Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada
Washington Irving

Part 3 out of 9

to the lofty punctilio of our most dignified court and transcendent
sovereigns. The king, therefore, was informed by those who arranged
the ceremonials that when the Moorish monarch appeared in his
presence he was expected to extend his royal hand to receive the
kiss of homage.

"I should certainly do so," replied King Ferdinand, "were he at
liberty and in his own kingdom, but I certainly shall not do so,
seeing that he is a prisoner and in mine."

The courtiers loudly applauded the magnanimity of this reply, though
many condemned it in secret as savoring of too much generosity
toward an infidel; and the worthy Jesuit, Fray Antonio Agapida,
fully concurs in their opinion.

The Moorish king entered Cordova with his little train of faithful
knights and escorted by all the nobility and chivalry of the
Castilian court. He was conducted with great state and ceremony
to the royal palace. When he came in presence of Ferdinand he knelt
and offered to kiss his hand, not merely in homage as his subject,
but in gratitude for his liberty. Ferdinand declined the token of
vassalage, and raised him graciously from the earth. An interpreter
began, in the name of Boabdil, to laud the magnanimity of the
Castilian monarch and to promise the most implicit submision.
"Enough!" said King Ferdinand, interrupting the interpreter in the
midst of his harangue: "there is no need of these compliments. I
trust in his integrity that he will do everything becoming a good
man and a good king." With these words he received Boabdil el
Chico into his royal friendship and protection.



In the month of August a noble Moor, of the race of the
Abencerrages, arrived with a splendid retinue at the city of
Cordova, bringing with him the son of Boabdil el Chico and other of
the noble youth of Granada as hostages for the fulfilment of the
terms of ransom. When the Moorish king beheld his son, his only
child, who was to remain in his stead a sort of captive in a hostile
land, he folded him in his arms and wept over him. "Woe the day that
I was born!" exclaimed he, "and evil the stars that presided at my
birth! Well was I called El Zogoybi, or the Unlucky, for sorrow is
heaped upon me by my father, and sorrow do I transmit to my son!"
The afflicted heart of Boabdil, however, was soothed by the kindness
of the Christian sovereigns, who received the hostage prince with a
tenderness suited to his age and a distinction worthy of his rank.
They delivered him in charge to the worthy alcayde Martin de
Alarcon, who had treated his father with such courtesy during his
confinement in the castle of Porcuna, giving orders that after the
departure of the latter his son should be entertained with great
honor and princely attention in the same fortress.

On the 2d of September a guard of honor assembled at the gate of
the mansion of Boabdil to escort him to the frontiers of his kingdom.
He pressed his child to his heart at parting, but he uttered not a
word, for there were many Christian eyes to behold his emotion. He
mounted his steed, and never turned his head to look again upon the
youth, but those who were near him observed the vehement struggle
that shook his frame, wherein the anguish of the father had wellnigh
subdued the studied equanimity of the king.

Boabdil el Chico and King Ferdinand sallied forth side by side from
Cordova, amidst the acclamations of a prodigious multitude. When
they were a short distance from the city they separated, with many
gracious expressions on the part of the Castilian monarch, and many
thankful acknowledgments from his late captive, whose heart had been
humbled by adversity. Ferdinand departed for Guadalupe, and Boabdil
for Granada. The latter was accompanied by a guard of honor, and the
viceroys of Andalusia and the generals on the frontier were ordered
to furnish him with escorts and to show him all possible honor on
his journey. In this way he was conducted in royal state through
the country he had entered to ravage, and was placed in safety in
his own dominions.

He was met on the frontier by the principal nobles and cavaliers of
his court, who had been secretly sent by his mother, the sultana
Ayxa, to escort him to the capital. The heart of Boabdil was lifted
up for a moment when he found himself on his own territories,
surrounded by Moslem knights, with his own banners waving over his
head, and he began to doubt the predictions of the astrologers: he
soon found cause, however, to moderate his exultation. The royal
train which had come to welcome him was but scanty in number, and
he missed many of his most zealous and obsequious courtiers. He had
returned, indeed, to his kingdom, but it was no longer the devoted
kingdom he had left. The story of his vassalage to the Christian
sovereigns had been made use of by his father to ruin him with the
people. He had been represented as a traitor to his country, a
renegado to his faith, and as leagued with the enemies of both to
subdue the Moslems of Spain to the yoke of Christian bondage. In
this way the mind of the public had been turned from him; the
greater part of the nobility had thronged round the throne of his
father in the Alhambra; and his mother, the resolute sultana Ayxa,
with difficulty maintained her faction in the opposite towers
of the Alcazaba.

Such was the melancholy picture of affairs given to Boabdil by the
courtiers who had come forth to meet him. They even informed him
that it would be an enterprise of difficulty and danger to make his
way back to the capital and regain the little court which still
remained faithful to him in the heart of the city. The old tiger,
Muley Abul Hassan, lay couched within the Alhambra, and the walls
and gates of the city were strongly guarded by his troops. Boabdil
shook his head at these tidings. He called to mind the ill omen of
his breaking his lance against the gate of Elvira when issuing
forth so vaingloriously with his army, which he now saw clearly
had foreboded the destruction of that army on which he had so
confidently relied. "Henceforth," said he, "let no man have the
impiety to scoff at omens."

Boabdil approached his capital by stealth and in the night, prowling
about its walls like an enemy seeking to destroy rather than a
monarch returning to his throne. At length he seized upon a
postern-gate of the Albaycin, that part of the city which had always
been in his favor; he passed rapidly through the streets before the
populace were aroused from their sleep, and reached in safety the
fortress of the Alcazaba. Here he was received into the embraces of
his intrepid mother and his favorite wife Morayma. The transports of
the latter on the safe return of her husband were mingled with tears,
for she thought of her father, Ali Atar, who had fallen in his cause,
and of her only son, who was left a hostage in the hand of the

The heart of Boabdil, softened by his misfortunes, was moved by
the changes in everything round him; but his mother called up his
spirit. "This," said she, "is no time for tears and fondness. A
king must think of his sceptre and his throne, and not yield to
softness like common men. Thou hast done well, my son, in throwing
thyself resolutely into Granada: it must depend upon thyself whether
thou remain here a king or a captive."

The old king, Muley Abul Hassan, had retired to his couch that night
in one of the strongest towers of the Alhambra, but his restless
anxiety kept him from repose. In the first watch of the night he
heard a shout faintly rising from the quarter of the Albaycin, which
is on the opposite side of the deep valley of the Darro. Shortly
afterward horsemen came galloping up the hill that leads to the main
gate of the Alhambra, spreading the alarm that Boabdil had entered
the city and possessed himself of the Alcazaba.

In the first transports of his rage the old king would have struck
the messenger to earth. He hastily summoned his counsellors and
commanders, exhorting them to stand by him in this critical moment,
and during the night made every preparation to enter the Albaycin
sword in hand in the morning.

In the mean time the sultana Ayxa had taken prompt and vigorous
measures to strengthen her party. The Albaycin was the part of
the city filled by the lower orders. The return of Boabdil was
proclaimed throughout the streets, and large sums of money were
distributed among the populace. The nobles assembled in the Alcazaba
were promised honors and rewards by Boabdil as soon as he should be
firmly seated on the throne. These well-timed measures had the
customary effect, and by daybreak all the motley populace of the
Albaycin were in arms.

A doleful day succeeded. All Granada was a scene of tumult and
horror. Drums and trumpets resounded in every part; all business
was interrupted; the shops were shut, the doors barricadoed. Armed
bands paraded the streets, some shouting for Boabdil, and some for
Muley Abul Hassan. When they encountered each other they fought
furiously and without mercy; every public square became a scene of
battle. The great mass of the lower orders was in favor of Boabdil,
but it was a multitude without discipline or lofty spirit: part of the
people were regularly armed, but the greater number had sallied
forth with the implements of their trade. The troops of the old king,
among whom were many cavaliers of pride and valor, soon drove
the populace from the squares. They fortified themselves, however,
in the streets and lanes, which they barricadoed. They made
fortresses of their houses, and fought desperately from the windows
and the roofs, and many a warrior of the highest blood of Granada
was laid low by plebeian hands and plebeian weapons in this
civic brawl.*

*Conde, Domin. de los Arabes, p. 4, c. 37.

It was impossible that such violent convulsions should last long in
the heart of the city. The people soon longed for repose and a
return to their peaceful occupations, and the cavaliers detested
these conflicts with the multitude, in which were all the horrors
of war without its laurels. By the interference of the alfaquis an
armistice was at length effected. Boabdil was persuaded that there
was no dependence upon the inconstant favor of the multitude, and
was prevailed upon to quit a capital where he could only maintain a
precarious seat upon his throne by a perpetual and bloody struggle.
He fixed his court at the city of Almeria, which was entirely
devoted to him, and which at that time vied with Granada in splendor
and importance. This compromise of grandeur for tranquillity,
however, was sorely against the counsels of his proud-spirited
mother, the sultana Ayxa. Granada appeared, in her eyes, the only
legitimate seat of dominion, and she observed, with a smile of
disdain, that he was not worthy of being called a monarch who was
not master of his capital.



Though Muley Abul Hassan had regained undivided sway over the city
of Granada, and the alfaquis, by his command, had denounced his son
Boabdil as an apostate doomed by Heaven to misfortune, still the
latter had many adherents among the common people. Whenever,
therefore, any act of the old monarch was displeasing to the
turbulent multitude, they were prone to give him a hint of the
slippery nature of his standing by shouting out the name of Boabdil
el Chico. Long experience had instructed Muley Abul Hassan in the
character of the inconstant people over whom he ruled. "A successful
inroad into the country of the unbelievers," said he, "will make
more converts to my cause than a thousand texts of the Koran
expounded by ten thousand alfaquis."

At this time King Ferdinand was absent from Andalusia on a distant
expedition with many of his troops. The moment was favorable for a
foray, and Muley Abul Hassan cast about his thoughts for a leader to
conduct it. Ali Atar, the terror of the border, the scourge of
Andalusia, was dead, but there was another veteran general, scarce
inferior to him for predatory warfare. This was old Bexir, the gray
and crafty alcayde of Malaga, and the people under his command were
ripe for an expedition of the kind. The signal defeat and slaughter
of the Spanish knights in the neighboring mountains had filled the
people of Malaga with vanity and self-conceit. They had attributed
to their own valor the defeat caused by the nature of the country.
Many of them wore the armor and paraded in public with the horses
of the unfortunate cavaliers slain on that occasion, vauntingly
displaying them as trophies of their boasted victory. They had
talked themselves into a contempt for the chivalry of Andalusia, and
were impatient for an opportunity to overrun a country defended by
such troops. This Muley Abul Hassan considered a favorable state
of mind for a daring inroad, and sent orders to old Bexir to gather
together the choicest warriors of the borders and carry fire and
sword into the very heart of Andalusia. Bexir immediately despatched
his emissaries among the alcaydes of the border towns, calling upon
them to assemble with their troops at the city of Ronda.

