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Title: Spanish Papers
Author: Irving, Washington
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: The Court of Dolls. Alcazar. Seville.]







Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by


In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the Southern
District of New York.



A limited edition of the “Legends of the Conquest of Spain,” with
which this volume commences, was published in 1835. These Legends,
consisting of the “Legend of Don Roderick,” the “Legend of the
Subjugation of Spain,” the “Legend of Count Julian and his Family,”
formed No. III. of the “Crayon Miscellany.” For the Chronicles
which follow them, with the exception of “Abderahman” and “Spanish
Romance,” which have appeared in the “Knickerbocker Magazine,” I have
drawn upon the unpublished manuscripts of Mr. Irving, bequeathed
to me by his will. This portion of the volume is illustrative of
the wars between the Spaniards and the Moors, and consists of the
“Legend of Pelayo,” the “Chronicle of Count Fernan Gonzalez,” the
most illustrious hero of his epoch, who united the kingdoms of Leon
and Castile; and the “Chronicle of Fernando the Saint,” that renowned
champion of the faith, under whom the greater part of Spain was
rescued from the Moors. I have selected these themes from a mass
of unpublished manuscript that came into my hands at the death of
Mr. Irving, because they bore the impress of being most nearly,
though not fully, prepared for the press, and because they had for
him a special fascination, arising in part, perhaps, from his long
residence in that romantic country. “These old Morisco-Spanish
subjects”—is the language of one of his published letters—“have a
charm that makes me content to write about them at half price. They
have so much that is high-minded, and chivalrous, and quaint, and
picturesque, and at times half comic, about them.”






Of the Ancient Inhabitants of Spain.—Of the Misrule of Witiza the
Wicked.      1


The Rise of Don Roderick.—His Government.      8


Of the Loves of Roderick and the Princess Elyata.       13


Of Count Julian.      19


The Story of Florinda.      22


Don Roderick receives an Extraordinary Embassy.      31


Story of the Marvelous and Portentous Tower.      35


Count Julian.—His Fortunes in Africa.—He hears of the Dishonor of his
Child.—His Conduct thereupon.      45


Secret Visit of Count Julian to the Arab Camp.—First Expedition of
Taric el Tuerto.      53


Letter of Muza to the Caliph.—Second Expedition of Taric el
Tuerto.      58


Measures of Don Roderick on Hearing of the Invasion.—Expedition of
Ataulpho.—Vision of Taric.      64


Battle of Calpe.—Fate of Ataulpho.      69


Terror of the Country.—Roderick rouses himself to Arms.     76


March of the Gothic Army.—Encampment on the Banks of the
Guadalete.—Mysterious Predictions of a Palmer.—Conduct of Pelistes
thereupon.      82


Skirmishing of the Armies.—Pelistes and his Son.—Pelistes and the
Bishop.      88


Traitorous Message of Count Julian.      93


Last Day of the Battle.      97


The Field of Battle after the Defeat.—The Fate of Roderick.      103


The Tomb of Roderick.      108

The Cave of Hercules.      109



Consternation of Spain.—Conduct of the Conquerors.—Missives between
Taric and Muza.      119


Capture of Granada.—Subjugation of the Alpuxarra Mountains.      125


Expedition of Magued against Cordova.—Defense of the Patriot
Pelistes.      132


Defense of the Convent of St. George by Pelistes.      136


Meeting between the Patriot Pelistes and the Traitor Julian.      142


How Taric el Tuerto captured the City of Toledo through the Aid
of the Jews, and how he found the famous Talismanic Table of
Solomon.      146


Muza ben Nosier.—His Entrance into Spain and Capture of
Carmona.      153


Muza marches against the City of Seville.      158


Muza besieges the City of Merida.      160


Expedition of Abdalasis against Seville and the “Land of
Tadmir.”      168


Muza arrives at Toledo.—Interview between him and Taric.      177


Muza prosecutes the Scheme of Conquest.—Siege of
Saragossa.—Complete Subjugation of Spain.      182


Feud between the Arab Generals.—They are summoned to appear before
the Caliph at Damascus.—Reception of Taric.      187


Muza arrives at Damascus.—His Interview with the Caliph.—The Table of
Solomon.—A rigorous Sentence.      193


Conduct of Abdalasis as Emir of Spain.      198


Loves of Abdalasis and Exilona.      203


Fate of Abdalasis and Exilona.—Death of Muza.      208


Legend of Count Julian and his Family.      217

Note to the preceding Legend.      232



Obscurity of the Ancient Chronicles.—The Loves of Doña Lucia and the
Duke Favila.—Birth of Pelayo, and what happened thereupon; His Early
Fortunes, and his Tutelage under the veteran Count Grafeses.      237


What happened to Pelayo at the Court of Witiza.      246


How Pelayo lived among the Mountains of Cantabria.—His Adventure
with the Needy Hidalgo of Gascony and the Rich Merchant of
Bordeaux.—Discourse of the Holy Hermit.      249


Pilgrimage of Pelayo, and what befell him on his Return to
Spain.      261


The Battle of Covadonga.      268


Pelayo becomes King of Leon.—His Death.      274



Of the Youthful Fortunes of Abderahman.      279


Landing of Abderahman in Spain.—Condition of the Country.      289


Triumphs of Abderahman.—The Palm-tree which he planted, and
the Verses he composed thereupon.—Insurrections.—His Enemies
subdued.—Undisputed Sovereign of the Moslems of Spain.—Begins the
famous Mosque in Cordova.—His Death.      293


Introduction.      313


Installation of Fernan Gonzalez as Count of Castile.—His First
Campaign against the Moors.—Victory of San Quirce.—How the Count
disposed of the Spoils.      316


Of the Sally from Burgos, and Surprise of the Castle of
Lara.—Capitulation of the Town.—Visit to Alfonso the Great, King of
Leon.      321


Expedition against the Fortress of Muñon.—Desperate Defense of the
Moors.—Enterprise against Castro Xeriz.      326


