Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada
Washington Irving

Part 7 out of 9

laden with booty, and bearing before them the singular standard
which had conducted them to victory.

King Ferdinand was so pleased with the gallant action of Hernan
Perez del Pulgar that he immediately conferred on him the honor of
knighthood, using in the ceremony the sword of Diego de Aguero, the
captain of the royal guards; the duke of Esculona girded one of his
own gilt spurs upon his heel, and the grand master of Santiago, the
count de Cabra, and Gonsalvo of Cordova officiated as witnesses.
Furthermore, to perpetuate in his family the memory of his
achievement, the sovereigns authorized him to emblazon on his
escutcheon a golden lion in an azure field, bearing a lance with a
handkerchief at the end of it. Round the border of the escutcheon
were depicted the eleven alcaydes vanquished in the battle.* The
foregoing is but one of many hardy and heroic deeds done by this
brave cavalier in the wars against the Moors, by which he gained
great renown and the distinguished appellation of "El de las
hazanas," or "He of the exploits."**

*Alcantara, Hist. de Granada, tomo iv. cap. 18; Pulgar, Cron.,
part iii.

**Hernan or Hernando del Pulgar, the historian, secretary to Queen
Isabella, is confounded with this cavalier by some writers. He was
also present at the siege of Baza, and has recounted this
transaction in his Chronicle of the Catholic sovereigns, Ferdinand
and Isabella.



The Moorish king, El Zagal, mounted a tower and looked out eagerly
to enjoy the sight of the Christian marauders brought captive into
the gates of Guadix, but his spirits fell when he beheld his own
troops stealing back in the dusk of the evening in broken and
dejected parties.

The fortune of war bore hard against the old monarch; his mind was
harassed by disastrous tidings brought each day from Baza, of the
sufferings of the inhabitants, and the numbers of the garrison slain
in the frequent skirmishes. He dared not go in person to the relief
of the place, for his presence was necessary in Guadix to keep a
check upon his nephew in Granada. He sent reinforcements and
supplies, but they were intercepted and either captured or driven
back. Still, his situation was in some respects preferable to that
of his nephew Boabdil. He was battling like a warrior on the last
step of his throne; El Chico remained a kind of pensioned vassal in
the luxurious abode of the Alhambra. The chivalrous part of the
inhabitants of Granada could not but compare the generous stand
made by the warriors of Baza for their country and their faith with
their own time-serving submission to the yoke of an unbeliever.
Every account they received of the woes of Baza wrung their hearts
with agony; every account of the exploits of its devoted defenders
brought blushes to their cheeks. Many stole forth secretly with
their weapons and hastened to join the besieged, and the partisans
of El Zagal wrought upon the patriotism and passions of the
remainder until another of those conspiracies was formed that
were continually menacing the unsteady throne of Granada. It was
concerted by the conspirators to assail the Alhambra on a sudden,
slay Boabdil, assemble the troops, and march to Guadix, where,
being reinforced by the garrison of that place and led on by the old
warrior monarch, they might fall with overwhelming power upon the
Christian army before Baza.

Fortunately for Boabdil, he discovered the conspiracy in time, and
the heads of the leaders were struck off and placed upon the walls
of the Alhambra--an act of severity unusual with this mild and
wavering monarch, which struck terror into the disaffected, and
produced a kind of mute tranquillity throughout the city.

Ferdinand had full information of all the movements and measures for
the relief of Baza, and took precautions to prevent them. Bodies of
horsemen held watch in the mountain-passes to prevent supplies and
intercept any generous volunteers from Granada, and watch-towers
were erected or scouts placed on every commanding height to give the
alarm at the least sign of a hostile turban.

The prince Cid Hiaya and his brave companions-in-arms were thus
gradually walled up, as it were, from the rest of the world. A line
of towers, the battlements of which bristled with troops, girded
their city, and behind the intervening bulwarks and palisadoes
passed and repassed continual squadrons of troops. Week after week
and month after month passed away, but Ferdinand waited in vain for
the garrison to be either terrified or starved into surrender. Every
day they sallied forth with the spirit and alacrity of troops high
fed and flushed with confidence. "The Christian monarch," said the
veteran Mohammed Ibn Hassan, "builds his hopes upon our growing
faint and desponding--we must manifest unusual cheerfulness and
vigor. What would be rashness in other service becomes prudence
with us." The prince Cid Hiaya agreed with him in opinion, and sallied
forth with his troops upon all kinds of hare-brained exploits. They
laid ambushes, concerted surprises, and made the most desperate
assaults. The great extent of the Christian works rendered them
weak in many parts: against these the Moors directed their attacks,
suddenly breaking into them, making a hasty ravage, and bearing off
their booty in triumph to the city. Sometimes they would sally forth
by passes and clefts of the mountain in the rear of the city which
it was difficult to guard, and, hurrying down into the plain, sweep
off all cattle and sheep that were grazing near the suburbs and all
stragglers from the camp.

These partisan sallies brought on many sharp and bloody encounters,
in some of which Don Alonso de Aguilar and the alcayde de los
Donceles distinguished themselves greatly. During one of these hot
skirmishes, which happened on the skirts of the mountain about
twilight, a cavalier named Martin Galindo beheld a powerful Moor
dealing deadly blows about him and making great havoc among the
Christians. Galindo pressed forward and challenged him to single
combat. The Moor was not slow in answering the call.

Couching their lances, they rushed furiously upon each other. At the
first shock the Moor was wounded in the face and borne out of his
saddle. Before Galindo could check his steed and turn from his
career the Moor sprang upon his feet, recovered his lance, and,
rushing upon him, wounded him in the head and the arm. Though
Galindo was on horseback and the Moor on foot, yet such was the
prowess and address of the latter that the Christian knight, being
disabled in the arm, was in the utmost peril when his comrades
hastened to his assistance. At their approach the valiant pagan
retreated slowly up the rocks, keeping them at bay until he found
himself among his companions.

Several of the young Spanish cavaliers, stung by the triumph of this
Moslem knight, would have challenged others of the Moors to single
combat, but King Ferdinand prohibited all vaunting encounters of the
kind. He forbade his troops also to provoke skirmishes, well knowing
that the Moors were more dextrous than most people in this irregular
mode of fighting, and were better acquainted with the ground.



While the holy Christian army (says Fray Antonio Agapida) was thus
beleaguering this infidel city of Baza there rode into the camp one
day two reverend friars of the order of St. Francis. One was of
portly person and authoritative air: he bestrode a goodly steed,
well conditioned and well caparisoned, while his companion rode
beside him upon a humble hack, poorly accoutred, and, as he rode,
he scarcely raised his eyes from the ground, but maintained a meek
and lowly air.

The arrival of two friars in the camp was not a matter of much note,
for in these holy wars the Church militant continually mingled in
the affray, and helmet and cowl were always seen together; but it
was soon discovered that these worthy saints-errant were from a
far country and on a mission of great import.

They were, in truth, just arrived from the Holy Land, being two of
the saintly men who kept vigil over the sepulchre of our Blessed
Lord at Jerusalem. He of the tall and portly form and commanding
presence was Fray Antonio Millan, prior of the Franciscan convent in
the Holy City. He had a full and florid countenance, a sonorous
voice, and was round and swelling and copious in his periods, like
one accustomed to harangue and to be listened to with deference. His
companion was small and spare in form, pale of visage, and soft and
silken and almost whispering in speech. "He had a humble and lowly
way," says Agapida, "evermore bowing the head, as became one of
his calling." Yet he was one of the most active, zealous, and effective
brothers of the convent, and when he raised his small black eye from
the earth there was a keen glance out of the corner which showed
that, though harmless as a dove, he was nevertheless as wise as
a serpent.

These holy men had come on a momentous embassy from the grand soldan
of Egypt, or, as Agapida terms him in the language of the day, the
soldan of Babylon. The league which had been made between that
potentate and his arch-foe the Grand Turk, Bajazet II., to unite in
arms for the salvation of Granada, as has been mentioned in a
previous chapter of this chronicle, had come to naught. The infidel
princes had again taken up arms against each other, and had relapsed
into their ancient hostility. Still, the grand soldan, as head of the whole
Moslem religion, considered himself bound to preserve the kingdom of
Granada from the grasp of unbelievers. He despatched, therefore,
these two holy friars with letters to the Castilian sovereigns, as well
as to the pope and to the king of Naples, remonstrating against the
evils done to the Moors of the kingdom of Granada, who were of his
faith and kindred whereas it was well known that great numbers of
Christians were indulged and protected in the full enjoyment of their
property, their liberty, and their faith in his dominions. He insisted,
therefore, that this war should cease-- that the Moors of Granada
should be reinstated in the territory of which they had been
dispossessed: otherwise he threatened to put to death all the
Christians beneath his sway, to demolish their convents and temples,
and to destroy the Holy Sepulchre.

This fearful menace had spread consternation among the Christians
of Palestine, and when the intrepid Fray Antonio Millan and his lowly
companion departed on their mission they were accompanied far
from the gates of Jerusalem by an anxious throng of brethren and
disciples, who remained watching them with tearful eyes as long as
they were in sight. These holy ambassadors were received with
great distinction by King Ferdinand, for men of their cloth had ever
high honor and consideration in his court. He had long and frequent
conversations with them about the Holy Land, the state of the
Christian Church in the dominions of the grand soldan, and of the
policy and conduct of that arch-infidel toward it. The portly prior
of the Franciscan convent was full and round and oratorical in his
replies, and the king expressed himself much pleased with the
eloquence of his periods; but the politic monarch was observed to
lend a close and attentive ear to the whispering voice of the lowly
companion, "whose discourse," adds Agapida, "though modest and
low, was clear and fluent and full of subtle wisdom." These holy friars
had visited Rome in their journeying, where they had delivered the
letter of the soldan to the sovereign pontiff. His Holiness had
written by them to the Castilian sovereigns, requesting to know what
reply they had to offer to this demand of the Oriental potentate.

The king of Naples also wrote to them on the subject, but in wary
terms. He inquired into the cause of this war with the Moors of
Granada, and expressed great marvel at its events, as if (says
Agapida) both were not notorious throughout all the Christian world.
"Nay," adds the worthy friar with becoming indignation, "he uttered
opinions savoring of little better than damnable heresy; for he
observed that, although the Moors were of a different sect, they
ought not to be maltreated without just cause; and hinted that if
the Castilian sovereigns did not suffer any crying injury from the
Moors, it would be improper to do anything which might draw great
damage upon the Christians--as if, when once the sword of the
faith was drawn, it ought ever to be sheathed until this scum of
heathendom were utterly destroyed or driven from the land. But
this monarch," he continues, "was more kindly disposed toward
the infidels than was honest and lawful in a Christian prince, and
was at that very time in league with the soldan against their
common enemy the Grand Turk."

These pious sentiments of the truly Catholic Agapida are echoed
by Padre Mariana in his history;* but the worthy chronicler Pedro
Abarca attributes the interference of the king of Naples not to
lack of orthodoxy in religion, but to an excess of worldly policy, he
being apprehensive that should Ferdinand conquer the Moors of
Granada he might have time and means to assert a claim of the
house of Aragon to the crown of Naples.

*Mariana, lib. 25, cap. 15.

