, and
then retreated to Castellar.

When the routed Moors came flying back upon the rear-guard, Muley
Abul Hassan feared that the people of Xeres were in arms. Several
of his followers advised him to abandon the cavalgada and retreat
by another road. "No," said the old king; "he is no true soldier who
gives up his booty without fighting." Putting spurs to his horse, he
galloped forward through the centre of the cavalgada, driving the
cattle to the right and left. When he reached the field of battle,
he found it strewed with the bodies of upward of one hundred Moors,
among which were those of the two alcaydes. Enraged at the sight,
he summoned all his crossbowmen and cavalry, pushed on to the very
gates of Castellar, and set fire to two houses close to the walls.
Pedro de Vargas was too severely wounded to sally forth in person,
but he ordered out his troops, and there was brisk skirmishing under
the walls, until the king drew off and returned to the scene of the
recent encounter. Here he had the bodies of the principal warriors
laid across mules, to be interred honorably at Malaga; the rest of
the slain were buried on the field of battle. Then, gathering
together the scattered cavalgada, he paraded it slowly, in an
immense line, past the walls of Castellar by way of taunting his foe.

With all his fierceness, old Muley Abul Hassan had a gleam of warlike
courtesy, and admired the hardy and soldier-like character of Pedro
de Vargas. He summoned two Christian captives, and demanded
what were the revenues of the alcayde of Gibraltar. They told him
that, among other things, he was entitled to one out of every drove
of cattle that passed his boundaries. "Allah forbid," cried the old
monarch, "that so brave a cavalier should be defrauded of his dues!"

He immediately chose twelve of the finest cattle from the twelve
droves which formed the cavalgada. These he gave in charge to an
alfaqui to deliver to Pedro de Vargas. "Tell him," said he, "that I
crave his pardon for not having sent these cattle sooner; but I have
this moment learnt the nature of his rights, and I hasten to satisfy
them with the punctuality due to so worthy a cavalier. Tell him, at
the same time, that I had no idea the alcayde of Gibraltar was so
active and vigilant in collecting his tolls."

The brave alcayde relished the stern soldier-like pleasantry of the
old Moorish monarch. He ordered a rich silken vest and a scarlet
mantle to be given to the alfaqui, and dismissed him with great
courtesy. "Tell His Majesty," said he, "that I kiss his hands for
the honor he has done me, and regret that my scanty force has not
permitted me to give him a more signal reception on his coming
into these parts. Had three hundred horsemen, whom I have been
promised from Xeres, arrived in time, I might have served up an
entertainment more befitting such a monarch. I trust, however, they
will arrive in the course of the night, in which case His Majesty
may be sure of a royal regale in the dawning."

Muley Abul Hassan shook his head when he received the reply of De
Vargas. "Allah preserve us," said he, "from any visitation of these
hard riders of Xeres! A handful of troops acquainted with the wild
passes of these mountains may destroy an army encumbered as ours
is with booty."

It was some relief to the king, however, to learn that the hardy
alcayde of Gibraltar was too severely wounded to take the field in
person. He immediately beat a retreat with all speed before the
close of day, hurrying with such precipitation that the cavalgada
was frequently broken and scattered among the rugged defiles of
the mountains, and above five thousand of the cattle turned back
and were regained by the Christians. Muley Abul Hassan returned
triumphantly with the residue to Malaga, glorying in the spoils of
the duke of Medina Sidonia.

King Ferdinand was mortified at finding his incursion into the Vega
of Granada counterbalanced by this inroad into his dominions, and
saw that there were two sides to the game of war, as to all other
games. The only one who reaped real glory in this series of inroads
and skirmishings was Pedro de Vargas, the stout alcayde of Gibraltar.*

*Alonzo de Palencia, 1. 28, c. 3, MS.



The foray of old Muley Abul Hassan had touched the pride of the
Andalusian chivalry, and they determined on retaliation. For this
purpose a number of the most distinguished cavaliers assembled at
Antiquera in the month of March, 1483. The leaders of the enterprise
were, the gallant marques of Cadiz; Don Pedro Henriquez, adelantado
of Andalusia; Don Juan de Silva, count of Cifuentes and bearer of the
royal standard, who commanded in Seville; Don Alonso de Cardenas,
master of the religious and military order of Santiago; and Don Alonso
de Aguilar. Several other cavaliers of note hastened to take part in
the enterprise, and in a little while about twenty-seven hundred
horse and several companies of foot were assembled within the old
warlike city of Antiquera, comprising the very flower of Andalusian

A council of war was held by the chiefs to determine in what quarter
they should strike a blow. The rival Moorish kings were waging civil
war with each other in the vicinity of Granada, and the whole
country lay open to inroads. Various plans were proposed by the
different cavaliers. The marques of Cadiz was desirous of scaling
the walls of Zahara and regaining possession of that important
fortress. The master of Santiago, however, suggested a wider range
and a still more important object. He had received information from
his adalides, who were apostate Moors, that an incursion might be
safely made into a mountainous region near Malaga called the
Axarquia. Here were valleys of pasture-land well stocked with
flocks and herds, and there were numerous villages and hamlets,
which would be an easy prey. The city of Malaga was too weakly
garrisoned and had too few cavalry to send forth any force in
opposition; nay, he added, they might even extend their ravages to
its very gates, and peradventure carry that wealthy place by sudden

The adventurous spirits of the cavaliers were inflamed by this
suggestion: in their sanguine confidence they already beheld Malaga
in their power, and they were eager for the enterprise. The marques
of Cadiz endeavored to interpose a little cool caution. He likewise
had apostate adalides, the most intelligent and experienced on the
borders: among these he placed especial reliance on one named Luis
Amar, who knew all the mountains and valleys of the country. He had
received from him a particular account of these mountains of the
Axarquia.* Their savage and broken nature was a sufficient defence
for the fierce people who inhabited them, who, manning their rocks
and their tremendous passes, which were often nothing more than
the deep dry beds of torrents, might set whole armies at defiance.
Even if vanquished, they afforded no spoil to the victor. Their houses
were little better than bare walls, and they would drive off their
scanty flocks and herds to the fastnesses of the mountains.

*Pulgar, in his Chronicle, reverses the case, and makes the marques
of Cadiz recommend the expedition to the Axarquia; but Fray Antonio
Agapida is supported in his statement by that most veracious and
contemporary chronicler, Andres Bernaldez, curate of Los Palacios.

The sober counsel of the marques, however, was overruled. The
cavaliers, accustomed to mountain-warfare, considered themselves
and their horses equal to any wild and rugged expedition, and were
flushed with the idea of terminating their foray by a brilliant
assault upon Malaga.

Leaving all heavy baggage at Antiquera, and all such as had horses
too weak for this mountain-scramble, they set forth full of spirit and
confidence. Don Alonso de Aguilar and the adelantado of Andalusia
led the squadron of advance. The count of Cifuentes followed with
certain of the chivalry of Seville. Then came the battalion of the
most valiant Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques of Cadiz: he was
accompanied by several of his brothers and nephews and many
cavaliers who sought distinction under his banner, and this family
band attracted universal attention and applause as they paraded
in martial state through the streets of Antiquera. The rear-guard
was led by Don Alonso Cardenas, master of Santiago, and was
composed of the knights of his order and the cavaliers of Ecija,
with certain men-at-arms of the Holy Brotherhood whom the king
had placed under his command. The army was attended by a great
train of mules, laden with provisions for a few days' supply until they
should be able to forage among the Moorish villages. Never did a
more gallant and self-confident little army tread the earth. It was
composed of men full of health and vigor, to whom war was a pastime
and delight. They had spared no expense in their equipments, for
never was the pomp of war carried to a higher pitch than among the
proud chivalry of Spain. Cased in armor richly inlaid and embossed,
decked with rich surcoats and waving plumes, and superbly mounted
on Andalusian steeds, they pranced out of Antiquera with banners
flying and their various devices and armorial bearings ostentatiously
displayed, and in the confidence of their hopes promised the
inhabitants to enrich them with the spoils of Malaga.

In the rear of this warlike pageant followed a peaceful band intent
upon profiting by the anticipated victories. They were not the
customary wretches that hover about armies to plunder and strip
the dead, but goodly and substantial traders from Seville, Cordova,
and other cities of traffic. They rode sleek mules and were clad in
goodly raiment, with long leather purses at their girdles well filled
with pistoles and other golden coin. They had heard of the spoils
wasted by the soldiery at the capture of Alhama, and were provided
with moneys to buy up the jewels and precious stones, the vessels
of gold and silver, and the rich silks and cloths that should form the
plunder of Malaga. The proud cavaliers eyed these sons of traffic
with great disdain, but permitted them to follow for the convenience
of the troops, who might otherwise be overburdened with booty.

It had been intended to conduct this expedition with great celerity
and secrecy, but the noise of the preparations had already reached
the city of Malaga. The garrison, it is true, was weak, but it
possessed a commander who was himself a host. This was Muley
Abdallah, commonly called El Zagal, or the Valiant. He was younger
brother of Muley Abul Hassan, and general of the few forces which
remained faithful to the old monarch. He possessed equal fierceness
of spirit with his brother, and surpassed him in craft and vigilance.
His very name was a war-cry among his soldiery, who had the most
extravagant opinion of his prowess.