How the Count of Castile and the King of Leon make a Triumphant Foray
into the Moorish Country.—Capture of Salamanca.—Of the Challenge
brought by the Herald, and of the Count’s Defiance.      329


A Night Assault upon the Castle of Carazo.—The Moorish Maiden who
betrayed the Garrison.      331


Death of Alfonso, King of Leon.—The Moors determined to strike a
fresh Blow at the Count, who summons all Castile to his Standard.—Of
his Hunt in the Forest while waiting for the Enemy, and of the Hermit
that he met with.      335


The Battle of the Ford of Cascajares.      340


Of the Message sent by the Count to Sancho II., King of Navarre, and
the Reply.—Their Encounter in Battle.      343


How the Count of Toulouse makes a Campaign against Castile, and how
he returns in his Coffin.      347


How the Count went to receive the Hand of a Princess, and was thrown
into a Dungeon.—Of the Stranger that visited him in his Chains, and
of the Appeal that he made to the Princess for his
Deliverance.      351


Of the Meditations of the Princess, and their Result.—Her Flight from
the Prison with the Count, and Perils of the Escape.—The
Nuptials.      355


King Garcia confined in Burgos by the Count.—The Princess intercedes
for his Release.      361


Of the Expedition against the ancient City of Sylo.—The unwitting
Trespass of the Count into a Convent, and his Compunction
thereupon.      363


Of the Moorish Host that came up from Cordova, and how the Count
repaired to the Hermitage of San Pedro, and prayed for Success
against them, and received Assurance of Victory in a Vision.—Battle
of Hazinas.      366


The Count imprisoned by the King of Leon.—The Countess concerts his
Escape.—Leon and Castile united by the Marriage of the Prince Ordoño
with Urraca, the Daughter of the Count by his first Wife.      373


Moorish Incursion into Castile.—Battle of San Estevan.—Of Pascual
Vivas and the Miracle that befell him.—Death of Ordoño III.      378


King Sancho the Fat.—Of the Homage he exacted from Count Fernan
Gonzalez, and of the strange Bargain that he made with him for the
Purchase of his Horse and Falcon.      385


Further of the Horse and Falcon.      389


The Last Campaign of Count Fernan.—His Death.      393



The Parentage of Fernando.—Queen Berenguela.—The Laras.—Don Alvar
conceals the Death of King Henry.—Mission of Queen Berenguela to
Alfonso IX.—She renounces the Crown of Castile in favor of her son
Fernando.      401


King Alfonso of Leon ravages Castile.—Captivity of Don Alvar.—Death
of the Laras.      408


Marriage of King Fernando.—Campaign against the Moors.—Aben Mohamed,
King of Baeza, declares himself the Vassal of King Fernando.—They
march to Jaen.—Burning of the Tower.—Fernando commences the Building
of the Cathedral at Toledo.      415


Assassination of Aben Mohamed.—His Head carried as a Present to
Abullale, the Moorish King of Seville.—Advance of the Christians into
Andalusia.—Abullale purchases a Truce.      420


Aben Hud.—Abullale purchases another Year’s Truce.—Fernando hears of
the Death of his Father, the King of Leon, while pressing the Siege
of Jaen.—He becomes Sovereign of the two Kingdoms of Leon and
Castile.      423


Expedition of the Prince Alonzo against the Moors.—Encamps on the
Banks of the Guadalete.—Aben Hud marches out from Xerez and gives
Battle.—Prowess of Garcia Perez de Vargas.—Fight and Pursuit of the
Moors.—Miracle of the Blessed Santiago.      427


A bold Attempt upon Cordova, the Seat of Moorish Power.      435


A Spy in the Christian Camp.—Death of Aben Hud.—A vital Blow to
Moslem Power.—Surrender of Cordova to King Fernando.      439


Marriage of King Fernando to the Princess Juana.—Famine at
Cordova.—Don Alvar Perez.      446


Aben Alhamar, Founder of the Alhambra.—Fortifies Granada and makes
it his Capital.—Attempts to Surprise the Castle of Martos.—Peril
of the Fortress.—A Woman’s Stratagem to save it.—Diego Perez, the
Smasher.—Death of Count Alvar Perez de Castro.      450


Aben Hudiel, the Moorish King of Murcia, becomes the Vassal of
King Fernando.—Aben Alhamar seeks to drive the Christians out of
Andalusia.—Fernando takes the Field against him.—Ravages of the
King.—His last Meeting with the Queen-Mother.      456


King Fernando’s Expedition to Andalusia.—Siege of Jaen.—Secret
Departure of Aben Alhamar for the Christian Camp.—He acknowledges
himself the Vassal of the King, who enters Jaen in Triumph.      465


Axataf, King of Seville, exasperated at the Submission of the King of
Granada, rejects the Propositions of King Fernando for a Truce.—The
latter is encouraged by a Vision to undertake the Conquest of the
City of Seville.—Death of Queen Berenguela.—A Diplomatic
Marriage.      470


Investment of Seville.—All Spain aroused to Arms.—Surrender of
Alcala del Rio.—The Fleet of Admiral Ramon Bonifaz advances up the
Guadalquivir.—Don Pelayo Correa, Master of Santiago.—His Valorous
Deeds and the Miracles wrought in his Behalf.      475


King Fernando changes his Camp.—Garci Perez and the seven
Moors.      482


Of the Raft built by the Moors, and how it was boarded by Admiral
Bonifaz.—Destruction of the Moorish Fleet.—Succor from
Africa.      488


Of the Stout Prior Ferran Ruyz, and how he rescued his Cattle from
the Moors.—Further Enterprises of the Prior, and of the Ambuscade
into which he Fell.      492


Bravado of the Three Cavaliers.—Ambush at the Bridge over the
Guadayra.—Desperate Valor of Garci Perez.—Grand Attempt of Admiral
Bonifaz on the Bridge of Boats.—Seville dismembered from Triana.      496