"King Ferdinand," continues the worthy father Pedro Abarca, "was
no less master of dissimulation than his cousin of Naples; so he
replied to him with the utmost suavity of manner, going into a
minute and patient vindication of the war, and taking great apparent
pains to inform him of those things which all the world knew, but of
which the other pretended to be ignorant."* At the same time he
soothed his solicitude about the fate of the Christians in the empire
of the grand soldan, assuring him that the great revenue extorted
from them in rents and tributes would be a certain protection against
the threatened violence.

*Abarca, Anales de Aragon, Rey xxx. cap. 3.

To the pope he made the usual vindication of the war--that it was
for the recovery of ancient territory usurped by the Moors, for the
punishment of wars and violences inflicted upon the Christians, and,
finally, that it was a holy crusade for the glory and advancement of
the Church.

"It was a truly edifying sight," says Agapida, "to behold these
friars, after they had had their audience of the king, moving about
the camp always surrounded by nobles and cavaliers of high and
martial renown. These were insatiable in their questions about
the Holy Land, the state of the sepulchre of our Lord, and the
sufferings of the devoted brethren who guarded it and the pious
pilgrims who resorted there to pay their vows. The portly prior of
the convent would stand with lofty and shining countenance in the
midst of these iron warriors and declaim with resounding eloquence
on the history of the sepulchre, but the humbler brother would ever
and anon sigh deeply, and in low tones utter some tale of suffering
and outrage, at which his steel-clad hearers would grasp the hilts
of their swords and mutter between their clenched teeth prayers
for another crusade."

The pious friars, having finished their mission to the king and been
treated with all due distinction, took their leave, and wended their
way to Jaen, to visit the most Catholic of queens. Isabella, whose
heart was the seat of piety, received them as sacred men invested
with more than human dignity. During their residence at Jaen they
were continually in the royal presence: the respectable prior of the
convent moved and melted the ladies of the court by his florid
rhetoric, but his lowly companion was observed to have continual
access to the royal ear. That saintly and soft-spoken messenger
(says Agapida) received the reward of his humility; for the queen,
moved by his frequent representations, made in all modesty and
lowliness of spirit, granted a yearly sum in perpetuity of one
thousand ducats in gold for the support of the monks of the
Convent of the Holy Sepulchre.*

*"La Reyna dio a los Frayles mil ducados de renta cado ano para
el sustento de los religiosos del santo sepulcro, que es la mejor
limosna y sustento que hasta nuestros dias ha quedado a estos
religiosos de Gerusalem: para donde les dio la Reyna un velo
labrado por sus manos, para poner encima de la santa sepultura
del Senor."--Garibay, "Compend Hist.," lib. 18, cap. 36.

Moreover, on the departure of these holy ambassadors, the
excellent and most Catholic queen delivered to them a veil devoutly
embroidered with her own royal hands, to he placed over the Holy
Sepulchre;--a precious and inestimable present, which called forth
a most eloquent tribute of thanks from the portly prior, but which
brought tears into the eyes of his lowly companion.*

*It is proper to mention the result of this mission of the two friars,
and which the worthy Agapida has neglected to record. At a
subsequent period the Catholic sovereigns sent the distinguished
historian, Pietro Martyr of Angleria, as ambassador to the grand
soldan. That able man made such representations as were perfectly
satisfactory to the Oriental potentate. He also obtained from him
the remission of many exactions and extortions heretofore practised
upon Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Sepulchre; which, it is
presumed, had been gently but cogently detailed to the monarch
by the lowly friar. Pietro Martyr wrote an account of his embassy
to the grand soldan--a work greatly esteemed by the learned and
containing much curious information. It is entitled "De Legatione



It has been the custom to laud the conduct and address of King
Ferdinand in this most arduous and protracted war, but the sage
Agapida is more disposed to give credit to the counsels and measures
of the queen, who, he observes, though less ostensible in action,
was in truth the very soul, the vital principle, of this great
enterprise. While King Ferdinand was bustling in his camp and making
a glittering display with his gallant chivalry, she, surrounded by
her saintly counsellors in the episcopal palace of Jaen, was
devising ways and means to keep the king and his army in existence.
She had pledged herself to keep up a supply of men and money and
provisions until the city should be taken. The hardships of the
siege caused a fearful waste of life, but the supply of men was the
least difficult part of her undertaking. So beloved was the queen by
the chivalry of Spain that on her calling on them for assistance not
a grandee or cavalier that yet lingered at home but either repaired
in person or sent forces to the camp; the ancient and warlike
families vied with each other in marshalling forth their vassals,
and thus the besieged Moors beheld each day fresh troops arriving
before their city, and new ensigns and pennons displayed emblazoned
with arms well known to the veteran warriors.

But the most arduous task was to keep up a regular supply of
provisions. It was not the army alone that had to be supported, but
also the captured towns and their garrisons; for the whole country
around them had been ravaged, and the conquerors were in danger of
starving in the midst of the land they had desolated. To transport the
daily supplies for such immense numbers was a gigantic undertaking
in a country where there was neither water conveyance nor roads
for carriages. Everything had to be borne by beasts of burden over
rugged and broken paths of mountains and through dangerous defiles
exposed to the attacks and plunderings of the Moors.

The wary and calculating merchants accustomed to supply the
army shrank from engaging at their own risk in so hazardous an
undertaking. The queen therefore hired fourteen thousand beasts
of burden, and ordered all the wheat and barley to be brought up
in Andalusia and in the domains of the knights of Santiago and
Calatrava. She entrusted the administration of these supplies to
able and confidential persons. Some were employed to collect the
grain; others to take it to the mills; others to superintend the
grinding and delivery; and others to convey it to the camp. To every
two hundred animals a muleteer was allotted to take charge of them
on the route. Thus great lines of convoys were in constant movement,
traversing to and fro, guarded by large bodies of troops to defend
them from hovering parties of the Moors. Not a single day's
intermission was allowed, for the army depended upon the constant
arrival of the supplies for daily food. The grain when brought into
the camp was deposited in an immense granary, and sold to the
army at a fixed price, which was never either raised or lowered.

Incredible were the expenses incurred in these supplies, but the
queen had ghostly advisers thoroughly versed in the art of getting
at the resources of the country. Many worthy prelates opened the
deep purses of the Church, and furnished loans from the revenues
of their dioceses and convents, and their pious contributions were
eventually rewarded by Providence a hundred-fold. Merchants and
other wealthy individuals, confident of the punctual faith of the
queen, advanced large sums on the security of her word; many
noble families lent their plate without waiting to be asked. The
queen also sold certain annual rents in inheritance at great
sacrifices, assigning the revenues of towns and cities for the
payment. Finding all this insufficient to satisfy the enormous
expenditure, she sent her gold and plate and all her jewels to the
cities of Valencia and Barcelona, where they were pledged for a
great amount of money, which was immediately appropriated to
keep up the supplies of the army.

Thus through the wonderful activity, judgment, and enterprise of
this heroic and magnanimous woman a great host, encamped in the
heart of the warlike country accessible only over mountain-roads,
was maintained in continual abundance. Nor was it supplied merely
with the necessaries and comforts of life. The powerful escorts
drew merchants and artificers from all parts to repair, as if in
caravans, to this great military market. In a little while the camp
abounded with tradesmen and artists of all kinds to administer to
the luxury and ostentation of the youthful chivalry. Here might be
seen cunning artificers in steel and accomplished armorers achieving
those rare and sumptuous helmets and cuirasses, richly gilt, inlaid,
and embossed, in which the Spanish cavaliers delighted. Saddlers and
harness-makers and horse-milliners also were there, whose tents
glittered with gorgeous housings and caparisons. The merchants
spread forth their sumptuous silks, cloths, brocades, fine linen,
and tapestry. The tents of the nobility were prodigally decorated
with all kinds of the richest stuffs and dazzled the eye with their
magnificence, nor could the grave looks and grave speeches of King
Ferdinand prevent his youthful cavaliers from vying with each other
in the splendor of their dresses and caparisons on all occasions of
parade and ceremony.



While the Christian camp, thus gay and gorgeous, spread itself out
like a holiday pageant before the walls of Baza, while a long line
of beasts of burden laden with provisions and luxuries were seen
descending the valley from morning till night, and pouring into the
camp a continued stream of abundance, the unfortunate garrison
found their resources rapidly wasting away, and famine already
began to pinch the peaceful part of the community.

Cid Hiaya had acted with great spirit and valor as long as there was
any prospect of success; but he began to lose his usual fire and
animation, and was observed to pace the walls of Baza with a pensive
air, casting many a wistful look toward the Christian camp, and
sinking into profound reveries and cogitations. The veteran alcayde,
Mohammed Ibn Hassan, noticed these desponding moods, and
endeavored to rally the spirits of the prince. "The rainy season is
at hand," would he cry; "the floods will soon pour down from the
mountains; the rivers will overflow their banks and inundate the
valleys. The Christian king already begins to waver; he dare not
linger and encounter such a season in a plain cut up by canals and
rivulets. A single wintry storm from our mountains would wash away
his canvas city and sweep off those gay pavilions like wreaths of
snow before the blast."

The prince Cid Hiaya took heart at these words, and counted the days
as they passed until the stormy season should commence. As he
watched the Christian camp he beheld it one morning in universal
commotion: there was an unusual sound of hammers in every part,
as if some new engines of war were constructing. At length, to his
astonishment, the walls and roofs of houses began to appear above
the bulwarks. In a little while there were above a thousand edifices
of wood and plaster erected, covered with tiles taken from the
demolished towers of the orchards and bearing the pennons of various
commanders and cavaliers, while the common soldiery constructed huts
of clay and branches of trees thatched with straw. Thus, to the dismay
of the Moors, within four days the light tents and gay pavilions which
had whitened their hills and plains passed away like summer clouds,
and the unsubstantial camp assumed the solid appearance of a city
laid out into streets and squares. In the centre rose a large edifice
which overlooked the whole, and the royal standard of Aragon and
Castile, proudly floating above it, showed it to be the palace of
the king.*

*Cura de los Palacios, Pulgar, etc.

Ferdinand had taken the sudden resolution thus to turn his camp into
a city, partly to provide against the approaching season, and partly
to convince the Moors of his fixed determination to continue the
siege. In their haste to erect their dwellings, however, the Spanish
cavaliers had not properly considered the nature of the climate. For
the greater part of the year there scarcely falls a drop of rain on
the thirsty soil of Andalusia. The ramblas, or dry channels of the
torrents, remain deep and arid gashes and clefts in the sides of the
mountains; the perennial streams shrink up to mere threads of water,
which, trickling down the bottoms of the deep barrancas, or ravines,
scarce feed and keep alive the rivers of the valleys. The rivers,
almost lost in their wide and naked beds, seem like thirsty rills
winding in serpentine mazes through deserts of sand and stones,
and so shallow and tranquil in their course as to be forded in safety
in almost every part. One autumnal tempest, however, changes the
whole face of nature: the clouds break in deluges among the vast
congregation of mountains; the ramblas are suddenly filled with
raging floods; the tinkling rivulets swell to thundering torrents that
come roaring down from the mountains, tumbling great masses of
rocks in their career. The late meandering river spreads over its
once-naked bed, lashes its surges against the banks, and rushes
like a wide and foaming inundation through the valley.

