Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada
Washington Irving

Part 8 out of 9

The Christian garrison was too few in number to contend for the
possession of the town: they retreated to the citadel and shut
themselves within its massive walls, which were considered
impregnable. Here they maintained a desperate defence, hoping to
hold out until succor should arrive from the neighboring fortresses.

The tidings that Salobrena was invested by the Moorish king spread
along the sea-coast and filled the Christians with alarm. Don
Francisco Enriquez, uncle of the king, commanded the city of Velez
Malaga, about twelve leagues distant, but separated by ranges of
those vast rocky mountains which are piled along the Mediterranean
and tower in steep promontories and precipices above its waves.

Don Francisco summoned the alcaydes of his district to hasten with
him to the relief of this important fortress. A number of cavaliers
and their retainers answered to his call, among whom was Hernan
Perez del Pulgar, surnamed "El de las hazanas" (He of the exploits)--
the same who had signalized himself in a foray by elevating a
handkerchief on a lance for a banner and leading on his disheartened
comrades to victory. As soon as Don Francisco beheld a little band
collected round him, he set out with all speed for Salobrena. The
march was rugged and severe, climbing and descending immense
mountains, and sometimes winding along the edge of giddy
precipices, with the surges of the sea raging far below. When Don
Francisco arrived with his followers at the lofty promontory that
stretches along one side of the little vega of Salobrena, he looked
down with sorrow and anxiety upon a Moorish army of great force
encamped at the foot of the fortress, while Moorish banners on
various parts of the walls proved that the town was already in
possession of the infidels. A solitary Christian standard alone
floated on the top of the castle-keep, showing that the brave
garrison were hemmed up in their rock-built citadel. They were,
in fact, reduced to great extremity through want of water and

Don Francisco found it impossible, with his small force, to make any
impression on the camp of the Moors or to get to the relief of the
castle. He stationed his little band upon a rocky height near the
sea, where they were safe from the assaults of the enemy. The
sight of his friendly banner waving in their neighborhood cheered
the heart of the garrison, and gave them assurance of speedy succor
from the king, while the hostile menaces of Don Francisco served to
check the attacks of the Moors upon the citadel.

In the mean time, Hernan Perez del Pulgar, who always burned to
distinguish himself by bold and striking exploits, had discovered in
the course of his prowlings a postern gate of the castle opening
upon the steep part of the rocky hill looking toward the mountains.
The thought occurred to him that by a bold dash at a favorable
moment this postern might be attained and succor thrown into the
castle. He pointed the place out to his comrades. "Who will follow
my banner," said he, "and make a dash for yonder postern?" A
bold proposition in time of warfare never wants for bold spirits to
accept it. Seventy resolute men stepped forward to second him.
Pulgar chose the early daybreak for his enterprise, when the Moors,
just aroused from sleep, were changing guard and making the various
arrangements of the morning. Favored by these movements and the
drowsiness of the hour, Pulgar approached the Moorish line silently
and steadily, most of his followers armed with crossbows and
espingardas, or muskets. Then, suddenly making an onset, they
broke through a weak part of the camp before the alarm had spread
through the army, and succeeded in fighting their way up to the gate,
which was eagerly thrown open to receive them.

The garrison, roused to new spirit by this unlooked-for reinforcement,
was enabled to make a more vigorous resistance. The Moors, however,
who knew there was a great scarcity of water in the castle, exulted
in the idea that this additional number of warriors would soon exhaust
the cisterns and compel a surrender. Pulgar, hearing of this hope,
caused a bucket of water to be lowered from the battlements and
threw a silver cup in bravado to the Moors.

The garrison, in truth, suffered intensely from thirst, while, to
tantalize them in their sufferings, they beheld limpid streams
winding in abundance through the green plain below them. They
began to fear that all succor would arrive too late, when one day
they beheld a little squadron of vessels far at sea, but standing
toward the shore. There was some doubt at first whether it might
not be a hostile armament from Africa, but as it approached they
descried, to their great joy, the banner of Castile.

It was a reinforcement, brought in all haste by the governor of the
fortress, Don Francisco Ramirez. The squadron anchored at a steep
rocky island which rises from the very margin of the smooth sandy
beach directly in front of the rock of Salobrena and stretches out
into the sea. On this island Ramirez landed his men, and was as
strongly posted as if in a fortress. His force was too scanty to
attempt a battle, but he assisted to harass and distract the
besiegers. Whenever King Boabdil made an attack upon the fortress
his camp was assailed on one side by the troops of Ramirez, who
landed from their island, and on another by those of Don Francisco
Enriquez, who swept down from their rock, while Hernan del Pulgar
kept up a brave defence from every tower and battlement of the

The attention of the Moorish king was diverted also, for a time, by
an ineffectual attempt to relieve the little port of Adra, which had
recently declared in his favor, but which had been recaptured for
the Christians by Cid Hiaya and his son Alnayar. Thus, the unlucky
Boabdil, bewildered on every hand, lost all the advantage that he
had gained by his rapid march from Granada. While he was yet
besieging the obstinate citadel, tidings were brought him that King
Ferdinand was in full march with a powerful host to its assistance.
There was no time for further delay: he made a furious attack with
all his forces upon the castle, but was again repulsed by Pulgar and
his coadjutors, when, abandoning the siege in despair, he retreated
with his army, lest King Ferdinand should get between him and his
capital. On his way back to Granada, however, he in some sort
consoled himself for his late disappointment by overrunning a part
of the territories and possessions lately assigned to his uncle El
Zagal and to Cid Hiaya. He defeated their alcaydes, destroyed
several of their fortresses, burnt their villages, and, leaving the
country behind him reeking and smoking with his vengeance,
returned with considerable booty to repose himself within the
walls of the Alhambra.*

*Pulgar, Cron., p. 3, c .131; Cura de los Palacios, cap. 97.



Scarcely had Boabdil[11]ensconced himself in his capital when King
Ferdinand, at the head of seven thousand horse and twenty thousand
foot, again appeared in the Vega. He had set out in all haste from
Cordova to the relief of Salobrena, but hearing on his march that
the siege was raised, he turned to make a second ravage round the
walls of devoted Granada. His present forage lasted fifteen days, in
the course of which almost everything that had escaped his former
desolating visit was destroyed, and scarce a green thing or a living
animal was left on the face of the land. The Moors sallied frequently
and fought desperately in defence of their fields, but the work of
destruction was accomplished, and Granada, once the queen of
gardens, was left surrounded by a desert.

Ferdinand next hastened to crush a conspiracy in the cities of
Guadix, Baza, and Almeria. These recently conquered places had
entered into secret correspondence with Boabdil, inviting him to
march to their gates, promising to rise upon the Christian
garrisons, seize upon the citadels, and surrender them into his
power. The marques of Villena had received notice of the conspiracy,
and suddenly thrown himself with a large force into Guadix. Under
pretence of a review of the inhabitants he made them sally forth
into the fields before the city. When the whole Moorish population
capable of bearing arms was thus without the walls, he ordered the
gates to be closed. He then permitted them to enter two by two and
three by three, and take forth their wives, children, and effects. The
houseless Moors were fain to make themselves temporary hovels in
the gardens and orchards about the city; they were clamorous in
their complaints at being thus excluded from their homes, but were
told they must wait with patience until the charges against them
could be investigated and the pleasure of the king be known.*

*Zurita, lib.--, c. 85; Cura de los Palacios, c. 97.

When Ferdinand arrived at Guadix, he found the unhappy Moors in
their cabins among the orchards. They complained bitterly of the
deception practised upon them, and implored permission to return
into the city and live peaceably in their dwellings, as had been
promised them in their articles of capitulation.

King Ferdinand listened graciously to their complaints. "My friends,"
said he in reply, "I have been informed that there has been a
conspiracy among you to kill my alcayde and garrison and to
take part with my enemy, the king of Granada. I shall make a
thorough investigation of this conspiracy. Those among you who
shall be proved innocent shall be restored to their dwellings, but
the guilty shall incur the penalty of their offences. As I wish,
however, to proceed with mercy as well as justice, I now give you
your choice--either to depart at once without further question,
going wherever you please, and taking with you your families and
effects under an assurance of safety, or to deliver up those who
are guilty, not one of whom, I give you my royal word, shall
escape punishment."

When the people of Guadix heard these words they communed among
themselves; and, as most of them (says the worthy Agapida) were
either culpable or feared to be considered so, they accepted the
alternative and departed sorrowfully, they and their wives and their
little ones. "Thus," in the words of that excellent and contemporary
historian Andres Bernaldez, commonly called the curate of Los
Palacios,--"thus did the king deliver Guadix from the hands of the
enemies of our holy faith after seven hundred and seventy years
that it had been in their possession, ever since the time of Roderick
the Goth; and this was one of the mysteries of our Lord, who would
not consent that the city should remain longer in the power of the
Moors"--a pious and sage remark which is quoted with peculiar
approbation by the worthy Agapida.

King Ferdinand offered similar alternatives to the Moors of Baza,
Almeria, and other cities accused of participation in this conspiracy,
who generally preferred to abandon their homes rather than incur
the risk of an investigation. Most of them relinquished Spain as a
country where they could no longer live in security and independence,
and departed with their families for Africa; such as remained were
suffered to live in villages and hamlets and other unwalled places.*

*Garibay, lib. 13, cap. 39; Pulgar, part 3, cap. 132.

While Ferdinand was thus occupied at Guadix, dispensing justice
and mercy and receiving cities in exchange, the old monarch, Muley
Abdallah, surnamed El Zagal, appeared before him. He was haggard
with care and almost crazed with passion. He had found his little
territory of Andarax and his two thousand subjects as difficult to
govern as had been the distracted kingdom of Granada. The charm
which had bound the Moors to him was broken when he appeared
in arms under the banner of Ferdinand. He had returned from his
inglorious campaign with his petty army of two hundred men, followed
by the execrations of the people of Granada and the secret repining of
those he had led into the field. No sooner had his subjects heard of
the successes of Boabdil el Chico than they had seized their arms,
assembled tumultuously, declared for the young monarch, and
threatened the life of El Zagal.* The unfortunate old king had with
difficulty evaded their fury; and this last lesson seemed entirely
to have cured him of his passion for sovereignty. He now entreated
Ferdinand to purchase the towns and castles and other possessions
which had been granted to him, offering them at a low rate, and
begging safe passage for himself and his followers to Africa. King
Ferdinand graciously complied with his wishes. He purchased of him
three-and-twenty towns and villages in the valleys of Andarax and
Alhaurin, for which he gave him five millions of maravedis. El Zagal
relinquished his right to one-half of the salinas or salt-pits of Malaha
in favor of his brother-in-law, Cid Hiaya. Having thus disposed of
his petty empire and possessions, he packed up all his treasure, of
which he had a great amount, and, followed by many Moorish families,
passed over to Africa.**

*Cura de los Palacios, cap. 97.