Investment of Triana.—Garci Perez and the Infanzon.      504


Capitulation of Seville.—Dispersion of the Moorish
Inhabitants.—Triumphant Entry of King Fernando.      508


Death of King Fernando.      514


Spanish Romance.      519

Legend of Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa.      523



Few events in history have been so original and striking in their
main circumstances, and so overwhelming and enduring in their
consequences, as that of the conquest of Spain by the Saracens; yet
there are few where the motives, and characters, and actions of the
agents have been enveloped in more doubts and contradiction. As in
the memorable story of the “Fall of Troy,” we have to make out, as
well as we can, the veritable details through the mists of poetic
fiction; yet poetry has so combined itself with, and lent its magic
coloring to every fact, that to strip it away would be to reduce
the story to a meagre skeleton and rob it of all its charms. The
storm of Moslem invasion that swept so suddenly over the peninsula,
silenced for a time the faint voice of the Muse, and drove the sons
of learning from their cells. The pen was thrown aside to grasp and
sword and spear, and men were too much taken up with battling against
the evils which beset them on every side, to find time or inclination
to record them.

When the nation had recovered in some degree from the effects
of this astounding blow, or rather had become accustomed to the
tremendous reverse which it produced, and sage men sought to inquire
and write the particulars, it was too late to ascertain them in their
exact verity. The gloom and melancholy that had overshadowed the
land had given birth to a thousand superstitious fancies; the woes
and terrors of the past were clothed with supernatural miracles and
portents, and the actors in the fearful drama had already assumed
the dubious characteristics of romance. Or if a writer from among
the conquerors undertook to touch upon the theme, it was embellished
with all the wild extravagances of an oriental imagination, which
afterwards stole into the graver works of the monkish historians.

Hence, the earliest chronicles which treat of the downfall of Spain,
are apt to be tinctured with those saintly miracles which savor of
the pious labors of the cloister, or those fanciful fictions that
betray their Arabian authors. Yet from these apocryphal sources the
most legitimate and accredited Spanish histories have taken their
rise, as pure rivers may be traced up to the fens and mantled pools
of a morass. It is true, the authors, with cautious discrimination,
have discarded those particulars too startling for belief, and have
culled only such as, from their probability and congruity, might be
safely recorded as historical facts; yet, scarce one of these but has
been connected in the original with some romantic fiction, and, even
in its divorced state, bears traces of its former alliance.

To discard, however, everything wild and marvelous in this portion
of Spanish history, is to discard some of its most beautiful,
instructive, and national features; it is to judge of Spain by the
standard of probability suited to tamer and more prosaic countries.
Spain is virtually a land of poetry and romance, where every-day life
partakes of adventure, and where the least agitation or excitement
carries everything up into extravagant enterprize and daring exploit.
The Spaniards, in all ages, have been of swelling and braggart
spirit, soaring in thought, pompous in word, and valiant, though
vainglorious, in deed. Their heroic aims have transcended the cooler
conceptions of their neighbors, and their reckless daring has borne
them on to achievements which prudent enterprise could never have
accomplished. Since the time, too, of the conquest and occupation
of their country by the Arabs, a strong infusion of oriental
magnificence has entered into the national character, and rendered
the Spaniard distinct from every other nation of Europe.

In the following pages, therefore, the author has ventured to dip
more deeply into the enchanted fountains of old Spanish chronicle
than has usually been done by those who, in modern times, have
treated of the eventful period of the Conquest; but in so doing, he
trusts he will illustrate more fully the character of the people and
the times. He has thought proper to throw these records into the form
of legends, not claiming for them the authenticity of sober history,
yet giving nothing that has not historical foundation. All the facts
herein contained, however extravagant some of them may be deemed,
will be found in the works of sage and reverend chroniclers of yore,
growing side by side with long-acknowledged truths, and might be
supported by learned and imposing references in the margin.






  [1] Many of the facts in this legend are taken from an old
  chronicle, written in quaint and antiquated Spanish, and
  professing to be a translation from the Arabian chronicle of
  the Moor Rasis, by Mohammed, a Moslem writer, and Gil Perez, a
  Spanish priest. It is supposed to be a piece of literary mosaic
  work, made up from both Spanish and Arabian chronicles; yet,
  from this work most of the Spanish historians have drawn their
  particulars relative to the fortunes of Don Roderick.


Of the Ancient Inhabitants of Spain.—Of the Misrule of Witiza the

Spain, or Iberia as it was called in ancient days, has been a
country harassed from the earliest times by the invader. The
Celts, the Greeks, the Phœnicians, the Carthaginians, by turns or
simultaneously, infringed its territories, drove the native Iberians
from their rightful homes, and established colonies and founded
cities in the land. It subsequently fell into the all-grasping power
of Rome, remaining for some time a subjugated province; and when
that gigantic empire crumbled into pieces, the Suevi, the Alani, and
the Vandals, those barbarians of the North, overran and ravaged this
devoted country, and portioned out the soil among them.

Their sway was not of long duration. In the fifth century the
Goths, who were then the allies of Rome, undertook the reconquest
of Iberia, and succeeded, after a desperate struggle of three
years’ duration. They drove before them the barbarous hordes, their
predecessors, intermarried and incorporated themselves with the
original inhabitants, and founded a powerful and splendid empire,
comprising the Iberian peninsula, the ancient Narbonnaise, afterwards
called Gallia Gothica, or Gothic Gaul, and a part of the African
coast called Tingitania. A new nation was, in a manner, produced
by this mixture of the Goths and Iberians. Sprang from a union of
warrior races, reared and nurtured amidst the din of arms, the Gothic
Spaniards, if they may so be termed, were a warlike, unquiet, yet
high-minded and heroic people. Their simple and abstemious habits,
their contempt for toil and suffering, and their love of daring
enterprise, fitted them for a soldier’s life. So addicted were they
to war that, when they had no external foes to contend with, they
fought with one another; and, when engaged in battle, says an old
chronicler, the very thunders and lightnings of heaven could not
separate them.[2]

  [2] Florain, _de Ocampo_, lib. 3, c. 12. Justin, _Abrev. Trog
  Pomp._, lib. 44. Bleda, _Cronica_, lib. 2, c. 3.