Ronda was the most virulent nest of Moorish depredators in the whole
border country. It was situated in the midst of the wild Serrania,
or chain of mountains of the same name, which are uncommonly lofty,
broken, and precipitous. It stood on an almost isolated rock, nearly
encircled by a deep valley, or rather chasm, through which ran the
beautiful river called Rio Verde. The Moors of this city were the
most active, robust, and warlike of all the mountaineers, and their
very children discharged the crossbow with unerring aim. They
were incessantly harassing the rich plains of Andalusia; their city
abounded with Christian captives, who might sigh in vain for
deliverance from this impregnable fortress. Such was Ronda in the
time of the Moors, and it has ever retained something of the same
character, even to the present day. Its inhabitants continue to be
among the boldest, fiercest, and most adventurous of the Andalusian
mountaineers, and the Serrania de Ronda is famous as the most
dangerous resort of the bandit and the contrabandista.

Hamet Zeli, surnamed El Zegri, was the commander of this belligerent
city and its fierce inhabitants. He was of the tribe of the Zegries,
and one of the most proud and daring of that warlike race. Besides
the inhabitants of Ronda and some of his own tribe, he had a legion
of African Moors in his immediate service. They were of the tribe of
the Gomeres, so called from their native mountains--mercenary troops
whose hot African blood had not yet been tempered by the softer
living of Spain, and whose whole business was to fight. These he
kept always well armed and well appointed. The rich pasturage of
the valley of Ronda produced a breed of horses famous for strength
and speed; no cavalry, therefore, was better mounted than the band
of Gomeres. Rapid on the march, fierce in the attack, it would
sweep down upon the Andalusian plains like a sudden blast from
the mountains, and pass away as suddenly before there was time
for pursuit.

There was nothing that stirred up the spirit of the Moors of the
frontiers more thoroughly than the idea of a foray. The summons of
Bexir was gladly obeyed by the alcaydes of the border towns, and in
a little while there was a force of fifteen hundred horse and four
thousand foot, the very pith and marrow of the surrounding country,
assembled within the walls of Ronda. The people of the place
anticipated with eagerness the rich spoils of Andalusia soon to
crowd their gates; throughout the day the city resounded with the
noise of kettle-drum and trumpet; the high-mettled steeds stamped
and neighed in their stalls as if they shared the impatience for
the foray; while the Christian captives sighed as the varied din
of preparation reached their rocky dungeons, denoting a fresh
expedition against their countrymen.

The infidel host sallied forth full of spirits, anticipating an easy
ravage and abundant booty. They encouraged each other in a contempt
for the prowess of the foe. Many of the warriors of Malaga and of
some of the mountain-towns had insultingly arrayed themselves in the
splendid armor of the Christian knights slain or taken prisoners in
the famous massacre, and some of them rode the Andalusian steeds
captured on that occasion.

The wary Bexir concerted his plans so secretly and expeditiously
that the Christian towns of Andalusia had not the least suspicion
of the storm gathering beyond the mountains. The vast rocky range
of the Serrania de Ronda extended like a screen, covering all their
movements from observation.

The army made its way as rapidly as the rugged nature of the
mountains would permit, guided by Hamet el Zegri, the bold alcayde
of Ronda, who knew every pass and defile: not a drum nor the clash
of a cymbal nor the blast of a trumpet was permitted to be heard.
The mass of war rolled quietly on as the gathering cloud to the brow
of the mountains, intending to burst down like the thunderbolt upon
the plain.

Never let the most wary commander fancy himself secure from
discovery, for rocks have eyes, and trees have ears, and the birds
of the air have tongues, to betray the most secret enterprise. There
chanced at this time to be six Christian scouts prowling about the
savage heights of the Serrania de Ronda. They were of that kind of
lawless ruffians who infest the borders of belligerent countries,
ready at any time to fight for pay or prowl for plunder. The wild
mountain-passes of Spain have ever abounded with loose rambling
vagabonds of the kind--soldiers in war, robbers in peace, guides,

guards, smugglers, or cutthroats according to the circumstances of
the case.

These six marauders (says Fray Antonio Agapida) were on this
occasion chosen instruments, sanctified by the righteousness of
their cause. They were lurking among the mountains to entrap Moorish
cattle or Moorish prisoners, both of which were equally salable in
the Christian market. They had ascended one of the loftiest cliffs,
and were looking out like birds of prey, ready to pounce upon
anything that might offer in the valley, when they descried the
Moorish army emerging from a mountain-glen. They watched it as
it wound below them, remarking the standards of the various towns
and the pennons of the commanders. They hovered about it on its
march, skulking from cliff to cliff, until they saw the route by which it
intended to enter the Christian country. They then dispersed, each
making his way by the secret passes of the mountains to some
different alcayde, that they might spread the alarm far and wide,
and each get a separate reward.

One hastened to Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero, the same valiant
alcayde who had repulsed Muley Abul Hassan from the walls of Alhama,
and who now commanded at Ecija in the absence of the master of
Santiago. Others roused the town of Utrera and the places of that
neighborhood, putting them all on the alert.*

*Pulgar, p. 3, c. 24; Cura de los Palacios, cap. 67.

Puerto Carrero was a cavalier of consummate vigor and activity.
He immediately sent couriers to the alcaydes of the neighboring
fortresses, to Herman Carrello, captain of a body of the Holy
Brotherhood, and to certain knights of the order of Alcantara.
Puerto Carrero was the first to take the field. Knowing the hard and
hungry service of these border scampers, he made every man take a
hearty repast and see that his horse was well shod and perfectly
appointed. Then, all being refreshed and in valiant heart, he
sallied forth to seek the Moors. He had but a handful of men, the
retainers of his household and troops of his captaincy, but they were
well armed and mounted, and accustomed to the sudden rouses of
the border--men whom the cry of "Arm and out! to horse and to the
field!" was sufficient at any time to put in a fever of animation.

While the northern part of Andalusia was thus on the alert, one of
the scouts had hastened southward to the city of Xeres, and given
the alarm to the valiant marques of Cadiz. When the marques heard
that the Moor was over the border and that the standard of Malaga
was in the advance, his heart bounded with a momentary joy, for he
remembered the massacre in the mountains, where his valiant brothers
had been mangled before his eyes. The very authors of his calamity
were now at hand, and he flattered himself that the day of vengeance
had arrived. He made a hasty levy of his retainers and of the
fighting men of Xeres, and hurried off with three hundred horse
and two hundred foot, all resolute men and panting for revenge.

In the mean time, the veteran Bexir had accomplished his march, as
he imagined, undiscovered. From the openings of the craggy defiles
he pointed out the fertile plains of Andalusia, and regaled the eyes
of his soldiery with the rich country they were about to ravage. The
fierce Gomeres of Ronda were flushed with joy at the sight, and even
their steeds seemed to prick up their ears and snuff the breeze as
they beheld the scenes of their frequent forays.

When they came to where the mountain-defile opened into the low
land, Bexir divided his force into three parts: one, composed of
foot-soldiers and such as were weakly mounted, he left to guard the
pass, being too experienced a veteran not to know the importance of
securing a retreat; a second body he placed in ambush among the
groves and thickets on the banks of the river Lopera; the third,
consisting of light cavalry, he sent forth to ravage the Campina (or
great plain) of Utrera. Most of this latter force was composed of
the Gomeres of Ronda, mounted on the fleet steeds bred among the
mountains. It was led by Hamet el Zegri, ever eager to be foremost
in the forage. Little suspecting that the country on both sides was
on the alarm, and rushing from all directions to close upon them in
the rear, this fiery troop dashed forward until they came within two
leagues of Utrera. Here they scattered themselves about the plain,
careering round the great herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, and
sweeping them into droves to be hurried to the mountains.

While thus dispersed a troop of horse and body of foot from Utrera
came suddenly upon them. The Moors rallied together in small parties
and endeavored to defend themselves; but they were without a leader,
for Hamet el Zegri was at a distance, having, like a hawk, made a
wide circuit in pursuit of prey. The marauders soon gave way and
fled toward the ambush on the banks of the Lopera, being hotly
pursued by the men of Utrera.

When they reached the Lopera the Moors in ambush rushed forth
with furious cries, and the fugitives, recovering courage from this
reinforcement, rallied and turned upon their pursuers. The
Christians stood their ground, though greatly inferior in number.
Their lances were soon broken, and they came to sharp work with
sword and scimetar. The Christians fought valiantly, but were in
danger of being overwhelmed. The bold Hamet collected a handful of
his scattered Gomeres, left his prey, and galloped toward the scene
of action. His little troop of horsemen had reached the crest of a
rising ground at no great distance when trumpets were heard in
another direction, and Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero and his
followers came galloping into the field, and charged upon the
infidels in flank.

The Moors were astounded at finding war thus breaking upon them from
various quarters of what they had expected to find an unguarded
country. They fought for a short time with desperation, and resisted
a vehement assault from the knights of Alcantara and the men-at-arms
of the Holy Brotherhood. At length the veteran Bexir was struck from
his horse by Puerto Carrero and taken prisoner, and the whole force
gave way and fled. In their flight they separated and took two roads
to the mountains, thinking by dividing their forces to distract the
enemy. The Christians were too few to separate. Puerto Carrero kept
them together, pursuing one division of the enemy with great
slaughter. This battle took place at the fountain of the fig tree,
near to the Lopera. Six hundred Moorish cavaliers were slain and
many taken prisoners. Much spoil was collected on the field, with
which the Christians returned in triumph to their homes.

The larger body of the enemy had retreated along a road leading
more to the south, by the banks of the Guadalete. When they reached
that river the sound of pursuit had died away, and they rallied to
breathe and refresh themselves on the margin of the stream. Their
force was reduced to about a thousand horse and a confused multitude
of foot. While they were scattered and partly dismounted on the
banks of the Guadalete a fresh storm of war burst upon them from
an opposite direction. It was the[4]marques of Cadiz, leading on his
household troops and the fighting men of Xeres. When the Christian
warriors came in sight of the Moors, they were roused to fury at
beholding many of them arrayed in the armor of the cavaliers who had
been slain among the mountains of Malaga. Nay, some who had been in
that defeat beheld their own armor, which they had cast away in their
flight to enable themselves to climb the mountains. Exasperated at
the sight they rushed upon the foe with the ferocity of tigers rather
than the temperate courage of cavaliers. Each man felt as if he were
avenging the death of a relative or wiping out his own disgrace. The
good marques himself beheld a powerful Moor bestriding the horse of
his brother Beltran: giving a cry of rage and anguish at the sight,
he rushed through the thickest of the enemy, attacked the Moor with
resistless fury, and after a short combat hurled him breathless to
the earth.

The Moors, already vanquished in spirit, could not withstand the
assault of men thus madly excited. They soon gave way, and fled
for the defile of the Serrania de Ronda, where the body of troops
had been stationed to secure a retreat. These, seeing them come
galloping wildly up the defile, with Christian banners in pursuit
and the flash of weapons at their deadly work, thought all Andalusia
was upon them, and fled without awaiting an attack. The pursuit
continued among glens and defiles, for the Christian warriors, eager
for revenge, had no compassion on the foe.

When the pursuit was over the marques of Cadiz and his followers
reposed themselves upon the banks of the Guadalete, where they
divided the spoil. Among this were found many rich corselets,
helmets, and weapons, the Moorish trophies of the defeat in the
mountains of Malaga. Several were claimed by their owners; others
were known to have belonged to noble cavaliers who had been slain or
taken prisoners. There were several horses also, richly caparisoned,
which had pranced proudly with the unfortunate warriors as they
sallied out of Antiquera upon that fatal expedition. Thus the
exultation of the victors was dashed with melancholy, and many a
knight was seen lamenting over the helmet or corselet of some loved

NOTE.--"En el despojo de la Batalla se vieron muchas ricas corazas
e capacetes, e barberas de las que se habian perdido en el Axarquia,
e otras muchas armas, e algunes fueron conocidas de sus duenos que
las habian dejado por fuir, e otras fueron conocidas, que eran mui
senaladas de hombres principales que habian quedado muertos e
cautivos, i fueron tornados muchos de los mismos Caballos con sus
ricas sillas, de los que quedaron en la Axerquia, e fueron concidos
cuios eran."--"Cura de los Palacios," cap. 67.



