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´╗┐Title: Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, from the mss. of Fray Antonio Agapida
Author: Irving, Washington, 1783-1859
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, from the mss. of Fray Antonio Agapida" ***


By Washington Irving

from the mss. of FRAY ANTONIO AGAPIDA

Author's Revised Edition


  I..........Of the Kingdom of Granada, and the Tribute which it Paid
                 to the Castilian Crown.
  II.........Of the Embassy of Don Juan de Vera to Demand Arrears of
                 Tribute from the Moorish Monarch.
  III........Domestic Feuds in the Alhambra--Rival Sultanas--Predictions
                 concerning Boabdil, the Heir to the Throne--How
                 Ferdinand Meditates War against Granada, and how he
                 is Anticipated.
  IV.........Expedition of the Muley Abul Hassan against the Fortress
                 of Zahara.
  V..........Expedition of the Marques of Cadiz against Alhama.
  VI.........How the People of Granada were Affected on Hearing of the
                 Capture of the  Alhama; and how the Moorish King
                 sallied forth to Regain it.
  VII........How the Duke of Medina Sidonia and the Chivalry of
                 Andalusia Hastened to the Relief of Alhama.
  VIII.......Sequel of the Events at Alhama.
  IX.........Events at Granada, and Rise of the Moorish King, Boabdil
                 el Chico.
  X..........Royal Expedition against Loxa.
  XI.........How Muley Abul Hassan made a Foray into the Lands of
                 Medina Sidonia, and how he was Received.
  XII........Foray of Spanish Cavaliers among the Mountains of Malaga.
  XIII.......Effects of the Disasters among the Mountains of Malaga.
  XIV........How King Boabdil el Chico Marched over the Border.
  XV.........How the Count de Cabra sallied forth from his Castle in
                 Quest of King Boabdil.
  XVI........The Battle of Lucena.
  XVII.......Lamentations of the Moors for the Battle of Lucena.
  XVIII......How Muley Abul Hassan Profited by the Misfortunes of his
                 Son Boabdil.
  XIX........Captivity of Boabdil el Chico.
  XX.........Of the Treatment of Boabdil by the Castilian Sovereigns.
  XXI........Return of Boabdil from Captivity.
  XXII.......Foray of the Moorish Alcaydes, and Battle of Lopera.
  XXIII......Retreat of Hamet el Zegri, Alcayde of Ronda.
  XXIV.......Of the reception at Court of the Count de Cabra and the
                 Alcayde de los Donceles.
  XXV........How the Marques of Cadiz concerted to Surprise Zahara,
                 and the Result of his Enterprise.
  XXVI.......Of the Fortress of Alhama, and how Wisely it was Governed
                 by the Count de Tendilla.
  XXVII......Foray of Christian Knights into the Territory of the Moors.
  XXVIII.....Attempt of El Zagal to Surprise Boabdil in Almeria.
  XXIX.......How King Ferdinand Commenced another Campaign against the
                 Moors, and how he Laid Siege to Coin and Cartama.
  XXX........Siege of Ronda.
  XXXI.......How the People of Granada invited El Zagal to the Throne,
                 and how he Marched to the Capital.
  XXXII......How the Count de Cabra attempted to Capture another King,
                 and how he Fared in his Attempt.
  XXXIII.....Expedition against the Castles of Cambil and Albahar.
  XXXIV......Enterprise of the Knights of Calatrava against Zalea.
  XXXV.......Death of Muley Abul Hassan.
  XXXVI......Of the Christian Army which Assembled at the City of
  XXXVII.....How Fresh Commotions broke out in Granada, and how the
                 People undertook to Allay them.
  XXXVIII....How King Ferdinand held a Council of War at the Rock of
                 the Lovers.
  XXXIX......How the Royal Army appeared Before the City of Loxa, and
                 how it was Received; and of the Doughty Achievements
                 of the English Earl.
  XL.........Conclusion of the Siege of Loxa.
  XLI........Capture of Illora.
  XLII.......Of the Arrival of Queen Isabella at the Camp before Moclin;
                 and of the Pleasant Sayings of the English Earl.
  XLIII......How King Ferdinand Attacked Moclin, and of the Strange
                 Events that attended its Capture.
  XLIV.......How King Ferdinand Foraged the Vega; and of the Battle of
                 the Bridge of Pinos, and the Fate of the two Moorish
  XLV........Attempt of El Zagal upon the Life of Boabdil, and how the
                 Latter was Roused to Action.
  XLVI.......How Boabdil returned Secretly to Granada, and how he was
                 Received.--Second Embassy of Don Juan de Vera, and his
                 Perils in the Alhambra.
  XLVII......How King Ferdinand laid Siege to Velez Malaga.
  XLVIII.....How King Ferdinand and his Army were Exposed to Imminent
                 Peril before Velez Malaga.
  XLIX.......Result of the Stratagem of El Zagal to Surprise King
  L..........How the People of Granada Rewarded the Valor of El Zagal.
  LI.........Surrender of the Velez Malaga and Other Places.
  LII........Of the City of Malaga and its Inhabitants.--Mission of
                 Hernando del Pulgar.
  LIII.......Advance of King Ferdinand against Malaga.
  LIV........Siege of Malaga.
  LV.........Siege of Malaga continued.--Obstinacy of Hamet el Zegri.
  LVI........Attack of the Marques of Cadiz upon Gibralfaro.
  LVII.......Siege of Malaga continued.--Stratagems of Various Kinds.
  LVIII......Sufferings of the People of Malaga.
  LIX........How a Moorish Santon Undertook to Deliver the City of
                 Malaga from the Power of its Enemies.
  LX.........How Hamet el Zegri was Hardened in his Obstinacy by the
                 Arts of a Moorish Astrologer.
  LXI........Siege of Malaga continued.--Destruction of a Tower by
                 Francisco Ramirez de Madrid.
  LXII.......How the People of Malaga expostulated with Hamet el Zegri.
  LXIII......How Hamet el Zegri Sallied forth with the Sacred Banner to
                 Attack the Christian Camp.
  LXIV.......How the City of Malaga Capitulated.
  LXV........Fulfilment of the Prophecy of the Dervise.--Fate of Hamet
                 el Zegri.
  LXVI.......How the Castilian Sovereigns took Possession of the City
                 of Malaga, and how King Ferdinand signalized himself
                 by his Skill in Bargaining with the Inhabitants for
                 their Ransom.
  LXVII......How King Ferdinand prepared to Carry the War into a
                 Different Part of the Territories of the Moors.
  LXVIII.....How King Ferdinand Invaded the Eastern Side of the
                 Kingdom of Granada, and how He was Received by
                 El Zagal.
  LXIX.......How the Moors made Various Enterprises against the
  LXX........How King Ferdinand prepared to Besiege the City of Baza,
                 and how the City prepared for Defence.
  LXXI.......The Battle of the Gardens before Baza.
  LXXII......Siege of Baza.--Embarrassments of the Army.
  LXXIII.....Siege of Baza continued.--How King Ferdinand completely
                 Invested the City.
  LXXIV......Exploit of Hernan Perez del Pulgar and Other Cavaliers.
  LXXV.......Continuation of the Siege of Baza.
  LXXVI......How Two Friars from the Holy Land arrived at the Camp.
  LXXVII.....How Queen Isabella devised Means to Supply the Army
                 with Provisions.
  LXXVIII....Of the Disasters which Befell the Camp.
  LXXIX......Encounters between the Christians and Moors before Baza,
                 and the Devotion of the Inhabitants to the Defence of
                 their City.
  LXXX.......How Queen Isabella arrived at the Camp, and the
                 Consequences of her Arrival.
  LXXXI......Surrender of Baza.
  LXXXII.....Submission of El Zagal to the Castilian Sovereigns.
  LXXXIII....Events at Granada subsequent to the Submission of El Zagal.
  LXXXIV.....How King Ferdinand turned his Hostilities against the City
                 of Granada.
  LXXXV......The Fate of the Castle of Roma.
  LXXXVI.....How Boabdil el Chico took the Field, and his Expedition
                 against Alhendin.
  LXXXVII....Exploit of the Count de Tendilla.
  LXXXVIII...Expedition of Boabdil el Chico against Salobrena.--Exploit
                 of Hernan Perez del Pulgar.
  LXXXIX.....How King Ferdinand Treated the People of Guadix, and how
                 El Zagal Finished his Regal Career.
  XC.........Preparations of Granada for a Desperate Defence.
  XCI........How King Ferdinand conducted the Siege cautiously, and
                 how Queen Isabella arrived at the Camp.
  XCII.......Of the Insolent Defiance of Tarfe the Moor, and the Daring
                 Exploit of Hernan Perez del Pulgar.
  XCIII......How Queen Isabella took a View of the City of Granada, and
                 how her Curiosity cost the Lives of many Christians
                 and Moors.
  XCIV.......The Last Ravage before Granada.
  XCV........Conflagration of the Christian Camp.--Building of Santa Fe.
  XCVI.......Famine and Discord in the City.
  XCVII......Capitulation of Granada.
  XCVIII.....Commotions in Granada.
  XCIX.......Surrender of Granada.
  C..........How the Castilian Sovereigns took Possession of Granada.



Although the following Chronicle bears the name of the venerable Fray
Antonio Agapida, it is rather a superstructure reared upon the fragments
which remain of his work. It may be asked, Who is this same Agapida, who
is cited with such deference, yet whose name is not to be found in any
of the catalogues of Spanish authors? The question is hard to answer. He
appears to have been one of the many indefatigable authors of Spain who
have filled the libraries of convents and cathedrals with their
tomes, without ever dreaming of bringing their labors to the press. He
evidently was deeply and accurately informed of the particulars of the
wars between his countrymen and the Moors, a tract of history but too
much overgrown with the weeds of fable. His glowing zeal, also, in the
cause of the Catholic faith entitles him to be held up as a model of the
good old orthodox chroniclers, who recorded with such pious exultation
the united triumphs of the cross and the sword. It is deeply to be
regretted, therefore, that his manuscripts, deposited in the libraries
of various convents, have been dispersed during the late convulsions
in Spain, so that nothing is now to be met of them but disjointed
fragments. These, however, are too precious to be suffered to fall into
oblivion, as they contain many curious facts not to be found in any
other historian. In the following work, therefore, the manuscript of the
worthy Fray Antonio will be adopted wherever it exists entire, but will
be filled up, extended, illustrated, and corroborated by citations
from various authors, both Spanish and Arabian, who have treated of the
subject. Those who may wish to know how far the work is indebted to the
Chronicle of Fray Antonio Agapida may readily satisfy their curiosity
by referring to his manuscript fragments, carefully preserved in the
Library of the Escurial.

Before entering upon the history it may be as well to notice the
opinions of certain of the most learned and devout historiographers of
former times relative to this war.

Marinus Siculus, historian to Charles V., pronounces it a war to avenge
ancient injuries received by the Christians from the Moors, to recover
the kingdom of Granada, and to extend the name and honor of the
Christian religion.*

     * Lucio Marino Siculo, Cosas Memorabiles de Espana, lib. 20.

Estevan de Garibay, one of the most distinguished Spanish historians,
regards the war as a special act of divine clemency toward the Moors, to
the end that those barbarians and infidels, who had dragged out so many
centuries under the diabolical oppression of the absurd sect of Mahomet,
should at length be reduced to the Christian faith.*

     * Garibay, Compend. Hist. Espana, lib. 18, c. 22.

Padre Mariana, also a venerable Jesuit and the most renowned historian
of Spain, considers the past domination of the Moors a scourge inflicted
on the Spanish nation for its iniquities, but the conquest of Granada
the reward of Heaven for its great act of propitiation in establishing
the glorious tribunal of the Inquisition! No sooner (says the worthy
father) was this holy office opened in Spain than there shone forth a
resplendent light. Then it was that, through divine favor, the nation
increased in power, and became competent to overthrow and trample down
the Moorish domination.*

     * Mariana, Hist. Espana, lib. 25, c. 1.

Having thus cited high and venerable authority for considering this war
in the light of one of those pious enterprises denominated crusades, we
trust we have said enough to engage the Christian reader to follow us
into the field and stand by us to the very issue of the encounter.


The foregoing introduction, prefixed to the former editions of this
work, has been somewhat of a detriment to it. Fray Antonio Agapida was
found to be an imaginary personage, and this threw a doubt over the
credibility of his Chronicle, which was increased by a vein of irony
indulged here and there, and by the occasional heightening of some of
the incidents and the romantic coloring of some of the scenes. A word or
two explanatory may therefore be of service.*

     * Many of the observations in this note have already appeared in
an explanatory article which at Mr. Murray's request, the author
furnished to the London Quarterly Review.

The idea of the work was suggested while I was occupied at Madrid in
writing the Life of Columbus. In searching for traces of his early life
I was led among the scenes of the war of Granada, he having followed the
Spanish sovereigns in some of their campaigns, and been present at the
surrender of the Moorish capital. I actually wove some of these scenes
into the biography, but found they occupied an undue space, and stood
out in romantic relief not in unison with the general course of the
narrative. My mind, however, had become so excited by the stirring
events and romantic achievements of this war that I could not return
with composure to the sober biography I had in hand. The idea then
occurred, as a means of allaying the excitement, to throw off a rough
draught of the history of this war, to be revised and completed at
future leisure. It appeared to me that its true course and character
had never been fully illustrated. The world had received a strangely
perverted idea of it through Florian's romance of "Gonsalvo of Cordova,"
or through the legend, equally fabulous, entitled "The Civil Wars of
Granada," by Ginez Perez de la Hita, the pretended work of an Arabian
contemporary, but in reality a Spanish fabrication. It had been woven
over with love-tales and scenes of sentimental gallantry totally
opposite to its real character; for it was, in truth, one of the
sternest of those iron conflicts sanctified by the title of "holy wars."
In fact, the genuine nature of the war placed it far above the need
of any amatory embellishments. It possessed sufficient interest in the
striking contrast presented by the combatants of Oriental and European
creeds, costumes, and manners, and in the hardy and harebrained
enterprises, the romantic adventures, the picturesque forays through
mountain regions, the daring assaults and surprisals of cliff-built
castles and cragged fortresses, which succeeded each other with a
variety and brilliancy beyond the scope of mere invention.

The time of the contest also contributed to heighten the interest.
It was not long after the invention of gunpowder, when firearms and
artillery mingled the flash and smoke and thunder of modern warfare with
the steely splendor of ancient chivalry, and gave an awful magnificence
and terrible sublimity to battle, and when the old Moorish towers and
castles, that for ages had frowned defiance to the battering-rams and
catapults of classic tactics, were toppled down by the lombards of
the Spanish engineers. It was one of the cases in which history rises
superior to fiction.

The more I thought about the subject, the more I was tempted to
undertake it, and the facilities at hand at length determined me. In the
libraries of Madrid and in the private library of the American consul,
Mr. Rich, I had access to various chronicles and other works, both
printed and in manuscript, written at the time by eyewitnesses, and
in some instances by persons who had actually mingled in the scenes
recorded and gave descriptions of them from different points of view and
with different details. These works were often diffuse and tedious,
and occasionally discolored by the bigotry, superstition, and fierce
intolerance of the age; but their pages were illumined at times with
scenes of high emprise, of romantic generosity, and heroic valor, which
flashed upon the reader with additional splendor from the surrounding
darkness. I collated these various works, some of which have never
appeared in print, drew from each facts relative to the different
enterprises, arranged them in as clear and lucid order as I could
command, and endeavored to give them somewhat of a graphic effect by
connecting them with the manners and customs of the age in which they
occurred. The rough draught being completed, I laid the manuscript aside
and proceeded with the Life of Columbus. After this was finished and
sent to the press I made a tour in Andalusia, visited the ruins of the
Moorish towns, fortresses, and castles, and the wild mountain-passes and
defiles which had been the scenes of the most remarkable events of the
war, and passed some time in the ancient palace of the Alhambra, the
once favorite abode of the Moorish monarchs. Everywhere I took notes,
from the most advantageous points of view, of whatever could serve to
give local verity and graphic effect to the scenes described. Having
taken up my abode for a time at Seville, I then resumed my manuscript
and rewrote it, benefited by my travelling notes and the fresh and vivid
impressions of my recent tour. In constructing my chronicle I adopted
the fiction of a Spanish monk as the chronicler. Fray Antonio Agapida
was intended as a personification of the monkish zealots who hovered
about the sovereigns in their campaigns, marring the chivalry of the
camp by the bigotry of the cloister, and chronicling in rapturous
strains every act of intolerance toward the Moors. In fact, scarce a
sally of the pretended friar when he bursts forth in rapturous eulogy of
some great stroke of selfish policy on the part of Ferdinand, or exults
over some overwhelming disaster of the gallant and devoted Moslems,
but is taken almost word for word from one or other of the orthodox
chroniclers of Spain.

The ironical vein also was provoked by the mixture of kingcraft and
priestcraft discernible throughout this great enterprise, and the
mistaken zeal and self-delusion of many of its most gallant and generous
champions. The romantic coloring seemed to belong to the nature of the
subject, and was in harmony with what I had seen in my tour through the
poetical and romantic regions in which the events had taken place. With
all these deductions the work, in all its essential points, was faithful
to historical fact and built upon substantial documents. It was a great
satisfaction to me, therefore, after the doubts that had been expressed
of the authenticity of my chronicle, to find it repeatedly and largely
used by Don Miguel Lafuente Alcantara of Granada in his recent
learned and elaborate history of his native city, he having had ample
opportunity, in his varied and indefatigable researches, of judging how
far it accorded with documentary authority.

I have still more satisfaction in citing the following testimonial of
Mr. Prescott, whose researches for his admirable history of Ferdinand
and Isabella took him over the same ground I had trodden. His
testimonial is written in the liberal and courteous spirit
characteristic of him, but with a degree of eulogium which would make me
shrink from quoting it did I not feel the importance of his voucher for
the substantial accuracy of my work:

"Mr. Irving's late publication, the 'Chronicle of the Conquest
of Granada,' has superseded all further necessity for poetry and,
unfortunately for me, for history. He has fully availed himself of all
the picturesque and animating movement of this romantic era, and the
reader who will take the trouble to compare his chronicle with the
present more prosaic and literal narrative will see how little he
has been seduced from historic accuracy by the poetical aspect of his
subject. The fictitious and romantic dress of his work has enabled him
to make it the medium of reflecting more vividly the floating opinions
and chimerical fancies of the age, while he has illuminated the picture
with the dramatic brilliancy of coloring denied to sober history."*

     * Prescott's Ferdinand and Isabella, vol. ii. c. 15.

In the present edition I have endeavored to render the work more worthy
of the generous encomium of Mr. Prescott. Though I still retain the
fiction of the monkish author Agapida, I have brought my narrative more
strictly within historical bounds, have corrected and enriched it in
various parts with facts recently brought to light by the researches
of Alcantara and others, and have sought to render it a faithful and
characteristic picture of the romantic portion of history to which it

W. I.

Sunnyside, 1850.




The history of those bloody and disastrous wars which have caused the
downfall of mighty empires (observes Fray Antonio Agapida) has ever been
considered a study highly delectable and full of precious edification.
What, then, must be the history of a pious crusade waged by the most
Catholic of sovereigns to rescue from the power of the infidels one of
the most beautiful but benighted regions of the globe? Listen, then,
while from the solitude of my cell I relate the events of the conquest
of Granada, where Christian knight and turbaned infidel disputed, inch
by inch, the fair land of Andalusia, until the Crescent, that symbol of
heathenish abomination, was cast down, and the blessed Cross, the tree
of our redemption, erected in its stead.

Nearly eight hundred years were past and gone since the Arabian invaders
had sealed the perdition of Spain by the defeat of Don Roderick, the
last of her Gothic kings. Since that disastrous event one portion after
another of the Peninsula had been gradually recovered by the Christian
princes, until the single but powerful and warlike territory of Granada
alone remained under the domination of the Moors.

This renowned kingdom, situated in the southern part of Spain and washed
on one side by the Mediterranean Sea, was traversed in every direction
by sierras or chains of lofty and rugged mountains, naked, rocky, and
precipitous, rendering it almost impregnable, but locking up within
their sterile embraces deep, rich, and verdant valleys of prodigal

In the centre of the kingdom lay its capital, the beautiful city of
Granada, sheltered, as it were, in the lap of the Sierra Nevada, or
Snowy Mountains. Its houses, seventy thousand in number, covered two
lofty hills with their declivities and a deep valley between them,
through which flowed the Darro. The streets were narrow, as is usual in
Moorish and Arab cities, but there were occasionally small squares and
open places. The houses had gardens and interior courts, set out with
orange, citron, and pomegranate trees and refreshed by fountains, so
that as the edifices ranged above each other up the sides of the hills,
they presented a delightful appearance of mingled grove and city. One of
the hills was surmounted by the Alcazaba, a strong fortress commanding
all that part of the city; the other by the Alhambra, a royal palace and
warrior castle, capable of containing within its alcazar and towers
a garrison of forty thousand men, but possessing also its harem, the
voluptuous abode of the Moorish monarchs, laid out with courts and
gardens, fountains and baths, and stately halls decorated in the most
costly style of Oriental luxury. According to Moorish tradition, the
king who built this mighty and magnificent pile was skilled in the
occult sciences, and furnished himself with the necessary funds by means
of alchemy.* Such was its lavish splendor that even at the present day
the stranger, wandering through its silent courts and deserted halls,
gazes with astonishment at gilded ceilings and fretted domes, the
brilliancy and beauty of which have survived the vicissitudes of war and
the silent dilapidation of ages.

     * Zurita, lib. 20, c. 42.

The city was surrounded by high walls, three leagues in circuit,
furnished with twelve gates and a thousand and thirty towers. Its
elevation above the sea and the neighborhood of the Sierra Nevada
crowned with perpetual snows tempered the fervid rays of summer, so that
while other cities were panting with the sultry and stifling heat of the
dog-days, the most salubrious breezes played through the marble halls of

The glory of the city, however, was its Vega or plain, which spread
out to a circumference of thirty-seven leagues, surrounded by lofty
mountains, and was proudly compared to the famous plain of Damascus. It
was a vast garden of delight, refreshed by numerous fountains and by the
silver windings of the Xenil. The labor and ingenuity of the Moors had
diverted the waters of this river into thousands of rills and streams,
and diffused them over the whole surface of the plain. Indeed, they had
wrought up this happy region to a degree of wonderful prosperity, and
took a pride in decorating it as if it had been a favorite mistress. The
hills were clothed with orchards and vineyards, the valleys embroidered
with gardens, and the wide plains covered with waving grain. Here were
seen in profusion the orange, the citron, the fig, and the pomegranate,
with great plantations of mulberry trees, from which was produced the
finest silk. The vine clambered from tree to tree, the grapes hung in
rich clusters about the peasant's cottage, and the groves were rejoiced
by the perpetual song of the nightingale. In a word, so beautiful was
the earth, so pure the air, and so serene the sky of this delicious
region that the Moors imagined the paradise of their Prophet to be
situated in that part of the heaven which overhung the kingdom of

Within this favored realm, so prodigally endowed and strongly fortified
by nature, the Moslem wealth, valor, and intelligence, which had once
shed such a lustre over Spain, had gradually retired, and here they made
their final stand. Granada had risen to splendor on the ruin of other
Moslem kingdoms, but in so doing had become the sole object of Christian
hostility, and had to maintain its very existence by the sword. The
Moorish capital accordingly presented a singular scene of Asiatic luxury
and refinement, mingled with the glitter and the din of arms. Letters
were still cultivated, philosophy and poetry had their schools and
disciples, and the language spoken was said to be the most elegant
Arabic. A passion for dress and ornament pervaded all ranks. That of
the princesses and ladies of high rank, says Al Kattib, one of their
own writers, was carried to a height of luxury and magnificence that
bordered on delirium. They wore girdles and bracelets and anklets of
gold and silver, wrought with exquisite art and delicacy and studded
with jacinths, chrysolites, emeralds, and other precious stones. They
were fond of braiding and decorating their beautiful long tresses or
confining them in knots sparkling with jewels. They were finely formed,
excessively fair, graceful in their manners, and fascinating in their
conversation; when they smiled, says Al Kattib, they displayed teeth of
dazzling whiteness, and their breath was as the perfume of flowers.

The Moorish cavaliers, when not in armor, delighted in dressing
themselves in Persian style, in garments of wool, of silk, or cotton of
the finest texture, beautifully wrought with stripes of various colors.
In winter they wore, as an outer garment, the African cloak or Tunisian
albornoz, but in the heat of summer they arrayed themselves in linen
of spotless whiteness. The same luxury prevailed in their military
equipments. Their armor was inlaid and chased with gold and silver. The
sheaths of their scimetars were richly labored and enamelled, the blades
were of Damascus bearing texts from the Koran or martial and amorous
mottoes; the belts were of golden filigree studded with gems; their
poniards of Fez were wrought in the arabesque fashion; their lances bore
gay bandaroles; their horses were sumptuously caparisoned with housings
of green and crimson velvet, wrought with silk and enamelled with
gold and silver. All this warlike luxury of the youthful chivalry was
encouraged by the Moorish kings, who ordained that no tax should be
imposed on the gold and silver employed in these embellishments; and the
same exception was extended to the bracelets and other ornaments worn
by the fair dames of Granada.

Of the chivalrous gallantry which prevailed between the sexes in this
romantic period of Moorish history we have traces in the thousand
ballads which have come down to our day, and which have given a tone
and coloring to Spanish amatory literature and to everything in Spain
connected with the tender passion.

War was the normal state of Granada and its inhabitants; the common
people were subject at any moment to be summoned to the field, and all
the upper class was a brilliant chivalry. The Christian princes, so
successful in regaining the rest of the Peninsula, found their triumphs
checked at the mountain-boundaries of this kingdom. Every peak had its
atalaya, or watch-tower, ready to make its fire by night or to send
up its column of smoke by day, a signal of invasion at which the whole
country was on the alert. To penetrate the defiles of this perilous
country, to surprise a frontier fortress, or to make a foray into the
Vega and a hasty ravage within sight of the very capital were among the
most favorite and daring exploits of the Castilian chivalry. But they
never pretended to hold the region thus ravaged; it was sack, burn,
plunder, and away; and these desolating inroads were retaliated in
kind by the Moorish cavaliers, whose greatest delight was a "tala,"
or predatory incursion, into the Christian territories beyond the

A partisan warfare of this kind had long existed between Granada and its
most formidable antagonists, the kingdoms of Castile and Leon. It was
one which called out the keen yet generous rivalry of Christian and
Moslem cavaliers, and gave rise to individual acts of chivalrous
gallantry and daring prowess; but it was one which was gradually
exhausting the resources and sapping the strength of Granada. One of the
latest of its kings, therefore, Aben Ismael by name, disheartened by a
foray which had laid waste the Vega, and conscious that the balance of
warfare was against his kingdom, made a truce in 1457 with Henry IV.,
king of Castile and Leon, stipulating to pay him an annual tribute of
twelve thousand doblas or pistoles of gold, and to liberate annually six
hundred Christian captives, or in default of captives to give an
equal number of Moors as hostages,--all to be delivered at the city of

     * Garibay, Compend., 1.17, c. 3.

The truce, however, was of a partial nature, with singular reservations.
It did not include the Moorish frontier toward Jaen, which was to
remain open for the warlike enterprises of either nation; neither did it
prohibit sudden attacks upon towns and castles, provided they were mere
forays, conducted furtively, without sound of trumpet or display of
banners or pitching of camps or regular investment, and that they did
not last above three days.*

     * Zurita, Anales de Aragon, 1. 20, c. 42; Mariana, Hist. de Espana 1.
25, c. 1; Bleda, Coron. de los Moros, l. 5, c. 3.

Aben Ismael was faithful in observing the conditions of the truce, but
they were regarded with impatience by his eldest son, Muley Abul Hassan,
a prince of a fiery and belligerent spirit, and fond of casing himself
in armor and mounting his war-horse. He had been present at Cordova at
one of the payments of tribute, and had witnessed the scoffs and
taunts of the Christians, and his blood boiled whenever he recalled the
humiliating scene. When he came to the throne in 1465, on the death of
his father, he ceased the payment of the tribute altogether, and it was
sufficient to put him into a tempest of rage only to mention it.

"He was a fierce and warlike infidel," says the pious Fray Antonio
Agapida; "his bitterness against the holy Christian faith had been
signalized in battle during the lifetime of his father, and the same
diabolical spirit of hostility was apparent in his ceasing to pay this
most righteous tribute."



The flagrant want of faith of Muley Abul Hassan in fulfilling treaty
stipulations passed unresented during the residue of the reign of
Henry the Impotent, and the truce was tacitly continued without the
enforcement of tribute during the first three years of the reign of his
successors, Ferdinand and Isabella of glorious and happy memory, who
were too much engrossed by civil commotions in their own dominions, and
by a war of succession waged with them by the king of Portugal, to risk
an additional conflict with the Moorish sovereign. When, however, at the
expiration of the term of truce, Muley Abul Hassan sought a renewal of
it, the pride and piety of the Castilian sovereigns were awakened to
the flagrant defalcation of the infidel king, and they felt themselves
called upon, by their dignity as monarchs and their religious
obligations as champions of the faith, to make a formal demand for the
payment of arrearages.

In the year of grace 1478, therefore, Don Juan de Vera, a zealous and
devout knight, full of ardor for the faith and loyalty to the Crown,
was sent as ambassador for the purpose. He was armed at all points,
gallantly mounted, and followed by a moderate but well-appointed
retinue: in this way he crossed the Moorish frontier, and passed slowly
through the country, looking round him with the eyes of a practised
warrior and carefully noting its military points and capabilities. He
saw that the Moor was well prepared for possible hostilities. Every town
was strongly fortified. The Vega was studded with towers of refuge for
the peasantry: every pass of the mountain had its castle of defence,
every lofty height its watch-tower. As the Christian cavaliers passed
under the walls of the fortresses, lances and scimetars flashed from
their battlements, and the Moorish sentinels darted from their dark
eyes glances of hatred and defiance. It was evident that a war with
this kingdom must be a war of posts, full of doughty peril and valiant
enterprise, where every step must be gained by toil and bloodshed,
and maintained with the utmost difficulty. The warrior spirit of
the cavaliers kindled at the thoughts, and they were impatient for
hostilities; "not," says Antonio Agapida, "from any thirst for rapine
and revenge, but from that pure and holy indignation which every Spanish
knight entertained at beholding this beautiful dominion of his ancestors
defiled by the footsteps of infidel usurpers. It was impossible," he
adds, "to contemplate this delicious country, and not long to see it
restored to the dominion of the true faith and the sway of the Christian

Arrived at the gates of Granada, Don Juan de Vera and his companions
saw the same vigilant preparations on the part of the Moorish king. His
walls and towers were of vast strength, in complete repair, and mounted
with lombards and other heavy ordnance. His magazines were well stored
with the munitions of war; he had a mighty host of foot-soldiers,
together with squadrons of cavalry, ready to scour the country and carry
on either defensive or predatory warfare. The Christian warriors noted
these things without dismay; their hearts rather glowed with emulation
at the thoughts of encountering so worthy a foe. As they slowly pranced
through the streets of Granada they looked round with eagerness on
the stately palaces and sumptuous mosques, on its alcayceria or bazar,
crowded with silks and cloth of silver and gold, with jewels and
precious stones, and other rich merchandise, the luxuries of every
clime; and they longed for the time when all this wealth should be the
spoil of the soldiers of the faith, and when each tramp of their steeds
might be fetlock deep in the blood and carnage of the infidels.

The Moorish inhabitants looked jealously at this small but proud array
of Spanish chivalry, as it paraded, with that stateliness possessed only
by Spanish cavaliers, through the renowned gate of Elvira. They were
struck with the stern and lofty demeanor of Don Juan de Vera and his
sinewy frame, which showed him formed for hardy deeds of arms, and they
supposed he had come in search of distinction by defying the Moorish
knights in open tourney or in the famous tilt with reeds for which they
were so renowned, for it was still the custom of the knights of either
nation to mingle in these courteous and chivalrous contests during the
intervals of war. When they learnt, however, that he was come to demand
the tribute so abhorrent to the ears of the fiery monarch, they observed
that it well required a warrior of his apparent nerve to execute such an

Muley Abul Hassan received the cavalier in state, seated on a
magnificent divan and surrounded by the officers of his court, in
the Hall of Ambassadors, one of the most sumptuous apartments of the
Alhambra. When De Vera had delivered his message, a haughty and bitter
smile curled the lip of the fierce monarch. "Tell your sovereigns," said
he, "that the kings of Granada, who used to pay tribute in money to the
Castilian crown, are dead. Our mint at present coins nothing but blades
of scimetars and heads of lances."*

     * Garibay, 1. 40, c. 29; Conde, Hist. Arab., p. 4, c. 34.

The defiance couched in this proud reply was heard with secret
satisfaction by Don Juan de Vera, for he was a bold soldier and a devout
hater of the infidels, and he saw iron war in the words of the Moorish
monarch. Being master, however, of all points of etiquette, he retained
an inflexible demeanor, and retired from the apartment with stately and
ceremonious gravity. His treatment was suited to his rank and dignity:
a magnificent apartment in the Alhambra was assigned to him, and before
his departure a scimetar was sent to him by the king, the blade of the
finest Damascus steel, the hilt of agate enriched with precious stones,
and the guard of gold. De Vera drew it, and smiled grimly as he noticed
the admirable temper of the blade. "His Majesty has given me a trenchant
weapon," said he: "I trust a time will come when I may show him that
I know how to use his royal present." The reply was considered a
compliment, of course: the bystanders little knew the bitter hostility
that lay couched beneath.

On his return to Cordova, Don Juan de Vera delivered the reply of the
Moor, but at the same time reported the state of his territories. These
had been strengthened and augmented during the weak reign of Henry
IV. and the recent troubles of Castile. Many cities and strong places
contiguous to Granada, but heretofore conquered by the Christians, had
renewed their allegiance to Muley Abul Hassan, so that his kingdom
now contained fourteen cities, ninety-seven fortified places, besides
numerous unwalled towns and villages defended by formidable castles,
while Granada towered in the centre as the citadel.

The wary Ferdinand, as he listened to the military report of Don Juan
de Vera, saw that the present was no time for hostilities with a warrior
kingdom so bristled over with means of defence. The internal discords
of Castile still continued, as did the war with Portugal: under these
circumstances he forbore to insist upon the payment of tribute, and
tacitly permitted the truce to continue; but the defiance contained
in the reply of Muley Abul Hassan remained rankling in his bosom as a
future ground of war; and De Vera's description of Granada as the centre
of a system of strongholds and rock-built castles suggested to him his
plan of conquest--by taking town after town and fortress after fortress,
and gradually plucking away all the supports before he attempted the
capital. He expressed his resolution in a memorable pun or play upon
the name of Granada, which signifies a pomegranate. "I will pick out
the seeds of this pomegranate one by one," said the cool and crafty

NOTE.--In the first edition of this work the author recounted a
characteristic adventure of the stout Juan de Vera as happening on
the occasion of this embassy; a further consultation of historical
authorities has induced him to transfer it to a second embassy of De
Vera's, which the reader will find related in a subsequent chapter.



Though Muley Abul Hassan was at peace in his external relations, a civil
war raged in his harem, which it is proper to notice, as it had a fatal
effect upon the fortunes of the kingdom. Though cruel by nature, he was
uxorious and somewhat prone to be managed by his wives. Early in life
he had married his kinswoman, Ayxa (or Ayesha), daughter of his
great-uncle, the sultan Mohammed VII., surnamed El Hayzari, or the
Left-handed. She was a woman of almost masculine spirit and energy, and
of such immaculate and inaccessible virtue that she was generally called
La Horra, or the Chaste. By her he had a son, Abu Abdallah, or, as he is
commonly named by historians, Boabdil. The court astrologers, according
to custom, cast the horoscope of the infant, but were seized with
fear and trembling as they regarded it. "Allah Akbar! God is great!"
exclaimed they; "he alone controls the fate of empires. It is written in
the book of fate that this child will one day sit upon the throne, but
that the downfall of the kingdom will be accomplished during his reign."
From that time the prince had been regarded with aversion by his father,
and the prediction which hung over him and the persecutions to which
he became subjected procured him the surname of El Zogoybi, or
the Unfortunate. He grew up, however, under the protection of his
valiant-hearted mother, who by the energy of her character long
maintained an undisputed sway in the harem, until, as her youth passed
away and her beauty declined, a formidable rival arose.

In one of the forays of the Moorish chivalry into the Christian
territories they had surprised a frontier fortress commanded by Sancho
Ximenes de Solis, a noble and valiant cavalier, who fell in bravely
defending it. Among the captives was his daughter Isabella, then almost
in her infancy, who was brought to Granada, delicately raised, and
educated in the Moslem faith.* Her Moorish captors gave her the name of
Fatima, but as she grew up her surpassing beauty gained her the surname
of Zoraya, or the Morning Star, by which she has become known in
history. Her charms at length attracted the notice of Muley Abul Hassan,
and she soon became a member of his harem. Some have spoken of her as
a Christian slave whom he had made his concubine; but others, with more
truth, represent her as one of his wives, and ultimately his favorite
sultana; and indeed it was often the case that female captives of rank
and beauty, when converted to the faith of Islam, became united to the
proudest and loftiest of their captors.

     * Cronica del Gran Cardinal, cap. 71.

Zoraya soon acquired complete ascendancy over the mind of Muley Abul
Hassan. She was as ambitious as she was beautiful, and, having become
the mother of two sons, looked forward to the possibility of one of them
sitting on the throne of Granada. These ambitious views were encouraged,
if not suggested, by a faction which gathered round her inspired by
kindred sympathies. The king's vizier, Abul Cacim Vanegas, who had great
influence over him, was, like Zoraya, of Christian descent, being of
the noble house of Luque. His father, one of the Vanegas of Cordova, had
been captured in infancy and brought up as a Moslem.* From him sprang
the vizier, Abul Cacim Vanegas, and his brother, Reduan Vanegas,
likewise high in rank in the court of Muley Abul Hassan, and they had
about them numerous and powerful connections, all basking in court
favor. Though Moslems in faith, they were all drawn to Zoraya by the
tie of foreign and Christian descent, and sought to elevate her and her
children to the disparagement of Ayxa la Horra and her son Boabdil. The
latter, on the other hand, were supported by the noble and once-potent
family of the Abencerrages and by Aben Comixa, alcayde of the Alhambra;
and between these two factions, headed by rival sultanas, the harem
of Muley Abul Hassan became the scene of inveterate jealousies and
intrigues, which in time, as will be shown, led to popular commotions
and civil wars.**

     * Cura de los Palacios, Hist. de los Reyes Catol., cap. 56.

     * *It is to be noted that several historians have erroneously
represented Zoraya as the mother of Boabdil, instead of Ayxa la Horra,
and the Abencerrages as the opponents of Boabdil, instead of his
strenuous adherents. The statement in the text is according to the most
reliable authorities.

While these female feuds were threatening Muley Abul Hassan with trouble
and disaster at home, his evil genius prompted him to an enterprise
which involved him in tenfold danger from abroad. The reader has already
been apprised of a singular clause in the truce existing between the
Christians and the Moors, permitting hasty dashes into each other's
territories and assaults of towns and fortresses, provided they were
carried on as mere forays and without the parade of regular warfare. A
long time had elapsed, however, without any incursion of the kind on
the part of the Moors, and the Christian towns on the frontiers had, in
consequence, fallen into a state of the most negligent security. In an
unlucky moment Muley Abul Hassan was tempted to one of these forays by
learning that the fortress of Zahara, on the frontier between Ronda and
Medina Sidonia, was but feebly garrisoned and scantily supplied, and
that its alcayde was careless of his charge. This important post was
built on the crest of a rocky mountain, with a strong castle perched
above it upon a cliff, so high that it was said to be above the flight
of birds or drift of clouds. The streets and many of the houses were
mere excavations wrought out of the living rock. The town had but one
gate, opening to the west and defended by towers and bulwarks. The only
ascent to this cragged fortress was by roads cut in the rock, so rugged
in many places as to resemble broken stairs. In a word, the impregnable
security of Zahara had become so proverbial throughout Spain that a
woman of forbidding and inaccessible virtue was called a Zaharena. But
the strongest fortress and sternest virtue have weak points, and require
unremitting vigilance to guard them: let warrior and dame take warning
from the fate of Zahara.



In the year of our Lord one thousand four hundred and eighty-one, and
but a night or two after the festival of the most blessed Nativity, the
inhabitants of Zahara were sunk in profound sleep the very sentinel had
deserted his post, and sought shelter from a tempest which had raged for
three nights in succession, for it appeared but little probable that an
enemy would be abroad during such an uproar of the elements. But evil
spirits work best during a storm. In the midst of the night an uproar
rose within the walls of Zahara more awful than the raging of the
storm. A fearful alarm-cry, "The Moor! the Moor!" resounded through the
streets, mingled with the clash of arms, the shriek of anguish, and the
shout of victory. Muley Abul Hassan, at the head of a powerful force,
had hurried from Granada, and passed unobserved through the mountains in
the obscurity of the tempest. While the storm pelted the sentinel from
his post and bowled round tower and battlement, the Moors had planted
their scaling-ladders and mounted securely into both town and castle.
The garrison was unsuspicious of danger until battle and massacre burst
forth within its very walls. It seemed to the affrighted inhabitants
as if the fiends of the air had come upon the wings of the wind and
possessed themselves of tower and turret. The war-cry resounded on every
side, shout answering shout, above, below, on the battlements of the
castle, in the streets of the town; the foe was in all parts, wrapped
in obscurity, but acting in concert by the aid of preconcerted signals.
Starting from sleep, the soldiers were intercepted and cut down as they
rushed from their quarters, or if they escaped they knew not where
to assemble or where to strike. Wherever lights appeared the flashing
scimetar was at its deadly work, and all who attempted resistance fell
beneath its edge.

In a little while the struggle was at an end. Those who were not slain
took refuge in the secret places of their houses or gave themselves
up as captives. The clash of arms ceased, and the storm continued its
howling, mingled with the occasional shout of the Moorish soldiery
roaming in search of plunder. While the inhabitants were trembling for
their fate, a trumpet resounded through the streets summoning them all
to assemble, unarmed, in the public square. Here they were surrounded by
soldiery and strictly guarded until daybreak. When the day dawned it was
piteous to behold this once-prosperous community, who had laid down to
rest in peaceful security, now crowded together without distinction of
age or rank or sex, and almost without raiment, during the severity of
a wintry storm. The fierce Muley Abul Hassan turned a deaf ear to
all their prayers and remonstrances, and ordered them to be conducted
captives to Granada. Leaving a strong garrison in both town and castle,
with orders to put them in a complete state of defence, he returned,
flushed with victory, to his capital, entering it at the head of his
troops, laden with spoil and bearing in triumph the banners and pennons
taken at Zahara.

While preparations were making for jousts and other festivities in honor
of this victory over the Christians, the captives of Zahara arrived--a
wretched train of men, women, and children, worn out with fatigue and
haggard with despair, and driven like cattle into the city gates by a
detachment of Moorish soldiery.

Deep was the grief and indignation of the people of Granada at this
cruel scene. Old men, who had experienced the calamities of warfare,
anticipated coming troubles. Mothers clasped their infants to their
breasts as they beheld the hapless females of Zahara with their children
expiring in their arms. On every side the accents of pity for the
sufferers were mingled with execrations of the barbarity of the king.
The preparations for festivity were neglected, and the viands which were
to have feasted the conquerors were distributed among the captives.

The nobles and alfaquis, however, repaired to the Alhambra to
congratulate the king; for, whatever storms may rage in the lower
regions of society, rarely do any clouds but clouds of incense rise to
the awful eminence of the throne. In this instance, however, a voice
rose from the midst of the obsequious crowd, and burst like thunder
upon the ears of Abul Hassan. "Woe! woe! woe! to Granada!" exclaimed the
voice; "its hour of desolation approaches. The ruins of Zahara will
fall upon our heads; my spirit tells me that the end of our empire is
at hand." All shrank back aghast, and left the denouncer of woe standing
alone in the centre of the hall. He was an ancient and hoary man in the
rude attire of a dervise. Age had withered his form without quenching
the fire of his spirit, which glared in baleful lustre from his eyes.
He was (say the Arabian historians) one of those holy men termed santons
who pass their lives in hermitages in fasting, meditation, and prayer
until they attain to the purity of saints and the foresight of prophets.
"He was," says the indignant Fray Antonio Agapida, "a son of Belial,
one of those fanatic infidels possessed by the devil who are sometimes
permitted to predict the truth to their followers, but with the proviso
that their predictions shall be of no avail."

The voice of the santon resounded through the lofty hall of the
Alhambra, and struck silence and awe into the crowd of courtly
sycophants. Muley Abul Hassan alone was unmoved: he eyed the hoary
anchorite with scorn as he stood dauntless before him, and treated his
predictions as the ravings of a maniac. The santon rushed from the royal
presence, and, descending into the city, hurried through its streets and
squares with frantic gesticulations. His voice was heard in every
part in awful denunciation: "The peace is broken! exterminating war is
commenced. Woe! woe! woe to Granada! its fall is at hand! desolation
will dwell in its palaces; its strong men will fall beneath the sword,
its children and maidens be led into captivity. Zahara is but a type of

Terror seized upon the populace, for they considered these ravings as
the inspirations of prophecy. Some hid themselves in their dwellings as
in a time of general mourning, while some gathered together in knots in
the streets and squares, alarming each other with dismal forebodings and
cursing the rashness and cruelty of the king.

The Moorish monarch heeded not their murmurs. Knowing that his exploit
must draw upon him the vengeance of the Christians, he now threw off
all reserve, and made attempts to surprise Castellan and Elvira, though
without success. He sent alfaquis also to the Barbary powers, informing
them that the sword was drawn, and inviting the African princes to aid
him with men and supplies in maintaining the kingdom of Granada and the
religion of Mahomet against the violence of unbelievers.

While discontent exhaled itself in murmurs among the common people,
however, it fomented in dangerous conspiracies among the nobles, and
Muley Abul Hassan was startled by information of a design to depose
him and place his son Boabdil upon the throne. His first measure was to
confine the prince and his mother in the Tower of Comares; then, calling
to mind the prediction of the astrologers, that the youth would one day
sit on the throne of Granada, he impiously set the stars at defiance.
"The sword of the executioner," said he, "shall prove the fallacy of
those lying horoscopes, and shall silence the ambition of Boabdil."

The sultana Ayxa, apprised of the imminent danger of her son, concerted
a plan for his escape. At the dead of the night she gained access to
his prison, and, tying together the shawls and scarfs of herself and her
female attendants, lowered him down from a balcony of the Alhambra to
the steep rocky hillside which sweeps down to the Darro. Here some of
her devoted adherents were waiting to receive him, who, mounting him
on a swift horse, spirited him away to the city of Guadix, in the



Great was the indignation of King Ferdinand when he heard of the
storming of Zahara, though the outrage of the Moor happened most
opportunely. The war between Castile and Portugal had come to a close;
the factions of Spanish nobles were for the most part quelled. The
Castilian monarchs had now, therefore, turned their thoughts to the
cherished object of their ambition, the conquest of Granada. The pious
heart of Isabella yearned to behold the entire Peninsula redeemed from
the domination of the infidel, while Ferdinand, in whom religious zeal
was mingled with temporal policy, looked with a craving eye to the rich
territory of the Moor, studded with wealthy towns and cities. Muley Abul
Hassan had rashly or unwarily thrown the brand that was to produce the
wide conflagration. Ferdinand was not the one to quench the flames. He
immediately issued orders to all the adelantados and alcaydes of the
frontiers to maintain the utmost vigilance at their several posts, and
to prepare to carry fire and sword into the territories of the Moors.