For two centuries and a half the Gothic power remained unshaken, and
the sceptre was wielded by twenty-five successive kings. The crown
was elective, in a council of palatines, composed of the bishops and
nobles, who, while they swore allegiance to the newly made sovereign,
bound him by a reciprocal oath to be faithful to his trust. Their
choice was made from among the people, subject only to one condition,
that the king should be of pure Gothic blood. But though the crown
was elective in principle, it gradually became hereditary from usage,
and the power of the sovereign grew to be almost absolute. The king
was commander-in-chief of the armies; the whole patronage of the
kingdom was in his hands; he summoned and dissolved the national
councils; he made and revoked laws according to his pleasure; and,
having ecclesiastical supremacy, he exercised a sway even over the
consciences of his subjects.

The Goths, at the time of their inroad, were stout adherents of
the Arian doctrines; but after a time they embraced the Catholic
faith, which was maintained by the native Spaniards free from many
of the gross superstitions of the Church at Rome, and this unity of
faith contributed more than anything else to blend and harmonize
the two races into one. The bishops and other clergy were exemplary
in their lives, and aided to promote the influence of the laws and
maintain the authority of the state. The fruits of regular and secure
government were manifest in the advancement of agriculture, commerce,
and the peaceful arts; and in the increase of wealth, of luxury,
and refinement; but there was a gradual decline of the simple,
hardy, and warlike habits that had distinguished the nation in its
semi-barbarous days.

Such was the state of Spain when, in the year of Redemption 701,
Witiza was elected to the Gothic throne. The beginning of his reign
gave promise of happy days to Spain. He redressed grievances,
moderated the tributes of his subjects, and conducted himself with
mingled mildness and energy in the administration of the laws. In a
little while, however, he threw off the mask, and showed himself in
his true nature—cruel and luxurious.

Two of his relatives, sons of a preceding king, awakened his jealousy
for the security of his throne. One of them, named Favila, Duke of
Cantabria, he put to death, and would have inflicted the same fate
upon his son Pelayo, but that the youth was beyond his reach, being
preserved by Providence for the future salvation of Spain. The other
object of his suspicion was Theodofredo, who lived retired from
court. The violence of Witiza reached him even in his retirement. His
eyes were put out, and he was immured within a castle at Cordova.
Roderick, the youthful son of Theodofredo, escaped to Italy, where he
received protection from the Romans.

Witiza, now considering himself secure upon the throne, gave the
reins to his licentious passions, and soon, by his tyranny and
sensuality, acquired the appellation of Witiza the Wicked. Despising
the old Gothic continence, and yielding to the example of the sect
of Mahomet, which suited his lascivious temperament, he indulged in
a plurality of wives and concubines, encouraging his subjects to do
the same. Nay, he even sought to gain the sanction of the Church to
his excesses, promulgating a law by which the clergy were released
from their vows of celibacy, and permitted to marry and to entertain

The sovereign Pontiff Constantine threatened to depose and
excommunicate him, unless he abrogated this licentious law; but
Witiza set him at defiance, threatening, like his Gothic predecessor
Alaric, to assail the eternal city with his troops, and make spoil of
her accumulated treasures.[3] “We will adorn our damsels,” said he,
“with the jewels of Rome, and replenish our coffers from the mint of
St. Peter.”

  [3] _Chron. de Luitprando_, 709. Abarca, _Anales de Aragon_ (el
  Mahometismo, fol. 5).

Some of the clergy opposed themselves to the innovating spirit of
the monarch, and endeavored from the pulpits to rally the people to
the pure doctrines of their faith; but they were deposed from their
sacred office, and banished as seditious mischief-makers. The church
of Toledo continued refractory; the Archbishop Sindaredo, it is true,
was disposed to accommodate himself to the corruptions of the times,
but the prebendaries battled intrepidly against the new laws of the
monarch, and stood manfully in defense of their vows of chastity.
“Since the church of Toledo will not yield itself to our will,” said
Witiza, “it shall have two husbands.” So saying, he appointed his own
brother Oppas, at that time archbishop of Seville, to take a seat
with Sindaredo in the episcopal chair of Toledo, and made him primate
of Spain. He was a priest after his own heart, and seconded him in
all his profligate abuses.

It was in vain the denunciations of the Church were fulminated from
the chair of St. Peter. Witiza threw off all allegiance to the Roman
Pontiff, threatening with pain of death those who should obey the
papal mandates. “We will suffer no foreign ecclesiastic, with triple
crown,” said he, “to domineer over our dominions.”

The Jews had been banished from the country during the preceding
reign, but Witiza permitted them to return, and even bestowed upon
their synagogues privileges of which he had despoiled the churches.
The children of Israel, when scattered throughout the earth by
the fall of Jerusalem, had carried with them into other lands the
gainful arcana of traffic, and were especially noted as opulent
money-changers, and curious dealers in gold and silver and precious
stones; on this occasion, therefore, they were enabled, it is said,
to repay the monarch for his protection by bags of money, and caskets
of sparkling gems, the rich product of their oriental commerce.

The kingdom at this time enjoyed external peace, but there were
symptoms of internal discontent. Witiza took the alarm; he remembered
the ancient turbulence of the nation and its proneness to internal
feuds. Issuing secret orders, therefore, in all directions, he
dismantled most of the cities, and demolished the castles and
fortresses that might serve as rallying points for the factious. He
disarmed the people also, and converted the weapons of war into the
implements of peace. It seemed, in fact, as if the millennium were
dawning upon the land; for the sword was beaten into a ploughshare,
and the spear into a pruning-hook.