The bold alcayde of Ronda, Hamet el Zegri, had careered wide over
the Campina of Utrera, encompassing the flocks and herds, when he
heard the burst of war at a distance. There were with him but a
handful of his Gomeres. He saw the scamper and pursuit afar off,
and beheld the Christian horsemen spurring madly toward the ambuscade
on the banks of the Lopera. Hamet tossed his hand triumphantly aloft
for his men to follow him. "The Christian dogs are ours!" said he as
he put spurs to his horse to take the enemy in rear.

The little band which followed Hamet scarcely amounted to thirty
horsemen. They spurred across the plain, and reached a rising
ground just as the force of Puerto Carrero had charged, with
sound of trumpet, upon the flank of the party in ambush. Hamet
beheld the headlong rout of the army with rage and consternation.
He found the country was pouring forth its legions from every
quarter, and perceived that there was no safety but in precipitate

But which way to fly? An army was between him and the mountain-
pass; all the forces of the neighborhood were rushing to the borders;
the whole route by which he had come was by this time occupied by
the foe. He checked his steed, rose in the stirrups, and rolled a stern
and thoughtful eye over the country; then, sinking into his saddle,
he seemed to commune a moment with himself. Turning quickly to
his troop, he singled out a renegado Christian, a traitor to his
religion and his king. "Come hither," said Hamet. "Thou knowest all
the secret passes of the country?"--"I do," replied the renegado.--
"Dost thou know any circuitous route, solitary and untravelled,
by which we can pass wide within these troops and reach the Serrania?"
--The renegado paused: "Such a route I know, but it is full of peril,
for it leads through the heart of the Christian land."--"'Tis well,"
said Hamet; "the more dangerous in appearance, the less it will be
suspected. Now hearken to me. Ride by my side. Thou seest this purse
of gold and this scimetar. Take us, by the route thou hast mentioned,
safe to the pass of the Serrania, and this purse shall be thy reward;
betray us, and this scimetar shall cleave thee to the saddle-bow."*

*Cura de los Palacios, ubi sup.

The renegado obeyed, trembling. They turned off from the direct road
to the mountains and struck southward toward Lebrixa, passing by
the most solitary roads and along those deep ramblas and ravines
by which the country is intersected. It was indeed a daring course.
Every now and then they heard the distant sound of trumpets and the
alarm-bells of towns and villages, and found that the war was still
hurrying to the borders. They hid themselves in thickets and in dry
beds of rivers until the danger had passed by, and then resumed
their course. Hamet el Zegri rode on in silence, his hand upon his
scimetar and his eye upon the renegado guide, prepared to sacrifice
him on the least sign of treachery, while his band followed, gnawing
their lips with rage at having thus to skulk through a country they
had come to ravage.

When night fell they struck into more practicable roads, always
keeping wide of the villages and hamlets, lest the watch-dogs should
betray them. In this way they passed in deep midnight by Arcos,
crossed the Guadalete, and effected their retreat to the mountains.
The day dawned as they made their way up the savage defiles. Their
comrades had been hunted up these very glens by the enemy. Every
now and then they came to where there had been a partial fight or
a slaughter of the fugitives, and the rocks were red with blood
and strewed with mangled bodies. The alcayde of Ronda was almost
frantic with rage at seeing many of his bravest warriors lying stiff
and stark, a prey to the hawks and vultures of the mountains. Now
and then some wretched Moor would crawl out of a cave or glen,
whither he had fled for refuge, for in the retreat many of the
horsemen had abandoned their steeds, thrown away their armor,
and clambered up the cliffs, where they could not be pursued by
the Christian cavalry.

The Moorish army had sallied forth from Ronda amidst shouts and
acclamations, but wailings were heard within its walls as the
alcayde and his broken band returned without banner or trumpet and
haggard with famine and fatigue. The tidings of their disaster had
preceded them, borne by the fugitives of the army. No one ventured
to speak to the stern Hamet as he entered the city, for they saw a
dark cloud upon his brow.

It seemed (says the pious Antonio Agapida) as if Heaven meted
out this defeat in exact retribution for the ills inflicted upon the
Christian warriors in the heights of Malaga. It was equally signal
and disastrous. Of the brilliant array of Moorish chivalry which had
descended so confidently into Andalusia, not more than two hundred
escaped. The choicest troops of the frontier were either taken or
destroyed, the Moorish garrisons enfeebled, and many alcaydes
and cavaliers of noble lineage carried into captivity, who were
afterward obliged to redeem themselves with heavy ransoms.

This was called the battle of Lopera, and was fought on the 17th of
September, 1483. Ferdinand and Isabella were at Vittoria in Old
Castile when they received news of the victory and the standards
taken from the enemy. They celebrated the event with processions,
illuminations, and other festivities. Ferdinand sent to the marques
of Cadiz the royal raiment which he had worn on that day, and
conferred on him and all those who should inherit his title the
privilege of wearing royal robes on our Lady's Day in September
in commemoration of this victory.*

*Mariana, Abarca, Zurita, Pulgar, etc.

Queen Isabella was equally mindful of the great services of Don Luis
Fernandez Puerto Carrero. Besides many encomiums and favors, she
sent to his wife the royal vestments and robe of brocade which she
had worn on the same day, to be worn by her during her life on the
anniversary of that battle.*



In the midst of the bustle of warlike affairs the worthy chronicler
Fray Antonio Agapida pauses to note, with curious accuracy, the
distinguished reception given to the count de Cabra and his nephew,
the alcayde de los Donceles, at the stately and ceremonious court of
the Castilian sovereigns, in reward for the capture of the Moorish
king Boabdil. The court (he observes) was held at the time in the
ancient Moorish palace of the city of Cordova, and the ceremonials
were arranged by that venerable prelate Don Pedro Gonzales de
Mendoza, bishop of Toledo and grand cardinal of Spain.

It was on Wednesday, the 14th of October (continues the precise
Antonio Agapida), that the good count de Cabra, according to
arrangement, appeared at the gate of Cordova. Here he was met by
the grand cardinal and the duke of Villahermosa, illegitimate brother
of the king, together with many of the first grandees and prelates
of the kingdom. By this august train was he attended to the palace
amidst strains of martial music and the shouts of a prodigious

When the count arrived in the presence of the sovereigns, who were
seated in state on a dais or raised part of the hall of audience,
they both arose. The king advanced exactly five steps toward the
count, who knelt and kissed his royal hand; however, the king would
not receive him as a mere vassal, but embraced him with affectionate
cordiality. The queen also advanced two steps, and received the
count with a countenance full of sweetness and benignity: after
he had kissed her hand the king and queen returned to their thrones,
and, cushions being brought, they ordered the count de Cabra to be
seated in their presence. This last circumstance is written in
large letters and followed by several notes of admiration in the
manuscript of the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, who considers the
extraordinary privilege of sitting in presence of the Catholic
sovereigns an honor well worth fighting for.

The good count took his seat at a short distance from the king, and
near him was seated the duke of Najera, then the bishop of Palencia,
then the count of Aguilar, the count Luna, and Don Gutierre de
Cardenas, senior commander of Leon.

On the side of the queen were seated the grand cardinal of Spain,
the duke of Villahermosa, the count of Monte Rey, and the bishops
of Jaen and Cuenca, each in the order in which they are named. The
infanta Isabella was prevented by indisposition from attending the

And now festive music resounded through the hall, and twenty ladies
of the queen's retinue entered, magnificently attired; upon which
twenty youthful cavaliers, very gay and galliard in their array,
stepped forth, and, each seeking his fair partner, they commenced
a stately dance. The court in the mean time (observes Fray Antonio
Agapida) looked on with lofty and becoming gravity.

When the dance was concluded the king and queen rose to retire to
supper, and dismissed the count with many gracious expressions. He
was then attended by all the grandees present to the palace of the
grand cardinal, where they partook of a sumptuous banquet.

On the following Saturday the alcayde de los Donceles was received
likewise with great honors, but the ceremonies were so arranged
as to be a degree less in dignity than those shown to his uncle,
the latter being considered the principal actor in this great
achievement. Thus the grand cardinal and the duke of Villahermosa
did not meet him at the gate of the city, but received him in the
palace and entertained him in conversation until summoned to
the sovereigns.
When the alcayde de los Donceles entered the presence-chamber the
king and queen rose from their chairs, but without advancing. They
greeted him graciously, and commanded him to be seated next to the
count de Cabra.

The infanta Isabella came forth to this reception, and took her seat
beside the queen. When the court were all seated the music again
sounded through the hall, and the twenty ladies came forth as on the
preceding occasion, richly attired, but in different raiment. They
danced as before, and the infanta Isabella, taking a young Portuguese
damsel for a partner, joined in the dance. When this was concluded
the king and queen dismissed the alcayde de los Donceles with great
courtesy, and the court broke up.

The worthy Fray Antonio Agapida here indulges in a long eulogy
on the scrupulous discrimination of the Castilian court in the
distribution of its honors and rewards, by which means every smile
and gesture and word of the sovereigns had its certain value and
conveyed its equivalent of joy to the heart of the subject--a matter
well worthy the study (says he) of all monarchs, who are too apt
to distribute honors with a heedless caprice that renders them of
no avail.

On the following Sunday both the count de Cabra and the alcayde
de los Donceles were invited to sup with the sovereigns. The court
that evening was attended by the highest nobility, arrayed with that
cost and splendor for which the Spanish nobility of those days
were renowned.

Before supper there was a stately and ceremonious dance, befitting
the dignity of so august a court. The king led forth the queen in
grave and graceful measure; the count de Cabra was honored with
the hand of the infanta Isabella; and the alcayde de los Donceles
danced with a daughter of the marques de Astorga.

The dance being concluded, the royal party repaired to the
supper-table, which was placed on an elevated part of the saloon.
Here, in full view of the court, the count de Cabra and the alcayde
de los Donceles supped at the same table with the king, the queen,
and the infanta. The royal family were served by the marques of
Villena. The cup-bearer to the king was his nephew, Fadrigue de
Toledo, son to the duke of Alva. Don Alexis de Estaniga had the
honor of fulfilling that office for the queen, and Tello de Aguilar
for the infanta. Other cavaliers of rank and distinction waited on
the count and the alcayde de los Donceles. At one o'clock the two
distinguished guests were dismissed with many courteous expressions
by the sovereigns.

Such (says Fray Antonio Agapida) were the great honors paid at our
most exalted and ceremonious court to these renowned cavaliers,
but the gratitude of the sovereigns did not end here. A few days
afterward they bestowed upon them large revenues for life, and
others to descend to their heirs, with the privilege for them and
their descendants to prefix the title of Don to their names. They
gave them, moreover, as armorial bearings a Moor's head crowned,
with a golden chain round the neck, in a sanguine field, and
twenty-two banners round the margin of the escutcheon. Their
descendants, of the houses of Cabra and Cordova, continue to bear
these arms at the present day in memorial of the victory of Lucena
and the capture of Boabdil el Chico.*

*The account given by Fray Antonio Agapida of this ceremonial, so
characteristic of the old Spanish court, agrees in almost every
particular with an ancient manuscript made up from the chronicles
of the curate of los Palacios and other old Spanish writers.