Among the many valiant cavaliers who rallied round the throne of
Ferdinand and Isabella, one of the most eminent in rank and renowned
in arms was Don Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques of Cadiz. As he was the
distinguished champion of this holy war, and commanded in most of its
enterprises and battles, it is meet that some particular account should
be given of him. He was born in 1443 of the valiant lineage of the
Ponces, and from his earliest youth had rendered himself illustrious in
the field. He was of the middle stature, with a muscular and powerful
frame, capable of great exertion and fatigue. His hair and beard were
red and curled, his countenance was open and magnanimous, of a ruddy
complexion and slightly marked with the small-pox. He was temperate,
chaste, valiant, vigilant; a just and generous master to his vassals;
frank and noble in his deportment toward his equals; loving and faithful
to his friends; fierce and terrible, yet magnanimous, to his enemies.
He was considered the mirror of chivalry of his times, and compared by
contemporary historians to the immortal Cid.

The marques of Cadiz had vast possessions in the most fertile parts of
Andalusia, including many towns and castles, and could lead forth an
army into the field from his own vassals and dependants. On receiving
the orders of the king he burned to signalize himself by some sudden
incursion into the kingdom of Granada that should give a brilliant
commencement to the war, and should console the sovereigns for the
insult they had received in the capture of Zahara. As his estates lay
near to the Moorish frontiers and were subject to sudden inroads, he
had always in his pay numbers of adalides, or scouts and guides, many of
them converted Moors. These he sent out in all directions to watch the
movements of the enemy and to procure all kinds of information important
to the security of the frontier. One of these spies came to him one
day in his town of Marchena, and informed him that the Moorish town of
Alhama was slightly garrisoned and negligently guarded, and might be
taken by surprise. This was a large, wealthy, and populous place within
a few leagues of Granada. It was situated on a rocky height, nearly
surrounded by a river, and defended by a fortress to which there was no
access but by a steep and cragged ascent. The strength of its situation
and its being embosomed in the centre of the kingdom had produced the
careless security which now invited attack.

To ascertain fully the state of the fortress the marques despatched
secretly a veteran soldier who was highly in his confidence. His name
was Ortega de Prado, a man of great activity, shrewdness, and valor,
and captain of escaladors (soldiers employed to scale the walls of
fortresses in time of attack). Ortega approached Alhama one moonless
night, and paced along its walls with noiseless step, laying his ear
occasionally to the ground or to the wall. Every time he distinguished
the measured tread of a sentinel, and now and then the challenge of
the night-watch going its rounds. Finding the town thus guarded, he
clambered to the castle: there all was silent. As he ranged its lofty
battlements between him and the sky he saw no sentinel on duty.
He noticed certain places where the wall might be ascended by
scaling-ladders, and, having marked the hour of relieving guard and made
all necessary observations, he retired without being discovered.

Ortega returned to Marchena, and assured the marques of Cadiz of
the practicability of scaling the castle of Alhama and taking it by
surprise. The marques had a secret conference with Don Pedro Enriques,
adelantado of Andalusia, Don Diego de Merlo, commander of Seville,
Sancho de Avila, alcayde of Carmona, and others, who all agreed to
aid him with their forces. On an appointed day the several commanders
assembled at Marchena with their troops and retainers. None but the
leaders knew the object or destination of the enterprise, but it was
enough to rouse the Andalusian spirit to know that a foray was intended
into the country of their old enemies, the Moors. Secrecy and celerity
were necessary for success. They set out promptly with three thousand
genetes or light cavalry and four thousand infantry. They chose a route
but little travelled, by the way of Antiquera, passing with great labor
through rugged and solitary defiles of the sierra or chain of mountains
of Arrecife, and left all their baggage on the banks of the river
Yeguas, to be brought after them. This march was principally in the
night; all day they remained quiet; no noise was suffered in their camp,
and no fires were made, lest the smoke should betray them. On the third
day they resumed their march as the evening darkened, and, forcing
themselves forward at as quick a pace as the rugged and dangerous
mountain-roads would permit, they descended toward midnight into a
small deep valley only half a league from Alhama. Here they made a halt,
fatigued by this forced march, during a long dark evening toward the end
of February.

The marques of Cadiz now explained to the troops the object of the
expedition. He told them it was for the glory of the most holy faith and
to avenge the wrongs of their countrymen at Zahara, and that the town of
Alhama, full of wealthy spoil, was the place to be attacked. The troops
were roused to new ardor by these words, and desired to be led forthwith
to the assault. They arrived close to Alhama about two hours before
daybreak. Here the army remained in ambush, while three hundred men were
despatched to scale the walls and get possession of the castle. They
were picked men, many of them alcaydes and officers, men who preferred
death to dishonor. This gallant band was guided by the escalador Ortega
de Prado at the head of thirty men with scaling-ladders. They clambered
the ascent to the castle in silence, and arrived under the dark shadow
of its towers without being discovered. Not a light was to be seen, not
a sound to be heard; the whole place was wrapped in profound repose.

Fixing their ladders, they ascended cautiously and with noiseless steps.
Ortega was the first that mounted upon the battlements, followed by
one Martin Galindo, a youthful esquire full of spirit and eager for
distinction. Moving stealthily along the parapet to the portal of the
citadel, they came upon the sentinel by surprise. Ortega seized him
by the throat, brandished a dagger before his eyes, and ordered him to
point the way to the guard-room. The infidel obeyed, and was instantly
despatched, to prevent his giving an alarm. The guard-room was a scene
rather of massacre than combat. Some of the soldiery were killed while
sleeping, others were cut down almost without resistance, bewildered by
so unexpected an assault: all were despatched, for the scaling party was
too small to make prisoners or to spare. The alarm spread throughout the
castle, but by this time the three hundred picked men had mounted the
battlements. The garrison, startled from sleep, found the enemy already
masters of the towers. Some of the Moors were cut down at once, others
fought desperately from room to room, and the whole castle resounded
with the clash of arms, the cries of the combatants, and the groans of
the wounded. The army in ambush, finding by the uproar that the castle
was surprised, now rushed from their concealment, and approached
the walls with loud shouts and sound of kettle-drums and trumpets to
increase the confusion and dismay of the garrison. A violent conflict
took place in the court of the castle, where several of the scaling
party sought to throw open the gates to admit their countrymen. Here
fell two valiant alcaydes, Nicholas de Roja and Sancho de Avila, but
they fell honorably, upon a heap of slain. At length Ortega de Prado
succeeded in throwing open a postern through which the marques of Cadiz,
the adelantado of Andalusia, and Don Diego de Merlo entered with a
host of followers, and the citadel remained in full possession of the

As the Spanish cavaliers were ranging from room to room, the marques of
Cadiz, entering an apartment of superior richness to the rest, beheld,
by the light of a silver lamp, a beautiful Moorish female, the wife
of the alcayde of the castle, whose husband was absent attending a
wedding-feast at Velez Malaga. She would have fled at the sight of a
Christian warrior in her apartment, but, entangled in the covering of
the bed, she fell at the feet of the marques, imploring mercy. That
Christian cavalier, who had a soul full of honor and courtesy toward the
sex, raised her from the floor and endeavored to allay her fears; but
they were increased at the sight of her female attendants pursued into
the room by the Spanish soldiery. The marques reproached his soldiers
with unmanly conduct, and reminded them that they made war upon men, not
on defenceless women. Having soothed the terrors of the females by the
promise of honorable protection, he appointed a trusty guard to watch
over the security of their apartment.

The castle was now taken, but the town below it was in arms. It was
broad day, and the people, recovered from their panic, were enabled to
see and estimate the force of the enemy. The inhabitants were chiefly
merchants and tradespeople, but the Moors all possessed a knowledge of
the use of weapons and were of brave and warlike spirit. They confided
in the strength of their walls and the certainty of speedy relief
from Granada, which was but about eight leagues distant. Manning the
battlements and towers, they discharged showers of stones and arrows
whenever the part of the Christian army without the walls attempted to
approach. They barricadoed the entrances of their streets also which
opened toward the castle, stationing men expert at the crossbow and
arquebuse. These kept up a constant fire upon the gate of the castle,
so that no one could sally forth without being instantly shot down. Two
valiant cavaliers who attempted to lead forth a party in defiance of
this fatal tempest were shot dead at the very portal.

The Christians now found themselves in a situation of great peril.
Reinforcements must soon arrive to the enemy from Granada: unless,
therefore, they gained possession of the town in the course of the day,
they were likely to be surrounded and beleaguered, without provisions,
in the castle. Some observed that even if they took the town they should
not be able to maintain possession of it. They proposed, therefore, to
make booty of everything valuable, to sack the castle, set it on fire,
and make good their retreat to Seville.

The marques of Cadiz was of different counsel. "God has given the
citadel into Christian hands," said he; "he will no doubt strengthen
them to maintain it. We have gained the place with difficulty and
bloodshed; it would be a stain upon our honor to abandon it through fear
of imaginary dangers." The adelantado and Don Diego de Merlo joined
in his opinion, but without their earnest and united remonstrances the
place would have been abandoned, so exhausted were the troops by forced
marches and hard fighting, and so apprehensive of the approach of the
Moors of Granada.

The strength and spirits of the party within the castle were in some
degree restored by the provisions which they found. The Christian army
beneath the town, being also refreshed by a morning's repast,
advanced vigorously to the attack of the walls. They planted their
scaling-ladders, and, swarming up, sword in hand, fought fiercely with
the Moorish soldiery upon the ramparts.

In the mean time, the marques of Cadiz, seeing that the gate of the
castle, which opened toward the city, was completely commanded by the
artillery of the enemy, ordered a large breach to be made in the wall,
through which he might lead his troops to the attack, animating them in
this perilous moment by assuring them that the place should be given up
to plunder and its inhabitants made captives.

The breach being made, the marques put himself at the head of his
troops, and entered sword in hand. A simultaneous attack was make by the
Christians in every part--by the ramparts, by the gate, by the roofs
and walls which connected the castle with the town. The Moors fought
valiantly in their streets, from their windows, and from the tops of
their houses. They were not equal to the Christians in bodily strength,
for they were for the most part peaceful men, of industrious callings,
and enervated by the frequent use of the warm bath; but they were
superior in number and unconquerable in spirit; old and young, strong
and weak, fought with the same desperation. The Moors fought for
property, for liberty, for life. They fought at their thresholds and
their hearths, with the shrieks of their wives and children ringing in
their ears, and they fought in the hope that each moment would bring aid
from Granada. They regarded neither their own wounds nor the death of
their companions, but continued fighting until they fell, and seemed
as if, when they could no longer contend, they would block up the
thresholds of their beloved homes with their mangled bodies. The
Christians fought for glory, for revenge, for the holy faith, and for
the spoil of these wealthy infidels. Success would place a rich town at
their mercy; failure would deliver them into the hands of the tyrant of

The contest raged from morning until night, when the Moors began to
yield. Retreating to a large mosque near the walls, they kept up so
galling a fire from it with lances, crossbows, and arquebuses that for
some time the Christians dared not approach. Covering themselves, at
length, with bucklers and mantelets* to protect them from the deadly
shower, the latter made their way to the mosque and set fire to the
doors. When the smoke and flames rolled in upon them the Moors gave
up all as lost. Many rushed forth desperately upon the enemy, but were
immediately slain; the rest surrendered themselves captives.

     * Mantelet--a movable parapet, made of thick planks, to protect
troops when advancing to sap or assault a walled place.

The struggle was now at an end: the town remained at the mercy of the
Christians; and the inhabitants, both male and female, became the
slaves of those who made them prisoners. Some few escaped by a mine or
subterranean way which led to the river, and concealed themselves, their
wives and children, in caves and secret places, but in three or four
days were compelled to surrender themselves through hunger.

The town was given up to plunder, and the booty was immense. There were
found prodigious quantities of gold and silver, and jewels and rich
silks and costly stuffs of all kinds, together with horses and beeves,
and abundance of grain and oil and honey, and all other productions of
this fruitful kingdom; for in Alhama were collected the royal rents
and tributes of the surrounding country: it was the richest town in
the Moorish territory, and from its great strength and its peculiar
situation was called the key to Granada.

Great waste and devastation were committed by the Spanish soldiery; for,
thinking it would be impossible to keep possession of the place, they
began to destroy whatever they could not take away. Immense jars of
oil were broken, costly furniture shattered to pieces, and magazines
of grain broken open and their contents scattered to the winds. Many
Christian captives who had been taken at Zahara were found buried in a
Moorish dungeon, and were triumphantly restored to light and liberty;
and a renegado Spaniard, who had often served as guide to the Moors
in their incursions into the Christian territories, was hanged on the
highest part of the battlements for the edification of the army.



A moorish horseman had spurred across the Vega, nor reined his panting
steed until he alighted at the gate of the Alhambra. He brought tidings
to Muley Abul Hassan of the attack upon Alhama. "The Christians," said
he, "are in the land. They came upon us, we know not whence or how, and
scaled the walls of the castle in the night. There have been dreadful
fighting and carnage in its towers and courts; and when I spurred
my steed from the gate of Alhama the castle was in possession of the

Muley Abul Hassan felt for a moment as if swift retribution had come
upon him for the woes he had inflicted upon Zahara. Still, he flattered
himself that this had only been some transient inroad of a party of
marauders intent upon plunder, and that a little succor thrown into the
town would be sufficient to expel them from the castle and drive them
from the land. He ordered out, therefore, a thousand of his chosen
cavalry, and sent them in all speed to the assistance of Alhama. They
arrived before its walls the morning after its capture: the Christian
standards floated upon its towers, and a body of cavalry poured forth
from its gates and came wheeling down into the plain to receive them.

The Moorish horsemen turned the reins of their steeds and galloped back
for Granada. They entered its gates in tumultuous confusion, spreading
terror and lamentation by their tidings. "Alhama is fallen! Alhama is
fallen!" exclaimed they; "the Christians garrison its walls; the key of
Granada is in the hands of the enemy!"

When the people heard these words they remembered the denunciation of
the santon. His prediction seemed still to resound in every ear, and
its fulfilment to be at hand. Nothing was heard throughout the city but
sighs and wailings. "Woe is me, Alhama!" was in every mouth; and this
ejaculation of deep sorrow and doleful foreboding came to be the burden
of a plaintive ballad which remains until the present day.*

     * The mournful little Spanish romance of "Ay de mi Alhama!" is
supposed to be of Moorish origin, and to embody the grief of the people
of Granada on this occasion.

Many aged men, who had taken refuge in Granada from other Moorish
dominions which had fallen into the power of the Christians, now groaned
in despair at the thoughts that war was to follow them into this last
retreat, to lay waste this pleasant land, and to bring trouble and
sorrow upon their declining years. The women were more loud and vehement
in their grief, for they beheld the evils impending over their children,
and what can restrain the agony of a mother's heart? Many of them made
their way through the halls of the Alhambra into the presence of the
king, weeping, and wailing, and tearing their hair. "Accursed be the
day," cried they, "that thou hast lit the flame of war in our land! May
the holy Prophet bear witness before Allah that we and our children
are innocent of this act! Upon thy head, and upon the heads of thy
posterity, until the end of the world, rest the sin of the desolation of

     * Garibay, lib. 40, c. 29.

Muley Abul Hassan remained unmoved amidst all this storm; his heart was
hardened (observes Fray Antonio Agapida) like that of Pharaoh, to
the end that through his blind violence and rage he might produce the
deliverance of the land from its heathen bondage. In fact, he was a bold
and fearless warrior, and trusted soon to make this blow recoil upon the
head of the enemy. He had ascertained that the captors of Alhama were
but a handful: they were in the centre of his dominions, within a short
distance of his capital. They were deficient in munitions of war and
provisions for sustaining a siege. By a rapid movement he might surround
them with a powerful army, cut off all aid from their countrymen, and
entrap them in the fortress they had taken.

To think was to act with Muley Abul Hassan, but he was prone to act with
too much precipitation. He immediately set forth in person with three
thousand horse and fifty thousand foot, and in his eagerness to arrive
at the scene of action would not wait to provide artillery and the
various engines required in a siege. "The multitude of my forces," said
he, confidently, "will be sufficient to overwhelm the enemy."

The marques of Cadiz, who thus held possession of Alhama, had a chosen
friend and faithful companion-in-arms, among the most distinguished of
the Christian chivalry. This was Don Alonso de Cordova, senior and lord
of the house of Aguilar, and brother of Gonsalvo of Cordova, afterward
renowned as grand captain of Spain. As yet, Alonso de Aguilar was the
glory of his name and race, for his brother was but young in arms. He
was one of the most hardy, valiant, and enterprising of the Spanish
knights, and foremost in all service of a perilous and adventurous
nature. He had not been at hand to accompany his friend Ponce de Leon,
marques of Cadiz, in his inroad into the Moorish territory, but he
hastily assembled a number of retainers, horse and foot, and pressed
forward to join the enterprise. Arriving at the river Yeguas, he found
the baggage of the army still upon its banks, and took charge of it to
carry it to Alhama. The marques of Cadiz heard of the approach of his
friend, whose march was slow in consequence of being encumbered by the
baggage. He was within but a few leagues of Alhama when scouts came
hurrying into the place with intelligence that the Moorish king was at
hand with a powerful army. The marques of Cadiz was filled with alarm
lest De Aguilar should fall into the hands of the enemy. Forgetting
his own danger and thinking only of that of his friend, he despatched a
well-mounted messenger to ride full speed and warn him not to approach.

The first determination of Alonso de Aguilar when he heard that the
Moorish king was at hand was to take a strong position in the mountains
and await his coming. The madness of an attempt with his handful of men
to oppose an immense army was represented to him with such force as to
induce him to abandon the idea; he then thought of throwing himself into
Alhama to share the fortunes of his friend; but it was now too late. The
Moor would infallibly intercept him, and he should only give the marques
the additional distress of beholding him captured beneath his walls.
It was even urged upon him that he had no time for delay if he would
consult his own safety, which could only be ensured by an immediate
retreat into the Christian territory. This last opinion was confirmed by
the return of scouts, who brought information that Muley Abul Hassan had
received notice of his movements, and was rapidly advancing in quest of
him. It was with infinite reluctance that Don Alonso de Aguilar yielded
to these united and powerful reasons. Proudly and sullenly he drew off
his forces, laden with the baggage of the army, and made an unwilling
retreat toward Antiquera. Muley Abul Hassan pursued him for some
distance through the mountains, but soon gave up the chase and turned
with his forces upon Alhama.

As the army approached the town they beheld the fields strewn with the
dead bodies of their countrymen, who had fallen in defence of the place,
and had been cast forth and left unburied by the Christians. There
they lay, mangled and exposed to every indignity, while droves of
half-famished dogs were preying upon them and fighting and howling over
their hideous repast.* Furious at the sight, the Moors, in the first
transports of their rage, attacked those ravenous animals: their next
measure was to vent their fury upon the Christians. They rushed like
madmen to the walls, applied scaling-ladders in all parts without
waiting for the necessary mantelets and other protections--thinking
by attacking suddenly and at various points to distract the enemy and
overcome them by the force of numbers.

     * Pulgar, Cronica.

The marques of Cadiz, with his confederate commanders, distributed
themselves along the walls to direct and animate their men in the
defence. The Moors in their blind fury often assailed the most difficult
and dangerous places. Darts, stones, and all kinds of missiles were
hurled down upon their defenceless heads. As fast as they mounted they
were cut down or dashed from the battlements, their ladders overturned,
and all who were on them precipitated headlong below.

Muley Abul Hassan stormed with passion at the sight: he sent detachment
after detachment to scale the walls, but in vain; they were like waves
rushing upon a rock, only to dash themselves to pieces. The Moors lay in
heaps beneath the wall, and among them many of the bravest cavaliers of
Granada. The Christians also sallied frequently from the gates, and made
great havoc in the irregular multitude of assailants.

Muley Abul Hassan now became sensible of his error in hurrying from
Granada without the proper engines for a siege. Destitute of all means
to batter the fortifications, the town remained uninjured, defying the
mighty army which raged and roamed before it. Incensed at being thus
foiled, Muley Abul Hassan gave orders to undermine the walls. The Moors
advanced with shouts to the attempt. They were received with a deadly
fire from the ramparts, which drove them from their works. Repeatedly
were they repulsed, and repeatedly did they return to the charge. The
Christians not merely galled them from the battlements, but issued forth
and cut them down in the excavations they were attempting to form. The
contest lasted throughout a whole day, and by evening two thousand Moors
were either killed or wounded.

Muley Abul Hassan now abandoned all hope of carrying the place by
assault, and attempted to distress it into terms by turning the channel
of the river which runs by its walls. On this stream the inhabitants
depended for their supply of water, the place being destitute of
fountains and cisterns, from which circumstance it is called Alhama "la
seca," or "the dry."

A desperate conflict ensued on the banks of the river, the Moors
endeavoring to plant palisades in its bed to divert the stream, and
the Christians striving to prevent them. The Spanish commanders
exposed themselves to the utmost danger to animate their men, who were
repeatedly driven back into the town. The marques of Cadiz was often
up to his knees in the stream fighting hand to hand with the Moors. The
water ran red with blood, and was encumbered with dead bodies. At length
the overwhelming numbers of the Moors gave them the advantage, and they
succeeded in diverting the greater part of the water. The Christians
had to struggle severely to supply themselves from the feeble rill which
remained. They sallied to the river by a subterraneous passage, but the
Moorish crossbowmen stationed themselves on the opposite bank, keeping
up a heavy fire upon the Christians whenever they attempted to fill
their vessels from the scanty and turbid stream. One party of the
Christians had, therefore, to fight while another drew water. At all
hours of the day and night this deadly strife was maintained, until it
seemed as if every drop of water were purchased with a drop of blood.

In the mean time the sufferings of the town became intense. None but the
soldiery and their horses were allowed the precious beverage so dearly
earned, and even that in quantities that only tantalized their wants.
The wounded, who could not sally to procure it, were almost destitute,
while the unhappy prisoners shut up in the mosques were reduced to
frightful extremities. Many perished raving mad, fancying themselves
swimming in boundless seas, yet unable to assuage their thirst. Many of
the soldiers lay parched and panting along the battlements, no longer
able to draw a bowstring or hurl a stone; while above five thousand
Moors, stationed upon a rocky height which overlooked part of the town,
kept up a galling fire into it with slings and crossbows, so that the
marques of Cadiz was obliged to heighten the battlements by using the
doors from the private dwellings.

The Christian cavaliers, exposed to this extreme peril and in imminent
danger of falling into the hands of the enemy, despatched fleet
messengers to Seville and Cordova, entreating the chivalry of Andalusia
to hasten to their aid. They sent likewise, imploring assistance from
the king and queen, who at that time held their court in Medina del
Campo. In the midst of their distress a tank or cistern of water was
fortunately discovered in the city, which gave temporary relief to their



The perilous situation of the Christian cavaliers, pent up and
beleaguered within the walls of the Alhama, spread terror among their
friends and anxiety throughout all Andalusia. Nothing, however, could
equal the anguish of the marchioness of Cadiz, the wife of the gallant
Roderigo Ponce de Leon. In her deep distress she looked round for
some powerful noble who had the means of rousing the country to the
assistance of her husband. No one appeared more competent for the
purpose than Don Juan de Guzman, the duke of Medina Sidonia. He was
one of the most wealthy and puissant grandees of Spain; his possessions
extended over some of the most fertile parts of Andalusia, embracing
towns and seaports and numerous villages. Here he reigned in feudal
state like a petty sovereign, and could at any time bring into the field
an immense force of vassals and retainers.

The duke of Medina Sidonia and the marques of Cadiz, however, were at
this time deadly foes. An hereditary feud existed between them, which
had often risen to bloodshed and open war; for as yet the fierce
contests between the proud and puissant Spanish nobles had not been
completely quelled by the power of the Crown, and in this respect they
exerted a right of sovereignty in leading their vassals against each
other in open field.

The duke of Medina Sidonia would have appeared, to many, the very
last person to whom to apply for aid of the marques of Cadiz; but the
marchioness judged of him by the standard of her own high and generous
mind. She knew him to be a gallant and courteous knight, and had already
experienced the magnanimity of his spirit, having been relieved by him
when besieged by the Moors in her husband's fortress of Arcos. To
the duke, therefore, she applied in this moment of sudden calamity,
imploring him to furnish succor to her husband. The event showed how
well noble spirits understand each other. No sooner did the duke receive
this appeal from the wife of his enemy than he generously forgot all
feeling of animosity and determined to go in person to his succor. He
immediately despatched a courteous letter to the marchioness, assuring
her that in consideration of the request of so honorable and estimable
a lady, and to rescue from peril so valiant a cavalier as her husband,
whose loss would be great, not only to Spain, but to all Christendom, he
would forego the recollection of all past grievances, and hasten to his
relief with all the forces he could raise.

The duke wrote at the same time to the alcaydes of his towns and
fortresses, ordering them to join him forthwith at Seville with all
the forces they could spare from their garrisons. He called on all the
chivalry of Andalusia to make a common cause in the rescue of those
Christian cavaliers, and he offered large pay to all volunteers who
would resort to him with horses, armor, and provisions. Thus all who
could be incited by honor, religion, patriotism, or thirst of gain were
induced to hasten to his standard, and he took the field with an army
of five thousand horse and fifty thousand foot.* Many cavaliers of
distinguished name accompanied him in this generous enterprise. Among
these was the redoubtable Alonso de Aguilar, the chosen friend of the
marques of Cadiz, and with him his younger brother, Gonsalvo Fernandez
de Cordova, afterward renowned as the grand captain; Don Roderigo Giron
also, master of the order of Calatrava, together with Martin Alonso de
Montemayor and the marques de Villena, esteemed the best lance in Spain.
It was a gallant and splendid army, comprising the flower of Spanish
chivalry, and poured forth in brilliant array from the gates of Seville
bearing the great standard of that ancient and renowned city.

     * Cronica de los Duques de Medina Sidonia, por Pedro de Medina, MS.

Ferdinand and Isabella were at Medina del Campo when tidings came of the
capture of Alhama. The king was at mass when he received the news, and
ordered "Te Deum" to be chanted for this signal triumph of the holy
faith. When the first flush of triumph had subsided, and the king learnt
the imminent peril of the valorous Ponce de Leon and his companions, and
the great danger that this stronghold might again be wrested from
their grasp, he resolved to hurry in person to the scene of action. So
pressing appeared to him the emergency that he barely gave himself time
to take a hasty repast while horses were providing, and then departed at
furious speed for Andalusia, leaving a request for the queen to follow
him.* He was attended by Don Beltram de la Cueva, duke of Albuquerque,
Don Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, count of Tendilla, and Don Pedro Mauriques,
count of Trevino, with a few more cavaliers of prowess and distinction.
He travelled by forced journeys, frequently changing his jaded horses,
being eager to arrive in time to take command of the Andalusian
chivalry. When he arrived within five leagues of Cordova the duke of
Albuquerque remonstrated with him upon entering with such incautious
haste into the enemies' country. He represented to him that there were
troops enough assembled to succor Alhama, and that it was not for him
to venture his royal person in doing what could be done by his subjects,
especially as he had such valiant and experienced captains to act for
him. "Besides, sire," added the duke, "Your Majesty should bethink
you that the troops about to take the field are mere men of Andalusia,
whereas your illustrious predecessors never made an inroad into the
territory of the Moors without being accompanied by a powerful force of
the stanch and iron warriors of Old Castile."

     * Illescas, Hist. Pontifical.

"Duke," replied the king, "your counsel might have been good had I not
departed from Medina with the avowed determination of succoring these
cavaliers in person. I am now near the end of my journey, and it would
be beneath my dignity to change my intention before even I had met
with an impediment. I shall take the troops of this country who are
assembled, without waiting for those of Castile, and with the aid of God
shall prosecute my journey."*

     * Pulgar, Cronica, p. 3, cap. 3.

As King Ferdinand approached Cordova the principal inhabitants came
forth to receive him. Learning, however, that the duke of Medina Sidonia
was already on the march and pressing forward into the territory of the
Moors, the king was all on fire to overtake him and to lead in person
the succor to Alhama. Without entering Cordova, therefore, he exchanged
his weary horses for those of the inhabitants who had come forth to meet
him, and pressed forward for the army. He despatched fleet couriers in
advance, requesting the duke of Medina Sidonia to await his coming, that
he might take command of the forces.

Neither the duke nor his companions-in-arms, however, felt inclined to
pause in their generous expedition and gratify the inclinations of the
king. They sent back missives representing that they were far within the
enemies' frontier, and it was dangerous either to pause or turn back.
They had likewise received pressing entreaties from the besieged to
hasten their speed, setting forth their great sufferings and their
hourly peril of being overwhelmed by the enemy.

The king was at Ponton del Maestre when he received these missives. So
inflamed was he with zeal for the success of this enterprise that he
would have penetrated into the kingdom of Granada with the handful of
cavaliers who accompanied him, but they represented the rashness of such
a journey through the mountainous defiles of a hostile country thickly
beset with towns and castles. With some difficulty, therefore, he was
dissuaded from his inclination, and prevailed upon to await tidings from
the army in the frontier city of Antiquera.



While all Andalusia was thus in arms and pouring its chivalry through
the mountain-passes of the Moorish frontiers, the garrison of Alhama was
reduced to great extremity and in danger of sinking under its sufferings
before the promised succor could arrive. The intolerable thirst that
prevailed in consequence of the scarcity of water, the incessant watch
that had to be maintained over the vast force of enemies without and
the great number of prisoners within, and the wounds which almost every
soldier had received in the incessant skirmishes and assaults, had worn
grievously both flesh and spirit. The noble Ponce de Leon, marques
of Cadiz, still animated the soldiery, however, by word and example,
sharing every hardship and being foremost in every danger, exemplifying
that a good commander is the vital spirit of an army.

When Muley Abul Hassan heard of the vast force that was approaching
under the command of the duke of Medina Sidonia, and that Ferdinand was
coming in person with additional troops, he perceived that no time was
to be lost: Alhama must be carried by one powerful attack or abandoned
entirely to the Christians.

A number of Moorish cavaliers, some of the bravest youth of Granada,
knowing the wishes of the king, proposed to undertake a desperate
enterprise which, if successful, must put Alhama in his power. Early one
morning, when it was scarcely the gray of the dawn, about the time
of changing the watch, these cavaliers approached the town at a place
considered inaccessible from the steepness of the rocks on which the
wall was founded, which, it was supposed, elevated the battlements
beyond the reach of the longest scaling-ladder. The Moorish knights,
aided by a number of the strongest and most active escaladors, mounted
these rocks and applied the ladders without being discovered, for to
divert attention from them Muley Abul Hassan made a false attack upon
the town in another quarter.

The scaling party mounted with difficulty and in small numbers; the
sentinel was killed at his post, and seventy of the Moors made their
way into the streets before an alarm was given. The guards rushed to
the walls to stop the hostile throng that was still pouring in. A sharp
conflict, hand to hand and man to man, took place on the battlements,
and many on both sides fell. The Moors, whether wounded or slain, were
thrown headlong without the walls, the scaling-ladders were overturned,
and those who were mounting were dashed upon the rocks, and from thence
tumbled upon the plain. Thus in a little while the ramparts were cleared
by Christian prowess, led on by that valiant knight Don Alonzo Ponce,
the uncle, and that brave esquire Pedro Pineda, nephew, of the marques
of Cadiz.

The walls being cleared, these two kindred cavaliers now hastened with
their forces in pursuit of the seventy Moors who had gained an entrance
into the town. The main party of the garrison being engaged at a
distance resisting the feigned attack of the Moorish king, this fierce
band of infidels had ranged the streets almost without opposition, and
were making their way to the gates to throw them open to the army.* They
were chosen men from among the Moorish forces, several of them gallant
knights of the proudest families of Granada. Their footsteps through
the city were in a manner printed in blood, and they were tracked by the
bodies of those they had killed and wounded. They had attained the gate;
most of the guard had fallen beneath their scimetars; a moment more and
Alhama would have been thrown open to the enemy.

     * Zurita, lib. 20, c. 43.

Just at this juncture Don Alonzo Ponce and Pedro de Pineda reached the
spot with their forces. The Moors had the enemy in front and rear; they
placed themselves back to back, with their banner in the centre. In
this way they fought with desperate and deadly determination, making a
rampart around them with the slain. More Christian troops arrived and
hemmed them in, but still they fought, without asking for quarter. As
their number decreased they serried their circle still closer, defending
their banner from assault, and the last Moor died at his post grasping
the standard of the Prophet. This standard was displayed from the walls,
and the turbaned heads of the Moors were thrown down to the besiegers.*

     * Pedro de Pineda received the honor of knighthood from the hand
of King Ferdinand for his valor on this occasion (Alonzo Ponce was
already knight.)--See Zuniga, Annales of Seville, lib. 12, an. 1482.

Muley Abul Hassan tore his beard with rage at the failure of this
attempt and at the death of so many of his chosen cavaliers. He saw that
all further effort was in vain; his scouts brought word that they had
seen from the heights the long columns and flaunting banners of the
Christian army approaching through the mountains. To linger would be
to place himself between two bodies of the enemy. Breaking up his camp,
therefore, in all haste, he gave up the siege of Alhama and hastened
back to Granada; and the last clash of his cymbals scarce died upon the
ear from the distant hills before the standard of the Duke of Medina
Sidonia was seen emerging in another direction from the defiles of the

When the Christians in Alhama beheld their enemies retreating on one
side and their friends advancing on the other, they uttered shouts
of joy and hymns of thanksgiving, for it was as a sudden relief
from present death. Harassed by several weeks of incessant vigil and
fighting, suffering from scarcity of provisions and almost continual
thirst, they resembled skeletons rather than living men. It was a noble
and gracious spectacle--the meeting of those hitherto inveterate foes,
the duke of Medina Sidonia and the marques of Cadiz. At sight of
his magnanimous deliverer the marques melted into tears: all past
animosities only gave the greater poignancy to present feelings of
gratitude and admiration. The late deadly rivals clasped each other in
their arms, and from that time forward were true and cordial friends.

While this generous scene took place between the commanders a sordid
contest arose among their troops. The soldiers who had come to the
rescue claimed a portion of the spoils of Alhama, and so violent was the
dispute that both parties seized their arms. The duke of Medina
Sidonia interfered, and settled the question with his characteristic
magnanimity. He declared that the spoil belonged to those who had
captured the city. "We have taken the field," said he, "only for
honor, for religion, and for the rescue of our countrymen and
fellow-Christians, and the success of our enterprise is a sufficient
and a glorious reward. If we desire booty, there are sufficient Moorish
cities yet to be taken to enrich us all." The soldiers were convinced
by the frank and chivalrous reasoning of the duke; they replied to his
speech by acclamations, and the transient broil was happily appeased.

The marchioness of Cadiz, with the forethought of a loving wife,
had despatched her major-domo with the army with a large supply of
provisions. Tables were immediately spread beneath the tents, where the
marques gave a banquet to the duke and the cavaliers who had accompanied
him, and nothing but hilarity prevailed in this late scene of suffering
and death.

A garrison of fresh troops was left in Alhama, and the veterans who had
so valiantly captured and maintained it returned to their homes burdened
with precious booty. The marques and duke, with their confederate
cavaliers, repaired to Antiquera, where they were received with great
distinction by the king, who honored the marques of Cadiz with signal
marks of favor. The duke then accompanied his late enemy, but now
most zealous and grateful friend, the marques of Cadiz, to his town of
Marchena, where he received the reward of his generous conduct in
the thanks and blessings of the marchioness. The marques celebrated a
sumptuous feast in honor of his guest; for a day and night his palace
was thrown open and was the scene of continual revel and festivity. When
the duke departed for his estates at St. Lucar the marques attended him
for some distance on his journey, and when they separated it was as the
parting scene of brothers. Such was the noble spectacle exhibited to the
chivalry of Spain by these two illustrious rivals. Each reaped universal
renown from the part he had performed in the campaign--the marques from
having surprised and captured one of the most important and formidable
fortresses of the kingdom of Granada, and the duke from having subdued
his deadliest foe by a great act of magnanimity.



The Moorish king, Abul Hassan, returned, baffled and disappointed, from
before the walls of Alhama, and was received with groans and smothered
execrations by the people of Granada. The prediction of the santon was
in every mouth, and appeared to be rapidly fulfilling, for the enemy was
already strongly fortified in Alhama, in the very heart of the kingdom.
At the same time, the nobles who had secretly conspired to depose the
old king and elevate his son Boabdil to the throne had matured their
plans in concert with the prince, who had been joined in Guadix by hosts
of adherents. An opportunity soon presented to carry their plans into

Muley Abul Hassan had a royal country palace, with gardens and
fountains, called the Alixares, situated on the Cerro del Sol, or
Mountain of the Sun, a height the ascent to which leads up from the
Alhambra, but which towers far above that fortress, and looks down as
from the clouds upon it and upon the subjacent city of Granada. It was
a favorite retreat of the Moorish kings to inhale the pure
mountain-breezes and leave far below the din and turmoil of the city;
Muley Abul Hassan had passed a day among its bowers, in company with
his favorite wife Zoraya, when toward evening he heard a strange sound
rising from the city, like the gathering of a storm or the sullen roar
of the ocean. Apprehensive of evil, he ordered the officers of his guard
to descend with all speed to the city and reconnoitre. The intelligence
brought back was astounding. A civil war was raging in the city. Boabdil
had been brought from Guadix by the conspirators, the foremost of whom
were the gallant race of the Abencerrages. He had entered the Albaycin
in triumph, and been hailed with rapture and proclaimed king in that
populous quarter of the city. Abul Cacim Vanegas, the vizier, at the
head of the royal guards had attacked the rebels, and the noise which
had alarmed the king was the din of fighting in the streets and squares.

Muley Abul Hassan hastened to descend to the Alhambra, confident that,
ensconced in that formidable fortress, he could soon put an end to the
rash commotion. To his surprise and dismay, he found the battlements
lined with hostile troops: Aben Comixa, the alcayde, had declared in
favor of Boabdil and elevated his standard on the towers: thus cut off
from his stronghold, the old monarch was fain to return to the Alixares.

The conflict lasted throughout the night with carnage on both sides. In
the morning Abul Cacim, driven out of the city, appeared before the old
king with his broken squadrons, and told him there was no safety but in
flight. "Allah Akbar!" (God is great!) exclaimed old Muley; "it is in
vain to contend against what is written in the book of fate. It was
predestined that my son should sit upon the throne--Allah forfend the
rest of the prediction." So saying, he made a hasty retreat, escorted
by Abul Cacim Vanegas and his troops, who conducted him to the castle
of Mondujar in the valley of Locrin. Here he was joined by many powerful
cavaliers, relatives of Abul Cacim and partisans of Zoraya, among whom
were Cid Hiaya, Aben Jamy, and Reduan Vanegas, men who had alcaydes,
vassals, at their command, and possessed great influence in Almeria and
Baza. He was joined also by his brother Abdallah, commonly called El
Zagal, or the Valiant, who was popular in many parts of the kingdom. All
these offered to aid him with their swords in suppressing the rebellion.

Thus reinforced, Muley Abul Hassan determined on a sudden blow for the
recovery of his throne and the punishment of the rebels. He took his
measures with that combination of dexterity and daring which formed his
character, and arrived one night under the walls of Granada with five
hundred chosen followers. Scaling the walls of the Alhambra, he threw
himself with sanguinary fury into its silent courts. The sleeping
inmates were roused from their repose only to fall by the exterminating
scimetar. The rage of Abul Hassan spared neither age nor rank nor sex;
the halls resounded with shrieks and yells, and the fountains ran red
with blood. The alcayde, Aben Comixa, retreated to a strong tower with
a few of the garrison and inhabitants. The furious Abul Hassan did not
lose time in pursuing him; he was anxious to secure the city and to
wreak his vengeance on its rebellious inhabitants. Descending with his
bloody band into the streets, he cut down the defenceless inhabitants
as, startled from their sleep, they rushed forth to learn the cause of
the alarm. The city was soon completely roused; the people flew to arms;
lights blazed in every street, revealing the scanty number of this
band that had been dealing such fatal vengeance in the dark. Muley
Abul Hassan had been mistaken in his conjectures: the great mass of the
people, incensed by his tyranny, were zealous in favor of his son. A
violent but transient conflict took place in the streets and squares:
many of the followers of Abul Hassan were slain, the rest driven out of
the city, and the old monarch, with the remnant of his band, retreated
to his loyal city of Malaga.

Such was the commencement of those great internal feuds and divisions
which hastened the downfall of Granada. The Moors became separated into
two hostile factions, headed by the father and the son, the latter of
whom was called by the Spaniards "El Rey Chico," or the Young King; but,
though bloody encounters took place between them, they never failed to
act with all their separate force against the Christians as a common
enemy whenever an opportunity occurred.



King Ferdinand held a council of war at Cordova, where it was
deliberated what was to be done with Alhama. Most of the council advised
that it should be demolished, inasmuch as, being in the centre of the
Moorish kingdom, it would be at all times liable to attack, and could
only be maintained by a powerful garrison and at a vast expense. Queen
Isabella arrived at Cordova in the midst of these deliberations,
and listened to them with surprise and impatience. "What!" said she,
"destroy the first fruits of our victories? Abandon the first place we
have wrested from the Moors? Never let us suffer such an idea to occupy
our minds. It would argue fear or feebleness, and give new courage to
the enemy. You talk of the toil and expense of maintaining Alhama. Did
we doubt on undertaking this war that it was to be one of infinite cost,
labor, and bloodshed? And shall we shrink from the cost the moment a
victory is obtained and the question is merely to guard or abandon its
glorious trophy? Let us hear no more about the destruction of Alhama;
let us maintain its walls sacred, as a stronghold granted us by Heaven
in the centre of this hostile land; and let our only consideration be
how to extend our conquest and capture the surrounding cities."

The language of the queen infused a more lofty and chivalrous spirit
into the royal council. Preparations were made to maintain Alhama at all
risk and expense, and King Ferdinand appointed as alcayde Luis Fernandez
Puerto Carrero, senior of the house of Palma, supported by Diego Lopez
de Ayala, Pero Ruiz de Alarcon, and Alonso Ortis, captains of four
hundred lances and a body of one thousand foot, supplied with provisions
for three months.

Ferdinand resolved also to lay siege to Loxa, or Loja, a city of great
strength at no great distance from Alhama, and all-important to its
protection. It was, in fact, a military point situated in a pass of the
mountains between the kingdoms of Granada and Castile, and commanded a
main entrance to the Vega. The Xenil flowed by its walls, and it had a
strong castle or citadel built on a rock. In preparing for the siege of
this formidable place Ferdinand called upon all the cities and towns of
Andalusia and Estramadura, and the domains of the orders of Santiago,
Calatrava, and Alcantara, and of the priory of San Juan, and the kingdom
of Toledo, and beyond to the cities of Salamanca, Toro, and Valladolid,
to furnish, according to their repartimientos or allotments, a certain
quantity of bread, wine, and cattle to be delivered at the royal camp
before Loxa, one half at the end of June and one half in July. These
lands, also, together with Biscay and Guipuscoa, were ordered to send
reinforcements of horse and foot, each town furnishing its quota,
and great diligence was used in providing lombards, powder, and other
warlike munitions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Pulgar, Cronica.

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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios, c. 58.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios.

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

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



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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios.

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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Garibay, lib. 40, cap 31.

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

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

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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A question now arose among certain of those ancient and experienced
men who grow gray about a court in the profound study of forms and
ceremonials, with whom a point of punctilio is as a vast political
right, and who contract a sublime and awful idea of the external dignity
of the throne. Certain of these court sages propounded the momentous
question whether the Moorish monarch, coming to do homage as a vassal,
ought not to kneel and kiss the hand of the king. This was immediately
decided in the affirmative by a large number of ancient cavaliers,
accustomed (says Antonio Agapida) to the lofty punctilio of our most
dignified court and transcendent sovereigns. The king, therefore, was
informed by those who arranged the ceremonials that when the Moorish
monarch appeared in his presence he was expected to extend his royal
hand to receive the kiss of homage.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios, ubi sup.

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

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

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

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

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

     * Mariana, Abarca, Zurita, Pulgar, etc.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios, c. 68.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

     * Pulgar, Garibay, Cura de los Palacios.

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

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

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

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

     * Pulgar, part 3, cap. 42.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Seen by the author in 1826.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The troops had scarcely stretched themselves on the earth to take
repose, when a scout arrived bringing word that El Zagal had suddenly
sallied out of Granada with a strong force, and had encamped in the
vicinity of Moclin. It was plain that the wary Moor had received
information of the intended attack. This, however, was not the idea that
presented itself to the mind of the count de Cabra. He had captured one
king; here was a fair opportunity to secure another. What a prisoner to
deliver into the hands of his royal mistress! Fired with the thoughts,
the good count forgot all the arrangements of the king; or rather,
blinded by former success, he trusted everything to courage and fortune,
and thought that by one bold swoop he might again bear off the royal
prize and wear his laurels without competition.* His only fear was that
the master of Calatrava and the belligerent bishop might come up in time
to share the glory of the victory; so, ordering every one to horse, this
hot-spirited cavalier pushed on for Moclin without allowing his troops
the necessary time for repose.

     * Mariana, lib. 25, c. 17; Abarca, Zurita, etc.

The evening closed as the count arrived in the neighborhood of Moclin.
It was the full of the moon and a bright and cloudless night. The count
was marching through one of those deep valleys or ravines worn in the
Spanish mountains by the brief but tremendous torrents which prevail
during the autumnal rains. It was walled on each side by lofty and
almost perpendicular cliffs, but great masses of moonlight were thrown
into the bottom of the glen, glittering on the armor of the shining
squadrons as they silently passed through it. Suddenly the war-cry of
the Moors rose in various parts of the valley. "El Zagal! El Zagal!" was
shouted from every cliff, accompanied by showers of missiles that struck
down several of the Christian warriors. The count lifted up his eyes,
and beheld, by the light of the moon, every cliff glistening with
Moorish soldiery. The deadly shower fell thickly round him, and the
shining armor of his followers made them fair objects for the aim of the
enemy. The count saw his brother Gonzalo struck dead by his side;
his own horse sank under him, pierced by four Moorish lances, and
he received a wound in the hand from an arquebuse. He remembered the
horrible massacre of the mountains of Malaga, and feared a similar
catastrophe. There was no time to pause. His brother's horse, freed
from his slaughtered rider, was running at large: seizing the reins, he
sprang into the saddle, called upon his men to follow him, and, wheeling
round, retreated out of the fatal valley.

The Moors, rushing down from the heights, pursued the retreating
Christians. The chase endured for a league, but it was a league of rough
and broken road, where the Christians had to turn and fight at almost
every step. In these short but fierce combats the enemy lost many
cavaliers of note, but the loss of the Christians was infinitely more
grievous, comprising numbers of the noblest warriors of Vaena and its
vicinity. Many of the Christians, disabled by wounds or exhausted by
fatigue, turned aside and endeavored to conceal themselves among rocks
and thickets, but never more rejoined their companions, being slain or
captured by the Moors or perishing in their wretched retreats.

The arrival of the troops led by the master of Calatrava and the bishop
of Jaen put an end to the rout. El Zagal contented himself with the
laurels he had gained, and, ordering the trumpets to call off his men
from the pursuit, returned in great triumph to Moclin.*

     * Zurita, lib. 20, c. 4; Pulgar, Cronica.

Queen Isabella was at Vaena, awaiting with great anxiety the result of
the expedition. She was in a stately apartment of the castle looking
toward the road that winds through the mountains from Moclin, and
regarding the watch-towers on the neighboring heights in hopes of
favorable signals. The prince and princess, her children, were with
her, and her venerable counsellor, the grand cardinal. All shared in the
anxiety of the moment. At length couriers were seen riding toward the
town. They entered its gates, but before they reached the castle the
nature of their tidings was known to the queen by the shrieks and
wailings from the streets below. The messengers were soon followed by
wounded fugitives hastening home to be relieved or to die among their
friends and families. The whole town resounded with lamentations, for it
had lost the flower of its youth and its bravest warriors. Isabella
was a woman of courageous soul, but her feelings were overpowered by
spectacles of woe on every side: her maternal heart mourned over the
death of so many loyal subjects, who shortly before had rallied round
her with devoted affection, and, losing her usual self-command, she sank
into deep despondency.