**Conde, part 4, cap. 41.

And here let us cast an eye beyond the present period of our
chronicle, and trace the remaining career of El Zagal. His short and
turbulent reign and disastrous end would afford a wholesome lesson
to unprincipled ambition, were not all ambition of the kind fated to
be blind to precept and example. When he arrived in Africa, instead
of meeting with kindness and sympathy, he was seized and thrown into
prison by the caliph of Fez, Benimerin, as though he had been his
vassal. He was accused of being the cause of the dissensions and
downfall of the kingdom of Granada, and, the accusation being proved
to the satisfaction of the king of Fez, he condemned the unhappy El
Zagal to perpetual darkness. A basin of glowing copper was passed
before his eyes, which effectually destroyed his sight. His wealth,
which had probably been the secret cause of these cruel measures,
was confiscated and seized upon by his oppressor, and El Zagal was
thrust forth, blind, helpless, and destitute, upon the world. In
this wretched condition the late Moorish monarch groped his way
through the regions of Tingitania until he reached the city of Velez
de la Gomera. The emir of Velez had formerly been his ally, and
felt some movement of compassion at his present altered and abject
state. He gave him food and raiment and suffered him to remain
unmolested in his dominions. Death, which so often hurries off the
prosperous and happy from the midst of untasted pleasures, spares,
on the other hand, the miserable to drain the last drop of his cup
of bitterness. El Zagal dragged out a wretched existence of many
years in the city of Velez. He wandered about blind and disconsolate,
an object of mingled scorn and pity, and bearing above his raiment
a parchment on which was written in Arabic, "This is the unfortunate
king of Andalusia."*

*Marmol, De Rebelione Maur., lib. 1, cap. 16; Padraza, Hist.
Granad., part 3, c. 4; Suarez, Hist. Obisp. de Guadix y Baza,
cap. 10.



How is thy strength departed, O Granada! how is thy beauty withered
and despoiled, O city of groves and fountains! The commerce that
once thronged thy streets is at an end; the merchant no longer
hastens to thy gates with the luxuries of foreign lands. The cities
which once paid thee tribute are wrested from thy sway; the chivalry
which filled thy Vivarrambla with sumptuous pageantry have fallen
in many battles. The Alhambra still rears its ruddy towers from the
midst of groves, but melancholy reigns in its marble halls, and the
monarch looks down from his lofty balconies upon a naked waste
where once extended the blooming glories of the Vega!

Such is the lament of the Moorish writers over the lamentable state
of Granada, now a mere phantom of former greatness. The two ravages
of the Vega, following so closely upon each other, had swept off all
the produce of the year, and the husbandman had no longer the heart
to till the field, seeing the ripening harvest only brought the spoiler to
his door.

During the winter season Ferdinand made diligent preparations for
the campaign that was to decide the fate of Granada. As this war
was waged purely for the promotion of the Christian faith, he thought
it meet that its enemies should bear the expenses. He levied,
therefore, a general contribution upon the Jews throughout his
kingdom by synagogues and districts, and obliged them to render
in the proceeds at the city of Seville.*

*Garibay, lib. 18, c. 39.

On the 11th of April, Ferdinand and Isabella departed for the
Moorish frontier, with the solemn determination to lay close siege
to Granada and never quit its walls until they had planted the
standard of the faith on the towers of the Alhambra. Many of the
nobles of the kingdom, particularly those from parts remote from
the scene of action, wearied by the toils of war and foreseeing
that this would be a tedious siege, requiring patience and vigilance
rather than hardy deeds of arms, contented themselves with sending
their vassals, while they stayed at home to attend to their domains.
Many cities furnished soldiers at their cost, and the king took the
field with an army of forty thousand infantry and ten thousand
horse. The principal captains who followed him in this campaign
were Roderigo Ponce de Leon, the marques of Cadiz, the master of
Santiago, the marques of Villena, the counts of Tendilla, Cifuentes,
Cabra, and Urena, and Don Alonso de Aguilar.

Queen Isabella, accompanied by her son the prince Juan and the
princesses Juana, Maria, and Cathalina, her daughters, proceeded
to Alcala la Real, the mountain-fortress and stronghold of the count
de Tendilla. Here she remained to forward supplies to the army,
and to be ready to repair to the camp whenever her presence might
be required.

The army of Ferdinand poured into the Vega by various defiles of the
mountains, and on the 23d of April the royal tent was pitched at a
village called Los Ojos de Huescar, about a league and a half from
Granada. At the approach of this formidable force the harassed
inhabitants turned pale, and even many of the warriors trembled,
for they felt that the last desperate struggle was at hand.

Boabdil el Chico assembled his council in the Alhambra, from the
windows of which they could behold the Christian squadrons
glistening through clouds of dust as they poured along the Vega.
The utmost confusion and consternation reigned in the council. Many
of the members, terrified with the horrors impending over their
families, advised Boabdil to throw himself upon the generosity of
the Christian monarch: even several of the bravest suggested
the possibility of obtaining honorable terms.

The wazir of the city, Abul Casim Abdel Melic was called upon to
report the state of the public means for sustenance and defence.
There were sufficient provisions, he said, for a few months' supply,
independent of what might exist in the possession of merchants
and other rich inhabitants. "But of what avail," said he, "is a supply
for a few months against the sieges of the Castilian monarch, which
are interminable?"

He produced also the lists of men capable of bearing arms. "The
number," said he, "is great, but what can be expected from mere
citizen soldiers? They vaunt and menace in time of safety; none are
so arrogant when the enemy is at a distance; but when the din of
war thunders at the gates they hide themselves in terror."

When Muza heard these words he rose with generous warmth.
"What reason have we," said he, "to despair? The blood of those
illustrious Moors, the conquerors of Spain, still flows in our veins.
Let us be true to ourselves, and fortune will again be with us.
We have a veteran force, both horse and foot, the flower of our
chivalry, seasoned in war and scarred in a thousand battles. As to
the multitude of our citizens, spoken of so slightly, why should we
doubt their valor? There are twenty thousand young men, in the fire
of youth, whom I will engage that in the defence of their homes they
will rival the most valiant veterans. Do we want provisions? Our
horses are fleet and our horsemen daring in the foray. Let them
scour and scourge the country of those apostate Moslems who have
surrendered to the Christians. Let them make inroads into the lands
of our enemies. We shall soon see them returning with cavalgadas
to our gates, and to a soldier there is no morsel so sweet as that
wrested with hard fighting from the foe."

Boabdil, though he wanted firm and durable courage, was readily
excited to sudden emotions of bravery. He caught a glow of
resolution from the noble ardor of Muza. "Do what is needful," said
he to his commanders; "into your hands I confide the common safety.
You are the protectors of the kingdom, and, with the aid of Allah,
will revenge the insults of our religion, the deaths of our friends
and relations, and the sorrows and sufferings heaped upon our


To every one was now assigned his separate duty. The wazir had
charge of the arms and provisions and the enrolling of the people.
Muza was to command the cavalry, to defend the gates, and to take
the lead in all sallies and skirmishings. Naim Reduan and Muhammed
Aben Zayde were his adjutants. Abdel Kerim Zegri and the other
captains were to guard the walls, and the alcaydes of the Alcazaba
and of the Red Towers had command of the fortresses.

Nothing now was heard but the din of arms and the bustle of
preparation. The Moorish spirit, quick to catch fire, was immediately
in a flame, and the populace in the excitement of the moment set
at naught the power of the Christians. Muza was in all parts of the
city, infusing his own generous zeal into the bosoms of the soldiery.
The young cavaliers rallied round him as their model; the veteran
warriors regarded him with a soldier's admiration; the vulgar throng
followed him with shouts; and the helpless part of the inhabitants,
the old men and the women, hailed him with blessings as their

On the first appearance of the Christian army the principal gates of
the city had been closed and secured with bars and bolts and heavy
chains: Muza now ordered them to be thrown open. "To me and my
cavaliers," said he, "is entrusted the defence of the gates; our
bodies shall be their barriers." He stationed at each gate a strong
guard chosen from his bravest men. His horsemen were always
completely armed and ready to mount at a moment's warning:
their steeds stood saddled and caparisoned in the stables, with
lance and buckler beside them. On the least approach of the enemy
a squadron of horse gathered within the gate, ready to launch forth
like the bolt from the thunder-cloud. Muza made no empty bravado
nor haughty threat; he was more terrible in deeds than in words, and
executed daring exploits beyond even the vaunt of the vainglorious.
Such was the present champion of the Moors. Had they possessed
many such warriors, or had Muza risen to power at an earlier period
of the war, the fate of Granada might have been deferred, and the
Moor for a long time have maintained his throne within the walls of
the Alhambra.



Though Granada was shorn of its glories and nearly cut off from all
external aid, still its mighty castles and massive bulwarks seemed
to set all attack at defiance. Being the last retreat of Moorish power,
it had assembled within its walls the remnants of the armies which
had contended, step by step, with the invaders in their gradual
conquest of the land. All that remained of high-born and high-bred
chivalry was here; all that was loyal and patriotic was roused to
activity by the common danger; and Granada, so long lulled into
inaction by vain hopes of security, now assumed a formidable
aspect in the hour of its despair.

Ferdinand saw that any attempt to subdue the city by main force
would be perilous and bloody. Cautious in his policy, and fond of
conquests gained by art rather than valor, he resorted to the plan
so successful with Baza, and determined to reduce the place by
famine. For this purpose his armies penetrated into the very heart
of the Alpuxarras, and ravaged the valleys and sacked and burnt
the towns upon which the city depended for its supplies. Scouting
parties also ranged the mountains behind Granada and captured every
casual convoy of provisions. The Moors became more daring as their
situation became more hopeless. Never had Ferdinand experienced
such vigorous sallies and assaults. Muza at the head of his cavalry
harassed the borders of the camp, and even penetrated into the
interior, making sudden spoil and ravage, and leaving his course
to be traced by the slain and wounded. To protect his camp from
these assaults, Ferdinand fortified it with deep trenches and strong
bulwarks. It was of a quadrangular form, divided into streets like a
city, the troops being quartered in tents and in booths constructed
of bushes and branches of trees. When it was completed Queen
Isabella came in state, with all her court and the prince and
princesses, to be present at the siege. This was intended, as on
former occasions, to reduce the besieged to despair by showing the
determination of the sovereigns to reside in the camp until the city
should surrender. Immediately after her arrival the queen rode forth
to survey the camp and its environs: wherever she went she was
attended by a splendid retinue, and all the commanders vied with
each other in the pomp and ceremony with which they received her.
Nothing was heard from morning until night but shouts and
acclamations and bursts of martial music; so that it appeared to
the Moors as if a continual festival and triumph reigned in the
Christian camp.

The arrival of the queen, however and the menaced obstinacy of
the siege, had no effect in damping the fire of the Moorish chivalry.
Muza inspired the youthful warriors with the most devoted heroism.
"We have nothing left to fight for," said he, "but the ground we
stand on; when this is lost we cease to have a country and a name."

Finding the Christian king forbore to make an attack, Muza incited
his cavaliers to challenge the youthful chivalry of the Christian
army to single combat or partial skirmishes. Scarce a day passed
without gallant conflicts of the kind in sight of the city and the
camp. The combatants rivalled each other in the splendor of their
armor and array, as well as in the prowess of their deeds. Their
contests were more like the stately ceremonials of tilts and
tournaments than the rude conflicts of the field. Ferdinand soon
perceived that they animated the fiery Moors with fresh zeal and
courage, while they cost the lives of many of his bravest cavaliers:
he again, therefore, forbade the acceptance of any individual
challenges, and ordered that all partial encounters should be
avoided. The cool and stern policy of the Catholic sovereign bore
hard upon the generous spirits of either army, but roused the
indignation of the Moors when they found that they were to be
subdued in this inglorious manner: "Of what avail," said they, "are
chivalry and heroic valor? The crafty monarch of the Christians
has no magnanimity in warfare; he seeks to subdue us through
the weakness of our bodies, but shuns to encounter the courage
of our souls."