The valiant Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques of Cadiz, was one of
the most vigilant of commanders. He kept in his pay a number of
converted Moors to serve as adalides, or armed guides. These mongrel
Christians were of great service in procuring information. Availing
themselves of their Moorish character and tongue, they penetrated
into the enemy's country, prowled about the castles and fortresses,
noticed the state of the walls, the gates, and towers, the strength
of their garrisons, and the vigilance or negligence of their
commanders. All this they minutely reported to the marques, who thus
knew the state of every fortress upon the frontier and when it might
be attacked with advantage. Besides the various town and cities over
which he held feudal sway, he had always an armed force about him
ready for the field. A host of retainers fed in his hall who were
ready to follow him to danger, and death itself, without inquiring
who or why they fought. The armories of his castles were supplied
with helms and cuirasses and weapons of all kinds, ready burnished
for use; and his stables were filled with hardy steeds that could
stand a mountain-scamper.

The marques was aware that the late defeat of the Moors on the banks
of the Lopera had weakened their whole frontier, for many of the
castles and fortresses had lost their alcaydes and their choicest
troops. He sent out his war-hounds, therefore, upon the range to
ascertain where a successful blow might be struck; and they soon
returned with word that Zahara was weakly garrisoned and short
of provisions.

This was the very fortress which, about two years before, had been
stormed by Muley Abul Hassan, and its capture had been the first
blow of this eventful war. It had ever since remained a thorn in the
side of Andalusia. All the Christians had been carried away captive,
and no civil population had been introduced in their stead. There
were no women or children in the place. It was kept up as a mere
military post, commanding one of the most important passes of the
mountains, and was a stronghold of Moorish marauders. The
marques was animated by the idea of regaining this fortress for his
sovereigns and wresting from the old Moorish king this boasted
trophy of his prowess. He sent missives, therefore, to the brave
Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero, who had distinguished himself in the
late victory, and to Juan Almaraz, captain of the men-at-arms of the
Holy Brotherhood, informing them of his designs, and inviting them
to meet him with their forces on the banks of the Guadalete.

It was on the day (says Fray Antonio Agapida) of the glorious
apostles St. Simon and Judas, the twenty-eighth of October, in the
year of grace one thousand four hundred and eighty-three, that this
chosen band of Christian soldiers assembled suddenly and secretly
at the appointed place. Their forces when united amounted to six
hundred horse and fifteen hundred foot. Their gathering-place was
at the entrance of the defile leading to Zahara. That ancient town,
renowned in Moorish warfare, is situated in one of the roughest
passes of the Serrania de Ronda. It is built round the craggy cone
of a hill, on the lofty summit of which is a strong castle. The
country around is broken into deep barrancas or ravines, some of
which approach its very walls. The place had until recently been
considered impregnable, but (as the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida
observes) the walls of impregnable fortresses, like the virtue of
self-confident saints, have their weak points of attack.

The marques of Cadiz advanced with his little army in the dead of
the night, marching silently into the deep and dark defiles of the
mountains, and stealing up the ravines which extended to the walls
of the town. Their approach was so noiseless that the Moorish
sentinels upon the walls heard not a voice or a footfall. The
marques was accompanied by his old escalador, Ortega de Prado,
who had distinguished himself at the scaling of Alhama. This hardy
veteran was stationed, with ten men furnished with scaling-ladders,
in a cavity among the rocks close to the walls. At a little distance
seventy men were hid in a ravine, to be at hand to second him when
he should have fixed his ladders. The rest of the troops were
concealed in another ravine commanding a fair approach to the gate
of the fortress. A shrewd and wary adalid, well acquainted with the
place, was appointed to give signals, and so stationed that he could
be seen by the various parties in ambush, but not by the garrison.

By orders of the marques a small body of light cavalry passed along
the glen, and, turning round a point of rock, showed themselves
before the town: they[6]skirred the fields almost to the gates, as
if by way of bravado and to defy the garrison to a skirmish. The
Moors were not slow in replying to it. About seventy horse and a
number of foot who had guarded the walls sallied forth impetuously,
thinking to make easy prey of these insolent marauders. The Christian
horsemen fled for the ravine; the Moors pursued them down the hill,
until they heard a great shouting and tumult behind them. Looking
round toward the town, they beheld a scaling party mounting the
walls sword in hand. Wheeling about, they galloped for the gate:
the marques of Cadiz and Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero rushed
forth at the same time with their ambuscade, and endeavored
to cut them off, but the Moors succeeded in throwing themselves
within the walls.

While Puerto Carrero stormed at the gate the marques put spurs to
his horse and galloped to the support of Ortega de Prado and his
scaling party. He arrived at a moment of imminent peril, when the
party was assailed by fifty Moors armed with cuirasses and lances,
who were on the point of thrusting them from the walls. The marques
sprang from his horse, mounted a ladder sword in hand, followed by
a number of his troops, and made a vigorous attack upon the enemy.*
They were soon driven from the walls, and the gates and towers
remained in possession of the Christians. The Moors defended
themselves for a short time in the streets, but at length took
refuge in the castle, the walls of which were strong and capable of
holding out until relief should arrive. The marques had no desire
to carry on a siege, and he had not provisions sufficient for many
prisoners; he granted them, therefore, favorable terms. They were
permitted, on leaving their arms behind them, to march out with
as much of their effects as they could carry, and it was stipulated
that they should pass over to Barbary. The marques remained in
the place until both town and castle were put in a perfect state of
defence and strongly garrisoned.

*Cura de los Palacios, c. 68.

Thus did Zahara return once more in possession of the Christians, to
the great confusion of old Muley Abul Hassan, who, having paid the
penalty of his ill-timed violence, was now deprived of its vaunted
fruits. The Castilian sovereigns were so gratified by this
achievement of the valiant Ponce de Leon that they authorized
him thenceforth to entitle himself duke of Cadiz and marques of
Zahara. The warrior, however, was so proud of the original title
under which he had so often signalized himself that he gave it the
precedence, and always signed himself marques, duke of Cadiz. As
the reader may have acquired the same predilection, we shall continue
to call him by his ancient title.



In this part of his chronicle the worthy father Fray Antonio Agapida
indulges in triumphant exultation over the downfall of Zahara.
Heaven sometimes speaks (says he) through the mouths of false
prophets for the confusion of the wicked. By the fall of this fortress
was the prediction of the santon of Granada in some measure
fulfilled, that "the ruins of Zahara should fall upon the heads of
the infidels."

Our zealous chronicler scoffs at the Moorish alcayde who lost his
fortress by surprise in broad daylight, and contrasts the vigilance
of the Christian governor of Alhama, the town taken in retaliation
for the storming of Zahara.

The important post of Alhama was at this time confided by King
Ferdinand to Don Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, count of Tendilla, a
cavalier of noble blood, brother to the grand cardinal of Spain. He
had been instructed by the king not merely to maintain his post, but
also to make sallies and lay waste the surrounding country. His
fortress was critically situated. It was within seven leagues of
Granada, and at no great distance from the warlike city of Loxa. It
was nestled in the lap of the mountains commanding the high-road
to Malaga and a view over the extensive Vega. Thus situated, in the
heart of the enemy's country, surrounded by foes ready to assail him
and a rich country for him to ravage, it behooved this cavalier to
be for ever on the alert. He was in fact an experienced veteran, a
shrewd and wary officer, and a commander amazingly prompt and
fertile in expedients.

On assuming the command he found that the garrison consisted but of
one thousand men, horse and foot. They were hardy troops, seasoned
in rough mountain-campaigning, but reckless and dissolute, as
soldiers are apt to be when accustomed to predatory warfare. They
would fight hard for booty, and then gamble it heedlessly away or
squander it in licentious revelling. Alhama abounded with hawking,
sharping, idle hangers-on, eager to profit by the vices and follies
of the garrison. The soldiers were oftener gambling and dancing
beneath the walls than keeping watch upon the battlements, and
nothing was heard from morning till night but the noisy contests of
cards and dice, mingled with the sound of the bolero or fandango,
the drowsy strumming of the guitar, and the rattling of the castanets,
while often the whole was interrupted by the loud brawl and fierce
and bloody contest.

The count of Tendilla set himself vigorously to reform these
excesses: he knew that laxity of morals is generally attended
by neglect of duty, and that the least breach of discipline in the
exposed situation of his fortress might be fatal. "Here is but a
handful of men," said he; "it is necessary that each man should
be a hero."

He endeavored to awaken a proper ambition in the minds of his
soldiers and to instil into them the high principles of chivalry. "A
just war," he observed, "is often rendered wicked and disastrous by
the manner in which it is conducted; for the righteousness of the
cause is not sufficient to sanction the profligacy of the means, and
the want of order and subordination among the troops may bring ruin
and disgrace upon the best-concerted plans." But we cannot describe
the character and conduct of this renowned commander in more
forcible language than that of Fray Antonio Agapida, excepting that
the pious father places in the foreground of his virtues his hatred
of the Moors. "The count de Tendilla," says he, "was a mirror of
Christian knighthood--watchful, abstemious, chaste, devout, and
thoroughly filled with the spirit of the cause. He labored
incessantly and strenuously for the glory of the faith and the
prosperity of their most Catholic majesties; and, above all, he
hated the infidels with a pure and holy hatred. This worthy cavalier
discountenanced all idleness, rioting, chambering, and wantonness
among his soldiery. He kept them constantly to the exercise of arms,
making them adroit in the use of their weapons and management of
their steeds, and prompt for the field at a moment's notice. He
permitted no sound of lute or harp or song or other loose minstrelsy
to be heard in his fortress, debauching the ear and softening the
valor of the soldier; no other music was allowed but the wholesome
rolling of the drum and braying of the trumpet, and such like
spirit-stirring instruments as fill the mind with thoughts of iron
war. All wandering minstrels, sharping peddlers, sturdy trulls, and
other camp trumpery were ordered to pack up their baggage, and
were drummed out of the gates of Alhama. In place of such lewd
rabble he introduced a train of holy friars to inspirit his people by
exhortation and prayer and choral chanting, and to spur them on to
fight the good fight of faith. All games of chance were prohibited
except the game of war, and this he labored, by vigilance and vigor,
to reduce to a game of certainty. Heaven smiled upon the efforts of
this righteous cavalier. His men became soldiers at all points and
terrors to the Moors. The good count never set forth on a ravage
without observing the rites of confession, absolution, and
communion, and obliging his followers to do the same. Their banners
were blessed by the holy friars whom he maintained in Alhama; and in

this way success was secured to his arms and he was enabled to lay
waste the land of the heathen."

The fortress of Alhama (continues Fray Antonio Agapida) overlooked
from its lofty site a great part of the fertile Vega, watered by the
Cazin and the Xenil; from this he made frequent sallies, sweeping
away the flocks and herds from the pasture, the laborer from the
field, and the convoy from the road; so that it was said by the Moors
that a beetle could not crawl across the Vega without being seen
by Count Tendilla. The peasantry, therefore, were fain to betake
themselves to watch-towers and fortified hamlets, where they shut
up their cattle, garnered their corn, and sheltered their wives and
children. Even there they were not safe: the count would storm
these rustic fortresses with fire and sword, make captives of their
inhabitants, carry off the corn, the oil, the silks, and cattle, and
leave the ruins blazing and smoking within the very sight of Granada.