In this gloomy state of mind a thousand apprehensions crowded upon her.
She dreaded the confidence which this success would impart to the Moors;
she feared also for the important fortress of Alhama, the garrison of
which had not been reinforced since its foraging party had been cut off
by this same El Zagal. On every side she saw danger and disaster, and
feared that a general reverse was about to attend the Castilian arms.

The grand cardinal comforted her with both spiritual and worldly
counsel. He told her to recollect that no country was ever conquered
without occasional reverses to the conquerors; that the Moors were a
warlike people, fortified in a rough and mountainous country, where they
never could be conquered by her ancestors; and that, in fact, her armies
had already, in three years, taken more cities than those of any of her
predecessors had been able to do in twelve. He concluded by offering to
take the field himself with three thousand cavalry, his own retainers,
paid and maintained by himself, and either hasten to the relief of
Alhama or undertake any other expedition Her Majesty might command.
The discreet words of the cardinal soothed the spirit of the queen, who
always looked to him for consolation, and she soon recovered her usual

Some of the counsellors of Isabella, of that politic class who seek
to rise by the faults of others, were loud in their censures of the
rashness of the count. The queen defended him with prompt generosity.
"The enterprise," said she, "was rash, but not more rash than that of
Lucena, which was crowned with success, and which we have all applauded
as the height of heroism. Had the count de Cabra succeeded in capturing
the uncle, as he did the nephew, who is there that would not have
praised him to the skies?"

The magnanimous words of the queen put a stop to all invidious remarks
in her presence, but certain of the courtiers, who had envied the count
the glory gained by his former achievements, continued to magnify,
among themselves his present imprudence; and we are told by Fray Antonio
Agapida that they sneeringly gave the worthy cavalier the appellation of
count de Cabra the king-catcher.

Ferdinand had reached the place on the frontier called the Fountain
of the King, within three leagues of Moclin, when he heard of the
late disaster. He greatly lamented the precipitation of the count, but
forbore to express himself with severity, for he knew the value of that
loyal and valiant cavalier.* He held a council of war to determine what
course was to be pursued. Some of his cavaliers advised him to abandon
the attempt upon Moclin, the place being strongly reinforced and the
enemy inspirited by his recent victory. Certain old Spanish hidalgos
reminded him that he had but few Castilian troops in his army, without
which stanch soldiery his predecessors never presumed to enter the
Moorish territory, while others remonstrated that it would be beneath
the dignity of the king to retire from an enterprise on account of the
defeat of a single cavalier and his retainers. In this way the king was
distracted by a multitude of counsellors, when, fortunately, a letter
from the queen put an end to his perplexities. Proceed we in the next
chapter to relate what was the purport of that letter.

     * Abarca, Anales de Aragon.



"Happy are those princes," exclaims the worthy padre Fray Antonio
Agapida, "who have women and priests to advise them, for in these
dwelleth the spirit of counsel." While Ferdinand and his captains were
confounding each other in their deliberations at the Fountain of the
King, a quiet but deep little council of war was held in the state
apartment of the old castle of Vaena between Queen Isabella, the
venerable Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, grand cardinal of Spain, and Don
Garcia Osoria, the belligerent bishop of Jaen. This last worthy prelate,
who had exchanged his mitre for a helm, no sooner beheld the defeat of
the enterprise against Moclin than he turned the reins of his sleek,
stall-fed steed and hastened back to Vaena, full of a project for the
employment of the army, the advancement of the faith, and the benefit of
his own diocese. He knew that the actions of the king were influenced
by the opinions of the queen, and that the queen always inclined
a listening ear to the counsels of saintly men: he laid his plans,
therefore, with the customary wisdom of his cloth, to turn the ideas
of the queen into the proper channel; and this was the purport of the
worthy bishop's suggestions:

The bishopric of Jaen had for a long time been harassed by two Moorish
castles, the scourge and terror of all that part of the country. They
were situated on the frontiers of the kingdom of Granada, about four
leagues from Jaen, in a deep, narrow, and rugged valley surrounded by
lofty mountains. Through this valley runs the Rio Frio (or Cold River)
in a deep channel worn between high, precipitous banks. On each side of
the stream rise two vast rocks, nearly perpendicular, within a stone's
throw of each other, blocking up the gorge of the valley. On the summits
of these rocks stood the two formidable castles, Cambil and Albahar,
fortified with battlements and towers of great height and thickness.
They were connected together by a bridge thrown from rock to rock across
the river. The road which passed through the valley traversed this
bridge, and was completely commanded by these castles. They stood like
two giants of romance guarding the pass and dominating the valley.

The kings of Granada, knowing the importance of these castles, kept
them always well garrisoned and victualled to stand a siege, with fleet
steeds and hard riders to forage the country of the Christians. The
warlike race of the Abencerrages, the troops of the royal household, and
others of the choicest chivalry of Granada made them their strongholds
or posts of arms, whence to sally forth on those predatory and roving
enterprises in which they delighted. As the wealthy bishopric of
Jaen lay immediately at hand, it suffered more peculiarly from these
marauders. They drove off the fat beeves and the flocks of sheep from
the pastures and swept the laborers from the field; they scoured the
country to the very gates of Jaen, so that the citizens could not
venture from their walls without the risk of being borne off captive to
the dungeons of these castles.

The worthy bishop, like a good pastor, beheld with grief of heart his
fat bishopric daily waxing leaner and leaner and poorer and poorer, and
his holy ire was kindled at the thoughts that the possessions of the
Church should thus be at the mercy of a crew of infidels. It was the
urgent counsel of the bishop, therefore, that the military force thus
providentially assembled in the neighborhood, since it was apparently
foiled in its attempt upon Moclin, should be turned against these
insolent castles and the country delivered from their domination. The
grand cardinal supported the suggestion of the bishop, and declared that
he had long meditated the policy of a measure of the kind. Their united
opinions found favor with the queen, and she despatched a letter on
the subject to the king. It came just in time to relieve him from the
distraction of a multitude of counsellors, and he immediately undertook
the reduction of those castles.

The marques of Cadiz was accordingly sent in advance, with two thousand
horse, to keep a watch upon the garrisons and prevent all entrance or
exit until the king should arrive with the main army and the battering
artillery. The queen, to be near at hand in case of need, moved her
quarters to the city of Jaen, where she was received with martial honors
by the belligerent bishop, who had buckled on his cuirass and girded on
his sword to fight in the cause of his diocese.

In the mean time, the marques of Cadiz arrived in the valley and
completely shut up the Moors within their walls. The castles were under
the command of Mahomet Lentin Ben Usef, an Abencerrage, and one of the
bravest cavaliers of Granada. In his garrisons were many troops of
the fierce African tribe of Gomeres. Mahomet Lentin, confident in
the strength of his fortresses, smiled as he looked down from his
battlements upon the Christian cavalry perplexed in the rough and narrow
valley. He sent forth skirmishing parties to harass them, and there were
many sharp combats between small parties and single knights; but the
Moors were driven back to their castles, and all attempts to send
intelligence of their situation to Granada were frustrated by the
vigilance of the marques of Cadiz.

At length the legions of the royal army came pouring, with vaunting
trumpet and fluttering banner, along the defiles of the mountains.
They halted before the castles, but the king could not find room in
the narrow and rugged valley to form his camp; he had to divide it
into three parts, which were posted on different heights, and his tents
whitened the sides of the neighboring hills. When the encampment was
formed the army remained gazing idly at the castles. The artillery was
upward of four leagues in the rear, and without artillery all attack
would be in vain.

The alcayde Mahomet Lentin knew the nature of the road by which the
artillery had to be brought. It was merely a narrow and rugged path, at
times scaling almost perpendicular crags and precipices, up which it was
utterly impossible for wheel carriages to pass, neither was it in
the power of man or beast to draw up the lombards and other ponderous
ordnance. He felt assured, therefore, that they never could be brought
to the camp, and without their aid what could the Christians effect
against his rock-built castles? He scoffed at them, therefore, as he
saw their tents by day and their fires by night covering the surrounding
heights. "Let them linger here a little while longer," said he, "and the
autumnal torrents will wash them from the mountains."

While the alcayde was thus closely mewed up within his walls and
the Christians remained inactive in their camp, he noticed, one calm
autumnal day, the sound of implements of labor echoing among the
mountains, and now and then the crash of a falling tree or a thundering
report, as if some rock had been heaved from its bed and hurled into the
valley. The alcayde was on the battlements of his castle, surrounded by
his knights. "Methinks," said he, "these Christians are making war
upon the rocks and trees of the mountains, since they find our castle

The sounds did not cease even during the night: every now and then the
Moorish sentinel as he paced the battlements heard some crash echoing
among the heights. The return of day explained the mystery. Scarcely
did the sun shine against the summits of the mountains than shouts burst
from the cliffs opposite to the castle, and were answered from the camp
with joyful sounds of kettledrums and trumpets.

The astonished Moors lifted up their eyes and beheld, as it were, a
torrent of war breaking out of a narrow defile. There was a multitude
of men with pickaxes, spades, and bars of iron clearing away every
obstacle, while behind them slowly moved along great teams of oxen
dragging heavy ordnance and all the munitions of battering artillery.

"What cannot women and priests effect when they unite in council?"
exclaims again the worthy Antonio Agapida. The queen had held another
consultation with the grand cardinal and the belligerent bishop of Jaen.
It was clear that the heavy ordnance could never be conveyed to the
camp by the regular road of the country, and without battering artillery
nothing could be effected. It was suggested, however, by the zealous
bishop that another road might be opened through a more practicable part
of the mountains. It would be an undertaking extravagant and chimerical
with ordinary means, and therefore unlooked for by the enemy; but what
could not kings effect who had treasure and armies at command?

The project struck the enterprising spirit of the queen. Six thousand
men with pickaxes, crowbars, and every other necessary implement were
set to work day and night to break a road through the very centre of the
mountains. No time was to be lost, for it was rumored that El Zagal
was about to march with a mighty host to the relief of the castles.
The bustling bishop of Jaen acted as pioneer to mark the route and
superintend the laborers, and the grand cardinal took care that the work
should never languish through lack of means.*

     * Zurita, Anales de Aragon, lib. 20, c. 64; Pulgar, part 3, cap. 51.

"When kings' treasures," says Fray Antonio Agapida, "are dispensed by
priestly hands, there is no stint, as the glorious annals of Spain
bear witness." Under the guidance of these ghostly men it seemed as if
miracles were effected. Almost an entire mountain was levelled, valleys
were filled up, trees hewn down, rocks broken and overturned; in short,
all the obstacles which nature had heaped around entirely and promptly
vanished. In little more than twelve days this gigantic work was
effected and the ordnance dragged to the camp, to the great triumph of
the Christians and confusion of the Moors.*

     * Zurita

No sooner was the heavy artillery arrived than it was mounted in all
haste upon the neighboring heights: Francisco Ramirez de Madrid, the
first engineer in Spain, superintended the batteries, and soon opened a
destructive fire upon the castles.

When the alcayde, Mahomet Lentin, found his towers tumbling about
him and his bravest men dashed from the walls without the power
of inflicting a wound upon the foe, his haughty spirit was greatly
exasperated. "Of what avail," said he, bitterly, "is all the prowess of
knighthood against these cowardly engines that murder from afar?"

For a whole day a tremendous fire kept thundering upon the castle of
Albahar. The lombards discharged large stones which demolished two of
the towers and all the battlements which guarded the portal. If any
Moors attempted to defend the walls or repair the breaches, they were
shot down by ribadoquines and other small pieces of artillery. The
Christian soldiery issued from the camp under cover of this fire, and,
approaching the castles, discharged flights of arrows and stones through
the openings made by the ordnance.

At length, to bring the siege to a conclusion, Francisco Ramirez
elevated some of the heaviest artillery on a mount that rose in form of
a cone or pyramid on the side of the river near to Albahar and commanded
both castles. This was an operation of great skill and excessive labor,
but it was repaid by complete success, for the Moors did not dare to
wait until this terrible battery should discharge its fury. Satisfied
that all further resistance was in vain, the valiant alcayde made signal
for a parley. The articles of capitulation were soon arranged. The
alcayde and his garrisons were permitted to return in safety to the city
of Granada, and the castles were delivered into the possession of King
Ferdinand on the day of the festival of St. Matthew in the month of
September. They were immediately repaired, strongly garrisoned, and
delivered in charge to the city of Jaen.

The effects of this triumph were immediately apparent. Quiet and
security once more settled upon the bishopric. The husbandmen tilled
their fields in peace, the herds and flocks fattened unmolested in the
pastures, and the vineyards yielded corpulent skinsful of rosy wine. The
good bishop enjoyed in the gratitude of his people the approbation of
his conscience, the increase of his revenues, and the abundance of his
table a reward for all his toils and perils. "This glorious victory,"
exclaims Fray Antonio Agapida, "achieved by such extraordinary
management and infinite labor, is a shining example of what a bishop can
effect for the promotion of the faith and the good of his diocese."



While these events were taking place on the northern frontier of the
kingdom of Granada the important fortress of Alhama was neglected, and
its commander, Don Gutiere de Padilla, clavero of Calatrava, reduced
to great perplexity. The remnant of the foraging party which had been
surprised and massacred by El Zagal when on his way to Granada to
receive the crown had returned in confusion and dismay to the fortress.
They could only speak of their own disgrace, being obliged to abandon
their cavalgada and fly, pursued by a superior force: of the flower of
their party, the gallant knights of Calatrava, who had remained behind
in the valley, they knew nothing. A few days cleared up the mystery of
their fate: tidings were brought that their bloody heads had been borne
in triumph into Granada. The surviving knights of Calatrava, who formed
a part of the garrison, burned to revenge the death of their comrades
and to wipe out the stigma of this defeat; but the clavero had been
rendered cautious by disaster--he resisted all their entreaties for a
foray. His garrison was weakened by the loss of so many of its bravest
men; the Vega was patrolled by numerous and powerful squadrons sent
forth by El Zagal; above all, the movements of the garrison were watched
by the warriors of Zalea, a strong town only two leagues distant on the
road toward Loxa. This place was a continual check upon Alhama when
in its most powerful state, placing ambuscades to entrap the Christian
cavaliers in the course of their sallies. Frequent and bloody skirmishes
had taken place in consequence; and the troops of Alhama, when returning
from their forays, had often to fight their way back through the
squadrons of Zalea. Thus surrounded by dangers, Don Gutiere de Padilla
restrained the eagerness of his troops for a sally, knowing that an
additional disaster might be followed by the loss of Alhama.

In the mean while provisions began to grow scarce; they were unable to
forage the country as usual for supplies, and depended for relief upon
the Castilian sovereigns. The defeat of the count de Cabra filled
the measure of their perplexities, as it interrupted the intended
reinforcements and supplies. To such extremity were they reduced that
they were compelled to kill some of their horses for provisions.

The worthy clavero, Don Gutiere de Padilla, was pondering one day on
this gloomy state of affairs when a Moor was brought before him who had
surrendered himself at the gate of Alhama and claimed an audience. Don
Gutiere was accustomed to visits of the kind from renegado Moors, who
roamed the country as spies and adalides, but the countenance of this
man was quite unknown to him. He had a box strapped to his shoulders
containing divers articles of traffic, and appeared to be one of those
itinerant traders who often resorted to Alhama and the other garrison
towns under pretext of vending trivial merchandise, such as amulets,
perfumes, and trinkets, but who often produced rich shawls, golden
chains and necklaces, and valuable gems and jewels.

The Moor requested a private conference with the clavero. "I have a
precious jewel," said he, "to dispose of."

"I want no jewels," replied Don Gutiere.

"For the sake of Him who died on the cross, the great prophet of your
faith," said the Moor solemnly, "refuse not my request; the jewel
I speak of you alone can purchase, but I can only treat about it in

Don Gutiere perceived there was something hidden under these mystic and
figurative terms, in which the Moors were often accustomed to talk.
He motioned to his attendants to retire. When they were alone the Moor
looked cautiously around the apartment, and then, approaching close to
the knight, demanded in a low voice, "What will you give me if I deliver
the fortress of Zalea into your hands?"

Don Gutiere looked with surprise at the humble individual that made such
a suggestion.

"What means have you," said he, "of effecting such a proposition?"

"I have a brother in the garrison of Zalea," replied the Moor, "who for
a proper compensation would admit a body of troops into the citadel."

Don Gutiere turned a scrutinizing eye upon the Moor. "What right have
I to believe," said he, "that thou wilt be truer to me than to those of
thy blood and thy religion?"

"I renounce all ties to them, either of blood or religion," replied the
Moor; "my mother was a Christian captive; her country shall henceforth
be my country, and her faith my faith."*

     * Cura de los Palacios.

The doubts of Don Gutiere were not dispelled by this profession of
mongrel Christianity. "Granting the sincerity of thy conversion," said
he, "art thou under no obligations of gratitude or duty to the alcayde
of the fortress thou wouldst betray?"

The eyes of the Moor flashed fire at the words; he gnashed his teeth
with fury. "The alcayde," cried he, "is a dog! He has deprived my
brother of his just share of booty; he has robbed me of my merchandise,
treated me worse than a Jew when I murmured at his injustice, and
ordered me to be thrust forth ignominiously from his walls. May the
curse of God fall upon my head if I rest content until I have full
revenge!" "Enough," said Don Gutiere: "I trust more to thy revenge than
thy religion."

The good clavero called a council of his officers. The knights of
Calatrava were unanimous for the enterprise--zealous to appease the
manes of their slaughtered comrades. Don Gutiere reminded them of
the state of the garrison, enfeebled by their late loss and scarcely
sufficient for the defence of the walls. The cavaliers replied that
there was no achievement without risk, and that there would have been
no great actions recorded in history had there not been daring spirits
ready to peril life to gain renown.

Don Gutiere yielded to the wishes of his knights, for to have resisted
any further might have drawn on him the imputation of timidity: he
ascertained by trusty spies that everything in Zalea remained in the
usual state, and he made all the requisite arrangements for the attack.

When the appointed night arrived all the cavaliers were anxious to
engage in the enterprise, but the individuals were decided by lot. They
set out under the guidance of the Moor, and when they had arrived in the
vicinity of Zalea they bound his hands behind his back, and their
leader pledged his knightly word to strike him dead on the first sign of
treachery. He then bade him to lead the way.

It was near midnight when they reached the walls of the fortress. They
passed silently along until they found themselves below the citadel.
Here their guide made a low and preconcerted signal: it was answered
from above, and a cord let down from the wall. The knights attached
to it a ladder, which was drawn up and fastened. Gutiere Munoz was the
first that mounted, followed by Pedro de Alvarado, both brave and hardy
soldiers. A handful succeeded: they were attacked by a party of guards,
but held them at bay until more of their comrades ascended; with their
assistance they gained possession of a tower and part of the wall. The
garrison by this time was aroused, but before they could reach the scene
of action most of the cavaliers were within the battlements. A bloody
contest raged for about an hour--several of the Christians were slain,
but many of the Moors: at length the citadel was carried and the town
submitted without resistance.

Thus did the gallant knights of Calatrava gain the strong town of Zalea
with scarcely any loss, and atone for the inglorious defeat of their
companions by El Zagal. They found the magazines of the place well
stored with provisions, and were enabled to carry a seasonable supply to
their own famishing garrison.

The tidings of this event reached the sovereigns just after the
surrender of Cambil and Albahar. They were greatly rejoiced at
this additional success of their arms, and immediately sent strong
reinforcements and ample supplies for both Alhama and Zalea. They then
dismissed the army for the winter. Ferdinand and Isabella retired to
Alcala de Henares, where the queen on the 16th of December, 1485,
gave birth to the princess Catharine, afterward wife of Henry VIII. of
England. Thus prosperously terminated the checkered campaign of this
important year.



Muley Abdallah el Zagal had been received with great acclamations
at Granada on his return from defeating the count de Cabra. He had
endeavored to turn his victory to the greatest advantage with his
subjects, giving tilts and tournaments and other public festivities in
which the Moors delighted. The loss of the castles of Cambil and Albahar
and of the fortress of Zalea, however, checked this sudden tide of
popularity, and some of the fickle populace began to doubt whether they
had not been rather precipitate in deposing his brother, Muley Abul

That superannuated monarch remained in his faithful town of Almunecar,
on the border of the Mediterranean, surrounded by a few adherents,
together with his wife Zoraya and his children, and he had all his
treasures safe in his possession. The fiery heart of the old king was
almost burnt out, and all his powers of doing either harm or good seemed
at an end.

While in this passive and helpless state his brother, El Zagal,
manifested a sudden anxiety for his health. He had him removed, with all
tenderness and care, to Salobrena, another fortress on the Mediterranean
coast, famous for its pure and salubrious air; and the alcayde, who was
a devoted adherent to El Zagal, was charged to have especial care that
nothing was wanting to the comfort and solace of his brother.

Salobrena was a small town, situated on a lofty and rocky hill in
the midst of a beautiful and fertile vega shut up on three sides
by mountains and opening on the fourth to the Mediterranean. It was
protected by strong walls and a powerful castle, and, being deemed
impregnable, was often used by the Moorish kings as a place of deposit
for their treasures. They were accustomed also to assign it as a
residence for such of their sons and brothers as might endanger the
security of their reign. Here the princes lived in luxurious repose:
they had delicious gardens, perfumed baths, a harem of beauties at their
command--nothing was denied them but the liberty to depart: that alone
was wanting to render this abode an earthly paradise.

Such was the delightful place appointed by El Zagal for the residence
of his brother, but, notwithstanding its wonderful salubrity, the old
monarch had not been removed thither many days before he expired. There
was nothing extraordinary in his death: life with him had long been
glimmering in the socket, and for some time past he might rather have
been numbered with the dead than with the living. The public, however,
are fond of seeing things in a sinister and mysterious point of view,
and there were many dark surmises as to the cause of this event. El
Zagal acted in a manner to heighten these suspicions: he caused the
treasures of his deceased brother to be packed on mules and brought
to Granada, where he took possession of them, to the exclusion of the
children of Abul Hassan. The sultana Zoraya and her two sons were lodged
in the Alhambra, in the Tower of Comares. This was a residence in a
palace, but it had proved a royal prison to the sultana Ayxa la Horra
and her youthful son Boabdil. There the unhappy Zoraya had time to
meditate upon the disappointment of all those ambitious schemes for
herself and children for which she had stained her conscience with so
many crimes.

The corpse of old Muley was also brought to Granada--not in state
becoming the remains of a once-powerful sovereign, but transported on
a mule, like the corpse of the poorest peasant. It received no honor or
ceremonial from El Zagal, and appears to have been interred obscurely
to prevent any popular sensation; and it is recorded by an ancient and
faithful chronicler of the time that the body of the old monarch was
deposited by two Christian captives in his osario or charnel-house.*
Such was the end of the turbulent Muley Abul Hassan, who, after passing
his life in constant contests for empire, could scarce gain quiet
admission into the corner of a sepulchre.

     * Cura de los Palacios, c. 77.

No sooner were the populace well assured that old Muley Abul Hassan was
dead and beyond recovery than they all began to extol his memory and
deplore his loss. They admitted that he had been fierce and cruel, but
then he had been brave; he had, to be sure, pulled this war upon their
heads, but he had likewise been crushed by it. In a word, he was
dead, and his death atoned or every fault; for a king recently dead is
generally either a hero or a saint.

In proportion as they ceased to hate old Muley they began to hate his
brother. The circumstances of the old king's death, the eagerness to
appropriate his treasures, the scandalous neglect of his corpse, and the
imprisonment of his sultana and children,--all filled the public mind
with gloomy suspicions, and the epithet of Fratricide was sometimes
substituted for that of El Zagal in the low murmurings of the people.

As the public must always have some object to like as well as to hate,
there began once more to be an inquiry after their fugitive king,
Boabdil el Chico. That unfortunate monarch was still at Cordova,
existing on the cool courtesy and meagre friendship of Ferdinand,
which had waned exceedingly ever since Boabdil had ceased to have any
influence in his late dominions. The reviving interest expressed in his
fate by the Moorish public, and certain secret overtures made to him,
once more aroused the sympathy of Ferdinand: he advised Boabdil again to
set up his standard within the frontiers of Granada, and furnished him
with money and means for the purpose. Boabdil advanced but a little way
into his late territories; he took up his post at Velez el Blanco, a
strong town on the confines of Murcia: there he established the shadow
of a court, and stood, as it were, with one foot over the border,
and ready to draw that back upon the least alarm. His presence in the
kingdom, however, and his assumption of royal state gave life to his
faction in Granada. The inhabitants of the Albaycin, the poorest but
most warlike part of the populace, were generally in his favor: the
more rich, courtly, and aristocratical inhabitants of the quarter of the
Alhambra rallied round what appeared to be the most stable authority
and supported the throne of El Zagal. So it is in the admirable order
of sublunary affairs: everything seeks its kind; the rich befriend the
rich, the powerful stand by the powerful, the poor enjoy the patronage
of the poor, and thus a universal harmony prevails.



Great and glorious was the style with which the Catholic sovereigns
opened another year's campaign of this eventful war. It was like
commencing another act of a stately and heroic drama, where the curtain
rises to the inspiring sound of martial melody and the whole stage
glitters with the array of warriors and the pomp of arms. The ancient
city of Cordova was the place appointed by the sovereigns for the
assemblage of the troops; and early in the spring of 1486 the fair
valley of the Guadalquivir resounded with the shrill blast of trumpet
and the impatient neighing of the war-horse. In this splendid era of
Spanish chivalry there was a rivalship among the nobles who most should
distinguish himself by the splendor of his appearance and the number and
equipments of his feudal followers. Every day beheld some cavalier of
note, the representative of some proud and powerful house, entering the
gates of Cordova with sound of trumpet, and displaying his banner and
device renowned in many a contest. He would appear in sumptuous array,
surrounded by pages and lackeys no less gorgeously attired, and followed
by a host of vassals and retainers, horse and foot, all admirably
equipped in burnished armor.

Such was the state of Don Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, duke of Infantado, who
may be cited as a picture of a warlike noble of those times. He brought
with him five hundred men-at-arms of his household armed and mounted
"a la gineta" and "a la guisa." The cavaliers who attended him were
magnificently armed and dressed. The housings of fifty of his horses
were of rich cloth embroidered with gold, and others were of brocade.
The sumpter mules had housings of the same, with halters of silk, while
the bridles, head-pieces, and all the harnessing glittered with silver.

The camp equipage of these noble and luxurious warriors was equally
magnificent. Their tents were gay pavilions of various colors, fitted
up with silken hangings and decorated with fluttering pennons. They had
vessels of gold and silver for the service of their tables, as if they
were about to engage in a course of stately feasts and courtly revels,
instead of the stern encounters of rugged and mountainous warfare.
Sometimes they passed through the streets of Cordova at night in
splendid cavalcade, with great numbers of lighted torches, the rays of
which, falling upon polished armor and nodding plumes and silken
scarfs and trappings of golden embroidery, filled all beholders with

     * Pulgar, part 3, cap. 41, 56.

But it was not the chivalry of Spain alone which thronged the streets of
Cordova. The fame of this war had spread throughout Christendom: it
was considered a kind of crusade, and Catholic knights from all parts
hastened to signalize themselves in so holy a cause. There were several
valiant chevaliers from France, among whom the most distinguished was
Gaston du Leon, seneschal of Toulouse. With him came a gallant train,
well armed and mounted and decorated with rich surcoats and panaches of
feathers. These cavaliers, it is said, eclipsed all others in the light
festivities of the court: they were devoted to the fair, but not after
the solemn and passionate manner of the Spanish lovers; they were gay,
gallant, and joyous in their amours, and captivated by the vivacity of
their attacks. They were at first held in light estimation by the grave
and stately Spanish knights until they made themselves to be respected
by their wonderful prowess in the field.

The most conspicuous of the volunteers, however, who appeared in Cordova
on this occasion was an English knight of royal connection. This was the
Lord Scales, earl of Rivers, brother to the queen of England, wife of
Henry VII. He had distinguished himself in the preceding year at the
battle of Bosworth Field, where Henry Tudor, then earl of Richmond,
overcame Richard III. That decisive battle having left the country
at peace, the earl of Rivers, having conceived a passion for warlike
scenes, repaired to the Castilian court to keep his arms in exercise in
a campaign against the Moors. He brought with him a hundred archers,
all dextrous with the longbow and the cloth-yard arrow; also two hundred
yeomen, armed cap-a-pie, who fought with pike and battle-axe--men robust
of frame and of prodigious strength. The worthy padre Fray Antonio
Agapida describes this stranger knight and his followers with his
accustomed accuracy and minuteness.

"This cavalier," he observes, "was from the far island of England, and
brought with him a train of his vassals, men who had been hardened in
certain civil wars which raged in their country. They were a comely race
of men, but too fair and fresh for warriors, not having the sunburnt,
warlike hue of our old Castilian soldiery. They were huge feeders also
and deep carousers, and could not accommodate themselves to the sober
diet of our troops, but must fain eat and drink after the manner of
their own country. They were often noisy and unruly also in their
wassail, and their quarter of the camp was prone to be a scene of loud
revel and sudden brawl. They were, withal, of great pride, yet it was
not like our inflammable Spanish pride: they stood not much upon the
"pundonor," the high punctilio, and rarely drew the stiletto in their
disputes, but their pride was silent and contumelious. Though from a
remote and somewhat barbarous island, they believed themselves the most
perfect men upon earth, and magnified their chieftain, the Lord Scales,
beyond the greatest of their grandees. With all this, it must be said of
them that they were marvellous good men in the field, dextrous archers
and powerful with the battle-axe. In their great pride and self-will
they always sought to press in the advance and take the post of danger,
trying to outvie our Spanish chivalry. They did not rush on fiercely
to the fight, nor make a brilliant onset like the Moorish and Spanish
troops, but they went into the fight deliberately and persisted
obstinately and were slow to find out when they were beaten. Withal,
they were much esteemed, yet little liked, by our soldiery, who
considered them stanch companions in the field, yet coveted but little
fellowship with them in the camp.

"Their commander, Lord Scales, was an accomplished cavalier, of gracious
and noble presence and fair speech: it was a marvel to see so much
courtesy in a knight brought up so far from our Castilian court. He was
much honored by the king and queen, and found great favor with the fair
dames about the court, who, indeed, are rather prone to be pleased with
foreign cavaliers. He went always in costly state, attended by pages and
esquires, and accompanied by noble young cavaliers of his country, who
had enrolled themselves under his banner to learn the gentle exercise
of arms. In all pageants and festivals the eyes of the populace were
attracted by the singular bearing and rich array of the English earl
and his train, who prided themselves in always appearing in the garb and
manner of their country, and were, indeed, something very magnificent,
delectable, and strange to behold."

The worthy chronicler is no less elaborate in his description of the
masters of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara and their valiant knights,
armed at all points and decorated with the badges of their orders.
These, he affirms, were the flower of Christian chivalry: being
constantly in service, they became more steadfast and accomplished in
discipline than the irregular and temporary levies of the feudal nobles.
Calm, solemn, and stately, they sat like towers upon their powerful
chargers. On parades they manifested none of the show and ostentation
of the other troops; neither in battle did they endeavor to signalize
themselves by any fiery vivacity or desperate and vainglorious exploit:
everything with them was measured and sedate, yet it was observed that
none were more warlike in their appearance in the camp or more terrible
for their achievements in the field.

The gorgeous magnificence of the Spanish nobles found but little favor
in the eyes of the sovereigns. They saw that it caused a competition in
expense ruinous to cavaliers of moderate fortune, and they feared that
a softness and effeminacy might thus be introduced incompatible with the
stern nature of the war. They signified their disapprobation to several
of the principal noblemen, and recommended a more sober and soldier-like
display while in actual service.

"These are rare troops for a tourney, my lord," said Ferdinand to the
duke of Infantado as he beheld his retainers glittering in gold and
embroidery, "but gold, though gorgeous, is soft and yielding: iron is
the metal for the field."

"Sire," replied the duke, "if my men parade in gold, Your Majesty will
find they fight with steel." The king smiled, but shook his head, and
the duke treasured up his speech in his heart.

It remains now to reveal the immediate object of this mighty and
chivalrous preparation, which had, in fact, the gratification of a royal
pique at bottom. The severe lesson which Ferdinand had received from the
veteran Ali Atar before the walls of Loxa, though it had been of great
service in rendering him wary in his attacks upon fortified places, yet
rankled sorely in his mind, and he had ever since held Loxa in peculiar
odium. It was, in truth, one of the most belligerent and troublesome
cities on the borders, incessantly harassing Andalusia by its
incursions. It also intervened between the Christian territories and
Alhama and other important places gained in the kingdom of Granada. For
all these reasons King Ferdinand had determined to make another grand
attempt upon this warrior city, and for this purpose had summoned to the
field his most powerful chivalry.

It was in the month of May that the king sallied from Cordova at the
head of his army. He had twelve thousand cavalry and forty thousand
foot-soldiers armed with crossbows, lances, and arquebuses. There
were six thousand pioneers with hatchets, pickaxes, and crowbars for
levelling roads. He took with him also a great train of lombards and
other heavy artillery, with a body of Germans skilled in the service of
ordnance and the art of battering walls.

It was a glorious spectacle (says Fray Antonio Agapida) to behold this
pompous pageant issuing forth from Cordova, the pennons and devices of
the proudest houses of Spain, with those of gallant stranger knights,
fluttering above a sea of crests and plumes--to see it slowly moving,
with flash of helm and cuirass and buckler, across the ancient bridge
and reflected in the waters of the Guadalquivir, while the neigh of
steed and blast of trumpet vibrated in the air and resounded to the
distant mountains. "But, above all," concludes the good father, with his
accustomed zeal, "it was triumphant to behold the standard of the faith
everywhere displayed, and to reflect that this was no worldly-minded
army, intent upon some temporal scheme of ambition or revenge, but a
Christian host bound on a crusade to extirpate the vile seed of Mahomet
from the land and to extend the pure dominion of the Church."



While perfect unity of object and harmony of operation gave power to
the Christian arms, the devoted kingdom of Granada continued a prey to
internal feuds. The transient popularity of El Zagal had declined ever
since the death of his brother, and the party of Boabdil was daily
gaining strength; the Albaycin and the Alhambra were again arrayed
against each other in deadly strife, and the streets of unhappy Granada
were daily dyed in the blood of her children. In the midst of these
dissensions tidings arrived of the formidable army assembling at
Cordova. The rival factions paused in their infatuated brawls, and
were roused to a temporary sense of the common danger. They forthwith
resorted to their old expedient of new-modelling their government, or
rather of making and unmaking kings. The elevation of El Zagal to the
throne had not produced the desired effect; what, then, was to be done?
Recall Boabdil el Chico and acknowledge him again as sovereign? While
they were in a popular tumult of deliberation Hamet Aben Zarrax,
surnamed El Santo, rose among them. This was the same wild, melancholy
man who had predicted the woes of Granada. He issued from one of the
caverns of the adjacent height which overhangs the Darro, and has since
been called the Holy Mountain. His appearance was more haggard than
ever, for the unheeded spirit of prophecy seemed to have turned inwardly
and preyed upon his vitals. "Beware, O Moslems," exclaimed he, "of men
who are eager to govern, yet are unable to protect. Why slaughter each
other for El Chico or El Zagal? Let your kings renounce their contests,
unite for the salvation of Granada, or let them be deposed."

Hamet Aben Zarrax had long been revered as a saint--he was now
considered an oracle. The old men and the nobles immediately consulted
together how the two rival kings might be brought to accord. They had
tried most expedients: it was now determined to divide the kingdom
between them, giving Granada, Malaga, Velez Malaga, Almeria, Almunecar,
and their dependencies to El Zagal, and the residue to Boabdil el Chico.
Among the cities granted to the latter Loxa was particularly specified,
with a condition that he should immediately take command of it in
person, for the council thought the favor he enjoyed with the Castilian
monarchs might avert the threatened attack.

El Zagal readily agreed to this arrangement: he had been hastily
elevated to the throne by an ebullition of the people, and might be as
hastily cast down again. It secured him one half of a kingdom to which
he had no hereditary right, and he trusted to force or fraud to gain the
other half hereafter. The wily old monarch even sent a deputation to his
nephew, making a merit of offering him cheerfully the half which he had
thus been compelled to relinquish, and inviting him to enter into an
amicable coalition for the good of the country.

The heart of Boabdil shrank from all connection with a man who had
sought his life, and whom he regarded as the murderer of his kindred. He
accepted one half of the kingdom as an offer from the nation, not to be
rejected by a prince who scarcely held possession of the ground he stood
on. He asserted, nevertheless, his absolute right to the whole, and only
submitted to the partition out of anxiety for the present good of his
people. He assembled his handful of adherents and prepared to hasten
to Loxa. As he mounted his horse to depart, Hamet Aben Zarrax stood
suddenly before him. "Be true to thy country and thy faith," cried he;
"hold no further communication with these Christian dogs. Trust not the
hollow-hearted friendship of the Castilian king; he is mining the
earth beneath thy feet. Choose one of two things: be a sovereign or a
slave--thou canst not be both."

Boabdil ruminated on these words; he made many wise resolutions, but
he was prone always to act from the impulse of the moment, and was
unfortunately given to temporize in his policy. He wrote to Ferdinand,
informing him that Loxa and certain other cities had returned to their
allegiance, and that he held them as vassal to the Castilian Crown,
according to their convention. He conjured him, therefore, to refrain
from any meditated attack, offering free passage to the Spanish army to
Malaga or any other place under the dominion of his uncle.*

     * Zurita, lib. 20, c. 68.

Ferdinand turned a deaf ear to the entreaty and to all professions
of friendship and vassalage. Boabdil was nothing to him but as an
instrument for stirring up the flames of civil war. He now insisted
that he had entered into a hostile league with his uncle, and had
consequently forfeited all claims to his indulgence; and he prosecuted
with the greater earnestness his campaign against the city of Loxa.

"Thus," observes the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, "thus did this most
sagacious sovereign act upon the text in the eleventh chapter of the
evangelist St. Luke, that 'a kingdom divided against itself cannot
stand.' He had induced these infidels to waste and destroy themselves
by internal dissensions, and finally cast forth the survivor, while the
Moorish monarchs by their ruinous contests made good the old Castilian
proverb in cases of civil war, 'El vencido vencido, y el vencidor
perdido' (the conquered conquered, and the conqueror undone)."*

     * Garibay, lib. 40, c. 33.



The royal army on its march against Loxa lay encamped one pleasant
evening in May in a meadow on the banks of the river Yeguas, around the
foot of a lofty cliff called the Rock of the Lovers. The quarters
of each nobleman formed as it were a separate little encampment, his
stately pavilion, surmounted by his fluttering pennon, rising above the
surrounding tents of his vassals and retainers. A little apart from the
others, as it were in proud reserve, was the encampment of the English
earl. It was sumptuous in its furniture and complete in all its
munitions. Archers and soldiers armed with battle-axes kept guard around
it, while above the standard of England rolled out its ample folds and
flapped in the evening breeze.

The mingled sounds of various tongues and nations were heard from the
soldiery as they watered their horses in the stream or busied themselves
round the fires which began to glow here and there in the twilight--the
gay chanson of the Frenchman, singing of his amours on the pleasant
banks of the Loire or the sunny regions of the Garonne; the broad
guttural tones of the German, chanting some doughty "krieger lied" or
extolling the vintage of the Rhine; the wild romance of the Spaniard,
reciting the achievements of the Cid and many a famous passage of the
Moorish wars; and the long and melancholy ditty of the Englishman,
treating of some feudal hero or redoubtable outlaw of his distant

On a rising ground, commanding a view of the whole encampment, stood the
ample and magnificent pavilion of the king, with the banner of Castile
and Aragon and the holy standard of the cross erected before it. In this
tent there assembled the principal commanders of the army, having been
summoned by Ferdinand to a council of war on receiving tidings that
Boabdil had thrown himself into Loxa with a considerable reinforcement.
After some consultation it was determined to invest Loxa on both sides:
one part of the army should seize upon the dangerous but commanding
height of Santo Albohacen in front of the city, while the remainder,
making a circuit, should encamp on the opposite side.

No sooner was this resolved upon than the marques of Cadiz stood forth
and claimed the post of danger in behalf of himself and those cavaliers,
his companions-in-arms, who had been compelled to relinquish it by the
general retreat of the army on the former siege. The enemy had exulted
over them as if driven from it in disgrace. To regain that perilous
height, to pitch their tents upon it, and to avenge the blood of their
valiant compeer, the master of Calatrava, who had fallen upon it, was
due to their fame: the marques demanded, therefore, that they might lead
the advance and secure that height, engaging to hold the enemy employed
until the main army should take its position on the opposite side of the

King Ferdinand readily granted his permission, upon which the count
de Cabra entreated to be admitted to a share of the enterprise. He had
always been accustomed to serve in the advance, and now that Boabdil was
in the field and a king was to be taken, he could not content himself
with remaining in the rear. Ferdinand yielded his consent, for he was
disposed to give the good count every opportunity to retrieve his late

The English earl, when he heard there was an enterprise of danger in
question, was hot to be admitted to the party, but the king restrained
his ardor. "These cavaliers," said he, "conceive that they have an
account to settle with their pride; let them have the enterprise to
themselves, my lord: if you follow these Moorish wars long, you will
find no lack of perilous service."

The marques of Cadiz and his companions-in-arms struck their tents
before daybreak; they were five thousand horse and twelve thousand foot,
and marched rapidly along the defiles of the mountains, the cavaliers
being anxious to strike the blow and get possession of the height of
Albohacen before the king with the main army should arrive to their

The city of Loxa stands on a high hill between two mountains on the
banks of the Xenil. To attain the height of Albohacen the troops had
to pass over a tract of rugged and broken country and a deep valley
intersected by those canals and watercourses with which the Moors
irrigated their lands: they were extremely embarrassed in this part of
their march, and in imminent risk of being cut up in detail before they
could reach the height.

The count de Cabra, with his usual eagerness, endeavored to push across
this valley in defiance of every obstacle: he, in consequence, soon
became entangled with his cavalry among the canals, but his impatience
would not permit him to retrace his steps and choose a more practicable
but circuitous route. Others slowly crossed another part of the valley
by the aid of pontoons, while the marques of Cadiz, Don Alonso de
Aguilar, and the count de Urena, being more experienced in the ground
from their former campaign, made a circuit round the bottom of the
height, and, winding up it, began to display their squadrons and elevate
their banners on the redoubtable post which in their former siege they
had been compelled so reluctantly to abandon.



The advance of the Christian army upon Loxa threw the wavering Boabdil
el Chico into one of his usual dilemmas, and he was greatly perplexed
between his oath of allegiance to the Spanish sovereigns and his sense
of duty to his subjects. His doubts were determined by the sight of the
enemy glittering upon the height of Albohacen and by the clamors of the
people to be led forth to battle. "Allah," exclaimed he, "thou knowest
my heart: thou knowest I have been true in my faith to this Christian
monarch. I have offered to hold Loxa as his vassal, but he has preferred
to approach it as an enemy: on his head be the infraction of our

Boabdil was not wanting in courage; he only needed decision. When he had
once made up his mind he acted vigorously; the misfortune was, he either
did not make it up at all or he made it up too late. He who decides
tardily generally acts rashly, endeavoring to make up by hurry of action
for slowness of deliberation. Boabdil hastily buckled on his armor and
sallied forth surrounded by his guards, and at the head of five hundred
horse and four thousand foot, the flower of his army. Some he detached
to skirmish with the Christians, who were scattered and perplexed in the
valley, and to prevent their concentrating their forces, while with
his main body he pressed forward to drive the enemy from the height
of Albohacen before they had time to collect there in any number or to
fortify themselves in that important position.

The worthy count de Cabra was yet entangled with his cavalry among the
water-courses of the valley when he heard the war-cries of the Moors and
saw their army rushing over the bridge. He recognized Boabdil himself,
by his splendid armor, the magnificent caparison of his steed, and the
brilliant guard which surrounded him. The royal host swept on toward the
height of Albohacen: an intervening hill hid it from his sight, but
loud shouts and cries, the din of drums and trumpets, and the reports of
arquebuses gave note that the battle had begun.

Here was a royal prize in the field, and the count de Cabra unable to
get into the action! The good cavalier was in an agony of impatience;
every attempt to force his way across the valley only plunged him into
new difficulties. At length, after many eager but ineffectual efforts,
he was obliged to order his troops to dismount, and slowly and carefully
to lead their horses back along slippery paths and amid plashes of
mire and water where often there was scarce a foothold. The good count
groaned in spirit and sweat with mere impatience as he went, fearing the
battle might be fought and the prize won or lost before he could reach
the field. Having at length toilfully unravelled the mazes of the valley
and arrived at firmer ground, he ordered his troops to mount, and led
them full gallop to the height. Part of the good count's wishes were
satisfied, but the dearest were disappointed: he came in season to
partake of the very hottest of the fight, but the royal prize was no
longer in the field.

Boabdil had led on his men with impetuous valor, or rather with hurried
rashness. Heedlessly exposing himself in the front of the battle, he
received two wounds in the very first encounter. His guards rallied
round him, defended him with matchless valor, and bore him bleeding out
of the action. The count de Cabra arrived just in time to see the loyal
squadron crossing the bridge and slowly conveying their disabled monarch
toward the gate of the city.

The departure of Boabdil made no difference in the fury of the battle.
A Moorish warrior, dark and terrible in aspect, mounted on a black
charger, and followed by a band of savage Gomeres, rushed forward to
take the lead. It was Hamet el Zegri, the fierce alcayde of Ronda, with
the remnant of his once-redoubtable garrison. Animated by his example,
the Moors renewed their assaults upon the height. It was bravely
defended, on one side by the marques of Cadiz, on another by Don Alonso
de Aguilar, and as fast as the Moors ascended they were driven back and
dashed down the declivities. The count de Urena took his stand upon the
fatal spot where his brother had fallen; his followers entered with
zeal into the feelings of their commander, and heaps of the enemy sunk
beneath their weapons--sacrifices to the manes of the lamented master of

The battle continued with incredible obstinacy. The Moors knew the
importance of the height to the safety of the city; the cavaliers felt
their honors staked to maintain it. Fresh supplies of troops were poured
out of the city: some battled on the height, while some attacked the
Christians who were still in the valley and among the orchards and
gardens to prevent their uniting their forces. The troops in the valley
were gradually driven back, and the whole host of the Moors swept around
the height of Albohacen. The situation of the marques de Cadiz and his
companions was perilous in the extreme: they were a mere handful, and,
while fighting hand to hand with the Moors who assailed the height, were
galled from a distance by the crossbows and arquebuses of a host
that augmented each moment in number. At this critical juncture King
Ferdinand emerged from the mountains with the main body of the army, and
advanced to an eminence commanding a full view of the field of action.
By his side was the noble English cavalier, the earl of Rivers. This was
the first time he had witnessed a scene of Moorish warfare. He looked
with eager interest at the chance-medley fight before him, where there
was the wild career of cavalry, the irregular and tumultuous rush of
infantry, and where Christian and Moor were intermingled in deadly
struggle. The high blood of the English knight mounted at the sight, and
his soul was stirred within him by the confused war-cries, the clangor
of drums and trumpets, and the reports of arquebuses. Seeing that the
king was sending a reinforcement to the field, he entreated permission
to mingle in the affray and fight according to the fashion of his
country. His request being granted, he alighted from his steed: he was
merely armed "en blanco"--that is to say, with morion, back-piece,
and breast-plate--his sword was girded by his side, and in his hand he
wielded a powerful battle-axe. He was followed by a body of his yeomen
armed in like manner, and by a band of archers with bows made of the
tough English yew tree. The earl turned to his troops and addressed then
briefly and bluntly, according to the manner of his country. "Remember,
my merry men all," said he, "the eyes of strangers are upon you; you are
in a foreign land, fighting for the glory of God and the honor of merry
old England!" A loud shout was the reply. The earl waved his battle-axe
over his head. "St. George for England!" cried he, and to the inspiring
sound of this old English war-cry he and his followers rushed down to
the battle with manly and courageous hearts.* They soon made their way
into the midst of the enemy, but when engaged in the hottest of the
fight they made no shouts nor outcries. They pressed steadily forward,
dealing their blows to right and left, hewing down the Moors and cutting
their way with their battle-axes like woodmen in a forest; while
the archers, pressing into the opening they made, plied their bows
vigorously and spread death on every side.