When the Moorish knights beheld that all courteous challenges were
unavailing, they sought various means to provoke the Christian
warriors to the field. Sometimes a body of them, fleetly mounted,
would gallop up to the skirts of the camp and try who should hurl
his lance farthest within the barriers, having his name inscribed
upon it or a label affixed containing some taunting defiance. These
bravadoes caused great irritation; still, the Spanish warriors were
restrained by the prohibition of the king.

Among the Moorish cavaliers was one named Tarfe, renowned for
strength and daring spirit, but whose courage partook of fierce
audacity rather than chivalric heroism. In one of these sallies,
when skirting the Christian camp, this arrogant Moor outstripped his
companions, overleaped the barriers, and, galloping close to the
royal quarters, launched his lance so far within that it remained
quivering in the earth close by the pavilions of the sovereigns. The
royal guards rushed forth in pursuit, but the Moorish horsemen were
already beyond the camp and scouring in a cloud of dust for the
city. Upon wresting the lance from the earth a label was found upon
it importing that it was intended for the queen.

Nothing could equal the indignation of the Christian warriors at the
insolence of the bravado and the discourteous insult offered to the
queen. Hernan Perez del Pulgar, surnamed "He of the exploits," was
present, and resolved not to be outbraved by this daring infidel.
"Who will stand by me," said he, "in an enterprise of desperate
peril?" The Christian cavaliers well knew the harebrained valor of
Hernan, yet not one hesitated to step forward. He chose fifteen
companions, all of powerful arm and dauntless heart.

His project was to penetrate Granada in the dead of the night by a
secret pass made known to him by a Moorish renegade of the city,
whom he had christened Pedro Pulgar, and who was to act as
guide. They were to set fire to the Alcaiceria and other principal
edifices, and then effect their retreat as best they might. At the
hour appointed the adventurous troops set forth provided with
combustibles. The renegade led them silently to a drain or channel
of the river Darro, up which they proceeded cautiously, single file,
until they halted under a bridge near the royal gate. Here
dismounting, Pulgar stationed six of his companions to remain silent
and motionless and keep guard, while, followed by the rest and still
guided by the renegade, he continued up the drain or channel of the
Darro, which passes under a part of the city, and was thus enabled
to make his way undiscovered into the streets. All was dark and
silent. At the command of Pulgar the renegade led him to the
principal mosque. Here the cavalier, pious as brave, threw himself
on his knees, and, drawing forth a parchment scroll on which was
inscribed in large letters "AVE MARIA," nailed it to the door of the
mosque, thus converting the heathen edifice into a Christian chapel
and dedicating it to the Blessed Virgin. This done, he hastened to
the Alcaiceria to set it in a blaze. The combustibles were all placed,
but Tristan de Montemayor, who had charge of the firebrand, had
carelessly left it at the door of the mosque. It was too late to
return there. Pulgar was endeavoring to strike fire with flint and
steel into the ravelled end of a cord when he was startled by the
approach of the Moorish guards going the rounds. His hand was on his
sword in an instant. Seconded by his brave companions, he assailed
the astonished Moors and put them to flight. In a little while the whole
city resounded with alarms, soldiers were hurrying through the streets
in every direction; but Pulgar, guided by the renegade, made good
his retreat by the channel of the Darro to his companions at the
bridge, and all, mounting their horses, spurred back to the camp.
The Moors were at a loss to imagine the meaning of this wild and
apparently fruitless assault, but great was their exasperation on
the following day when the trophy of hardihood and prowess, the
"AVE MARIA," was discovered thus elevated in bravado in the very
centre of the city. The mosque thus boldly sanctified by Hernan del
Pulgar was actually consecrated into a cathedral after the capture
of Granada.*

*The account here given of the exploit of Hernan del Pulgar differs
from that given in the first edition, and is conformable to the
record of the fact in a manuscript called "The House of Salar,"
existing in the library of Salazar and cited by Alcantara in his
History of Granada.

In commemoration of this daring feat of Pulgar, the emperor Charles
V. in after years conferred on that cavalier and on his descendants,
the marqueses of Salar, the privilege of sitting in the choir during
high mass, and assigned as the place of sepulture of Pulgar himself
the identical spot where he kneeled to affix the sacred scroll; and
his tomb is still held in great veneration. This Hernan Perez del
Pulgar was a man of letters, as well as art, and inscribed to
Charles V. a summary of the achievements of Gonsalvo of Cordova,
surnamed the Great Captain, who had been one of his comrades-
in-arms. He is often confounded with Hernando del Pulgar,
historian and secretary to Queen Isabella. (See note to Pulgar's
Chron. of the Catholic Sovereigns, part 3, c. iii., edit. Valencia, 1780.)



The royal encampment lay so distant from Granada that the general
aspect of the city only could be seen as it rose gracefully from the
Vega, covering the sides of the hills with palaces and towers. Queen
Isabella had expressed an earnest desire to behold nearer at hand a
city whose beauty was so renowned throughout the world; and the
marques of Cadiz, with his accustomed courtesy, prepared a great
military escort and guard to protect her and the ladies of the court
while they enjoyed this perilous gratification.

On the morning of June the 18th a magnificent and powerful train
issued from the Christian camp. The advanced guard was composed
of legions of cavalry, heavily armed, looking like moving masses of
polished steel. Then came the king and queen, with the prince and
princess and the ladies of the court, surrounded by the royal body-
guard, sumptuously arrayed, composed of the sons of the most
illustrious houses of Spain; after these was the rear-guard, a
powerful force of horse and foot, for the flower of the army sallied
forth that day. The Moors gazed with fearful admiration at this
glorious pageant, wherein the pomp of the court was mingled with the
terrors of the camp. It moved along in radiant line across the Vega
to the melodious thunders of martial music, while banner and plume
and silken scarf and rich brocade gave a gay and gorgeous relief to
the grim visage of iron war that lurked beneath.

The army moved toward the hamlet of Zubia, built on the skirts of
the mountain to the left of Granada, and commanding a view of
the Alhambra and the most beautiful quarter of the city. As they
approached the hamlet the marques of Villena, the count Urena, and
Don Alonso de Aguilar fled off with their battalions, and were soon
seen glittering along the side of the mountain above the village. In
the mean time, the marques of Cadiz, the count de Tendilla, the
count de Cabra, and Don Alonso Fernandez, senior of Alcaudrete and
Montemayor, drew up their forces in battle array on the plain below
the hamlet, presenting a living barrier of loyal chivalry between the
sovereigns and the city.

Thus securely guarded, the royal party alighted, and, entering one
of the houses of the hamlet which had been prepared for their
reception, enjoyed a full view of the city from its terraced roof.
The ladies of the court gazed with delight at the red towers of the
Alhambra rising from amid shady groves, anticipating the time when
the Catholic sovereigns should be enthroned within its walls and its
courts shine with the splendor of Spanish chivalry. "The reverend
prelates and holy friars who always surrounded the queen looked
with serene satisfaction," says Fray Antonio Agapida, "at this modern
Babylon, enjoying the triumph that awaited them when those mosques
and minarets should be converted into churches, and goodly priests
and bishops should succeed to the infidel alfaquis."

When the Moors beheld the Christians thus drawn forth in full array
in the plain, they supposed it was to offer battle, and hesitated
not to accept it. In a little while the queen beheld a body of
Moorish cavalry pouring into the Vega, the riders managing their
fleet and fiery steeds with admirable address. They were richly
armed and clothed in the most brilliant colors, and the caparisons
of their steeds flamed with gold and embroidery. This was the
favorite squadron of Muza, composed of the flower of the youthful
cavaliers of Granada. Others succeeded, some heavily armed,
others "a la gineta" with lance and buckler, and lastly came the
legions of foot-soldiers with arquebuse and crossbow and spear
and scimetar.

When the queen saw this army issuing from the city she sent to the
marques of Cadiz, and forbade any attack upon the enemy or the
acceptance of any challenge to a skirmish, for she was loth that her
curiosity should cost the life of a single human being.

The marques promised to obey, though sorely against his will, and
it grieved the spirit of the Spanish cavaliers to be obliged to remain
with sheathed sword's while bearded by the foe. The Moors could
not comprehend the meaning of this inaction of the Christians after
having apparently invited a battle. They sallied several times from
their ranks, and approached near enough to discharge their arrows,
but the Christians were immovable. Many of the Moorish horsemen
galloped close to the Christian ranks, brandishing their lances and
scimetars and defying various cavaliers to single combat; but
Ferdinand had rigorously prohibited all duels of the kind, and they
dared not transgress his orders under his very eye.

Here, however, the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, in his enthusiasm
for the triumphs of the faith, records the following incident, which
we fear is not sustained by any grave chronicler of the times, but
rests merely on tradition or the authority of certain poets and
dramatic writers who have perpetuated the tradition in their works:
While this grim and reluctant tranquillity prevailed along the
Christian line, says Agapida, there rose a mingled shout and sound
of laughter near the gate of the city. A Moorish horseman, armed at
all points, issued forth, followed by a rabble who drew back as he
approached the scene of danger. The Moor was more robust and brawny
than was common with his countrymen. His visor was closed; he bore a
huge buckler and a ponderous lance; his scimetar was of a Damascus
blade, and his richly ornamented dagger was wrought by an artificer
of Fez. He was known by his device to be Tarfe, the most insolent yet
valiant of the Moslem warriors--the same who had hurled into the
royal camp his lance inscribed to the queen. As he rode slowly along
in front of the army his very steed, prancing with fiery eye and
distended nostril, seemed to breathe defiance to the Christians.

But what were the feelings of the Spanish cavaliers when they
beheld, tied to the tail of his steed and dragged in the dust, the
very inscription--" AVE MARIA"--which Hernan Perez del Pulgar had
affixed to the door of the mosque! A burst of horror and indignation
broke forth from the army. Hernan was not at hand to maintain his
previous achievement, but one of his young companions-in-arms,
Garcilasso de la Vega by name, putting spurs to his horse, galloped
to the hamlet of Zubia, threw himself on his knees before the king,
and besought permission to accept the defiance of this insolent
infidel and to revenge the insult offered to our Blessed Lady. The
request was too pious to be refused. Garcilasso remounted his steed,
closed his helmet, graced by four sable plumes, grasped his buckler
of Flemish workmanship and his lance of matchless temper, and defied
the haughty Moor in the midst of his career. A combat took place in
view of the two armies and of the Castilian court. The Moor was
powerful in wielding his weapons and dextrous in managing his steed.
He was of larger frame than Garcilasso, and more completely armed,
and the Christians trembled for their champion. The shock of their
encounter was dreadful; their lances were shivered, and sent up
splinters in the air. Garcilasso was thrown back in his saddle: his
horse made a wide career before he could recover, gather up the
reins, and return to the conflict. They now encountered each other
with swords. The Moor circled round his opponent as a hawk circles
where about to make a swoop; his steed obeyed his rider with
matchless quickness; at every attack of the infidel it seemed
as if the Christian knight must sink beneath his flashing scimetar.
But if Garcilasso was inferior to him in power, he was superior in
agility: many of his blows he parried; others he received upon his
Flemish shield, which was proof against the Damascus blade. The
blood streamed from numerous wounds received by either warrior.
The Moor, seeing his antagonist exhausted, availed himself of his
superior force, and, grappling, endeavored to wrest him from his
saddle. They both fell to earth: the Moor placed his knee upon the
breast of his victim, and, brandishing his dagger, aimed a blow at
his throat. A cry of despair was uttered by the Christian warriors,
when suddenly they beheld the Moor rolling lifeless in the dust.
Garcilasso had shortened his sword, and as his adversary raised his
arm to strike had pierced him to the heart. "It was a singular and
miraculous victory," says Fray Antonio Agapida; "but the Christian
knight was armed by the sacred nature of his cause, and the Holy
Virgin gave him strength, like another David, to slay this gigantic
champion of the Gentiles."