El Zagal suspected that Malaga was the object of this noisy
expedition. He consulted with old Bexir, a veteran Moor, who
governed the city. "If this army of marauders should reach Malaga,"
said he, "we should hardly be able to keep them without its walls.
I will throw myself with a small force into the mountains, rouse the
peasantry, take possession of the passes, and endeavor to give
these Spanish cavaliers sufficient entertainment upon the road."

It was on a Wednesday that the pranking army of high-mettled
warriors issued forth from the ancient gates of Antiquera. They
marched all day and night, making their way, secretly as they
supposed, through the passes of the mountains. As the tract of
country they intended to maraud was far in the Moorish territories,
near the coast of the Mediterranean, they did not arrive there until
late in the following day. In passing through these stern and lofty
mountains their path was often along the bottom of a barranco,
or deep rocky valley, with a scanty stream dashing along it among
the loose rocks and stones which it had broken and rolled down in
the time of its autumnal violence. Sometimes their road was a mere
rambla, or dry bed of a torrent, cut deep into the mountains and
filled with their shattered fragments. These barrancos and ramblas
were overhung by immense cliffs and precipices, forming the lurking-
places of ambuscades during the wars between the Moors and
Spaniards, as in after times they have become the favorite haunts
of robbers to waylay the unfortunate traveller.

As the sun went down the cavaliers came to a lofty part of the
mountains, commanding to the right a distant glimpse of a part of
the fair vega of Malaga, with the blue Mediterranean beyond, and
they hailed it with exultation as a glimpse of the promised land.
As the night closed in they reached the chain of little valleys and
hamlets locked up among these rocky heights, and known among the
Moors by the name of the Axarquia. Here their vaunting hopes were
destined to meet with the first disappointment. The inhabitants had
heard of their approach: they had conveyed away their cattle and
effects, and with their wives and children had taken refuge in the
towers and fastnesses of the mountains.

Enraged at their disappointment, the troops set fire to the deserted
houses and pressed forward, hoping for better fortune as they
advanced. Don Alonso de Aguilar and the other cavaliers in the
van-guard spread out their forces to lay waste the country,
capturing a few lingering herds of cattle, with the Moorish
peasants who were driving them to some place of safety.

While this marauding party carried fire and sword in the advance
and lit up the mountain-cliffs with the flames of the hamlets, the
master of Santiago, who brought the rear-guard, maintained strict
order, keeping his knights together in martial array, ready for attack
or defence should an enemy appear. The men-at-arms of the Holy
Brotherhood attempted to roam in quest of booty, but he called
them back and rebuked them severely.

At length they came to a part of the mountain completely broken up
by barrancos and ramblas of vast depth and shagged with rocks and
precipices. It was impossible to maintain the order of march; the
horses had no room for action, and were scarcely manageable, having
to scramble from rock to rock and up and down frightful declivities
where there was scarce footing for a mountain-goat. Passing by a
burning village, the light of the flames revealed their perplexed
situation. The Moors, who had taken refuge in a watch-tower on an
impending height, shouted with exultation when they looked down
upon these glistening cavaliers struggling and stumbling among
the rocks. Sallying forth from their tower, they took possession of
the cliffs which overhung the ravine and hurled darts and stones
upon the enemy. It was with the utmost grief of heart that the good
master of Santiago beheld his brave men falling like helpless victims
around him, without the means of resistance or revenge. The
confusion of his followers was increased by the shouts of the Moors
multiplied by the echoes of every crag and cliff, as if they were
surrounded by innumerable foes. Being entirely ignorant of the
country, in their struggles to extricate themselves they plunged
into other glens and defiles, where they were still more exposed
to danger. In this extremity the master of Santiago despatched
messengers in search of succor. The marques of Cadiz, like a loyal
companion-in-arms, hastened to his aid with his cavalry: his approach
checked the assaults of the enemy, and the master was at length
enabled to extricate his troops from the defile.

In the mean time, Don Alonso de Aguilar and his companions, in their
eager advance, had likewise got entangled in deep glens and the
dry beds of torrents, where they had been severely galled by the
insulting attacks of a handful of Moorish peasants posted on the
impending precipices. The proud spirit of De Aguilar was incensed at
having the game of war thus turned upon him, and his gallant forces
domineered over by mountain-boors whom he had thought to drive,
like their own cattle, to Antiquera. Hearing, however, that his friend
the marques of Cadiz and the master of Santiago were engaged with
the enemy, he disregarded his own danger, and, calling together his
troops, returned to assist them, or rather to partake their perils.
Being once more together, the cavaliers held a hasty council amidst
the hurling of stones and the whistling of arrows, and their resolves
were quickened by the sight from time to time of some gallant
companion-in-arms laid low. They determined that there was no
spoil in this part of the country to repay for the extraordinary peril,
and that it was better to abandon the herds they had already
taken, which only embarrassed their march, and to retreat with all
speed to less dangerous ground.

The adalides, or guides, were ordered to lead the way out of this
place of carnage. These, thinking to conduct them by the most
secure route, led them by a steep and rocky pass, difficult for the
foot-soldiers, but almost impracticable to the cavalry. It was
overhung with precipices, from whence showers of stones and arrows
were poured upon them, accompanied by savage yells which appalled
the stoutest heart. In some places they could pass but one at a
time, and were often transpierced, horse and rider, by the Moorish
darts, impeding the progress of their comrades by their dying
struggles. The surrounding precipices were lit up by a thousand
alarm-fires: every crag and cliff had its flame, by the light of which
they beheld their foes bounding from rock to rock and looking
more like fiends than mortal men.

Either through terror and confusion or through real ignorance of
the country their guides, instead of conducting them out of the
mountains, led them deeper into their fatal recesses. The morning
dawned upon them in a narrow rambla, its bottom formed of broken
rocks, where once had raved along the mountain-torrent, while above
there beetled great arid cliffs, over the brows of which they beheld
the turbaned heads of their fierce and exulting foes. What a
different appearance did the unfortunate cavaliers present from that
of the gallant band that marched so vauntingly out of Antiquera!
Covered with dust and blood and wounds, and haggard with fatigue
and horror, they looked like victims rather than like warriors. Many
of their banners were lost, and not a trumpet was heard to rally up
their sinking spirits. The men turned with imploring eyes to their
commanders, while the hearts of the cavaliers were ready to burst
with rage and grief at the merciless havoc made among their faithful

All day they made ineffectual attempts to extricate themselves from
the mountains. Columns of smoke rose from the heights where in
the preceding night had blazed the alarm-fire. The mountaineers
assembled from every direction: they swarmed at every pass, getting
in the advance of the Christians, and garrisoning the cliffs like so
many towers and battlements.

Night closed again upon the Christians when they were shut up in
a narrow valley traversed by a deep stream and surrounded by
precipices which seemed to reach the skies, and on which blazed and
flared the alarm-fires. Suddenly a new cry was heard resounding
along the valley. "El Zagal! El Zagal!" echoed from cliff to cliff.

"What cry is that?" said the master of Santiago.

"It is the war-cry of El Zagal, the Moorish general," said an old
Castilian soldier: "he must be coming in person, with the troops
of Malaga."

The worthy master turned to his knights: "Let us die," said he,
"making a road with our hearts, since we cannot with our swords.
Let us scale the mountain and sell our lives dearly, instead of
staying here to be tamely butchered."

So saying, he turned his steed against the mountain and spurred him
up its flinty side. Horse and foot followed his example, eager, if
they could not escape, to have at least a dying blow at the enemy.
As they struggled up the height a tremendous storm of darts and
stones was showered upon them by the Moors. Sometimes a fragment
of rock came bounding and thundering down, ploughing its way through
the centre of their host. The foot-soldiers, faint with weariness and
hunger or crippled by wounds, held by the tails and manes of the
horses to aid them in their ascent, while the horses, losing their
foothold among the loose stones or receiving some sudden wound,
tumbled down the steep declivity, steed, rider, and soldier rolling
from crag to crag until they were dashed to pieces in the valley.
In this desperate struggle the alferez or standard-bearer of the
master, with his standard, was lost, as were many of his relations
and his dearest friends. At length he succeeded in attaining the
crest of the mountain, but it was only to be plunged in new
difficulties. A wilderness of rocks and rugged dells lay before him
beset by cruel foes. Having neither banner nor trumpet by which
to rally his troops, they wandered apart, each intent upon saving
himself from the precipices of the mountains and the darts of the
enemy. When the pious master of Santiago beheld the scattered
fragments of his late gallant force, he could not restrain his grief.
"O God!" exclaimed he, "great is thine anger this day against
thy servants. Thou hast converted the cowardice of these infidels
into desperate valor, and hast made peasants and boors victorious
over armed men of battle."

He would fain have kept with his foot-soldiers, and, gathering them
together, have made head against the enemy, but those around
him entreated him to think only of his personal safety. To remain
was to perish without striking a blow; to escape was to preserve a
life that might be devoted to vengeance on the Moors. The master
reluctantly yielded to the advice. "O Lord of hosts!" exclaimed he
again, "from thy wrath do I fly, not from these infidels: they are
but instruments in thy hands to chastise us for our sins." So saying,
he sent the guides in the advance, and, putting spurs to his horse,
dashed through a defile of the mountains before the Moors could
intercept him. The moment the master put his horse to speed,
his troops scattered in all directions. Some endeavored to follow
his traces, but were confounded among the intricacies of the
mountain. They fled hither and thither, many perishing among
the precipices, others being slain by the Moors, and others taken

The gallant marques of Cadiz, guided by his trusty adalid, Luis Amar,
had ascended a different part of the mountain. He was followed
by his friend, Don Alonso de Aguilar, the adelantado, and the count
of Cifuentes, but in the darkness and confusion the bands of these
commanders became separated from each other. When the marques
attained the summit, he looked around for his companions-in-arms,
but they were no longer following him, and there was no trumpet to
summon them. It was a consolation to the marques, however, that
his brothers and several of his relations, with a number of his
retainers, were still with him: he called his brothers by name,
and their replies gave comfort to his heart.