Scarcely had the Christians finished their slightly built edifices
when an autumnal tempest of the kind came scouring from the
mountains. The camp was immediately overflowed. Many of the
houses, undermined by the floods or beaten by the rain, crumbled
away and fell to the earth, burying man and beast beneath their ruins.
Several valuable lives were lost, and great numbers of horses and
other animals perished. To add to the distress and confusion of the
camp, the daily supply of provisions suddenly ceased, for the rain
had broken up the roads and rendered the rivers impassable. A
panic seized upon the army, for the cessation of a single day's
supply produced a scarcity of bread and provender. Fortunately,
the rain was but transient: the torrents rushed by and ceased;
the rivers shrank back again to their narrow channels, and the
convoys which had been detained upon their banks arrived safely
in the camp.

No sooner did Queen Isabella hear of this interruption of her
supplies than, with her usual vigilance and activity, she provided
against its recurrence. She despatched six thousand foot-soldiers,
under the command of experienced officers, to repair the roads and
to make causeways and bridges for the distance of seven Spanish
leagues. The troops also who had been stationed in the mountains
by the king to guard the defiles made two paths, one for the convoys
going to the camp, and the other for those returning, that they might
not meet and impede each other. The edifices which had been
demolished by the late floods were rebuilt in a firmer manner, and
precautions were taken to protect the camp from future inundations.



When King Ferdinand beheld the ravage and confusion produced by
a single autumnal storm, and bethought him of all the maladies to
which a besieging camp is exposed in inclement seasons, he began
to feel his compassion kindling for the suffering people of Baza, and
an inclination to grant them more favorable terms. He sent, therefore,
several messages to the alcayde Mohammed Ibn Hassan offering
liberty of person and security of property for the inhabitants and
large rewards for himself if he would surrender the city.

The veteran was not to be dazzled by the splendid offers of the
monarch: he had received exaggerated accounts of the damage done
to the Christian camp by the late storm, and of the sufferings and
discontents of the army in consequence of the transient interruption
of supplies: he considered the overtures of Ferdinand as proofs of
the desperate state of his affairs. "A little more patience, a little
more patience," said the shrewd old warrior, "and we shall see
this cloud of Christian locusts driven away before the winter
storms. When they once turn their backs, it will be our turn to
strike; and, with the help of Allah, the blow shall be decisive." He
sent a firm though courteous refusal to the Castilian monarch, and
in the mean time animated his companions to sally forth with more
spirit than ever to attack the Spanish outposts and those laboring
in the trenches. The consequence was a daily occurrence of daring
and bloody skirmishes that cost the lives of many of the bravest
and most adventurous cavaliers of either army.

In one of these sallies nearly three hundred horse and two thousand
foot mounted the heights behind the city to capture the Christians who
were employed upon the works. They came by surprise upon a body
of guards, esquires of the count de Urena, killed some, put the rest
to flight, and pursued them down the mountain until they came in
sight of a small force under the count de Tendilla and Gonsalvo of
Cordova. The Moors came rushing down with such fury that many of
the men of the count de Tendilla took to flight. The count braced his
buckler, grasped his trusty weapon, and stood his ground with his
accustomed prowess. Gonsalvo of Cordova ranged himself by his side,
and, marshalling the troops which remained with them, they made a
valiant front to the Moors.

The infidels pressed them hard, and were gaining the advantage when
Alonso de Aguilar, hearing of the danger of his brother Gonsalvo, flew
to his assistance, accompanied by the count of Urena and a body of
their troops. A fight ensued from cliff to cliff and glen to glen. The
Moors were fewer in number, but excelled in the dexterity and
lightness requisite for scrambling skirmishes. They were at length
driven from their vantage-ground, and pursued by Alonso de Aguilar
and his brother Gonsalvo to the very suburbs of the city, leaving
many of their bravest men upon the field.

Such was one of innumerable rough encounters daily taking place, in
which many brave cavaliers were slain without apparent benefit to
either party. The Moors, notwithstanding repeated defeats and
losses, continued to sally forth daily with astonishing spirit and
vigor, and the obstinacy of their defence seemed to increase with
their sufferings.

The prince Cid Hiaya was ever foremost in these sallies, but
grew daily more despairing of success. All the money in the
military chest was expended, and there was no longer wherewithal
to pay the hired troops. Still, the veteran Mohammed undertook to
provide for this emergency. Summoning the principal inhabitants,
he represented the necessity of some exertion and sacrifice on their
part to maintain the defence of the city. "The enemy," said he,
"dreads the approach of winter, and our perseverance drives him
to despair. A little longer, and he will leave you in quiet enjoyment
of your homes and families. But our troops must be paid to keep
them in good heart. Our money is exhausted and all our supplies
are cut off. It is impossible to continue our defence without your aid."

Upon this the citizens consulted together, and collected all their
vessels of gold and silver and brought them to Mohammed. "Take
these," said they, "and coin or sell or pledge them for money
wherewith to pay the troops." The women of Baza also were seized
with generous emulation. "Shall we deck ourselves with gorgeous
apparel," said they, "when our country is desolate and its defenders
in want of bread?" So they took their collars and bracelets and
anklets and other ornaments of gold, and all their jewels, and put
them in the hands of the veteran alcayde. "Take these spoils of our
vanity," said they, "and let them contribute to the defence of our
homes and families. If Baza be delivered, we need no jewels to
grace our rejoicing; and if Baza fall, of what avail are ornaments
to the captive?"

By these contributions was Mohammed enabled to pay the soldiery
and carry on the defence of the city with unabated spirit.

Tidings were speedily conveyed to King Ferdinand of this generous
devotion on the part of the people of Baza, and the hopes which the
Moorish commanders gave them that the Christian army would soon
abandon the siege in despair. "They shall have a convincing proof
of the fallacy of such hopes," said the politic monarch: so he wrote
forthwith to Queen Isabella praying her to come to the camp in
state, with all her train and retinue, and publicly to take up her
residence there for the winter. By this means the Moors would be
convinced of the settled determination of the sovereigns to persist
in the siege until the city should surrender, and he trusted they
would be brought to speedy capitulation.



Mohammed Ibn Hassan still encouraged his companions with hopes that
the royal army would soon relinquish the siege, when they heard one
day shouts of joy from the Christian camp and thundering salvos of
artillery. Word was brought at the same time, from the sentinels on
the watch-towers, that a Christian army was approaching down the
valley. Mohammed and his fellow-commanders ascended one of the
highest towers of the walls, and beheld in truth a numerous force in
shining array descending the hills, and heard the distant clangor of
the trumpet and the faint swell of triumphant music.

As the host drew nearer they descried a stately dame magnificently
attired, whom they soon discovered to be the queen. She was riding
on a mule the sumptuous trappings of which were resplendent with
gold and reached to the ground. On her right hand rode her daughter,
the princess Isabella, equally splendid in her array, and on her left
the venerable grand cardinal of Spain. A noble train of ladies and
cavaliers followed, together with pages and esquires, and a
numerous guard of hidalgos of high rank arrayed in superb armor.
When the veteran Mohammed beheld the queen thus arriving in state
to take up her residence in the camp, he shook his head mournfully,
and, turning to his captains, "Cavaliers," said he, "the fate of Baza
is decided."

The Moorish commanders remained gazing with a mingled feeling of
grief and admiration at this magnificent pageant, which foreboded
the fall of their city. Some of the troops would have sallied forth on
one of their desperate skirmishes to attack the royal guard, but the
prince Cid Hiaya forbade them; nor would he allow any artillery to
be discharged or any molestation or insult offered; for the character
of Isabella was venerated even by the Moors, and most of the
commanders possessed that high and chivalrous courtesy which
belongs to heroic spirits, for they were among the noblest and
bravest of the Moorish cavaliers.

The inhabitants of Baza eagerly sought every eminence that could
command a view of the plain, and every battlement and tower and
mosque was covered with turbaned heads gazing at the glorious
spectacle. They beheld King Ferdinand issue forth in royal state,
attended by the marques of Cadiz, the master of Santiago, the duke
of Alva, the admiral of Castile, and many other nobles of renown,
while the whole chivalry of the camp, sumptuously arrayed, followed
in his train, and the populace rent the air with acclamations at the
sight of the patriotic queen.

When the sovereigns had met and embraced, the two hosts mingled
together and entered the camp in martial pomp, and the eyes of the
infidel beholders were dazzled by the flash of armor, the splendor
of golden caparisons, the gorgeous display of silks, brocades, and
velvets, of tossing plumes and fluttering banners. There was at the
same time a triumphant sound of drums and trumpets, clarions and
sackbuts, mingled with the sweet melody of the dulcimer, which came
swelling in bursts of harmony that seemed to rise up to the heavens.*

*Cura de los Palacios, c. 92.

On the arrival of the queen (says the historian Hernando del Pulgar,
who was present at the time) it was marvellous to behold how all at
once the rigor and turbulence of war were softened and the storm of
passion sank into a calm. The sword was sheathed, the crossbow
no longer launched its deadly shafts, and the artillery, which had
hitherto kept up an incessant uproar, now ceased its thundering.
On both sides there was still a vigilant guard kept up; the sentinels
bristled the walls of Baza with their lances, and the guards patrolled
the Christian camp, but there was no sallying forth to skirmish nor
any wanton violence or carnage.*

*Many particulars of the scenes and occurrences at the siege of
Baza are also furnished in the letters of the learned Peter Martyr,
who was present and an admiring eye-witness.

Prince Cid Hiaya saw by the arrival of the queen that the Christians
were determined to continue the siege, and he knew that the city
would have to capitulate. He had been prodigal of the lives of his
soldiers as long as he thought a military good was to be gained
by the sacrifice; but he was sparing of their blood in a hopeless
cause, and weary of exasperating the enemy by an obstinate yet
hopeless defence.

At the request of the prince a parley was granted, and the master
commander of Leon, Don Gutierrez de Cardenas, was appointed to
confer with the veteran alcayde Mohammed. They met at an appointed
place, within view of both camp and city, attended by cavaliers of
either army. Their meeting was highly courteous, for they had learnt,
from rough encounters in the field, to admire each other's prowess.
The commander of Leon in an earnest speech pointed out the
hopelessness of any further defence, and warned Mohammed of the
ills which Malaga had incurred by its obstinacy. "I promise in the name
of my sovereigns," said he, "that if you surrender immediately the
inhabitants shall be treated as subjects and protected in property,
liberty, and religion. If you refuse, you, who are now renowned
as an able and judicious commander, will be chargeable with the
confiscations, captivities, and deaths which may be suffered by the
people of Baza."

The commander ceased, and Mohammed returned to the city to consult
with his companions. It was evident that all further resistance was
hopeless, but the Moorish commanders felt that a cloud might rest
upon their names should they, of their own discretion, surrender
so important a place without its having sustained an assault. Prince
Cid Hiaya requested permission, therefore, to send an envoy to
Guadix, with a letter to the old monarch, El Zagal, treating of the
surrender: the request was granted, a safe conduct assured to
the envoy, and Mohammed Ibn Hassan departed upon this
momentous mission.



The old warrior-king was seated in an inner chamber of the castle
of Guadix, much cast down in spirit and ruminating on his gloomy
fortunes, when an envoy from Baza was announced, and the veteran
alcayde Mohammed stood before him. El Zagal saw disastrous tidings
written in his countenance. "How fares it with Baza ," said he,
summoning up his spirits to the question. "Let this inform thee,"
replied Mohammed, and he delivered into his hands the letter from
the prince Cid Hiaya.