The laws of chivalry were observed throughout the combat--no one
interfered on either side. Garcilasso now despoiled his adversary;
then, rescuing the holy inscription of "AVE MARIA" from its degrading
situation, he elevated it on the point of his sword, and bore it on
as a signal of triumph amid the rapturous shouts of the Christian

*The above incident has been commemorated in old Spanish ballads,
and made the subject of a scene in an old Spanish drama ascribed by
some to Lope de Vega.

The sun had now reached the meridian, and the hot blood of the Moors
was inflamed by its rays and by the sight of the defeat of their
champion. Muza ordered two pieces of ordnance to open a fire upon
the Christians. A confusion was produced in one part of their ranks:
Muza called to the chiefs of the army, "Let us waste no more time in
empty challenges--let us charge upon the enemy: he who assaults
has always an advantage in the combat." So saying, he rushed
forward, followed by a large body of horse and foot, and charged so
furiously upon the advance guard of the Christians that he drove it
in upon the battalion of the marques of Cadiz.

The gallant marques now considered himself absolved from all further
obedience to the queen's commands. He gave the signal to attack,
"Santiago!" was shouted along the line, and he pressed forward to
the encounter with his battalion of twelve hundred lances. The other
cavaliers followed his example, and the battle instantly became general.

When the king and queen beheld the armies thus rushing to the
combat, they threw themselves on their knees and implored the
Holy Virgin to protect her faithful warriors. The prince and princess,
the ladies of the court, and the prelates and friars who were
present did the same, and the effect of the prayers of these
illustrious and saintly persons was immediately apparent. The
fierceness with which the Moors had rushed to the attack was
suddenly cooled; they were bold and adroit for a skirmish, but
unequal to the veteran Spaniards in the open field. A panic seized
upon the foot-soldiers; they turned and took to flight. Muza and his
cavaliers in vain endeavored to rally them. Some took refuge in the
mountains, but the greater part fled to the city in such confusion
that they overturned and trampled upon each other. The Christians
pursued them to the very gates. Upward of two thousand were either
killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, and the two pieces of ordnance
were brought off as trophies of the victory. Not a Christian lance
but was bathed that day in the blood of an infidel.*

*Cura de los Palacios, cap. 101; Zurita, lib. 20, c. 88.

Such was the brief but bloody action which was known among the
Christian warriors by the name of "the Queen's Skirmish;" for when
the marques of Cadiz waited upon Her Majesty to apologize for
breaking her commands, he attributed the victory entirely to her
presence. The queen, however, insisted that it was all owing to her
troops being led on by so valiant a commander. Her Majesty had not
yet recovered from her agitation at beholding so terrible a scene of
bloodshed, though certain veterans present pronounced it as gay
and gentle a skirmish as they had ever witnessed.

The gayety of this gentle pass at arms, however, was somewhat marred
by a rough reverse in the evening. Certain of the Christian cavaliers,
among whom were the count de Urena, Don Alonso Aguilar, his brother
Gonsalvo of Cordova, Diego Castrillo, commander of Calatrava, and
others to the number of fifty, remained in ambush near Armilla,
expecting the Moors would sally forth at night to visit the scene of
battle and to bury their dead. They were discovered by a Moor who
had climbed an elm tree to reconnoitre, and who hastened into the
city to give notice of their ambush. Scarce had night fallen when the
cavaliers found themselves surrounded by a host which in the darkness
seemed innumerable. The Moors attacked them with sanguinary fury
to revenge the disgrace of the morning. The cavaliers fought to every
disadvantage, overwhelmed by numbers, ignorant of the ground,
perplexed by thickets and by the water-courses of the gardens, the
sluices of which were all thrown open. Even retreat was difficult.
The count de Urena was surrounded and in imminent peril, from which
he was saved by two of his faithful followers at the sacrifice of their
lives. Several cavaliers lost their horses, and were themselves put
to death in the water-courses. Gonsalvo of Cordova came near having
his own illustrious career cut short in this obscure skirmish. He had
fallen into a water-course, whence he extricated himself, covered
with mud and so encumbered with his armor that he could not retreat.
Inigo de Mendoza, a relative of his brother Alonso, seeing his peril,
offered him his horse. "Take it, senor," said he, "for you cannot save
yourself on foot, and I can; but should I fall take care of my wife
and daughters."

Gonsalvo accepted the devoted offer, mounted the horse, and had
made but few paces when a lamentable cry caused him to turn his
head, and he beheld the faithful Mendoza transfixed by Moorish lances.
The four principal cavaliers already named, with several of their
followers, effected their retreat and reached the camp in safety; but
this nocturnal reverse obscured the morning's triumph. Gonsalvo
remembered the last words of the devoted Mendoza, and bestowed
a pension on his widow and marriage portions on his daughters.*

*The account of this nocturnal affair is from Peter Martyr, lib. 4,
Epist. 90, and Pulgar, Hazanas del Gran Capitan, page 188, as
cited by Alcantara, Hist. Granada, tom. 4, cap. 18.

To commemorate the victory of which she had been an eye-witness,
Queen Isabella afterward erected a monastery in the village of Zubia
dedicated to St. Francisco, which still exists, and in its garden is
a laurel planted by her hands.*

*The house whence the king and queen contemplated the battle is
likewise to be seen at the present day. It is in the first street to
the right on entering the village from the Vega, and the royal arms
are painted on the ceilings. It is inhabited by a worthy farmer,
Francisco Garcia, who in showing the house to the writer refused
all compensation with true Spanish pride, offering, on the contrary,
the hospitalities of his mansion. His children are versed in the old
Spanish ballads about the exploits of Hernan Perez del Pulgar and
Garcilasso de la Vega.



The ravages of war had as yet spared a little portion of the Vega of
Granada. A green belt of gardens and orchards still flourished round
the city, extending along the banks of the Xenil and the Darro. They
had been the solace and delight of the inhabitants in their happier
days, and contributed to their sustenance in this time of scarcity.
Ferdinand determined to make a final and exterminating ravage to
the very walls of the city, so that there should not remain a single
green thing for the sustenance of man or beast. The eighth of July
was the day appointed for this act of desolation. Boabdil was
informed by his spies of the intention of the Christian king, and
prepared to make a desperate defence. Hernando de Baeza, a
Christian who resided with the royal family in the Alhambra as
interpreter, gives in a manuscript memoir an account of the
parting of Boabdil from his family as he went forth to battle. At an
early hour on the appointed day, the eighth of July, he bathed and
perfumed himself, as the Moors of high rank were accustomed to
do when they went forth to peril their lives. Arrayed in complete
armor, he took leave of his mother, his wife, and his sister in the
antechamber of the Tower of Comares. Ayxa la Horra, with her
usual dignity, bestowed on him her benediction and gave him her
hand to kiss. It was a harder parting with his son and his daughter,
who hung round him with sobs and tears: the duenas and doncellas
too of the royal household made the halls of the Alhambra resound
with their lamentations. He then mounted his horse and put himself
in front of his squadrons.*

*Hernando de Baeza, as cited by Alcantara, Hist. Gran., t. 4, c. 18.

The Christian army approached close to the city, and were laying
waste the gardens and orchards when Boabdil sallied forth,
surrounded by all that was left of the flower and chivalry of
Granada. There is one place where even the coward becomes
brave--that sacred spot called home. What, then, must have been
the valor of the Moors, a people always of chivalrous spirit, when the
war was thus brought to their thresholds! They fought among the
scenes of their loves and pleasures, the scenes of their infancy,
and the haunts of their domestic life. They fought under the eyes
of their wives and children, their old men and their maidens--of all
that was helpless and all that was dear to them; for all Granada,
crowded on tower and battlement, watched with trembling heart
the fate of this eventful day.

There was not so much one battle as a variety of battles: every
garden and orchard became a scene of deadly contest; every inch of
ground was disputed with an agony of grief and valor by the Moors;
every inch of ground that the Christians advanced they valiantly
maintained, but never did they advance with severer fighting or
greater loss of blood.

The cavalry of Muza was in every part of the field; wherever it came
it gave fresh ardor to the fight. The Moorish soldier, fainting with
heat, fatigue, and wounds, was roused to new life at the approach of
Muza; and even he who lay gasping in the agonies of death turned his
face toward him and faintly uttered cheers and blessings as he passed.

The Christians had by this time gained possession of various towers
near the city, whence they had been annoyed by crossbows and
arquebuses. The Moors, scattered in various actions, were severely
pressed. Boabdil, at the head of the cavaliers of his guard,
mingling in the fight in various parts of the field, endeavored to
inspirit the foot-soldiers to the combat. But the Moorish infantry
was never to be depended upon. In the heat of the action a panic
seized upon them; they fled, leaving their sovereign exposed with
his handful of cavaliers to an overwhelming force. Boabdil was on
the point of falling into the hands of the Christians, when, wheeling
round, he and his followers threw the reins on the necks of their
steeds and took refuge by dint of hoof within the walls of the city.*

*Zurita, lib. 20, c. 88.

Muza endeavored to retrieve the fortune of the field. He threw
himself before the retreating infantry, calling upon them to turn
and fight for their homes, their families, for everything sacred and
dear to them. All in vain: totally broken and dismayed, they fled
tumultuously for the gates. Muza would fain have kept the field
with his cavalry; but this devoted band, having stood the brunt of
war throughout this desperate campaign, was fearfully reduced in
numbers, and many of the survivors were crippled and enfeebled by
their wounds. Slowly and reluctantly, therefore, he retreated to the
city, his bosom swelling with indignation and despair. Entering the
gates, he ordered them to be closed and secured with bolts and
bars; for he refused to place any further confidence in the archers
and arquebusiers stationed to defend them, and vowed never
more to sally with foot-soldiers to the field.

In the mean time, the artillery thundered from the walls and checked
all further advance of the Christians. King Ferdinand therefore
called off his troops, and returned in triumph to his camp, leaving
the beautiful city of Granada wrapped in the smoke of her fields and
gardens and surrounded by the bodies of her slaughtered children.

Such was the last sally of the Moors in defence of their favorite
city. The French ambassador, who witnessed it, was filled with
wonder at the prowess, the dexterity, and the daring of the

In truth, this whole war was an instance, memorable in history,
of the most persevering resolution. For nearly ten years had the
war endured--an almost uninterrupted series of disasters to the
Moorish arms. Their towns had been taken, one after another, and
their brethren slain or led into captivity. Yet they disputed every
city and town and fortress and castle, nay, every rock itself, as if
they had been inspirited by victories. Wherever they could plant
foot to fight, or find wall or cliff whence to launch an arrow, they
disputed their beloved country; and now, when their capital was
cut off from all relief and a whole nation thundered at its gates,
they still maintained defence, as if they hoped some miracle to
interpose in their behalf. Their obstinate resistance (says an
ancient chronicler) shows the grief with which they yielded up
the Vega, which was to them a paradise and heaven. Exerting all
the strength of their arms, they embraced, as it were, that most
beloved soil, from which neither wounds nor defeats, nor death
itself, could part them. They stood firm, battling for it with the
united force of love and grief, never drawing back the foot while
they had hands to fight or fortune to befriend them.*

*Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, R. 30, c. 3.