"It was a pleasing and refreshing sight," continues the good father,
"to behold this pious knight and his followers returning from one of
these crusades, leaving the rich land of the infidel in smoking
desolation behind them; to behold the long line of mules and asses
laden with the plunder of the Gentiles--the hosts of captive Moors,
men, women, and children--droves of sturdy beeves, lowing kine, and
bleating sheep,--all winding up the steep acclivity to the gates of
Alhama, pricked on by the Catholic soldiery. His garrison thus
thrived on the fat of the land and the spoil of the infidel; nor was
he unmindful of the pious fathers whose blessings crowned his
enterprises with success. A large portion of the spoil was always
dedicated to the Church, and the good friars were ever ready at the
gate to hail him on his return and receive the share allotted them.
Besides these allotments, he made many votive offerings, either in
time of peril or on the eve of a foray, and the chapels of Alhama
were resplendent with chalices, crosses, and other precious gifts
made by this Catholic cavalier."

Thus eloquently does the venerable Fray Antonio Agapida dilate in
praise of the good count de Tendilla; and other historians of equal
veracity, but less unction, agree in pronouncing him one of the
ablest of Spanish generals. So terrible, in fact, did he become
in the land that the Moorish peasantry could not venture a league
from Granada or Loxa to labor in the fields without peril of being
carried into captivity. The people of Granada clamored against
Muley Abul Hassan for suffering his lands to be thus outraged and
insulted, and demanded to have this bold marauder shut up in his
fortress. The old monarch was roused by their remonstrances. He
sent forth powerful troops of horse to protect the country during the
season that the husbandmen were abroad in the fields. These troops
patrolled in formidable squadrons in the neighborhood of Alhama,
keeping strict watch upon its gates, so that it was impossible for
the Christians to make a sally without being seen and intercepted.

While Alhama was thus blockaded by a roving force of Moorish
cavalry, the inhabitants were awakened one night by a tremendous
crash that shook the fortress to its foundations. The garrison flew
to arms, supposing it some assault of the enemy. The alarm proved
to have been caused by the rupture of a portion of the wall, which,
undermined by heavy rains, had suddenly given way, leaving a large
chasm yawning toward the plain.

The count de Tendilla was for a time in great anxiety. Should this
breach be discovered by the blockading horsemen, they would arouse
the country, Granada and Loxa would pour out an overwhelming force,
and they would find his walls ready sapped for an assault. In this
fearful emergency the count displayed his noted talent for
expedients. He ordered a quantity of linen cloth to be stretched in
front of the breach, painted in imitation of stone and indented with
battlements, so as at a distance to resemble the other parts of the
walls: behind this screen he employed workmen day and night in
repairing the fracture. No one was permitted to leave the fortress,
lest information of its defenceless plight should be carried to the
Moor. Light squadrons of the enemy were seen hovering about the
plain, but never approached near enough to discover the deception;
and thus in the course of a few days the wall was rebuilt stronger
than before.

There was another expedient of this shrewd veteran which greatly
excites the marvel of Agapida. "It happened," he observes, "that
this Catholic cavalier at one time was destitute of gold and silver
wherewith to pay the wages of his troops; and the soldiers murmured
greatly, seeing that they had not the means of purchasing
necessaries from the people of the town. In this dilemma what does
this most sagacious commander? He takes me a number of little
morsels of paper, on the which he inscribes various sums, large and
small, according to the nature of the case, and signs me them with
his own hand and name. These did he give to the soldiery in earnest
of their pay. 'How!' you will say, 'are soldiers to be paid with
scraps of paper?' Even so, I answer, and well paid too, as I will
presently make manifest, for the good count issued a proclamation
ordering the inhabitants of Alhama to take these morsels of paper
for the full amount thereon inscribed, promising to redeem them at a
future time with silver and gold, and threatening severe punishment
to all who should refuse. The people, having full confidence in his
word, and trusting that he would be as willing to perform the one
promise as he certainly was able to perform the other, took those
curious morsels of paper without hesitation or demur. Thus by a
subtle and most miraculous kind of alchymy did this Catholic
cavalier turn worthless paper into precious gold, and make his
late impoverished garrison abound in money!"

It is but just to add that the count de Tendilla redeemed his
promises like a loyal knight; and this miracle, as it appeared in
the eyes of Fray Antonio Agapida, is the first instance on record of
paper money, which has since inundated the civilized world with
unbounded opulence.



The Spanish cavaliers who had survived the memorable massacre
among the mountains of Malaga, although they had repeatedly
avenged the deaths of their companions, could not forget the horror
and humiliation of their defeat. Nothing would satisfy them but a
second expedition of the kind to carry fire and sword throughout a
wide part of the Moorish territories, and leave the region which had
triumphed in their disaster a black and burning monument of their
vengeance. Their wishes accorded with the policy of the king to
destroy the resources of the enemy; every assistance was therefore
given to their enterprise.

In the spring of 1484 the ancient city of Antiquera again resounded
with arms; numbers of the same cavaliers who had assembled there
so gayly the preceding year came wheeling into the gates with their
steeled and shining warriors, but with a more dark and solemn brow
than on that disastrous occasion, for they had the recollection of
their slaughtered friends present to their minds, whose deaths they
were to avenge.

In a little while there was a chosen force of six thousand horse and
twelve thousand foot assembled in Antiquera, many of them the very
flower of Spanish chivalry, troops of the established military and
religious orders and of the Holy Brotherhood.

Precautions had been taken to furnish this army with all things
needful for its perilous inroad. Numerous surgeons accompanied it,
who were to attend upon the sick and wounded without charge,
being paid for their services by the queen. Isabella also, in her
considerate humanity, provided six spacious tents furnished with
beds and all things needful for the wounded and infirm. These
continued to be used in all great expeditions throughout the war,
and were called the Queen's Hospital. The worthy father, Fray
Antonio Agapida, vaunts this benignant provision of the queen as the
first introduction of a regular camp hospital in campaigning service.

Thus thoroughly prepared, the cavaliers issued forth from Antiquera
in splendid and terrible array, but with less exulting confidence
and vaunting ostentation than on their former foray; and this was
the order of the army: Don Alonso de Aguilar led the advance guard,
accompanied by Don Diego Fernandez de Cordova, the alcayde de los
Donceles, and Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero, count of Palma, with
their household troops. They were followed by Juan de Merlo, Juan
de Almara, and Carlos de Biezman of the Holy Brotherhood, with the
men-at-arms of their captaincies.

The second battalion was commanded by the marques of Cadiz and the
master of Santiago, with the cavaliers of Santiago and the troops of
the house of Ponce Leon; with these also went the senior commander
of Calatrava and the knights of that order, and various other
cavaliers and their retainers.

The right wing of this second battalion was led by Gonsalvo de
Cordova, afterward renowned as grand captain of Spain; the left by
Diego Lopez de Avila. They were accompanied by several distinguished
cavaliers and certain captains of the Holy Brotherhood with their

The duke of Medina Sidonia and the count de Cabra commanded the
third battalion, with the troops of their respective houses. They
were accompanied by other commanders of note with their forces.

The rear-guard was brought up by the senior commander and knights
of Alcantara, followed by the Andalusian chivalry from Xeres, Ecija,
and Carmona.

Such was the army that issued forth from the gates of Antiquera on
one of the most extensive "talas," or devastating inroads, that ever
laid waste the kingdom of Granada.

The army entered the Moorish territory by the way of Alora,
destroying all the cornfields, vineyards, and orchards and
plantations of olives round that city. It then proceeded through the
rich valleys and fertile uplands of Coin, Cazarabonela, Almexia, and
Cartama, and in ten days all those fertile regions were a smoking
and frightful desert. Hence it pursued its slow and destructive
course, like the stream of lava of a volcano, through the regions of
Pupiana and Alhendin, and so on to the vega of Malaga, laying waste
the groves of olives and almonds and the fields of grain, and
destroying every green thing. The Moors of some of those places
interceded in vain for their groves and fields, offering to deliver
up their Christian captives. One part of the army blockaded the
towns, while the other ravaged the surrounding country. Sometimes
the Moors sallied forth desperately to defend their property, but
were driven back to their gates with slaughter and their suburbs
pillaged and burnt. It was an awful spectacle at night to behold the
volumes of black smoke mingled with lurid flames rising from the
burning suburbs, and the women on the walls of the town wringing
their hands and shrieking at the desolation of their dwellings.

The destroying army on arriving at the sea-coast found vessels lying
off shore laden with all kinds of provisions and munitions sent from
Seville and Xeres, and was thus enabled to continue its desolating
career. Advancing to the neighborhood of Malaga, it was bravely
assailed by the Moors of that city, and there was severe skirmishing
for a whole day; but, while the main part of the army encountered
the enemy, the rest ravaged the whole vega and destroyed all the
mills. As the object of the expedition was not to capture places, but
merely to burn, ravage, and destroy, the host, satisfied with the
mischief they had done in the vega, turned their backs upon Malaga
and again entered the mountains. They passed by Coin and
through the regions of Allazayna, and Gatero, and Alhaurin, all
which were likewise desolated. In this way did they make the circuit
of a chain of rich and verdant valleys, the glory of those mountains
and the pride and delight of the Moors. For forty days did they
continue on like a consuming fire, leaving a smoking and howling
waste to mark their course, until, weary with the work of
destruction, and having fully sated their revenge for the massacre
of the Axarquia, they returned in triumph to the meadows of

In the month of June, King Ferdinand took command in person of this
destructive army; he increased its force, and added to its means of
mischief several lombards and other heavy artillery, intended for
the battering of towns and managed by engineers from France and
Germany. With these the[7]marques of Cadiz assured the king he
would soon be able to reduce the Moorish fortresses, which were
only calculated for defence against the engines anciently used in
warfare. Their walls and towers were high and thin, depending for
security on their rough and rocky situations. The stone and iron
balls thundered from the lombards would soon tumble them in ruins
upon the heads of their defenders.

The fate of Alora speedily proved the truth of this opinion. It was
strongly posted on a rock washed by a river. The artillery soon
battered down two of the towers and a part of the wall. The Moors
were thrown into consternation at the vehemence of the assault and
the effect of those tremendous engines upon their vaunted bulwarks.
The roaring of the artillery and the tumbling of the walls terrified
the women, who beset the alcayde with vociferous supplications
to surrender. The place was given up on the 20th of June, on
condition that the inhabitants might depart with their effects. The
people of Malaga, as yet unacquainted with the power of this
battering ordnance, were so incensed at those of Alora for what
they considered a tame surrender that they would not admit them
into their city.

A similar fate attended the town of Setenil, built on a lofty rock and
esteemed impregnable. Many times had it been besieged under
former Christian kings, but never taken. Even now, for several days
the artillery was directed against it without effect, and many of
the cavaliers murmured at the marques of Cadiz for having counselled
the king to attack this unconquerable place.*

*Cura de los Palacios.

On the same night that these reproaches were uttered the marques
directed the artillery himself: he levelled the lombards at the
bottom of the walls and at the gates. In a little while the gates
were battered to pieces, a great breach was effected in the walls,
and the Moors were fain to capitulate. Twenty-four Christian
captives, who had been taken in the defeat of the mountains of
Malaga, were rescued from the dungeons of this fortress, and hailed
the marques as their deliverer.