This letter spoke of the desperate situation of Baza, the
impossibility of holding out longer without assistance from El
Zagal, and the favorable terms held out by the Castilian sovereigns.
Had it been written by any other person, El Zagal might have
received it with distrust and indignation; but he confided in Cid
Hiaya as in a second self, and the words of his letter sank deep in
his heart. When he had finished reading it, he sighed deeply, and
remained for some time lost in thought, with his head drooping upon
his bosom. Recovering himself at length, he called together the
alfaquis and the old men of Guadix and solicited their advice. It
was sign of sore trouble of mind and dejection of heart when El
Zagal sought the advice of others, but his fierce courage was tamed,
for he saw the end of his power approaching. The alfaquis and the
old men did but increase the distraction of his mind by a variety of
counsel, none of which appeared of any avail, for unless Baza were
succored it was impossible that it should hold out; and every
attempt to succor it had proved ineffectual. El Zagal dismissed
his council in despair, and summoned the veteran Mohammed before
him. "God is great," exclaimed he; "there is but one God, and
Mahomet is his prophet! Return to my cousin, Cid Hiaya; tell him it
is out of my power to aid him; he must do as seems to him for the
best. The people of Baza have performed deeds worthy of immortal
fame; I cannot ask them to encounter further ills and perils in
maintaining a hopeless defence."

The reply of El Zagal determined the fate of the city. Cid Hiaya and
his fellow-commanders capitulated, and were granted the most
favorable terms. The cavaliers and soldiers who had come from other
parts to the defence of the place were permitted to depart with
their arms, horses, and effects. The inhabitants had their choice
either to depart with their property or dwell in the suburbs in the
enjoyment of their religion and laws, taking an oath of fealty to
the sovereigns and paying the same tribute they had paid to the
Moorish kings. The city and citadel were to be delivered up in six
days, within which period the inhabitants were to remove all their
effects; and in the mean time they were to place as hostages fifteen
Moorish youths, sons of the principal inhabitants, in the hands of the
commander of Leon. When Cid Hiaya and the alcayde Mohammed came
to deliver up the hostages, among whom were the sons of the latter,
they paid homage to the king and queen, who received them with the
utmost courtesy and kindness, and ordered magnificent presents to be
given to them, and likewise to the other Moorish cavaliers, consisting
of money, robes, horses, and other things of great value.

The prince Cid Hiaya was so captivated by the grace, the dignity,
and generosity of Isabella and the princely courtesy of Ferdinand that
he vowed never again to draw his sword against such magnanimous
sovereigns. The queen, charmed with his gallant bearing and his
animated professions of devotion, assured him that, having him on
her side, she already considered the war terminated which had
desolated the kingdom of Granada.

Mighty and irresistible are words of praise from the lips of
sovereigns. Cid Hiaya was entirely subdued by this fair speech from
the illustrious Isabella. His heart burned with a sudden flame of
loyalty toward the sovereigns. He begged to be enrolled amongst the
most devoted of their subjects, and in the fervor of his sudden zeal
engaged not merely to dedicate his sword to their service, but to
exert all his influence, which was great, in persuading his cousin,
Muley Abdallah el Zagal, to surrender the cities of Guadix and
Almeria and to give up all further hostilities. Nay, so powerful was
the effect produced upon his mind by his conversation with the
sovereigns that it extended even to his religion; for he became
immediately enlightened as to the heathenish abominations of the
vile sect of Mahomet, and struck with the truths of Christianity as
illustrated by such powerful monarchs. He consented, therefore, to
be baptized and to be gathered into the fold of the Church. The
pious Agapida indulges in a triumphant strain of exultation on
the sudden and surprising conversion of this princely infidel: he
considers it one of the greatest achievements of the Catholic
sovereigns, and indeed one of the marvellous occurrences of this
holy war. "But it is given to saints and pious monarchs," says he,
"to work miracles in the cause of the faith; and such did the most
Catholic Ferdinand in the conversion of the prince Cid Hiaya."

Some of the Arabian writers have sought to lessen the wonder of
this miracle by alluding to great revenues granted to the prince and
his heirs by the Castilian monarchs, together with a territory in
Marchena, with towns, lands, and vassals; but in this (says Agapida)
we only see a wise precaution of King Ferdinand to clinch and secure
the conversion of his proselyte. The policy of the Catholic monarch
was at all times equal to his piety. Instead also of vaunting of this
great conversion and making a public parade of the entry of the
prince into the Church, King Ferdinand ordered that the baptism
should be performed in private and kept a profound secret. He
feared that Cid Hiaya might otherwise be denounced as an
apostate and abhorred and abandoned by the Moors, and thus
his influence destroyed in bringing the war to a speedy termination.*

*Conde, tom. 3, cap. 40.

The veteran Mohammed Ibn Hassan was likewise won by the magnanimity
and munificence of the Castilian sovereigns, and entreated to be
received into their service; and his example was followed by many
other Moorish cavaliers, whose services were generously accepted
and magnificently rewarded.

Thus; after a siege of six months and twenty days, the city of Baza
surrendered on the 4th of December, 1489, the festival of the
glorious Santa Barbara, who is said in the Catholic calendar to
preside over thunder and lightning, fire and gunpowder, and all
kinds of combustious explosions. The king and queen made their
solemn and triumphant entry on the following day, and the public joy
was heightened by the sight of upward of five hundred Christian
captives, men, women, and children, delivered from the Moorish

The loss of the Christians in this siege amounted to twenty thousand
men, of whom seventeen thousand died of disease, and not a few of
mere cold--a kind of death (says the historian Mariana) peculiarly
uncomfortable; but (adds the venerable Jesuit) as these latter were
chiefly people of ignoble rank, baggage-carriers and such-like, the
loss was not of great importance.

The surrender of Baza was followed by that of Almunecar, Tavernas,
and most of the fortresses of the Alpuxarras mountains; the
inhabitants hoped by prompt and voluntary submission to secure
equally favorable terms with those granted to the captured city,
and the alcaydes to receive similar rewards to those lavished on
its commanders; nor were either of them disappointed. The
inhabitants were permitted to remain as mudexares in the quiet
enjoyment of their property and religion; and as to the alcaydes,
when they came to the camp to render up their charges they were
received by Ferdinand with distinguished favor, and rewarded with
presents of money in proportion to the importance of the places they
had commanded. Care was taken by the politic monarch, however,
not to wound their pride nor shock their delicacy; so these sums
were paid under color of arrears due to them for their services to
the former government. Ferdinand had conquered by dint of sword
in the earlier part of the war, but he found gold as potent as steel
in this campaign of Baza.

With several of these mercenary chieftains came one named Ali Aben
Fahar, a seasoned warrior who had held many important commands.
He was a Moor of a lofty, stern, and melancholy aspect, and stood
silent and apart while his companions surrendered their several
fortresses and retired laden with treasure. When it came to his
turn to speak, he addressed the sovereigns with the frankness
of a soldier, but with the tone of dejection and despair.

"I am a Moor," said he, "and of Moorish lineage, and am alcayde of
the fair towns and castles of Purchena and Paterna. These were
entrusted to me to defend, but those who should have stood by me
have lost all strength and courage and seek only for security. These
fortresses, therefore, most potent sovereigns, are yours whenever
you will send to take possession of them."

Large sums of gold were immediately ordered by Ferdinand to be
delivered to the alcayde as a recompense for so important a
surrender. The Moor, however, put back the gift with a firm and
dignified demeanor. "I came not," said he, "to sell what is not
mine, but to yield what fortune has made yours; and Your Majesties
may rest assured that had I been properly seconded death would
have been the price at which I would have sold my fortresses, and
not the gold you offer me."

The Castilian monarchs were struck with the lofty and loyal spirit
of the Moor, and desired to engage a man of such fidelity in their
service; but the proud Moslem could not be induced to serve the
enemies of his nation and his faith.

"Is there nothing, then," said Queen Isabella, "that we can do to
gratify thee, and to prove to thee our regard?"--"Yes," replied the
Moor; "I have left behind me, in the towns and valleys which I have
surrendered, many of my unhappy countrymen, with their wives and
children, who cannot tear themselves from their native abodes. Give
me your royal word that they shall be protected in the peaceable
enjoyment of their religion and their homes."--"We promise it," said
Isabella; "they shall dwell in peace and security. But for thyself--
what dost thou ask for thyself?"--"Nothing," replied Ali, "but
permission to pass unmolested with my horses and effects into Africa."

The Castilian monarchs would fain have forced upon him gold and
silver and superb horses richly caparisoned, not as rewards, but as
marks of personal esteem; but Ali Aben Fahar declined all presents
and distinctions, as if he thought it criminal to flourish individually
during a time of public distress, and disdained all prosperity that
seemed to grow out of the ruins of his country.

Having received a royal passport, he gathered together his horses
and servants, his armor and weapons, and all his warlike effects,
bade adieu to his weeping countrymen with a brow stamped with
anguish, but without shedding a tear, and, mounting his Barbary
steed, turned his back upon the delightful valleys of his conquered
country, departing on his lonely way to seek a soldier's fortune
amidst the burning sands of Africa.*

*Pulgar, part 3, cap. 124; Garibay, lib. 40, cap. 40; Cura de
los Palacios.



Evil tidings never fail by the way through lack of messengers: they
are wafted on the wings of the wind, and it is as if the very birds
of the air would bear them to the ear of the unfortunate. The old
king El Zagal buried himself in the recesses of his castle to hide
himself from the light of day, which no longer shone prosperously
upon him, but every hour brought missives thundering at the gate
with the tale of some new disaster. Fortress after fortress had laid
its keys at the feet of the Christian sovereigns: strip after strip
of warrior mountain and green fruitful valleys was torn from his
domains and added to the territories of the conquerors. Scarcely a
remnant remained to him, except a tract of the Alpuxarras and the
noble cities of Guadix and Almeria. No one any longer stood in awe
of the fierce old monarch; the terror of his frown had declined with
his power. He had arrived at that state of adversity when a man's
friends feel emboldened to tell him hard truths and to give him
unpalatable advice, and when his spirit is bowed down to listen
quietly if not meekly.

El Zagal was seated on his divan, his whole spirit absorbed in
rumination on the transitory nature of human glory, when his
kinsman and brother-in-law, the prince Cid Hiaya, was announced.
That illustrious convert to the true faith and the interests of the
conquerors of his country had hastened to Guadix with all the
fervor of a new proselyte, eager to prove his zeal in the service
of Heaven and the Castilian sovereigns by persuading the old
monarch to abjure his faith and surrender his possessions.

Cid Hiaya still bore the guise of a Moslem, for his conversion was
as yet a secret. The stern heart of El Zagal softened at beholding
the face of a kinsman in this hour of adversity. He folded his
cousin to his bosom, and gave thanks to Allah that amidst all his
troubles he had still a friend and counsellor on whom he might rely.

Cid Hiaya soon entered upon the real purpose of his mission. He
represented to El Zagal the desperate state of affairs and the
irretrievable decline of Moorish power in the kingdom of Granada.
"Fate," said he, "is against our arms; our ruin is written in the
heavens. Remember the prediction of the astrologers at the birth of
your nephew Boabdil. We hoped that their prediction was accomplished
by his capture at Lucena; but it is now evident that the stars
portended not a temporary and passing reverse of the kingdom, but
a final overthrow. The constant succession of disasters which have
attended our efforts show that the sceptre of Granada is doomed to
pass into the hands of the Christian monarchs. Such," concluded the
prince emphatically, and with a profound and pious reverence,--"such
is the almighty will of God."