     * Cura de los Palacios.

When the Castilian mountaineers beheld the valor of the English
yeomanry, they would not be outdone in hardihood. They could not vie
with them in weight or bulk, but for vigor and activity they were
surpassed by none. They kept pace with them, therefore, with equal heart
and rival prowess, and gave a brave support to the stout Englishmen.

The Moors were confounded by the fury of these assaults and disheartened
by the loss of Hamet el Zegri, who was carried wounded from the field.
They gradually fell back upon the bridge; the Christians followed
up their advantage, and drove them over it tumultuously. The Moors
retreated into the suburb, and Lord Rivers and his troops entered
with them pell-mell, fighting in the streets and in the houses. King
Ferdinand came up to the scene of action with his royal guard, and the
infidels were driven within the city walls. Thus were the suburbs gained
by the hardihood of the English lord, without such an event having been

     * Cura de los Palacios, MS.

The earl of Rivers, notwithstanding he had received a wound, still
urged forward in the attack. He penetrated almost to the city gate,
in defiance of a shower of missiles that slew many of his followers.
A stone hurled from the battlements checked his impetuous career: it
struck him in the face, dashed out two of his front teeth, and laid him
senseless on the earth. He was removed to a short distance by his men,
but, recovering his senses, refused to permit himself to be taken from
the suburb.

When the contest was over the streets presented a piteous spectacle, so
many of their inhabitants had died in the defence of their thresholds or
been slaughtered without resistance. Among the victims was a poor weaver
who had been at work in his dwelling at this turbulent moment. His wife
urged him to fly into the city. "Why should I fly?" said the Moor--"to
be reserved for hunger and slavery? I tell you, wife, I will await the
foe here, for better is it to die quickly by the steel than to perish
piecemeal in chains and dungeons." He said no more, but resumed his
occupation of weaving, and in the indiscriminate fury of the assault was
slaughtered at his loom.*

     * Pulgar, part 3, c. 58.

The Christians remained masters of the field, and proceeded to pitch
three encampments for the prosecution of the siege. The king, with the
great body of the army, took a position on the side of the city next to
Granada; the marques of Cadiz and his brave companions once more pitched
their tents upon the height of Santo Albohacen; but the English earl
planted his standard sturdily within the suburb he had taken.



Having possession of the heights of Albohacen and the suburb of
the city, the Christians were enabled to choose the most favorable
situations for their batteries. They immediately destroyed the stone
bridge by which the garrison had made its sallies, and they threw two
wooden bridges across the river and others over the canals and streams,
so as to establish an easy communication between the different camps.

When all was arranged a heavy fire was opened upon the city from various
points. They threw not only balls of stone and iron, but great carcasses
of fire, which burst like meteors on the houses, wrapping them instantly
in a blaze. The walls were shattered and the towers toppled down by
tremendous discharges from the lombards. Through the openings thus
made they could behold the interior of the city--houses tumbling or in
flames, men, women, and children flying in terror through the streets,
and slaughtered by the shower of missiles sent through the openings from
smaller artillery and from crossbows and arquebuses.

The Moors attempted to repair the breaches, but fresh discharges from
the lombards buried them beneath the ruins of the walls they were
mending. In their despair many of the inhabitants rushed forth into the
narrow streets of the suburbs and assailed the Christians with darts,
scimetars, and poniards, seeking to destroy rather than defend, and
heedless of death in the confidence that to die fighting with an
unbeliever was to be translated at once to Paradise.

For two nights and a day this awful scene continued, when certain of
the principal inhabitants began to reflect upon the hopelessness of the
conflict: their king was disabled, their principal captains were either
killed or wounded, their fortifications little better than heaps of
ruins. They had urged the unfortunate Boabdil to the conflict; they now
clamored for a capitulation. A parley was procured from the Christian
monarch, and the terms of surrender were soon adjusted. They were to
yield up the city immediately, with all their Christian captives, and to
sally forth with as much of their property as they could take with
them. The marques of Cadiz, on whose honor and humanity they had great
reliance, was to escort them to Granada to protect them from assault or
robbery: such as chose to remain in Spain were to be permitted to reside
in Castile, Aragon, or Valencia. As to Boabdil el Chico, he was to
do homage as vassal to King Ferdinand, but no charge was to be urged
against him of having violated his former pledge. If he should yield
up all pretensions to Granada, the title of duke of Guadix was to be
assigned to him and the territory thereto annexed, provided it should be
recovered from El Zagal within six months.

The capitulation being arranged, they gave as hostages the alcayde
of the city and the principal officers, together with the sons of their
late chieftain, the veteran Ali Atar. The warriors of Loxa then issued
forth, humbled and dejected at having to surrender those walls which
they had so long maintained with valor and renown, and the women and
children filled the air with lamentations at being exiled from their
native homes.

Last came forth Boabdil, most truly called El Zogoybi, the Unlucky.
Accustomed, as he was, to be crowned and uncrowned, to be ransomed
and treated as a matter of bargain, he had acceded of course to
the capitulation. He was enfeebled by his wounds and had an air of
dejection, yet, it is said, his conscience acquitted him of a breach
of faith toward the Castilian sovereigns, and the personal valor he
had displayed had caused a sympathy for him among many of the Christian
cavaliers. He knelt to Ferdinand according to the forms of vassalage,
and then departed in melancholy mood for Priego, a town about three
leagues distant.

Ferdinand immediately ordered Loxa to be repaired and strongly
garrisoned. He was greatly elated at the capture of this place, in
consequence of his former defeat before its walls. He passed great
encomiums upon the commanders who had distinguished themselves, and
historians dwelt particularly upon his visit to the tent of the
English earl. His Majesty consoled him for the loss of his teeth by the
consideration that he might otherwise have lost them by natural decay,
whereas the lack of them would now be esteemed a beauty rather than a
defect, serving as a trophy of the glorious cause in which he had been

The earl replied that he gave thanks to God and to the Holy Virgin for
being thus honored by a visit from the most potent king in Christendom;
that he accepted with all gratitude his gracious consolation for the
loss of his teeth, though he held it little to lose two teeth in the
service of God, who had given him all--"A speech," says Fray Antonio
Agapida, "full of most courtly wit and Christian piety; and one only
marvels that it should have been made by a native of an island so far
distant from Castile."



King Ferdinand followed up his victory at Loxa by laying siege to the
strong town of Illora. This redoubtable fortress was perched upon a high
rock in the midst of a spacious valley. It was within four leagues of
the Moorish capital, and its lofty castle, keeping vigilant watch over a
wide circuit of country, was termed the right eye of Granada.

The alcayde of Illora was one of the bravest of the Moorish commanders,
and made every preparation to defend his fortress to the last extremity.
He sent the women and children, the aged and infirm, to the metropolis.
He placed barricades in the suburbs, opened doors of communication from
house to house, and pierced their walls with loopholes for the discharge
of crossbows, arquebuses, and other missiles.

King Ferdinand arrived before the place with all his forces; he
stationed himself upon the hill of Encinilla, and distributed the other
encampments in various situations so as to invest the fortress. Knowing
the valiant character of the alcayde and the desperate courage of the
Moors, he ordered the encampments to be fortified with trenches and
palisadoes, the guards to be doubled, and sentinels to be placed in all
the watch-towers of the adjacent heights.

When all was ready the duke del Infantado demanded the attack: it was
his first campaign, and he was anxious to disprove the royal insinuation
made against the hardihood of his embroidered chivalry. King Ferdinand
granted his demand, with a becoming compliment to his spirit; he ordered
the count de Cabra to make a simultaneous attack upon a different
quarter. Both chiefs led forth their troops--those of the duke in fresh
and brilliant armor, richly ornamented, and as yet uninjured by the
service of the field; those of the count were weatherbeaten veterans,
whose armor was dented and hacked in many a hard-fought battle. The
youthful duke blushed at the contrast. "Cavaliers," cried he, "we
have been reproached with the finery of our array: let us prove that a
trenchant blade may rest in a gilded sheath. Forward! to the foe! and I
trust in God that as we enter this affray knights well accoutred, so
we shall leave it cavaliers well proved." His men responded by eager
acclamations, and the duke led them forward to the assault. He advanced
under a tremendous shower of stones, darts, balls, and arrows, but
nothing could check his career; he entered the suburb sword in hand;
his men fought furiously, though with great loss, for every dwelling had
been turned into a fortress. After a severe conflict they succeeded
in driving the Moors into the town about the same time that the other
suburb was carried by the count de Cabra and his veterans. The troops
of the duke del Infantado came out of the contest thinned in number
and covered with blood and dust and wounds; they received the highest
encomiums of the king, and there was never afterward any sneer at their

The suburbs being taken, three batteries, each furnished with eight
huge lombards, were opened upon the fortress. The damage and havoc were
tremendous, for the fortifications had not been constructed to withstand
such engines. The towers were overthrown, the walls battered to pieces;
the interior of the place was all exposed, houses were demolished, and
many people slain. The Moors were terrified by the tumbling ruins and
the tremendous din. The alcayde had resolved to defend the place
until the last extremity: he beheld it a heap of rubbish; there was no
prospect of aid from Granada; his people had lost all spirit to
fight and were vociferous for a surrender; with a reluctant heart he
capitulated. The inhabitants were permitted to depart with all their
effects, excepting their arms, and were escorted in safety by the duke
del Infantado and the count de Cabra to the bridge of Pinos, within two
leagues of Granada.

King Ferdinand gave directions to repair the fortifications of Illora
and to place it in a strong state of defence. He left as alcayde of the
town and fortress Gonsalvo de Cordova, younger brother of Don Alonso
de Aguilar. This gallant cavalier was captain of the royal guards of
Ferdinand and Isabella, and gave already proofs of that prowess which
afterward rendered him so renowned.



The war of Granada, however poets may embroider it with the flowers of
their fancy, was certainly one of the sternest of those iron conflicts
which have been celebrated under the name of "holy wars." The worthy
Fray Antonio Agapida dwells with unsated delight upon the succession of
rugged mountain-enterprises, bloody battles, and merciless sackings and
ravages which characterized it; yet we find him on one occasion pausing
in the full career of victory over the infidels to detail a stately
pageant of the Catholic sovereigns.

Immediately on the capture of Loxa, Ferdinand had written to Isabella,
soliciting her presence at the camp that he might consult with her as to
the disposition of their newly-acquired territories.

It was in the early part of June that the queen departed from Codova
with the princess Isabella and numerous ladies of her court. She had
a glorious attendance of cavaliers and pages, with many guards and
domestics. There were forty mules for the use of the queen, the
princess, and their train.

As this courtly cavalcade approached the Rock of the Lovers on the banks
of the river Yeguas, they beheld a splendid train of knights advancing
to meet them. It was headed by that accomplished cavalier the
marques-duke de Cadiz, accompanied by the adelantado of Andalusia. He
had left the camp the day after the capture of Illora, and advanced
thus far to receive the queen and escort her over the borders. The queen
received the marques with distinguished honor, for he was esteemed the
mirror of chivalry. His actions in this war had become the theme of
every tongue, and many hesitated not to compare him in prowess with the
immortal Cid.*

     * Cura de los Palacios.

Thus gallantly attended, the queen entered the vanquished frontier of
Granada, journeying securely along the pleasant banks of the Xenil, so
lately subject to the scourings of the Moors. She stopped at Loxa, where
she administered aid and consolation to the wounded, distributing money
among them for their support according to their rank.

The king after the capture of Illora had removed his camp before the
fortress of Moclin, with an intention of besieging it. Thither the queen
proceeded, still escorted through the mountain-roads by the marques of
Cadiz. As Isabella drew near to the camp the duke del Infantado issued
forth a league and a half to receive her, magnificently arrayed and
followed by all his chivalry in glorious attire. With him came the
standard of Seville, borne by the men-at-arms of that renowned city,
and the prior of St. Juan with his followers. They ranged themselves in
order of battle on the left of the road by which the queen was to pass.

The worthy Agapida is loyally minute in his description of the state
and grandeur of the Catholic sovereigns. The queen rode a chestnut mule,
seated in a magnificent saddle-chair decorated with silver gilt. The
housings of the mule were of fine crimson cloth, the borders embroidered
with gold, the reins and head-piece were of satin, curiously embossed
with needlework of silk and wrought with golden letters. The queen wore
a brial or regal skirt of velvet, under which were others of brocade;
a scarlet mantle, ornamented in the Moresco fashion; and a black hat,
embroidered round the crown and brim. The infanta was likewise mounted
on a chestnut mule richly caparisoned: she wore a brial or skirt of
black brocade and a black mantle ornamented like that of the queen.

When the royal cavalcade passed by the chivalry of the duke del
Infantado, which was drawn out in battle array, the queen made a
reverence to the standard of Seville and ordered it to pass to the right
hand. When she approached the camp the multitude ran forth to meet her
with great demonstrations of joy, for she was universally beloved by her
subjects. All the battalions sallied forth in military array, bearing
the various standards and banners of the camp, which were lowered in
salutation as she passed.

The king now came forth in royal state, mounted on a superb chestnut
horse and attended by many grandees of Castile. He wore a jubon or close
vest of crimson cloth, with cuisses or short skirts of yellow satin,
a loose cassock of brocade, a rich Moorish scimetar, and a hat with
plumes. The grandees who attended him were arrayed with wonderful
magnificence, each according to his taste and invention.

These high and mighty princes (says Antonio Agapida) regarded each other
with great deference as allied sovereigns, rather than with connubial
familiarity as mere husband and wife. When they approached each other,
therefore, before embracing, they made three profound reverences, the
queen taking off her hat and remaining in a silk net or caul, with her
face uncovered. The king then approached and embraced her, and kissed
her respectfully on the cheek. He also embraced his daughter the
princess, and, making the sign of the cross, he blessed her and kissed
her on the lips.*

     * Cura de los Palacios.

The good Agapida seems scarcely to have been more struck with the
appearance of the sovereigns than with that of the English earl. He
followed (says he) immediately after the king, with great pomp and,
in an extraordinary manner, taking precedence of all the rest. He was
mounted "a la guisa," or with long stirrups, on a superb chestnut horse,
with trappings of azure silk which reached to the ground. The housings
were of mulberry powdered with stars of gold. He was armed in proof,
and wore over his armor a short French mantle of black brocade; he had a
white French hat with plumes, and carried on his left arm a small round
buckler banded with gold. Five pages attended him, apparelled in silk
and brocade and mounted on horses sumptuously caparisoned; he had also a
train of followers bravely attired after the fashion of his country.

He advanced in a chivalrous and courteous manner, making his reverences
first to the queen and infanta, and afterward to the king. Queen
Isabella received him graciously, complimenting him on his courageous
conduct at Loxa, and condoling with him on the loss of his teeth. The
earl, however, made light of his disfiguring wound, saying that "our
Blessed Lord, who had built all that house, had opened a window there,
that he might see more readily what passed within;"* whereupon the
worthy Fray Antonio Agapida is more than ever astonished at the pregnant
wit of this island cavalier. The earl continued some little distance
by the side of the royal family, complimenting them all with courteous
speeches, his horse curveting and caracoling, but being managed with
great grace and dexterity, leaving the grandees and the people at large
not more filled with admiration at the strangeness and magnificence of
his state than at the excellence of his horsemanship.**

     * Pietro Martyr, Epist. 61.

     * *Cura de los Palacios.

To testify her sense of the gallantry and services of this noble English
knight, who had come from so far to assist in their wars, the queen sent
him the next day presents of twelve horses, with stately tents, fine
linen, two beds with coverings of gold brocade, and many other articles
of great value.

Having refreshed himself, as it were, with the description of this
progress of Queen Isabella to the camp and the glorious pomp of the
Catholic sovereigns, the worthy Antonio Agapida returns with renewed
relish to his pious work of discomfiting the Moors.

The description of this royal pageant and the particulars concerning the
English earl, thus given from the manuscript of Fray Antonio Agapida,
agree precisely with the chronicle of Andres Bernaldez, the curate of
Los Palacios. The English earl makes no further figure in this war. It
appears from various histories that he returned in the course of the
year to England. In the following year his passion for fighting took
him to the Continent, at the head of four hundred adventurers, in aid of
Francis, duke of Brittany, against Louis XI. of France. He was killed
in the same year (1488) in the battle of St. Alban's between the Bretons
and the French.



"The Catholic sovereigns," says Fray Antonio Agapida, "had by this time
closely clipped the right wing of the Moorish vulture." In other words,
most of the strong fortresses along the western frontier of Granada had
fallen beneath the Christian artillery. The army now lay encamped before
the town of Moclin, on the frontier of Jaen, one of the most stubborn
fortresses of the border. It stood on a high rocky hill, the base of
which was nearly girdled by a river: a thick forest protected the
back part of the town toward the mountain. Thus strongly situated, it
domineered, with its frowning battlements and massive towers, all the
mountain-passes into that part of the country, and was called "the
shield of Granada." It had a double arrear of blood to settle with the
Christians: two hundred years before, a master of Santiago and all his
cavaliers had been lanced by the Moors before its gates. It had recently
made terrible slaughter among the troops of the good count de Cabra in
his precipitate attempt to entrap the old Moorish monarch. The pride of
Ferdinand had been piqued by being obliged on that occasion to recede
from his plan and abandon his concerted attack on the place; he was now
prepared to take a full revenge.

El Zagal, the old warrior-king of Granada, anticipating a second
attempt, had provided the place with ample ammunitions and provisions,
had ordered trenches to be digged and additional bulwarks thrown up, and
caused all the old men, the women, and the children to be removed to the

Such was the strength of the fortress and the difficulties of its
position that Ferdinand anticipated much trouble in reducing it, and
made every preparation for a regular siege. In the centre of his camp
were two great mounds, one of sacks of flour, the other of grain, which
were called the royal granary. Three batteries of heavy ordnance
were opened against the citadel and principal towers, while smaller
artillery, engines for the discharge of missiles, arquebuses, and
crossbows, were distributed in various places to keep up a fire into any
breaches that might be made, and upon those of the garrison who should
appear on the battlements.

The lombards soon made an impression on the works, demolishing a part of
the wall and tumbling down several of those haughty towers which, from
their height, had been impregnable before the invention of gunpowder.
The Moors repaired their walls as well as they were able, and, still
confiding in the strength of their situation, kept up a resolute
defence, firing down from their lofty battlements and towers upon the
Christian camp. For two nights and a day an incessant fire was kept up,
so that there was not a moment in which the roaring of ordnance was not
heard or some damage sustained by the Christians or the Moors. It was
a conflict, however, more of engineers and artillerists than of gallant
cavaliers; there was no sally of troops nor shock of armed men nor rush
and charge of cavalry. The knights stood looking on with idle weapons,
waiting until they should have an opportunity of signalizing their
prowess by scaling the walls or storming the breaches. As the place,
however, was assailable only in one part, there was every prospect of a
long and obstinate resistance.

The engineers, as usual, discharged not merely balls of stone and
iron to demolish the walls, but flaming balls of inextinguishable
combustibles designed to set fire to the houses. One of these, which
passed high through the air like a meteor, sending out sparks and
crackling as it went, entered the window of a tower which was used as
a magazine of gunpowder. The tower blew up with a tremendous explosion;
the Moors who were upon its battlements were hurled into the air,
and fell mangled in various parts of the town, and the houses in its
vicinity were rent and overthrown as with an earthquake.

The Moors, who had never witnessed an explosion of the kind, ascribed
the destruction of the tower to a miracle. Some who had seen the descent
of the flaming ball imagined that fire had fallen from heaven to punish
them for their pertinacity. The pious Agapida himself believes that
this fiery missive was conducted by divine agency to confound the
infidels--an opinion in which he is supported by other Catholic

     * Pulgar, Garibay; Lucio Marino Siculo, Cosas Memoral. de Hispan.,

Seeing heaven and earth, as it were, combined against them, the Moors
lost all heart: they capitulated, and were permitted to depart with
their effects, leaving behind all arms and munitions of war.

The Catholic army (says Antonio Agapida) entered Moclin in solemn state,
not as a licentious host intent upon plunder and desolation, but as a
band of Christian warriors coming to purify and regenerate the land. The
standard of the cross, that ensign of this holy crusade, was borne in
the advance, followed by the other banners of the army. Then came the
king and queen at the head of a vast number of armed cavaliers. They
were accompanied by a band of priests and friars, with the choir of
the royal chapel chanting the canticle "Te Deum laudamus." As they were
moving through the streets in this solemn manner, every sound hushed
excepting the anthem of the choir, they suddenly heard, issuing as it
were from under ground, a chorus of voices chanting in solemn response
"Benedictum qui venit in nomine Domini."* The procession paused in
wonder. The sounds rose from Christian captives, and among them several
priests, who were confined in subterraneous dungeons.

     * Marino Siculo.

The heart of Isabella was greatly touched. She ordered the captives to
be drawn forth from their cells, and was still more moved at beholding,
by their wan, discolored, and emaciated appearance, how much they had
suffered. Their hair and beards were overgrown and shagged; they were
wasted by hunger, half naked, and in chains. She ordered that they
should be clothed and cherished, and money furnished them to bear them
to their homes.*

     * Illescas, Hist. Pontif., lib. 6, c. 20, \0xA4 1.

Several of the captives were brave cavaliers who had been wounded and
made prisoners in the defeat of the count de Cabra by El Zagal in the
preceding year. There were also found other melancholy traces of that
disastrous affair. On visiting the narrow pass where the defeat had
taken place, the remains of several Christian warriors were found in
thickets or hidden behind rocks or in the clefts of the mountains. These
were some who had been struck from their horses and wounded too severely
to fly. They had crawled away from the scene of action, and concealed
themselves to avoid falling into the hands of the enemy, and had thus
perished miserably and alone. The remains of those of note were known by
their armor and devices, and were mourned over by their companions who
had shared the disaster of that day.*

     * Pulgar, part 3, cap. 61.

The queen had these remains piously collected as the relics of so many
martyrs who had fallen in the cause of the faith. They were interred
with great solemnity in the mosques of Moclin, which had been purified
and consecrated to Christian worship. "There," says Antonio Agapida,
"rest the bones of those truly Catholic knights, in the holy ground
which in a manner had been sanctified by their blood; and all pilgrims
passing through those mountains offer up prayers and masses for the
repose of their souls."

The queen remained for some time at Moclin, administering comfort to the
wounded and the prisoners, bringing the newly-acquired territory
into order, and founding churches and monasteries and other pious
institutions. "While the king marched in front, laying waste the land of
the Philistines," says the figurative Antonio Agapida, "Queen Isabella
followed his traces as the binder follows the reaper, gathering and
garnering the rich harvest that has fallen beneath his sickle. In this
she was greatly assisted by the counsels of that cloud of bishops,
friars, and other saintly men which continually surrounded her,
garnering the first fruits of this infidel land into the granaries of
the Church." Leaving her thus piously employed, the king pursued his
career of conquest, determined to lay waste the Vega and carry fire and
sword to the very gates of Granada.



Muley Abdallah el Zagal had been under a spell of ill-fortune ever since
the suspicious death of the old king his brother. Success had deserted
his standard, and with his fickle subjects want of success was one of
the greatest crimes in a sovereign. He found his popularity declining,
and he lost all confidence in his people. The Christian army marched in
open defiance through his territories, and sat down deliberately before
his fortresses; yet he dared not lead forth his legions to oppose them,
lest the inhabitants of the Albaycin, ever ripe for a revolt, should
rise and shut the gates of Granada against his return.

Every few days some melancholy train entered the metropolis, the
inhabitants of some captured town bearing the few effects spared them,
and weeping and bewailing the desolation of their homes. When the
tidings arrived that Illora and Moclin had fallen, the people were
seized with consternation. "The right eye of Granada is extinguished,"
exclaimed they; "the shield of Granada is broken: what shall protect
us from the inroad of the foe?" When the survivors of the garrisons of
those towns arrived, with downcast looks, bearing the marks of battle
and destitute of arms and standards, the populace reviled them in their
wrath, but they answered, "We fought as long as we had force to fight or
walls to shelter us; but the Christians laid our town and battlements in
ruins, and we looked in vain for aid from Granada."

The alcaydes of Illora and Moclin were brothers; they were alike in
prowess and the bravest among the Moorish cavaliers. They had been the
most distinguished in those tilts and tourneys which graced the happier
days of Granada, and had distinguished themselves in the sterner
conflicts of the field. Acclamation had always followed their banners,
and they had long been the delight of the people. Yet now, when they
returned after the capture of their fortresses, they were followed
by the unsteady populace with execrations. The hearts of the alcaydes
swelled with indignation; they found the ingratitude of their countrymen
still more intolerable than the hostility of the Christians.

Tidings came that the enemy was advancing with his triumphant legions to
lay waste the country about Granada. Still El Zagal did not dare to take
the field. The two alcaydes of Illora and Moclin stood before him. "We
have defended your fortresses," said they, "until we were almost
buried under their ruins, and for our reward we receive scoffings and
revilings: give us, O king, an opportunity where knightly valor may
signalize itself--not shut up behind stone walls, but in the open
conflict of the field. The enemy approaches to lay our country desolate:
give us men to meet him in the advance, and let shame light upon our
heads if we be found wanting in the battle!"

The two brothers were sent forth with a large force of horse and foot;
El Zagal intended, should they be successful, to issue forth with
his whole force, and by a decisive victory repair the losses he had
suffered. When the people saw the well-known standards of the brothers
going forth to battle, there was a feeble shout, but the alcaydes passed
on with stern countenances, for they knew the same voices would curse
them were they to return unfortunate. They cast a farewell look upon
fair Granada and upon the beautiful fields of their infancy, as if
for these they were willing to lay down their lives, but not for an
ungrateful people.

The army of Ferdinand had arrived within two leagues of Granada, at the
bridge of Pinos, a pass famous in the wars of the Moors and Christians
for many a bloody conflict. It was the pass by which the Castilian
monarchs generally made their inroads, and was capable of great defence
from the ruggedness of the country and the difficulty of the bridge. The
king, with the main body of the army, had attained the brow of a hill,
when they beheld the advance guard, under the marques of Cadiz and the
master of Santiago, furiously attacked by the enemy in the vicinity of
the bridge. The Moors rushed to the assault with their usual shouts, but
with more than usual ferocity. There was a hard struggle at the bridge;
both parties knew the importance of that pass.

The king particularly noted the prowess of two Moorish cavaliers,
alike in arms and devices, and whom by their bearing and attendance he
perceived to be commanders of the enemy. They were the two brothers,
the alcaydes of Illora and Moclin. Wherever they turned they carried
confusion and death into the ranks of the Christians, but they fought
with desperation rather than valor. The count de Cabra and his brother
Don Martin de Cordova pressed forward with eagerness against them, but,
having advanced too precipitately, were surrounded by the foe and in
imminent danger. A young Christian knight, seeing their peril, hastened
with his followers to their relief. The king recognized him for Don Juan
de Aragon, count of Ribargoza, his own nephew, for he was illegitimate
son of the duke of Villahermosa, illegitimate brother of King Ferdinand.
The splendid armor of Don Juan and the sumptuous caparison of his steed
rendered him a brilliant object of attack. He was assailed on all sides
and his superb steed slain under him, yet still he fought valiantly,
bearing for a time the brunt of the fight and giving the exhausted
forces of the count de Cabra time to recover breath.

Seeing the peril of these troops and the general obstinacy of the fight,
the king ordered the royal standard to be advanced, and hastened with
all his forces to the relief of the count de Cabra. At his approach
the enemy gave way and retreated toward the bridge. The two Moorish
commanders endeavored to rally their troops and animate them to defend
this pass to the utmost: they used prayers, remonstrances, menaces, but
almost in vain. They could only collect a scanty handful of cavaliers;
with these they planted themselves at the head of the bridge and
disputed it inch by inch. The fight was hot and obstinate, for but few
could contend hand to hand, yet many discharged crossbows and arquebuses
from the banks. The river was covered with the floating bodies of the
slain. The Moorish band of cavaliers was almost entirely cut to pieces;
the two brothers fell, covered with wounds, upon the bridge they had
so resolutely defended. They had given up the battle for lost, but had
determined not to return alive to ungrateful Granada.

When the people of the capital heard how devotedly they had fallen, they
lamented greatly their deaths and extolled their memory: a column was
erected to their honor in the vicinity of the bridge, which long went by
the name of "the Tomb of the Brothers."

The army of Ferdinand now marched on and established its camp in the
vicinity of Granada. The worthy Agapida gives many triumphant details
of the ravages committed in the Vega, which was again laid waste, the
grain, fruits, and other productions of the earth destroyed, and that
earthly paradise rendered a dreary desert. He narrates several fierce
but ineffectual sallies and skirmishes of the Moors in defence of their
favorite plain; among which one deserves to be mentioned, as it records
the achievements of one of the saintly heroes of this war.

During one of the movements of the Christian army near the walls of
Granada a battalion of fifteen hundred cavalry and a large force of
foot had sallied from the city, and posted themselves near some gardens,
which were surrounded by a canal and traversed by ditches for the
purpose of irrigation.

The Moors beheld the duke del Infantado pass by with his two splendid
battalions--one of men-at-arms, the other of light cavalry armed "a la
gineta." In company with him, but following as a rear-guard, was Don
Garcia Osorio, the belligerent bishop of Jaen, attended by Francisco
Bovadillo, the corregidor of his city, and followed by two squadrons of
men-at-arms from Jaen, Anduxar, Ubeda, and Baeza.* The success of last
year's campaign had given the good bishop an inclination for warlike
affairs, and he had once more buckled on his cuirass.

     * Pulgar, part 3, cap. 62.

The Moors were much given to stratagem in warfare. They looked wistfully
at the magnificent squadrons of the duke del Infantado, but their
martial discipline precluded all attack: the good bishop promised to be
a more easy prey. Suffering the duke and his troops to pass unmolested,
they approached the squadrons of the bishop, and making a pretended
attack, skirmished slightly and fled in apparent confusion. The bishop
considered the day his own, and, seconded by his corregidor Bovadillo,
followed with valorous precipitation. The Moors fled into the "Huerta
del Rey," or Orchard of the King; the troops of the bishop followed
hotly after them.

When the Moors perceived their pursuers fairly embarrassed among the
intricacies of the garden, they turned fiercely upon them, while some
of their number threw open the sluices of the Xenil. In an instant the
canal which encircled and the ditches which traversed the garden were
filled with water, and the valiant bishop and his followers found
themselves overwhelmed by a deluge.* A scene of great confusion
succeeded. Some of the men of Jaen, stoutest of heart and hand, fought
with the Moors in the garden, while others struggled with the water,
endeavoring to escape across the canal, in which attempt many horses
were drowned.

     * Pulgar.

Fortunately, the duke del Infantado perceived the snare into which
his companions had fallen, and despatched his light cavalry to their
assistance. The Moors were compelled to flight, and driven along the
road of Elvira up to the gates of Granada.* Several Christian cavaliers
perished in this affray; the bishop himself escaped with difficulty,
having slipped from his saddle in crossing the canal, but saving himself
by holding on to the tail of his charger. This perilous achievement
seems to have satisfied the good bishop's belligerent propensities. He
retired on his laurels (says Agapida) to his city of Jaen, where, in the
fruition of all good things, he gradually waxed too corpulent for his
corselet, which was hung up in the hall of his episcopal palace, and we
hear no more of his military deeds throughout the residue of the holy
war of Granada.**

     * Pulgar.

     * *"Don Luis Osorio fue obispo de Jaen desde el ano de 1483, y
presidio in esta. Iglesia hasta el de 1496 in que murio en Flandes, a
donde fue acompanando a la princesa Dona Juana, esposa del archiduque
Don Felipe."--"Espana Sagrada," por Fr. M. Risco, tom. 41, trat. 77,
cap. 4.

King Ferdinand, having completed his ravage of the Vega and kept El
Zagal shut up in his capital, conducted his army back through the Pass
of Lope to rejoin Queen Isabella at Moclin.

The fortresses lately taken being well garrisoned and supplied, he
gave the command of the frontier to his cousin, Don Fadrique de Toledo,
afterward so famous in the Netherlands as the duke of Alva. The campaign
being thus completely crowned with success, the sovereigns returned in
triumph to the city of Cordova.



No sooner did the last squadron of Christian cavalry disappear behind
the mountains of Elvira and the note of its trumpets die away upon the
ear than the long-suppressed wrath of Muley el Zagal burst forth. He
determined no longer to be half a king, reigning over a divided kingdom
in a divided capital, but to exterminate by any means, fair or foul,
his nephew Boabdil and his faction. He turned furiously upon those whose
factious conduct had deterred him from sallying upon the foe: some he
punished by confiscations, others by banishment, others by death. Once
undisputed monarch of the entire kingdom, he trusted to his military
skill to retrieve his fortunes and drive the Christians over the

Boabdil, however, had again retired to Velez el Blanco, on the confines
of Murcia, where he could avail himself, in case of emergency, of any
assistance or protection afforded him by the policy of Ferdinand. His
defeat had blighted his reviving fortunes, for the people considered him
as inevitably doomed to misfortune. Still, while he lived El Zagal knew
he would be a rallying-point for faction, and liable at any moment to
be elevated into power by the capricious multitude. He had recourse,
therefore, to the most perfidious means to compass his destruction. He
sent ambassadors to him representing the necessity of concord for the
salvation of the kingdom, and even offering to resign the title of king
and to become subject to his sway on receiving some estate on which he
could live in tranquil retirement. But while the ambassadors bore these
words of peace they were furnished with poisoned herbs, which they were
to administer secretly to Boabdil, and if they failed in this attempt
they had pledged themselves to despatch him openly while engaged in
conversation. They were instigated to this treason by promises of great
reward, and by assurances from the alfaquis that Boabdil was an apostate
whose death would be acceptable to Heaven.

The young monarch was secretly apprised of the concerted treason, and
refused an audience to the ambassadors. He denounced his uncle as the
murderer of his father and his kindred and the usurper of his throne,
and vowed never to relent in hostility to him until he should place his
head on the walls of the Alhambra.

Open war again broke out between the two monarchs, though feebly carried
on in consequence of their mutual embarrassments. Ferdinand again
extended his assistance to Boabdil, ordering the commanders of his
fortresses to aid him in all enterprises against his uncle, and against
such places as refused to acknowledge him as king; and Don Juan de
Bonavides, who commanded in Lorca, even made inroads in his name into
the territories of Almeria, Baza, and Guadix, which owned allegiance to
El Zagal.

The unfortunate Boabdil had three great evils to contend with--the
inconstancy of his subjects, the hostility of his uncle, and the
friendship of Ferdinand. The last was by far the most baneful: his
fortunes withered under it. He was looked upon as the enemy of his faith
and of his country. The cities shut their gates against him; the people
cursed him; even the scanty band of cavaliers who had hitherto followed
his ill-starred banner began to desert him, for he had not wherewithal
to reward nor even to support them. His spirits sank with his fortune,
and he feared that in a little time he should not have a spot of earth
whereon to plant his standard nor an adherent to rally under it.

In the midst of his despondency he received a message from his
lion-hearted mother, the sultana Ayxa la Horra. It was brought by the
steadfast adherent to their fortunes, Aben Comixa. "For shame," said
she, "to linger timorously about the borders of your kingdom when a
usurper is seated in your capital! Why look abroad for perfidious aid
when you have loyal hearts beating true to you in Granada? The
Albaycin is ready to throw open its gates to receive you. Strike home
vigorously--a sudden blow may mend all or make an end. A throne or a
grave!--for a king there is no honorable medium."

Boabdil was of an undecided character, but there are circumstances which
bring the most wavering to a decision, and when once resolved they are
apt to act with a daring impulse unknown to steadier judgments. The
message of the sultana roused him from a dream. Granada, beautiful
Granada, with its stately Alhambra, its delicious gardens, its gushing
and limpid fountains sparkling among groves of orange, citron, and
myrtle, rose before him. "What have I done," exclaimed he, "that I
should be an exile from this paradise of my forefathers--a wanderer and
fugitive in my own kingdom, while a murderous usurper sits proudly upon
my throne? Surely Allah will befriend the righteous cause; one blow, and
all may be my own."

He summoned his scanty band of cavaliers. "Who is ready to follow his
monarch unto the death?" said he; and every one laid his hand upon his
scimetar. "Enough!" said he; "let each man arm himself and prepare his
steed in secret for an enterprise of toil and peril; if we succeed, our
reward is empire."



"In the hand of God," exclaimed an old Arabian chronicler, "is the
destiny of princes; he alone giveth empire. A Moorish horseman, mounted
on a fleet Arabian steed, was one day traversing the mountains which
extended between Granada and the frontier of Murcia. He galloped swiftly
through the valleys, but paused and looked out cautiously from the
summit of every height. A squadron of cavaliers followed warily at
a distance. There were fifty lances. The richness of their armor and
attire showed them to be warriors of noble rank, and their leader had
a lofty and prince-like demeanor." The squadron thus described by
the Arabian chronicler was the Moorish king Boabdil and his devoted

For two nights and a day they pursued their adventurous journey,
avoiding all populous parts of the country and choosing the most
solitary passes of the mountains. They suffered severe hardships and
fatigues, but suffered without a murmur: they were accustomed to rugged
campaigning, and their steeds were of generous and unyielding spirit.
It was midnight, and all was dark and silent as they descended from the
mountains and approached the city of Granada. They passed along quietly
under the shadow of its walls, until they arrived near the gate of
the Albaycin. Here Boabdil ordered his followers to halt and remain
concealed. Taking but four or five with him, he advanced resolutely to
the gate and knocked with the hilt of his scimetar. The guards demanded
who sought to enter at that unseasonable hour. "Your king!" exclaimed
Boabdil; "open the gate and admit him!"

The guards held forth a light and recognized the person of the youthful
monarch. They were struck with sudden awe and threw open the gates,
and Boabdil and his followers entered unmolested. They galloped to the
dwellings of the principal inhabitants of the Albaycin, thundering
at their portals and summoning them to arise and take arms for their
rightful sovereign. The summons was instantly obeyed: trumpets resounded
throughout the streets--the gleam of torches and the flash of arms
showed the Moors hurrying to their gathering-places; by daybreak the
whole force of the Albaycin was rallied under the standard of Boabdil,
and Aben Comixa was made alcayde of the fortress. Such was the success
of this sudden and desperate act of the young monarch, for we are
assured by contemporary historians that there had been no previous
concert or arrangement. "As the guards opened the gates of the city to
admit him," observes a pious chronicler, "so God opened the hearts of
the Moors to receive him as their king."*

     * Pulgar.

In the morning early the tidings of this event roused El Zagal from his
slumbers in the Alhambra. The fiery old warrior assembled his guard in
haste and made his way, sword in hand, to the Albaycin, hoping to come
upon his nephew by surprise. He was vigorously met by Boabdil and
his adherents, and driven back into the quarter of the Alhambra. An
encounter took place between the two kings in the square before the
principal mosque; here they fought hand to hand with implacable fury, as
though it had been agreed to decide their competition for the crown by
single combat. In the tumult of this chance-medley affray, however, they
were separated, and the party of El Zagal was ultimately driven from the

The battle raged for some time in the streets and places of the city,
but, finding their powers of mischief cramped within such narrow limits,
both parties sallied forth into the fields and fought beneath the walls
until evening. Many fell on both sides, and at night each party
withdrew into its quarter until the morning gave them light to renew the
unnatural conflict. For several days the two grand divisions of the city
remained like hostile powers arrayed against each other. The party of
the Alhambra was more numerous than that of the Albaycin, and contained
most of the nobility and chivalry; but the adherents of Boabdil were
men hardened and strengthened by labor and habitually skilled in the
exercise of arms.

The Albaycin underwent a kind of siege by the forces of El Zagal; they
effected breaches in the walls, and made repeated attempts to carry it
sword in hand, but were as often repulsed. The troops of Boabdil, on the
other hand, made frequent sallies, and in the conflicts which took
place the hatred of the combatants arose to such a pitch of fury that no
quarter was given on either side.

Boabdil perceived the inferiority of his force; he dreaded also that his
adherents, being for the most part tradesmen and artisans, would
become impatient of this interruption of their gainful occupations and
disheartened by these continual scenes of carnage. He sent missives,
therefore, in all haste to Don Fadrique de Toledo, who commanded the
Christian forces on the frontier, entreating his assistance.

Don Fadrique had received instructions from the politic Ferdinand to
aid the youthful monarch in all his contests with his uncle. He advanced
with a body of troops near to Granada. The moment Boabdil discerned,
from the towers of the Albaycin, the Christian banners and lances
winding round the base of the mountain of Elvira, he sallied forth to
meet them, escorted by a squadron of Abencerrages under Aben Comixa.
El Zagal, who was equally on the alert, and apprised that the Christian
troops came in aid of his nephew, likewise sallied forth and drew up his
troops in battle array. Don Fadrique, wary lest some treachery should be
intended, halted among some plantations of olives, retained Boabdil by
his side, and signified his wish that Aben Comixa would advance with his
squadron and offer battle to the old king. The provocation was given,
but El Zagal maintained his position. He threw out some light parties,
however, which skirmished with the Abencerrages of Aben Comixa, after
which he caused his trumpets to sound a recall, and retired into the
city, mortified, it is said, that the Christian cavaliers should witness
these fratricidal discords between true believers.

Don Fadrique, still distrustful, drew off to a distance, and encamped
for the night near the bridge of Cabillas.

Early in the morning a Moorish cavalier with an escort approached the
advance guard, and his trumpets sounded a parley. He craved an audience
as an envoy from El Zagal, and was admitted to the tent of Don Fadrique.
El Zagal had learnt that the Christian troops had come to aid his
nephew, and now offered to enter into an alliance with them on terms
still more advantageous than those of Boabdil. The wary Don Fadrique
listened to the Moor with apparent complacency, but determined to send
one of his most intrepid and discreet cavaliers, under the protection of
a flag, to hold a conference with the old king within the very walls of
the Alhambra. The officer chosen for this important mission was Don Juan
de Vera, the same stanch and devout cavalier who in times preceding the
war had borne the message from the Castilian sovereigns to old Muley
Abul Hassan demanding arrears of tribute. Don Juan was received
with great ceremony by the king. No records remain of his diplomatic
negotiations, but they extended into the night, and, it being too late
to return to camp, he was sumptuously lodged in an apartment of the
Alhambra. In the morning one of the courtiers about the palace, somewhat
given to jest and raillery, invited Don Juan to a ceremony which some
of the alfaquis were about to celebrate in the mosque of the palace.
The religious punctilio of this most discreet cavalier immediately took
umbrage at what he conceived a banter. "The servants of Queen Isabella
of Castile," replied he, stiffly and sternly, "who bear on their armor
the cross of St. Jago, never enter the temples of Mahomet but to level
them to the earth and trample on them."

The Moslem courtier retired somewhat disconcerted by this Catholic but
not very courteous reply, and reported it to a renegado of Antiquera.
The latter, eager, like all renegados, to show devotion to his
newly-adopted creed, volunteered to return with the courtier and have a
tilt of words with the testy diplomatist. They found Don Juan playing
a game of chess with the alcayde of the Alhambra, and took occasion to
indulge in sportive comments on some of the mysteries of the Christian
religion. The ire of this devout knight and discreet ambassador began
to kindle, but he restrained it within the limits of lofty gravity.
"You would do well," said he, "to cease talking about what you do not
understand." This only provoked light attacks of the witlings, until one
of them dared to make some degrading and obscene comparison between the
Blessed Virgin and Amina, the mother of Mahomet. In an instant Don Juan
sprang to his feet, dashed chess-board and chess-men aside, and, drawing
his sword, dealt, says the curate of los Palacios, such a "fermosa
cuchillada" (such a handsome slash) across the head of the blaspheming
Moor as felled him to the earth. The renegado, seeing his comrade
fall, fled for his life, making the halls and galleries ring with his
outcries. Guards, pages, and attendants rushed in, but Don Juan
kept them at bay until the appearance of the king restored order.
On inquiring into the cause of the affray he acted with proper
discrimination. Don Juan was held sacred as an ambassador, and the
renegado was severely punished for having compromised the hospitality of
the royal palace.

The tumult in the Alhambra, however, soon caused a more dangerous tumult
in the city. It was rumored that Christians had been introduced into
the palace with some treasonable design. The populace caught up arms and
ascended in throngs to the Gate of Justice, demanding the death of all
Christian spies and those who had introduced them. This was no time
to reason with an infuriate mob, when the noise of their clamors might
bring the garrison of the Albaycin to back them. Nothing was left for
El Zagal but to furnish Don Juan with a disguise, a swift horse, and an
escort, and to let him out of the Alhambra by a private gate. It was
a sore grievance to the stately cavalier to have to submit to these
expedients, but there was no alternative. In Moorish disguise he passed
through crowds that were clamoring for his head, and, once out of the
gate of the city, gave reins to his horse, nor ceased spurring until he
found himself safe under the banners of Don Fadrique.

Thus ended the second embassy of Don Juan de Vera, less stately but more
perilous than the first. Don Fadrique extolled his prowess, whatever
he may have thought of his discretion, and rewarded him with a superb
horse, while at the same time he wrote a letter to El Zagal thanking him
for the courtesy and protection he had observed to his ambassador. Queen
Isabella also was particularly delighted with the piety of Don Juan and
his promptness in vindicating the immaculate character of the Blessed
Virgin, and, besides conferring on him various honorable distinctions,
made him a royal present of three hundred thousand maravedis.*

     * Alcantara, Hist. Granad., vol. 3, c. 17, apud De Harro, Nobiliario
Genealogico, lib. 5, cap. 15.

The report brought by this cavalier of affairs in Granada, together
with the preceding skirmishings between the Moorish factions before the
walls, convinced Don Fadrique that there was no collusion between the
monarchs: on returning to his frontier post, therefore, he sent Boabdil
a reinforcement of Christian foot-soldiers and arquebusiers, under
Fernan Alvarez de Sotomayor, alcayde of Colomera. This was as a
firebrand thrown in to light up anew the flames of war in the city,
which remained raging between the Moorish inhabitants for the space of
fifty days.



Hitherto the events of this renowned war have been little else than a
succession of brilliant but brief exploits, such as sudden forays,
wild skirmishes among the mountains, and the surprisals of castles,
fortresses, and frontier towns. We approach now to more important and
prolonged operations, in which ancient and mighty cities, the bulwarks
of Granada, were invested by powerful armies, subdued by slow and
regular sieges, and thus the capital left naked and alone.

The glorious triumphs of the Christian sovereigns (says Fray Antonio
Agapida) had resounded throughout the East and filled all heathenesse
with alarm. The Grand Turk, Bajazet II., and his deadly foe, the grand
soldan of Egypt, suspending for a time their bloody feuds, entered into
a league to protect the religion of Mahomet and the kingdom of Granada
from the hostilities of the Christians. It was concerted between them
that Bajazet should send a powerful armada against the island of Sicily,
then appertaining to the Spanish Crown, for the purpose of distracting
the attention of the Castilian sovereigns, while at the same time great
bodies of troops should be poured into Granada from the opposite coast
of Africa.