The moors now shut themselves up gloomily within their walls; there
were no longer any daring sallies from their gates, and even the
martial clangor of the drum and trumpet, which had continually
resounded within the warrior city, was now seldom heard from its
battlements. In the midst of this deep despondency a single disaster
in the Christian camp for a moment lit up a ray of hope in the bosom
of the Moors.

The setting sun of a hot summer's day, on the 10th of July, shone
splendidly upon the Christian camp, which was in a bustle of
preparation for the next day's service, when an attack was meditated
on the city. The camp made a glorious appearance. The various
tents of the royal family and the attendant nobles were adorned
with rich hangings and sumptuous devices and costly furniture,
forming, as it were, a little city of silk and brocade, where the
pinnacles of pavilions of various gay colors, surmounted with
waving standards and fluttering pennons, might vie with the
domes and minarets of the capital they were besieging.

In the midst of this little gaudy metropolis the lofty tent of the
queen domineered over the rest like a stately palace. The marques of
Cadiz had courteously surrendered his own tent to the queen: it was
the most complete and sumptuous in Christendom, and had been
carried about with him throughout the war. In the centre rose a
stately alfaneque, or pavilion, in Oriental taste, the rich hangings
being supported by columns of lances and ornamented with martial
devices. This central pavilion, or silken tower, was surrounded by
other compartments, some of painted linen lined with silk, and all
separated from each other by curtains. It was one of those camp
palaces which are raised and demolished in an instant like the city
of canvas which surrounds them.

As the evening advanced the bustle in the camp subsided. Every one
sought repose, preparatory to the next day's trial. The king retired
early, that he might be up with the crowing of the cock to head the
destroying army in person. All stir of military preparation was hushed
in the royal quarters: the very sound of minstrelsy was mute, and
not the tinkling of a guitar was to be heard from the tents of the
fair ladies of the court.

The queen had retired to the innermost part of her pavilion, where
she was performing her orisons before a private altar: perhaps the
peril to which the king might be exposed in the next day's foray
inspired her with more than usual devotion. While thus at her
prayers she was suddenly aroused by a glare of light and wreaths
of suffocating smoke. In an instant the whole tent was in a blaze:
there was a high gusty wind, which whirled the light flames from
tent to tent and wrapped the whole in one conflagration.

Isabella had barely time to save herself by instant flight. Her
first thought on being extricated from her tent was for the safety
of the king. She rushed to his tent, but the vigilant Ferdinand was
already at the entrance of it. Starting from bed on the first alarm
and fancying it an assault of the enemy, he had seized his sword
and buckler and sallied forth undressed with his cuirass upon
his arm.

The late gorgeous camp was now a scene of wild confusion. The
flames kept spreading from one pavilion to another, glaring upon
the rich armor and golden and silver vessels, which seemed melting
in the fervent heat. Many of the soldiers had erected booths and
bowers of branches, which, being dry, crackled and blazed and added
to the rapid conflagration. The ladies of the court fled, shrieking
and half dressed, from their tents. There was an alarm of drum and
trumpet, and a distracted hurry about the camp of men half armed.
The prince Juan had been snatched out of bed by an attendant and
conveyed to the quarters of the count de Cabra, which were at the
entrance of the camp. The loyal count immediately summoned his
people and those of his cousin Don Alonso de Montemayor, and
formed a guard round the tent in which the prince was sheltered.

The idea that this was a stratagem of the Moors soon subsided, but
it was feared they might take advantage of it to assault the camp.
The marques of Cadiz, therefore, sallied forth with three thousand
horse to check any advance from the city. As they passed along the
whole camp was a scene of hurry and consternation--some hastening
to their posts at the call of drum and trumpet; some attempting to
save rich effects and glittering armor from the tents; others dragging
along terrified and restive horses.

When they emerged from the camp they found the whole firmament
illuminated. The flames whirled up in long light spires, and the air
was filled with sparks and cinders. A bright glare was thrown upon
the city, revealing every battlement and tower. Turbaned heads were
seen gazing from every roof, and armor gleamed along the walls, yet
not a single warrior sallied from the gates: the Moors suspected
some stratagem on the part of the Christians and kept quietly within
their walls. By degrees the flames expired; the city faded from sight;
all again became dark and quiet, and the marques of Cadiz returned
with his cavalry to the camp.

When the day dawned on the Christian camp nothing remained of that
beautiful assemblage of stately pavilions but heaps of smouldering
rubbish, with helms and corselets and other furniture of war, and
masses of melted gold and silver glittering among the ashes. The
wardrobe of the queen was entirely destroyed, and there was an
immense loss in plate, jewels, costly stuffs, and sumptuous armor
of the luxurious nobles. The fire at first had been attributed to
treachery, but on investigation it proved to be entirely accidental.
The queen on retiring to her prayers had ordered her lady in
attendance to remove a light burning near her couch, lest it should
prevent her sleeping. Through heedlessness, the taper was placed
in another part of the tent near the hangings, which, being blown
against it by a gust of wind, immediately took fire.

The wary Ferdinand knew the sanguine temperament of the Moors,
and hastened to prevent their deriving confidence from the night's
disaster. At break of day the drums and trumpets sounded to arms,
and the Christian army issued forth from among the smoking ruins of
their camp in shining squadrons, with flaunting banners and bursts
of martial melody, as though the preceding night had been a time of
high festivity instead of terror.

The Moors had beheld the conflagration with wonder and perplexity.
When the day broke and they looked toward the Christian camp, they
saw nothing but a dark smoking mass. Their scouts came in with the
joyful intelligence that the whole camp was a scene of ruin. In the
exultation of the moment they flattered themselves with hopes that
the catastrophe would discourage the besiegers--that, as in former
years, their invasion would end with the summer and they would
withdraw before the autumnal rains.

The measures of Ferdinand and Isabella soon crushed these hopes.
They gave orders to build a regular city upon the site of their camp,
to convince the Moors that the siege was to endure until the
surrender of Granada. Nine of the principal cities of Spain were
charged with the stupendous undertaking, and they emulated each
other with a zeal worthy of the cause. "It verily seems," says Fray
Antonio Agapida, "as though some miracle operated to aid this pious
work, so rapidly did arise a formidable city, with solid edifices and
powerful walls and mighty towers, where lately had been seen
nothing but tents and light pavilions. The city was traversed by
two principal streets in form of a cross, terminating in four gates
facing the four winds, and in the centre was a vast square where
the whole army might be assembled. To this city it was proposed
to give the name of Isabella, so dear to the army and the nation,
but that pious princess," adds Antonio Agapida, "calling to mind
the holy cause in which it was erected, gave it the name of Santa
Fe (or the City of the Holy Faith), and it remains to this day a
monument of the piety and glory of the Catholic sovereigns."

Hither the merchants soon resorted from all points. Long trains of
mules were seen every day entering and departing from its gates;
the streets were crowded with magazines filled with all kinds of
costly and luxurious merchandise; a scene of bustling commerce
and prosperity took place, while unhappy Granada remained shut
up and desolate.



The besieged city now began to suffer the distress of famine. Its
supplies were all cut off; a cavalgada of flocks and herds and mules
laden with money, coming to the relief of the city from the mountains
of the Alpuxarras, was taken by the marques of Cadiz and led in
triumph to the camp in sight of the suffering Moors. Autumn
arrived, but the harvests had been swept from the face of the
country; a rigorous winter was approaching and the city was almost
destitute of provisions. The people sank into deep despondency.
They called to mind all that had been predicted by astrologers at the
birth of their ill-starred sovereign, and all that had been foretold
of the fate of Granada at the time of the capture of Zahara.

Boabdil was alarmed by the gathering dangers from without and by
the clamors of his starving people. He summoned a council, composed
of the principal officers of the army, the alcaydes of the fortresses,
the xequis or sages of the city, and the alfaquis or doctors of the
faith. They assembled in the great Hall of Audience of the Alhambra,
and despair was painted in their countenances. Boabdil demanded of
them what was to be done in the present extremity, and their answer
was, "Surrender." The venerable Abul Casim, governor of the city,
represented its unhappy state: "Our granaries are nearly exhausted,
and no further supplies are to be expected. The provender for the
war-horses is required as sustenance for the soldiery; the very
horses themselves are killed for food; of seven thousand steeds
which once could be sent into the field, three hundred only remain.
Our city contains two hundred thousand inhabitants, old and young,
with each a mouth that calls piteously for bread."

The xequis and principal citizens declared that the people could no
longer sustain the labors and sufferings of a defence. "And of what
avail is our defence," said they, "when the enemy is determined to
persist in the siege? What alternative remains but to surrender or
to die?"

The heart of Boabdil was touched by this appeal, and he maintained
a gloomy silence. He had cherished some faint hope of relief from the
soldan of Egypt or the Barbary powers, but it was now at an end;
even if such assistance were to be sent, he had no longer a seaport
where it might debark. The counsellors saw that the resolution of
the king was shaken, and they united their voices in urging him to

Muza alone rose in opposition. "It is yet too early," said he, "to
talk of surrender. Our means are not exhausted; we have yet one
source of strength remaining, terrible in its effects, and which often
has achieved the most signal victories--it is our despair. Let us
rouse the mass of the people--let us put weapons in their hands--
let us fight the enemy to the very utmost until we rush upon the
points of their lances. I am ready to lead the way into the thickest
of their squadrons; and much rather would I be numbered among
those who fell in the defence of Granada than of those who
survived to capitulate for her surrender."

The words of Muza were without effect, for they were addressed to
broken-spirited and heartless men, or men, perhaps, to whom sad
experience had taught discretion. They were arrived at that state of
public depression when heroes and heroism are no longer regarded,
and when old men and their counsels rise into importance. Boabdil el
Chico yielded to the general voice: it was determined to capitulate
with the Christian sovereigns, and the venerable Abul Casim was
sent forth to the camp empowered to treat for terms.



The old governor Abul Casim was received with great courtesy by
Ferdinand and Isabella, who, being informed of the purport of his
embassy, granted the besieged a truce of sixty days from the 5th of
October, and appointed Gonsalvo of Cordova and Hernando de Zafra,
the secretary of the king, to treat about the terms of surrender with
such commissioners as might be named by Boabdil. The latter on his
part named Abul Casim, Aben Comixa the vizier, and the grand cadi.
As a pledge of good faith Boabdil gave his son in hostage, who was
taken to Moclin, where he was treated with the greatest respect
and attention by the good count de Tendilla as general of the frontier.

The commissioners on both parts held repeated conferences in secret
in the dead of the night at the village of Churriana, those who first
arrived at the place of meeting giving notice to the others by signal-
fires or by means of spies. After many debates and much difficulty
the capitulation was signed on the 25th of November. According to
this, the city was to be delivered up, with all its gates, towers and
fortresses, within sixty days.

All Christian captives should be liberated without ransom.

Boabdil and his principal cavaliers should perform the act of homage
and take an oath of fealty to the Castilian Crown.

The Moors of Granada should become subjects of the Spanish
sovereigns, retaining their possessions, their arms and horses, and
yielding up nothing but their artillery. They should be protected in
the exercise of their religion, and governed by their own laws,
administered by cadis of their own faith under governors appointed
by the sovereigns. They should be exempted from tribute for three
years, after which term they should pay the same that they had been
accustomed to render to their native monarchs.