Needless is it to mention the capture of various other places which
surrendered without waiting to be attacked. The Moors had always
shown great bravery and perseverance in defending their towns;
they were formidable in their sallies and skirmishes, and patient in
enduring hunger and thirst when besieged; but this terrible
ordnance, which demolished their walls with such ease and rapidity,
overwhelmed them with dismay and rendered vain all resistance.
King Ferdinand was so struck with the effect of this artillery that
he ordered the number of lombards to be increased; and these
potent engines had henceforth a great influence on the fortunes
of this war.

The last operation of this year, so disastrous to the Moors, was an
inroad by Ferdinand, in the latter part of summer, into the Vega, in
which he ravaged the country, burnt two villages near to Granada,
and destroyed the mills near the very gates of the city.

Old Muley Abul Hassan was overwhelmed with dismay at the desolation
which during the whole year had raged throughout his territories and
had now reached the walls of his capital. His fierce spirit was
broken by misfortunes and infirmity; he offered to purchase a peace
and to hold his crown as a tributary vassal. Ferdinand would listen
to no propositions: the absolute conquest of Granada was the great
object of this war, and he was resolved never to rest content
without its complete fulfilment. Having supplied and strengthened
the garrisons of the places taken in the heart of the Moorish
territories, he enjoined their commanders to render every assistance
to the younger Moorish king in the civil war against his father. He
then returned with his army to Cordova in great triumph, closing a
series of ravaging campaigns which had filled the kingdom of Granada
with grief and consternation.



During this year of sorrow and disaster to the Moors the younger
king, Boabdil, most truly called the Unfortunate, held a diminished
and feeble court in the maritime city of Almeria. He retained little
more than the name of king, and was supported in even this shadow
of royalty by the countenance and treasures of the Castilian
sovereigns. Still he trusted that in the fluctuation of events the
inconstant nation might once more return to his standard and replace
him on the throne of the Alhambra.

His mother, the high-spirited sultana Ayxa la Horra, endeavored to
rouse him from this passive state. "It is a feeble mind," said she,
"that waits for the turn of fortune's wheel; the brave mind seizes
upon it and turns it to its purpose. Take the field, and you may
drive danger before you; remain cowering at home, and it besieges
you in your dwelling. By a bold enterprise you may regain your
splendid throne in Granada; by passive forbearance you will forfeit
even this miserable throne in Almeria."

Boabdil had not the force of soul to follow these courageous
counsels, and in a little time the evils his mother had predicted
fell upon him.

Old Muley Abul Hassan was almost extinguished by age and paralysis.
He had nearly lost his sight, and was completely bedridden. His
brother, Abdallah, surnamed El Zagal, or the Valiant, the same who
had assisted in the massacre of the Spanish chivalry among the
mountains of Malaga, was commander-in-chief of the Moorish armies,
and gradually took upon himself most of the cares of sovereignty.
Among other things, he was particularly zealous in espousing his
brother's quarrel with his son, and he prosecuted it with such
vehemence that many affirmed there was something more than
mere fraternal sympathy at the bottom of his zeal.

The disasters and disgraces inflicted on the country by the
Christians during this year had wounded the national feelings of
the people of Almeria, and many felt indignant that Boabdil should
remain passive at such a time, or, rather, should appear to make a
common cause with the enemy. His uncle Abdallah diligently fomented
this feeling by his agents. The same arts were made use of that
had been successful in Granada. Boabdil was secretly but actively
denounced by the alfaquis as an apostate leagued with the Christians
against his country and his early faith; the affections of the
populace and soldiery were gradually alienated from him, and a
deep conspiracy concerted for his destruction.

In the month of February, 1485, El Zagal suddenly appeared before
Almeria at the head of a troop of horse. The alfaquis were prepared
for his arrival, and the gates were thrown open to him. He entered
with his band and galloped to the citadel. The alcayde would have
made resistance, but the garrison put him to death and received El
Zagal with acclamations. The latter rushed through the apartments of
the Alcazar, but he sought in vain for Boabdil. He found the sultana
Ayxa la Horra in one of the saloons with Aben Haxig, a younger
brother of the monarch, and several Abencerrages, who rallied round
them to protect them. "Where is the traitor Boabdil?" exclaimed El

"I know no traitor more perfidious than thyself," exclaimed the
intrepid sultana; "and I trust my son is in safety, to take
vengeance on thy treason."

The rage of El Zagal was without bounds when he learnt that
his intended victim had escaped. In his fury he slew the prince
Aben Haxig, and his followers fell upon and massacred the
Abencerrages. As to the proud sultana, she was borne away prisoner
and loaded with revilings as having upheld her son in his rebellion
and fomented a civil war.

The unfortunate Boabdil had been apprised of his danger by a
faithful soldier just in time to make his escape. Throwing himself
on one of his fleetest horses and followed by a handful of
adherents, he galloped in the confusion out of the gates of Almeria.
Several of the cavalry of El Zagal, stationed without the walls,
perceived his flight and attempted to pursue him; their horses were
jaded with travel, and he soon left them far behind. But whither was
he to fly? Every fortress and castle in the kingdom of Granada was
closed against him; he knew not whom among the Moors to trust, for
they had been taught to detest him as a traitor and an apostate.
He had no alternative but to seek refuge among the Christians, his
hereditary enemies. With heavy heart he turned his horse's head
toward Cordova. He had to lurk, like a fugitive, through a part of
his own dominions, nor did he feel himself secure until he had
passed the frontier and beheld the mountain-barrier of his country
towering behind him. Then it was that he became conscious of his
humiliated state--a fugitive from his throne, an outcast from his
nation, a king without a kingdom. He smote his breast in an agony
of grief. "Evil indeed," exclaimed he, "was the day of my birth, and
truly I was named El Zogoybi, the Unlucky."

He entered the gates of Cordova with downcast countenance and with
a train of but forty followers. The sovereigns were absent, but the
cavaliers of Andalusia manifested that sympathy in the misfortunes
of the monarch which becomes men of lofty and chivalrous souls. They
received him with great distinction, attended him with the utmost
courtesy, and he was honorably entertained by the civil and military
commanders of that ancient city.

In the mean time, El Zagal put a new alcayde over Almeria to govern
in the name of his brother, and, having strongly garrisoned the
place, repaired to Malaga, where an attack of the Christians was
apprehended. The young monarch being driven out of the land, and the
old monarch blind and bedridden, El Zagal at the head of the armies
was virtually the sovereign of Granada. He was supported by the
brave and powerful families of the Alnayans and Vanegas; the people
were pleased with having a new idol to look up to and a new name to
shout forth; and El Zagal was hailed with acclamations as the main
hope of the nation.



The recent effect of the battering ordnance in demolishing the
Moorish fortresses induced King Ferdinand to procure a powerful
train for the campaign of 1485, intending to assault some of the
most formidable holds of the enemy.

An army of nine thousand cavalry and twenty thousand infantry
assembled at Cordova early in the spring, and the king took the
field on the 5th of April. It had been determined in secret council
to attack the city of Malaga, that ancient and important seaport on
which Granada depended for foreign aid and supplies. It was thought
proper previously, however, to get possession of various towns and
fortresses in the valleys of Santa Maria and Cartama, through which
pass the roads to Malaga.

The first place assailed was the town of Benamexi or Bonameji. It
had submitted to the Catholic sovereigns in the preceding year, but
had since renounced its allegiance. King Ferdinand was enraged at
the rebellion of the inhabitants. "I will make their punishment,"
said he, "a terror to others: they shall be loyal through force, if
not through faith." The place was carried by storm: one hundred
and eight of the principal inhabitants were either put to the sword
or hanged on the battlements; the rest were carried into captivity.*

*Pulgar, Garibay, Cura de los Palacios.

The towns of Coin and Cartama were besieged on the same day-- the
first by a division of the army led on by the marques of Cadiz; the
second by another division commanded by Don Alonso de Aguilar
and Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero, the brave senior of Palma. The
king, with the rest of the army, remained posted between the two
places to render assistance to either division. The batteries opened
upon both places at the same time, and the thunder of the lombards
was mutually heard from one camp to the other. The Moors made
frequent sallies and a valiant defence, but they were confounded by
the tremendous uproar of the batteries and the destruction of their
walls. In the mean time, the alarm-fires gathered together the
Moorish mountaineers of all the Serrania, who assembled in great
numbers in the city of Monda, about a league from Coin. They made
several attempts to enter the besieged town, but in vain: they were
each time intercepted and driven back by the Christians, and were
reduced to gaze at a distance in despair on the destruction of the
place. While thus situated there rode one day into Monda a fierce
and haughty Moorish chieftain at the head of a band of swarthy
African horsemen: it was Hamet el Zegri, the fiery-spirited alcayde
of Ronda, at the head of his band of Gomeres. He had not yet
recovered from the rage and mortification of his defeat on the banks
of the Lopera in the disastrous foray of old Bexir, when he had been
obliged to steal back furtively to his mountains with the loss of
the bravest of his followers. He had ever since panted for revenge.
He now rode among the host of warriors assembled at Monda. "Who
among you," cried he, "feels pity for the women and children of Coin
exposed to captivity and death? Whoever he is, let him follow me,
who am ready to die as a Moslem for the relief of Moslems." So
saying, he seized a white banner, and, waving it over his head, rode
forth from the town, followed by the Gomeres. Many of the warriors,
roused by his words and his example, spurred resolutely after his
banner. The people of Coin, being prepared for this attempt, sallied
forth as they saw the white banner and made an attack upon the
Christian camp, and in the confusion of the moment Hamet and his
followers galloped into the gates. This reinforcement animated the
besieged, and Hamet exhorted them to hold out obstinately in defence
of life and town. As the Gomeres were veteran warriors, the more
they were attacked the harder they fought.

At length a great breach was made in the walls, and Ferdinand, who
was impatient of the resistance of the place, ordered the duke of
Naxara and the count of Benavente to enter with their troops, and,
as their forces were not sufficient, he sent word to Luis de Cerda,
duke of Medina Celi, to send a part of his people to their assistance.

The feudal pride of the duke was roused at this demand. "Tell my
lord the king," said the haughty grandee, "that I have come to
succor him with my household troops: if my people are ordered to any
place, I am to go with them; but if I am to remain in the camp, my
people must remain with me. For the troops cannot serve without
their commander, nor their commander without his troops."

The reply of the high-spirited grandee perplexed the cautious
Ferdinand, who knew the jealous pride of his powerful nobles. In the
mean time, the people of the camp, having made all preparations for
the assault, were impatient to be led forward. Upon this Pero Ruyz
de Alarcon put himself at their head, and, seizing their mantas or
portable bulwarks, and their other defences, they made a gallant
assault and fought their way in at the breach. The Moors were so
overcome by the fury of their assault that they retreated, fighting,
to the square of the town. Pero Ruyz de Alarcon thought the place
was carried, when suddenly Hamet and his Gomeres came scouring
through the streets with wild war-cries, and fell furiously upon the
Christians. The latter were in their turn beaten back, and, while
attacked in front by the Gomeres, were assailed by the inhabitants
with all kinds of missiles from their roofs and windows. They at
length gave way and retreated through the breach. Pero Ruyz de
Alarcon still maintained his ground in one of the principal streets:
the few cavaliers that stood by him urged him to fly: "No," said he;
"I came here to fight, and not to fly." He was presently surrounded
by the Gomeres; his companions fled for their lives: the last they
saw of him he was covered with wounds, but still fighting desperately
for the fame of a good cavalier.*

*Pulgar, part 3, cap. 42.