His guide now led the way into another valley, where he would be
less exposed to danger: when he had reached the bottom of it the
marques paused to collect his scattered followers and to give time
for his fellow-commanders to rejoin him. Here he was suddenly
assailed by the troops of El Zagal, aided by the mountaineers
from the cliffs. The Christians, exhausted and terrified, lost all
presence of mind: most of them fled, and were either slain or taken
captive. The marques and his valiant brothers, with a few tried
friends, made a stout resistance. His horse was killed under him;
his brothers, Don Diego and Don Lope, with his two nephews, Don
Lorenzo and Don Manuel, were one by one swept from his side,
either transfixed with darts and lances by the soldiers of El Zagal
or crushed by stones from the heights. The marques was a veteran
warrior, and had been in many a bloody battle, but never before
had death fallen so thick and close around him. When he saw
his remaining brother, Don Beltran, struck out of his saddle by a
fragment of a rock and his horse running wildly about without his
rider, he gave a cry of anguish and stood bewildered and aghast.
A few faithful followers surrounded him and entreated him to fly for
his life. He would still have remained, to have shared the fortunes
of his friend Don Alonso de Aguilar and his other companions-in-arms,
but the forces of El Zagal were between him and them, and death
was whistling by on every wind. Reluctantly, therefore, he consented
to fly. Another horse was brought him: his faithful adalid guided him
by one of the steepest paths, which lasted for four leagues, the
enemy still hanging on his traces and thinning the scanty ranks of
his followers. At length the marques reached the extremity of the
mountain-defiles, and with a haggard remnant of his men escaped
by dint of hoof to Antiquera.

The count of Cifuentes, with a few of his retainers, in attempting
to follow the marques of Cadiz wandered into a narrow pass, where
they were completely surrounded by the band of El Zagal. The
count himself was assailed by six of the enemy, against whom he
was defending himself with desperation, when their leader, struck
with the inequality of the fight, ordered the others to desist, and
continued the combat alone. The count, already exhausted, was soon
compelled to surrender; his brother, Don Pedro de Silva, and the few
of his retainers who survived, were likewise taken prisoners. The
Moorish cavalier who had manifested such a chivalrous spirit in
encountering the count singly was[3]Reduan Vanegas, brother of
the former vizier of Muley Abul Hassan, and one of the leaders of
the faction of the sultana Zoraya.

The dawn of day found Don Alonso de Aguilar with a handful of his
followers still among the mountains. They had attempted to follow
the marques of Cadiz, but had been obliged to pause and defend
themselves against the thickening forces of the enemy. They at
length traversed the mountain, and reached the same valley where the
marques had made his last disastrous stand. Wearied and perplexed,
they sheltered themselves in a natural grotto under an overhanging
rock, which kept off the darts of the enemy, while a bubbling
fountain gave them the means of slaking their raging thirst and
refreshing their exhausted steeds. As day broke the scene of
slaughter unfolded its horrors. There lay the noble brothers and
nephews of the gallant marques, transfixed with darts or gashed and
bruised with unseemly wounds, while many other gallant cavaliers lay
stretched out dead and dying around, some of them partly stripped
and plundered by the Moors. De Aguilar was a pious knight, but his
piety was not humble and resigned, like that of the worthy master
of Santiago. He imprecated holy curses upon the infidels for having
thus laid low the flower of Christian chivalry, and he vowed in his
heart bitter vengeance upon the surrounding country.

By degrees the little force of De Aguilar was augmented by numbers
of fugitives who issued from caves and chasms where they had taken
refuge in the night. A little band of mounted knights was gradually
formed, and, the Moors having abandoned the heights to collect the
spoils of the slain, this gallant but forlorn squadron was enabled
to retreat to Antiquera.

This disastrous affair lasted from Thursday evening, throughout
Friday, the twenty-first of March, the festival of St. Benedict.
It is still recorded in Spanish calendars as the defeat of the
mountains of Malaga, and the spot where the greatest slaughter
took place is called "la Cuesta de la Matanza," or the Hill of the
Massacre. The principal leaders who survived returned to Antiquera.
Many of the knights took refuge in Alhama and other towns: many
wandered about the mountains for eight days, living on roots and
herbs, hiding themselves during the day and sallying forth at night.
So enfeebled and disheartened were they that they offered no
resistance if attacked. Three or four soldiers would surrender to a
Moorish peasant, and even the women of Malaga sallied forth and
made prisoners. Some were thrown into the dungeons of frontier
towns, others led captive to Granada, but by far the greater number
were conducted to Malaga, the city they had threatened to attack.
Two hundred and fifty principal cavaliers, alcaydes, commanders,
and hidalgos of generous blood were confined in the alcazaba, or
citadel, of Malaga to await their ransom, and five hundred and
seventy of the common soldiery were crowded in an enclosure
or courtyard of the alcazaba to be sold as slaves.*

*Cura de los Palacios.

Great spoils were collected of splendid armor and weapons taken
from the slain or thrown away by the cavaliers in their flight, and
many horses, magnificently caparisoned, together with numerous
standards,--all which were paraded in triumph in the Moorish towns.

The merchants also who had come with the army, intending to traffic
in the spoils of the Moors, were themselves made objects of traffic.
Several of them were driven like cattle before the Moorish viragoes
to the market of Malaga, and, in spite of all their adroitness in
trade and their attempts to buy themselves off at a cheap ransom,
they were unable to purchase their freedom without such draughts
upon their money-bags at home as drained them to the very bottom.



The people of Antiquera had scarcely recovered from the tumult of
excitement and admiration caused by the departure of the gallant
band of cavaliers upon their foray when they beheld the scattered
wrecks flying for refuge to their walls. Day after day and hour after
hour brought some wretched fugitive, in whose battered plight and
haggard woebegone demeanor it was almost impossible to recognize
the warrior who had lately issued so gayly and gloriously from
their gates.

The arrival of the marques of Cadiz almost alone, covered with dust
and blood, his armor shattered and defaced, his countenance the
picture of despair, filled every heart with sorrow, for he was greatly
beloved by the people. The multitude asked of his companions
where was the band of brothers which had rallied round him as he
went forth to the field, and when told that one by one they had been
slaughtered at his side, they hushed their voices or spake to each
other only in whispers as he passed, gazing at him in silent
sympathy. No one attempted to console him in so great an affliction,
nor did the good marques speak ever a word, but, shutting himself
up, brooded in lonely anguish over his misfortune. It was only
the arrival of Don Alonso de Aguilar that gave him a gleam of
consolation, rejoicing to find that amidst the shafts of death
which had fallen so thickly among his family his chosen friend
and brother-in-arms had escaped uninjured.

For several days every eye was turned in fearful suspense toward
the Moorish border, anxiously looking in every fugitive from the
mountains for the lineaments of some friend or relative whose fate
was yet a mystery. At length every hope and doubt subsided into
certainty; the whole extent of this great calamity was known,
spreading grief and consternation throughout the land and laying
desolate the pride and hopes of palaces. It was a sorrow that
visited the marble hall and silken pillow. Stately dames mourned
over the loss of their sons, the joy and glory of their age, and
many a fair cheek was blanched with woe which had lately mantled
with secret admiration. "All Andalusia," says a historian of the
time, "was overwhelmed by a great affliction; there was no drying
of the eyes which wept in her."*

*Cura de los Palacios.

Fear and trembling reigned for a time along the frontier. Their
spear seemed broken, their buckler cleft in twain: every border town
dreaded an attack, and the mother caught her infant to her bosom
when the watch-dog howled in the night, fancying it the war-cry of
the Moor. All for a time seemed lost, and despondency even found
its way to the royal breasts of Ferdinand and Isabella amidst the
splendors of their court.

Great, on the other hand, was the joy of the Moors when they saw
whole legions of Christian warriors brought captive into their towns
by rude mountain-peasantry. They thought it the work of Allah in
favor of the faithful. But when they recognized among the captives
thus dejected and broken down some of the proudest of Christian
chivalry; when they saw several of the banners and devices of the
noblest houses of Spain, which they had been accustomed to behold
in the foremost of the battle, now trailed ignominiously through their
streets; when, in short, they witnessed the arrival of the count of
Cifuentes, the royal standard-bearer of Spain, with his gallant
brother, Don Pedro de Silva, brought prisoners into the gates of
Granada,--there were no bounds to their exultation. They thought
that the days of their ancient glory were about to return, and that
they were to renew their career of triumph over the unbelievers.

The Christian historians of the time are sorely perplexed to account
for this misfortune, and why so many Christian knights, fighting in
the cause of the holy faith, should thus miraculously, as it were,
be given captive to a handful of infidel boors, for we are assured
that all this rout and destruction was effected by five hundred foot
and fifty horse, and those mere mountaineers without science or
discipline.* "It was intended," observes one historiographer, "as
a lesson to their confidence and vainglory, overrating their own
prowess and thinking that so chosen a band of chivalry had but
to appear in the land of the enemy and conquer. It was to teach
them that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong,
but that God alone giveth the victory."