Ferdinand and Isabella received timely intelligence of these designs.
They resolved at once to carry the war into the sea-board of Granada, to
possess themselves of its ports, and thus, as it were, to bar the gates
of the kingdom against all external aid. Malaga was to be the main
object of attack: it was the principal seaport of the kingdom, and
almost necessary to its existence. It had long been the seat of opulent
commerce, sending many ships to the coasts of Syria and Egypt. It was
also the great channel of communication with Africa, through which
were introduced supplies of money, troops, arms, and steeds from Tunis,
Tripoli, Fez, Tremezan, and other Barbary powers. It was emphatically
called, therefore, "the hand and mouth of Granada." Before laying siege
to this redoubtable city, however, it was deemed necessary to secure the
neighboring city of Velez Malaga and its dependent places, which might
otherwise harass the besieging army.

For this important campaign the nobles of the kingdom were again
summoned to take the field with their forces in the spring of 1487.
The menaced invasion of the infidel powers of the East had awakened new
ardor in the bosoms of all true Christian knights, and so zealously did
they respond to the summons of the sovereigns that an army of twenty
thousand cavalry and fifty thousand foot, the flower of Spanish
warriors, led by the bravest of Spanish cavaliers, thronged the renowned
city of Cordova at the appointed time.

On the night before this mighty host set forth upon its march an
earthquake shook the city. The inhabitants, awakened by the shaking of
the walls and rocking of the towers, fled to the courts and squares,
fearing to be overwhelmed by the ruins of their dwellings. The
earthquake was most violent in the quarter of the royal residence, the
site of the ancient palace of the Moorish kings. Many looked upon this
as an omen of some impending evil; but Fray Antonio Agapida, in that
infallible spirit of divination which succeeds an event, plainly reads
in it a presage that the empire of the Moors was about to be shaken to
its centre.

It was on Saturday, the eve of the Sunday of Palms (says a worthy and
loyal chronicler of the time), that the most Catholic monarch departed
with his army to render service to Heaven and make war upon the Moors.*
Heavy rains had swelled all the streams and rendered the roads deep and
difficult. The king, therefore, divided his host into two bodies. In
one he put all the artillery, guarded by a strong body of horse, and
commanded by the master of Alcantara and Martin Alonso, senior of
Montemayor. This division was to proceed by the road through the
valleys, where pasturage abounded for the oxen which drew the ordnance.

     * Pulgar, Cronica de los Reyes Catholicos.

The main body of the army was led by the king in person. It was divided
into numerous battalions, each commanded by some distinguished cavalier.
The king took the rough and perilous road of the mountains, and few
mountains are more rugged and difficult than those of Andalusia. The
roads are mere mule-paths straggling amidst rocks and along the verge of
precipices, clambering vast craggy heights, or descending into frightful
chasms and ravines, with scanty and uncertain foothold for either man or
steed. Four thousand pioneers were sent in advance, under the alcayde de
los Donceles, to conquer in some degree the asperities of the road. Some
had pickaxes and crowbars to break the rocks, others had implements to
construct bridges over the mountain-torrents, while it was the duty of
others to lay stepping-stones in the smaller streams. As the country
was inhabited by fierce Moorish mountaineers, Don Diego de Castrillo
was despatched with a body of horse and foot to take possession of the
heights and passes. Notwithstanding every precaution, the royal army
suffered excessively on its march. At one time there was no place to
encamp for five leagues of the most toilsome and mountainous country,
and many of the beasts of burden sank down and perished on the road.

It was with the greatest joy, therefore, that the royal army emerged
from these stern and frightful defiles, and came to where they looked
down upon the vega of Velez Malaga. The region before them was one
of the most delectable to the eye that ever was ravaged by an army.
Sheltered from every rude blast by a screen of mountains, and sloping
and expanding to the south, this lovely valley was quickened by the most
generous sunshine, watered by the silver meanderings of the Velez, and
refreshed by cooling breezes from the Mediterranean. The sloping hills
were covered with vineyards and olive trees; the distant fields waved
with grain or were verdant with pasturage; while round the city were
delightful gardens, the favorite retreats of the Moors, where
their white pavilions gleamed among groves of oranges, citrons, and
pomegranates, and were surrounded by stately palms--those plants of
southern growth bespeaking a generous climate and a cloudless sky.

In the upper part of this delightful valley the city of Velez Malaga
reared its warrior battlements in stern contrast to the landscape. It
was built on the declivity of a steep and insulated hill, and strongly
fortified by walls and towers. The crest of the hill rose high above the
town into a mere crag, inaccessible on every other side, and crowned by
a powerful castle, which domineered over the surrounding country. Two
suburbs swept down into the valley from the skirts of the town, and
were defended by bulwarks and deep ditches. The vast ranges of gray
mountains, often capped with clouds, which rose to the north, were
inhabited by a hardy and warlike race, whose strong fortresses of
Comares, Canillas, Competa, and Benamargosa frowned down from cragged

When the Christian host arrived in sight of this valley, a squadron was
hovering on the smooth sea before it displaying the banner of Castile.
This was commanded by the count of Trevento, and consisted of four armed
galleys, convoying a number of caravels laden with supplies for the

After surveying the ground, King Ferdinand encamped on the side of a
mountain which advanced close to the city, and was the last of a rugged
sierra, or chain of heights, that extended quite to Granada. On the
summit of this mountain, and overlooking the camp, was a Moorish town,
powerfully fortified, called Bentomiz, considered capable of yielding
great assistance to Velez Malaga. Several of the generals remonstrated
with the king for choosing a post so exposed to assaults from
the mountaineers, but he replied that he should thus cut off all
communication between Bentomiz and the city, and that, as to the danger,
his soldiers must keep the more vigilant guard against surprise.

King Ferdinand rode about, attended by several cavaliers and a small
number of cuirassiers, appointing the various stations of the camp.
Having directed a body of foot-soldiers to possess themselves, as an
advanced guard, of an important height which overlooked the city, he
retired to a tent to take refreshment. While at table he was startled by
a sudden uproar, and, looking forth, beheld his soldiers flying before
a superior force of the enemy. The king had on no other armor but a
cuirass: seizing a lance, however, he sprang upon his horse and galloped
to protect the fugitives, followed by his handful of knights and
cuirassiers. When the soldiers saw the king hastening to their aid, they
turned upon their pursuers. Ferdinand in his eagerness threw himself
into the midst of the foe. One of his grooms was killed beside him, but
before the Moor who slew him could escape the king transfixed him
with his lance. He then sought to draw his sword, which hung at his
saddle-bow, but in vain. Never had he been exposed to such peril; he was
surrounded by the enemy without a weapon wherewith to defend himself.

In this moment of awful jeopardy the marques of Cadiz, the count
de Cabra, the adelantado of Murcia, with two other cavaliers, named
Garcilasso de la Vega and Diego de Atayde, came galloping to the scene
of action, and, surrounding the king, made a rampart of their bodies
against the assaults of the Moors. The horse of the marques was pierced
by an arrow, and that worthy cavalier exposed to imminent danger; but
with the aid of his valorous companions he quickly put the enemy to
flight, and pursued them with slaughter to the very gates of the city.

When those loyal warriors returned from the pursuit they remonstrated
with the king for exposing his life in personal conflict, seeing that
he had so many valiant captains whose business it was to fight. They
reminded him that the life of a prince was the life of his people,
and that many a brave army was lost by the loss of its commander. They
entreated him, therefore, in future to protect them with the force of
his mind in the cabinet, rather than of his arm in the field.

Ferdinand acknowledged the wisdom of their advice, but declared that he
could not see his people in peril without venturing his person to assist
them--a reply (say the old chroniclers) which delighted the whole army,
inasmuch as they saw that he not only governed them as a good king, but
protected them as a valiant captain. He, however, was conscious of the
extreme peril to which he had been exposed, and made a vow never again
to venture into battle without having his sword girt to his side.*

     * Illescas, Hist. Pontif., lib. 6, c. 20; Vedmar, Hist. Velez Malaga.

When this achievement of the king was related to Isabella, she trembled
amidst her joy at his safety, and afterward, in memorial of the event,
granted to Velez Malaga, as the arms of the city, the figure of the king
on horseback, with a groom lying dead at his feet and the Moors flying.*

     * Ibid.

The camp was formed, but the artillery was yet on the road, advancing
with infinite labor at the rate of merely a league a day, for heavy
rains had converted the streams of the valleys into raging torrents and
completely broken up the roads. In the mean time, King Ferdinand
ordered an assault on the suburbs of the city. They were carried after a
sanguinary conflict of six hours, in which many Christian cavaliers were
killed and wounded, and among the latter Don Alvaro of Portugal, son of
the duke of Braganza. The suburbs were then fortified toward the city
with trenches and palisades, and garrisoned by a chosen force under Don
Fadrique de Toledo. Other trenches were digged round the city and from
the suburbs to the royal camp, so as to cut off all communication with
the surrounding country.

Bodies of troops were also sent to take possession of the
mountain-passes by which the supplies for the army had to be brought.
The mountains, however, were so steep and rugged, and so full of defiles
and lurking-places, that the Moors could sally forth and retreat in
perfect security, frequently swooping down upon Christian convoys and
bearing off both booty and prisoners to their strongholds. Sometimes the
Moors would light fires at night on the sides of the mountains, which
would be answered by fires from the watch-towers and fortresses. By
these signals they would concert assaults upon the Christian camp, which
in consequence was obliged to be continually on the alert.

King Ferdinand flattered himself that the manifestation of his force had
struck sufficient terror into the city, and that by offers of clemency
it might be induced to capitulate. He wrote a letter, therefore, to
the commanders, promising, in case of immediate surrender, that all
the inhabitants should be permitted to depart with their effects, but
threatening them with fire and sword if they persisted in defence. This
letter was despatched by a cavalier named Carvajal, who, putting it on
the end of a lance, reached it to the Moors on the walls of the city.
Abul Cacim Vanegas, son of Reduan, and alcayde of the fortress, replied
that the king was too noble and magnanimous to put such a threat in
execution, and that he should not surrender, as he knew the artillery
could not be brought to the camp, and he was promised succor by the king
of Granada.

At the same time that he received this reply the king learnt that at the
strong town of Comares, upon a height about two leagues distant from the
camp, a large number of warriors had assembled from the Axarquia, the
same mountains in which the Christian cavaliers had been massacred in
the beginning of the war, and that others were daily expected, for this
rugged sierra was capable of furnishing fifteen thousand fighting-men.

King Ferdinand felt that his army, thus disjoined and enclosed in
an enemy's country, was in a perilous situation, and that the utmost
discipline and vigilance were necessary. He put the camp under the
strictest regulations, forbidding all gaming, blasphemy, or brawl, and
expelling all loose women and their attendant bully ruffians, the usual
fomenters of riot and contention among soldiery. He ordered that none
should sally forth to skirmish without permission from their commanders;
that none should set fire to the woods on the neighboring mountains; and
that all word of security given to Moorish places or individuals should
be inviolably observed. These regulations were enforced by severe
penalties, and had such salutary effect that, though a vast host of
various people was collected together, not an opprobrious epithet was
heard nor a weapon drawn in quarrel.

In the mean time the cloud of war continued to gather about the summits
of the mountains, and multitudes of the fierce warriors of the sierra
descended to the lower heights of Bentomiz, which overhung the camp,
intending to force their way to the city. A detachment was sent against
them, which, after sharp fighting, drove them to the higher cliffs,
where it was impossible to pursue them.

Ten days had elapsed since the encampment of the army, yet still the
artillery had not arrived. The lombards and other heavy ordnance were
left in despair at Antiquera; the rest came groaning slowly through the
narrow valleys, which were filled with long trains of artillery and cars
laden with munitions. At length part of the smaller ordnance arrived
within half a league of the camp, and the Christians were animated
with the hopes of soon being able to make a regular attack upon the
fortifications of the city.



While the standard of the cross waved on the hills before Velez Malaga,
and every height and cliff bristled with hostile arms, the civil war
between the factions of the Alhambra and the Albaycin, or rather between
El Zagal and El Chico, continued to convulse the city of Granada. The
tidings of the investment of Velez Malaga at length roused the attention
of the old men and the alfaquis, whose heads were not heated by the
daily broils, and they endeavored to arouse the people to a sense of
their common danger.

"Why," said they, "continue these brawls between brethren and kindred?
What battles are these where even triumph is ignominious, and the victor
blushes and conceals his scars? Behold the Christians ravaging the land
won by the valor and blood of your forefathers, dwelling in the houses
they built, sitting under the trees they planted, while your brethren
wander about houseless and desolate. Do you wish to seek your real
foe?--he is encamped on the mountain of Bentomiz. Do you want a field
for the display of your valor?--you will find it before the walls of
Velez Malaga."

When they had roused the spirit of the people they made their way to
the rival kings, and addressed them with like remonstrances. Hamet Aben
Zarraz, the inspired santon, reproached El Zagal with his blind and
senseless ambition. "You are striving to be king," said he, bitterly,
"yet suffer the kingdom to be lost!"

El Zagal found himself in a perplexing dilemma. He had a double war to
wage--with the enemy without and the enemy within. Should the Christians
gain possession of the sea-coast, it would be ruinous to the kingdom;
should he leave Granada to oppose them, his vacant throne might be
seized on by his nephew. He made a merit of necessity, and, pretending
to yield to the remonstrances of the alfaquis, endeavored to compromise
with Boabdil. He expressed deep concern at the daily losses of the
country caused by the dissensions of the capital: an opportunity now
presented to retrieve all by a blow. The Christians had in a manner
put themselves in a tomb between the mountains--nothing remained but to
throw the earth upon them. He offered to resign the title of king, to
submit to the government of his nephew, and fight under his standard;
all he desired was to hasten to the relief of Velez Malaga and to take
full vengeance on the Christians.

Boabdil spurned his proposition as the artifice of a hypocrite and a
traitor. "How shall I trust a man," said he, "who has murdered my father
and my kindred by treachery, and has repeatedly sought my own life both
by violence and stratagem?"

El Zagal boiled with rage and vexation, but there was no time to be
lost. He was beset by the alfaquis and the nobles of his count; the
youthful cavaliers were hot for action, the common people loud in their
complaints that the richest cities were abandoned to the mercy of the
enemy. The old warrior was naturally fond of fighting; he saw also that
to remain inactive would endanger both crown and kingdom, whereas a
successful blow might secure his popularity in Granada. He had a
much more powerful force than his nephew, having lately received
reinforcements from Baza, Guadix, and Almeria; he could march with a
large force, therefore, to the relief of Velez Malaga, and yet leave a
strong garrison in the Alhambra. He took his measures accordingly, and
departed suddenly in the night at the head of one thousand horse and
twenty thousand foot, and urged his way rapidly by the most unfrequented
roads along the chain of mountains extending from Granada to the heights
above Velez Malaga.

The Christians were alarmed one evening by the sudden blazing of great
fires on the mountains about the fortress of Bentomiz. By the ruddy
light they beheld the flash of weapons and the array of troops, and
they heard the distant sound of Moorish drums and trumpets. The fires
of Bentomiz were answered by fires on the towers of Velez Malaga. The
shouts of "El Zagal! El Zagal!" echoed along the cliffs and resounded
from the city, and the Christians found that the old warrior-king of
Granada was on the mountain above the camp.

The spirits of the Moors were suddenly raised to a pitch of the greatest
exultation, while the Christians were astonished to see the storm of war
ready to burst upon their heads. The count de Cabra, with his accustomed
eagerness when there was a king in the field, would fain have scaled the
heights and attacked El Zagal before he had time to form his camp; but
Ferdinand, more cool and wary, restrained him. To attack the height
would be to abandon the siege. He ordered every one, therefore, to keep
a vigilant watch at his post and stand ready to defend it to the utmost,
but on no account to sally forth and attack the enemy.

All night the signal-fires kept blazing along the mountains, rousing and
animating the whole country. The morning sun rose over the lofty summit
of Bentomiz on a scene of martial splendor. As its rays glanced down
the mountain they lighted up the white tents of the Christian cavaliers
cresting its lower prominences, their pennons and ensigns fluttering in
the morning breeze. The sumptuous pavilions of the king, with the holy
standard of the cross and the royal banners of Castile and Aragon,
dominated the encampment. Beyond lay the city, its lofty castle and
numerous towers glistening with arms, while above all, and just on
the profile of the height, in the full blaze of the rising sun, were
descried the tents of the Moor, his troops clustering about them and his
infidel banners floating against the sky. Columns of smoke rose where
the night-fires had blazed, and the clash of the Moorish cymbal, the
bray of trumpet, and the neigh of steed were faintly heard from the airy
heights. So pure and transparent is the atmosphere in this region
that every object can be distinctly seen at a great distance, and the
Christians were able to behold the formidable hosts of fires gathering
on the summits of the surrounding mountains.

One of the first measures of the Moorish king was to detach a large
force, under Reduan de Vanegas, alcayde of Granada, to fall upon the
convoy of ordnance, which stretched for a great distance through the
mountain-defiles. Ferdinand had anticipated this attempt, and sent the
commander of Leon with a body of horse and foot to reinforce the master
of Alcantara. El Zagal from his mountain-height beheld the detachment
issue from the camp, and immediately recalled Reduan. The armies
now remained quiet for a time, the Moor looking grimly down upon the
Christian camp, like a tiger meditating a bound upon his prey. The
Christians were in fearful jeopardy--a hostile city below them, a
powerful army above them, and on every side mountains filled with
implacable foes.

After El Zagal had maturely considered the situation of the Christian
camp, and informed himself of all the passes of the mountain, he
conceived a plan to surprise the enemy which he flattered himself would
ensure their ruin and perhaps the capture of King Ferdinand. He wrote
a letter to the alcayde of the city, commanding him in the dead of the
night, on a signal-fire being made from the mountain, to sally forth
with all his troops and fall furiously upon the Christian camp. The king
would, at the same time, rush down with his army from the mountain, and
assail it on the opposite side, thus overwhelming it at the hour of deep
repose. This letter he despatched by a renegado Christian, who knew all
the secret roads of the country, and if taken could pass himself for a
Christian who had escaped from captivity.

El Zagal, confident in his stratagem, looked down upon the Christians
as his devoted victims. As the sun went down and the long shadows of the
mountains stretched across the vega, he pointed with exultation to the
camp below, apparently unconscious of the impending danger. "Behold,"
said he, "the unbelievers are delivered into our hands; their king and
choicest chivalry will soon be at our mercy. Now is the time to show the
courage of men, and by one glorious victory retrieve all that we have
lost. Happy he who falls fighting in the cause of the Prophet! he will
at once be transported to the paradise of the faithful and surrounded by
immortal houris. Happy he who shall survive victorious! he will behold
Granada--an earthly paradise!--once more delivered from its foes and
restored to all its glory." The words of El Zagal were received with
acclamations by his troops, who waited impatiently for the appointed
hour to pour down from their mountain-hold upon the Christians.



Queen Isabella and her court had remained at Cordova in great anxiety
for the result of the royal expedition. Every day brought tidings of
the difficulties which attended the transportation of the ordnance and
munitions and of the critical state of the army.

While in this state of anxious suspense couriers arrived with all speed
from the frontiers, bringing tidings of the sudden sally of El Zagal
from Granada to surprise the camp. All Cordova was in consternation. The
destruction of the Andalusian chivalry among the mountains of this very
neighborhood was called to mind; it was feared that similar ruin was
about to burst forth from rocks and precipices upon Ferdinand and his

Queen Isabella shared in the public alarm, but it served to rouse all
the energies of her heroic mind. Instead of uttering idle apprehensions,
she sought only how to avert the danger. She called upon all the men of
Andalusia under the age of seventy to arm and hasten to the relief of
their sovereign, and she prepared to set out with the first levies.
The grand cardinal of Spain, old Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, in whom the
piety of the saint and the wisdom of the counsellor were mingled with
the fire of the cavalier, offered high pay to all horsemen who would
follow him to aid their king and the Christian cause, and, buckling on
armor, prepared to lead them to the scene of danger.

The summons of the queen roused the quick Andalusian spirit. Warriors
who had long since given up fighting and had sent their sons to battle
now seized the sword and lance rusting on the wall, and marshalled forth
their gray-headed domestics and their grandchildren for the field. The
great dread was, that all aid would arrive too late; El Zagal and his
host had passed like a storm through the mountains, and it was feared
the tempest had already burst upon the Christian camp.

In the mean time, the night had closed which had been appointed by El
Zagal for the execution of his plan. He had watched the last light of
day expire, and all the Spanish camp remained tranquil. As the hours
wore away the camp-fires were gradually extinguished. No drum nor
trumpet sounded from below. Nothing was heard but now and then the dull
heavy tread of troops or the echoing tramp of horses--the usual patrols
of the camp--and the changes of the guards. El Zagal restrained his own
impatience and that of his troops until the night should be advanced
and the camp sunk in that heavy sleep from which men are with difficulty
awakened, and when awakened prone to be bewildered and dismayed.

At length the appointed hour arrived. By order of the Moorish king a
bright flame sprang up from the height of Bentomiz, but El Zagal looked
in vain for the responding light from the city. His impatience would
brook no longer delay; he ordered the advance of the army to descend the
mountain-defile and attack the camp. The defile was narrow and overhung
by rocks; as the troops proceeded they came suddenly, in a shadowy
hollow, upon a dark mass of warriors who, with a loud shout, rushed to
assail them. Surprised and disconcerted, they retreated in confusion to
the height. When El Zagal heard of a Christian force in the defile, he
doubted some counter-plan of the enemy, and gave orders to light the
mountain-fires. On a signal given bright flames sprang up on every
height from pyres of wood prepared for the purpose: cliff blazed out
after cliff until the whole atmosphere was in a glow of furnace light.

The ruddy glare lit up the glens and passes, and fell strongly upon
the Christian camp, revealing all its tents and every post and bulwark.
Wherever El Zagal turned his eyes he beheld the light of his fires
flashed back from cuirass and helm and sparkling lance; he beheld a
grove of spears planted in every pass, every assailable point bristling
with arms, and squadrons of horse and foot in battle array awaiting his

In fact, his letter to the alcayde of Velez Malaga had been intercepted
by the vigilant Ferdinand, the renegado messenger hanged, and secret
measures taken after nightfall to give the Moors a warm reception. El
Zagal saw that his plan of surprise was discovered and foiled; furious
with disappointment, he ordered his troops forward to the attack.
They rushed down the defile, but were again encountered by the mass of
Christian warriors, being the advance guard of the army commanded by Don
Hurtado de Mendoza, brother of the grand cardinal. The Moors were again
repulsed, and retreated up the height. Don Hurtado would have followed
them, but the ascent was steep and rugged and easily defended. A
sharp action was kept up through the night with crossbows, darts, and
arquebuses. The cliffs echoed with deafening uproar, while the fires
blazing upon the mountains threw a lurid and uncertain light upon the

When the day dawned and the Moors saw that there was no co-operation
from the city, they slackened in their ardor: they beheld also every
pass of the mountain filled with Christian troops, and began to
apprehend an assault in return. Just then King Ferdinand sent the
marques of Cadiz with horse and foot to seize upon a height occupied by
a battalion of the enemy. The marques assailed the Moors with his usual
intrepidity, and soon put them to flight. The others, who were above,
seeing their comrades fly, threw down their arms and retreated. One of
those unaccountable panics which now and then seize upon great bodies
of people, and to which the light-spirited Moors were prone, now spread
throughout the camp. They were terrified, they knew not why nor at what,
and, throwing away swords, lances, breast-plates, crossbows, everything
that could impede their motions, scattered themselves wildly in every
direction. They fled without pursuers--from the glimpse of each other's
arms, from the sound of each other's footsteps. Reduan de Vanegas, the
brave alcayde of Granada, alone succeeded in collecting a body of
the fugitives; he made a circuit with them through the passes of the
mountain, and, forcing his way across a weak part of the Christian
lines, galloped toward Velez Malaga. The rest of the Moorish host was
completely scattered. In vain did El Zagal and his knights attempt to
rally them; they were left almost alone, and had to consult their own
security by flight.

The marques of Cadiz, finding no opposition, ascended from height
to height, cautiously reconnoitring and fearful of some stratagem or
ambush. All, however, was quiet. He reached with his men the place which
the Moorish army had occupied: the heights were abandoned and strewed
with cuirasses, scimetars, crossbows, and other weapons. His force was
too small to pursue the enemy, but returned to the royal camp laden with

Ferdinand at first could not credit so signal and miraculous a defeat,
but suspected some lurking stratagem. He ordered, therefore, that a
strict watch should be maintained throughout the camp and every one be
ready for instant action. The following night a thousand cavaliers and
hidalgos kept guard about the royal tent, as they had done for several
preceding nights; nor did the king relax this vigilance until he
received certain intelligence that the enemy was completely scattered
and El Zagal flying in confusion.

The tidings of this rout and of the safety of the Christian army arrived
at Cordova just as reinforcements were on the point of setting out. The
anxiety and alarm of the queen and the public were turned to transports
of joy and gratitude. The forces were disbanded, solemn processions were
made, and "Te Deums" chanted in the churches for so signal a victory.



The daring spirit of Muley Abdallah el Zagal in sallying forth to defend
his territories while he left an armed rival in his capital struck the
people of Granada with admiration. They recalled his former exploits,
and again anticipated some hardy achievement from his valor. Couriers
from the army reported its formidable position on the height of
Bentomiz. For a time there was a pause in the bloody commotions of the
city; all attention was turned to the blow about to be struck at the
Christian camp. The same considerations which diffused anxiety and
terror through Cordova swelled every bosom with exulting confidence in
Granada. The Moors expected to hear of another massacre like that in the
mountains of Malaga. "El Zagal has again entrapped the enemy!" was the
cry. "The power of the unbelievers is about to be struck to the heart.
We shall soon see the Christian king led captive to the capital." Thus
was the name of El Zagal on every tongue. He was extolled as the savior
of the country, the only one worthy of wearing the Moorish crown.
Boabdil was reviled as basely remaining passive while his country
was invaded and so violent became the clamor of the populace that his
adherents trembled for his safety.

While the people of Granada were impatiently looking out for tidings
of the anticipated victory scattered horsemen came spurring across the
Vega. They were fugitives from the Moorish army, and brought the first
incoherent account of its defeat. Every one who attempted to tell the
tale of this unaccountable panic and dispersion was as if bewildered by
the broken recollection of some frightful dream. He knew not how or why
it came to pass. He talked of a battle in the night, among rocks and
precipices, by the glare of bale-fires; of multitudes of armed foes in
every pass, seen by gleams and flashes; of the sudden horror that seized
upon the army at daybreak, its headlong flight, and total dispersion.
Hour after hour the arrival of other fugitives confirmed the story of
ruin and disgrace.

In proportion to their recent vaunting was the humiliation that now fell
upon the people of Granada. There was a universal burst, not of grief,
but indignation. They confounded the leader with the army--the deserted
with those who had abandoned him, and El Zagal, from being their idol,
became suddenly the object of their execration. He had sacrificed the
army; he had disgraced the nation; he had betrayed the country. He was a
dastard, a traitor; he was unworthy to reign.

On a sudden one among the multitude shouted, "Long live Boabdil el
Chico!" The cry was echoed on all sides, and every one shouted, "Long
live Boabdil el Chico! long live the legitimate king of Granada! and
death to all usurpers!" In the excitement of the moment they thronged
to the Albaycin, and those who had lately besieged Boabdil with arms now
surrounded his palace with acclamations. The keys of the city and of
all the fortresses were laid at his feet; he was borne in state to the
Alhambra, and once more seated with all due ceremony on the throne of
his ancestors.

Boabdil had by this time become so accustomed to be crowned and
uncrowned by the multitude that he put no great faith in the duration of
their loyalty. He knew that he was surrounded by hollow hearts, and
that most of the courtiers of the Alhambra were secretly devoted to his
uncle. He ascended the throne as the rightful sovereign who had been
dispossessed of it by usurpation, and he ordered the heads of four
of the principal nobles to be struck off who had been most zealous in
support of the (9) usurper. Executions of the kind were matters of course
on any change in Moorish government, and Boabdil was lauded for his
moderation and humanity in being content with so small a sacrifice.
The factions were awed into obedience; the populace, delighted with any
change, extolled Boabdil to the skies; and the name of Muley Abdallah
el Zagal was for a time a by-word of scorn and opprobrium throughout the

Never was any commander more astonished and confounded by a sudden
reverse of fortune than El Zagal. The evening had seen him with a
powerful army at his command, his enemy within his grasp, and victory
about to cover him with glory and to consolidate his power: the morning
beheld him a fugitive among the mountains, his army, his prosperity, his
power, all dispelled, he knew not how--gone like a dream of the night.
In vain had he tried to stem the headlong flight of the army. He saw
his squadrons breaking and dispersing among the cliffs of the mountains,
until of all his host only a handful of cavaliers remained faithful.
With these he made a gloomy retreat toward Granada, but with a heart
full of foreboding. As he drew near to the city he paused on the
banks of the Xenil and sent forth scouts to collect intelligence. They
returned with dejected countenances. "The gates of Granada," said they,
"are closed against you. The banner of Boabdil floats on the tower of
the Alhambra."

El Zagal turned his steed and departed in silence. He retreated to the
town of Almunecar, and thence to Almeria, which places still remained
faithful to him. Restless and uneasy at being so distant from the
capital, he again changed his abode, and repaired to the city of Guadix,
within a few leagues of Granada. Here he remained, endeavoring to rally
his forces and preparing to avail himself of any sudden change in the
fluctuating politics of the metropolis.



The people of Velez Malaga had beheld the camp of Muley Abdallah
covering the summit of Bentomiz and glittering in the last rays of the
setting sun. During the night they had been alarmed and perplexed by
signal-fires on the mountain and by the sound of distant battle. When
the morning broke the Moorish army had vanished as if by enchantment.
While the inhabitants were lost in wonder and conjecture, a body of
cavalry, the fragment of the army saved by Reduan de Vanegas, the brave
alcayde of Granada, came galloping to the gates. The tidings of the
strange discomfiture of the host filled the city with consternation, but
Reduan exhorted the people to continue their resistance. He was devoted
to El Zagal and confident in his skill and prowess, and felt assured
that he would soon collect his scattered forces and return with
fresh troops from Granada. The people were comforted by the words and
encouraged by the presence of Reduan, and they had still a lingering
hope that the heavy artillery of the Christians might be locked up in
the impassable defiles of the mountains. This hope was soon at an end.
The very next day they beheld long laborious lines of ordnance slowly
moving into the Spanish camp--lombards, ribadoquines, catapults, and
cars laden with munitions--while the escort, under the brave master
of Alcantara, wheeled in great battalions into the camp to augment the
force of the besiegers.

The intelligence that Granada had shut its gates against El Zagal, and
that no reinforcements were to be expected, completed the despair of
the inhabitants; even Reduan himself lost confidence and advised

Ferdinand granted favorable conditions, for he was eager to proceed
against Malaga. The inhabitants were permitted to depart with their
effects except their arms, and to reside, if they chose it, in Spain
in any place distant from the sea. One hundred and twenty Christians of
both sexes were rescued from captivity by the surrender, and were sent
to Cordova, where they were received with great tenderness by the queen
and her daughter the infanta Isabella in the famous cathedral in the
midst of public rejoicings for the victory.

The capture of Velez Malaga was followed by the surrender of Bentomiz,
Comares, and all the towns and fortresses of the Axarquia, which were
strongly garrisoned, and discreet and valiant cavaliers appointed as
their alcaydes. The inhabitants of nearly forty towns of the Alpuxarras
mountains also sent deputations to the Castilian sovereigns, taking the
oath of allegiance as mudexares or Moslem vassals.

About the same time came letters from Boabdil el Chico announcing to the
sovereigns the revolution of Granada in his favor. He solicited kindness
and protection for the inhabitants who had returned to their allegiance,
and for those of all other places which should renounce adherence to his
uncle. By this means (he observed) the whole kingdom of Granada would
soon be induced to acknowledge his sway, and would be held by him in
faithful vassalage to the Castilian Crown.

The Catholic sovereigns complied with his request. Protection was
immediately extended to the inhabitants of Granada, permitting them
to cultivate their fields in peace and to trade with the Christian
territories in all articles excepting arms, being provided with letters
of surety from some Christian captain or alcayde. The same favor was
promised to all other places which within six months should renounce El
Zagal and come under allegiance to the younger king. Should they not do
so within that time, the sovereigns threatened to make war upon them and
conquer them for themselves. This measure had a great effect in inducing
many to return to the standard of Boabdil.

Having made every necessary arrangement for the government and security
of the newly-conquered territory, Ferdinand turned his attention to the
great object of his campaign, the reduction of Malaga.



The city of Malaga lies in the lap of a fertile valley, surrounded by
mountains, excepting on the part which lies open to the sea. As it was
one of the most important, so it was one of the strongest, cities of
the Moorish kingdom. It was fortified by walls of prodigious strength
studded with a great number of huge towers. On the land side it was
protected by a natural barrier of mountains, and on the other the
waves of the Mediterranean beat against the foundations of its massive

At one end of the city, near the sea, on a high mound, stood the
Alcazaba, or citadel, a fortress of great strength. Immediately above
this rose a steep and rocky mount, on the top of which in old times had
been a pharos or lighthouse, from which the height derived its name of
Gibralfaro.* It was at present crowned by an immense castle, which, from
its lofty and cragged situation, its vast walls, and mighty towers, was
deemed impregnable. It communicated with the Alcazaba by a covered way
six paces broad, leading down between two walls along the profile or
ridge of the rock. The castle of Gibralfaro commanded both citadel and
city, and was capable, if both were taken, of maintaining a siege. Two
large suburbs adjoined the city: in the one toward the sea were the
dwelling-houses of the most opulent inhabitants, adorned with hanging
gardens; the other, on the land side, was thickly peopled and surrounded
by strong walls and towers.

     * A corruption of "Gibel-faro," the hill of the lighthouse.

Malaga possessed a brave and numerous garrison, and the common people
were active, hardy, and resolute; but the city was rich and commercial,
and under the habitual control of numerous opulent merchants, who
dreaded the ruinous consequences of a siege. They were little zealous
for the warlike renown of their city, and longed rather to participate
in the enviable security of property and the lucrative privileges of
safe traffic with the Christian territories granted to all places which
declared for Boabdil. At the head of these gainful citizens was Ali
Dordux, a mighty merchant of uncounted wealth, connected, it is said,
with the royal family of Granada, whose ships traded to every part of
the Levant and whose word was as a law in Malaga. Ali Dordux assembled
the most opulent and important of his commercial brethren, and they
repaired in a body to the Alcazaba, where they were received by the
alcayde, Aben Comixa, with that deference generally shown to men of
their great local dignity and power of purse. Ali Dordux was ample
and stately in his form and fluent and emphatic in his discourse; his
eloquence had an effect, therefore, upon the alcayde as he represented
the hopelessness of a defence of Malaga, the misery that must attend a
siege, and the ruin that must follow a capture by force of arms. On
the other hand, he set forth the grace that might be obtained from the
Castilian sovereigns by an early and voluntary acknowledgment of Boabdil
as king, the peaceful possession of their property, and the profitable
commerce with the Christian ports that would be allowed them. He was
seconded by his weighty and important coadjutors; and the alcadye,
accustomed to regard them as the arbiters of the affairs of the place,
yielded to their united counsels. He departed, therefore, with all speed
to the Christian camp, empowered to arrange a capitulation with the
Castilian monarch, and in the mean time his brother remained in command
of the Alcazaba.

There was at this time as alcayde in the old crag-built castle of
Gibralfaro a warlike and fiery Moor, an implacable enemy of the
Christians. This was no other than Hamet Zeli, surnamed El Zegri, the
once-formidable alcayde of Ronda and the terror of its mountains. He
had never forgiven the capture of his favorite fortress, and panted
for vengeance on the Christians. Notwithstanding his reverses, he
had retained the favor of El Zagal, who knew how to appreciate a bold
warrior of the kind, and had placed him in command of this important
fortress of Gibralfaro.

Hamet el Zegri had gathered round him the remnant of his band of
Gomeres, with others of the same tribe recently arrived from Morocco.
These fierce warriors were nestled like so many war-hawks about their
lofty cliff. They looked down with martial contempt upon the commercial
city of Malaga, which they were placed to protect; or, rather, they
esteemed it only for its military importance and its capability of
defence. They held no communion with its trading, gainful inhabitants,
and even considered the garrison of the Alcazaba as their inferiors.
War was their pursuit and passion; they rejoiced in its turbulent and
perilous scenes; and, confident in the strength of the city, and, above
all, of their castle, they set at defiance the menace of Christian
invasion. There were among them also many apostate Moors, who had
once embraced Christianity, but had since recanted and fled from the
vengeance of the Inquisition.* These were desperadoes who had no mercy
to expect should they again fall into the hands of the enemy.

     * Zurita, lib. 30, cap. 71.

Such were the fierce elements of the garrison of Gibralfaro, and its
rage may easily be conceived at hearing that Malaga was to be given up
without a blow; that they were to sink into Christian vassals under
the intermediate sway of Boabdil el Chico; and that the alcayde of the
Alcazaba had departed to arrange the terms of capitulation.

Hamet determined to avert by desperate means the threatened degradation.
He knew that there was a large party in the city faithful to El Zagal,
being composed of warlike men who had taken refuge from the various
mountain-towns which had been captured; their feelings were desperate
as their fortunes, and, like Hamet, they panted for revenge upon
the Christians. With these he had a secret conference, and received
assurances of their adherence to him in any measures of defence. As to
the counsel of the peaceful inhabitants, he considered it unworthy the
consideration of a soldier, and he spurned at the interference of the
wealthy merchant Ali Dordux in matters of warfare.

"Still," said Hamet el Zegri, "let us proceed regularly." So he
descended with his Gomeres to the citadel, entered it suddenly, put to
death the brother of the alcayde and such of the garrison as made
any demur, and then summoned the principal inhabitants of Malaga
to deliberate on measures for the welfare of the city.* The wealthy
merchants again mounted to the citadel, excepting Ali Dordux, who
refused to obey the summons. They entered with hearts filled with awe,
for they found Hamet surrounded by his grim African guard and all the
stern array of military power, and they beheld the bloody traces of the
recent massacre.

     * Cura de los Palacios, c. 82.

Hamet rolled a dark and searching eye upon the assembly. "Who," said
he, "is loyal and devoted to Muley Abdallah el Zagal?" Every one present
asserted his loyalty. "Good!" said Hamet; "and who is ready to prove his
devotion to his sovereign by defending this his important city to the
last extremity?" Every one present declared his readiness. "Enough!"
observed Hamet. "The alcayde Aben Comixa has proved himself a traitor to
his sovereign and to you all, for he has conspired to deliver the
place to the Christians. It behooves you to choose some other commander
capable of defending your city against the approaching enemy." The
assembly declared unanimously that no one was so worthy of the command
as himself. So Hamet was appointed alcayde of Malaga, and immediately
proceeded to man the forts and towers with his partisans and to make
every preparation for a desperate resistance.

Intelligence of these occurrences put an end to the negotiations between
King Ferdinand and the superseded alcayde Aben Comixa, and it was
supposed there was no alternative but to lay siege to the place. The
marques of Cadiz, however, found at Velez a Moorish cavalier of some
note, a native of Malaga, who offered to tamper with Hamet el Zegri for
the surrender of the city, or at least of the castle of Gibralfaro. The
marques communicated this to the king. "I put this business and the key
of my treasury into your hands," said Ferdinand; "act, stipulate, and
disburse in my name as you think proper."

The marques armed the Moor with his own lance, cuirass, and target and
mounted him on one of his own horses. He equipped in similar style also
another Moor, his companion and relative. They bore secret letters
to Hamet from the marques offering him the town of Coin in perpetual
inheritance and four thousand doblas in gold if he would deliver
up Gibralfaro, together with a farm and two thousand doblas for his
lieutenant, Ibrahim Zenete, and large sums to be distributed among
his officers and soldiers; and he offered unlimited rewards for the
surrender of the city.

Hamet had a warrior's admiration of the marques of Cadiz, and received
his messengers with courtesy in his fortress of Gibralfaro. He even
listened to their propositions with patience, and dismissed them in
safety, though with an absolute refusal. The marques thought his reply
was not so peremptory as to discourage another effort. The emissaries
were despatched, therefore, a second time, with further propositions.
They approached Malaga in the night, but found the guards doubled,
patrols abroad, and the whole place on the alert. They were discovered,
pursued, and only saved themselves by the fleetness of their steeds and
their knowledge of the passes of the mountains.*

     * Cura de los Palacios, MS., c. 82.

Finding all attempts to tamper with the faith of Hamet utterly futile,
King Ferdinand publicly summoned the city to surrender, offering the
most favorable terms in case of immediate compliance, but threatening
captivity to all the inhabitants in case of resistance.

It required a man of nerve to undertake the delivery of such a summons
in the present heated and turbulent state of the Moorish community. Such
a one stepped forward in the person of a cavalier of the royal guards,
Hernan Perez del Pulgar by name, a youth of noble descent, who had
already signalized himself by his romantic valor and daring enterprise.
Furnished with official papers for Hamet el Zegri and a private letter
from the king to Ali Dordux, he entered the gates of Malaga under the
protection of a flag, and boldly delivered his summons in presence of
the principal inhabitants. The language of the summons or the tone in
which it was delivered exasperated the fiery spirit of the Moors, and
it required all the energy of Hamet and the influence of several of
the alfaquis to prevent an outrage to the person of the ambassador. The
reply of Hamet was haughty and decided. "The city of Malaga has been
confided to me," said he--"not to be surrendered, but defended, and the
king shall witness how I acquit myself of my charge."*

     * Pulgar, part 3, cap. 74.

His mission at an end, Hernan del Pulgar rode slowly and deliberately
through the city, utterly regardless of the scowls and menaces and
scarcely restrained turbulence of the multitude, and bore to Ferdinand
at Velez the haughty answer of the Moor, but at the same time gave him
a formidable account of the force of the garrison, the strength of the
fortifications, and the determined spirit of the commander and his men.
The king immediately sent orders to have the heavy artillery forwarded
from Antiquera, and on the 7th of May marched with his army toward



The army of Ferdinand advanced in lengthened line, glittering along the
foot of the mountains which border the Mediterranean, while a fleet of
vessels, freighted with heavy artillery and warlike munitions, kept
pace with it at a short distance from the land, covering the sea with a
thousand gleaming sails. When Hamet el Zegri saw this force approaching,
he set fire to the houses of the suburbs which adjoined the walls and
sent forth three battalions to encounter the advance guard of the enemy.

The Christian army drew near to the city at that end where the castle
and rocky height of Gibralfaro defended the seaboard. Immediately
opposite, at about two bow-shots' distance, stood the castle, and
between it and the high chain of mountains was a steep and rocky hill,
at present called the hill of St. Christobal, commanding a pass through
which the Christians must march to penetrate to the vega and surround
the city. Hamet ordered the three battalions to take their stations--one
on this hill, another in the pass near the castle, and a third on the
side of the mountain near the sea.

A body of Spanish foot-soldiers of the advance guard, sturdy
mountaineers of Galicia, sprang forward to climb the side of the height
next the sea, at the same time a number of cavaliers and hidalgos of the
royal household attacked the Moors who guarded the pass below. The Moors
defended their posts with obstinate valor. The Galicians were repeatedly
overpowered and driven down the hill, but as often rallied, and, being
reinforced by the hidalgos and cavaliers, returned to the assault. This
obstinate struggle lasted for six hours: the strife was of a deadly
kind, not merely with crossbows and arquebuses, but hand to hand with
swords and daggers; no quarter was claimed or given on either side--they
fought not to make captives, but to slay. It was but the advance of the
Christian army that was engaged; so narrow was the pass along the coast
that the army could proceed only in file: horse and foot and beasts of
burden were crowded one upon another, impeding each other and blocking
up the narrow and rugged defile. The soldiers heard the uproar of the
battle, the sound of trumpets, and the war-cries of the Moors, but tried
in vain to press forward to the assistance of their companions.

At length a body of foot-soldiers of the Holy Brotherhood climbed with
great difficulty the steep side of the mountain which overhung the pass,
and advanced with seven banners displayed. The Moors, seeing this force
above them, abandoned the pass in despair. The battle was still raging
on the height; the Galicians, though supported by Castilian troops under
Don Hurtado de Mendoza and Garcilasso de la Vega, were severely pressed
and roughly handled by the Moors: at length a brave standard-bearer,
Luys Mazeda by name, threw himself into the midst of the enemy and
planted his banner on the summit. The Galicians and Castilians,
stimulated by this noble self-devotion, followed him, fighting
desperately, and the Moors were at length driven to their castle of

     * Pulgar, Cronica.

This important height being taken, the pass lay open to the army, but
by this time evening was advancing, and the host was too weary and
exhausted to seek proper situations for the encampment. The king,
attended by several grandees and cavaliers, went the rounds at night,
stationing outposts toward the city and guards and patrols to give the
alarm on the least movement of the enemy. All night the Christians lay
upon their arms, lest there should be some attempt to sally forth and
attack them.

When the morning dawned the king gazed with admiration at this city
which he hoped soon to add to his dominions. It was surrounded on one
side by vineyards, gardens, and orchards, which covered the hills with
verdure; on the other side its walls were bathed by the smooth and
tranquil sea. Its vast and lofty towers and prodigious castles, hoary
with age, yet unimpaired in strength, showed the labors of magnanimous
men in former times to protect their favorite abode. Hanging gardens,
groves of oranges, citrons, and pomegranates, with tall cedars and
stately palms, were mingled with the stern battlements and towers,
bespeaking the opulence and luxury that reigned within.

In the mean time, the Christian army poured through the pass, and,
throwing out its columns and extending its lines, took possession of
every vantage-ground around the city. King Ferdinand surveyed the ground
and appointed the stations of the different commanders.

The important mount of St. Christobal, which had cost so violent a
struggle and faced the powerful fortress of Gibralfaro, was given in
charge to Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques of Cadiz, who in all sieges
claimed the post of danger. He had several noble cavaliers with their
retainers in his encampment, which consisted of fifteen hundred horse
and fourteen thousand foot, and extended from the summit of the mount to
the margin of the sea, completely blocking up the approach to the city
on that side. From this post a line of encampments extended quite round
the city to the seaboard, fortified by bulwarks and deep ditches, while
a fleet of armed ships and galleys stretched before the harbor, so that
the place was completely invested by sea and land. The various parts
of the valley now resounded with the din of preparation, and was filled
with artificers preparing warlike engines and munitions; armorers
and smiths with glowing forges and deafening hammers; carpenters
and engineers constructing machines wherewith to assail the walls;
stone-cutters shaping stone balls for the ordnance; and burners of
charcoal preparing fuel for the furnaces and forges.

When the encampment was formed the heavy ordnance was landed from the
ships and mounted in various parts of the camp. Five huge lombards were
placed on the mount commanded by the marques of Cadiz, so as to bear
upon the castle of Gibralfaro.

The Moors made strenuous efforts to impede these preparations. They kept
up a heavy fire from their ordnance upon the men employed in digging
trenches or constructing batteries, so that the latter had to
work principally in the night. The royal tents had been stationed
conspicuously and within reach of the Moorish batteries, but were so
warmly assailed that they had to be removed behind a hill.

When the works were completed the Christian batteries opened in return,
and kept up a tremendous cannonade, while the fleet, approaching the
land, assailed the city vigorously on the opposite side.

"It was a glorious and delectable sight," observes Fray Antonio Agapida,
"to behold this infidel city thus surrounded by sea and land by a mighty
Christian force. Every mound in its circuit was, as it were, a little
city of tents bearing the standard of some renowned Catholic warrior.
Besides the warlike ships and galleys which lay before the place, the
sea was covered with innumerable sails, passing and repassing, appearing
and disappearing, being engaged in bringing supplies for the subsistence
of the army. It seemed a vast spectacle contrived to recreate the eye,
did not the volleying bursts of flame and smoke from the ships, which
seemed to lie asleep on the quiet sea, and the thunder of ordnance from
camp and city, from tower and battlement, tell the deadly warfare that
was waging.