While thus the ancient martial fire of the nation was extinguished,
its morals likewise were corrupted. The altars were abandoned, the
churches closed, wide disorder and sensuality prevailed throughout
the land, so that, according to the old chroniclers, within the
compass of a few short years, “Witiza the Wicked taught all Spain to




The Rise of Don Roderick.—His Government.

Woe to the ruler who founds his hope of sway on the weakness or
corruption of the people. The very measures taken by Witiza to
perpetuate his power ensured his downfall. While the whole nation,
under his licentious rule, was sinking into vice and effeminacy,
and the arm of war was unstrung, the youthful Roderick, son of
Theodofredo, was training up for action in the stern but wholesome
school of adversity. He instructed himself in the use of arms; became
adroit and vigorous by varied exercises: learned to despise all
danger, and inured himself to hunger and watchfulness and the rigor
of the seasons.

His merits and misfortunes procured him many friends among the
Romans; and when, being arrived at a fitting age, he undertook to
revenge the wrongs of his father and his kindred, a host of brave and
hardy soldiers flocked to his standard. With these he made his sudden
appearance in Spain. The friends of his house and the disaffected of
all classes hastened to join him, and he advanced rapidly and without
opposition, through an unarmed and enervated land.

Witiza saw too late the evil he had brought upon himself. He made
a hasty levy, and took the field with a scantily equipped and
undisciplined host, but was easily routed and made prisoner, and the
whole kingdom submitted to Don Roderick.

The ancient city of Toledo, the royal residence of the Gothic
kings, was the scene of high festivity and solemn ceremonial on
the coronation of the victor. Whether he was elected to the throne
according to the Gothic usage, or seized it by the right of conquest,
is a matter of dispute among historians, but all agree that the
nation submitted cheerfully to his sway, and looked forward to
prosperity and happiness under their newly elevated monarch. His
appearance and character seemed to justify the anticipation. He was
in the splendor of youth, and of a majestic presence. His soul was
bold and daring, and elevated by lofty desires. He had a sagacity
that penetrated the thoughts of men, and a magnificent spirit that
won all hearts. Such is the picture which ancient writers give of Don
Roderick, when, with all the stern and simple virtues unimpaired,
which he had acquired in adversity and exile, and flushed with the
triumph of a pious revenge, he ascended the Gothic throne.

Prosperity, however, is the real touchstone of the human heart; no
sooner did Roderick find himself in possession of the crown, than the
love of power and the jealousy of rule were awakened in his breast.
His first measure was against Witiza who was brought in chains into
his presence. Roderick beheld the captive monarch with an unpitying
eye, remembering only his wrongs and cruelties to his father. “Let
the evils he has inflicted on others be visited upon his own head,”
said he; “as he did unto Theodofredo, even so be it done unto him.”
So the eyes of Witiza were put out, and he was thrown into the same
dungeon at Cordova in which Theodofredo had languished. There he
passed the brief remnant of his days in perpetual darkness, a prey to
wretchedness and remorse.

Roderick now cast an uneasy and suspicious eye upon Evan and
Siseburto, the two sons of Witiza. Fearful lest they should foment
some secret rebellion, he banished them the kingdom. They took refuge
in the Spanish dominions in Africa, where they were received and
harbored by Requila, governor of Tangier, out of gratitude for favors
which he had received from their late father. There they remained,
to brood over their fallen fortunes, and to aid in working out the
future woes of Spain.

Their uncle Oppas, bishop of Seville, who had been made copartner,
by Witiza, in the archiepiscopal chair at Toledo, would have
likewise fallen under the suspicion of the king; but he was a man of
consummate art, and vast exterior sanctity, and won upon the good
graces of the monarch. He was suffered, therefore, to retain his
sacred office at Seville; but the see of Toledo was given in charge
to the venerable Urbino, and the law of Witiza was revoked that
dispensed the clergy from their vows of celibacy.

The jealousy of Roderick for the security of his crown was soon
again aroused, and his measures were prompt and severe. Having been
informed that the governors of certain castles and fortresses in
Castile and Andalusia had conspired against him, he caused them to
be put to death and their strongholds to be demolished. He now went
on to imitate the pernicious policy of his predecessor, throwing
down walls and towers, disarming the people, and thus incapacitating
them from rebellion. A few cities were permitted to retain their
fortifications, but these were intrusted to alcaids in whom he
had especial confidence; the greater part of the kingdom was left
defenseless; the nobles, who had been roused to temporary manhood
during the recent stir of war, sunk back into the inglorious state of
inaction which had disgraced them during the reign of Witiza—passing
their time in feasting and dancing to the sound of loose and wanton
minstrelsy.[4] It was scarcely possible to recognize in these idle
wassailers and soft voluptuaries the descendants of the stern
and frugal warriors of the frozen North—who had braved flood and
mountain, and heat and cold, and had battled their way to empire
across half a world in arms.

  [4] Mariana, _Hist. Esp._, lib. 6, c. 21.

They surrounded their youthful monarch, it is true, with a blaze of
military pomp. Nothing could surpass the splendor of their arms,
which were embossed and enameled, and enriched with gold and jewels
and curious devices; nothing could be more gallant and glorious than
their array; it was all plume and banner and silken pageantry, the
gorgeous trappings for tilt and tourney and courtly revel; but the
iron soul of war was wanting.

How rare it is to learn wisdom from the misfortunes of others. With
the fate of Witiza full before his eyes, Don Roderick indulged in the
same pernicious errors, and was doomed, in like manner, to prepare
the way for his own perdition.




Of the Loves of Roderick and the Princess Elyata.

As yet the heart of Roderick, occupied by the struggles of his early
life, by warlike enterprises, and by the inquietudes of newly-gotten
power, had been insensible to the charms of women; but in the present
voluptuous calm the amorous propensities of his nature assumed their
sway. There are divers accounts of the youthful beauty who first
found favor in his eyes, and was elevated by him to the throne.
We follow in our legend the details of an Arabian chronicler,[5]
authenticated by a Spanish poet.[6] Let those who dispute our facts
produce better authority for their contradiction.