El Zagal listened to these words in mute attention, without so much
as moving a muscle of his face or winking an eyelid. When the prince
had concluded he remained for a long time silent and pensive; at
length, heaving a profound sigh from the very bottom of his heart,
"Alahuma subahana hu!" exclaimed he--"the will of God be done!
Yes, my cousin, it is but too evident that such is the will of Allah; and
what he wills he fails not to accomplish. Had not he decreed the
fall of Granada, this arm and this scimetar would have maintained it."*

*Conde, tom. 3, c. 40.

"What then remains," said Cid Hiaya, "but to draw the most advantage
from the wreck of empire left to you? To persist in a war is to bring
complete desolation upon the land and ruin and death upon its
faithful inhabitants. Are you disposed to yield up your remaining
towns to your nephew El Chico, that they may augment his power
and derive protection from his alliance with the Christian sovereigns?"

The eye of El Zagal flashed fire at this suggestion. He grasped the
hilt of his scimetar and gnashed his teeth in fury. "Never," cried
he, "will I make terms with that recreant and slave. Sooner would I
see the banners of the Christian monarchs floating above my walls
than they should add to the possessions of the vassal Boabdil!"

Cid Hiaya immediately seized upon this idea, and urged El Zagal
to make a frank and entire surrender. "Trust," said he, "to the
magnanimity of the Castilian sovereigns; they will doubtless grant
you high and honorable terms. It is better to yield to them as
friends what they must infallibly and before long wrest from you
as enemies; for such, my cousin, is the almighty will of God."

''Alahuma subahana hu!" repeated El Zagal--"the will of God be
done!" So the old monarch bowed his haughty neck and agreed
to surrender his territories to the enemies of his faith, rather than
suffer them to augment the Moslem power under the sway of his

Cid Hiaya now returned to Baza, empowered by El Zagal to treat on
his behalf with the Christian sovereigns. The prince felt a species
of exultation as he expatiated on the rich relics of empire which
he was authorized to cede. There was a great part of that line of
mountains extending from the metropolis to the Mediterranean Sea,
with their series of beautiful green valleys like precious emeralds
set in a golden chain. Above all, there were Guadix and Almeria,
two of the most inestimable jewels in the crown of Granada.

In return for these possessions and for the claim of El Zagal to
the rest of the kingdom the sovereigns received him into their
friendship and alliance, and gave him in perpetual inheritance
the territory of Andarax and the valley of Alhaurin in the
Alpuxarras, with the fourth part of the salinas or salt-pits of
Malaha. He was to enjoy the title of king of Andarax, with two
thousand mudexares, or conquered Moors, for subjects, and
his revenues were to be made up to the sum of four millions of
maravedis. All these he was to hold as a vassal of the Castilian

These arrangements being made, Cid Hiaya returned with them to
Muley Abdallah, and it was concerted that the ceremony of surrender
and homage should take place at the city of Almeria.

On the 17th of December, King Ferdinand departed for that city.
Cid Hiaya and his principal officers, incorporated with a division
commanded by the count de Tendilla, marched in the van-guard.
The king was with the centre of the army, and the queen with the
rear-guard. In this martial state Ferdinand passed by several of the
newly-acquired towns, exulting in these trophies of his policy rather
than his valor. In traversing the mountainous region which extends
toward the Mediterranean the army suffered exceedingly from raging
vandavales, or south-west gales, accompanied by snow-storms.
Several of the soldiers and many horses and beasts perished with
the cold. One of the divisions under the marques of Cadiz found it
impossible to traverse in one day the frozen summits of Filabres,
and had to pass the night in those inclement regions. The marques
caused two immense fires to be kindled in the vicinity of his
encampment to guide and enlighten those lost and wandering
among the defiles, and to warm those who were benumbed and
almost frozen.

The king halted at Tavernas, to collect his scattered troops and give
them time to breathe after the hardships of the mountains. The
queen was travelling a day's march in the rear.

On the 21st of December the king arrived and encamped in the
vicinity of Almeria. Understanding that El Zagal was sallying forth
to pay him homage according to appointment, he mounted on
horseback and rode forth to receive him, attended by Don Alonso de
Cardenas, master of Santiago, on his right hand, and the marques of
Cadiz on his left, and despatched in the advance Don Gutierrez de
Cardenas, commander of Leon, and other cavaliers to meet and form
an honorable escort to the Moorish monarch. With this escort went
that curious eye-witness, Peter Martyr, from whom we have many of
these particulars.

El Zagal was accompanied by twelve cavaliers on horseback, among
whom was his cousin, the prince Cid Hiaya (who had no doubt joined
him from the Spanish camp), and the brave Reduan Vanegas. Peter
Martyr declares that the appearance of El Zagal touched him with
compassion, for, though a "lawless barbarian, he was a king and
had given signal proofs of heroism." The historian Palencia gives
us a particular description of his appearance. He was, says he, of
elevated stature and well proportioned, neither robust nor meagre;
the natural fairness of his countenance was increased by an extreme
paleness which gave it a melancholy expression. His aspect was
grave; his movements were quiet, noble, and dignified. He was
modestly attired in a garb of mourning--a sayo, or loose surcoat,
of dark cloth, a simple albornoz or Moorish mantle, and a turban
of dazzling whiteness.

On being met by the commander, Gutierrez de Cardenas, El Zagal
saluted him courteously, as well as the cavaliers who accompanied
him, and rode on, conversing with him through the medium of
interpreters. Beholding King Ferdinand and his splendid train at
a distance, he alighted and advanced toward him on foot. The
punctilious Ferdinand, supposing this voluntary act of humiliation
had been imposed by Don Gutierrez, told that cavalier, with some
asperity, that it was an act of great discourtesy to cause a
vanquished king to alight before another king who was victorious.
At the same time he made him signs to remount his horse and place
himself by his side. El Zagal, persisting in his act of homage,
offered to kiss the king's hand, but, being prevented by that
monarch, he kissed his own hand, as the Moorish cavaliers were
accustomed to do in presence of their sovereigns, and accompanied
the gesture by a few words expressive of obedience and fealty.
Ferdinand replied in a gracious and amiable manner, and, causing
him to remount and place himself on his left hand, they proceeded,
followed by the whole train, to the royal pavilion pitched in the
most conspicuous part of the camp.

There a banquet was served up to the two kings according to the
rigorous style and etiquette of the Spanish court. They were seated
in two chairs of state under the same canopy, El Zagal on the left
hand of Ferdinand. The cavaliers and courtiers admitted to the royal
pavilion remained standing. The count de Tendilla served the viands
to King Ferdinand in golden dishes, and the count Cifuentes gave him
to drink out of cups of the same precious metal; Don Alvaro Bazan
and Garcilasso de la Vega performed the same offices, in similar
style and with vessels of equal richness, to the Moorish monarch.

The banquet ended, El Zagal took courteous leave of Ferdinand, and
sallied from the pavilion attended by the cavaliers who had been
present. Each of these now made himself known to the old monarch
by his name, title, or dignity, and each received an affable gesture in
reply. They would all have escorted the old king back to the gates
of Almeria, but he insisted on their remaining in the camp, and with
difficulty could be persuaded upon to accept the honorable attendance
of the marques of Villena, the commander, Don Gutierrez de Cardenas,
the count de Cifuentes, and Don Luis Puerto Carrero.

On the following morning (22d December) the troops were all drawn
out in splendid array in front of the camp, awaiting the signal of the
formal surrender of the city. This was given at mid-day, when
the gates were thrown open and a corps marched in, led by Don
Gutierrez de Cardenas, who had been appointed governor. In a little
while the gleam of Christian warriors was seen on the walls and
bulwarks; the blessed cross was planted in place of the standard of
Mahomet, and the banner of the sovereigns floated triumphantly above
the Alcazar. At the same time a numerous deputation of alfaquis and
the noblest and wealthiest inhabitants of the place sallied forth to
pay homage to King Ferdinand.

On the 23d of December the king himself entered the city with grand
military and religious pomp, and repaired to the mosque of the castle,
which had previously been purified and sanctified and converted into
a Christian temple: here grand mass was performed in solemn
celebration of this great triumph of the faith.

These ceremonies were scarcely completed when joyful notice was
given of the approach of the queen Isabella with the rear-guard of
the army. She came accompanied by the princess Isabella, and
attended by her ghostly counsellor the cardinal Mendoza and her
confessor Talavera. The king sallied forth to meet her, accompanied
by El Zagal, and it is said the reception of the latter by the queen
was characterized by the deference and considerate delicacy which
belonged to her magnanimous nature.

The surrender of Almeria was followed by that of Almunecar,
Salobrena, and other fortified places of the coast and the interior,
and detachments of Christian troops took quiet possession of the
Alpuxarras mountains and their secluded and fertile valleys.*

*Cura de los Palacios, cap. 93, 94; Pulgar, Cron., part 3, cap. 124;
Garibay, Comp. Hist., lib. 18, cap. 37, etc. etc.



Who can tell when to rejoice in this fluctuating world? Every wave
of prosperity has its reacting surge, and we are often overwhelmed
by the very billow on which we thought to be wafted into the haven
of our hopes. When Yusef Aben Comixa, the vizier of Boabdil,
surnamed El Chico, entered the royal saloon of the Alhambra and
announced the capitulation of El Zagal, the heart of the youthful
monarch leaped for joy. His great wish was accomplished; his uncle
was defeated and dethroned, and he reigned without a rival, sole
monarch of Granada. At length he was about to enjoy the fruits of
his humiliation and vassalage. He beheld his throne fortified by the
friendship and alliance of the Castilian monarchs; there could be no
question, therefore, of its stability. "Allah Akbar! God is great!"
exclaimed he. "Rejoice with me, O Yusef; the stars have ceased
their persecution. Henceforth let no man call me El Zogoybi."

In the first moment of his exultation Boabdil would have ordered
public rejoicings, but the shrewd Yusef shook his head. "The tempest
has ceased from one point of the heavens," said he, "but it may
begin to rage from another. A troubled sea is beneath us, and we
are surrounded by rocks and quicksands: let my lord the king defer
rejoicings until all has settled into a calm." El Chico, however,
could not remain tranquil in this day of exultation: he ordered his
steed to be sumptuously caparisoned, and, issuing out of the gate of
the Alhambra, descended, with glittering retinue, along the avenue
of trees and fountains, into the city to receive the acclamations of
the populace. As he entered the great square of the Vivarrambla he
beheld crowds of people in violent agitation, but as he approached
what was his surprise to hear groans and murmurs and bursts of
execration! The tidings had spread through Granada that Muley
Abdallah el Zagal had been driven to capitulate, and that all his
territories had fallen into the hands of the Christians. No one
had inquired into the particulars, but all Granada had been thrown
into a ferment of grief and indignation. In the heat of the moment
old Muley was extolled to the skies as a patriot prince who had
fought to the last for the salvation of his country--as a mirror of
monarchs, scorning to compromise the dignity of his crown by any
act of vassalage. Boabdil, on the contrary, had looked on exultingly
at the hopeless yet heroic struggle of his uncle; he had rejoiced in
the defeat of the faithful and the triumph of unbelievers; he had
aided in the dismemberment and downfall of the empire. When they
beheld him riding forth in gorgeous state on what they considered a
day of humiliation for all true Moslems, they could not contain their
rage, and amidst the clamors that met his ears Boabdil more than
once heard his name coupled with the epithets of traitor and renegado.