"At night the scene was far more direful than in the day. The cheerful
light of the sun was gone; there was nothing but the flashes of
artillery or the baleful gleams of combustibles thrown into the city,
and the conflagration of the houses. The fire kept up from the Christian
batteries was incessant: there were seven great lombards in particular,
called the Seven Sisters of Ximenes, which did tremendous execution.
The Moorish ordnance replied in thunder from the walls; Gibralfaro was
wrapped in volumes of smoke rolling about its base; and Hamet and his
Gomeres looked out with triumph upon the tempest of war they had awaked.
Truly they were so many demons incarnate," concludes the pious Fray
Antonio Agapida, "who were permitted by Heaven to enter into and possess
this infidel city for its perdition."



The attack on Malaga by sea and land was kept up for several days with
tremendous violence, but without producing any great impression, so
strong were the ancient bulwarks of the city. The count de Cifuentes was
the first to signalize himself by any noted achievement. A main tower,
protecting what is at present called the suburb of Santa Ana, had been
shattered by the ordnance and the battlements demolished, so as to yield
no shelter to its defenders. Seeing this, the count assembled a gallant
band of cavaliers of the royal household and advanced to take it by
storm. They applied scaling-ladders and mounted sword in hand. The
Moors, having no longer battlements to protect them, descended to a
lower floor, and made furious resistance from the windows and loopholes.
They poured down boiling pitch and rosin, and hurled stones and darts
and arrows on the assailants. Many of the Christians were slain, their
ladders were destroyed by flaming combustibles, and the count was
obliged to retreat from before the tower. On the following day he
renewed the attack with superior force, and after a severe combat
succeeded in planting his victorious banner on the tower.

The Moors now assailed the tower in their turn. They undermined the part
toward the city, placed props of wood under the foundation, and, setting
fire to them, drew off to a distance. In a little while the props gave
way, the foundation sunk, and the tower was rent; part of its wall
fell with a tremendous noise; many of the Christians were thrown out
headlong, and the rest were laid open to the missiles of the enemy.

By this time, however, a breach had been made in the wall of the suburb
adjoining the tower, and troops poured in to the assistance of their
comrades. A continued battle was kept up for two days and a night by
reinforcements from camp and city. The parties fought backward and
forward through the breach of the wall and in the narrow and winding
streets adjacent with alternate success, and the vicinity of the tower
was strewn with the dead and wounded. At length the Moors gradually gave
way, disputing every inch of ground, until they were driven into the
city, and the Christians remained masters of the greater part of the

This partial success, though gained with great toil and bloodshed, gave
temporary animation to the Christians; they soon found, however, that
the attack on the main works of the city was a much more arduous task.
The garrison contained veterans who had served in many of the towns
captured by the Christians. They were no longer confounded and
dismayed by the battering ordnance and other strange engines of foreign
invention, and had become expert in parrying their effects, in repairing
breaches, and erecting counter-works.

The Christians, accustomed of late to speedy conquests of Moorish
fortresses, became impatient of the slow progress of the siege. Many
were apprehensive of a scarcity of provisions from the difficulty of
subsisting so numerous a host in the heart of the enemy's country,
where it was necessary to transport supplies across rugged and hostile
mountains or subjected to the uncertainties of the sea. Many also were
alarmed at a pestilence which broke out in the neighboring villages, and
some were so overcome by these apprehensions as to abandon the camp and
return to their homes.

Several of the loose and worthless hangers-on that infest all great
armies, hearing these murmurs, thought that the siege would soon be
raised, and deserted to the enemy, hoping to make their fortunes. They
gave exaggerated accounts of the alarms and discontents of the army, and
represented the troops as daily returning home in bands. Above all, they
declared that the gunpowder was nearly exhausted, so that the artillery
would soon be useless. They assured the Moors, therefore, that if they
persisted a little longer in their defence, the king would be obliged to
draw off his forces and abandon the siege.

The reports of these renegados gave fresh courage to the garrison; they
made vigorous sallies upon the camp, harassing it by night and day, and
obliging every part to be guarded with the most painful vigilance. They
fortified the weak parts of their walls with ditches and palisadoes, and
gave every manifestation of a determined and unyielding spirit.

Ferdinand soon received intelligence of the reports which had been
carried to the Moors: he understood that they had been informed,
likewise, that the queen was alarmed for the safety of the camp, and had
written repeatedly urging him to abandon the siege. As the best means
of disproving all these falsehoods and destroying the vain hopes of
the enemy, he wrote to the queen entreating her to come and take up her
residence in the camp.



Great was the enthusiasm of the army when they beheld their patriot
queen advancing in state to share the toils and dangers of her people.
Isabella entered the camp attended by the dignitaries and the whole
retinue of her court to manifest that this was no temporary visit. On
one side of her was her daughter, the infanta; on the other, the grand
cardinal of Spain: Hernando de Talavera, the prior of Prado, confessor
to the queen, followed, with a great train of prelates, courtiers,
cavaliers, and ladies of distinction. The cavalcade moved in calm and
stately order through the camp, softening the iron aspect of war by this
array of courtly grace and female beauty.

Isabella had commanded that on her coming to the camp the horrors of war
should be suspended and fresh offers of peace made to the enemy. On
her arrival, therefore, there had been a general cessation of firing
throughout the camp. A messenger was at the same time despatched to
the besieged, informing them of her being in the camp, and of the
determination of the sovereigns to make it their settled residence
until the city should be taken. The same terms were offered in case
of immediate surrender that had been granted to Velez Malaga, but the
inhabitants were threatened with captivity and the sword should they
persist in their defence.

Hamet el Zegri received this message with haughty contempt, and
dismissed the messenger without deigning a reply, and accompanied by an
escort to prevent his holding any communication with the inhabitants in
the streets. "The Christian sovereigns," said Hamet to those about him,
"have made this offer in consequence of their despair. The silence of
their batteries proves the truth of what has been told us, that their
powder is exhausted. They have no longer the means of demolishing our
walls, and if they remain much longer the autumnal rains will interrupt
their convoys and fill their camp with famine and disease. The first
storm will disperse their fleet, which has no neighboring port of
shelter: Africa will then be open to us to procure reinforcements and

The words of Hamet el Zegri were hailed as oracular by his adherents.
Many of the peaceful part of the community, however, ventured to
remonstrate, and to implore him to accept the proffered mercy. The stern
Hamet silenced them with a terrific threat: he declared that whoever
should talk of capitulating or should hold any communication with the
Christians should be put to death. The Gomeres, like true men of the
sword, acted upon the menace of their chieftain as upon a written law,
and, having detected several of the inhabitants in secret correspondence
with the enemy, set upon and slew them and confiscated their effects.
This struck such terror into the citizens that those who had been
loudest in their murmurs became suddenly mute, and were remarked as
evincing the greatest bustle and alacrity in the defence of the city.

When the messenger returned to the camp and reported the contemptuous
reception of the royal message, King Ferdinand was exceedingly
indignant. Finding the cessation of firing on the queen's arrival had
encouraged a belief among the enemy that there was a scarcity of powder
in the camp, he ordered a general discharge from all the batteries. The
sudden burst of war from every quarter soon convinced the Moors of their
error and completed the confusion of the citizens, who knew not which
most to dread, their assailants or their defenders, the Christians or
the Gomeres.

That evening the sovereigns visited the encampment of the marques of
Cadiz, which commanded a view over a great part of the city, the camp,
and the sea with its flotillas. The tent of the marques was of great
magnitude, furnished with hangings of rich brocade and French cloth of
the rarest texture. It was in the Oriental style, and, as it crowned the
height, with the surrounding tents of other cavaliers, all sumptuously
furnished, presented a gay and silken contrast to the opposite towers of
Gibralfaro. Here a splendid collation was served up to the sovereigns,
and the courtly revel that prevailed in this chivalrous encampment, the
glitter of pageantry, and the bursts of festive music made more striking
the gloom and silence that reigned over the Moorish castle.

The marques of Cadiz while it was yet light conducted his royal visitors
to every point that commanded a view of the warlike scene below. He
caused the heavy lombards also to be discharged, that the queen and
ladies of the court might witness the effect of those tremendous
engines. The fair dames were filled with awe and admiration as the
mountain shook beneath their feet with the thunder of the artillery and
they beheld great fragments of the Moorish walls tumbling down the rocks
and precipices.

While the good marques was displaying these things to his royal guests
he lifted up his eyes, and to his astonishment beheld his own banner
hanging out from the nearest tower of Gibralfaro. The blood mantled
in his cheek, for it was a banner which he had lost at the time of the
memorable massacre of the heights of Malaga.* To make this taunt
more evident, several of the Gomeres displayed themselves upon the
battlements arrayed in the helmets and cuirasses of some of the
cavaliers slain or captured on that occasion. The marques of Cadiz
restrained his indignation and held his peace, but several of, his
cavaliers vowed loudly to revenge this cruel bravado on the ferocious
garrison of Gibralfaro.

     * Diego de Valera, Cronica, MS.



The marques of Cadiz was not a cavalier that readily forgave an injury
or an insult. On the morning after the royal banquet his batteries
opened a tremendous fire upon Gibralfaro. All day the encampment was
wrapped in wreaths of smoke, nor did the assault cease with the day, but
throughout the night there was an incessant flashing and thundering of
the lombards, and the following morning the assault rather increased
than slackened in fury. The Moorish bulwarks were no proof against those
formidable engines. In a few days the lofty tower on which the taunting
banner had been displayed was shattered, a smaller tower in its vicinity
reduced to ruins, and a great breach made in the intervening walls.

Several of the hot-spirited cavaliers were eager for storming the breach
sword in hand; others, more cool and wary, pointed out the rashness of
such an attempt, for the Moors had worked indefatigably in the night;
they had digged a deep ditch within the breach, and had fortified it
with palisadoes and a high breastwork. All, however, agreed that the
camp might safely be advanced near to the ruined walls, and that it
ought to be done in return for the insolent defiance of the enemy.

The marques of Cadiz felt the temerity of the measure, but was unwilling
to dampen the zeal of these high-spirited cavaliers, and, having chosen
the post of danger in the camp, it did not become him to decline
any service merely because it might appear perilous. He ordered his
outposts, therefore, to be advanced within a stone's-throw of the
breach, but exhorted the soldiers to maintain the utmost vigilance.

The thunder of the batteries had ceased; the troops, exhausted by two
nights' fatigue and watchfulness, and apprehending no danger from the
dismantled walls, were half of them asleep; the rest were scattered
about in negligent security. On a sudden upward of two thousand Moors
sallied forth from the castle, led on by Ibrahim Zenete, the principal
captain under Hamet. They fell with fearful havoc upon the advanced
guard, slaying many of them in their sleep and putting the rest to
headlong flight.

The marques was in his tent, about a bow-shot distant, when he heard
the tumult of the onset and beheld his men dying in confusion. He
rushed forth, followed by his standard-bearer. "Turn again, cavaliers!"
exclaimed he; "I am here, Ponce de Leon! To the foe! to the foe!" The
flying troops stopped at hearing his well-known voice, rallied under
his banner, and turned upon the enemy. The encampment by this time was
roused; several cavaliers from the adjoining stations had hastened to
the scene of action, with a number of Galicians and soldiers of the Holy
Brotherhood. An obstinate and bloody contest ensued; the ruggedness of
the place, the rocks, chasms, and declivities broke it into numerous
combats: Christian and Moor fought hand to hand with swords and
daggers, and often, grappling and struggling, rolled together down the

The banner of the marques was in danger of being taken: he hastened
to its rescue, followed by some of his bravest cavaliers. They were
surrounded by the enemy, and several of them cut down. Don Diego Ponce
de Leon, brother to the marques, was wounded by an arrow, and his
son-in-law, Luis Ponce, was likewise wounded: they succeeded, however,
in rescuing the banner and bearing it off in safety. The battle lasted
for an hour; the height was covered with killed and wounded and the
blood flowed in streams down the rocks; at length, Ibrahim Zenete being
disabled by the thrust of a lance, the Moors gave way and retreated to
the castle.

They now opened a galling fire from their battlements and towers,
approaching the breaches so as to discharge their crossbows and
arquebuses into the advanced guard of the encampment. The marques was
singled out: the shot fell thick about him, and one passed through his
buckler and struck upon his cuirass, but without doing him any injury.
Every one now saw the danger and inutility of approaching the camp thus
near to the castle, and those who had counselled it were now urgent that
it should be withdrawn. It was accordingly removed back to its original
ground, from which the marques had most reluctantly advanced it. Nothing
but his valor and timely aid had prevented this attack on his outpost
from ending in a total rout of all that part of the army.

Many cavaliers of distinction fell in this contest, but the loss of
none was felt more deeply than that of Ortega del Prado, captain of
escaladors. He was one of the bravest men in the service, the same
who had devised the first successful blow of the war, the storming of
Alhama, where he was the first to plant and mount the scaling-ladders.
He had always been high in the favor and confidence of the noble Ponce
de Leon, who knew how to appreciate and avail himself of the merits of
all able and valiant men.*

     * Zurita, Mariana, Abarca.



Great were the exertions now made, both by the besiegers and the
besieged, to carry on the contest with the utmost vigor. Hamet went
the rounds of the walls and towers, doubling the guards and putting
everything in the best posture of defence. The garrison was divided into
parties of a hundred, to each of which a captain was appointed. Some
were to patrol, others to sally forth and skirmish with the enemy,
and others to hold themselves armed and in reserve. Six albatozas, or
floating batteries, were manned and armed with pieces of artillery to
attack the fleet.

On the other hand, the Castilian sovereigns kept open a communication by
sea with various parts of Spain, from which they received provisions
of all kinds; they ordered supplies of powder also from Valencia,
Barcelona, Sicily, and Portugal. They made great preparations also for
storming the city. Towers of wood were constructed to move on wheels,
each capable of holding one hundred men; they were furnished with
ladders to be thrown from their summits to the tops of the walls, and
within those ladders others were encased, to be let down for the descent
of the troops into the city. There were gallipagos, or tortoises,
also being great wooden shields, covered with hides, to protect the
assailants and those who undermined the walls.

Secret mines were commenced in various places: some were intended to
reach to the foundations of the walls, which were to be propped up with
wood, ready to be set on fire; others were to pass under the walls, and
remain ready to be broken open so as to give entrance to the besiegers.
At these mines the army worked day and night, and during these secret
preparations the ordnance kept up a fire upon the city to divert the
attention of the besieged.

In the mean time, Hamet displayed wonderful vigor and ingenuity in
defending the city and in repairing or fortifying by deep ditches the
breaches made by the enemy. He noted also every place where the camp
might be assailed with advantage, and gave the besieging army no
repose night or day. While his troops sallied on the land, his floating
batteries attacked the besiegers on the sea, so that there was incessant
skirmishing. The tents called the Queen's Hospital were crowded with
wounded, and the whole army suffered from constant watchfulness and
fatigue. To guard against the sudden assaults of the Moors, the trenches
were deepened and palisadoes erected in front of the camp; and in that
part facing Gibralfaro, where the rocky heights did not admit of
such defences, a high rampart of earth was thrown up. The cavaliers
Garcilasso de la Vega, Juan de Zuniga, and Diego de Atayde were
appointed to go the rounds and keep vigilant watch that these
fortifications were maintained in good order.

In a little while Hamet discovered the mines secretly commenced by the
Christians: he immediately ordered counter-mines. The soldiers mutually
worked until they met and fought hand to hand in these subterranean
passages. The Christians were driven out of one of their mines; fire was
set to the wooden framework and the mine destroyed. Encouraged by this
success, the Moors attempted a general attack upon the camp, the mines,
and the besieging fleet. The battle lasted for six hours on land and
water, above and below ground, on bulwark, and in trench and mine; the
Moors displayed wonderful intrepidity, but were finally repulsed at all
points, and obliged to retire into the city, where they were closely
invested, without the means of receiving any assistance from abroad.

The horrors of famine were now added to the other miseries of Malaga.
Hamet, with the spirit of a man bred up to war, considered everything
as subservient to the wants of the soldier, and ordered all the grain
in the city to be gathered and garnered up for the sole use of those
who fought. Even this was dealt out sparingly, and each soldier received
four ounces of bread in the morning and two in the evening for his daily

The wealthy inhabitants and all those peacefully inclined mourned over a
resistance which brought destruction upon their houses, death into
their families, and which they saw must end in their ruin and captivity;
still, none of them dared to speak openly of capitulation, or even to
manifest their grief, lest they should awaken the wrath of their fierce
defenders. They surrounded their civic champion, Ali Dordux, the great
and opulent merchant, who had buckled on shield and cuirass and taken
spear in hand for the defence of his native city, and with a large body
of the braver citizens had charge of one of the gates and a considerable
portion of the walls. Drawing Ali Dordux aside, they poured forth their
griefs to him in secret. "Why," said they, "should we suffer our native
city to be made a mere bulwark and fighting-place for foreign barbarians
and desperate men? They have no families to care for, no property to
lose, no love for the soil, and no value for their lives. They fight to
gratify a thirst for blood or a desire for revenge, and will fight on
until Malaga becomes a ruin and its people slaves. Let us think and act
for ourselves, our wives, and our children. Let us make private terms
with the Christians before it is too late, and save ourselves from

The bowels of Ali Dordux yearned toward his fellow citizens; he
bethought him also of the sweet security of peace and the bloodless
yet gratifying triumphs of gainful traffic. The idea also of a secret
negotiation or bargain with the Castilian sovereigns for the redemption
of his native city was more conformable to his accustomed habits than
this violent appeal to arms, for, though he had for a time assumed
the warrior, he had not forgotten the merchant. Ali Dordux communed,
therefore, with the citizen-soldiers under his command, and they readily
conformed to his opinion. Concerting together, they wrote a proposition
to the Castilian sovereigns, offering to admit the army into the part
of the city entrusted to their care on receiving assurance of protection
for the lives and properties of the inhabitants. This writing they
delivered to a trusty emissary to take to the Christian camp, appointing
the hour and place of his return that they might be ready to admit him

The Moor made his way in safety to the camp, and was admitted to the
presence of the sovereigns. Eager to gain the city without further
cost of blood or treasure, they gave a written promise to grant the
condition, and the Moor set out joyfully on his return. As he approached
the walls where Ali Dordux and his confederates were waiting to receive
him, he was descried by a patrolling band of Gomeres, and considered a
spy coming from the camp of the besiegers. They issued forth and seized
him in sight of his employers, who gave themselves up for lost. The
Gomeres had conducted him nearly to the gate, when he escaped from their
grasp and fled. They endeavored to overtake him, but were encumbered
with armor; he was lightly clad, and he fled for his life. One of
the Gomeres paused, and, levelling his crossbow, let fly a bolt which
pierced the fugitive between the shoulders; he fell and was nearly
within their grasp, but rose again and with a desperate effort attained
the Christian camp. The Gomeres gave over the pursuit, and the citizens
returned thanks to Allah for their deliverance from this fearful
peril. As to the faithful messenger, he died of his wound shortly after
reaching the camp, consoled with the idea that he had preserved the
secret and the lives of his employers.*

     * Pulgar, Cronica, p. 3, c. 80.



The sufferings of Malaga spread sorrow and anxiety among the Moors, and
they dreaded lest this beautiful city, once the bulwark of the kingdom,
should fall into the hands of the unbelievers. The old warrior-king,
Abdallah el Zagal, was still sheltered in Guadix, where he was slowly
gathering together his shattered forces. When the people of Guadix
heard of the danger and distress of Malaga, they urged to be led to its
relief, and the alfaquis admonished El Zagal not to desert so righteous
and loyal a city in its extremity. His own warlike nature made him
feel a sympathy for a place that made so gallant a resistance, and he
despatched as powerful a reinforcement as he could spare under conduct
of a chosen captain, with orders to throw themselves into the city.

Intelligence of this reinforcement reached Boabdil el Chico in his royal
palace of the Alhambra. Filled with hostility against his uncle,
and desirous of proving his loyalty to the Castilian sovereigns, he
immediately sent forth a superior force of horse and foot under an able
commander to intercept the detachment. A sharp conflict ensued;
the troops of El Zagal were routed with great loss and fled back in
confusion to Guadix.

Boabdil, not being accustomed to victories, was flushed with this
melancholy triumph. He sent tidings of it to the Castilian sovereigns,
accompanied with rich silks, boxes of Arabian perfume, a cup of gold
richly wrought, and a female captive of Ubeda as presents to the queen,
and four Arabian steeds magnificently caparisoned, a sword and dagger
richly mounted, and several albornozes and other robes sumptuously
embroidered for the king. He entreated them at the same time always to
look upon him with favor as their devoted vassal.

Boabdil was fated to be unfortunate, even in his victories. His defeat
of the forces of his uncle destined to the relief of unhappy Malaga
shocked the feelings and cooled the loyalty of many of his best
adherents. The mere men of traffic might rejoice in their golden
interval of peace, but the chivalrous spirits of Granada spurned a
security purchased by such sacrifices of pride and affection. The people
at large, having gratified their love of change, began to question
whether they had acted generously by their old fighting monarch. "El
Zagal," said they, "was fierce and bloody, but then he was faithful to
his country; he was an usurper, it is true, but then he maintained the
glory of the crown which he usurped. If his sceptre was a rod of iron
to his subjects, it was a sword of steel against their enemies. This
Boabdil sacrifices religion, friends, country, everything, to a mere
shadow of royalty, and is content to hold a rush for a sceptre."

These factious murmurs soon reached the ears of Boabdil, and he
apprehended another of his customary reverses. He sent in all haste
to the Castilian sovereigns beseeching military aid to keep him on his
throne. Ferdinand graciously complied with a request so much in unison
with his policy. A detachment of one thousand cavalry and two thousand
infantry was sent under the command of Don Fernandez Gonsalvo of
Cordova, subsequently renowned as the grand captain. With this succor
Boabdil expelled from the city all those who were hostile to him and
in favor of his uncle. He felt secure in these troops, from their being
distinct in manners, language, and religion from his subjects, and
compromised with his pride in thus exhibiting that most unnatural and
humiliating of all regal spectacles, a monarch supported on his throne
by foreign weapons and by soldiers hostile to his people. Nor was
Boabdil el Chico the only Moorish sovereign that sought protection from
Ferdinand and Isabella. A splendid galley with latine sails and several
banks of oars, displaying the standard of the Crescent, but likewise a
white flag in sign of amity, came one day into the harbor. An ambassador
landed from it within the Christian lines. He came from the king of
Tremezan, and brought presents similar to those of Boabdil, consisting
of Arabian coursers, with bits, stirrups, and other furniture of gold,
together with costly Moorish mantles: for the queen there were sumptuous
shawls, robes, and silken stuffs, ornaments of gold, and exquisite
Oriental perfumes.

The king of Tremezan had been alarmed at the rapid conquests of the
Spanish arms, and startled by the descent of several Spanish cruisers
on the coast of Africa. He craved to be considered a vassal to the
Castilian sovereigns, and that they would extend such favor and security
to his ships and subjects as had been shown to other Moors who had
submitted to their sway. He requested a painting of their arms, that
he and his subjects might recognize and respect their standard whenever
they encountered it. At the same time he implored their clemency toward
unhappy Malaga, and that its inhabitants might experience the same favor
that had been shown toward the Moors of other captured cities.

The embassy was graciously received by the Christian sovereigns. They
granted the protection required, ordering their commanders to respect
the flag of Tremezan unless it should be found rendering assistance
to the enemy. They sent also to the Barbary monarch their royal arms
moulded in escutcheons of gold, a hand's-breadth in size.*

     * Cura de los Palacios, c. 84; Pulgar, part 3, c. 68.

While thus the chances of assistance from without daily decreased,
famine raged in the city. The inhabitants were compelled to eat the
flesh of horses, and many died of hunger. What made the sufferings of
the citizens the more intolerable was to behold the sea covered with
ships daily arriving with provisions for the besiegers. Day after day
also they saw herds of fat cattle and flocks of sheep driven into the
camp. Wheat and flour were piled in huge mounds in the centre of the
encampments, glaring in the sunshine, and tantalizing the wretched
citizens, who, while they and their children were perishing with hunger,
beheld prodigal abundance reigning within a bow-shot of their walls.



There lived at this time in a hamlet in the neighborhood of Guadix an
ancient Moor of the name of Ibrahim el Guerbi. He was a native of the
island of Guerbes, in the kingdom of Tunis, and had for several years
led the life of a santon or hermit. The hot sun of Africa had dried his
blood, and rendered him of an exalted yet melancholy temperament. He
passed most of his time in caves of the mountains in meditation,
prayer, and rigorous abstinence, until his body was wasted and his mind
bewildered, and he fancied himself favored with divine revelations and
visited by angels sent by Mahomet. The Moors, who had a great reverence
for all enthusiasts of the kind, believed in his being inspired,
listened to all his ravings as veritable prophecies, and denominated him
"el santo," or the saint.

The woes of the kingdom of Granada had long exasperated the gloomy
spirit of this man, and he had beheld with indignation this beautiful
country wrested from the dominion of the faithful and becoming a prey
to the unbelievers. He had implored the blessings of Allah on the troops
which issued forth from Guadix for the relief of Malaga, but when he saw
them return routed and scattered by their own countrymen, he retired to
his cell, shut himself up from the world, and was plunged for a time in
the blackest melancholy.

On a sudden he made his appearance again in the streets of Guadix, his
face haggard, his form emaciated, but his eyes beaming with fire. He
said that Allah had sent an angel to him in the solitude of his cell,
revealing to him a mode of delivering Malaga from its perils and
striking horror and confusion into the camp of the unbelievers. The
Moors listened with eager credulity to his words: four hundred of them
offered to follow him even to the death and to obey implicitly his
commands. Of this number many were Gomeres, anxious to relieve their
countrymen who formed part of the garrison of Malaga.

They traversed the kingdom by the wild and lonely passes of the
mountains, concealing themselves in the day and travelling only in
the night to elude the Christian scouts. At length they arrived at the
mountains which tower above Malaga, and, looking down, beheld the city
completely invested, a chain of encampments extending round it from
shore to shore and a line of ships blockading it by sea, while the
continual thunder of artillery and the smoke rising in various parts
showed that the siege was pressed with great activity. The hermit
scanned the encampments warily from his lofty height. He saw that the
part of the encampment of the marques of Cadiz which was at the foot of
the height and on the margin of the sea was most assailable, the rocky
soil not admitting ditches or palisadoes. Remaining concealed all day,
he descended with his followers at night to the sea-coast and approached
silently to the outworks. He had given them their instructions: they
were to rush suddenly upon the camp, fight their way through, and throw
themselves into the city.

It was just at the gray of the dawning, when objects are obscurely
visible, that they made this desperate attempt. Some sprang suddenly
upon the sentinels, others rushed into the sea and got round the works,
others clambered over the breastworks. There was sharp skirmishing;
a great part of the Moors were cut to pieces, but about two hundred
succeeded in getting into the gates of Malaga.

The santon took no part in the conflict, nor did he endeavor to enter
the city. His plans were of a different nature. Drawing apart from the
battle, he threw himself on his knees on a rising ground, and, lifting
his hands to heaven, appeared to be absorbed in prayer. The Christians,
as they were searching for fugitives in the clefts of the rocks, found
him at his devotions. He stirred not at their approach, but remained
fixed as a statue, without changing color or moving a muscle. Filled
with surprise, not unmingled with awe, they took him to the marques of
Cadiz. He was wrapped in a coarse albornoz, or Moorish mantle, his beard
was long and grizzled, and there was something wild and melancholy in
his look that inspired curiosity. On being examined, he gave himself out
as a saint to whom Allah had revealed the events that were to take place
in that siege. The marques demanded when and how Malaga was to be taken.
He replied that he knew full well, but he was forbidden to reveal those
important secrets except to the king and queen. The good marques was not
more given to superstitious fancies than other commanders of his time,
yet there seemed something singular and mysterious about this man;
he might have some important intelligence to communicate; so he was
persuaded to send him to the king and queen. He was conducted to the
royal tent, surrounded by a curious multitude exclaiming "El Moro
Santo!" for the news had spread through the camp that they had taken a
Moorish prophet.

The king, having dined, was taking his siesta, or afternoon's sleep, in
his tent, and the queen, though curious to see this singular man, yet
from a natural delicacy and reserve delayed until the king should be
present. He was taken, therefore, to an adjoining tent, in which were
Dona Beatrix de Bovadilla, marchioness of Moya, and Don Alvaro of
Portugal, son of the duke of Braganza, with two or three attendants.
The Moor, ignorant of the Spanish tongue, had not understood the
conversation of the guards, and supposed, from the magnificence of the
furniture and the silken hangings, that this was the royal tent. From
the respect paid by the attendants to Don Alvaro and the marchioness he
concluded that they were the king and queen.

He now asked for a draught of water: a jar was brought to him, and the
guard released his arm to enable him to drink. The marchioness perceived
a sudden change in his countenance and something sinister in the
expression of his eye, and shifted her position to a more remote part of
the tent. Pretending to raise the water to his lips, the Moor unfolded
his albornoz, so as to grasp a scimetar which he wore concealed beneath;
then, dashing down the jar, he drew his weapon and gave Don Alvaro a
blow on the head that struck him to the earth and nearly deprived him of
life. Turning then upon the marchioness, he made a violent blow at her;
but in his eagerness and agitation his scimetar caught in the drapery
of the tent; the force of the blow was broken, and the weapon struck
harmless upon some golden ornaments of her head-dress.*

     * Pietro Martyr, Epist. 62.

Ruy Lopez de Toledo, treasurer to the queen, and Juan de Belalcazar,
a sturdy friar, who were present, grappled and struggled with the
desperado, and immediately the guards who had conducted him from the
marques de Cadiz fell upon him and cut him to pieces.*

     * Cura de los Palacios

The king and queen, brought out of their tents by the noise, were filled
with horror when they learned the imminent peril from which they had
escaped. The mangled body of the Moor was taken by the people to the
camp and thrown into the city from a catapult. The Gomeres gathered up
the body with deep reverence as the remains of a saint; they washed and
perfumed it and buried it with great honor and loud lamentations.
In revenge of his death they slew one of their principal Christian
captives, and, having tied his body upon an ass, they drove the animal
forth into the camp.

From this time there was appointed an additional guard around the tents
of the king and queen, composed of four hundred cavaliers of rank of
the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. No person was admitted to the royal
presence armed; no Moor was allowed to enter the camp without a previous
knowledge of his character and business; and on no account was any Moor
to be introduced into the presence of the sovereigns.

An act of treachery of such ferocious nature gave rise to a train of
gloomy apprehensions. There were many cabins and sheds about the camp
constructed of branches of trees which had become dry and combustible,
and fears were entertained that they might be set on fire by the
mudexares, or Moorish vassals, who visited the army. Some even dreaded
that attempts might be made to poison the wells and fountains. To quiet
these dismal alarms all mudexares were ordered to leave the camp,
and all loose, idle loiterers who could not give a good account of
themselves were taken into custody.



Among those followers of the santon that had effected their entrance
into the city was a dark African of the tribe of the Gomeres, who was
likewise a hermit or dervise and passed among the Moors for a holy and
inspired man. No sooner were the mangled remains of his predecessor
buried with the honors of martyrdom than this dervise elevated himself
in his place and professed to be gifted with the spirit of prophecy. He
displayed a white banner, which he assured the Moors was sacred, that he
had retained it for twenty years for some signal purpose, and that Allah
had revealed to him that under that banner the inhabitants of Malaga
should sally forth upon the camp of the unbelievers, put it to utter
rout, and banquet upon the provisions in which it abounded.* The hungry
and credulous Moors were elated at this prediction, and cried out to be
led forth at once to the attack; but the dervise told them the time was
not yet arrived, for every event had its allotted day in the decrees
of fate: they must wait patiently, therefore, until the appointed time
should be revealed to him by Heaven. Hamet el Zegri listened to the
dervise with profound reverence, and his example had great effect in
increasing the awe and deference of his followers. He took the holy man
up into his stronghold of Gibralfaro, consulted him on all occasions,
and hung out his white banner on the loftiest tower as a signal of
encouragement to the people of the city.

     * Cura de los Palacios, cap. 84.

In the mean time, the prime chivalry of Spain was gradually assembling
before the walls of Malaga. The army which had commenced the siege had
been worn out by extreme hardships, having had to construct immense
works, to dig trenches and mines, to mount guard by sea and land, to
patrol the mountains, and to sustain incessant conflicts. The sovereigns
were obliged, therefore, to call upon various distant cities for
reinforcements of horse and foot. Many nobles also assembled their
vassals and repaired of their own accord to the royal camp.

Every little while some stately galley or gallant caravel would stand
into the harbor, displaying the well-known banner of some Spanish
cavalier and thundering from its artillery a salutation to the
sovereigns and a defiance to the Moors. On the land side also
reinforcements would be seen winding down from the mountains to the
sound of drum and trumpet, and marching into the camp with glistening
arms as yet unsullied by the toils of war.

One morning the whole sea was whitened by the sails and vexed by the
oars of ships and galleys bearing toward the port. One hundred vessels
of various kinds and sizes arrived, some armed for warlike service,
others deep freighted with provisions. At the same time the clangor of
drum and trumpet bespoke the arrival of a powerful force by land,
which came pouring in lengthening columns into the camp. This mighty
reinforcement was furnished by the duke of Medina Sidonia, who reigned
like a petty monarch over his vast possessions. He came with this
princely force a volunteer to the royal standard, not having been
summoned by the sovereigns, and he brought, moreover, a loan of twenty
thousand doblas of gold.

When the camp was thus powerfully reinforced Isabella advised that new
offers of an indulgent kind should be made to the inhabitants, for
she was anxious to prevent the miseries of a protracted siege or the
effusion of blood that must attend a general attack. A fresh summons
was therefore sent for the city to surrender, with a promise of life,
liberty, and property in case of immediate compliance, but denouncing
all the horrors of war if the defence were obstinately continued.

Hamet again rejected the offer with scorn. His main fortifications
as yet were but little impaired, and were capable of holding out much
longer; he trusted to the thousand evils and accidents that beset a
besieging army and to the inclemencies of the approaching season; and it
is said that he, as well as his followers, had an infatuated belief in
the predictions of the dervise.

The worthy Fray Antonio Agapida does not scruple to affirm that the
pretended prophet of the city was an arch nigromancer, or Moorish
magician, "of which there be countless many," says he, "in the filthy
sect of Mahomet," and that he was leagued with the prince of the powers
of the air to endeavor to work the confusion and defeat of the Christian
army. The worthy father asserts also that Hamet employed him in a high
tower of the Gibralfaro, which commanded a wide view over sea and land,
where he wrought spells and incantations with astrolabes and other
diabolical instruments to defeat the Christian ships and forces whenever
they were engaged with the Moors.

To the potent spells of this sorcerer he ascribes the perils and losses
sustained by a party of cavaliers of the royal household in a desperate
combat to gain two towers of the suburb near the gate of the city called
la Puerto de Granada. The Christians, led on by Ruy Lopez de Toledo,
the valiant treasurer of the queen, took and lost and retook the towers,
which were finally set on fire by the Moors and abandoned to the flames
by both parties. To the same malignant influence he attributes the
damage done to the Christian fleet, which was so vigorously assailed
by the albatozas, or floating batteries, of the Moors that one ship,
belonging to the duke of Medina Sidonia, was sunk and the rest were
obliged to retire.

"Hamet el Zegri," says Fray Antonio Agapida, "stood on the top of
the high tower of Gibralfaro and beheld this injury wrought upon the
Christian force, and his proud heart was puffed up. And the Moorish
nigromancer stood beside him. And he pointed out to him the Christian
host below, encamped on every eminence around the city and covering its
fertile valley, and the many ships floating upon the tranquil sea, and
he bade him be strong of heart, for that in a few days all this mighty
fleet would be scattered by the winds of heaven, and that he should
sally forth under the guidance of the sacred banner and attack this
host, and utterly defeat it, and make spoil of those sumptuous tents;
and Malaga should be triumphantly revenged upon her assailants. So the
heart of Hamet was hardened like that of Pharaoh, and he persisted in
setting at defiance the Catholic sovereigns and their army of saintly



Seeing the infatuated obstinacy of the besieged, the Christians now
approached their works to the walls, gaining one position after another
preparatory to a general assault. Near the barrier of the city was a
bridge with four arches, defended at each end by a strong and lofty
tower, by which a part of the army would have to pass in making an
attack. The commander-in-chief of the artillery, Francisco Ramirez de
Madrid, was ordered to take possession of this bridge. The approach
to it was perilous in the extreme, from the exposed situation of the
assailants and the number of Moors that garrisoned the towers. Francisco
Ramirez therefore secretly excavated a mine leading beneath the first
tower, and placed a piece of ordnance with its mouth upward immediately
under the foundation, with a train of powder to produce an explosion at
the necessary moment.

When this was arranged he advanced slowly with his forces in face of the
towers, erecting bulwarks at every step, and gradually gaining ground
until he arrived near to the bridge. He then planted several pieces of
artillery in his works and began to batter the tower. The Moors replied
bravely from their battlements, but in the heat of the combat the piece
of ordnance under the foundation was discharged. The earth was rent
open, a part of the tower overthrown, and several of the Moors were
torn to pieces; the rest took to flight, overwhelmed with terror at this
thundering explosion bursting beneath their feet and at beholding the
earth vomiting flames and smoke, for never before had they witnessed
such a stratagem in warfare. The Christians rushed forward and took
possession of the abandoned post, and immediately commenced an attack
upon the other tower at the opposite end of the bridge, to which the
Moors had retired. An incessant fire of crossbows and arquebuses was
kept up between the rival towers, volleys of stones were discharged, and
no one dared to venture upon the intermediate bridge.

Francisco de Ramirez at length renewed his former mode of approach,
making bulwarks step by step, while the Moors, stationed at the other
end, swept the bridge with their artillery. The combat was long and
bloody--furious on the part of the Moors, patient and persevering on the
part of the Christians. By slow degrees they accomplished their advance
across the bridge, drove the enemy before them, and remained masters of
this important pass.

For this valiant and skilful achievement King Ferdinand after the
surrender of the city conferred the dignity of knighthood upon Francisco
Ramirez in the tower which he had so gloriously gained.* The worthy
padre Fray Antonio Agapida indulges in more than a page of extravagant
eulogy upon this invention of blowing up the foundation of the tower by
a piece of ordnance; which, in fact, is said to be the first instance on
record of gunpowder being used in a mine.

     * Pulgar, part 3, c. 91.



While the dervise was deluding the garrison of Malaga with vain hopes
the famine increased to a terrible degree. The Gomeres ranged about the
city as though it had been a conquered place, taking by force whatever
they found eatable in the houses of the peaceful citizens, and breaking
open vaults and cellars and demolishing walls wherever they thought
provisions might be concealed.

The wretched inhabitants had no longer bread to eat; the horse-flesh
also now failed them, and they were fain to devour skins and hides
toasted at the fire, and to assuage the hunger of their children with
vine-leaves cut up and fried in oil. Many perished of famine or of the
unwholesome food with which they endeavored to relieve it, and many took
refuge in the Christian camp, preferring captivity to the horrors which
surrounded them.

At length the sufferings of the inhabitants became so great as to
conquer even their fears of Hamet and his Gomeres. They assembled before
the house of Ali Dordux, the wealthy merchant, whose stately mansion
was at the foot of the hill of the Alcazaba, and they urged him to stand
forth as their leader and to intercede with Hamet for a surrender. Ali
Dordux was a man of courage as well as policy; he perceived also that
hunger was giving boldness to the citizens, while he trusted it was
subduing the fierceness of the soldiery. He armed himself, therefore,
cap-a-pie, and undertook this dangerous parley with the alcayde. He
associated with him an alfaqui named Abraham Alhariz and an important
inhabitant named Amar ben Amar, and they ascended to the fortress of
Gibralfaro, followed by several of the trembling merchants.

They found Hamet el Zegri, not, as before, surrounded by ferocious
guards and all the implements of war, but in a chamber of one of the
lofty towers, at a table of stone covered with scrolls traced with
strange characters and mystic diagrams, while instruments of singular
and unknown form lay about the room. Beside Hamet stood the prophetic
dervise, who appeared to have been explaining to him the mysterious
inscriptions of the scrolls. His presence filled the citizens with awe,
for even Ali Dordux considered him a man inspired.

The alfaqui, Abraham Alhariz, whose sacred character gave him boldness
to speak, now lifted up his voice and addressed Hamet el Zegri. "We
implore thee," said he, solemnly, "in the name of the most powerful
God, no longer to persist in a vain resistance which must end in
our destruction, but deliver up the city while clemency is yet to be
obtained. Think how many of our warriors have fallen by
the sword; do not suffer those who survive to perish by famine. Our
wives and children cry to us for bread, and we have none to give them.
We see them expire in lingering agony before our eyes, while the enemy
mocks our misery by displaying the abundance of his camp. Of what avail
is our defence? Are our walls, peradventure, more strong than the walls
of Ronda? Are our warriors more brave than the defenders of Loxa?
The walls of Ronda were thrown down and the warriors of Loxa had to
surrender. Do we hope for succor?--whence are we to receive it? The time
for hope is gone by. Granada has lost its power; it no longer possesses
chivalry, commanders, nor a king. Boabdil sits a vassal in the degraded
halls of the Alhambra; El Zagal is a fugitive, shut up within the walls
of Guadix. The kingdom is divided against itself--its strength is gone,
its pride fallen, its very existence at an end. In the name of Allah
we conjure thee, who art our captain, be not our direst enemy, but
surrender these ruins of our once-happy Malaga and deliver us from these
overwhelming horrors."

Such was the supplication forced from the inhabitants by the extremity
of their sufferings. Hamet listened to the alfaqui without anger, for he
respected the sanctity of his office. His heart too was at that moment
lifted up with a vain confidence. "Yet a few days of patience," said he,
"and all these evils will suddenly have an end. I have been conferring
with this holy man, and find that the time of our deliverance is at
hand. The decrees of fate are inevitable; it is written in the book
of destiny that we shall sally forth and destroy the camp of the
unbelievers, and banquet upon those mountains of grain which are piled
up in the midst of it. So Allah hath promised by the mouth of this his
prophet. Allah Akbar! God is great! Let no man oppose the decrees of

The citizens bowed with profound reverence, for no true Moslem pretends
to struggle against whatever is written in the book of fate. Ali Dordux,
who had come prepared to champion the city and to brave the ire of
Hamet, humbled himself before this holy man and gave faith to his
prophecies as the revelations of Allah. So the deputies returned to the
citizens, and exhorted them to be of good cheer. "A few days longer,"
said they, "and our sufferings are to terminate. When the white banner
is removed from the tower, then look out for deliverance, for the hour
of sallying forth will have arrived." The people retired to their homes
with sorrowful hearts; they tried in vain to quiet the cries of their
famishing children, and day by day and hour by hour their anxious eyes
were turned to the sacred banner, which still continued to wave on the
tower of Gibralfaro.



"The Moorish nigromancer," observes the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida,
"remained shut up in a tower of the Gibralfaro devising devilish means
to work mischief and discomfiture upon the Christians. He was daily
consulted by Hamet, who had great faith in those black and magic arts
which he had brought with him from the bosom of heathen Africa."

From the account given of this dervise and his incantations by the
worthy father it would appear that he was an astrologer, and was
studying the stars and endeavoring to calculate the day and hour when a
successful attack might be made upon the Christian camp.

Famine had now increased to such a degree as to distress even the
garrison of Gibralfaro, although the Gomeres had seized upon all the
provisions they could find in the city. Their passions were sharpened by
hunger, and they became restless and turbulent and impatient for action.

Hamet was one day in council with his captains, perplexed by the
pressure of events, when the dervise entered among them. "The hour of
victory," exclaimed he, "is at hand. Allah has commanded that to-morrow
morning ye shall sally forth to the fight. I will bear before you
the sacred banner and deliver your enemies into your hands. Remember,
however, that ye are but instruments in the hands of Allah to take
vengeance on the enemies of the faith. Go into battle, therefore, with
pure hearts, forgiving each other all past offences, for those who are
charitable toward each other will be victorious over the foe." The
words of the dervise were received with rapture; all Gibralfaro and
the Alcazaba resounded immediately with the din of arms, and Hamet sent
throughout the towers and fortifications of the city and selected
the choicest troops and most distinguished captains for this eventful

In the morning early the rumor went throughout the city that the sacred
banner had disappeared from the tower of Gibralfaro, and all Malaga was
roused to witness the sally that was to destroy the unbelievers. Hamet
descended from his stronghold, accompanied by his principal captain,
Ibrahim Zenete, and followed by his Gomeres. The dervise led the way,
displaying the white banner, the sacred pledge of victory. The multitude
shouted "Allah Akbar!" and prostrated themselves before the banner as
it passed. Even the dreaded Hamet was hailed with praises, for in their
hopes of speedy relief through the prowess of his arm the populace
forgot everything but his bravery. Every bosom in Malaga was agitated
by hope and fear: the old men, the women, and children, and all who went
not forth to battle mounted on tower and battlement and roof to watch a
combat that was to decide their fate.

Before sallying forth from the city the dervise addressed the troops,
reminding them of the holy nature of this enterprise, and warning them
not to forfeit the protection of the sacred banner by any unworthy act.
They were not to pause to make spoil nor to take prisoners: they were to
press forward, fighting valiantly, and granting no quarter. The gate was
then thrown open, and the dervise issued forth, followed by the army.
They directed their assaults upon the encampments of the master of
Santiago and the master of Alcantara, and came upon them so suddenly
that they killed and wounded several of the guards. Ibrahim Zenete
made his way into one of the tents, where he beheld several Christian
striplings just starting from their slumber. The heart of the Moor was
suddenly touched with pity for their youth, or perhaps he scorned the
weakness of the foe.

He smote them with the flat instead of the edge of the sword. "Away,
imps!" cried he, "away to your mothers!" The fanatic dervise reproached
him with his clemency. "I did not kill them," replied Zenete, "because I
saw no beards!"*

     * Cura de los Palacios, c. 84.

The alarm was given in the camp, and the Christians rushed from all
quarters to defend the gates of the bulwarks. Don Pedro Puerto
Carrero, senior of Moguer, and his brother, Don Alonzo Pacheco, planted
themselves with their followers in the gateway of the encampment of the
master of Santiago, and bore the whole brunt of battle until they were
reinforced. The gate of the encampment of the master of Calatrava was in
like manner defended by Lorenzo Saurez de Mendoza. Hamet was furious at
being thus checked where he had expected a miraculous victory. He led
his troops repeatedly to the attack, hoping to force the gates before
succor should arrive: they fought with vehement ardor, but were as often
repulsed, and every time they returned to the assault they found their
enemies doubled in number. The Christians opened a cross-fire of all
kinds of missiles from their bulwarks; the Moors could effect but
little damage upon a foe thus protected behind their works, while they
themselves were exposed from head to foot. The Christians singled out
the most conspicuous cavaliers, the greater part of whom were either
slain or wounded. Still, the Moors, infatuated by the predictions of
the prophet, fought desperately and devotedly, and they were furious to
revenge the slaughter of their leaders. They rushed upon certain death,
endeavoring madly to scale the bulwarks or force the gates, and fell
amidst showers of darts and lances, filling the ditches with their
mangled bodies.

Hamet el Zegri raged along the front of the bulwarks seeking an opening
for attack. He gnashed his teeth with fury as he saw so many of his
chosen warriors slain around him. He seemed to have a charmed life,
for, though constantly in the hottest of the fight amidst showers of
missiles, he still escaped uninjured. Blindly confiding in the prophecy
of victory, he continued to urge on his devoted troops. The dervise
too ran like a maniac through the ranks, waving his white banner and
inciting the Moors by howlings rather than by shouts. "Fear not! the
victory is ours, for so it is written!" cried he. In the midst of his
frenzy a stone from a catapult struck him in the head and dashed out his
bewildered brains.*

     * Garibay, lib. 18, c. 33.