  [5] _Perdida de España_, por Abulcasim Tarif Abentarique, lib. 1.

  [6] Lope de Vega.

Among the few fortified places that had not been dismantled by Don
Roderick was the ancient city of Denia, situated on the Mediterranean
coast, and defended on a rock-built castle that overlooked the sea.

The alcaide of the castle, with many of the people of Denia, was
one day on his knees in the chapel, imploring the Virgin to allay a
tempest which was strewing the coast with wrecks, when a sentinel
brought word that a Moorish cruiser was standing for the land. The
alcaide gave orders to ring the alarm-bells, light signal-fires on
the hill-tops, and rouse the country, for the coast was subject to
cruel maraudings from the Barbary cruisers.

In a little while the horsemen of the neighborhood were seen pricking
along the beach, armed with such weapons as they could find, and the
alcaide and his scanty garrison descended from the hill. In the mean
time the Moorish bark came rolling and pitching towards the land.
As it drew near, the rich carving and gilding with which it was
decorated, its silken bandaroles and banks of crimson oars, showed
it to be no warlike vessel, but a sumptuous galiot destined for
state and ceremony. It bore the marks of the tempest; the masts were
broken, the oars shattered, and fragments of snowy sails and silken
awnings were fluttering in the blast.

As the galiot grounded upon the sand, the impatient rabble rushed
into the surf to capture and make spoil; but were awed into
admiration and respect by the appearance of the illustrious company
on board. There were Moors of both sexes sumptuously arrayed, and
adorned with precious jewels, bearing the demeanor of persons
of lofty rank. Among them shone conspicuous a youthful beauty,
magnificently attired, to whom all seemed to pay reverence.

Several of the Moors surrounded her with drawn swords, threatening
death to any that approached; others sprang from the bark, and
throwing themselves on their knees before the alcaide, implored him,
by his honor and courtesy as a knight, to protect a royal virgin from
injury and insult.

“You behold before you,” said they, “the only daughter of the king
of Algiers, the betrothed bride of the son of the king of Tunis. We
were conducting her to the court of her expecting bridegroom, when a
tempest drove us from our course, and compelled us to take refuge on
your coast. Be not more cruel than the tempest, but deal nobly with
that which even sea and storm have spared.”

The alcaide listened to their prayers. He conducted the princess and
her train to the castle, where every honor due to her rank was paid
her. Some of her ancient attendants interceded for her liberation,
promising countless sums to be paid by her father for her ransom;
but the alcaide turned a deaf ear to all their golden offers. “She
is a royal captive,” said he; “it belongs to my sovereign alone to
dispose of her.” After she had reposed, therefore, for some days at
the castle, and recovered from the fatigue and terror of the seas, he
caused her to be conducted, with all her train, in magnificent state
to the court of Don Roderick.

The beautiful Elyata[7] entered Toledo more like a triumphant
sovereign than a captive. A chosen band of Christian horsemen,
splendidly armed, appeared to wait upon her as a mere guard of
honor. She was surrounded by the Moorish damsels of her train, and
followed by her own Moslem guards, all attired with the magnificence
that had been intended to grace her arrival at the court of Tunis.
The princess was arrayed in bridal robes, woven in the most costly
looms of the Orient; her diadem sparkled with diamonds and was
decorated with the rarest plumes of the bird of paradise, and even
the silken trappings of her palfrey, which swept the ground, were
covered with pearls and precious stones. As this brilliant cavalcade
crossed the bridge of the Tagus, all Toledo poured forth to behold
it, and nothing was heard throughout the city but praises of the
wonderful beauty of the princess of Algiers. King Roderick came
forth, attended by the chivalry of his court, to receive the royal
captive. His recent voluptuous life had disposed him for tender and
amorous affections, and at the first sight of the beautiful Elyata he
was enraptured with her charms. Seeing her face clouded with sorrow
and anxiety, he soothed her with gentle and courteous words, and,
conducting her to a royal palace, “Behold,” said he, “thy habitation,
where no one shall molest thee; consider thyself at home in the
mansion of thy father, and dispose of anything according to thy will.”

  [7] By some she is called Zara.

Here the princess passed her time with the female attendants who had
accompanied her from Algiers; and no one but the king was permitted
to visit her, who daily became more and more enamored of his lovely
captive, and sought by tender assiduity to gain her affections.
The distress of the princess at her captivity was soothed by this
gentle treatment. She was of an age when sorrow cannot long hold sway
over the heart. Accompanied by her youthful attendants, she ranged
the spacious apartments of the palace, and sported among the groves
and alleys of its garden. Every day the remembrance of the paternal
home grew less and less painful, and the king became more and more
amiable in her eyes; and when at length he offered to share his heart
and throne with her, she listened with downcast looks and kindling
blushes, but with an air of resignation.

One obstacle remained to the complete fruition of the monarch’s
wishes, and this was the religion of the princess. Roderick forthwith
employed the archbishop of Toledo to instruct the beautiful Elyata in
the mysteries of the Christian faith. The female intellect is quick
in perceiving the merits of new doctrines; the archbishop, therefore,
soon succeeded in converting, not merely the princess, but most of
her attendants, and a day was appointed for their public baptism.
The ceremony was performed with great pomp and solemnity, in the
presence of all the nobility and chivalry of the court. The princess
and her damsels, clad in white, walked on foot to the cathedral,
while numerous beautiful children, arrayed as angels, strewed their
path with flowers; and the archbishop meeting them at the portal,
received them, as it were, into the bosom of the church. The princess
abandoned her Moorish appellation of Elyata, and was baptized by
the name of Exilona, by which she was thenceforth called, and has
generally been known in history.