*Cura de los Palacios.

The worthy father Fray Antonio Agapida, however, asserts it to be
a punishment for the avarice of the Spanish warriors. They did not
enter the kingdom of the infidels with the pure spirit of Christian
knights, zealous only for the glory of the faith, but rather as
greedy men of traffic, to enrich themselves by vending the spoils
of the infidels. Instead of preparing themselves by confession and
communion, and executing their testaments, and making donations and
bequests to churches and convents, they thought only of arranging
bargains and sales of their anticipated booty. Instead of taking
with them holy monks to aid them with their prayers, they were
followed by a train of trading-men to keep alive their worldly and
sordid ideas, and to turn what ought to be holy triumphs into scenes
of brawling traffic. Such is the opinion of the excellent Agapida,
in which he is joined by that most worthy and upright of chroniclers,
the curate of Los Palacios. Agapida comforts himself, however, with
the reflection that this visitation was meant in mercy to try the
Castilian heart, and to extract from its present humiliation the
elements of future success, as gold is extracted from amidst the
impurities of earth; and in this reflection he is supported by the
venerable historian Pedro Abarca of the Society of Jesuits.*

*Abarca, Anales de Aragon, Rey 30, cap. 2, \0xA4 7.



The defeat of the Christian cavaliers among the mountains of Malaga,
and the successful inroad of Muley Abul Hassan into the lands of
Medina Sidonia, had produced a favorable effect on the fortunes of
the old monarch. The inconstant populace began to shout forth
his name in the streets, and to sneer at the inactivity of his son
Boabdil el Chico. The latter, though in the flower of his age and
distinguished for vigor and dexterity in jousts and tournaments,
had never yet fleshed his weapon in the field of battle; and it was
murmured that he preferred the silken repose of the cool halls of
the Alhambra to the fatigue and danger of the foray and the hard
encampments of the mountains.

The popularity of these rival kings depended upon their success
against the Christians, and Boabdil el Chico found it necessary to
strike some signal blow to counterbalance the late triumph of
his father. He was further incited by his father-in-law, Ali Atar,
alcayde of Loxa, with whom the coals of wrath against the Christians
still burned among the ashes of age, and had lately been blown into
a flame by the attack made by Ferdinand on the city under his

Ali Atar informed Boabdil that the late discomfiture of the Christian
knights had stripped Andalusia of the prime of her chivalry and
broken the spirit of the country. All the frontier of Cordova and
Ecija now lay open to inroad; but he especially pointed out the
city of Lucena as an object of attack, being feebly garrisoned and
lying in a country rich in pasturage, abounding in cattle and grain,
in oil and wine. The fiery old Moor spoke from thorough information,
for he had made many an incursion into these parts, and his very
name was a terror throughout the country. It had become a by-
word in the garrison of Loxa to call Lucena the garden of Ali Atar,
for he was accustomed to forage its fertile territories for all his

Boabdil el Chico listened to the persuasions of this veteran of the
borders. He assembled a force of nine thousand foot and seven
hundred horse, most of them his own adherents, but many the
partisans of his father; for both factions, however they might fight
among themselves, were ready to unite in any expedition against the
Christians. Many of the most illustrious and valiant of the Moorish
nobility assembled round his standard, magnificently arrayed in
sumptuous armor and rich embroidery, as though for a festival or
a tilt of canes rather than an enterprise of iron war. Boabdil's
mother, the sultana Ayxa la Horra, armed him for the field, and gave
him her benediction as she girded his scimetar to his side. His
favorite wife Morayma wept as she thought of the evils that might
befall him. "Why dost thou weep, daughter of Ali Atar?" said the
high-minded Ayxa: "these tears become not the daughter of a
warrior nor the wife of a king. Believe me there lurks more danger
for a monarch within the strong walls of a palace than within the
frail curtains of a tent. It is by perils in the field that thy husband
must purchase security on his throne."

But Morayma still hung upon his neck with tears and sad forebodings,
and when he departed from the Alhambra she betook herself to her
mirador, overlooking the Vega, whence she watched the army as it
went in shining order along the road leading to Loxa, and every
burst of warlike melody that came swelling on the breeze was
answered by a gush of sorrow.

As the royal cavalcade issued from the palace and descended
through the streets of Granada the populace greeted their youthful
sovereign with shouts, anticipating deeds of prowess that would
wither the laurels of his father. The appearance of Boabdil was well
calculated to captivate the public eye, if we may judge from the
description given by the abbot of Rute in his manuscript history of
the House of Cordova. He was mounted on a superb white charger
magnificently caparisoned. His corselets were of polished steel
richly ornamented, studded with gold nails, and lined with crimson
velvet. He wore a steel casque exquisitely chiselled and embossed;
his scimetar and dagger of Damascus were of highest temper; he had a
round buckler at his shoulder and bore a ponderous lance. In passing
through the gate of Elvira, however, he accidentally broke his lance
against the arch. At this certain of his nobles turned pale and
entreated him to turn back, for they regarded it as an evil omen.
Boabdil scoffed at their fears as idle fancies. He refused to take
another spear, but drew forth his scimetar and led the way (adds
Agapida) in an arrogant and haughty style, as though he would set
both Heaven and earth at defiance. Another evil omen was sent to
deter him from his enterprise: arriving at the rambla, or dry ravine,
of Beyro, which is scarcely a bowshot from the city, a fox ran through
the whole army and close by the person of the king, and, though
a thousand bolts were discharged at it, escaped uninjured to the
mountains. The principal courtiers now reiterated their remonstrances
against proceeding; the king, however, was not to be dismayed by
these portents, but continued to march forward.*

*Marmol, Rebel. de los Moros, lib. 1, c. xii., fol. 14.

At Loxa the army was reinforced by old Ali Atar with the chosen
horsemen of his garrison and many of the bravest warriors of the
border towns. The people of Loxa shouted with exultation when
they beheld Ali Atar armed at all points and mounted on his Barbary
steed, which had often borne him over the borders. The veteran
warrior, with nearly a century of years upon his head, had all the
fire and animation of youth at the prospect of a foray, and careered
from rank to rank with the velocity of an Arab of the desert. The
populace watched the army as it paraded over the bridge and wound
into the passes of the mountains, and still their eyes were fixed
upon the pennon of Ali Atar as if it bore with it an assurance
of victory.

The Moorish army entered the Christian frontier by forced marches,
hastily ravaging the country, driving off the flocks and herds, and
making captives of the inhabitants. They pressed on furiously,
and made the latter part of their march in the night, to elude
observation and come upon Lucena by surprise. Boabdil was
inexperienced in warfare, but had a veteran counsellor in his old
father-in-law; for Ali Atar knew every secret of the country, and as
he prowled through it his eye ranged over the land, uniting in its
glare the craft of the fox with the sanguinary ferocity of the wolf.
He had flattered himself that their march had been so rapid as to
outstrip intelligence, and that Lucena would be an easy capture,
when suddenly he beheld alarm-fires blazing upon the mountains.
"We are discovered," said he to Boabdil; "the country will be up in
arms; we have nothing left but to strike boldly for Lucena: it is but
slightly garrisoned, and we may carry it by assault before it can
receive assistance." The king approved of his counsel, and they
marched rapidly for the gate of Lucena.



Don Diego de Cordova, count of Cabra, was in the castle of Vaena,
which, with the town of the same name, is situated on a lofty sun-
burnt hill on the frontier of the kingdom of Cordova and but a few
leagues from Lucena. The range of mountains of Horquera lies
between them. The castle of Vaena was strong and well furnished with
arms, and the count had a numerous band of vassals and retainers;
for it behooved the noblemen of the frontiers in those times to be
well prepared with man and horse, with lance and buckler, to resist
the sudden incursions of the Moors. The count of Cabra was a hardy
and experienced warrior, shrewd in council, prompt in action, rapid
and fearless in the field. He was one of the bravest of cavaliers
for an inroad, and had been quickened and sharpened in thought
and action by living on the borders.

On the night of the 20th of April, 1483, the count was about to
retire to rest when the watchman from the turret brought him word
that there were alarm-fires on the mountains of Horquera, and that
they were made on the signal-tower overhanging the defile through
which the road passes to Cabra and Lucena.

The count ascended the battlement and beheld five lights blazing on
the tower--a sign that there was a Moorish army attacking some place
on the frontier. The count instantly ordered the alarm-bells to be
sounded, and despatched couriers to rouse the commanders of the
neighboring towns. He called upon his retainers to prepare for
action, and sent a trumpet through the town summoning the men
to assemble at the castle-gate at daybreak armed and equipped for
the field.

Throughout the remainder of the night the castle resounded with the
din of preparation. Every house in the town was in equal bustle, for
in these frontier towns every house had its warrior, and the lance
and buckler were ever hanging against the wall ready to be snatched
down for instant service. Nothing was heard but the din of armorers,
the shoeing of steeds, and furbishing up of weapons, and all night
long the alarm-fires kept blazing on the mountains.