Shocked and discomfited, the youthful monarch returned in confusion
to the Alhambra, shut himself up within its innermost courts, and
remained a kind of voluntary prisoner until the first burst of popular
feeling should subside. He trusted that it would soon pass away--
that the people would be too sensible of the sweets of peace to
repine at the price at which it was obtained; at any rate, he trusted
to the strong friendship of the Christian sovereigns to secure him
even against the factions of his subjects.

The first missives from the politic Ferdinand showed Boabdil the
value of his friendship. The Christian monarch reminded him of a
treaty which he had made when captured in the city of Loxa. By
this he had engaged that in case the Catholic sovereigns should
capture the cities of Guadix, Baza, and Almeria he would surrender
Granada into their hands within a limited time, and accept in
exchange certain Moorish towns to be held by him as their vassal.
Guadix, Baza, and Almeria had now fallen; Ferdinand called upon
him, therefore, to fulfil his engagement.

If the unfortunate Boabdil had possessed the will, he had not the
power to comply with this demand. He was shut up in the Alhambra,
while a tempest of popular fury raged without. Granada was thronged
by refugees from the captured towns, many of them disbanded
soldiers, and others broken-down citizens rendered fierce and
desperate by ruin. All railed at him as the real cause of their
misfortunes. How was he to venture forth in such a storm? Above
all, how was he to talk to such men of surrender? In his reply to
Ferdinand he represented the difficulties of his situation, and that,
so far from having control over his subjects, his very life was in
danger from their turbulence. He entreated the king, therefore, to
rest satisfied for the present with his recent conquests, promising
that should he be able to regain full empire over his capital and
its inhabitants, it would be but to rule over them as vassal to the
Castilian Crown.

Ferdinand was not to be satisfied with such a reply. The time was
come to bring his game of policy to a close, and to consummate
his conquest by seating himself on the throne of the Alhambra.
Professing to consider Boabdil as a faithless ally who had broken
his plighted word, he discarded him from his friendship, and
addressed a second letter, not to him, but to the commanders and
council of the city. He demanded a complete surrender of the place,
with all the arms in the possession either of the citizens or of others
who had recently taken refuge within its walls. If the inhabitants
should comply with this summons, he promised them the indulgent
terms granted to Baza, Guadix, and Almeria; if they should refuse,
he threatened them with the fate of Malaga.*

*Cura de los Palacios, cap. 96.

This message produced the greatest commotion in the city. The
inhabitants of the Alcaiceria, that busy hive of traffic, and all others
who had tasted the sweets of gainful commerce during the late
cessation of hostilities, were for securing their golden advantages
by timely submission: others, who had wives and children, looked
on them with tenderness and solicitude, and dreaded by resistance
to bring upon them the horrors of slavery.

On the other hand, Granada was crowded with men from all parts,
ruined by the war, exasperated by their sufferings, and eager only
for revenge--with others who had been reared amidst hostilities, who
had lived by the sword, and whom a return of peace would leave
without home or hope. Besides these, there were others no less fiery
and warlike in disposition, but animated by a loftier spirit. These
were valiant and haughty cavaliers of the old chivalrous lineages,
who had inherited a deadly hatred to the Christians from a long line
of warrior ancestors, and to whom the idea was worse than death
that Granada--illustrious Granada, for ages the seat of Moorish
grandeur and delight--should become the abode of unbelievers.

Among these cavaliers the most eminent was Muza Abul Gazan. He
was of royal lineage, of a proud and generous nature, and a form
combining manly strength and beauty. None could excel him in the
management of the horse and dextrous use of all kinds of weapons:
his gracefulness and skill in the tourney were the theme of praise
among the Moorish dames, and his prowess in the field had made him
the terror of the enemy. He had long repined at the timid policy of
Boabdil, and endeavored to counteract its enervating effects and
keep alive the martial spirit of Granada. For this reason he had
promoted jousts and tiltings with the reed, and all those other
public games which bear the semblance of war. He endeavored
also to inculcate into his companions-in-arms those high chivalrous
sentiments which lead to valiant and magnanimous deeds, but which
are apt to decline with the independence of a nation. The generous
efforts of Muza had been in a great measure successful: he was the
idol of the youthful cavaliers; they regarded him as a mirror of
chivalry and endeavored to imitate his lofty and heroic virtues.

When Muza heard the demand of Ferdinand that they should deliver
up their arms, his eye flashed fire. "Does the Christian king think
that we are old men," said he, "and that staffs will suffice us? or
that we are women, and can be contented with distaffs? Let him know
that a Moor is born to the spear and scimetar--to career the steed,
bend the bow, and launch the javelin: deprive him of these, and you
deprive him of his nature. If the Christian king desires our arms,
let him come and win them, but let him win them dearly. For my part,
sweeter were a grave beneath the walls of Granada, on the spot I had
died to defend, than the richest couch within her palaces earned by
submission to the unbeliever."

The words of Muza were received with enthusiastic shouts by the
warlike part of the populace. Granada once more awoke, as a warrior
shaking off a disgraceful lethargy. The commanders and council
partook of the public excitement, and despatched a reply to the
Christian sovereigns, declaring that they would suffer death rather
than surrender their city.



When King Ferdinand received the defiance of the Moors, he made
preparations for bitter hostilities. The winter season did not admit
of an immediate campaign; he contented himself, therefore, with
throwing strong garrisons into all his towns and fortresses in the
neighborhood of Granada, and gave the command of all the frontier
of Jaen to Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, count of Tendilla, who had shown
such consummate vigilance and address in maintaining the dangerous
post of Alhama. This renowned veteran established his head-quarters
in the mountain-city of Alcala la Real, within eight leagues of the
city of Granada and commanding the most important passes of that
rugged frontier.

In the mean time, Granada resounded with the stir of war. The
chivalry of the nation had again control of its councils, and the
populace, having once more resumed their weapons, were anxious to
wipe out the disgrace of their late passive submission by signal and
daring exploits.

Muza Abul Gazan was the soul of action. He commanded the cavalry,
which he had disciplined with uncommon skill; he was surrounded by
the noblest youths of Granada, who had caught his own generous
and martial fire and panted for the field, while the common soldiers,
devoted to his person, were ready to follow him in the most
desperate enterprises. He did not allow their courage to cool for
want of action. The gates of Granada once more poured forth legions
of light scouring cavalry, which skirred the country up to the very
gates of the Christian fortresses, sweeping off flocks and herds.
The name of Muza became formidable throughout the frontier;
he had many encounters with the enemy in the rough passes of
the mountains, in which the superior lightness and dexterity of his
cavalry gave him the advantage. The sight of his glistening legion
returning across the Vega with long cavalgadas of booty was hailed
by the Moors as a revival of their ancient triumphs; but when they
beheld Christian banners borne into their gates as trophies, the
exultation of the light-minded populace was beyond all bounds.

The winter passed away, the spring advanced, yet Ferdinand delayed
to take the field. He knew the city of Granada to be too strong and
populous to be taken by assault, and too full of provisions to be
speedily reduced by siege. "We must have patience and perseverance,"
said the politic monarch; "by ravaging the country this year we
shall produce a scarcity the next, and then the city may be invested
with effect."

An interval of peace, aided by the quick vegetation of a prolific
soil and happy climate, had restored the Vega to all its luxuriance
and beauty; the green pastures on the borders of the Xenil were
covered with flocks and herds; the blooming orchards gave promise
of abundant fruit, and the open plain was waving with ripening corn.
The time was at hand to put in the sickle and reap the golden harvest,
when suddenly a torrent of war came sweeping down from the
mountains, and Ferdinand, with an army of five thousand horse and
twenty thousand foot, appeared before the walls of Granada. He
had left the queen and princess at the fortress of Moclin, and came
attended by the duke of Medina Sidonia, the marques of Cadiz, the
marques de Villena, the counts of Urena and Cabra, Don Alonso de
Aguilar, and other renowned cavaliers. On this occasion he for the
first time led his son, Prince Juan, into the field, and bestowed
upon him the dignity of knighthood. As if to stimulate him to grand
achievements, the ceremony took place on the banks of the grand
canal almost beneath the embattled walls of that warlike city, the
object of such daring enterprises, and in the midst of that famous
Vega, the field of so many chivalrous exploits. Above them shone
resplendent the red towers of the Alhambra, rising from amidst
delicious groves, with the standard of Mahomet waving defiance
to the Christian arms.

The duke of Medina Sidonia and Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques of
Cadiz, were sponsors, and all the chivalry of the camp was assembled
on the occasion. The prince, after he was knighted, bestowed the
same honor on several youthful cavaliers of high rank, just entering,
like himself, on the career of arms.

Ferdinand did not loiter in carrying his desolating plans into
execution. He detached parties in every direction to lay waste the
country: villages were sacked, burnt, and destroyed, and the lovely
Vega was once more laid waste with fire and sword. The ravage was
carried so close to Granada that the city was wrapped in the smoke
of its gardens and hamlets. The dismal cloud rolled up the hill and
hung about the towers of the Alhambra, where the unfortunate
Boabdil still remained shut up from the indignation of his subjects.
The hapless monarch smote his breast as he looked down from
his mountain-palace on the desolation effected by his late ally.
He dared not even show himself in arms among the populace, for
they cursed him as the cause of the miseries once more brought to
their doors.

The Moors, however, did not suffer the Christians to carry on their
ravages unmolested, as in former years. Muza incited them to
incessant sallies. He divided his cavalry into small squadrons, each
led by a daring commander. They were taught to hover round the
Christian camp; to harass it from various and opposite quarters,
cutting off convoys and straggling detachments; to waylay the
army in its ravaging expeditions, lurking among rocks and passes
of the mountains or in hollows and thickets of the plain, and
practising a thousand stratagems and surprises.

The Christian army had one day spread itself out rather unguardedly
in its foraging about the Vega. As the troops commanded by the
marques of Villena approached the skirts of the mountains, they
beheld a number of Moorish peasants hastily driving a herd of cattle
into a narrow glen. The soldiers, eager for booty, pressed in
pursuit of them. Scarcely had they entered the glen when shouts
arose from every side, and they were furiously attacked by an
ambuscade of horse and foot. Some of the Christians took to flight;
others stood their ground and fought valiantly. The Moors had the
vantage-ground; some showered darts and arrows from the cliffs
of the rocks, others fought hand to hand on the plain, while their
cavalry carried havoc and confusion into the midst of the Christian

The marques de Villena, with his brother, Don Alonso de Pacheco,
at the first onset of the Moors spurred into the hottest of the fight.
They had scarce entered when Don Alonso was struck lifeless from
his horse before the eyes of his brother. Estevan Luzon, a gallant
captain, fell fighting bravely by the side of the marques, who
remained, with his chamberlain Soler and a handful of knights,
surrounded by the enemy. Several cavaliers from other parts of the
army hastened to their assistance, when King Ferdinand, seeing that
the Moors had the vantage-ground and that the Christians were
suffering severely, gave signal for retreat. The marques obeyed
slowly and reluctantly, for his heart was full of grief and rage at
the death of his brother. As he was retiring he beheld his faithful
chamberlain Soler defending himself valiantly against six Moors.
The marques turned and rushed to his rescue; he killed two of the
enemy with his own hand and put the rest to flight. One of the
Moors, however, in retreating, rose in his stirrups, and, hurling
his lance at the marques, wounded him in the right arm and
crippled him for life.*

*In consequence of this wound the marques was ever after obliged
to write his signature with his left hand, though capable of managing
his lance with his right. The queen one day demanded of him why
he had adventured his life for that of a domestic? "Does not Your
Majesty think," replied he, "that I ought to risk one life for him who
would have adventured three for me had he possessed them?" The
queen was charmed with the magnanimity of the reply, and often
quoted the marques as setting an heroic example to the chivalry of
the age.--Mariana, lib. 25, c. 15.