When the Moors beheld their prophet slain and his banner in the dust,
they were seized with despair and fled in confusion to the city. Hamet
el Zegri made some effort to rally them, but was himself confounded by
the fall of the dervise. He covered the flight of his broken forces,
turning repeatedly upon their pursuers and slowly making his retreat
into the city.

The inhabitants of Malaga witnessed from their walls with trembling
anxiety the whole of this disastrous conflict. At the first onset, when
they beheld the guards of the camp put to flight, they exclaimed, "Allah
has given us the victory!" and they sent up shouts of triumph. Their
exultation, however, was soon turned into doubt when they beheld their
troops repulsed in repeated attacks. They could see from time to time
some distinguished warrior laid low and others brought back bleeding to
the city. When at length the sacred banner fell and the routed troops
came flying to the gates, pursued and cut down by the foe, horror and
despair seized upon the populace.

As Hamet entered the gates he heard nothing but loud lamentations:
mothers whose sons had been slain shrieked curses after him as he
passed; some in the anguish of their hearts threw down their famishing
babes before him, exclaiming, "Trample on them with thy horse's feet,
for we have no food to give them, and we cannot endure their cries." All
heaped execrations on his head as the cause of the woes of Malaga.

The warlike part of the citizens also, and many warriors who with
their wives and children had taken refuge in Malaga from the
mountain-fortresses, now joined in the popular clamor, for their hearts
were overcome by the sufferings of their families.

Hamet el Zegri found it impossible to withstand this torrent of
lamentations, curses, and reproaches. His military ascendancy was at an
end, for most of his officers and the prime warriors of his African band
had fallen in this disastrous sally. Turning his back, therefore, upon
the city and abandoning it to its own counsels, he retired with the
remnant of his Gomeres to his stronghold in the Gibralfaro.



The people of Malaga, being no longer overawed by Hamet el Zegri and
his Gomeres, turned to Ali Dordux, the magnanimous merchant, and put the
fate of the city into his hands. He had already gained the alcaydes of
the castle of the Genoese and of the citadel into his party, and in the
late confusion had gained the sway over those important fortresses. He
now associated himself with the alfaqui Abraham Alhariz and four of
the principal inhabitants, and, forming a provisional junta, they sent
heralds to the Christian sovereigns offering to surrender the city on
certain terms protecting the persons and property of the inhabitants,
permitting them to reside as mudexares or tributary vassals either in
Malaga or elsewhere.

When the herald arrived at the camp and made known their mission to King
Ferdinand, his anger was kindled. "Return to your fellow-citizens," said
he, "and tell them that the day of grace is gone by. They have persisted
in a fruitless defence until they are driven by necessity to capitulate;
they must surrender unconditionally and abide the fate of the
vanquished. Those who merit death shall suffer death; those who merit
captivity shall be made captives."

This stern reply spread consternation among the people of Malaga, but
Ali Dordux comforted them, and undertook to go in person and pray for
favorable terms. When the people beheld this great and wealthy merchant,
who was so eminent in their city, departing with his associates on this
mission, they plucked up heart, for they said, "Surely the Christian
king will not turn a deaf ear to such a man as Ali Dordux."

Ferdinand, however, would not even admit the ambassadors to his
presence. "Send them to the devil!" said he in a great passion to the
commander of Leon; "I'll not see them. Let them get back to their city.
They shall all surrender to my mercy as vanquished enemies."*

     * Cura de los Palacios, cap. 84.

To give emphasis to this reply he ordered a general discharge from all
the artillery and batteries, and there was a great shout throughout
the camp, and all the lombards and catapults and other engines of war
thundered furiously upon the city, doing great damage.

Ali Dordux and his companions returned to the city with downcast
countenances, and could scarce make the reply of the Christian sovereign
be heard for the roaring of the artillery, the tumbling of the
walls, and the cries of women and children. The citizens were greatly
astonished and dismayed when they found the little respect paid to their
most eminent man; but the warriors who were in the city exclaimed, "What
has this merchant to do with questions between men of battle? Let us not
address the enemy as abject suppliants who have no power to injure, but
as valiant men who have weapons in their hands."

So they despatched another message to the Christian sovereigns, offering
to yield up the city and all their effects on condition of being secured
in their personal liberty. Should this be denied, they declared they
would hang from the battlements fifteen hundred Christian captives,
male and female--that they would put all their old men, their women, and
children into the citadel, set fire to the city, and sally forth, sword
in hand, to fight until the last gasp. "In this way," said they, "the
Spanish sovereigns shall gain a bloody victory, and the fall of Malaga
be renowned while the world endures."

To this fierce and swelling message Ferdinand replied that if a single
Christian captive were injured, not a Moor in Malaga but should be put
to the edge of the sword.

A great conflict of counsels now arose in Malaga. The warriors were
for following up their menace by some desperate act of vengeance or of
self-devotion. Those who had families looked with anguish upon their
wives and daughters, and thought it better to die than live to see them
captives. By degrees, however, the transports of passion and despair
subsided, the love of life resumed its sway, and they turned once
more to Ali Dordux as the man most prudent in council and able in
negotiation. By his advice fourteen of the principal inhabitants were
chosen from the fourteen districts of the city, and sent to the camp
bearing a long letter couched in terms of the most humble supplication.

Various debates now took place in the Christian camp. Many of the
cavaliers were exasperated against Malaga for its long resistance, which
had caused the death of many of their relatives and favorite companions.
It had long been a stronghold also for Moorish depredators and the mart
where most of the warriors captured in the Axarquia had been exposed in
triumph and sold to slavery. They represented, moreover, that there were
many Moorish cities yet to be besieged, and that an example ought to
be made of Malaga to prevent all obstinate resistance thereafter.
They advised, therefore, that all the inhabitants should be put to the

     * Pulgar.

The humane heart of Isabella revolted at such sanguinary counsels:
she insisted that their triumph should not be disgraced by cruelty.
Ferdinand, however, was inflexible in refusing to grant any preliminary
terms, insisting on an unconditional surrender.

The people of Malaga now abandoned themselves to paroxysms of despair;
on one side they saw famine and death, on the other slavery and chains.
The mere men of the sword, who had no families to protect, were loud for
signalizing their fall by some illustrious action. "Let us sacrifice our
Christian captives, and then destroy ourselves," cried some. "Let us put
all the women and children to death, set fire to the city, fall on the
Christian camp, and die sword in hand," cried others.

Ali Dordux gradually made his voice be heard amidst the general clamor.
He addressed himself to the principal inhabitants and to those who had
children. "Let those who live by the sword die by the sword," cried he,
"but let us not follow their desperate counsels. Who knows what sparks
of pity may be awakened in the bosoms of the Christian sovereigns when
they behold our unoffending wives and daughters and our helpless little
ones? The Christian queen, they say, is full of mercy."

At these words the hearts of the unhappy people of Malaga yearned over
their families, and they empowered Ali Dordux to deliver up their city
to the mercy of the Castilian sovereigns.

The merchant now went to and fro, and had several communications with
Ferdinand and Isabella, and interested several principal cavaliers in
his cause; and he sent rich presents to the king and queen of Oriental
merchandise and silks and stuffs of gold and jewels and precious stones
and spices and perfumes, and many other sumptuous things, which he had
accumulated in his great tradings with the East; and he gradually found
favor in the eyes of the sovereigns.* Finding that there was nothing to
be obtained for the city, he now, like a prudent man and able merchant,
began to negotiate for himself and his immediate friends. He represented
that from the first they had been desirous of yielding up the city, but
had been prevented by warlike and high-handed men, who had threatened
their lives; he entreated, therefore, that mercy might be extended to
them, and that they might not be confounded with the guilty.

     * MS. Chron. of Valera.

The sovereigns had accepted the presents of Ali Dordux--how could they
then turn a deaf ear to his petition? So they granted a pardon to him
and to forty families which he named, and it was agreed that they should
be protected in their liberties and property, and permitted to reside
in Malaga as mudexares or Moslem vassals, and to follow their customary
pursuits.* All this being arranged, Ali Dordux delivered up twenty of
the principal inhabitants to remain as hostages until the whole city
should be placed in the possession of the Christians.

     * Cura de los Palacios, cap. 84.

Don Gutierrez de Cardenas, senior commander of Leon, now entered the
city armed cap-a-pie, on horseback, and took possession in the name of
the Castilian sovereigns. He was followed by his retainers and by the
captains and cavaliers of the army, and in a little while the standards
of the cross and of the blessed Santiago and of the Catholic sovereigns
were elevated on the principal tower of the Alcazaba. When these
standards were beheld from the camp, the queen and the princess and the
ladies of the court and all the royal retinue knelt down and gave thanks
and praises to the Holy Virgin and to Santiago for this great triumph
of the faith; and the bishops and other clergy who were present and the
choristers of the royal chapel chanted "Te Deum Laudamus" and "Gloria in



No sooner was the city delivered up than the wretched inhabitants
implored permission to purchase bread for themselves and their children
from the heaps of grain which they had so often gazed at wistfully from
their walls. Their prayer was granted, and they issued forth with
the famished eagerness of starving men. It was piteous to behold the
struggles of those unhappy people as they contended who first should
have their necessities relieved.

"Thus," says the pious Fray Antonio Agapida,--"thus are the predictions
of false prophets sometimes permitted to be verified, but always to
the confusion of those who trust in them; for the words of the Moorish
nigromancer came to pass that the people of Malaga should eat of those
heaps of bread, but they ate in humiliation and defeat and with sorrow
and bitterness of heart."

Dark and fierce were the feelings of Hamet el Zegri as he looked down
from the castle of Gibralfaro and beheld the Christian legions pouring
into the city and the standard of the cross supplanting the crescent on
the citadel. "The people of Malaga," said he, "have trusted to a man of
trade, and he has trafficked them away; but let us not suffer ourselves
to be bound hand and foot and delivered up as part of his bargain. We
have yet strong walls around us and trusty weapons in our hands. Let us
fight until buried beneath the last tumbling tower of Gibralfaro, or,
rushing down from among its ruins, carry havoc among the unbelievers as
they throng the streets of Malaga."

The fierceness of the Gomeres, however, was broken. They could have died
in the breach had their castle been assailed, but the slow advances of
famine subdued their strength without rousing their passions, and
sapped the force of both soul and body. They were almost unanimous for a

It was a hard struggle for the proud spirit of Hamet to bow itself to
ask for terms. Still, he trusted that the valor of his defence would
gain him respect in the eyes of a chivalrous foe. "Ali," said he, "has
negotiated like a merchant; I will capitulate as a soldier." He sent a
herald, therefore, to Ferdinand, offering to yield up his castle, but
demanding a separate treaty. (15)  The Castilian sovereign made a laconic
and stern reply: "He shall receive no terms but such as have been
granted to the community of Malaga."

For two days Hamet el Zegri remained brooding in his castle after the
city was in possession of the Christians; at length the clamors of his
followers compelled him to surrender. When the remnant of this fierce
African garrison descended from their cragged fortress, they were so
worn by watchfulness, famine, and battle, yet carried such a lurking
fury in their eyes, that they looked more like fiends than men. They
were all condemned to slavery, excepting Ibrahim Zenete. The instance of
clemency which he had shown in refraining to harm the Spanish striplings
on the last sally from Malaga won him favorable terms. It was cited as a
magnanimous act by the Spanish cavaliers, and all admitted that,
though a Moor in blood, he possessed the Christian heart of a Castilian

     * Cura de los Palacios, cap. 84.

As to Hamet el Zegri, on being asked what moved him to such hardened
obstinacy, he replied, "When I undertook my command, I pledged myself to
fight in defence of my faith, my city, and my sovereign until slain
or made prisoner; and, depend upon it, had I had men to stand by me, I
should have died fighting, instead of thus tamely surrendering myself
without a weapon in my hand."

"Such," says the pious Fray Antonio Agapida, "was the diabolical hatred
and stiff-necked opposition of this infidel to our holy cause. But he
was justly served by our most Catholic and high-minded sovereign for his
pertinacious defence of the city, for Ferdinand ordered that he should
be loaded with chains and thrown into a dungeon." He was subsequently
retained in rigorous confinement at Carmona.*

     * Pulgar, part 3, cap. 93; Pietro Martyr, lib. 1, cap. 69; Alcantara,
Hist. Granada, vol. 4, c. 18.



One of the first cares of the conquerors on entering Malaga was to
search for Christian captives. Nearly sixteen hundred men and women were
found, and among them were persons of distinction. Some of them had been
ten, fifteen, and twenty years in captivity. Many had been servants to
the Moors or laborers on public works, and some had passed their time
in chains and dungeons. Preparations were made to celebrate their
deliverance as a Christian triumph. A tent was erected not far from the
city, and furnished with an altar and all the solemn decorations of
a chapel. Here the king and queen waited to receive the Christian
captives. They were assembled in the city and marshalled forth in
piteous procession. Many of them had still the chains and shackles
on their legs; they were wasted with famine, their hair and beards
overgrown and matted, and their faces pale and haggard from long
confinement. When they found themselves restored to liberty and
surrounded by their countrymen, some stared wildly about as if in a
dream, others gave way to frantic transports, but most of them wept for
joy. All present were moved to tears by so touching a spectacle. When
the procession arrived at what is called the Gate of Granada, it was met
by a great concourse from the camp with crosses and pennons, who turned
and followed the captives, singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving.
When they came in presence of the king and queen, they threw themselves
on their knees, and would have kissed their feet as their saviors and
deliverers, but the sovereigns prevented such humiliation and graciously
extended to them their hands. They then prostrated themselves before
the altar, and all present joined them in giving thanks to God for their
liberation from this cruel bondage. By orders of the king and queen
their chains were then taken off, and they were clad in decent raiment
and food was set before them. After they had ate and drunk, and were
refreshed and invigorated, they were provided with money and all things
necessary for their journey, and sent joyfully to their homes.

While the old chroniclers dwell with becoming enthusiasm on this pure
and affecting triumph of humanity, they go on in a strain of equal
eulogy to describe a spectacle of a far different nature. It so happened
that there were found in the city twelve of those renegado Christians
who had deserted to the Moors and conveyed false intelligence during
the siege: a barbarous species of punishment was inflicted upon them,
borrowed, it is said, from the Moors and peculiar to these wars. They
were tied to stakes in a public place, and horsemen exercised their
skill in transpiercing them with pointed reeds, hurled at them while
careering at full speed, until the miserable victims expired beneath
their wounds. Several apostate Moors also, who, having embraced
Christianity, had afterward relapsed into their early faith, and had
taken refuge in Malaga from the vengeance of the Inquisition,
were publicly burnt. "These," says an old Jesuit historian
exultingly,--"these were the tilts of reeds and the illuminations most
pleasing for this victorious festival and for the Catholic piety of our

     * "Los renegados fuernon acanavareados: y los conversos quemados;
y estos fueron las canas, y luminarias mas alegres, por la fiesta de la
vitoria, para la piedad Catholica de nuestros Reyes."--Abarca, "Anales
de Aragon," tom. 2, Rey xxx. c. 3.

When the city was cleansed from the impurities and offensive odors
which had collected during the siege, the bishops and other clergy who
accompanied the court, and the choir of the royal chapel, walked in
procession to the principal mosque, which was consecrated and entitled
Santa Maria de la Incarnacion. This done, the king and queen entered
the city, accompanied by the grand cardinal of Spain and the principal
nobles and cavaliers of the army, and heard a solemn mass. The church
was then elevated into a cathedral, and Malaga was made a bishopric,
and many of the neighboring towns were comprehended in its diocese. The
queen took up her residence in the Alcazaba, in the apartments of her
valiant treasurer, Ruy Lopez, whence she had a view of the whole
city, but the king established his quarters in the warrior castle of

And now came to be considered the disposition of the Moorish prisoners.
All those who were strangers in the city, and had either taken refuge
there or had entered to defend it, were at once considered slaves. They
were divided into three lots: one was set apart for the service of God
in redeeming Christian captives from bondage, either in the kingdom of
Granada or in Africa; the second lot was divided among those who had
aided either in field or cabinet in the present siege, according to
their rank; the third was appropriated to defray by their sale the
great expenses incurred in the reduction of the place. A hundred of the
Gomeres were sent as presents to Pope Innocent VIII., and were led
in triumph through the streets of Rome, and afterward converted to
Christianity. Fifty Moorish maidens were sent to the queen Joanna of
Naples, sister to King Ferdinand, and thirty to the queen of Portugal.
Isabella made presents of others to the ladies of her household and of
the noble families of Spain.

Among the inhabitants of Malaga were four hundred and fifty Moorish
Jews, for the most part women, speaking the Arabic language and dressed
in the Moresco fashion. These were ransomed by a wealthy Jew of Castile,
farmer-general of the royal revenues derived from the Jews of Spain.
He agreed to make up within a certain time the sum of twenty thousand
doblas, or pistoles of gold, all the money and jewels of the captives
being taken in part payment. They were sent to Castile in two armed
galleys. As to Ali Dordux, such favors and honors were heaped upon him
by the Spanish sovereigns for his considerate mediation in the surrender
that the disinterestedness of his conduct has often been called in
question. He was appointed chief justice and alcayde of the (10) mudexares
or Moorish subjects, and was presented with twenty houses, one public
bakery, and several orchards, vineyards, and tracts of open country. He
retired to Antiquera, where he died several years afterward, leaving
his estate and name to his son, Mohamed Dordux. The latter embraced the
Christian faith, as did his wife, the daughter of a Moorish noble. On
being baptized he received the name of Don Fernando de Malaga, his
wife that of Isabella, after the queen. They were incorporated with
the nobility of Castile, and their descendants still bear the name of

     * Conversaciones Malaguenas, 26, as cited by Alcantara in his
History of Granada, vol. 4, c. 18.

As to the great mass of Moorish inhabitants, they implored that they
might not be scattered and sold into captivity, but might be permitted
to ransom themselves by an amount paid within a certain time. Upon this
King Ferdinand took the advice of certain of his ablest counsellors.
They said to him: "If you hold out a prospect of hopeless captivity, the
infidels will throw all their gold and jewels into wells and pits, and
you will lose the greater part of the spoil; but if you fix a general
rate of ransom, and receive their money and jewels in part payment,
nothing will be destroyed." The king relished greatly this advice,
and it was arranged that all the inhabitants should be ransomed at the
general rate of thirty doblas or pistoles in gold for each individual,
male or female, large or small; that all their gold, jewels, and other
valuables should be received immediately in part payment of the general
amount, and that the residue should be paid within eight months--that
if any of the number, actually living, should die in the interim, their
ransom should nevertheless be paid. If, however, the whole of the amount
were not paid at the expiration of the eight months, they should all be
considered and treated as slaves.

The unfortunate Moors were eager to catch at the least hope of future
liberty, and consented to these hard conditions. The most rigorous
precautions were taken to exact them to the uttermost. The inhabitants
were numbered by houses and families, and their names taken down;
their most precious effects were made up into parcels, and sealed and
inscribed with their names, and they were ordered to repair with them to
certain large corrales or enclosures adjoining the Alcazaba, which were
surrounded by high walls and overlooked by watch-towers, to which places
the cavalgadas of Christian captives had usually been driven to be
confined until the time of sale like cattle in a market. The Moors were
obliged to leave their houses one by one: all their money, necklaces,
bracelets, and anklets of gold, pearl, coral, and precious stones
were taken from them at the threshold, and their persons so rigorously
searched that they carried off nothing concealed.

Then might be seen old men and helpless women and tender maidens, some
of high birth and gentle condition, passing through the streets, heavily
burdened, toward the Alcazaba. As they left their homes they smote their
breasts and wrung their hands, and raised their weeping eyes to heaven
in anguish; and this is recorded as their plaint: "O Malaga! city so
renowned and beautiful! where now is the strength of thy castle, where
the grandeur of thy towers? Of what avail have been thy mighty walls
for the protection of thy children? Behold them driven from thy pleasant
abodes, doomed to drag out a life of bondage in a foreign land, and to
die far from the home of their infancy! What will become of thy old men
and matrons when their gray hairs shall be no longer reverenced? What
will become of thy maidens, so delicately reared and tenderly cherished,
when reduced to hard and menial servitude? Behold thy once happy
families scattered asunder, never again to be united--sons separated
from their fathers, husbands from their wives, and tender children from
their mothers: they will bewail each other in foreign lands, but their
lamentations will be the scoff of the stranger. O Malaga! city of our
birth! who can behold thy desolation and not shed tears of bitterness?"*

     * Pulgar, Reyes Catolicos, c. 93.

When Malaga was completely secured a detachment was sent against two
fortresses near the sea, called Mixas and Osuna, which had frequently
harassed the Christian camp. The inhabitants were threatened with the
sword unless they instantly surrendered. They claimed the same terms
that had been granted to Malaga, imagining them to be freedom of person
and security of property. Their claim was granted: they were transported
to Malaga with all their riches, and on arriving there were overwhelmed
with consternation at finding themselves captives. "Ferdinand," observes
Fray Antonio Agapida, "was a man of his word; they were shut up in the
enclosure at the Alcazaba with the people of Malaga and shared their

The unhappy captives remained thus crowded in the courtyards of the
Alcazaba, like sheep in a fold, until they could be sent by sea and land
to Seville. They were then distributed about in city and country, each
Christian family having one or more to feed and maintain as servants
until the term fixed for the payment of the residue of the ransom should
expire. The captives had obtained permission that several of their
number should go about among the Moorish towns of the kingdom of Granada
collecting contributions to aid in the purchase of their liberties, but
these towns were too much impoverished by the war and engrossed by their
own distresses to lend a listening ear; so the time expired without the
residue of the ransom being paid, and all the captives of Malaga, to the
number, as some say, of eleven, and others of fifteen, thousand, became
slaves. "Never," exclaims the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida in one of his
usual bursts of zeal and loyalty,--"never has there been recorded a more
adroit and sagacious arrangement than this made by the Catholic monarch,
by which he not only secured all the property and half of the ransom
of these infidels, but finally got possession of their persons into the
bargain. This truly may be considered one of the greatest triumphs of
the pious and politic Ferdinand, and as raising him above the generality
of conquerors, who have merely the valor to gain victories, but lack the
prudence and management necessary to turn them to account."*

     * The detestable policy of Ferdinand in regard to the Moorish
captives of Malaga is recorded at length by the curate of Los Palacios
(c. 87), a contemporary, a zealous admirer of the king, and one of
the most honest of chroniclers, who really thought he was recording a
notable instance of sagacious piety.



The western part of the kingdom of Granada had now been conquered by
the Christian arms. The seaport of Malaga was captured; the fierce and
warlike inhabitants of Serrania de Ronda and the other mountain-holds
of the frontier were all disarmed and reduced to peaceful and laborious
vassalage; their haughty fortresses, which had so long overawed the
valleys of Andalusia, now displayed the standard of Castile and Aragon;
the watch-towers which crowned every height, whence the infidels had
kept a vulture eye over the Christian territories, were now either
dismantled or garrisoned with Catholic troops. "What signalized and
sanctified this great triumph," adds the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida,
"were the emblems of ecclesiastical domination which everywhere
appeared. In every direction rose stately convents and monasteries,
those fortresses of the faith garrisoned by its spiritual soldiery of
monks and friars. The sacred melody of Christian bells was again heard
among the mountains, calling to early matins or sounding the Angelus at
the solemn hour of evening."*

     * The worthy curate of Los Palacios intimates in his chronicle that
this melody, so grateful to the ears of pious Christians, was a source
of perpetual torment to the ears of infidels.

While this part of the kingdom was thus reduced by the Christian sword,
the central part, round the city of Granada, forming the heart of the
Moorish territory, was held in vassalage of the Castilian monarch by
Boabdil, surnamed El Chico. That unfortunate prince lost no occasion
to propitiate the conquerors of his country by acts of homage and by
professions that must have been foreign to his heart. No sooner had
he heard of the capture of Malaga than he sent congratulations to
the Catholic sovereigns, accompanied with presents of horses richly
caparisoned for the king, and precious cloth of gold and Oriental
perfumes for the queen. His congratulations and his presents were
received with the utmost graciousness, and the short-sighted prince,
lulled by the temporary and politic forbearance of Ferdinand, flattered
himself that he was securing the lasting friendship of that monarch.

The policy of Boabdil had its transient and superficial advantages. The
portion of Moorish territory under his immediate sway had a respite from
the calamities of war, the husbandmen cultivated their luxuriant fields
in security, and the Vega of Granada once more blossomed like the rose.
The merchants again carried on a gainful traffic: the gates of the city
were thronged with beasts of burden, bringing the rich products of every
clime. Yet, while the people of Granada rejoiced in their teeming fields
and crowded marts, they secretly despised the policy which had procured
them these advantages, and held Boabdil for little better than an
apostate and an unbeliever. Muley Abdallah el Zagal was now the hope of
the unconquered part of the kingdom, and every Moor whose spirit was not
quite subdued with his fortunes lauded the valor of the old monarch and
his fidelity to the faith, and wished success to his standard.

El Zagal, though he no longer sat enthroned in the Alhambra, yet reigned
over more considerable domains than his nephew. His territories
extended from the frontier of Jaen along the borders of Murcia to
the Mediterranean, and reached into the centre of the kingdom. On the
northeast he held the cities of Baza and Guadix, situated in the midst
of fertile regions. He had the important seaport of Almeria also, which
at one time rivalled Granada itself in wealth and population. Besides
these, his territories included a great part of the Alpuxarras
mountains, which extend across the kingdom and shoot out branches toward
the sea-coast. This mountainous region was a stronghold of wealth and
power. Its stern and rocky heights, rising to the clouds, seemed to set
invasion at defiance, yet within their rugged embraces were sheltered
delightful valleys of the happiest temperature and richest fertility.
The cool springs and limpid rills which gushed out in all parts of the
mountains, and the abundant streams which for a great part of the year
were supplied by the Sierra Nevada, spread a perpetual verdure over the
skirts and slopes of the hills, and, collecting in silver rivers in the
valleys, wound along among plantations of mulberry trees and groves
of oranges and citrons, of almonds, figs, and pomegranates. Here was
produced the finest silk of Spain, which gave employment to thousands
of manufacturers. The sunburnt sides of the hills also were covered with
vineyards; the abundant herbage of the mountain-ravines and the rich
pasturage of the valleys fed vast flocks and herds; and even the arid
and rocky bosoms of the heights teemed with wealth from the mines
of various metals with which they were impregnated. In a word, the
Alpuxarras mountains had ever been the great source of revenue to the
monarchs of Granada. Their inhabitants also were hardy and warlike,
and a sudden summons from the Moorish king could at any time call forth
fifty thousand fighting-men from their rocky fastnesses.

Such was the rich but rugged fragment of an empire which remained under
the sway of the old warrior-monarch El Zagal. The mountain-barriers by
which it was locked up had protected it from most of the ravages of the
present war. El Zagal prepared himself by strengthening every fortress
to battle fiercely for its maintenance.

The Catholic sovereigns saw that fresh troubles and toils awaited
them. The war had to be carried into a new quarter, demanding immense
expenditure, and new ways and means must be devised to replenish their
exhausted coffers. "As this was a holy war, however," says Fray Antonio
Agapida, "and peculiarly redounded to the prosperity of the Church, the
clergy were full of zeal, and contributed vast sums of money and large
bodies of troops. A pious fund was also produced from the first fruits
of that glorious institution, the Inquisition."

It so happened that about this time there were many families of wealth
and dignity in the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia and the principality
of Catalonia whose forefathers had been Jews, but had been converted to
Christianity. Notwithstanding the outward piety of these families, it
was surmised, and soon came to be strongly suspected, that many of then
had a secret hankering after Judaism, and it was even whispered that
some of them practised Jewish rites in private.

The Catholic monarch (continues Agapida) had a righteous abhorrence
of all kinds of heresy and a fervent zeal for the faith; he
ordered, therefore, a strict investigation of the conduct of these
pseudo-Christians. Inquisitors were sent into the provinces for the
purpose, who proceeded with their accustomed zeal. The consequence was,
that many families were convicted of apostasy from the Christian faith
and of the private practice of Judaism. Some, who had grace and policy
sufficient to reform in time, were again received into the Christian
fold after being severely mulcted and condemned to heavy penance; others
were burnt at "auto de fes" for the edification of the public, and their
property was confiscated for the good of the state.

As these Hebrews were of great wealth and had an hereditary passion for
jewelry, there was found abundant store in their possession of gold
and silver, of rings and necklaces, and strings of pearl and coral,
and precious stones--treasures easy of transportation and wonderfully
adapted for the emergencies of war. "In this way," concludes the
pious Agapida, "these backsliders, by the all-seeing contrivances of
Providence, were made to serve the righteous cause which they had so
treacherously deserted; and their apostate wealth was sanctified by
being devoted to the service of Heaven and the Crown in this holy
crusade against the infidels."

It must be added, however, that these pious financial expedients
received some check from the interference of Queen Isabella. Her
penetrating eyes discovered that many enormities had been committed
under color of religious zeal, and many innocent persons accused
by false witnesses of apostasy, either through malice or a hope of
obtaining their wealth: she caused strict investigation, therefore, into
the proceedings which had been held, many of which were reversed, and
suborners punished in proportion to their guilt.*

     * Pulgar, part 3, c. 100.



"Muley Abdallah el Zagal," says the venerable Jesuit father Pedro
Abarca, "was the most venomous Mahometan in all Morisma;" and the worthy
Fray Antonio Agapida most devoutly echoes his opinion. "Certainly,"
adds the latter, "none ever opposed a more heathenish and diabolical
obstinacy to the holy inroads of the cross and sword."

El Zagal felt that it was necessary to do something to quicken his
popularity with the people, and that nothing was more effectual than a
successful inroad. The Moors loved the stirring call to arms and a wild
foray among the mountains, and delighted more in a hasty spoil, wrested
with hard fighting from the Christians, than in all the steady and
certain gains secured by peaceful traffic.

There reigned at this time a careless security along the frontier of
Jaen. The alcaydes of the Christian fortresses were confident of the
friendship of Boabdil el Chico, and they fancied his uncle too distant
and too much engrossed by his own perplexities to think of molesting
them. On a sudden El Zagal issued out of Guadix with a chosen band,
passed rapidly through the mountains which extend behind Granada, and
fell like a thunderbolt upon the territories in the neighborhood of
Alcala la Real. Before the alarm could be spread and the frontier roused
he had made a wide career of destruction through the country, sacking
and burning villages, sweeping off flocks and herds, and carrying away
captives. The warriors of the frontier assembled, but El Zagal was
already far on his return through the mountains, and he re-entered the
gates of Guadix in triumph, his army laden with Christian spoil and
conducting an immense cavalgada. Such was one of El Zagal's preparatives
for the expected invasion of the Christian king, exciting the warlike
spirit of his people, and gaining for himself a transient popularity.

King Ferdinand assembled his army at Murcia in the spring of 1488. He
left that city on the fifth of June with a flying camp of four thousand
horse and fourteen thousand foot. The marques of Cadiz led the van,
followed by the adelantado of Murcia. The army entered the Moorish
frontier by the sea-coast, spreading terror through the land: wherever
it appeared, the towns surrendered without a blow, so great was
the dread of experiencing the woes which had desolated the opposite
frontier. In this way Vera, Velez el Rubio, Velez el Blanco, and many
towns of inferior note to the number of sixty yielded at the first

It was not until it approached Almeria that the army met with
resistance. This important city was commanded by the prince Zelim, a
relation of El Zagal. He led forth his Moors bravely to the encounter,
and skirmished fiercely with the advance guard in the gardens near the
city. King Ferdinand came up with the main body of the army and called
off his troops from the skirmish. He saw that to attack the place with
his present force was fruitless. Having reconnoitred the city and its
environs, therefore, against a future campaign, he retired with his army
and marched toward Baza.

The old warrior El Zagal was himself drawn up in the city of Baza with a
powerful garrison. He felt confidence in the strength of the place, and
rejoiced when he heard that the Christian king was approaching. In the
valley in front of Baza there extended a great tract of gardens, like
a continued grove, intersected by canals and water courses. In this he
stationed an ambuscade of arquebusiers and crossbowmen. The vanguard of
the Christian army came marching gayly up the valley with great sound of
drum and trumpet, and led on by the marques of Cadiz and the adelantado
of Murcia. As they drew near El Zagal sallied forth with horse and foot
and attacked them for a time with great spirit. Gradually falling back,
as if pressed by their superior valor, he drew the exulting Christians
among the gardens. Suddenly the Moors in ambuscade burst from their
concealment, and opened such a fire in flank and rear that many of the
Christians were slain and the rest thrown into confusion. King Ferdinand
arrived in time to see the disastrous situation of his troops, and gave
signal for the vanguard to retire.

El Zagal did not permit the foe to draw off unmolested. Ordering out
fresh squadrons, he fell upon the rear of the retreating troops with
triumphant shouts, driving them before him with dreadful havoc. The
old war-cry of "El Zagal! El Zagal!" was again put up by the Moors, and
echoed with transport from the walls of the city. The Christians were in
imminent peril of a complete rout, when, fortunately, the adelantado
of Murcia threw himself with a large body of horse and foot between the
pursuers and the pursued, covering the retreat of the latter and giving
them time to rally. The Moors were now attacked so vigorously in turn
that they gave over the contest and drew back slowly into the city. Many
valiant cavaliers were slain in this skirmish; among the number was Don
Philip of Aragon, master of the chivalry of St. George of Montesor: he
was illegitimate son of the king's illegitimate brother Don Carlos,
and his death was greatly bewailed by Ferdinand. He had formerly been
archbishop of Palermo, but had doffed the cassock for the cuirass,
and, according to Fray Antonio Agapida, had gained a glorious crown of
martyrdom by falling in this holy war.

The warm reception of his advance guard brought King Ferdinand to a
pause: he encamped on the banks of the neighboring river Guadalquiton,
and began to consider whether he had acted wisely in undertaking
this campaign with his present force. His late successes had probably
rendered him over-confident: El Zagal had again schooled him into his
characteristic caution. He saw that the old warrior was too formidably
ensconced in Baza to be dislodged by anything except a powerful army
and battering artillery, and he feared that should he persist in his
invasion some disaster might befall his army, either from the enterprise
of the foe or from a pestilence which prevailed in various parts of the
country. He retired, therefore, from before Baza, as he had on a former
occasion from before Loxa, all the wiser for a wholesome lesson in
warfare, but by no means grateful to those who had given it, and with a
solemn determination to have his revenge upon his teachers.

He now took measures for the security of the places gained in the
campaign, placing in them strong garrisons, well armed and supplied,
charging their alcaydes to be vigilant on their posts and to give no
rest to the enemy. The whole of the frontier was under the command
of Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero. As it was evident from the warlike
character of El Zagal that there would be abundance of active service
and hard fighting, many hidalgos and young cavaliers eager for
distinction remained with Puerto Carrero.

All these dispositions being made, King Ferdinand closed the dubious
campaign of this year, not, as usual, by returning in triumph at
the head of his army to some important city of his dominions, but by
disbanding the troops and repairing to pray at the cross of Caravaca.



"While the pious king Ferdinand," observes Fray Antonio Agapida,
"was humbling himself before the cross and devoutly praying for the
destruction of his enemies, that fierce pagan, El Zagal, depending
merely on arm of flesh and sword of steel, pursued his diabolical
outrages upon the Christians." No sooner was the invading army disbanded
than he sallied forth from his stronghold, and carried fire and sword
into all those parts which had submitted to the Spanish yoke. The
castle of Nixar, being carelessly guarded, was taken by surprise and its
garrison put to the sword. The old warrior raged with sanguinary fury
about the whole frontier, attacking convoys, slaying, wounding, and
making prisoners, and coming by surprise upon the Christians wherever
they were off their guard.

Carlos de Biedma, alcayde of the fortress of Culla, confiding in the
strength of its walls and towers and in its difficult situation, being
built on the summit of a lofty hill and surrounded by precipices,
ventured to absent himself from his post. He was engaged to be married
to a fair and noble lady of Baeza, and repaired to that city to
celebrate his nuptials, escorted by a brilliant array of the best
horsemen of his garrison. Apprised of his absence, the vigilant El Zagal
suddenly appeared before Culla with a powerful force, stormed the town
sword in hand, fought the Christians from street to street, and drove
them with great slaughter to the citadel. Here a veteran captain, by the
name of Juan de Avalos, a gray-headed warrior scarred in many a battle,
assumed the command and made an obstinate defence. Neither the multitude
of the enemy nor the vehemence of their attacks, though led on by the
terrible El Zagal himself, had power to shake the fortitude of this
doughty old soldier.

The Moors undermined the outer walls and one of the towers of the
fortress, and made their way into the exterior court. The alcayde manned
the tops of his towers, pouring down melted pitch and showering darts,
arrows, stones, and all kinds of missiles upon the assailants. The Moors
were driven out of the court, but, being reinforced with fresh troops,
returned repeatedly to the assault. For five days the combat was kept
up: the Christians were nearly exhausted, but were sustained by the
cheerings of their stanch old alcayde and the fear of death from El
Zagal should they surrender. At length the approach of a powerful force
under Don Luis Puerto Carrero relieved them from this fearful peril. El
Zagal abandoned the assault, but set fire to the town in his rage and
disappointment, and retired to his stronghold of Guadix.

The example of El Zagal roused his adherents to action. Two bold Moorish
alcaydes, Ali Aliatar and Yzan Aliatar, commanding the fortresses
of Alhenden and Salobrena, laid waste the country of the subjects of
Boabdil and the places which had recently submitted to the Christians:
they swept off the cattle, carried off captives, and harassed the whole
of the newly-conquered frontier.

The Moors also of Almeria and Tavernas and Purchena made inroads into
Murcia, and carried fire and sword into its most fertile regions. On the
opposite frontier also, among the wild valleys and rugged recesses of
the Sierra Bermeja, or Red Mountains, many of the Moors who had lately
submitted again flew to arms. The marques of Cadiz suppressed by timely
vigilance the rebellion of the mountain-town of Gausin, situated on a
high peak almost among the clouds; but others of the Moors fortified
themselves in rock-built towers and castles, inhabited solely by
warriors, whence they carried on a continual war of forage and
depredation, sweeping down into the valleys and carrying off flocks
and herds and all kinds of booty to these eagle-nests, to which it was
perilous and fruitless to pursue them.

The worthy Fray Antonio Agapida closes his history of this checkered
year in quite a different strain from those triumphant periods with
which he is accustomed to wind up the victorious campaigns of the
sovereigns. "Great and mighty," says this venerable chronicler, "were
the floods and tempests which prevailed throughout the kingdoms of
Castile and Aragon about this time. It seemed as though the windows of
heaven were again opened and a second deluge overwhelming the face
of nature. The clouds burst as it were in cataracts upon the earth;
torrents rushed down from the mountains, overflowing the valleys; brooks
were swelled into raging rivers; houses were undermined; mills were
swept away by their own streams; the affrighted shepherds saw their
flocks drowned in the midst of the pasture, and were fain to take refuge
for their lives in towers and high places. The Guadalquivir for a time
became a roaring and tumultuous sea, inundating the immense plain of the
Tablada and filling the fair city of Seville with affright.

"A vast black cloud moved over the land, accompanied by a hurricane
and a trembling of the earth. Houses were unroofed, the walls and
battlements of fortresses shaken, and lofty towers rocked to their
foundations. Ships riding at anchor were either stranded or swallowed
up; others, under sail, were tossed to and fro upon mountain waves
and cast upon the land, where the whirlwind rent them in pieces and
scattered them in fragments in the air. Doleful was the ruin and great
the terror where this baleful cloud passed by, and it left a long
track of desolation over sea and land. Some of the faint-hearted,"
adds Antonio Agapida, "looked upon this torment of the elements as a
prodigious event, out of the course of nature. In the weakness of their
fears they connected it with those troubles which occurred in various
places, considering it a portent of some great calamity about to be
wrought by the violence of the bloody-handed El Zagal and his fierce

     * See Cura de los Palacios, cap. 91; Palencia, De Bello Granad.,
lib. 8.



The stormy winter had passed away, and the spring of 1489 was advancing,
yet the heavy rains had broken up the roads, the mountain-brooks were
swollen to raging torrents, and the late shallow and peaceful rivers
were deep, turbulent, and dangerous. The Christian troops had been
summoned to assemble in early spring on the frontiers of Jaen, but were
slow in arriving at the appointed place. They were entangled in the
miry defiles of the mountains or fretted impatiently on the banks of
impassable floods. It was late in the month of May before they assembled
in sufficient force to attempt the proposed invasion, when at length a
valiant army of thirteen thousand horse and forty thousand foot marched
merrily over the border. The queen remained at the city of Jaen with the
prince-royal and the princesses her children, accompanied and supported
by the venerable cardinal of Spain and those reverend prelates who
assisted in her councils throughout this holy war.

The plan of King Ferdinand was to lay siege to the city of Baza, the key
of the remaining possessions of the Moor. That important fortress taken,
Guadix and Almeria must soon follow, and then the power of El Zagal
would be at an end. As the Catholic king advanced he had first to secure
various castles and strongholds in the vicinity of Baza which might
otherwise harass his army. Some of these made obstinate resistance,
especially the town of Zujar. The Christians assailed the walls with
various machines to sap them and batter them down. The brave alcayde,
Hubec Abdilbar, opposed force to force and engine to engine. He manned
his towers with his bravest warriors, who rained down an iron shower
upon the enemy, and he linked caldrons together by strong chains and
cast fire from them, consuming the wooden engines of their assailants
and those who managed them.

The siege was protracted for several days: the bravery of the alcayde
could not save his fortress from an overwhelming foe, but it gained him
honorable terms. Ferdinand permitted the garrison and the inhabitants to
repair with their effects to Baza, and the valiant Hubec marched forth
with the remnant of his force and took he way to that devoted city.

The delays caused to the invading army by these various circumstances
had been diligently improved by El Zagal, who felt that he was now
making his last stand for empire, and that this campaign would decide
whether he should continue a king or sink into a vassal. He was but a
few leagues from Baza, at the city of Guadix. This last was the most
important point of his remaining territories, being a kind of bulwark
between them and the hostile city of Granada, the seat of his nephew's
power. Though he heard of the tide of war, therefore, collecting and
rolling toward the city of Baza, he dared not go in person to its
assistance. He dreaded that should he leave Guadix, Boabdil would attack
him in the rear while the Christian army was battling with him in front.
El Zagal trusted in the great strength of Baza to defy any violent
assault, and profited by the delays of the Christian army to supply it
with all possible means of defence. He sent thither all the troops
he could spare from his garrison of Guadix, and despatched missives
throughout his territories calling upon all true Moslems to hasten
to Baza and make a devoted stand in defence of their homes, their
liberties, and their religion. The cities of Tavernas and Purchena and
the surrounding heights and valleys responded to his orders and sent
forth their fighting-men to the field. The rocky fastnesses of the
Alpuxarras resounded with the din of arms: troops of horse and bodies
of foot-soldiers were seen winding down the rugged cliffs and defiles of
those marble mountains and hastening toward Baza. Many brave cavaliers
of Granada also, spurning the quiet and security of Christian vassalage,
secretly left the city and hastened to join their fighting countrymen.
The great dependence of El Zagal, however, was upon the valor and
loyalty of his cousin and brother-in-law, Cid Hiaya Alnagar,* who was
alcayde of Almeria--a cavalier experienced in warfare and redoubtable in
the field. He wrote to him to leave Almeria and repair with all speed at
the head of his troops to Baza. Cid Hiaya departed immediately with ten
thousand of the bravest Moors in the kingdom. These were for the most
part hardy mountaineers, tempered to sun and storm and tried in many a
combat. None equalled them for a sally or a skirmish. They were adroit
in executing a thousand stratagems, ambuscadoes, and evolutions.
Impetuous in their assaults, yet governed in their utmost fury by a word
or sign from their commander, at the sound of a trumpet they would check
themselves in the midst of their career, wheel off and disperse, and at
another sound of a trumpet they would as suddenly reassemble and return
to the attack. They were upon the enemy when least expected, coming like
a rushing blast, spreading havoc and consternation, and then passing
away in an instant; so that when one recovered from the shock and looked
around, behold, nothing was to be seen or heard of this tempest of war
but a cloud of dust and the clatter of retreating hoofs.**

     * This name has generally been written Cidi Yahye.  The present mode
is adopted on the authority of Alcantara in his History of Granada,
who appears to have derived it from Arabic manuscripts existing in the
archives of the marques de Corvera, descendant of Cid Hiaya. The latter
(Cid Hiaya) was son of Aben Zelim, a deceased prince of Almeria, and was
a lineal descendant from the celebrated Aben Hud, surnamed the Just. The
wife of Cid Hiaya was sister of the two Moorish generals, Abul Cacim and
Reduan Vanegas, and, like them, the fruit of the union of a Christian
knight, Don Pedro Vanegas, with Cetimerien, a Moorish princess.

     * *Pulgar, part 3, c. 106.

When Cid Hiaya led his train of ten thousand valiant warriors into
the gates of Baza, the city rang with acclamations and for a time the
inhabitants thought themselves secure. El Zagal also felt a glow of
confidence, notwithstanding his own absence from the city. "Cid Hiaya,"
said he, "is my cousin and my brother-in-law; related to me by blood and
marriage, he is a second self: happy is that monarch who has his kindred
to command his armies."

With all these reinforcements the garrison of Baza amounted to above
twenty thousand men. There were at this time three principal leaders in
the city: Mohammed Ibn Hassan, surnamed the Veteran, who was military
governor or alcayde, an old Moor of great experience and discretion; the
second was Hamet Abu Zali, who was captain of the troops stationed in
the place; and the third was Hubec Abdilbar, late alcayde of Zujar, who
had repaired hither with the remains of his garrison. Over all these
Cid Hiaya exercised a supreme command in consequence of his being of the
blood-royal and in the especial confidence of Muley Abdallah el Zagal.
He was eloquent and ardent in council, and fond of striking and splendid
achievements, but he was a little prone to be carried away by the
excitement of the moment and the warmth of his imagination. The councils
of war of these commanders, therefore, were more frequently controlled
by the opinions of the old alcayde Mohammed Ibn Hassan, for whose
shrewdness, caution, and experience Cid Hiaya himself felt the greatest

The city of Baza was situated in a great valley, eight leagues in
length and three in breadth, called the Hoya, or Basin, of Baza. It was
surrounded by a range of mountains called the Sierra of Xabalcohol, the
streams of which, collecting themselves into two rivers, watered and
fertilized the country. The city was built in the plain, one part of
it protected by the rocky precipices of the mountain and by a powerful
citadel, the other by massive walls studded with immense towers. It
had suburbs toward the plain imperfectly fortified by earthen walls. In
front of these suburbs extended a tract of orchards and gardens nearly a
league in length, so thickly planted as to resemble a continued forest.
Here every citizen who could afford it had his little plantation and
his garden of fruits and flowers and vegetables, watered by canals and
rivulets and dominated by a small tower for recreation or defence. This
wilderness of groves and gardens, intersected in all parts by canals and
runs of water, and studded by above a thousand small towers, formed
a kind of protection to this side of the city, rendering all approach
extremely difficult and perplexed.

While the Christian army had been detained before the frontier
posts, the city of Baza had been a scene of hurried and unremitting
preparation. All the grain of the surrounding valley, though yet unripe,
was hastily reaped and borne into the city to prevent it from yielding
sustenance to the enemy. The country was drained of all its supplies;
flocks and herds were driven, bleating and bellowing, into the gates:
long trains of beasts of burden, some laden with food, others with
lances, darts, and arms of all kinds, kept pouring into the place.
Already were munitions collected sufficient for a siege of fifteen
months: still, the eager and hasty preparation was going on when the
army of Ferdinand came in sight.