When the morning dawned the count of Cabra sallied forth at the head
of two hundred and fifty cavaliers of the best families of Vaena, all
well appointed, exercised in arms, and experienced in the warfare of
the borders. There were besides twelve hundred foot-soldiers, brave
and well-seasoned men of the same town. The count ordered them
to hasten forward, whoever could make most speed, taking the road
to Cabra, which was three leagues distant. That they might not loiter
on the road he allowed none of them to break their fast until they
arrived at that place. The provident count despatched couriers in
advance, and the little army on reaching Cabra found tables spread
with food and refreshments at the gates of the town. Here they were
joined by Don Alonso de Cordova, senior of Zuheros.

Having made a hearty repast, they were on the point of resuming
their march when the count discovered that in the hurry of his
departure from home he had forgotten to bring the standard of Vaena,
which for upward of eighty years had always been borne to battle by
his family. It was now noon, and there was no time to return: he
took, therefore, the standard of Cabra, the device of which is a
goat, and which had not been seen in the wars for the last half
century. When about to depart a courier came galloping at full
speed, bringing missives to the count from his nephew, Don Diego
Fernandez de Cordova, senior of Lucena and alcayde de los Donceles,*
entreating him to hasten to his aid, as his town was beset by the
Moorish king, Boabdil el Chico, with a powerful army, who were
actually setting fire to the gates.

*The "Donceles" were young cavaliers who had been pages in
the royal household, but now formed an elite corps in the army.

The count put his little army instantly in movement for Lucena,
which is only one league from Cabra; he was fired with the idea of
having the Moorish king in person to contend with. By the time he
reached Lucena the Moors had desisted from the attack and were
ravaging the surrounding country. He entered the town with a few of
his cavaliers, and was received with joy by his nephew, whose whole
force consisted but of eighty horse and three hundred foot. Don
Diego Fernandez de Cordova was a young man, yet he was a prudent,
careful, and capable officer. Having learnt, the evening before,
that the Moors had passed the frontiers, he had gathered within his
walls all the women and children from the environs, had armed the
men, sent couriers in all directions for succor, and had lighted
alarm-fires on the mountains.

Boabdil had arrived with his army at daybreak, and had sent in a
message threatening to put the garrison to the sword if the place
were not instantly surrendered. The messenger was a Moor of Granada,
named Hamet, whom Don Diego had formerly known: he contrived to
amuse him with negotiation to gain time for succor to arrive. The
fierce old Ali Atar, losing all patience, had made an assault upon
the town and stormed like a fury at the gate, but had been repulsed.
Another and more serious attack was expected in the course of
the night.

When the count de Cabra had heard this account of the situation of
affairs, he turned to his nephew with his usual alacrity of manner,
and proposed that they should immediately sally forth in quest of
the enemy. The prudent Don Diego remonstrated at the rashness
of attacking so great a force with a mere handful of men. "Nephew,"
said the count, "I came from Vaena with a determination to fight
this Moorish king, and I will not be disappointed."

"At any rate," replied Don Diego, "let us wait but two hours, and we
shall have reinforcements which have been promised me from Rambla,
Santaella, Montilla, and other places in the neighborhood." "If we
await these," said the hardy count, "the Moors will be off, and all our
trouble will have been in vain. You may await them if you please; I
am resolved on fighting."

The count paused for no reply, but in his prompt and rapid manner
sallied forth to his men. The young alcayde de los Donceles, though
more prudent than his ardent uncle, was equally brave; he determined
to stand by him in his rash enterprise, and, summoning his little force,
marched forth to join the count, who was already on the move. They
then proceeded together in quest of the enemy.

The Moorish army had ceased ravaging the country, and was not to
be seen, the neighborhood being hilly and broken with deep ravines.
The count despatched six scouts on horseback to reconnoitre, ordering
them to return with all speed on discovering the enemy, and by
no means to engage in skirmishing with stragglers. The scouts,
ascending a high hill, beheld the Moorish army in a valley behind
it, the cavalry ranged in five battalions keeping guard, while the
foot-soldiers were seated on the grass making a repast. They
returned immediately with the intelligence.

The count now ordered the troops to march in the direction of the
enemy. He and his nephew ascended the hill, and saw that the five
battalions of Moorish cavalry had been formed into two, one of about
nine hundred lances, the other of about six hundred. The whole force
seemed prepared to march for the frontier. The foot-soldiers were
already under way with many prisoners and a great train of mules
and beasts of burden laden with booty. At a distance was Boabdil
el Chico: they could not distinguish his person, but they knew him
by his superb black and white charger, magnificently caparisoned,
and by his being surrounded by a numerous guard sumptuously
armed and attired. Old Ali Atar was careering about the valley with
his usual impatience, hurrying the march of the loitering troops.

The eyes of the count de Cabra glistened with eager joy as he
beheld the royal prize within his reach. The immense disparity
of their forces never entered into his mind. "By Santiago!" said
he to his nephew as they hastened down the hill, "had we waited
for more forces the Moorish king and his army would have escaped us."

The count now harangued his men to inspirit them to this hazardous
encounter. He told them not to be dismayed at the number of the
Moors, for God often permitted the few to conquer the many, and he
had great confidence that through the divine aid they were that day
to achieve a signal victory which should win them both riches and
renown. He commanded that no man should hurl his lance at the
enemy, but should keep it in his hands and strike as many blows
with it as he could. He warned them also never to shout except
when the Moors did, for when both armies shouted together there
was no perceiving which made the most noise and was the strongest.
He desired his uncle Lope de Mendoza, and Diego de Cabrera, alcayde
of Dona Mencia, to alight and enter on foot in the battalion of infantry
to animate them to the combat. He appointed also the alcayde of
Vaena and Diego de Clavijo, a cavalier of his household, to remain
in the rear, and not to permit any one to lag behind, either to despoil
the dead or for any other purpose.

Such were the orders given by this most adroit, active, and intrepid
cavalier to his little army, supplying by admirable sagacity and
subtle management the want of a more numerous force. His orders
being given and all arrangements made, he threw aside his lance,
drew his sword, and commanded his standard to be advanced against
the enemy.



The Moorish king had descried the Spanish forces at a distance,
although a slight fog prevented his seeing them distinctly and
ascertaining their numbers. His old father-in-law, Ali Atar, was by
his side, who, being a veteran marauder, was well acquainted with
all the standards and armorial bearings of the frontiers. When the
king beheld the ancient and long-disused banner of Cabra emerging
from the mist, he turned to Ali Atar and demanded whose ensign it
was. The old borderer was for once at a loss, for the banner had not
been displayed in battle in his time. "In truth," replied he, after a
pause, "I have been considering that standard for some time, but
I confess I do not know it. It cannot be the ensign of any single
commander or community, for none would venture single-handed
to attack you. It appears to be a dog, which device is borne by the
towns of Baeza and Ubeda. If it be so, all Andalusia is in movement
against you, and I would advise you to retire."

The count de Cabra, in winding down the hill toward the Moors,
found himself on much lower ground than the enemy: he ordered
in all haste that his standard should be taken back, so as to gain
the vantage- ground. The Moors, mistaking this for a retreat, rushed
impetuously toward the Christians. The latter, having gained the
height proposed, charged upon them at the same moment with the
battle-cry of "Santiago!" and, dealing the first blows, laid many of
the Moorish cavaliers in the dust.

The Moors, thus checked in their tumultuous assault, were thrown
into confusion, and began to give way, the Christians following
hard upon them. Boabdil el Chico endeavored to rally them. "Hold!
hold! for shame!" cried he; "let us not fly, at least until we know
our enemy." The Moorish chivalry were stung by this reproof, and
turned to make front with the valor of men who feel that they are
fighting under their monarch's eye.

At this moment, Lorenzo de Porres, alcayde of Luque, arrived with
fifty horse and one hundred foot, sounding an Italian trumpet from
among a copse of oak trees which concealed his force. The quick ear
of old Ali Atar caught the note. "That is an Italian trumpet," said he
to the king; "the whole world seems in arms against Your Highness!"

The trumpet of Lorenzo de Porres was answered by that of the
count de Cabra in another direction, and it seemed to the Moors
as if they were between two armies. Don Lorenzo, sallying from
among the oaks, now charged upon the enemy: the latter did not
wait to ascertain the force of this new foe; the confusion, the
variety of alarums, the attacks from opposite quarters, the obscurity
of the fog, all conspired to deceive them as to the number of their
adversaries. Broken and dismayed, they retreated fighting, and
nothing but the presence and remonstrances of the king prevented
their retreat from becoming a headlong flight. If Boabdil had
displayed little of the talents of a general in the outset of his
enterprise, he manifested courage and presence of mind amid the
disasters of its close. Seconded by a small body of cavalry, the
choicest and most loyal of his guards, he made repeated stand
against the press of the foe in a skirmishing retreat of about three
leagues, and the way was strewn with the flower of his chivalry.
At length they came to the brook of Martin Gonzales (or Mingozales,
as it is called by the Moorish chroniclers), which, swollen by recent
rain, was now a deep and turbid torrent. Here a scene of confusion
ensued. Horse and foot precipitated themselves into the stream.
Some of the horses stuck fast in the mire and blocked up the ford;
others trampled down the foot-soldiers; many were drowned and
more carried down the stream. Such of the foot-soldiers as gained
the opposite side immediately took to flight; the horsemen, too, who
had struggled through the stream, gave reins to their steeds and
scoured for the frontier.