The nuptials of Roderick and the beautiful convert took place shortly
afterwards, and were celebrated with great magnificence. There were
jousts, and tourneys, and banquets, and other rejoicings, which
lasted twenty days, and were attended by the principal nobles from
all parts of Spain. After these were over, such of the attendants
of the princess as refused to embrace Christianity, and desired
to return to Africa, were dismissed with munificent presents; and
an embassy was sent to the king of Algiers, to inform him of the
nuptials of his daughter, and to proffer him the friendship of King

  [8] “Como esta Infanta era muy hermosa, y el Rey [Don Rodrigo]
  dispuesto y gentil hombre, entro por medio el amor y aficion, y
  junto con el regalo con que la avia mandado hospedar y servir ful
  causa que el rey persuadio esta Infanta que si se tornava a su
  ley de christiano la tomaria por muger, y que la haria señora de
  sus Reynos. Con esta persuasion ella fue contenta, y aviendose
  vuelto christiana, se caso con ella, y se celebraron sus bodas
  con muchas fiestas y regozijos, como era razon.”—Abulcasim,
  _Conq’st de Espan_, cap. 3.




Of Count Julian.

For a time Don Roderick lived happily with his young and beautiful
queen, and Toledo was the seat of festivity and splendor. The
principal nobles throughout the kingdom repaired to his court to pay
him homage, and to receive his commands; and none were more devoted
in their reverence than those who were obnoxious to suspicion from
their connection with the late king.

Among the foremost of these was Count Julian, a man destined to be
infamously renowned in the dark story of his country’s woes. He was
one of the proudest Gothic families, lord of Consuegra and Algeziras,
and connected by marriage with Witiza and the bishop Oppas—his
wife, the countess Frandina, being their sister. In consequence of
this connection, and of his own merits, he had enjoyed the highest
dignities and commands, being one of the Espatorios, or royal
sword-bearers—an office of the greatest confidence about the person
of the sovereign.[9] He had, moreover, been intrusted with the
military government of the Spanish possessions on the African coast
of the strait, which at that time were threatened by the Arabs of the
East, the followers of Mahomet, who were advancing their victorious
standard to the extremity of Western Africa. Count Julian established
his seat of government at Ceuta, the frontier bulwark, and one of the
far-famed gates of the Mediterranean Sea. Here he boldly faced, and
held in check, the torrent of Moslem invasion.

  [9] Condes Espatorios; so called from the drawn swords of ample
  size and breadth with which they kept guard in the ante-chambers
  of the Gothic kings. Comes Spathariorum, custodum corporis Regis
  Profectus. Hunc et Propospatharium appellatum existimo.—_Patr.
  Pant. de Offic. Goth._

Don Julian was a man of an active, but irregular genius, and a
grasping ambition; he had a love for power and grandeur, in which
he was joined by his haughty countess; and they could ill brook the
downfall of their house, as threatened by the fate of Witiza. They
had hastened therefore to pay their court to the newly elevated
monarch, and to assure him of their fidelity to his interests.

Roderick was readily persuaded of the sincerity of Count Julian; he
was aware of his merits as a soldier and a governor, and continued
him in his important command; honoring him with many other marks of
implicit confidence. Count Julian sought to confirm this confidence
by every proof of devotion. It was a custom among the Goths to rear
many of the children of the most illustrious families in the royal
household. They served as pages to the king, and handmaids and
ladies of honor to the queen, and were instructed in all manner of
accomplishments befitting their gentle blood. When about to depart
for Ceuta, to resume his command, Don Julian brought his daughter
Florinda to present her to the sovereigns. She was a beautiful virgin
that had not as yet attained to womanhood. “I confide her to your
protection,” said he to the king, “to be unto her as a father; and
to have her trained in the paths of virtue. I can leave with you no
dearer pledge of my loyalty.”

King Roderick received the timid and blushing maiden into his
parental care; promising to watch over her happiness with a parent’s
eye, and that she should be enrolled among the most cherished
attendants of the queen. With this assurance of the welfare of his
child, Count Julian departed, well pleased, for his government at




The Story of Florinda.

The beautiful daughter of Count Julian was received with great
favor by the queen Exilona and admitted among the noble damsels
that attended upon her person. Here she lived in honor and apparent
security, and surrounded by innocent delights. To gratify his queen,
Don Roderick had built for her rural recreation a palace without the
walls of Toledo, on the banks of the Tagus. It stood in the midst
of a garden, adorned after the luxurious style of the East. The air
was perfumed by fragrant shrubs and flowers; the groves resounded
with the song of the nightingale, while the gush of fountains
and water-falls, and the distant murmur of the Tagus, made it a
delightful retreat during the sultry days of summer. The charm of
perfect privacy also reigned throughout the place, for the garden
walls were high, and numerous guards kept watch without to protect it
from all intrusion.

In this delicious abode, more befitting an oriental voluptuary
than a Gothic king, Don Roderick was accustomed to while away much
of that time which should have been devoted to the toilsome cares
of government. The very security and peace which he had produced
throughout his dominions by his precautions to abolish the means and
habitudes of war, had effected a disastrous change in his character.
The hardy and heroic qualities which had conducted him to the throne,
were softened in the lap of indulgence. Surrounded by the pleasures
of an idle and effeminate court, and beguiled by the example of his
degenerate nobles, he gave way to a fatal sensuality that had lain
dormant in his nature during the virtuous days of his adversity. The
mere love of female beauty had first enamored him of Exilona, and the
same passion, fostered by voluptuous idleness, now betrayed him into
the commission of an act fatal to himself and Spain. The following is
the story of his error as gathered from an old chronicle and legend.

In a remote part of the palace was an apartment devoted to the queen.
It was like an eastern harem, shut up from the foot of man, and where
the king himself but rarely entered. It had its own courts, and
gardens, and fountains, where the queen was wont to recreate herself
with her damsels, as she had been accustomed to do in the jealous
privacy of her father’s palace.