The resistance of the inhabitants, though aided by the valor of the
Gomeres, was of no avail. The battering artillery of the Christians
demolished their walls; combustibles thrown into their town set it
on fire in various places; and they were at length compelled to
capitulate. They were permitted to depart with their effects, and
the Gomeres with their arms. Hamet el Zegri and his African band
rode proudly through the Christian camp, nor could the Spanish
cavaliers refrain from regarding with admiration that haughty
warrior and his devoted and dauntless followers.

The capture of Coin was accompanied by that of Cartama: the
fortifications of the latter were repaired and garrisoned, but Coin,
being too extensive to be defended by a moderate force, its walls
were demolished. The siege of these places struck such terror into
the surrounding country that the Moors of many of the neighboring
towns abandoned their homes, and fled with such of their effects as
they could carry away, upon which the king gave orders to demolish
their walls and towers.

King Ferdinand now left his camp and his heavy artillery near
Cartama, and proceeded with his lighter troops to reconnoitre
Malaga. By this time the secret plan of attack arranged in the
council of war at Cordova was known to all the world. The vigilant
warrior, El Zagal, had thrown himself into the place, put all
the fortifications, which were of vast strength, into a state of
defence, and sent orders to the alcaydes of the mountain-towns
to hasten with their forces to his assistance.

The very day that Ferdinand appeared before the place El Zagal
sallied forth to receive him at the head of a thousand cavalry, the
choicest warriors of Granada. A sharp skirmish took place among
the gardens and olive trees near the city. Many were killed on both
sides, and this gave the Christians a foretaste of what they might
expect if they attempted to besiege the place.

When the skirmish was over the marques of Cadiz had a private
conference with the king. He represented the difficulty of besieging
Malaga with their present force, especially as their plans had been
discovered and anticipated, and the whole country was marching to
oppose them. The marques, who had secret intelligence from all
quarters, had received a letter from Juceph Xerife, a Moor of Ronda
of Christian lineage, apprising him of the situation of that
important place and its garrison, which at that moment laid it open
to attack, and the marques was urgent with the king to seize upon
this critical moment, and secure a place which was one of the most
powerful Moorish fortresses on the frontiers, and in the hands of
Hamet el Zegri had been the scourge of Andalusia. The good marques
had another motive for his advice, becoming a true and loyal knight.
In the deep dungeons of Ronda languished several of his companion-
in-arms who had been captured in the defeat in the Axarquia. To
break their chains and restore them to liberty and light he felt to
be his peculiar duty as one of those who had most promoted that
disastrous enterprise.

King Ferdinand listened to the advice of the marques. He knew the
importance of Ronda, which was considered one of the keys to the
kingdom of Granada, and he was disposed to punish the inhabitants
for the aid they had rendered to the garrison of Coin. The siege of
Malaga therefore, was abandoned for the present, and preparations
made for a rapid and secret move against the city of Ronda.



The bold Hamet el Zegri, the alcayde of Ronda, had returned sullenly
to his stronghold after the surrender of Coin. He had fleshed his
sword in battle with the Christians, but his thirst for vengeance
was still unsatisfied. Hamet gloried in the strength of his fortress
and the valor of his people. A fierce and warlike populace was at
his command; his signal-fires could summon all the warriors of the
Serrania; his Gomeres almost subsisted on the spoils of Andalusia;
and in the rock on which his fortress was built were hopeless
dungeons filled with Christian captives carried off by these war-
hawks of the mountains.

Ronda was considered as impregnable. It was situated in the heart of
wild and rugged mountains, and perched upon an isolated rock crested
by a strong citadel, with triple walls and towers. A deep ravine, or
rather a perpendicular chasm of the rocks, of frightful depth,
surrounded three parts of the city; through this flowed the Rio
Verde, or Green River. There were two suburbs to the city, fortified
by walls and towers, and almost inaccessible from the natural
asperity of the rocks. Around this rugged city were deep rich
valleys, sheltered by the mountains, refreshed by constant streams,
abounding with grain and the most delicious fruits, and yielding
verdant meadows, in which was reared a renowned breed of horses,
the best in the whole kingdom for a foray.

Hamet el Zegri had scarcely returned to Ronda when he received
intelligence that the Christian army was marching to the siege of
Malaga, and orders from El Zagal to send troops to his assistance.
Hamet sent a part of his garrison for that purpose; in the mean
time he meditated an expedition to which he was stimulated by pride
and revenge. All Andalusia was now drained of its troops; there was
an opportunity, therefore, for an inroad by which he might wipe out
the disgrace of his defeat at the battle of Lopera. Apprehending no
danger to his mountain-city, now that the storm of war had passed
down into the vega of Malaga, he left but a remnant of his garrison
to man its walls, and, putting himself at the head of his band of
Gomeres, swept down suddenly into the plains of Andalusia. He
careered, almost without resistance, over those vast campinas or
pasture-lands which formed a part of the domains of the duke of
Medina Sidonia. In vain the bells were rung and the alarm-fires
kindled: the band of Hamet had passed by before any force could
be assembled, and was only to be traced, like a hurricane, by the
devastation it had made.

Hamet regained in safety the Serrania de Ronda, exulting in
his successful inroad. The mountain-glens were filled with long
droves of cattle and flocks of sheep from the campinas of Medina
Sidonia. There were mules, too, laden with the plunder of the
villages, and every warrior had some costly spoil of jewels for his
favorite mistress.

As the Zegri drew near to Ronda he was roused from his dream of
triumph by the sound of heavy ordnance bellowing through the
mountain-defiles. His heart misgave him: he put spurs to his horse
and galloped in advance of his lagging cavalgada. As he proceeded
the noise of the ordnance increased, echoing from cliff to cliff.
Spurring his horse up a craggy height which commanded an extensive
view, he beheld, to his consternation, the country about Ronda white
with the tents of a besieging army. The royal standard, displayed
before a proud encampment, showed that Ferdinand himself was
present, while the incessant blaze and thunder of artillery and the
volumes of overhanging smoke told the work of destruction that was
going on.

The royal army had succeeded in coming upon Ronda by surprise
during the absence of its alcayde and most of its garrison; but its
inhabitants were warlike and defended themselves bravely, trusting
that Hamet and his Gomeres would soon return to their assistance.

The fancied strength of their bulwarks had been of little avail
against the batteries of the besiegers. In the space of four days
three towers and great masses of the walls which defended the
suburbs were battered down and the suburbs taken and plundered.
Lombards and other heavy ordnance were now levelled at the walls
of the city, and stones and missiles of all kinds hurled into the
streets. The very rock on which the city stood shook with the
thunder of the artillery, and the Christian captives, deep within
its dungeons, hailed the sound as a promise of deliverance.

When Hamet el[8]Zegri beheld his city thus surrounded and assailed,
he called upon his men to follow him and cut their way through to
its relief. They proceeded stealthily through the mountains until
they came to the nearest heights above the Christian camp. When
night fell and part of the army was sunk in sleep, they descended
the rocks, and, rushing suddenly upon the weakest part of the camp,
endeavored to break their way through and gain the city. The camp
was too strong to be forced; they were driven back to the crags of
the mountains, whence they defended themselves by showering down
darts and stones upon their pursuers.

Hamet now lit alarm-fires about the heights: his standard was joined
by the neighboring mountaineers and by troops from Malaga. Thus
reinforced, he made repeated assaults upon the Christians, cutting
off all stragglers from the camp. All his attempts to force his way
into the city, however, were fruitless; many of his bravest men
were slain, and he was obliged to retreat into the fastnesses of
the mountains.

In the mean while the distress of Ronda increased hourly. The
marques of Cadiz, having possession of the suburbs, was enabled to
approach to the very foot of the perpendicular precipice rising from
the river on the summit of which the city is built. At the foot of
this rock is a living fountain of limpid water gushing into a great
natural basin. A secret mine led down from within the city to this
fountain by several hundred steps cut in the solid rock. Hence the
city obtained its chief supply of water, and these steps were deeply
worn by the weary feet of Christian captives employed in this painful
labor. The marques of Cadiz discovered this subterraneous passage,
and directed his pioneers to countermine in the side of the rock; they
pierced to the shaft, and, stopping it up, deprived the city of the
benefit of this precious fountain.

While the marques was thus pressing the siege with the generous
thought of soon delivering his companions-in-arms from the Moorish
dungeons, far other were the feelings of the alcayde, Hamet el
Zegri. He smote his breast and gnashed his teeth in impotent fury
as he beheld from the mountain-cliffs the destruction of the city.
Every thunder of the Christian ordnance seemed to batter against his
heart. He saw tower after tower tumbling by day, and various parts
of the city in a blaze at night. "They fired not merely stones from
their ordnance," says a chronicler of the times, "but likewise great
balls of iron cast in moulds, which demolished everything they
struck. They threw also balls of tow steeped in pitch and oil and
gunpowder, which, when once on fire, were not to be extinguished,
and which set the houses in flames. Great was the horror of the
inhabitants: they knew not where to fly for refuge: their houses
were in a blaze or shattered by the ordnance; the streets were
perilous from the falling ruins and the bounding balls, which dashed
to pieces everything they encountered. At night the city looked like
a fiery furnace; the cries and wailings of the women between the
thunders of the ordnance reached even to the Moors on the
opposite mountains, who answered them by yells of fury and despair.

All hope of external succor being at an end, the inhabitants of
Ronda were compelled to capitulate. Ferdinand was easily prevailed
upon to grant them favorable terms. The place was capable of longer
resistance, and he feared for the safety of his camp, as the forces
were daily augmenting on the mountains and making frequent assaults.
The inhabitants were permitted to depart with their effects, either
to Barbary, Granada, or elsewhere, and those who chose to reside in
Spain had lands assigned them and were indulged in the practice of
their religion.

No sooner did the place surrender than detachments were sent to
attack the Moors who hovered about the neighboring mountains.
Hamet el Zegri, however, did not remain to make a fruitless battle.
He gave up the game as lost, and retreated with his Gomeres,
filled with grief and rage, but trusting to fortune to give him
future vengeance.

The first care of the good marques of Cadiz on entering Ronda was
to deliver his unfortunate companion-in-arms from the dungeons of
the fortress. What a difference in their looks from the time when,
flushed with health and hope and arrayed in military pomp, they
had sallied forth upon the mountain-foray! Many of them were
almost naked, with irons at their ankles and beards reaching to
their waists. Their meeting with the marques was joyful, yet it
had the look of grief, for their joy was mingled with many bitter
recollections. There was an immense number of other captives,
among whom were several young men of noble families who
with filial piety had surrendered themselves prisoners in place
of their fathers.

The captives were all provided with mules and sent to the queen
at Cordova. The humane heart of Isabella melted at the sight of
the piteous cavalcade. They were all supplied by her with food
and raiment, and money to pay their expenses to their homes.
Their chains were hung as pious trophies against the exterior of
the church of St. Juan de los Reyes in Toledo, where the Christian
traveller may regale his eyes with the sight of them at this very day.*

*Seen by the author in 1826.

Among the Moorish captives was a young infidel maiden, of great
beauty, who desired to become a Christian and to remain in Spain.
She had been inspired with the light of the true faith through the
ministry of a young man who had been a captive in Ronda. He was
anxious to complete his good work by marrying her. The queen
consented to their pious wishes, having first taken care that the
young maiden should be properly purified by the holy sacrament
of baptism.