Those who chose to depart for Africa within three years should be
provided with a passage for themselves and their effects, free of
charge, from whatever port they should prefer.

For the fulfilment of these articles five hundred hostages from the
principal families were required previous to the surrender, who
should be treated with great respect and distinction by the
Christians, and subsequently restored. The son of the king of
Granada and all other hostages in possession of the Castilian
sovereigns were to be restored at the same time.

Such are the main articles affecting the public weal which were
agreed upon, after much discussion, by the mixed commission. There
were other articles, however, secretly arranged, which concerned the
royal family. These secured to Boabdil, to his wife Morayma, his
mother Ayza, his brothers, and to Zoraya, the widow of Muley Abul
Hassan, all the landed possessions, houses, mills, baths, and other
hereditaments which formed the royal patrimony, with the power
of selling them, personally or by agent, at any and all times. To
Boabdil was secured, moreover, his wealthy estates both in and
out of Granada, and to him and his descendants in perpetuity the
lordships of various town and lands and fertile valleys in the
Alpuxarras, forming a petty sovereignty. In addition to all which it
was stipulated that on the day of surrender he should receive thirty
thousand castelanos of gold.*

*Alcantara, t. 4, c. 18.

The conditions of surrender being finally agreed upon by the
commissioners, Abul Casim proceeded to the royal camp at Santa
Fe, where they were signed by Ferdinand and Isabella; he then
returned to Granada, accompanied by Hernando de Zafra, the
royal secretary, to have the same ratified also by the Moorish king.
Boabdil assembled his council, and with a dejected countenance
laid before it the articles of capitulation as the best that could be
obtained from the besieging foe.

When the members of the council found the awful moment arrived
when they were to sign and seal the perdition of their empire and
blot themselves out as a nation, all firmness deserted them, and
many gave way to tears. Muza alone retained an unaltered mien.
"Leave, seniors," cried he, "this idle lamentation to helpless women
and children: we are men--we have hearts, not to shed tender tears,
but drops of blood. I see the spirit of the people so cast down that
it is impossible to save the kingdom. Yet there still remains an
alternative for noble minds--a glorious death! Let us die defending
our liberty and avenging the woes of Granada. Our mother earth
will receive her children into her bosom, safe from the chains and
oppressions of the conqueror, or, should any fail a sepulchre to
hide his remains, he will not want a sky to cover him. Allah forbid
it should be said the nobles of Granada feared to die in her defence!"

Muza ceased to speak, and a dead silence reigned in the assembly.
Boabdil looked anxiously round and scanned every face, but he read
in all the anxiety of careworn men, in whose hearts enthusiasm was
dead and who had grown callous to every chivalrous appeal. "Allah
Akbar!" exclaimed he; "there is no God but God, and Mahomet is his
prophet! We have no longer forces in the city and the kingdom to
resist our powerful enemies. It is in vain to struggle against the
will of Heaven. Too surely was it written in the book of fate that I
should be unfortunate and the kingdom expire under my rule."

"Allah Akbar!" echoed the viziers and alfaquis; "the will of God be
done!" So they all agreed with the king that these evils were
preordained, that it was hopeless to contend with them, and that
the terms offered by the Castilian monarchs were as favorable as
could be expected.

When Muza heard them assent to the treaty of surrender he rose
in violent indignation. "Do not deceive yourselves," cried he, "nor
think the Christians will be faithful to their promises, or their king
as magnanimous in conquest as he has been victorious in war.
Death is the least we have to fear. It is the plundering and sacking
of our city, the profanation of our mosques, the ruin of our homes,
the violation of our wives and daughters, cruel oppression, bigoted
intolerance, whips and chains, the dungeon, the fagot, and the
stake: such are the miseries and indignities we shall see and
suffer; at least those grovelling souls will see and suffer them who
now shrink from an honorable death. For my part, by Allah, I will
never witness them!"

With these words he left the council-chamber, and passed gloomily
through the Court of Lions and the outer halls of the Alhambra
without deigning to speak to the obsequious courtiers who attended
in them. He repaired to his dwelling, armed himself at all points,
mounted his favorite warhorse, and, issuing from the city by the
gate of Elvira, was never seen or heard of more.*

*Conde, part 4.



The capitulation for the surrender of Granada was signed on the
25th of November, 1481, and produced a sudden cessation of those
hostilities which had raged for so many years. Christian and Moor
might now be seen mingling courteously on the banks of the Xenil and
the Darro, where to have met a few days previous would have produced
a scene of sanguinary contest. Still, as the Moors might be suddenly
roused to the defence if within the allotted term of sixty days
succors should arrive from abroad, and as they were at all times a
rash, inflammable people, the wary Ferdinand maintained a vigilant
watch upon the city and permitted no supplies of any kind to enter.
His garrisons in the seaports and his cruisers in the Straits of
Gibraltar were ordered likewise to guard against any relief from the
grand soldan of Egypt or the princes of Barbary. There was no need
of such precautions. Those powers were either too much engrossed
by their own wars or too much daunted by the success of the Spanish
arms to interfere in a desperate cause, and the unfortunate Moors of
Granada were abandoned to their fate.

The month of December had nearly passed away: the famine became
extreme, and there was no hope of any favorable event within the
term specified in the capitulation. Boabdil saw that to hold out to
the end of the allotted time would but be to protract the miseries
of his people. With the consent of his council he determined to
surrender the city on the sixth of January. He accordingly sent his
grand vizier, Yusef Aben Comixa, to King Ferdinand to make known his
intention, bearing him, at the same time, a present of a magnificent
scimetar and two Arabian steeds superbly caparisoned.

The unfortunate Boabdil was doomed to meet with trouble to the end
of his career. The very next day the santon or dervise, Hamet Aben
Zarrax, the same who had uttered prophecies and excited commotions
on former occasions, suddenly made his appearance. Whence he came
no one knew: it was rumored that he had been in the mountains of the
Alpuxarras and on the coast of Barbary endeavoring to rouse the
Moslems to the relief of Granada. He was reduced to a skeleton; his
eyes glowed like coals in their sockets, and his speech was little
better than frantic raving. He harangued the populace in the streets
and squares, inveighed against the capitulation, denounced the king
and nobles as Moslems only in name, and called upon the people to
sally forth against the unbelievers, for that Allah had decreed them
a signal victory.

Upward of twenty thousand of the populace seized their arms and
paraded the streets with shouts and outcries. The shops and houses
were shut up; the king himself did not dare to venture forth, but
remained a kind of prisoner in the Alhambra.

The turbulent multitude continued roaming and shouting and howling
about the city during the day and a part of the night. Hunger and a
wintry tempest tamed their frenzy, and when morning came the
enthusiast who had led them on had disappeared. Whether he had
been disposed of by the emissaries of the king or by the leading men
of the city is not known: his disappearance remains a mystery.*


Boabdil now issued from the Alhambra, attended by his principal
nobles, and harangued the populace. He set forth the necessity of
complying with the capitulation, from the famine that reigned in the
city, the futility of defence, and from the hostages having already
been delivered into the hands of the besiegers.

In the dejection of his spirits the unfortunate Boabdil attributed
to himself the miseries of the country. "It was my crime in
ascending the throne in rebellion against my father," said he,
mournfully, "which has brought these woes upon the kingdom; but
Allah has grievously visited my sins upon my head. For your sake, my
people, I have now made this treaty, to protect you from the sword,
your little ones from famine, your wives and daughters from outrage,
and to secure you in the enjoyment of your properties, your liberties,
your laws, and your religion under a sovereign of happier destinies
than the ill-starred Boabdil."

The versatile population were touched by the humility of their
sovereign: they agreed to adhere to the capitulation, and there was
even a faint shout of "Long live Boabdil the Unfortunate!" and they
all returned to their homes in perfect tranquillity.

Boabdil immediately sent missives to King Ferdinand apprising him of
these events, and of his fears lest further delay should produce new
tumults. The vizier, Yusef Aben Comixa, was again the agent between
the monarchs. He was received with unusual courtesy and attention by
Ferdinand and Isabella, and it was arranged between them that the
surrender should take place on the second day of January, instead of
the sixth. A new difficulty now arose in regard to the ceremonial of
surrender. The haughty Ayxa la Horra, whose pride rose with the
decline of her fortunes, declared that as sultana-mother she would
never consent that her son should stoop to the humiliation of kissing
the hand of his conquerors, and unless this part of the ceremonial
were modified she would find means to resist a surrender
accompanied by such indignities.

Aben Comixa was sorely troubled by this opposition. He knew the
high spirit of the indomitable Ayxa and her influence over her less
heroic son, and wrote an urgent letter on the subject to his friend,
the count de Tendilla. The latter imparted the circumstance to the
Christian sovereigns; a council was called on the matter. Spanish
pride and etiquette were obliged to bend in some degree to the
haughty spirit of a woman. It was agreed that Boabdil should sally
forth on horseback--that on approaching the Spanish sovereigns
he should make a slight movement, as if about to draw his foot from
the stirrup and dismount, but would be prevented from doing so by
Ferdinand, who should treat him with a respect due to his dignity
and elevated birth. The count de Tendilla despatched a messenger
with this arrangement, and the haughty scruples of Ayxa la Horra
were satisfied.*

*Salazar de Mendoza, Chron. del Gran Cardinal, lib. 1, c. 69, p. 1;
Mondajar, His. MS., as cited by Alcantara, t. 4, c. 18.



The night preceding the surrender was a night of doleful lamentings
within the walls of the Alhambra, for the household of Boabdil were
preparing to take a last farewell of that delightful abode. All the
royal treasures and most precious effects were hastily packed upon
mules; the beautiful apartments were despoiled, with tears and
wailings, by their own inhabitants. Before the dawn of day a
mournful cavalcade moved obscurely out of a postern gate of the
Alhambra and departed through one of the most retired quarters of
the city. It was composed of the family of the unfortunate Boabdil,
which he sent off thus privately, that they might not be exposed to
the eyes of scoffers or the exultation of the enemy. The mother of
Boabdil, the sultana Ayxa la Horra, rode on in silence, with dejected
yet dignified demeanor; but his wife Morayma and all the females
of his household gave way to loud lamentations as they looked
back upon their favorite abode, now a mass of gloomy towers
behind them. They were attended by the ancient domestics of the
household, and by a small guard of veteran Moors loyally attached
to the fallen monarch, and who would have sold their lives dearly
in defence of his family. The city was yet buried in sleep as they
passed through its silent streets. The guards at the gate shed
tears as they opened it for their departure. They paused not, but
proceeded along the banks of the Xenil on the road that leads to
the Alpuxarras, until they arrived at a hamlet at some distance from
the city, where they halted and waited until they should be joined
by King Boabdil. The night which had passed so gloomily in the
sumptuous halls of the Alhambra had been one of joyful anticipation
in the Christian camp. In the evening proclamation had been made
that Granada was to be surrendered on the following day, and the
troops were all ordered to assemble at an early hour under their
several banners. The cavaliers, pages, and esquires were all
charged to array themselves in their richest and most splendid style
for the occasion, and even the royal family determined to lay by the
mourning they had recently assumed for the sudden death of the
prince of Portugal, the husband of the princess Isabella. In a
clause of the capitulation it had been stipulated that the troops
destined to take possession should not traverse the city, but should
ascend to the Alhambra by a road opened for the purpose outside
of the walls. This was to spare the feelings of the afflicted
inhabitants, and to prevent any angry collision between them and
their conquerors. So rigorous was Ferdinand in enforcing this
precaution that the soldiers were prohibited under pain of death
from leaving the ranks to enter into the city.