The little band of devoted cavaliers about the king serried their
forces to keep the enemy in check, fighting with them hand to hand
until he should have time to cross. In the tumult his horse was
shot down, and he became environed in the throng of foot-soldiers
struggling forward to the ford and in peril from the lances of their
pursuers. Conscious that his rich array made him a conspicuous
object, he retreated along the bank of the river, and endeavored
to conceal himself in a thicket of willows and tamarisks. Thence,
looking back, he beheld his loyal band at length give way,
supposing, no doubt, he had effected his escape. They crossed
the ford, followed pell-mell by the enemy, and several of them
were struck down in the stream.

While Boabdil was meditating to throw himself into the water and
endeavor to swim across, he was discovered by Martin Hurtado,
regidor of Lucena, a brave cavalier who had been captive in the
prisons of Granada and exchanged for a Christian knight. Hurtado
attacked the king with a pike, but was kept at bay until, seeing
other soldiers approaching, Boabdil cried for quarter, proclaiming
himself a person of high rank who would pay a noble ransom. At
this moment came up several men of Vaena, of the troop of the count
de Cabra. Hearing the talk of ransom and noticing the splendid attire
of the Moor, they endeavored to secure for themselves so rich a
prize. One of them seized hold of Boabdil, but the latter resented
the indignity by striking him to the earth with a blow of his
poniard. Others of Hurtado's townsmen coming up, a contest arose
between the men of Lucena and Vaena as to who had a right to the
prisoner. The noise brought Don Diego Fernandez de Cordova to
the spot, who by his authority put an end to the altercation.
Boabdil, finding himself unknown by all present, concealed his
quality, giving himself out as the son of Aben Alnayer, a cavalier of
the royal household.* Don Diego treated him with great courtesy,
put a red band round his neck in sign of his being a captive, and
sent him under an escort to the castle of Lucena where his quality
would be ascertained, his ransom arranged, and the question settled
as to who had made him prisoner.

*Garibay, lib. 40, cap 31.

This done, the count put spurs to his horse and hastened to rejoin
the count de Cabra, who was in hot pursuit of the enemy. He overtook
him at a stream called Reanaul, and they continued together to press
on the skirts of the flying army during the remainder of the day. The
pursuit was almost as hazardous as the battle, for had the enemy
at any time recovered from their panic, they might, by a sudden
reaction, have overwhelmed the small force of their pursuers. To
guard against this peril, the wary count kept his battalion always
in close order, and had a body of a hundred chosen lancers in the
advance. The Moors kept up a Parthian retreat; several times
they turned to make battle, but, seeing this solid body of steeled
warriors pressing upon them, they again took to flight.

The main retreat of the army was along the valley watered by the
Xenil and opening through the mountains of Algaringo to the city
of Loxa. The alarm-fires of the preceding night had aroused the
country; every man snatched sword and buckler from the wall, and
the towns and villages poured forth their warriors to harass the
retreating foe. Ali Atar kept the main force of the army together,
and turned fiercely from time to time upon his pursuers: he was like
a wolf hunted through the country he had often made desolate by
his maraudings.

The alarm of this invasion had reached the city of Antiquera, where
were several of the cavaliers who had escaped from the carnage
in the mountains of Malaga. Their proud minds were festering with
their late disgrace, and their only prayer was for vengeance on the
infidels. No sooner did they hear of the Moor being over the border
than they were armed and mounted for action. Don Alonso de Aguilar
led them forth--a small body of but forty horsemen, but all cavaliers
of prowess and thirsting for revenge. They came upon the foe on
the banks of the Xenil where it winds through the valleys of Cordova.
The river, swelled by the late rains, was deep and turbulent and only
fordable at certain places. The main body of the army was gathered
in confusion on the banks, endeavoring to ford the stream, protected
by the cavalry of Ali Atar.

No sooner did the little band of Alonso de Aguilar come in sight of
the Moors than fury flashed from their eyes. "Remember the mountains
of Malaga!" cried they to each other as they rushed to combat. Their
charge was desperate, but was gallantly resisted. A scrambling and
bloody fight ensued, hand to hand and sword to sword, sometimes on
land, sometimes in the water. Many were lanced on the banks; others,
throwing themselves into the river, sank with the weight of their armor
and were drowned; some, grappling together, fell from their horses,
but continued their struggle in the waves, and helm and turban rolled
together down the stream. The Moors were far greater in number, and
among them were many warriors of rank; but they were disheartened
by defeat, while the Christians were excited even to desperation.

Ali Atar alone preserved all his fire and energy amid his reverses.
He had been enraged at the defeat of the army and the ignominious
flight he had been obliged to make through a country which had so
often been the scene of his exploits; but to be thus impeded in his
flight and harassed and insulted by a mere handful of warriors
roused the violent passions of the old Moor to perfect frenzy.
He had marked Don Alonso de Aguilar dealing his blows (says
Agapida) with the pious vehemence of a righteous knight, who
knows that in every wound inflicted upon the infidels he is doing God
service. Ali Atar spurred his steed along the bank of the river to
come upon Don Alonso by surprise. The back of the warrior was
toward him, and, collecting all his force, the Moor hurled his lance
to transfix him on the spot. The lance was not thrown with the
usual accuracy of Ali Atar: it tore away a part of the cuirass of
Don Alonso, but failed to inflict a wound. The Moor rushed upon
Don Alonso with his scimetar, but the latter was on the alert and
parried his blow. They fought desperately upon the borders of the
river, alternately pressing each other into the stream and fighting
their way again up the bank. Ali Atar was repeatedly wounded,
and Don Alonso, having pity on his age, would have spared his life:
he called upon him to surrender. "Never," cried Ali Atar, "to a
Christian dog!" The words were scarce out of his mouth when the
sword of Don Alonso clove his turbaned head and sank deep into the
brain. He fell dead without a groan; his body rolled into the Xenil,
nor was it ever found or recognized.* Thus fell Ali Atar, who had
long been the terror of Andalusia. As he had hated and warred
upon the Christians all his life, so he died in the very act of bitter

*Cura de los Palacios.

The fall of Ali Atar put an end to the transient stand of the cavalry.
Horse and foot mingled together in the desperate struggle across
the Xenil, and many were trampled down and perished beneath
the waves. Don Alonso and his band continued to harass them until
they crossed the frontier, and every blow struck home to the Moors
seemed to lighten the load of humiliation and sorrow which had
weighed heavy on their hearts.

In this disastrous rout the Moors lost upward of five thousand
killed and made prisoners, many of whom were of the most noble
lineages of Granada; numbers fled to rocks and mountains, where
they were subsequently taken.

Boabdil remained a prisoner in the state tower of the citadel of
Lucena under the vigilance of Alonso de Rueda, esquire of the
alcayde of the Donceles; his quality was still unknown until the
24th of April, three days after the battle. On that day some
prisoners, natives of Granada, just brought in, caught a sight of
the unfortunate Boabdil despoiled of his royal robes. Throwing
themselves at his feet, they broke forth in loud lamentations,
apostrophizing him as their lord and king.

Great was the astonishment and triumph of the count de Cabra and Don
Diego Fernandez de Cordova on learning the rank of the supposed
cavalier. They both ascended to the castle to see that he was lodged
in a style befitting his quality. When the good count beheld in the
dejected captive before him the monarch who had so recently appeared
in royal splendor surrounded by an army, his generous heart was
touched by sympathy. He said everything to comfort him that became
a courteous and Christian knight, observing that the same mutability
of things which had suddenly brought him low might as rapidly restore
him to prosperity, since in this world nothing is stable, and sorrow,
like joy, has its allotted term.

The action here recorded was called by some the battle of Lucena,
by others the battle of the Moorish king, because of the capture of
Boabdil. Twenty-two banners, taken on the occasion, were borne in
triumph into Vaena on the 23d of April, St. George's Day, and hung
up in the church. There they remain (says a historian of after
times) to this day. Once a year, on the festival of St. George,
they are borne about in procession by the inhabitants, who at
the same time give thanks to God for this signal victory granted
to their forefathers.*

*Several circumstances relative to the capture of Boabdil vary in
this from the first edition, in consequence of later light thrown
on the subject by Don Miguel Lafuente Alcantara in his History of
Granada. He has availed himself much of various ancient documents
relative to the battle, especially the History of the House of
Cordova by the abbot of Rute, a descendant of that family--a rare
manuscript of which few copies exist.

The question as to the person entitled to the honor and reward for
having captured the king long continued a matter of dispute between
the people of Lucena and Vaena. On the 20th of October, 1520,
about thirty-seven years after the event, an examination of several
witnesses to the fact took place before the chief justice of the
fortress of Lucena, at the instance of Bartolomy Hurtado, the son of
Martin, when the claim of his father was established by Dona Leonora
Hernandez, lady in attendant on the mother of the alcayde of los
Donceles, who testified being present when Boabdil signalized Martin
Hurtado as his captor.

The chief honor of the day, and of course of the defeat and capture
of the Moorish monarch, was given by the sovereign to the count de
Cabra; the second to his nephew, Don Diego Fernandez de Cordova.

Among the curious papers cited by Alcantara is one existing in the
archives of the House of Medina Celi, giving the account of the
treasurer of Don Diego Fernandez as to the sums expended by his
lord in the capture of the king, the reward given to some soldiers
for a standard of the king's which they had taken, to others for the
wounds they had received, etc.

Another paper speaks of an auction at Lucena on the 28th of April
of horses and mules taken in the battle. Another paper states the
gratuities of the alcayde of los Donceles to the soldiery--four
fanegas, or about four hundredweight, of wheat and a lance to each
horseman, two fanegas of wheat and a lance to each foot-soldier.