Such was one of the many ambuscadoes concerted by Muza; nor did
he hesitate at times to present a bold front to the Christian forces
and defy them in the open field. Ferdinand soon perceived, however,
that the Moors seldom provoked a battle without having the advantage
of the ground, and that, though the Christians generally appeared to
have the victory, they suffered the greatest loss; for retreating was
a part of the Moorish system by which they would draw their pursuers
into confusion, and then turn upon them with a more violent and fatal
attack. He commanded his captains, therefore, to decline all challenges
to skirmish, and pursue a secure system of destruction, ravaging the
country and doing all possible injury to the enemy with slight risk to



About two leagues from Granada, on an eminence commanding an
extensive view of the Vega, stood the strong Moorish castle of Roma.
Hither the neighboring peasantry drove their flocks and herds and
hurried with their most precious effects on the irruption of a
Christian force, and any foraging or skirmishing party from Granada,
on being intercepted in their return, threw themselves into Roma,
manned its embattled towers, and set the enemy at defiance. The
garrison were accustomed to have parties of Moors clattering up to
their gates so hotly pursued that there was barely time to throw
open the portal, receive them within, and shut out their pursuers;
while the Christian cavaliers had many a time reined up their
panting steeds at the very entrance of the barbican, and retired,
cursing the strong walls of Roma that robbed them of their prey.

The late ravages of Ferdinand and the continual skirmishings in the
Vega had roused the vigilance of the castle. One morning early, as
the sentinels kept watch upon the battlements, they beheld a cloud
of dust advancing rapidly from a distance: turbans and Moorish
weapons soon caught their eyes, and as the whole approached they
descried a drove of cattle urged on in great haste and convoyed by
one hundred and fifty Moors, who led with them two Christian
captives in chains.

When the cavalgada arrived near the castle, a Moorish cavalier
of noble and commanding mien and splendid attire rode up to the
foot of the tower and entreated admittance. He stated that they
were returning with rich booty from a foray into the lands of the
Christians, but that the enemy was on their traces, and they feared
to be overtaken before they could reach Granada. The sentinels
descended in all haste and flung open the gates. The long cavalgada
defiled into the courts of the castle, which were soon filled with
bleating and lowing flocks and herds, with neighing and stamping
steeds, and with fierce-looking Moors from the mountains. The
cavalier who had asked admission was the chief of the party; he
was somewhat advanced in life, of a lofty and gallant bearing, and
had with him a son, a young man of great spirit and fire. Close by
them followed the two Christian captives, with looks cast down
and disconsolate.

The soldiers of the garrison had roused themselves from their sleep,
and were busily occupied attending to the cattle which crowded the
courts, while the foraging party distributed themselves about the
castle to seek refreshment or repose. Suddenly a shout arose that
was echoed from courtyard and hall and battlement. The garrison,
astonished and bewildered, would have rushed to their arms, but
found themselves, almost before they could make resistance,
completely in the power of an enemy.

The pretended foraging party consisted of mudexares, or Moors
tributary to the Christians, and the commanders were the prince Cid
Hiaya and his son Alnayar. They had hastened from the mountains with
this small force to aid the Catholic sovereigns during the summer's
campaign, and had concerted to surprise this important castle and
present it to King Ferdinand as a gage of their faith and the first
fruits of their devotion.

The politic monarch overwhelmed his new converts and allies with
favors and distinctions in return for this important acquisition,
but he took care to despatch a strong force of veteran and genuine
Christian troops to man the fortress.

As to the Moors who had composed the garrison, Cid Hiaya
remembered that they were his countrymen, and could not prevail
upon himself to deliver them into Christian bondage. He set them
at liberty, and permitted them to repair to Granada--"a proof," says
the pious Agapida, "that his conversion was not entirely consummated,
but that there were still some lingerings of the infidel in his heart."
His lenity was far from procuring him indulgence in the opinions of
his countrymen; on the contrary, the inhabitants of Granada, when
they learnt from the liberated garrison the stratagem by which Roma
had been captured, cursed Cid Hiaya for a traitor, and the garrison
joined in the malediction.*

*Pulgar, Cron., part 3, cap. 130; Cura de los Palacios, cap. 90.

But the indignation of the people of Granada was destined to be
roused to tenfold violence. The old warrior Muley Abdallah el Zagal
had retired to his little mountain-territory, and for a short time
endeavored to console himself with his petty title of king of
Andarax. He soon grew impatient, however, of the quiet and inaction
of his mimic kingdom. His fierce spirit was exasperated by being
shut up within such narrow limits, and his hatred rose to downright
fury against Boabdil, whom he considered as the cause of his
downfall. When tidings were brought him that King Ferdinand was
laying waste the Vega, he took a sudden resolution. Assembling the
whole disposable force of his kingdom, which amounted but to two
hundred men, he descended from the Alpuxarras and sought the
Christian camp, content to serve as a vassal the enemy of his faith
and his nation, so that he might see Granada wrested from the sway
of his nephew.

In his blind passion the old wrathful monarch injured his cause and
strengthened the cause of his adversary. The Moors of Granada
had been clamorous in his praise, extolling him as a victim to his
patriotism, and had refused to believe all reports of his treaty
with the Christians; but when they beheld from the walls of the
city his banner mingling with the banners of the unbelievers and
arrayed against his late people and the capital he had commanded,
they broke forth into revilings and heaped curses upon his name.

Their next emotion, of course, was in favor of Boabdil. They
gathered under the walls of the Alhambra and hailed him as their
only hope, as the sole dependence of the country. Boabdil could
scarcely believe his senses when he heard his name mingled with
praises and greeted with acclamations. Encouraged by this unexpected
gleam of popularity, he ventured forth from his retreat and was
received with rapture. All his past errors were attributed to the
hardships of his fortune and the usurpation of his tyrant uncle, and
whatever breath the populace could spare from uttering curses on
El Zagal was expended in shouts in honor of El Chico.



For thirty days had the Vega been overrun by the Christian forces,
and that vast plain, late so luxuriant and beautiful, was one wide
scene of desolation. The destroying army, having accomplished
its task, passed over the bridge of Pinos and wound up into the
mountains on the way to Cordova, bearing away the spoils of towns
and villages and driving off flocks and herds in long dusty columns.
The sound of the last Christian trumpet died away along the side
of the mountain of Elvira, and not a hostile squadron was seen
glistening on the mournful fields of the Vega.

The eyes of Boabdil el Chico were at length opened to the real
policy of King Ferdinand, and he saw that he had no longer anything
to depend upon but the valor of his arm. No time was to be lost in
hastening to counteract the effect of the late Christian ravage and

in opening the channel for distant supplies to Granada.

Scarcely had the retiring squadrons of Ferdinand disappeared among
the mountains when Boabdil buckled on his armor, sallied forth from
the Alhambra, and prepared to take the field. When the populace
beheld him actually in arms against his late ally, both parties
thronged with zeal to his standard. The hardy inhabitants also of
the Sierra Nevada, or chain of snow-capped mountains which rise
above Granada, descended from their heights and hastened into
the city gates to proffer their devotion to their youthful king. The
great square of the Vivarrambla shone with legions of cavalry decked
with the colors and devices of the most ancient Moorish families, and
marshalled forth by the patriot Muza to follow the king to battle.

It was on the 15th of June that Boabdil once more issued forth from
the gates of Granada on martial enterprise. A few leagues from the
city, within full view of it, and at the entrance of the Alpuxarras
mountains, stood the powerful castle of Alhendin. It was built on an
eminence rising from the midst of a small town, and commanding a
great part of the Vega and the main road to the rich valleys of the
Alpuxarras. The castle was commanded by a valiant Christian cavalier
named Mendo de Quexada, and garrisoned by two hundred and fifty
men, all seasoned and experienced warriors. It was a continual thorn
in the side of Granada: the laborers of the Vega were swept off from
their fields by its hardy soldiers; convoys were cut off in the passes
of the mountains; and, as the garrison commanded a full view of the
gates of the city, no band of merchants could venture forth on their
needful journeys without being swooped up by the war-hawks
of Alhendin.

It was against this important fortress that Boabdil first led his
troops, and for six days and nights it was closely besieged. The
alcayde and his veteran garrison defended themselves valiantly, but
were exhausted by fatigue and constant watchfulness; for the Moors,
being continually relieved by fresh troops from Granada, kept up an
unremitted and vigorous attack. Twice the barbican was forced, and
twice the assailants were driven forth headlong with excessive loss.
The garrison, however, was diminished in number by the killed and
wounded; there were no longer soldiers sufficient to man the walls
and gateway; and the brave alcayde was compelled to retire with his
surviving force to the keep of the castle, in which he continued to
make a desperate resistance.

The Moors now approached the foot of the tower under shelter of
wooden screens covered with wet hides to ward off missiles and
combustibles. They went to work vigorously to undermine the tower,
placing props of wood under the foundations, to be afterward set on
fire, so as to give the besiegers time to escape before the edifice
should fall. Some of the Moors plied their crossbows and arquebuses
to defend the workmen and drive the Christians from the walls, while
the latter showered down stones and darts and melted pitch and
flaming combustibles on the miners.

The brave Mendo de Quexada had cast many an anxious eye across
the Vega in hopes of seeing some Christian force hastening to his
assistance. Not a gleam of spear or helm was to be descried, for no
one had dreamt of this sudden irruption of the Moors. The alcayde
beheld his bravest men dead or wounded around him, while the
remainder were sinking with watchfulness and fatigue. In defiance of
all opposition, the Moors had accomplished their mine; the fire was
brought before the walls that was to be applied to the stanchions in
case the garrison persisted in defence. In a little while the tower
would crumble beneath him, and be rent and hurled a ruin to the
plain. At the very last moment the brave alcayde made the signal
of surrender. He marched forth with the remnant of his veteran
garrison, who were all made prisoners. Boabdil immediately ordered
the walls of the fortress to be razed and fire to be applied to the
stanchions, that the place might never again become a stronghold
to the Christians and a scourge to Granada. The alcayde and his
fellow-captives were led in dejected convoy across the Vega, when
they heard a tremendous crash behind them. They turned to look
upon their late fortress, but beheld nothing but a heap of tumbling
ruins and a vast column of smoke and dust where once had stood
the lofty tower of Alhendin.



Boabdil el Chico followed up his success by capturing the two
fortresses of Marchena and Albolodny, belonging to Cid Hiaya; he
also sent his alfaquis in every direction to proclaim a holy war and
to summon all true Moslems of town or castle, mountain or valley,
to saddle steed and buckle on armor and hasten to the standard of
the faith. The tidings spread far and wide that Boabdil el Chico was
once more in the field and was victorious. The Moors of various
places, dazzled by this gleam of success, hastened to throw off
their sworn allegiance to the Castilian Crown and to elevate the
standard of Boabdil, and the youthful monarch flattered himself that
the whole kingdom was on the point of returning to its allegiance.