The rising sun had scarce shed his rosy beams upon the snowy
summits of the Sierra Nevada when three signal guns boomed
heavily from the lofty fortress of the Alhambra. It was the
concerted sign that all was ready for the surrender. The Christian
army forthwith poured out of the city, or rather camp, of Santa Fe,
and advanced across the Vega. The king and queen, with the prince
and princess, the dignitaries and ladies of the court, took the lead,
accompanied by the different orders of monks and friars, and
surrounded by the royal guards splendidly arrayed. The procession
moved slowly forward, and paused at the village of Armilla, at the
distance of half a league from the city.

In the mean time, the grand cardinal of Spain, Don Pedro Gonzalez de
Mendoza, escorted by three thousand foot and a troop of cavalry, and
accompanied by the commander Don Gutierrez de Cardenas and a
number of prelates and hidalgos, crossed the Xenil and proceeded in
the advance to ascend to the Alhambra and take possession of that
royal palace and fortress. The road which had been opened for the
purpose led by the Puerta de los Molinos, or Gate of Mills, up a
defile to the esplanade on the summit of the Hill of Martyrs. At the
approach of this detachment the Moorish king sallied forth from a
postern gate of the Alhambra, having left his vizier, Yusef Aben
Comixa, to deliver up the palace. The gate by which he sallied
passed through a lofty tower of the outer wall, called the Tower of
the Seven Floors (de los siete suelos). He was accompanied by fifty
cavaliers, and approached the grand cardinal on foot. The latter
immediately alighted, and advanced to meet him with the utmost
respect. They stepped aside a few paces, and held a brief
conversation in an under tone, when Boabdil, raising his voice,
exclaimed, "Go, senor, and take possession of those fortresses in
the name of the powerful sovereigns to whom God has been pleased
to deliver them in reward of their great merits and in punishment of
the sins of the Moors." The grand cardinal sought to console him in
his reverses, and offered him the use of his own tent during any
time he might sojourn in the camp. Boabdil thanked him for the
courteous offer, adding some words of melancholy import, and then,
taking leave of him gracefully, passed mournfully on to meet the
Catholic sovereigns, descending to the Vega by the same road by
which the cardinal had come. The latter, with the prelates and
cavaliers who attended him, entered the Alhambra, the gates of
which were thrown wide open by the alcayde Aben Comixa. At the
same time the Moorish guards yielded up their arms, and the towers
and battlements were taken possession of by the Christian troops.

While these transactions were passing in the Alhambra and its
vicinity the sovereigns remained with their retinue and guards near
the village of Armilla, their eyes fixed on the towers of the royal
fortress, watching for the appointed signal of possession. The time
that had elapsed since the departure of the detachment seemed to
them more than necessary for the purpose, and the anxious mind of
Ferdinand began to entertain doubts of some commotion in the city.
At length they saw the silver cross, the great standard of this
crusade, elevated on the Torre de la Vela, or Great Watch-tower, and
sparkling in the sunbeams. This was done by Hernando de Talavera,
bishop of Avila. Beside it was planted the pennon of the glorious
apostle St. James, and a great shout of "Santiago! Santiago!" rose
throughout the army. Lastly was reared the royal standard by the
king-at-arms, with the shout of "Castile! Castile! for King Ferdinand
and Queen Isabella!" The words were echoed by the whole army,
with acclamations that resounded across the Vega. At sight of
these signals of possession the sovereigns sank upon their knees,
giving thanks to God for this great triumph; the whole assembled
host followed their example, and the choristers of the royal chapel
broke forth into the solemn anthem of ''Te Deum laudamus."

The king now advanced with a splendid escort of cavalry and the
sound of trumpets, until he came to a small mosque near the banks
of the Xenil, and not far from the foot of the Hill of Martyrs, which
edifice remains to the present day consecrated as the hermitage of
St. Sebastian. Here he beheld the unfortunate king of Granada
approaching on horseback at the head of his slender retinue. Boabdil
as he drew near made a movement to dismount, but, as had previously
been concerted, Ferdinand prevented him. He then offered to kiss the
king's hand, which according to arrangement was likewise declined,
whereupon he leaned forward and kissed the king's right arm; at the
same time he delivered the keys of the city with an air of mingled
melancholy and resignation. "These keys," said he, "are the last
relics of the Arabian empire in Spain: thine, O king, are our trophies,
our kingdom, and our person. Such is the will of God! Receive them
with the clemency thou hast promised, and which we look for at thy

*Abarca, Anales de Aragon, Rey 30, c. 3.

King Ferdinand restrained his exultation into an air of serene
magnanimity. "Doubt not our promises," replied he, "nor that thou
shalt regain from our friendship the prosperity of which the fortune
of war has deprived thee."

Being informed that Don Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, the good count
of Tendilla, was to be governor of the city, Boabdil drew from his
finger a gold ring set with a precious stone and presented it to the
count. "With this ring," said he, "Granada has been governed; take
it and govern with it, and God make you more fortunate than I!"*

*This ring remained in the possession of the descendants of the
count until the death of the marques Don Inigo, the last male heir,
who died in Malaga, without children, in 1656. The ring was then
lost through inadvertence and ignorance of its value, Dona Maria,
the sister of the marques, being absent in Madrid--"Alcantara," 1.
4, c.18.

He then proceeded to the village of Armilla, where the queen
Isabella remained with her escort and attendants. The queen, like
her husband, declined all acts of homage, and received him with her
accustomed grace and benignity. She at the same time delivered to
him his son, who had been held as a hostage for the fulfilment of
the capitulation. Boabdil pressed his child to his bosom with tender
emotion, and they seemed mutually endeared to each other by their

*Zurita, Anales de Aragon, lib. 20, cap. 92.

Having rejoined his family, the unfortunate Boabdil continued on
toward the Alpuxarras, that he might not behold the entrance of the
Christians into his capital. His devoted band of cavaliers followed
him in gloomy silence, but heavy sighs burst from their bosoms as
shouts of joy and strains of triumphant music were borne on the
breeze from the victorious army.

Having rejoined his family, Boabdil set forth with a heavy heart for
his allotted residence in the valley of Purchena. At two leagues'
distance the cavalcade, winding into the skirts of the Alpuxarras,
ascended an eminence commanding the last view of Granada. As
they arrived at this spot the Moors paused involuntarily to take a
farewell gaze at their beloved city, which a few steps more would
shut from their sight for ever. Never had it appeared so lovely in
their eyes. The sunshine, so bright in that transparent climate, lit
up each tower and minaret, and rested gloriously upon the crowning
battlements of the Alhambra, while the Vega spread its enamelled
bosom of verdure below, glistening with the silver windings of the
Xenil. The Moorish cavaliers gazed with a silent agony of tenderness
and grief upon that delicious abode, the scene of their loves and
pleasures. While they yet looked a light cloud of smoke burst forth
from the citadel, and presently a peal of artillery, faintly heard,
told that the city was taken possession of, and the throne of the
Moslem kings was lost for ever. The heart of Boabdil, softened by
misfortunes and overcharged with grief, could no longer contain
itself. "Allah Akbar! God is great!" said he but the words of
resignation died upon his lips and he burst into tears.

The mother, the intrepid Ayxa, was indignant at his weakness.
"You do well," said she, "to weep like a woman for what you
failed to defend like a man."

The vizier Aben Comixa endeavored to console his royal master.
"Consider, senor," said he, "that the most signal misfortunes often
render men as renowned as the most prosperous achievements,
provided they sustain them with magnanimity."

The unhappy monarch, however, was not to be consoled; his tears
continued to flow. "Allah Akbar!" exclaimed he, "when did misfortune
ever equal mine?"

From this circumstance the hill, which is not far from Padul, took
the name of Feg Allah Akbar, but the point of view commanding the
last prospect of Granada is known among Spaniards by the name
of "El ultimo suspiro del Moro," or "The last sigh of the Moor."



Queen Isabella having joined the king, the royal pair, followed by
a triumphant host, passed up the road by the Hill of Martyrs, and
thence to the main entrance of the Alhambra. The grand cardinal
awaited them under the lofty arch of the great Gate of Justice,
accompanied by Don Gutierrez de Cardenas and Aben Comixa. Here
King Ferdinand gave the keys which had been delivered up to him
into the hands of the queen; they were passed successively into
the hands of the prince Juan, the grand cardinal, and finally into
those of the count de Tendilla, in whose custody they remained,
that brave cavalier having been named alcayde of the Alhambra
and captain-general of Granada.

The sovereigns did not remain long in the Alhambra on this first
visit, but, leaving a strong garrison there under the count de
Tendilla to maintain tranquillity in the palace and the subjacent
city, returned to the camp at Santa Fe.

We must not omit to mention a circumstance attending the surrender
of the city which spoke eloquently to the hearts of the victors. As
the royal army had advanced in all the pomp of courtly and chivalrous
array, a procession of a different kind came forth to meet it. This was
composed of more than five hundred Christian captives, many of whom
had languished for years in Moorish dungeons. Pale and emaciated,
they came clanking their chains in triumph and shedding tears of joy.
They were received with tenderness by the sovereigns. The king hailed
them as good Spaniards, as men loyal and brave, as martyrs to the holy
cause; the queen distributed liberal relief among them with her own
hands, and they passed on before the squadrons of the army singing
hymns of jubilee.

*Abarca, lib. sup.; Zurita, etc.

The sovereigns forebore to enter the city until it should be fully
occupied by their troops and public tranquillity ensured. All this
was done under the vigilant superintendence of the count de
Tendilla, assisted by the marques of Villena, and the glistening of
Christian helms and lances along the walls and bulwarks, and the
standards of the faith and of the realm daunting from the towers,
told that the subjugation of the city was complete. The proselyte
prince, Cid Hiaya, now known by the Christian appellation of Don
Pedro de Granada Vanegas,* was appointed chief alguazil of the city,
and had charge of the Moorish inhabitants, and his son, lately the
prince Alnayar, now Alonso de Granada Vanegas, was appointed
admiral of the fleet.

*Cid Hiaya was made cavalier of the order of Santiago. He and his
son intermarried with the Spanish nobility, and the marqueses of
Compotejar are among their descendants. Their portraits and the
portraits of their grandsons are to be seen in one of the rooms of
the Generalife at Granada.

It was on the sixth of January, the Day of Kings and festival of the
Epiphany, that the sovereigns made their triumphant entry with grand
military parade. First advanced, we are told, a splendid escort of
cavaliers in burnished armor and superbly mounted. Then followed
the prince Juan, glittering with jewels and diamonds; on each side of
him, mounted on mules, rode the grand cardinal, clothed in purple,
Fray Hernando de Talavera, bishop of Airla and the archbishop-elect
of Granada. To these succeeded the queen and her ladies, and the
king, managing in galliard style, say the Spanish chroniclers, a proud
and mettlesome steed (un caballo arrogante). Then followed the
army in shining columns, with flaunting banners and the inspiring
clamor of military music. The king and queen (says the worthy Fray
Antonio Agapida) looked on this occasion as more than mortal: the
venerable ecclesiastics, to whose advice and zeal this glorious
conquest ought in a great measure be attributed, moved along with
hearts swelling with holy exultation, but with chastened and downcast
looks of edifying humility; while the hardy warriors, in tossing plumes
and shining steel, seemed elevated with a stern joy at finding
themselves in possession of this object of so many toils and perils.
As the streets resounded with the tramp of steeds and swelling
peals of music the Moors buried themselves in the deepest recesses
of their dwellings. There they bewailed in secret the fallen glory of
their race, but suppressed their groans, lest they should be heard
by their enemies and increase their triumph.