"Thus this pestilent nest of warfare and infidelity, the city of
Ronda," says the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, "was converted to
the true faith by the thunder of our artillery--an example which was
soon followed by Cazarabonela, Marbella, and other towns in these
parts, insomuch that in the course of this expedition no less than
seventy-two places were rescued from the vile sect of Mahomet and
placed under the benignant domination of the Cross."



The people of Granada were a versatile, unsteady race, and
exceedingly given to make and unmake kings. They had for a
long time vacillated between old Muley Abul Hassan and his son,
Boabdil el Chico, sometimes setting up the one, sometimes the
other, and sometimes both at once, according to the pinch and
pressure of external evils. They found, however, that the evils still
went on increasing in defiance of every change, and were at their
wits' end to devise some new combination or arrangement by which
an efficient government might be wrought out of two bad kings.
When the tidings arrived of the fall of Ronda, and the consequent
ruin of the frontier, a tumultuous assemblage took place in one of
the public squares. As usual, the people attributed the misfortunes
of the country to the faults of their rulers, for the populace never
imagine that any part of their miseries can originate with themselves.
A crafty alfaqui, named Alyme Mazer, who had watched the current of
their discontents, rose and harangued them. "You have been choosing
and changing," said he, "between two monarchs; and who and what
are they? Muley Abul Hassan for one, a man worn out by age and
infirmities, unable to sally forth against the foe, even when ravaging
to the very gates of the city; and Boabdil el Chico for the other, an
apostate, a traitor, a deserter from his throne, a fugitive among the
enemies of his nation, a man fated to misfortune, and proverbially
named 'the Unlucky.' In a time of overwhelming war like the present
he only is fit to sway a sceptre who can wield a sword. Would you
seek such a man? You need not look far. Allah has sent such a one
in this time of distress to retrieve the fortunes of Granada. You
already know whom I mean. You know that it can be no other than
your general, the invincible Abdallah, whose surname of El Zagal has
become a watchword in battle rousing the courage of the faithful and
striking terror into the unbelievers."

The multitude received the words of the alfaqui with acclamations;
they were delighted with the idea of a third king over Granada,
and Abdallah el Zagal being of the royal family, and already in the
virtual exercise of royal power, the measure had nothing in it that
appeared either rash or violent. A deputation was therefore sent
to El Zagal at Malaga inviting him to repair to Granada to receive
the crown.

El Zagal expressed great surprise and repugnance when the mission
was announced to him, and nothing but his patriotic zeal for the
public safety and his fraternal eagerness to relieve the aged Abul
Hassan from the cares of government prevailed upon him to accept
the offer. Leaving, therefore, Reduan Vanegas, one of the bravest
Moorish generals, in command of Malaga, he departed for Granada,
attended by three hundred trusty cavaliers.

Muley Abul Hassan did not wait for the arrival of his brother.
Unable any longer to buffet with the storms of the times, his only
solicitude was to seek some safe and quiet harbor of repose. In one
of the deep valleys which indent the Mediterranean coast, and which
are shut up on the land side by stupendous mountains, stood the
little city of Almunecar. The valley was watered by the limpid river
Frio, and abounded with fruits, with grain, and pasturage. The city
was strongly fortified, and the garrison and alcayde were devoted to
the old monarch. This was the place chosen by Muley Abul Hassan
for his asylum. His first care was to send thither all his treasures;
his next care was to take refuge there himself; his third, that his
sultana Zoraya and their two sons should follow him.

In the mean time, Muley Abdallah el Zagal pursued his journey toward
the capital, attended by his three hundred cavaliers. The road from
Malaga to Granada winds close by Alhama, and is dominated by that
lofty fortress. This had been a most perilous pass for the Moors
during the time that Alhama was commanded by the count de Tendilla:
not a traveller could escape his eagle eye, and his garrison was
ever ready for a sally. The count de Tendilla, however, had been
relieved from this arduous post, and it had been given in charge
to Don Gutiere de Padilla, clavero (or treasurer) of the order of
Calatrava--an easy, indulgent man, who had with him three hundred
gallant knights of his order, besides other mercenary troops. The
garrison had fallen off in discipline; the cavaliers were hardy in
fight and daring in foray, but confident in themselves and negligent
of proper precautions. Just before the journey of El Zagal a number
of these cavaliers, with several soldiers of fortune of the garrison, in
all about one hundred and seventy men, had sallied forth to harass
the Moorish country during its present distracted state, and, having
ravaged the valleys of the Sierra Nevada, or Snowy Mountains, were
returning to Alhama in gay spirits and laden with booty.

As El Zagal passed through the neighborhood of Alhama he recollected
the ancient perils of the road, and sent light cerradors in advance to
inspect each rock and ravine where a foe might lurk in ambush. One
of these scouts, overlooking a narrow valley which opened upon the
road, descried a troop of horsemen on the banks of a little stream.
They were dismounted, and had taken the bridles from their steeds,
that they might crop the fresh grass on the banks of the river. The
horsemen were scattered about, some reposing in the shades of rocks
and trees, others gambling for the spoil they had taken: not a sentinel
was posted to keep guard; everything showed the perfect security of
men who consider themselves beyond the reach of danger.

These careless cavaliers were in fact the knights of Calatrava
returning from their foray. A part of their force had passed on
with the cavalgada; ninety of the principal cavaliers had halted
to refresh themselves in this valley. El Zagal smiled with ferocious
joy when he heard of their negligent security. "Here will be
trophies," said he, "to grace our entrance into Granada."

Approaching the valley with cautious silence, he wheeled into it at
full speed at the head of his troop, and attacked the Christians so
suddenly that they had no time to put the bridles upon their horses
or even to leap into the saddles. They made a confused but valiant
defence, fighting among the rocks and in the rugged bed of the river.
Their defence was useless; seventy-nine were slain, and the remaining
eleven were taken prisoners.

A party of the Moors galloped in pursuit of the cavalgada: they soon
overtook it winding slowly up a hill. The horsemen who convoyed it,
perceiving the enemy at a distance, made their escape, and left the
spoil to be retaken by the Moors. El Zagal gathered together his
captives and his booty, and proceeded, elate with success, to Granada.

He paused before the gate of Elvira, for as yet he had not been
proclaimed king. This ceremony was immediately performed, for
the fame of his recent exploit had preceded him and intoxicated
the minds of the giddy populace. He entered Granada in a sort of
triumph. The eleven captive knights of Calatrava walked in front:
next were paraded the ninety captured steeds, bearing the armor
and weapons of their late owners, and led by as many mounted
Moors: then came seventy Moorish horsemen, with as many Christian
heads hanging at their saddle-bows: Muley Abdallah followed,
surrounded by a number of distinguished cavaliers splendidly attired,
and the pageant was closed by a long cavalgada of the flocks and
herds and other booty recovered from the Christians.*

*Zurita, lib. 20, c. 62; Mariana, Hist. de Espana; Abarca, Anales
de Aragon.

The populace gazed with almost savage triumph at these captive
cavaliers and the gory heads of their companions, knowing them to
have been part of the formidable garrison of Alhama, so long the
scourge of Granada and the terror of the Vega. They hailed this
petty triumph as an auspicious opening of the reign of their new
monarch; for several days the name of Muley Abul Hassan and
Boabdil el Chico were never mentioned but with contempt, and
the whole city resounded with the praises of El Zagal, or the Valiant.



The elevation of a bold and active veteran to the throne of Granada
in place of its late bedridden king made an important difference in
the aspect of the war, and called for some blow that should dash
the confidence of the Moors in their new monarch and animate the
Christians to fresh exertions.

Don Diego de Cordova, the brave count de Cabra, was at this time in
his castle of Vaena, where he kept a wary eye upon the frontier. It
was now the latter part of August, and he grieved that the summer
should pass away without an inroad into the country of the foe. He
sent out his scouts on the prowl, and they brought him word that
the important post of Moclin was but weakly garrisoned. This was
a castellated town, strongly situated upon a high mountain, partly
surrounded by thick forests and partly girdled by a river. It
defended one of the rugged and solitary passes by which the
Christians were wont to make their inroads, insomuch that the
Moors, in their figurative way, denominated it the shield of Granada.

The count de Cabra sent word to the monarchs of the feeble state
of the garrison, and gave it as his opinion that by a secret and rapid
expedition the place might be surprised. King Ferdinand asked the
advice of his councillors. Some cautioned him against the sanguine
temperament of the count and his heedlessness of danger: Moclin,
they observed, was near to Granada and might be promptly reinforced.
The opinion of the count, however, prevailed, the king considering him
almost infallible in matters of border warfare since his capture of
Boabdil el Chico.

The king departed, therefore, from Cordova, and took post at Alcala
la Real, for the purpose of being near to Moclin. The queen also
proceeded to Vaena, accompanied by her children, Prince Juan and
the princess Isabella, and her great counsellor in all matters, public
and private, spiritual and temporal, the venerable grand cardinal
of Spain.

Nothing could exceed the pride and satisfaction of the loyal count
de Cabra when he saw the stately train winding along the dreary
mountain-roads and entering the gates of Vaena. He received his
royal guests with all due ceremony, and lodged them in the best
apartments that the warrior castle afforded.

King Ferdinand had concerted a wary plan to ensure the success
of the enterprise. The count de Cabra and Don Martin Alonso de
Montemayor were to set forth with their troops so as to reach Moclin
by a certain hour, and to intercept all who should attempt to enter
or should sally from the town. The master of Calatrava, the troops
of the grand cardinal, commanded by the count of Buendia, and
the forces of the bishop of Jaen, led by that belligerent prelate,
amounting in all to four thousand horse and six thousand foot,
were to set off in time to co-operate with the count de Cabra, so
as to surround the town. The king was to follow with his whole
force and encamp before the place.

And here the worthy padre Fray Antonio Agapida breaks forth into a
triumphant eulogy of the pious prelates who thus mingled personally
in these scenes of warfare. As this was a holy crusade (says he),
undertaken for the advancement of the faith and the glory of the
Church, so was it always countenanced and upheld by saintly men;
for the victories of their most Catholic majesties were not followed,
like those of mere worldly sovereigns, by erecting castles and
towers and appointing alcaydes and garrisons, but by the founding
of convents and cathedrals and the establishment of wealthy
bishoprics. Wherefore their majesties were always surrounded in
court or camp, in the cabinet or in the field, by a crowd of ghostly
advisers inspiriting them to the prosecution of this most righteous
war. Nay, the holy men of the Church did not scruple, at times, to
buckle on the cuirass over the cassock, to exchange the crosier for
the lance, and thus with corporal hands and temporal weapons to
fight the good fight of the faith.

But to return from this rhapsody of the worthy friar. The count de
Cabra, being instructed in the complicated arrangements of the king,
marched forth at midnight to execute them punctually. He led his
troops by the little river that winds below Vaena, and so up to the
wild defiles of the mountains, marching all night, and stopping only
in the heat of the following day to repose under the shadowy cliffs
of a deep barranca, calculating to arrive at Moclin exactly in time
to co-operate with the other forces.

The troops had scarcely stretched themselves on the earth to take
repose, when a scout arrived bringing word that El Zagal had
suddenly sallied out of Granada with a strong force, and had
encamped in the vicinity of Moclin. It was plain that the wary Moor
had received information of the intended attack. This, however,


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