The sentinels looked out from the watch-towers of Loxa along
the valley of the Xenil, which passes through the mountains of
Algaringo. They looked to behold the king returning in triumph
at the head of his shining host, laden with the spoil of the
unbeliever. They looked to behold the standard of their warlike
idol, the fierce Ali Atar, borne by the chivalry of Loxa, ever
foremost in the wars of the border.

In the evening of the 21st of April they descried a single horseman
urging his faltering steed along the banks of the Xenil. As he drew
near they perceived, by the flash of arms, that he was a warrior,
and on nearer approach by the richness of his armor and the
caparison of his steed they knew him to be a warrior of rank.

He reached Loxa faint and aghast, his courser covered with foam and
dust and blood, panting and staggering with fatigue and gashed with
wounds. Having brought his master in safety, he sank down and died
before the gate of the city. The soldiers at the gate gathered round
the cavalier as he stood by his expiring steed: they knew him to be
Cidi Caleb, nephew of the chief alfaqui of the mosque in the Albaycin,
and their hearts were filled with fearful forebodings.

"Cavalier," said they, "how fares it with the king and army?"

He cast his hand mournfully toward the land of the Christians.
"There they lie!" exclaimed he. "The heavens have fallen upon
them. All are lost! all dead!"*

*Bernaldez (Cura de los Palacios), Hist. de los Reyes Catol.,
MS., cap. 61.

Upon this there was a great cry of consternation among the people,
and loud wailings of women, for the flower of the youth of Loxa were
with the army.

An old Moorish soldier, scarred in many a border battle, stood leaning
on his lance by the gateway. "Where is Ali Atar?" demanded he eagerly.
"If he lives the army cannot be lost."

"I saw his helm cleft by the Christian sword; his body is floating
in the Xenil."

When the soldier heard these words he smote his breast and threw
dust upon his head, for he was an old follower of Ali Atar.

Cidi Caleb gave himself no repose, but, mounting another steed,
hastened toward Granada. As he passed through the villages and
hamlets he spread sorrow around, for their chosen men had followed
the king to the wars.

When he entered the gates of Granada and announced the loss of
the king and army, a voice of horror went throughout the city. Every
one thought but of his own share in the general calamity, and crowded
round the bearer of ill tidings. One asked after a father, another
after a brother, some after a lover, and many a mother after her
son. His replies all spoke of wounds and death. To one he replied,
"I saw thy father pierced with a lance as he defended the person
of the king;" to another, "Thy brother fell wounded under the hoofs
of the horses, but there was no time to aid him, for the Christian
cavalry were upon us;" to another, "I saw the horse of thy lover
covered with blood and galloping without his rider;" to another,
"Thy son fought by my side on the banks of the Xenil: we were
surrounded by the enemy and driven into the stream. I heard him
cry upon Allah in the midst of the waters: when I reached the other
bank he was no longer by my side."

Cidi Caleb passed on, leaving all Granada in lamentation: he
urged his steed up the steep avenue of trees and fountains that
leads to the Alhambra, nor stopped until he arrived before the Gate
of Justice. Ayxa, the mother of Boabdil, and Morayma, his beloved
and tender wife, had daily watched from the Tower of Comares to
behold his triumphant return. Who shall describe their affliction
when they heard the tidings of Cidi Caleb? The sultana Ayxa spake
not much, but sat as one entranced. Every now and then a deep sigh
burst forth, but she raised her eyes to heaven. "It is the will of
Allah!" said she, and with these words endeavored to repress the
agonies of a mother's sorrow. The tender Morayma threw herself
on the earth and gave way to the full turbulence of her feelings,
bewailing her husband and her father. The high-minded Ayxa rebuked
the violence of her grief. "Moderate these transports, my daughter,"
said she; "remember magnanimity should be the attribute of princes:
it becomes not them to give way to clamorous sorrow, like common
and vulgar minds." But Morayma could only deplore her loss with the
anguish of a tender woman. She shut herself up in her mirador, and
gazed all day with streaming eyes upon the Vega. Every object
recalled the causes of her affliction. The river Xenil, which ran
shining amidst groves and gardens, was the same on whose banks
had perished her father, Ali Atar; before her lay the road to Loxa,
by which Boabdil had departed, in martial state, surrounded by the
chivalry of Granada. Ever and anon she would burst into an agony
of grief. "Alas! my father!" she would exclaim; "the river runs smiling
before me that covers thy mangled remains; who will gather them to
an honored tomb in the land of the unbeliever? And thou, O Boabdil,
light of my eyes! joy of my heart! life of my life! woe the day and
woe the hour that I saw thee depart from these walls! The road by
which thou hast departed is solitary; never will it be gladdened by
thy return: the mountain thou hast traversed lies like a cloud in
the distance, and all beyond is darkness."

The royal minstrels were summoned to assuage her sorrows:
they attuned their instruments to cheerful strains, but in a little
while the anguish of their hearts prevailed and turned their songs
to lamentations.

"Beautiful Granada!" exclaimed they, "how is thy glory faded!
The flower of thy chivalry lies low in the land of the stranger; no
longer does the Vivarrambla echo to the tramp of steed and sound of
trumpet; no longer is it crowded with thy youthful nobles gloriously
arrayed for the tilt and tourney. Beautiful Granada! the soft note
of the lute no longer floats through thy moonlit streets; the
serenade is no more heard beneath thy balconies; the lively castanet
is silent upon thy hills; the graceful dance of the Zambra is no more
seen beneath thy bowers! Beautiful Granada! why is the Alhambra
so lorn and desolate? The orange and myrtle still breathe their
perfumes into its silken chambers; the nightingale still sings
within its groves; its marble halls are still refreshed with the
plash of fountains and the gush of limpid rills. Alas! alas! the
countenance of the king no longer shines within those halls!
The light of the Alhambra is set for ever!"

Thus all Granada, say the Arabian chroniclers, gave itself up to
lamentation; there was nothing but the voice of wailing from the
palace to the cottage. All joined to deplore their youthful monarch,
cut down in the freshness and promise of his youth; many feared
that the prediction of the astrologers was about to be fulfilled, and
that the downfall of the kingdom would follow the death of Boabdil;
while all declared that had he survived he was the very sovereign
calculated to restore the realm to its ancient prosperity and glory.



An unfortunate death atones, with the world, for a multitude of
errors. While the populace thought their youthful monarch had
perished in the field nothing could exceed their grief for his loss
and their adoration of his memory; when, however, they learnt
that he was still alive and had surrendered himself captive to the
Christians, their feelings underwent an instant change. They decried
his talents as a commander, his courage as a soldier; they railed at
his expedition as rash and ill-conducted; and they reviled him for
not having dared to die on the field of battle, rather than
surrender to the enemy.

The alfaquis, as usual, mingled with the populace and artfully
guided their discontents. "Behold," exclaimed they, "the prediction
is accomplished which was pronounced at the birth of Boabdil! He
has been seated on the throne, and the kingdom has suffered
downfall and disgrace by his defeat and captivity. Comfort yourselves,
O Moslems! The evil day has passed by; the prophecy is fulfilled:
the sceptre which has been broken in the feeble hand of Boabdil is
destined to resume its former sway in the vigorous grasp of Abul

The people were struck with the wisdom of these words: they rejoiced
that the baleful prediction which had so long hung over them was at
an end, and declared that none but Muley Abul Hassan had the valor
and capacity necessary for the protection of the kingdom in this
time of trouble.

The longer the captivity of Boabdil continued, the greater grew
the popularity of his father. One city after another renewed
allegiance to him, for power attracts power and fortune creates
fortune. At length he was enabled to return to Granada and establish
himself once more in the Alhambra. At his approach his repudiated
spouse, the sultana Ayxa, gathered together the family and treasures
of her captive son, and retired, with a handful of the nobles, into
the Albaycin, the rival quarter of the city, the inhabitants of which
still retained feelings of loyalty to Boabdil. Here she fortified
herself and held the semblance of a court in the name of her son.
The fierce Muley Abul Hassan would have willingly carried fire and
sword into this factious quarter of the capital, but he dared not
confide in his new and uncertain popularity. Many of the nobles
detested him for his past cruelty, and a large portion of the soldiery,
besides many of the people of his own party, respected the virtues
of Ayxa la Horra and pitied the misfortunes of Boabdil.

Granada therefore presented the singular spectacle of two
sovereignties within the same city. The old king fortified himself
in the lofty towers of the Alhambra, as much against his own
subjects as against the Christians; while Ayxa, with the zeal of a
mother's affection, which waxes warmer and warmer toward her
offspring when in adversity, still maintained the standard of
Boabdil on the rival fortress of the Alcazaba, and kept his powerful
faction alive within the walls of the Albaycin.



The unfortunate Boabdil remained a prisoner closely guarded, but
treated with great deference and respect, in the castle of Lucena,
where the noblest apartments were appointed for his abode. From the
towers of his prison he beheld the town below filled with armed men,
and the lofty hill on which it was built girdled by massive walls and
ramparts, on which a vigilant watch was maintained night and day.
The mountains around were studded with watch-towers overlooking
the lonely roads which led to Granada, so that a turban could not
stir over the border without the alarm being given and the whole
country put on the alert. Boabdil saw that there was no hope of
escape from such a fortress, and that any attempt to rescue him
would be equally in vain. His heart was filled with anxiety as he
thought on the confusion and ruin which his captivity must cause
in his affairs, while sorrows of a softer kind overcame his fortitude
as he thought on the evils it might bring upon his family.