The fiery cavaliers of Granada, eager to renew those forays into
the Christian lands in which they had formerly delighted, concerted
an irruption to the north, into the territory of Jaen, to harass the
country about Quezada. They had heard of a rich convoy of
merchants and wealthy travellers on the way to the city of Baza,
and anticipated a glorious conclusion to their foray in capturing
this convoy.

Assembling a number of horsemen, lightly armed and fleetly mounted,
and one hundred foot-soldiers, they issued forth by night from
Granada, made their way in silence through the defiles of the
mountains, crossed the frontier without opposition, and suddenly
appeared, as if fallen from the clouds, in the very heart of the
Christian country.

The mountainous frontier which separates Granada from Jaen was
at this time under the command of the count de Tendilla, the same
veteran who had distinguished himself by his vigilance and sagacity
when commanding the fortress of Alhama. He held his head-quarters
at the city of Alcala la Real, in its impregnable fortress perched high
among the mountains, about six leagues from Granada, and dominating
all the frontier. From this cloud-capt hold he kept an eagle eye
upon Granada, and had his scouts and spies in all directions, so
that a crow could not fly over the border without his knowledge.
His fortress was a place of refuge for the Christian captives who
escaped by night from the Moorish dungeons of Granada. Often,
however, they missed their way in the defiles of the mountains, and,
wandering about bewildered, either repaired by mistake to some
Moorish town or were discovered and retaken at daylight by the
enemy. To prevent these accidents, the count had a tower built at
his own expense on the top of one of the heights near Alcala, which
commanded a view of the Vega and the surrounding country. Here
he kept a light blazing throughout the night as a beacon for all
Christian fugitives to guide them to a place of safety.

The count was aroused one night from his repose by shouts and cries
which came up from the town and approached the castle walls. "To
arms! to arms! the Moor is over the border!" was the cry. A Christian
soldier, pale and emaciated, who still bore traces of Moorish chains,
was brought before the count. He had been taken as guide by the
Moorish cavaliers who had sallied from Granada, but had escaped
from them among the mountains, and after much wandering had
found his way to Alcala by the signal-fire.

Notwithstanding the bustle and agitation of the moment, the count
de Tendilla listened calmly and attentively to the account of the
fugitive, and questioned him minutely as to the time of departure
of the Moors and the rapidity and direction of their march. He saw
that it was too late to prevent their incursion and ravage, but he
determined to await them and give them a warm reception on
their return. His soldiers were always on the alert and ready to
take the field at a moment's warning. Choosing one hundred and
fifty lances, hardy and valiant men, well disciplined and well
seasoned--as indeed were all his troops--he issued forth quietly
before break of day, and, descending through the defiles of the
mountains, stationed his little force in ambush in a deep barranca,
or dry channel of a torrent near Barzina, but three leagues from
Granada, on the road by which the marauders would have to
return. In the mean time he sent out scouts to post themselves
upon different heights and look out for the approach of the enemy.

All day they remained concealed in the ravine and for a great part
of the following night; not a Moor, however, was to be seen,
excepting now and then a peasant returning from his labor or a
solitary muleteer hastening toward Granada. The cavaliers of the
count began to grow restless and impatient, fearing that the enemy
might have taken some other route or might have received
intelligence of their ambuscade. They urged the count to abandon the
enterprise and return to Alcala. "We are here," said they, "almost
at the gates of the Moorish capital, our movements may have been
descried, and before we are aware Granada may pour forth its legions
of swift cavalry and crush us with an overwhelming force." The
count, however, persisted in remaining until his scouts should come
in. About two hours before daybreak there were signal-fires on
certain Moorish watch-towers of the mountains. While they were
regarding these with anxiety the scouts came hurrying into the
ravine. "The Moors are approaching," said they; "we have
reconnoitred them near at hand. They are between one and two
hundred strong, but encumbered with many prisoners and much
booty." The Christian cavaliers laid their ears to the ground and
heard the distant tramp of horses and the tread of foot-soldiers.
They mounted their horses, braced their shields, couched their
lances, and drew near to the entrance of the ravine where it
opened upon the road.

The Moors had succeeded in waylaying and surprising the Christian
convoy on its way to Baza. They had captured a great number of
prisoners, male and female, with great store of gold and jewels and
sumpter mules laden with rich merchandise. With these they had made
a forced march over the dangerous parts of the mountains, but now,
finding themselves so near to Granada, fancied themselves in perfect
security. They loitered along the road, therefore, irregularly and
slowly, some singing, others laughing and exulting at having eluded
the boasted vigilance of the count de Tendilla, while ever and anon
was heard the plaint of some female captive bewailing the jeopardy
of her honor or the heavy sighing of the merchant at beholding his
property in the grasp of ruthless spoilers.

The count waited until some of the escort had passed the ravine;
then, giving the signal for assault, his cavaliers set up great
shouts and cries and charged into the centre of the foe. The
obscurity of the place and the hour added to the terrors of the
surprise. The Moors were thrown into confusion; some rallied, fought
desperately, and fell covered with wounds. Thirty-six were killed
and fifty-five were made prisoners; the rest under cover of the
darkness made their escape to the rocks and defiles of the mountains.

The good count unbound the prisoners, gladdening the hearts of the
merchants by restoring to them their merchandise. To the female
captives also he restored the jewels of which they had been
despoiled, excepting such as had been lost beyond recovery.
Forty-five saddle horses of the choice Barbary breed remained as
captured spoils of the Moors, together with costly armor and booty
of various kinds. Having collected everything in haste and arranged
his cavalgada, the count urged his way with all speed for Alcala la
Real, lest he should be pursued and overtaken by the Moors of
Granada. As he wound up the steep ascent to his mountain-city the
inhabitants poured forth to meet him with shouts of joy. His triumph
was doubly enhanced by being received at the gates of the city by
his wife, the daughter of the marques of Villena, a lady of
distinguished merit, whom he had not seen for two years, during
which he had been separated from his home by the arduous duties
of these iron wars.

We have yet another act to relate of this good count de Tendilla,
who was in truth a mirror of knightly virtue. One day a Christian
soldier, just escaped from captivity in Granada, brought word to the
count that an illustrious damsel named Fatima, niece of the alcayde
Aben Comixa, was to leave the city on a certain day, escorted by a
numerous party of relatives and friends of distinguished rank, on a
journey to Almunecar, there to embark for the African coast to
celebrate her nuptials with the alcayde of Tetuan. This was too
brilliant a prize to be neglected. The count accordingly sallied
forth with a light company of cavalry, and, descending the defiles
of the mountains, stationed himself behind the rocky sierra of
Elvira, not far from the eventful bridge of Pinos, within a few short
miles of Granada. Hence he detached Alonso de Cardenas Ulloa,
with fifty light horsemen, to post himself in ambush by the road the
bridal party had to travel. After a time the latter came in sight,
proving less numerous than had been expected, for the damsel was
escorted merely by four armed domestics and accompanied by a few
relatives and two female attendants. The whole party was surrounded
and captured almost without resistance, and carried off to the count
at the bridge of Pinos. The good count conveyed his beautiful
captive to his stronghold at Alcala, where he treated her and her
companions with all the delicacy and respect due to their rank and
to his own character as a courteous cavalier.

The tidings of the capture of his niece gave poignant affliction to the
vizier Aben Comixa. His royal master, Boabdil, of whom he was the
prime favorite and confidential adviser, sympathized in his distress.
With his own hand he wrote a letter to the count, offering in exchange
for the fair Fatima one hundred Christian captives to be chosen from
those detained in Granada. This royal letter was sent by Don Francisco
de Zuniga, an Aragonese cavalier, whom Aben Comixa held in captivity,
and who was set at liberty for the purpose.

On receiving the letter of Boabdil the count de Tendilla at once gave
freedom to the Moorish maid, making her a magnificent present
of jewels, and sending her and her companions under honorable
escort to the very gates of Granada.

Boabdil, exceeding his promises, immediately set free twenty captive
priests, one hundred and thirty Castilian and Aragonian cavaliers,
and a number of peasant-women. His favorite and vizier, Aben
Comixa, was so rejoiced at the liberation of his niece, and so struck
with the chivalrous conduct of her captor, that he maintained from
that day a constant and amicable correspondence with the count
de Tendilla, and became in the hands of the latter one of the most
efficacious agents in bringing the war of Granada to a triumphant

*This interesting anecdote of the count de Tendilla, which is a key
to the subsequent conduct of the vizier Aben Comixa, and had a
singular influence on the fortunes of Boabdil and his kingdom, is
originally given in a manuscript history of the counts of Tendilla,
written about the middle of the sixteenth century by Gabriel
Rodriguez de Ardila, a Granadine clergyman. It has been brought
to light recently by the researches of Alcantara for his History of
Granada (vol. 4, cap. 18).



King Boabdil found that his diminished territory was too closely
dominated by Christian fortresses like Alcala la Real, and too
strictly watched by vigilant alcaydes like the count of Tendilla,
to be able to maintain itself by internal resources. His foraging
expeditions were liable to be intercepted and defeated, while the
ravage of the Vega had swept off everything on which the city
depended for future sustenance. He felt the want of a seaport
through which, as formerly, he might keep open a communication
with Africa and obtain reinforcements and supplies from beyond
the sea. All the ports and harbors were in the hands of the
Christians, and Granada and its remnant of dependent territory
were completely landlocked.

In this emergency the attention of Boabdil was called by
circumstances to the seaport of Salobrena. This redoubtable town
has already been mentioned in this chronicle as a place deemed
impregnable by the Moors, insomuch that their kings were accustomed
in time of peril to keep their treasures in its citadel. It was situated
on a high rocky hill dividing one of those rich little vegas or plains
which lie open to the Mediterranean, but run like deep green bays
into the stern bosoms of the mountains. The vega was covered
with beautiful vegetation, with rice and cotton, with groves of
oranges, citrons, figs, and mulberries, and with gardens enclosed
by hedges of reeds, of aloes, and the Indian fig. Running streams of
cool water from the springs and snows of the Sierra Nevada kept this
delightful valley continually fresh and verdant, while it was almost
locked up by mountain-barriers and lofty promontories stretching far
into the sea.

Through the centre of this rich vega the rock of Salobrena reared
its rugged back, nearly dividing the plain and advancing to the
margin of the sea, with just a strip of sandy beach at its foot
laved by the blue waves of the Mediterranean.

The town covered the ridge and sides of the rocky hill, and was
fortified by strong walls and towers, while on the highest and most
precipitate part stood the citadel, a huge castle that seemed to
form a part of the living rock, the massive ruins of which at the
present day attract the gaze of the traveller as he winds his way
far below along the road through the vega.

This important fortress had been entrusted to the command of Don
Francisco Ramirez de Madrid, captain-general of the artillery and
the most scientific of all the Spanish leaders. That experienced
veteran, however, was with the king at Cordova, having left a
valiant cavalier as alcayde of the place.

Boabdil had full information of the state of the garrison and the
absence of its commander. Putting himself at the head of a powerful
force, therefore, he departed from Granada, and made a rapid march
through the mountains, hoping to seize upon Salobrena before King
Ferdinand could come to its assistance.

The inhabitants of Salobrena were mudexares, or Moors who had
sworn allegiance to the Christians. Still, when they heard the sound
of the Moorish drums and trumpets, and beheld the squadrons of their
countrymen advancing across the vega, their hearts yearned toward
the standard of their nation and their faith. A tumult arose in the
place; the populace shouted the name of Boabdil el Chico and,
throwing open the gates, admitted him within the walls.


Back to Full Books