The royal procession advanced to the principal mosque, which had
been consecrated as a cathedral. Here the sovereigns offered up
prayers and thanksgivings, and the choir of the royal chapel chanted
a triumphant anthem, in which they were joined by all the courtiers
and cavaliers. Nothing (says Fray Antonio Agapida) could exceed the
thankfulness to God of the pious king Ferdinand for having enabled
him to eradicate from Spain the empire and name of that accursed
heathen race, and for the elevation of the cross in that city wherein
the impious doctrines of Mahomet had so long been cherished. In
the fervor of his spirit he supplicated from heaven a continuance
of its grace and that this glorious triumph might be perpetuated.*
The prayer of the pious monarch was responded to by the people,
and even his enemies were for once convinced of his sincerity.

*The words of Fray Antonio Agapida are little more than an echo
of those of the worthy Jesuit father Mariana (1. 25, c. 18).

When the religious ceremonies were concluded the court ascended to
the stately palace of the Alhambra and entered by the great Gate of
Justice. The halls lately occupied by turbaned infidels now rustled
with stately dames and Christian courtiers, who wandered with eager
curiosity over this far-famed palace, admiring its verdant courts and
gushing fountains, its halls decorated with elegant arabesques and
storied with inscriptions, and the splendor of its gilded and brilliantly
painted ceilings.

It had been a last request of the unfortunate Boabdil--and one which
showed how deeply he felt the transition of his fate--that no person
might be permitted to enter or depart by the gate of the Alhambra
through which he had sallied forth to surrender his capital. His
request was granted; the portal was closed up, and remains so to
the present day--a mute memorial of that event.*

*Garibay, Compend. Hist., lib. 40, c. 42. The existence of this
gateway and the story connected with it are perhaps known to few,
but were identified in the researches made to verify this history.
The gateway is at the bottom of a tower at some distance from the
main body of the Alhambra. The tower had been rent and ruined by
gunpowder at the time when the fortress was evacuated by the French.
Great masses lie around half covered by vines and fig trees. A poor
man, by the name of Mateo Ximenes, who lives in one of the halls
among the ruins of the Alhambra, where his family has resided for
many generations, pointed out to the author the gateway, still
closed up with stones. He remembered to have heard his father and
grandfather say that it had always been stopped up, and that out of
it King Boabdil had gone when he surrendered Granada. The route of
the unfortunate king may be traced thence across the garden of the
convent of Los Martyros, and down a ravine beyond, through a street
of gypsy caves and hovels, by the gate of Los Molinos, and so on to
the Hermitage of St. Sebastian. None but an antiquarian, however,
will be able to trace it unless aided by the humble historian of the
place, Mateo Ximenes.

The Spanish sovereigns fixed their throne in the presence-chamber of
the palace, so long the seat of Moorish royalty. Hither the principal
inhabitants of Granada repaired to pay them homage and kiss their
hands in token of vassalage, and their example was followed by
deputies from all the towns and fortresses of the Alpuxarras which
had not hitherto submitted.

Thus terminated the war of Granada, after ten years of incessant
fighting, equalling (says Fray Antonio Agapida) the far-famed siege
of Troy in duration, and ending, like that, in the capture of the
city. Thus ended also the dominion of the Moors in Spain, having
endured seven hundred and seventy-eight years from the memorable
defeat of Roderick, the last of the Goths, on the banks of the
Guadalete. The authentic Agapida is uncommonly particular in fixing
the epoch of this event. This great triumph of our holy Catholic
faith, according to his computation, took place in the beginning of
January in the year of our Lord 1492, being 3655 years from the
population of Spain by the patriarch Tubal, 3797 from the general
deluge, 5453 from the creation of the world, according to Hebrew
calculation, and in the month Rabic, in the eight hundred and
ninety-seventh year of the Hegira, or flight of Mahomet, whom
may God confound! saith the pious Agapida.


The Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada is finished, but the reader
may be desirous of knowing the subsequent fortunes of some of the
principal personages.

The unfortunate Boabdil retired with his mother, his wife, his son,
his sister, his vizier and bosom-counsellor Aben Comixa, and many
other relatives and friends, to the valley of Purchena, where a
small but fertile territory had been allotted him, comprising several
towns of the Alpuxarras, with all their rights and revenues. Here,
surrounded by obedient vassals, devoted friends, and a loving
family, and possessed of wealth sufficient to enable him to indulge
in his habitual luxury and magnificence, he for a time led a tranquil
life, and may have looked back upon his regal career as a troubled
dream from which he had happily awaked. Still, he appears to have
pleased himself with a shadow of royalty, making occasionally
progresses about his little domains, visiting the different towns,
receiving the homage of the inhabitants, and bestowing largesses
with a princely hand. His great delight, however, was in sylvan
sports and exercises, with horses, hawks, and hounds, being
passionately fond of hunting and falconry, so as to pass weeks
together in sporting campaigns among the mountains. The jealous
suspicions of Ferdinand followed him into his retreat. No exertions
were spared by the politically pious monarch to induce him to embrace
the Christian religion as a means of severing him in feelings and
sympathies from his late subjects; but he remained true to the faith
of his fathers, and it must have added not a little to his humiliation
to live a vassal under Christian sovereigns.

His obstinacy in this respect aggravated the distrust of Ferdinand,
who, looking back upon the past inconstancy of the Moors, could not
feel perfectly secure in his newly-conquered territories while there
was one within their bounds who might revive pretensions to the
throne and rear the standard of an opposite faith in their behalf.
He caused, therefore, a vigilant watch to be kept upon the dethroned
monarch in his retirement, and beset him with spies who were to
report all his words and actions. The reader will probably be
surprised to learn that the foremost of these spies was Aben Comixa!
Ever since the capture and release of the niece of the vizier by the
count de Tendilla, Aben Comixa had kept up a friendly correspondence
with that nobleman, and through this channel had gradually been
brought over to the views of Ferdinand. Documents which have
gradually come to light leave little doubt that the vizier had been
corrupted by the bribes and promises of the Spanish king, and had
greatly promoted his views in the capitulation of Granada. It is
certain that he subsequently received great estates from the
Christian sovereigns. While residing in confidential friendship with
Boabdil in his retirement Aben Comixa communicated secretly with
Hernando de Zafra, the secretary of Ferdinand, who resided at
Granada, giving him information of all Boabdil's movements, which
the secretary reported by letter to the king. Some of the letters of
the secretary still exist in the archives of Samancas, and have been
recently published in the collection of unedited documents.*

*El rey Muley Babdali (Boabdil) y sus criados andan continuamente
a casa con glagos y azores, y alla esta agora en al campo de Dalias
y en Verja, aunque su casa tiene en Andarax, y dican que estara
alla por todo este mes.--"Carta Secreta de Hernando de Zafra,"
Decembre, 1492

The jealous doubts of Ferdinand were quickened by the letters of his
spies. He saw in the hunting campaigns and royal progresses of the
ex-king a mode of keeping up a military spirit and a concerted
intelligence among the Moors of the Alpuxarras that might prepare
them for future rebellion. By degrees the very residence of Boabdil
within the kingdom became incompatible with Ferdinand's ideas of
security. He gave his agents, therefore, secret instructions to work
upon the mind of the deposed monarch, and induce him, like El Zagal,
to relinquish his Spanish estates for valuable considerations and
retire to Africa. Boabdil, however, was not to be persuaded: to the
urgent suggestions of these perfidious counsellors he replied that
he had given up a kingdom to live in peace, and had no idea of
going to a foreign land to encounter new troubles and to be under
the control of alarabes.*

*Letter of Hernando de Zafra to the sovereigns, Dec. 9, 1493.

Ferdinand persisted in his endeavors, and found means more effectual
of operating on the mind of Boabdil and gradually disposing him to
enter into negotiations. It would appear that Aben Comixa was
secretly active in this matter in the interests of the Spanish
monarch, and was with him at Barcelona as the vizier and agent
of Boabdil. The latter, however, finding that his residence in the
Alpuxarras was a cause of suspicion and uneasiness to Ferdinand,
determined to go himself to Barcelona, have a conference with the
sovereigns, and conduct all his negotiations with them in person.
Zafra, the secretary of Ferdinand, who was ever on the alert, wrote
a letter from Granada apprising the king of Boabdil's intention, and
that he was making preparations for the journey. He received a
letter in reply, charging him by subtle management to prevent, or
at least delay, the coming of Boabdil to court.* The crafty monarch
trusted to effect through Aben Comixa as vizier and agent of Boabdil
an arrangement which it might be impossible to obtain from Boabdil
himself. The politic plan was carried into effect. Boabdil was
detained at Andarax by the management of Zafra. In the mean time
a scandalous bargain was made on the 17th March, 1493, between
Ferdinand and Aben Comixa, in which the latter, as vizier and agent
of Boabdil, though without any license or authority from him, made
a sale of his territory and the patrimonial property of the princesses
for eighty thousand ducats of gold, and engaged that he should
depart for Africa, taking care, at the same time, to make conditions
highly advantageous for himself.**

*Letter of the sovereigns to Hernando de Zafra from Barcelona,
Feb., 1493.

**Alcantara, Hist. Granad., iv. c. 18.

This bargain being hastily concluded, Yusef Aben Comixa loaded the
treasure upon mules and departed for the Alpuxarras. Here, spreading
the money before Boabdil, "Senior," said he, "I have observed that
as long as you live here you are exposed to constant peril. The
Moors are rash and irritable; they may make some sudden insurrection,
elevate your standard as a pretext, and thus overwhelm you and
your friends with utter ruin. I have observed also that you pine
away with grief, being continually reminded in this country that you
were once its sovereign, but never more must hope to reign. I have
put an end to these evils. Your territory is sold--behold the price
of it! With this gold you may buy far greater possessions in Africa,
where you may live in honor and security."

When Boabdil heard these words he burst into a sudden transport of
rage, and, drawing his scimetar, would have sacrificed the officious
Yusef on the spot had not the attendants interfered and hurried the
vizier from his presence.*

*Marmol, Rebel. 1. 1, c. 22.

The rage of Boabdil gradually subsided: he saw that he had been
duped and betrayed, but he knew the spirit of Ferdinand too well
to hope that he would retract the bargain, however illegitimately
effected. He contented himself, therefore, with obtaining certain
advantageous modifications, and then prepared to bid a final adieu
to his late kingdom and his native land.

It took some months to make the necessary arrangements, or, rather,
his departure was delayed by a severe domestic affliction. Morayma,
his gentle and affectionate wife, worn out by agitations and alarms,
was gradually sinking into the grave, a prey to devouring melancholy.
Her death took place toward the end of August. Hernando de Zafra
apprised King Ferdinand of the event as one propitious to his purposes,
removing an obstacle to the embarkation, which was now fixed for the
month of September. Zafra was instructed to accompany the exiles
until he saw them landed on the African coast.

The embarkation, however, did not take place until some time in the
month of October. A caracca had been prepared at the port of Adra


Back to Full Books