A few days only had passed away when missives arrived from the
Castilian sovereigns. Ferdinand had been transported with joy at
hearing of the capture of the Moorish monarch, seeing the deep
and politic uses that might be made of such an event; but the
magnanimous spirit of Isabella was filled with compassion for
the unfortunate captive. Their messages to Boabdil were full of
sympathy and consolation, breathing that high and gentle courtesy
which dwells in noble minds.

This magnanimity in his foe cheered the dejected spirit of the
captive monarch. "Tell my sovereigns, the king and queen," said
he to the messenger, "that I cannot he unhappy being in the power
of such high and mighty princes, especially since they partake so
largely of that grace and goodness which Allah bestows upon the
monarchs whom he greatly loves. Tell them, further, that I had long
thought of submitting myself to their sway, to receive the kingdom
of Granada from their hands in the same manner that my ancestor
received it from King John II., father to the gracious queen. My
greatest sorrow, in this my captivity, is that I must appear to do
that from force which I would fain have done from inclination."

In the mean time, Muley Abul Hassan, finding the faction of his son
still formidable in Granada, was anxious to consolidate his power by
gaining possession of the person of Boabdil. For this purpose he
sent an embassy to the Catholic monarchs, offering large terms for
the ransom, or rather the purchase, of his son, proposing, among
other conditions, to release the count of Cifuentes and nine other
of his most distinguished captives, and to enter into a treaty of
confederacy with the sovereigns. Neither did the implacable father
make any scruple of testifying his indifference whether his son were
delivered up alive or dead, so that his person were placed assuredly
within his power.

The humane heart of Isabella revolted at the idea of giving up
the unfortunate prince into the hands of his most unnatural and
inveterate enemy: a disdainful refusal was therefore returned to
the old monarch, whose message had been couched in a vaunting spirit.
He was informed that the Castilian sovereigns would listen to no
proposals of peace from Muley Abul Hassan until he should lay down
his arms and offer them in all humility.

Overtures in a different spirit were made by the mother of Boabdil,
the sultana Ayxa la Horra, with the concurrence of the party which
still remained faithful to him. It was thereby proposed that Mahomet
Abdallah, otherwise called Boabdil, should hold his crown as vassal
to the Castilian sovereigns, paying an annual tribute and releasing
seventy Christian captives annually for five years; that he should,
moreover, pay a large sum upon the spot for his ransom, and at the
same time give freedom to four hundred Christians to be chosen by
the king; that he should also engage to be always ready to render
military aid, and should come to the Cortes, or assemblage of nobles
and distinguished vassals of the Crown, whenever summoned. His
only son and the sons of twelve distinguished Moorish houses were
to be delivered as hostages.

An embassy composed of the alcayde Aben Comixa, Muley, the royal
standard-bearer, and other distinguished cavaliers bore this
proposition to the Spanish court at Cordova, where they were
received by King Ferdinand. Queen Isabella was absent at the time.
He was anxious to consult her in so momentous an affair, or, rather,
he was fearful of proceeding too precipitately, and not drawing from
this fortunate event all the advantage of which it was susceptible.
Without returning any reply, therefore, to the mission, he ordered
that the captive monarch should be brought to Cordova.

The alcayde of the Donceles was the bearer of this mandate, and
summoned all the hidalgos of Lucena and of his own estates to
form an honorable escort for the illustrious prisoner. In this style
he conducted him to the capital. The cavaliers and authorities of
Cordova came forth to receive the captive king with all due
ceremony, and especial care was taken to prevent any taunt or
insult from the multitude, or anything that might remind him of his
humiliation. In this way he entered the once proud capital of the
Abda'rahmans, and was lodged in the house of the king's major-
domo. Ferdinand, however, declined seeing the Moorish monarch.
He was still undetermined what course to pursue--whether to retain
him prisoner, set him at liberty on ransom, or treat him with politic
magnanimity; and each course would require a different kind of
reception. Until this point should be resolved, therefore, he gave
him in charge to Martin de Alarcon, alcayde of the ancient fortress
of Porcuna, with orders to guard him strictly, but to treat him with
the distinction and deference due unto a prince. These commands
were strictly obeyed: he was escorted, as before, in royal state,
to the fortress which was to form his prison, and, with the exception
of being restrained in his liberty, was as nobly entertained there
as he could have been in his regal palace at Granada.

In the mean time, Ferdinand availed himself of this critical moment,
while Granada was distracted with factions and dissensions, and
before he had concluded any treaty with Boabdil, to make a puissant
and ostentatious inroad into the very heart of the kingdom at the
head of his most illustrious nobles. He sacked and destroyed several
towns and castles, and extended his ravages to the very gates of
Granada. Muley Abul Hassan did not venture to oppose him. His
city was filled with troops, but he was uncertain of their affection.
He dreaded that should he sally forth the gates of Granada might be
closed against him by the faction of the Albaycin.

The old Moor stood on the lofty tower of the Alhambra (says Antonio
Agapida) grinding his teeth and foaming like a tiger shut up in
his cage as he beheld the glittering battalions of the Christians
wheeling about the Vega, and the standard of the cross shining forth
from among the smoke of infidel villages and hamlets. The most
Catholic king (continues Agapida) would gladly have continued
this righteous ravage, but his munitions began to fail. Satisfied,
therefore, with having laid waste the country of the enemy and
insulted Muley Abul Hassan in his very capital, he returned to
Cordova covered with laurels and his army laden with spoils, and
now bethought himself of coming to an immediate decision in regard
to his royal prisoner.



A stately convention was held by King Ferdinand in the ancient city
of Cordova, composed of several of the most reverend prelates and
renowned cavaliers of the kingdom, to determine upon the fate of the
unfortunate Boabdil.

Don Alonso de Cardenas, the worthy master of Santiago, was one of
the first who gave his counsel. He was a pious and zealous knight,
rigid in his devotion to the faith, and his holy zeal had been
inflamed to peculiar vehemence since his disastrous crusade among
the mountains of Malaga. He inveighed with ardor against any
compromise or compact with the infidels: the object of this war,
he observed, was not the subjection of the Moors, but their utter
expulsion from the land, so that there might no longer remain a
single stain of Mahometanism throughout Christian Spain. He gave
it as his opinion, therefore, that the captive king ought not to be
set at liberty.

Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques of Cadiz, on the contrary, spoke
warmly for the release of Boabdil. He pronounced it a measure of
sound policy, even if done without conditions. It would tend to keep
up the civil war in Granada, which was as a fire consuming the
entrails of the enemy, and effecting more for the interests of
Spain, without expense, than all the conquests of its arms.

The grand cardinal of Spain, Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza,
coincided in opinion with the marques of Cadiz. Nay (added that
pious prelate and politic statesman), it would be sound wisdom to
furnish the Moor with men and money and all other necessaries to
promote the civil war in Granada: by this means would be produced
great benefit to the service of God, since we are assured by his
infallible word that "a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand."*

*Salazar, Cronica del Gran Cardinal, p. 188.

Ferdinand weighed these counsels in his mind, but was slow in coming
to a decision: he was religiously attentive to his own interests
(observes Fray Antonio Agapida), knowing himself to be but an
instrument of Providence in this holy war, and that, therefore, in
consulting his own advantage he was promoting the interests of
the faith. The opinion of Queen Isabella relieved him from his
perplexity. That high-minded princess was zealous for the promotion
of the faith, but not for the extermination of the infidels. The
Moorish kings had held their thrones as vassals to her progenitors:
she was content at present to accord the same privilege, and that
the royal prisoner should be liberated on condition of becoming a
vassal to the Crown. By this means might be effected the deliverance
of many Christian captives who were languishing in Moorish chains.

King Ferdinand adopted the magnanimous measure recommended by
the queen, but he accompanied it with several shrewd conditions,
exacting tribute, military services, and safe passages and
maintenance for Christian troops throughout the places which should
adhere to Boabdil. The captive king readily submitted to these
stipulations, and swore, after the manner of his faith, to observe
them with exactitude. A truce was arranged for two years, during
which the Castilian sovereigns engaged to maintain him on his throne
and to assist him in recovering all places which he had lost during
his captivity.

When Boabdil el Chico had solemnly agreed to this arrangement in the
castle of Porcuna, preparations were made to receive him in Cordova
in regal style. Superb steeds richly caparisoned and raiments of
brocade and silk and the most costly cloths, with all other articles
of sumptuous array, were furnished to him and to fifty Moorish
cavaliers who had come to treat for his ransom, that he might appear
in state befitting the monarch of Granada and the most distinguished
vassal of the Castilian sovereigns. Money also was advanced to
maintain him in suitable grandeur during his residence at the
Castilian court and his return to his dominions. Finally, it was
ordered by the sovereigns that when he came to Cordova all the
nobles and dignitaries of the court should go forth to receive him.

A question now arose among certain of those ancient and experienced
men who grow gray about a court in the profound study of forms and
ceremonials, with whom a point of punctilio is as a vast political
right, and who contract a sublime and awful idea of the external
dignity of the throne. Certain of these court sages propounded the
momentous question whether the Moorish monarch, coming to do
homage as a vassal, ought not to kneel and kiss the hand of the
king. This was immediately decided in the affirmative by a large
number of ancient cavaliers, accustomed (says Antonio Agapida)


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