On one side might be seen scattered parties of foot and horse spurring
to the gates, and muleteers hurrying forward their burdened animals, all
anxious to get under shelter before the gathering storm; on the other
side, the cloud of war came sweeping down the valley, the roll of drum
or clang of trumpet resounding occasionally from its deep bosom, or
the bright glance of arms flashing forth like vivid lightning from its
columns. King Ferdinand pitched his tents in the valley beyond the
green labyrinth of gardens. He sent his heralds to summon the city
to surrender, promising the most favorable terms in case of immediate
compliance, and avowing in the most solemn terms his resolution never to
abandon the siege until he had possession of the place.

Upon receiving this summons the Moorish commanders held a council of
war. The prince Cid Hiaya, indignant at the menaces of the king, was for
retorting by a declaration that the garrison never would surrender, but
would fight until buried under the ruins of the walls. "Of what avail,"
said the veteran Mohammed, "is a declaration of the kind, which we may
falsify by our deeds? Let us threaten what we know we can perform, and
let us endeavor to perform more than we threaten."

In conformity to his advice, therefore, a laconic reply was sent to the
Christian monarch, thanking him for his offer of favorable terms,
but informing him that they were placed in the city to defend, not to
surrender it.



When the reply of the Moorish commanders was brought to King Ferdinand,
he prepared to press the siege with the utmost vigor. Finding the
camp too far from the city, and that the intervening orchards afforded
shelter for the sallies of the Moors, he determined to advance it
beyond the gardens, in the space between them and the suburbs, where
his batteries would have full play upon the city walls. A detachment was
sent in advance to take possession of the gardens and keep a check upon
the suburbs, opposing any sally while the encampment should be formed
and fortified. The various commanders entered the orchards at different
points. The young cavaliers marched fearlessly forward, but the
experienced veterans foresaw infinite peril in the mazes of this verdant
labyrinth. The master of St. Jago, as he led his troops into the centre
of the gardens, exhorted them to keep by one another, and to press
forward in defiance of all difficulty or danger, assuring them that
God would give them the victory if they attacked hardily and persisted

Scarce had they entered the verge of the orchards when a din of drums
and trumpets, mingled with war-cries, was heard from the suburbs, and a
legion of Moorish warriors on foot poured forth. They were led on by
the prince Cid Hiaya. He saw the imminent danger of the city should the
Christians gain possession of the orchards. "Soldiers," he cried,
"we fight for life and liberty, for our families, our country, our
religion;* nothing is left for us to depend upon but the strength of our
hands, the courage of our hearts, and the almighty protection of Allah."
The Moors answered him with shouts of war and rushed to the encounter.
The two hosts met in the midst of the gardens. A chance-medley combat
ensued with lances, arquebuses, crossbows, and scimetars; the perplexed
nature of the ground, cut up and intersected by canals and streams, the
closeness of the trees, the multiplicity of towers and petty edifices,
gave greater advantages to the Moors, who were on foot, than to the
Christians, who were on horseback. The Moors, too, knew the ground,
with all its alleys and passes, and were thus enabled to lurk, to sally
forth, attack, and retreat almost without injury.

     * "Illi (Mauri) pro fortunis, pro libertate, pro laribus patriis, pro
vita denique certabant."--Pietro Martyr, "Epist. 70."

The Christian commanders, seeing this, ordered many of the horsemen to
dismount and fight on foot. The battle then became fierce and deadly,
each disregarding his own life, provided he could slay his enemy. It was
not so much a general battle as a multitude of petty actions, for every
orchard and garden had its distinct contest. No one could see farther
than the little scene of fury and bloodshed around him, nor know how the
general battle fared. In vain the captains exerted their voices, in vain
the trumpets brayed forth signals and commands: all was confounded and
unheard in the universal din and uproar. No one kept to his standard,
but fought as his own fury or fear dictated. In some places the
Christians had the advantage, in others the Moors; often a victorious
party, pursuing the vanquished, came upon a superior and triumphant
force of the enemy, and the fugitives turned back upon them in an
overwhelming wave. Some broken remnants, in their terror and confusion,
fled from their own countrymen and sought refuge among their enemies,
not knowing friend from foe in the obscurity of the groves. The Moors
were more adroit in these wild skirmishings from their flexibility,
lightness, and agility, and the rapidity with which they would disperse,
rally, and return again to the charge.*

     * Mariana, lib. 25, cap. 13.

The hardest fighting was about the small garden-towers and pavilions,
which served as so many petty fortresses. Each party by turns gained
them, defended them fiercely, and were driven out; many of the towers
were set on fire, and increased the horrors of the fight by the wreaths
of smoke and flame in which they wrapped the groves and by the shrieks
of those who were burning.

Several of the Christian cavaliers, bewildered by the uproar and
confusion and shocked at the carnage which prevailed, would have led
their men out of the action, but they were entangled in a labyrinth and
knew not which way to retreat. While in this perplexity Juan Perea, the
standard-bearer of one of the squadrons of the grand cardinal, had his
arm carried off by a cannon-ball; the standard was wellnigh falling
into the hands of the enemy, when Rodrigo de Mendoza, an intrepid youth,
natural son of the grand cardinal, rushed to its rescue through a shower
of balls, lances, and arrows, and, bearing it aloft, dashed forward with
it into the hottest of the combat, followed by his shouting soldiery.

King Ferdinand, who remained in the skirts of the orchard, was in
extreme anxiety. It was impossible to see much of the action for the
multiplicity of trees and towers and the wreaths of smoke, and those
who were driven out defeated or came out wounded and exhausted gave
different accounts, according to the fate of the partial conflicts in
which they had been engaged. Ferdinand exerted himself to the utmost
to animate and encourage his troops to this blind encounter, sending
reinforcements of horse and foot to those points where the battle was
most sanguinary and doubtful.

Among those who were brought forth mortally wounded was Don Juan de
Luna, a youth of uncommon merit, greatly prized by the king, beloved by
the army, and recently married to Dona Catalina de Urrea, a young lady
of distinguished beauty.* They laid him at the foot of a tree, and
endeavored to stanch and bind up his wounds with a scarf which his bride
had wrought for him; but his life-blood flowed too profusely, and while
a holy friar was yet administering to him the last sacred offices of the
Church, he expired, almost at the feet of his sovereign.

     * Mariana, P. Martyr, Zurita.

On the other hand, the veteran alcayde Mohammed Ibn Hassan, surrounded
by a little band of chieftains, kept an anxious eye upon the scene of
combat from the walls of the city. For nearly twelve hours the battle
raged without intermission. The thickness of the foliage hid all the
particulars from their sight, but they could see the flash of swords
and glance of helmets among the trees. Columns of smoke rose in every
direction, while the clash of arms, the thundering of ribadoquines and
arquebuses, the shouts and cries of the combatants, and the groans and
supplications of the wounded bespoke the deadly conflict waging in
the bosom of the groves. They were harassed, too, by the shrieks
and lamentations of the Moorish women and children as their wounded
relatives were brought bleeding from the scene of action, and were
stunned by a general outcry of woe on the part of the inhabitants as the
body of Reduan Zafarjal, a renegado Christian and one of the bravest of
their generals, was borne breathless into the city.

At length the din of battle approached nearer to the skirts of the
orchards. They beheld their warriors driven out from among the groves
by fresh squadrons of the enemy, and, after disputing the ground inch by
inch, obliged to retire to a place between the orchards and the suburbs
which was fortified with palisadoes.

The Christians immediately planted opposing palisadoes, and established
strong outposts near to the retreat of the Moors, while at the same time
King Ferdinand ordered that his encampment should be pitched within the
hard-won orchards.

Mohammed Ibn Hassan sallied forth to the aid of the prince Cid Hiaya,
and made a desperate attempt to dislodge the enemy from this formidable
position, but the night had closed, and the darkness rendered it
impossible to make any impression. The Moors, however, kept up constant
assaults and alarms throughout the night, and the weary Christians,
exhausted by the toils and sufferings of the day, were not allowed a
moment of repose.*

     * Pulgar, part 3, cap. 106, 107; Cura de los Palacios, cap. 92;
Zurita, lib. 20, cap 31.



The morning sun rose upon a piteous scene before the walls of Baza.
The Christian outposts, harassed throughout the night, were pale and
haggard, while the multitudes of slain which lay before their palisadoes
showed the fierce attacks they had sustained and the bravery of their

Beyond them lay the groves and gardens of Baza, once favorite resorts
for recreation and delight, now a scene of horror and desolation. The
towers and pavilions were smoking ruins; the canals and water-courses
were discolored with blood and choked with the bodies of the slain. Here
and there the ground, deep dinted with the tramp of man and steed and
plashed and slippery with gore, showed where had been some fierce and
mortal conflict, while the bodies of Moors and Christians, ghastly
in death, lay half concealed among the matted and trampled shrubs and
flowers and herbage.

Amidst these sanguinary scenes rose the Christian tents, hastily pitched
among the gardens in the preceding evening. The experience of the night,
however, and the forlorn aspect of everything in the morning convinced
King Ferdinand of the perils and hardships to which his camp must be
exposed in its present situation, and after a consultation with his
principal cavaliers he resolved to abandon the orchards.

It was a dangerous movement, to extricate his army from so entangled a
situation in the face of so alert and daring an enemy. A bold front was
therefore kept up toward the city; additional troops were ordered to the
advanced posts, and works begun as if for a settled encampment. Not a
tent was struck in the gardens, but in the mean time the most active and
unremitting exertions were made to remove all the baggage and furniture
of the camp back to the original station.

All day the Moors beheld a formidable show of war maintained in front of
the gardens, while in the rear the tops of the Christian tents and the
pennons of the different commanders were seen rising above the groves.
Suddenly, toward evening the tents sank and disappeared, the outposts
broke up their stations and withdrew, and the whole shadow of an
encampment was fast vanishing from their eyes.

The Moors saw too late the subtle manoeuvre of King Ferdinand. Cid Hiaya
again sallied forth with a large force of horse and foot, and pressed
furiously upon the Christians. The latter; however, experienced in
Moorish attack, retired in close order, sometimes turning upon the enemy
and driving them to their barricadoes, and then pursuing their retreat.
In this way the army was extricated without much further loss from the
perilous labyrinths of the gardens.

The camp was now out of danger, but it was also too distant from the
city to do mischief, while the Moors could sally forth and return
without hindrance. The king called a council of war to consider in what
manner to proceed. The marques of Cadiz was for abandoning the siege
for the present, the place being too strong, too well garrisoned and
provided, and too extensive for their limited forces either to carry it
by assault or invest and reduce it by famine, while in lingering before
it the army would be exposed to the usual maladies and sufferings of
besieging armies, and when the rainy season came on would be shut up
by the swelling of the rivers. He recommended, instead, that the king
should throw garrisons of horse and foot into all the towns captured in
the neighborhood, and leave them to keep up a predatory war upon Baza,
while he should overrun and ravage all the country, so that in the
following year Almeria and Guadix, having all their subject towns and
territories taken from them, might be starved into submission.

Don Gutierre de Cardenas, senior commander of Leon, on the other hand,
maintained that to abandon the siege would be construed by the enemy
into a sign of weakness and irresolution. It would give new spirits to
the partisans of El Zagal, and would gain to his standard many of
the wavering subjects of Boabdil, if it did not encourage the fickle
populace of Granada to open rebellion. He advised, therefore, that the
siege should be prosecuted with vigor.

The pride of Ferdinand pleaded in favor of the last opinion, for it
would be doubly humiliating again to return from a campaign in this part
of the Moorish kingdom without effecting a blow. But when he reflected
on all that his army had suffered, and on all that it must suffer
should the siege continue--especially from the difficulty of obtaining
a regular supply of provisions for so numerous a host across a great
extent of rugged and mountainous country--he determined to consult the
safety of his people and to adopt the advice of the marques of Cadiz.

When the soldiery heard that the king was about to raise the siege in
mere consideration of their sufferings, they were filled with generous
enthusiasm, and entreated as with one voice that the siege might never
be abandoned until the city surrendered.

Perplexed by conflicting counsels, the king despatched messengers to the
queen at Jaen, requesting her advice. Posts had been stationed between
them in such manner that missives from the camp could reach the queen
within ten hours. Isabella sent instantly her reply. She left the policy
of raising or continuing the siege to the decision of the king and his
captains, but, should they determine to persevere, she pledged herself,
with the aid of God, to forward them men, money, provisions and all
other supplies until the city should be taken.

The reply of the queen determined Ferdinand to persevere, and when his
determination was made known to the army, it was hailed with as much joy
as if it had been tidings of a victory.



The Moorish prince Cid Hiaya had received tidings of the doubts and
discussions in the Christian camp, and flattered himself with hopes
that the besieging army would soon retire in despair, though the veteran
Mohammed shook his head with incredulity. A sudden movement one morning
in the Christian camp seemed to confirm the sanguine hopes of the
prince. The tents were struck, the artillery and baggage were conveyed
away, and bodies of soldiers began to march along the valley. The
momentary gleam of triumph was soon dispelled. The Catholic king had
merely divided his host into two camps, the more effectually to distress
the city.

One, consisting of four thousand horse and eight thousand foot, with all
the artillery and battering engines, took post on the side of the city
toward the mountain. This was commanded by the marques of Cadiz, with
whom were Don Alonso de Aguilar, Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero, and many
other distinguished cavaliers.

The other camp was commanded by the king, having six thousand horse
and a great host of foot-soldiers, the hardy mountaineers of Biscay,
Guipuscoa, Galicia, and the Asturias. Among the cavaliers who were with
the king were the brave count de Tendilla, Don Rodrigo de Mendoza, and
Don Alonso de Cardenas, master of Santiago.

The two camps were wide asunder, on opposite sides of the city, and
between them lay the thick wilderness of orchards. Both camps were
therefore fortified by great trenches, breastworks, and palisadoes. The
veteran Mohammed, as he saw these two formidable camps glittering on
either side of the city, and noted the well-known pennons of renowned
commanders fluttering above them, still comforted his companions. "These
camps," said he, "are too far removed from each other for mutual succor
and cooperation, and the forest of orchards is as a gulf between
them." This consolation was but of short continuance. Scarcely were the
Christian camps fortified when the ears of the Moorish garrison were
startled by the sound of innumerable axes and the crash of falling
trees. They looked with anxiety from their highest towers, and beheld
their favorite groves sinking beneath the blows of the Christian
pioneers. The Moors sallied forth with fiery zeal to protect their
beloved gardens and the orchards in which they so much delighted. The
Christians, however, were too well supported to be driven from their
work. Day after day the gardens became the scene of incessant and bloody
skirmishings; yet still the devastation of the groves went on, for King
Ferdinand was too well aware of the necessity of clearing away this
screen of woods not to bend all his forces to the undertaking. It was
a work, however, of gigantic toil and patience. The trees were of such
magnitude, and so closely set together, and spread over so wide an
extent, that, notwithstanding four thousand men were employed, they
could scarcely clear a strip of land ten paces broad within a day; and
such were the interruptions from the incessant assaults of the Moors
that it was full forty days before the orchards were completely

The devoted city of Baza now lay stripped of its beautiful covering
of groves and gardens, at once its ornament, its delight, and its
protection. The besiegers went on slowly and surely, with almost
incredible labors, to invest and isolate the city. They connected their
camps by a deep trench across the plain a league in length, into which
they diverted the waters of the mountain-streams. They protected this
trench by palisadoes, fortified by fifteen castles at regular distances.
They dug a deep trench also, two leagues in length, across the mountain
in the rear of the city, reaching from camp to camp, and fortified it
on each side with walls of earth and stone and wood. Thus the Moors were
enclosed on all sides by trenches, palisadoes, walls, and castles,
so that it was impossible for them to sally beyond this great line of
circumvallation, nor could any force enter to their succor. Ferdinand
made an attempt likewise to cut off the supply of water from the city;
"for water," observes the worthy Agapida, "is more necessary to these
infidels than bread, making use of it in repeated daily ablutions
enjoined by their damnable religion, and employing it in baths and in
a thousand other idle and extravagant modes of which we Spaniards and
Christians make but little account."

There was a noble fountain of pure water which gushed out at the foot
of the hill Albohacen just behind the city. The Moors had almost a
superstitious fondness for this fountain, and chiefly depended upon it
for their supplies. Receiving intimation from some deserters of the
plan of King Ferdinand to get possession of this precious fountain,
they sallied forth at night and threw up such powerful works upon the
impending hill as to set all attempts of the Christian assailants at



The siege of Baza, while it displayed the skill and science of the
Christian commanders, gave but little scope for the adventurous spirit
and fiery valor of the young Spanish cavaliers. They repined at the
tedious monotony and dull security of their fortified camp, and longed
for some soul-stirring exploit of difficulty and danger. Two of the most
spirited of these youthful cavaliers were Francisco de Bazan and Antonio
de Cueva, the latter of whom was son to the duke of Albuquerque. As
they were one day seated on the ramparts of the camp, and venting their
impatience at this life of inaction, they were overheard by a veteran
adalid, one of those scouts or guides who were acquainted with all parts
of the country. "Seniors," said he, "if you wish for a service of peril
and profit, if you are willing to pluck the fiery old Moor by the beard,
I can lead you to where you may put your mettle to the proof. Hard by
the city of Guadix are certain hamlets rich in booty. I can conduct you
by a way in which you may come upon them by surprise, and if you are
as cool in the head as you are hot in the spur, you may bear off your
spoils from under the very eyes of old El Zagal."

The idea of thus making booty at the very gates of Guadix pleased the
hot-spirited youths. These predatory excursions were frequent about
this time, and the Moors of Padul, Alhenden, and other towns of
the Alpuxarras had recently harassed the Christian territories by
expeditions of the kind. Francisco de Bazan and Antonio de Cueva soon
found other young cavaliers of their age eager to join in the adventure,
and in a little while they had nearly three hundred horse and two
hundred foot ready equipped and eager for the foray.

Keeping their destination secret, they sallied out of the camp on
the edge of an evening, and, guided by the adalid, made their way by
starlight through the most secret roads of the mountains. In this way
they pressed on rapidly day and night, until early one morning, before
cock-crowing, they fell suddenly upon the hamlets, made prisoners of
the inhabitants, sacked the houses, ravaged the fields, and, sweeping
through the meadows, gathered together all the flocks and herds. Without
giving themselves time to rest, they set out upon their return, making
with all speed for the mountains before the alarm should be given and
the country roused.

Several of the herdsmen, however, had fled to Guadix, and carried
tidings of the ravage to El Zagal. The beard of old Muley trembled with
rage: he immediately sent out six hundred of his choicest horse and
foot, with orders to recover the booty and to bring those insolent
marauders captive to Guadix.

The Christian cavaliers were urging their cavalgada of cattle and sheep
up a mountain as fast as their own weariness would permit, when, looking
back, they beheld a great cloud of dust, and presently descried the
turbaned host hot upon their traces.

They saw that the Moors were superior in number; they were fresh also,
both man and steed, whereas both they and their horses were fatigued
by two days and two nights of hard marching. Several of the horsemen
therefore gathered round the commanders and proposed that they should
relinquish their spoil and save themselves by flight. The captains,
Francisco de Bazan and Antonio de Cueva, spurned at such craven counsel.
"What?" cried they, "abandon, our prey without striking a blow? Leave
our foot-soldiers too in the lurch, to be overwhelmed by the enemy?
If any one gives such counsel through fear, he mistakes the course of
safety, for there is less danger in presenting a bold front to the foe
than in turning a dastard back, and fewer men are killed in a brave
advance than in a cowardly retreat."

Some of the cavaliers were touched by these words, and declared that
they would stand by the foot-soldiers like true companions-in-arms: the
great mass of the party, however, were volunteers, brought
together by chance, who received no pay nor had any common tie to keep
them together in time of danger. The pleasure of the expedition being
over, each thought but of his own safety, regardless of his companions.
As the enemy approached the tumult of opinions increased and everything
was in confusion. The captains, to put an end to the dispute, ordered
the standard-bearer to advance against the Moors, well knowing that
no true cavalier would hesitate to follow and defend his banner. The
standard-bearer hesitated: the troops were on the point of taking to

Upon this a cavalier of the royal guards rode to the front. It was
Hernan Perez del Pulgar, alcayde of the fortress of Salar, the same
dauntless ambassador who once bore to the turbulent people of Malaga
the king's summons to surrender. Taking off a handkerchief which he wore
round his head after the Andalusian fashion, he tied it to the end of a
lance and elevated it in the air. "Cavaliers," cried he, "why do ye take
weapons in your hands if you depend upon your feet for safety? This
day will determine who is the brave man and who the coward. He who
is disposed to fight shall not want a standard: let him follow this
handkerchief." So saying, he waved his banner and spurred bravely
against the Moors. His example shamed some and filled others with
generous emulation: all turned with one accord, and, following Pulgar,
rushed with shouts upon the enemy. The Moors scarcely waited to receive
the shock of their encounter. Seized with a panic, they took to flight,
and were pursued for a considerable distance with great slaughter. Three
hundred of their dead strewed the road, and were stripped and despoiled
by the conquerors; many were taken prisoners, and the Christian
cavaliers returned in triumph to the camp with a long cavalgada of
sheep and cattle and mules laden with booty, and bearing before them the
singular standard which had conducted them to victory.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Mariana, lib. 25, cap. 15.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios, Pulgar, etc.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios, c. 92.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Conde, tom. 3, cap. 40.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

     * Conde, tom. 3, c. 40.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Cura de los Palacios, cap. 96.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

in opening the channel for distant supplies to Granada.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 provisions.

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 castle.

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

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

     * 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 land."*

     * Conde.

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 protector.

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



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

     * 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 army.*

     * 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

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

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

     * 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 Moslems.

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

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

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

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 capitulate.

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

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

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.*

     * Mariana.

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

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 hands."*

     * 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 misfortunes.*

     * 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

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

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

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

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

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

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 for
Boabdil and his immediate family and friends. Another caracca and two
galliots received a number of faithful adherents, amounting, it is said,
to eleven hundred and thirty, who followed their prince into exile.

A crowd of his former subjects witnessed his embarkation. As the sails
were unfurled and swelled to the breeze, and the vessel bearing Boabdil
parted from the land, the spectators would fain have given him a
farewell cheering; but the humbled state of their once proud sovereign
forced itself upon their minds, and the ominous surname of his youth
rose involuntarily to their tongues: "Farewell, Boabdil! Allah preserve
thee, 'El Zogoybi!'" burst spontaneously from their lips. The unlucky
appellation sank into the heart of the expatriated monarch, and tears
dimmed his eyes as the snowy summits of the mountains of Granada
gradually faded from his view.

He was received with welcome at the court of his relative, Muley Ahmed,
caliph of Fez, the same who had treated El Zagal with such cruelty in
his exile. For thirty-four years he resided in this court, treated with
great consideration, and built a palace or alcazar at Fez, in which,
it is said, he endeavored to emulate the beauties and delights of the

The last we find recorded of him is in the year 1536, when he followed
the caliph to the field to repel the invasion of two brothers of the
famous line of the Xerifes, who at the head of Berber troops had taken
the city of Morocco and threatened Fez. The armies came in sight of each
other on the banks of the Guadal Hawit, or river of slaves, at the ford
of Balcuba. The river was deep, the banks were high and broken, and
the ford could only be passed in single file; for three days the armies
remained firing at each other across the stream, neither venturing to
attempt the dangerous ford. At length the caliph divided his army into
three battalions: the command of the first he gave to his brother-in-law
and to Aliatar, son of the old alcayde of Loxa; another division he
commanded himself; and the third, composed of his best marksmen, he
put under the command of his son, the prince of Fez, and Boabdil, now
a gray-haired veteran. The last mentioned column took the lead, dashed
boldly across the ford, scrambled up the opposite bank, and attempted to
keep the enemy employed until the other battalions should have time to
cross. The rebel army, however, attacked them with such fury that the
son of the king of Fez and several of the bravest alcaydes were slain
upon the spot; multitudes were driven back into the river, which was
already crowded with passing troops. A dreadful confusion took place;
the horse trampled upon the foot; the enemy pressed on them with fearful
slaughter; those who escaped the sword perished by the stream; the river
was choked by the dead bodies of men and horses and by the scattered
baggage of the army. In this scene of horrible carnage fell Boabdil,
truly called El Zogoybi, or the Unlucky--an instance, says the ancient
chronicler, of the scornful caprice of fortune, dying in defence of the
kingdom of another after wanting spirit to die in defence of his own.*

     * Marmol, Descrip. de Africa, p. 1, 1. 2, c. 40; idem, Hist. Reb. de
los Moros, lib. 1, c. 21.

The aspersion of the chronicler is more caustic than correct. Boabdil
never showed a want of courage in the defence of Granada, but he wanted
firmness and decision: he was beset from the first by perplexities, and
ultimately by the artifices of Ferdinand and the treachery of those in
whom he most confided.*

     * In revising this account of the ultimate fortunes of Boabdil the
author has availed himself of facts recently brought out in Alcantara's
History of Granada, which throw strong lights on certain parts of the
subject hitherto covered with obscurity.


Notwithstanding the deadly rivalship of this youthful sultana with Ayxa
la Horra, the virtuous mother of Boabdil, and the disasters to which her
ambitious intrigues gave rise, the placable spirit of Boabdil bore her
no lasting enmity. After the death of his father he treated her with
respect and kindness, and evinced a brotherly feeling toward her sons
Cad and Nazar. In the capitulations for the surrender of Granada he took
care of her interests, and the possessions which he obtained for her
were in his neighborhood in the valleys of the Alpuxarras. Zoraya,
however, under the influence of Queen Isabella, returned to the
Christian faith, the religion of her infancy, and resumed her Spanish
name of Isabella. Her two sons, Cad and Nazar, were baptized under the
names of Don Fernando and Don Juan de Granada, and were permitted to
take the titles of infantas or princes. They intermarried with noble
Spanish families, and the dukes of Granada, resident in Valladolid, are
descendants of Don Juan (once Nazar), and preserve to the present day
the blazon of their royal ancestor, Muley Abul Hassan, and his motto, Le
Galib ile Ala, God alone is conqueror.


An ancient chronicle which has long remained in manuscript, but has
been published of late years in the collection of Spanish historical
documents,* informs us of the subsequent fortunes of the perfidious Aben
Comixa. Discarded and despised by Boabdil for his treachery, he repaired
to the Spanish court, and obtained favor in the eyes of the devout queen
Isabella by embracing the Christian religion, being baptized under her
auspices with the name of Don Juan de Granada. He even carried his zeal
for his newly-adopted creed so far as to become a Franciscan friar.
By degrees his affected piety grew cool and the friar's garb became
irksome. Taking occasion of the sailing of some Venetian galleys from
Almeria, he threw off his religious habit, embarked on board of one of
them, and crossed to Africa, where he landed in the dress of a Spanish

     * Padilla, Cronica de Felipe el Hermosa, cap. 18, y 19, as cited
by Alcantara.

In a private interview with Abderraman, the Moorish king of Bujia, he
related his whole history, and declared that he had always been and
still was at heart a true Mahometan. Such skill had he in inspiring
confidence that the Moorish king took him into favor and appointed him
governor of Algiers. While enjoying his new dignity a Spanish squadron
of four galleys, under the celebrated count Pedro de Navarro, anchored
in the harbor in 1509. Aben Comixa paid the squadron a visit of ceremony
in his capacity of governor, gave the count repeated fetes, and in
secret conversations with him laid open all the affairs of the king of
Bujia, and offered, if the count should return with sufficient force,
to deliver the city into his hands and aid him in conquering the whole
territory. The count hastened back to Spain and made known the proposed
treachery to the Cardinal Ximenes, then prime minister of Spain. In
the following month of January he was sent with thirty vessels and four
thousand soldiers to achieve the enterprise. The expedition of Navarro
was successful. He made himself master of Bujia and seized in triumph on
the royal palace, but he found there the base Aben Comixa weltering in
his blood and expiring under numerous wounds. His treachery had been
discovered, and the vengeance of the king of Bujia had closed his
perfidious career.


The renowned Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques-duke of Cadiz, was
unquestionably the most distinguished among the cavaliers of Spain for
his zeal, enterprise, and heroism in the great crusade of Granada. He
began the war by the capture of Alhama; he was engaged in almost every
inroad and siege of importance during its continuance; and was present
at the surrender of the capital, the closing scene of the conquest. The
renown thus acquired was sealed by his death, which happened in the
forty-eighth year of his age, almost immediately at the close of his
triumphs and before a leaf of his laurels had time to wither. He died at
his palace in the city of Seville on the 27th day of August, 1492, but a
few months after the surrender of Granada, and of an illness caused by
exposures and fatigues undergone in this memorable war. That honest
chronicler, Andres Bernaldez, the curate of Los Palacios, who was a
contemporary of the marques, draws his portrait from actual knowledge
and observation. He was universally cited (says he) as the most perfect
model of chivalrous virtue of the age. He was temperate, chaste, and
rigidly devout, a benignant commander, a valiant defender of his
vassals, a great lover of justice, and an enemy to all flatterers,
liars, robbers, traitors, and poltroons.

His ambition was of a lofty kind: he sought to distinguish himself and
his family by heroic and resounding deeds, and to increase the patrimony
of his ancestors by the acquisition of castles, domains, vassals,
and other princely possessions. His recreations were all of a warlike
nature; he delighted in geometry as applied to fortifications, and spent
much time and treasure in erecting and repairing fortresses. He relished
music, but of a military kind--the sound of clarions and sackbuts, of
drums and trumpets. Like a true cavalier, he was a protector of the sex
on all occasions, and an injured woman never applied to him in vain for
redress. His prowess was so well known, and his courtesy to the fair,
that the ladies of the court, when they accompanied the queen to the
wars, rejoiced to find themselves under his protection; for wherever his
banner was displayed the Moors dreaded to adventure. He was a faithful
and devoted friend, but a formidable enemy; for he was slow to forgive,
and his vengeance was persevering and terrible.

The death of this good and well-beloved cavalier spread grief and
lamentation throughout all ranks. His relations, dependants, and
companions-in-arms put on mourning for his loss, and so numerous were
they that half of Seville was clad in black. None, however, deplored his
death more deeply and sincerely than his friend and chosen companion Don
Alonso de Aguilar.

The funeral ceremonies were of the most solemn and sumptuous kind. The
body of the marques was arrayed in a costly shirt, a doublet of brocade,
a sayo or long robe of black velvet, a marlota or Moorish tunic of
brocade reaching to the feet, and scarlet stockings. His sword, superbly
gilt, was girded to his side, as he used to wear it when in the field.
Thus magnificently attired, the body was enclosed in a coffin which was
covered with black velvet and decorated with a cross of white damask. It
was then placed on a sumptuous bier in the centre of the great hall of
the palace. Here the duchess made great lamentation over the body of her
lord, in which she was joined by her train of damsels and attendants, as
well as by the pages and esquires and innumerable vassals.

In the close of the evening, just before the Ave Maria, the funeral
train issued from the palace. Ten banners were borne around the bier,
the particular trophies of the marques won from the Moors by his valor
in individual enterprises before King Ferdinand had commenced the war
of Granada. The procession was swelled by an immense train of bishops,
priests, and friars of different orders, together with the civil and
military authorities and all the chivalry of Seville, headed by the
count of Cifuentes, at that time intendente or commander of the city. It
moved slowly and solemnly through the streets, stopping occasionally and
chanting litanies and responses. Two hundred and forty waxen tapers
shed a light like the day about the bier. The balconies and windows
were crowded with ladies, who shed tears as the funeral train passed by,
while the women of the lower classes were loud in their lamentations,
as if bewailing the loss of a father or a brother. On approaching the
convent of St. Augustine the monks came forth with the cross and tapers
and eight censers and conducted the body into the church, where it lay
in state until all the vigils were performed by the different orders,
after which it was deposited in the family tomb of the Ponces in the
same church, and the ten banners were suspended over the sepulchre.*

     * Cura de los Palacios, c.104.

The tomb of the valiant Roderigo Ponce de Leon, with his banners
mouldering above it, remained for ages an object of veneration with all
who had read or heard of his virtues and achievements. In the year
1810, however, the chapel was sacked by the French, its altars were
overturned, and the sepulchres of the family of the Ponces shattered to
pieces. The present duchess of Benevente, the worthy descendant of this
illustrious and heroic line, has since piously collected the ashes
of her ancestors, restored the altar, and repaired the chapel. The
sepulchres, however, were utterly destroyed: an inscription in gold
letters on the wall of the chapel to the right of the altar is all that
denotes the place of sepulture of the brave Ponce de Leon.


To such as feel an interest in the fortune of the valiant Don Alonso
de Aguilar, the chosen friend and companion-in-arms of Ponce de Leon,
marques of Cadiz, and one of the most distinguished heroes of the war
of Granada, a few particulars of his remarkable fate will not be

For several years after the conquest of Granada the country remained
feverish and unquiet. The zealous efforts of the Catholic clergy to
effect the conversion of the infidels, and the coercion used for that
purpose by government, exasperated the stubborn Moors of the mountains.
Several missionaries were maltreated, and in the town of Dayrin two of
them were seized and exhorted, with many menaces, to embrace the Moslem
faith; on their resolutely refusing they were killed with staves and
stones by the Moorish women and children, and their bodies burnt to

     * Cura de los Palacios, c. 165.

Upon this event a body of Christian cavaliers assembled in Andalusia to
the number of eight hundred, and, without waiting for orders from the
king, revenged the death of these martyrs by plundering and laying waste
the Moorish towns and villages. The Moors fled to the mountains, and
their cause was espoused by many of their nation who inhabited those
rugged regions. The storm of rebellion began to gather and mutter its
thunders in the Alpuxarras. They were echoed from the Serrania of Ronda,
ever ready for rebellion, but the strongest hold of the insurgents was
in the Sierra (12) Bermeja, or chain of Red Mountains, which lie near
the sea, the savage rocks and precipices of which may be seen from

When King Ferdinand heard of these tumults he issued a proclamation
ordering all the Moors of the insurgent regions to leave them within ten
days and repair to Castile; giving secret instructions, however, that
those who should voluntarily embrace the Christian faith might be
permitted to remain. At the same time he ordered Don Alonso de Aguilar
and the counts of Urena and Cifuentes to march against the rebels.

Don Alonso de Aguilar was at Cordova when he received the commands of
the king. "What force is allotted us for this expedition?" said he.
On being told, he perceived that the number of troops was far from
adequate. "When a man is dead," said he, "we send four men into his
house to bring forth the body. We are now sent to chastise these Moors,
who are alive, vigorous, in open rebellion, and ensconced in their
castles; yet they do not give us man to man." These words of the brave
Alonso de Aguilar were afterward frequently repeated, but, though he saw
the desperate nature of the enterprise, he did not hesitate to undertake

Don Alonso was at that time in the fifty-first year of his age--a
warrior in whom the fire of youth was yet unquenched, though tempered
by experience. The greater part of his life had been spent in camp and
field until danger was as his habitual element. His muscular frame had
acquired the firmness of iron without the rigidity of age. His armor and
weapons seemed to have become a part of his nature, and he sat like a
man of steel on his powerful war-horse.

He took with him on this expedition his son, Don Pedro de Cordova, a
youth of bold and generous spirit, in the freshness of his days, and
armed and arrayed with the bravery of a young Spanish cavalier. When the
populace of Cordova beheld the veteran father, the warrior of a thousand
battles, leading forth his son to the field, they bethought themselves
of the family appellation. "Behold," cried they, "the eagle teaching his
young to fly! Long live the valiant line of Aguilar!"*

     * "Aguilar," the Spanish for eagle.

The prowess of Don Alonso and of his companions-in-arms was renowned
throughout the Moorish towns. At their approach, therefore, numbers
of the Moors submitted, and hastened to Ronda to embrace Christianity.
Among the mountaineers, however, were many of the Gandules, a tribe from
Africa, too proud of spirit to bend their necks to the yoke. At their
head was a Moor named El Feri of Ben Estepar, renowned for strength
and courage. At his instigation his followers gathered together their
families and most precious effects, placed them on mules, and, driving
before them their flocks and herds, abandoned their valleys and retired
up the craggy passes of the Sierra (13) Bermeja. On the summit was a
fertile plain surrounded by rocks and precipices, which formed a natural
fortress. Here El Feri placed all the women and children and all the
property. By his orders his followers piled great stones on the rocks
and cliffs which commanded the defiles and the steep sides of the
mountain, and prepared to defend every pass that led to his place of

The Christian commanders arrived, and pitched their camp before the town
of Monarda, a strong place, curiously fortified, and situated at the
foot of the highest part of the Sierra  (14) Bermeja. Here they remained
for several days, unable to compel a surrender. They were separated from
the skirt of the mountain by a deep barranca, or ravine, at the bottom
of which flowed a small stream. The Moors commanded by El Feri drew down
from their mountain-height, and remained on the opposite side of the
brook to defend a pass which led up to their stronghold.

One afternoon a number of Christian soldiers in mere bravado seized
a banner, crossed the brook, and, scrambling up the opposite bank,
attacked the Moors. They were followed by numbers of their companions,
some in aid, some in emulation, but most in hope of booty. A sharp
action ensued on the mountain-side. The Moors were greatly superior
in number, and had the vantage-ground. When the counts of Urena and
Cifuentes beheld the skirmish, they asked Don Alonso de Aguilar his
opinion. "My opinion," said he, "was given at Cordova, and remains the
same: this is a desperate enterprise. However, the Moors are at hand,
and if they suspect weakness in us it will increase their courage and
our peril. Forward then to the attack, and I trust in God we shall gain
a victory." So saying, he led his troops into the battle.*

     * Bleda, 1. 5, c. 26.

On the skirts of the mountain were several level places, like terraces;
here the Christians pressed valiantly upon the Moors, and had the
advantage; but the latter retreated to the steep and craggy heights,
whence they hurled darts and rocks upon their assailants. They defended
their passes and defiles with valor, but were driven from height to
height until they reached the plain on the summit of the mountain where
their wives and children were sheltered. Here they would have made a
stand, but Alonso de Aguilar, with his son Don Pedro, charged upon
them at the head of three hundred men and put them to flight with great
carnage. While they were pursuing the flying enemy the rest of the army,
thinking the victory achieved, dispersed themselves over the little
plain in search of plunder. They pursued the shrieking females, tearing
off their necklaces, bracelets, and anklets of gold, and they found so
much treasure of various kinds collected in this spot that they threw by
their armor and weapons to load themselves with booty.

Evening was closing. The Christians, intent upon spoil, had ceased to
pursue the Moors, and the latter were arrested in their flight by the
cries of their wives and children. Their leader, El Feri, threw himself
before them. "Friends, soldiers," cried he, "whither do you fly? Whither
can you seek refuge where the enemy cannot follow you? Your wives, your
children, are behind you--turn and defend them; you have no chance for
safety but from the weapons in your hands."

The Moors turned at his words. They beheld the Christians scattered
about the plain, many of them without armor, and all encumbered with
spoil. "Now is the time!" shouted El Feri: "charge upon them while laden
with your plunder. I will open a path for you." He rushed to the attack,
followed by his Moors, with shouts and cries that echoed through
the mountains. The scattered Christians were seized with panic, and,
throwing down their booty, began to fly in all directions. Don Alonso
de Aguilar advanced his banner and endeavored to rally them. Finding his
horse of no avail in these rocky heights, he dismounted, and caused his
men to do the same: he had a small band of tried followers, with which
he opposed a bold front to the Moors, calling on the scattered troops to
rally in the rear.

Night had completely closed. It prevented the Moors from seeing the
smallness of the force with which they were contending, and Don Alonso
and his cavaliers dealt their blows so vigorously that, aided by
the darkness, they seemed multiplied to ten times their number.
Unfortunately, a small cask of gunpowder blew up near to the scene of
action. It shed a momentary but brilliant light over all the plain and
on every rock and cliff. The Moors beheld, with surprise, that they
were opposed by a mere handful of men, and that the greater part of
the Christians were flying from the field. They put up loud shouts of
triumph. While some continued the conflict with redoubled ardor,
others pursued the fugitives, hurling after them stones and darts and
discharging showers of arrows. Many of the Christians in their terror
and their ignorance of the mountains, rushed headlong from the brinks of
precipices and were dashed in pieces.

Don Alonso still maintained his ground, but, while some of the Moors
assailed him in front, others galled him with all kinds of missiles from
the impending cliffs. Some of the cavaliers, seeing the hopeless nature
of the conflict, proposed to abandon the height and retreat down the
mountain. "No," said Don Alonso proudly; "never did the banner of
the house of Aguilar retreat one foot in the field of battle." He had
scarcely uttered these words when his son Pedro was stretched at his
feet. A stone hurled from a cliff had struck out two of his teeth, and
a lance passed quivering through his thigh. The youth attempted to rise,
and, with one knee on the ground, to fight by the side of his father.
Don Alonso, finding him wounded, urged him to quit the field. "Fly, my
son," said he; "let us not put everything at venture upon one hazard.
Conduct thyself as a good Christian, and live to comfort and honor thy

Don Pedro still refused to leave his side. Whereupon Don Alonso ordered
several of his followers to bear him off by force. His friend Don
Francisco Alvarez of Cordova, taking him in his arms, conveyed him to
the quarters of the count of Urena, who had halted on the height at
some distance from the scene of battle for the purpose of rallying and
succoring the fugitives. Almost at the same moment the count beheld his
own son, Don Pedro Giron, brought in grievously wounded.

In the mean time, Don Alonso, with two hundred cavaliers, maintained the
unequal contest. Surrounded by foes, they fell, one after another,
like so many stags encircled by the hunters. Don Alonso was the last
survivor, without horse and almost without armor, his corselet unlaced
and his bosom gashed with wounds. Still, he kept a brave front to the
enemy, and, retiring between two rocks, defended himself with such valor
that the slain lay in a heap before him.

He was assailed in this retreat by a Moor of surpassing strength and
fierceness. The contest was for some time doubtful, but Don Alonso
received a wound in the head, and another in the breast, which made
him stagger. Closing and grappling with his foe, they had a desperate
struggle, until the Christian cavalier, exhausted by his wounds, fell
upon his back. He still retained his grasp upon his enemy. "Think not,"
cried he, "thou hast an easy prize; know that I am Don Alonso, he of
Aguilar!"--"If thou art Don Alonso," replied the Moor, "know that I am
El Feri of Ben Estepar." They continued their deadly struggle, and
both drew their daggers, but Don Alonso was exhausted by seven ghastly
wounds: while he was yet struggling his heroic soul departed from his
body, and he expired in the grasp of the Moor.

Thus fell Alonso de Aguilar, the mirror of Andalusian chivalry--one
of the most powerful grandees of Spain for person, blood, estate, and
office. For forty years he had made successful war upon the Moors--in
childhood by his household and retainers, in manhood by the prowess of
his arm and in the wisdom and valor of his spirit. His pennon had always
been foremost in danger; he had been general of armies, viceroy of
Andalusia, and the author of glorious enterprises in which kings were
vanquished and mighty alcaydes and warriors laid low. He had slain many
Moslem chiefs with his own arm, and among others the renowned Ali Atar
of Loxa, fighting foot to foot, on the banks of the Xenil. His judgment,
discretion, magnanimity, and justice vied with his prowess. He was the
fifth lord of his warlike house that fell in battle with the Moors.

"His soul," observes the worthy Padre Abarca, "it is believed, ascended
to heaven to receive the reward of so Christian a captain; for that
very day he had armed himself with the sacraments of confession and

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

The Moors, elated with their success, pursued the fugitive Christians
down the defiles and sides of the mountains. It was with the utmost
difficulty that the count de Urena could bring off a remnant of his
forces from that disastrous height. Fortunately, on the lower slope of
the mountain they found the rear-guard of the army, led by the count
de Cifuentes, who had crossed the brook and the ravine to come to their
assistance. As the fugitives came flying in headlong terror down the
mountain it was with difficulty the count kept his own troops from
giving way in panic and retreating in confusion across the brook. He
succeeded, however, in maintaining order, in rallying the fugitives,
and checking the fury of the Moors; then, taking his station on a rocky
eminence, he maintained his post until morning, sometimes sustaining
violent attacks, at other times rushing forth and making assaults upon
the enemy. When morning dawned the Moors ceased to combat, and drew up
to the summit of the mountain.

It was then that the Christians had time to breathe and to ascertain the
sad loss they had sustained. Among the many valiant cavaliers who had
fallen was Don Francisco Ramirez of Madrid, who had been captain-general
of artillery throughout the war of Granada, and contributed greatly by
his valor and ingenuity to that renowned conquest. But all other griefs
and cares were forgotten in anxiety for the fate of Don Alonso de
Aguilar. His son, Don Pedro de Cordova, had been brought off with great
difficulty from the battle, and afterward lived to be marques of Priego;
but of Don Alonso nothing was known, except that he was left with a
handful of cavaliers fighting valiantly against an overwhelming force.

As the rising sun lighted up the red cliffs of the mountains the
soldiers watched with anxious eyes if perchance his pennon might be
descried fluttering from any precipice or defile, but nothing of the
kind was to be seen. The trumpet-call was repeatedly sounded, but empty
echoes alone replied. A silence reigned about the mountain-summit which
showed that the deadly strife was over. Now and then a wounded warrior
came dragging his feeble steps from among the cliffs and rocks, but on
being questioned he shook his head mournfully and could tell nothing of
the fate of his commander.

The tidings of this disastrous defeat and of the perilous situation of
the survivors reached King Ferdinand at Granada: he immediately marched
at the head of all the chivalry of his court to the mountains of Ronda.
His presence with a powerful force soon put an end to the rebellion.
A part of the Moors were suffered to ransom themselves and embark for
Africa; others were made to embrace Christianity; and those of the town
where the Christian missionaries had been massacred were sold as slaves.
From the conquered Moors the mournful but heroic end of Alonso de
Aguilar was ascertained.

On the morning after the battle, when the Moors came to strip and bury
the dead, the body of Don Alonso was found among those of more than
two hundred of his followers, many of them alcaydes and cavaliers of
distinction. Though the person of Don Alonso was well known to the
Moors, being so distinguished among them both in peace and war, yet it
was so covered and disfigured with wounds that it could with difficulty
be recognized. They preserved it with great care, and on making their
submission delivered it up to King Ferdinand. It was conveyed with great
state to Cordova, amidst the tears and lamentations of all Andalusia.
When the funeral train entered Cordova, and the inhabitants saw the
coffin containing the remains of their favorite hero, and the war-horse
led in mournful trappings on which they had so lately seen him sally
forth from their gates, there was a general burst of grief throughout
the city. The body was interred with great pomp and solemnity in the
church of St. Hypolito.

Many years afterward his granddaughter, Dona Catalina of Aguilar and
Cordova, marchioness of Priego, caused his tomb to be altered. On
examining the body the head of a lance was found among the bones,
received without doubt among the wounds of his last mortal combat. The
name of this accomplished and Christian cavalier has ever remained a
popular theme of the chronicler and poet, and is endeared to the public
memory by many of the historical ballads and songs of his country. For
a long time the people of Cordova were indignant at the brave count de
Urena, who they thought had abandoned Don Alonso in his extremity;
but the Castilian monarch acquitted him of all charge of the kind and
continued him in honor and office. It was proved that neither he nor
his people could succor Don Alonso, or even know his peril, from the
darkness of the night. There is a mournful little Spanish ballad or
romance which breathes the public grief on this occasion, and the
populace on the return of the count de Urena to Cordova assailed him
with one of its plaintive and reproachful verses:

     Count Urena! Count Urena!
     Tell us, where is Don Alonso!

     (Dezid conde Urena!
     Don Alonso, donde queda?)

     * Bleda, 1. 5, c. 26.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, from the mss. of Fray Antonio Agapida" ***

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