One sultry day the king, instead of taking his siesta, or mid-day
slumber, repaired to this apartment to seek the society of the queen.
In passing through a small oratory, he was drawn by the sound of
female voices to a casement overhung with myrtles and jessamines. It
looked into an interior garden or court, set out with orange-trees,
in the midst of which was a marble fountain, surrounded by a grassy
bank, enameled with flowers.

It was the high noontide of a summer day when, in sultry Spain, the
landscape trembles to the eye, and all nature seeks repose, except
the grasshopper, that pipes his lulling note to the herdsman as he
sleeps beneath the shade.

Around the fountain were several of the damsels of the queen, who,
confident of the sacred privacy of the place, were yielding in that
cool retreat to the indulgence prompted by the season and the hour.
Some lay asleep on the flowery bank; others sat on the margin of
the fountain, talking and laughing, as they bathed their feet in
its limpid waters, and King Roderick beheld delicate limbs shining
through the wave that might rival the marble in whiteness.

Among the damsels was one who had come from the Barbary coast with
the queen. Her complexion had the dark tinge of Mauritania, but it
was clear and transparent, and the deep rich rose blushed through the
lovely brown. Her eyes were black and full of fire, and flashed from
under long silken eyelashes.

A sportive contest arose among the maidens, as to the comparative
beauty of the Spanish and Moorish forms; but the Mauritanian damsel
revealed limbs of voluptuous symmetry that seemed to defy all rivalry.

The Spanish beauties were on the point of giving up the contest,
when they bethought themselves of the young Florinda, the daughter
of Count Julian, who lay on the grassy bank, abandoned to a summer
slumber. The soft glow of youth and health mantled on her cheek; her
fringed eyelashes scarcely covered their sleeping orbs; her moist and
ruby lips were slightly parted, just revealing a gleam of her ivory
teeth, while her innocent bosom rose and fell beneath her bodice,
like the gentle swelling and sinking of a tranquil sea. There was a
breathing tenderness and beauty in the sleeping virgin, that seemed
to send forth sweetness like the flowers around her.

“Behold,” cried her companions exultingly, “the champion of Spanish

In their playful eagerness they half disrobed the innocent Florinda
before she was aware. She awoke in time, however, to escape from
their busy hands; but enough of her charms had been revealed to
convince the monarch that they were not to be rivaled by the rarest
beauties of Mauritania.

From this day the heart of Roderick was inflamed with a fatal
passion. He gazed on the beautiful Florinda with fervid desire, and
sought to read in her looks whether there was levity or wantonness in
her bosom; but the eye of the damsel ever sunk beneath his gaze, and
remained bent on the earth in virgin modesty.

In vain he called to mind the sacred trust reposed in him by Count
Julian, and the promise he had given to watch over his daughter with
paternal care; his heart was vitiated by sensual indulgence, and the
consciousness of power had rendered him selfish in his gratifications.

Being one evening in the garden where the queen was diverting
herself with her damsels, and coming to the fountain where he had
beheld the innocent maidens at their sport, he could no longer
restrain the passion raging within his breast. Seating himself beside
the fountain, he called Florinda to draw forth a thorn which had
pierced his hand. The maiden knelt at his feet to examine his hand,
and the touch of her slender fingers thrilled through his veins.
As she knelt, too, her amber locks fell in rich ringlets about her
beautiful head, her innocent bosom palpitated beneath the crimson
bodice, and her timid blushes increased the effulgence of her charms.

Having examined the monarch’s hand in vain, she looked up in his face
with artless perplexity.

“Señor,” said she, “I can find no thorn nor any sign of wound.”

Don Roderick grasped her hand and pressed it to his heart. “It is
here, lovely Florinda!” said he; “it is here! and thou alone canst
pluck it forth!”

“My lord!” exclaimed the blushing and astonished maiden.

“Florinda!” said Don Roderick, “dost thou love me?”

“Señor,” said she, “my father taught me to love and reverence you. He
confided me to your care as one who would be as a parent to me, when
he should be far distant, serving your majesty with life and loyalty.
May God incline your majesty ever to protect me as a father.” So
saying, the maiden dropped her eyes to the ground, and continued
kneeling; but her countenance had become deadly pale, and as she
knelt she trembled.

“Florinda,” said the king, “either thou dost not, or thou wilt not,
understand me. I would have thee love me, not as a father, nor as
a monarch, but as one who adores thee. Why dost thou start? No one
shall know our loves; and, moreover, the love of a monarch inflicts
no degradation like the love of a common man; riches and honors
attend upon it. I will advance thee to rank and dignity, and place
thee above the proudest females of my court. Thy father, too, shall
be more exalted and endowed than any noble in my realm.”

The soft eye of Florinda kindled at these words. “Señor,” said she,
“the line I spring from can receive no dignity by means so vile;
and my father would rather die than purchase rank and power by
the dishonor of his child. But I see,” continued she, “that your
majesty speaks in this manner only to try me. You may have thought
me light and simple, and unworthy to attend upon the queen. I pray
your majesty to pardon me, that I have taken your pleasantry in such
serious part.”

In this way the agitated maiden sought to evade the addresses of the
monarch, but still her cheek was blanched, and her lip quivered as
she spake.

The king pressed her hand to his lips with fervor. “May ruin seize
me,” cried he, “If I speak to prove thee. My heart, my kingdom, are
at thy command. Only be mine, and thou shalt rule absolute mistress
of myself and my domains.”

The damsel rose from the earth where she had hitherto knelt, and
her whole countenance glowed with virtuous indignation. “My lord,”
said she, “I am your subject, and in your power; take my life if
it be your pleasure, but nothing shall tempt me to commit a crime
which would be treason to the queen, disgrace to my father, agony
to my mother, and perdition to myself.” With these words she left
the garden, and the king, for the moment, was too much awed by her
indignant virtue to oppose her departure.

We shall pass briefly over the succeeding events of the story of
Florinda, about which so much has been said and sung by chronicler
and bard; for the sober page of history should be carefully chastened
from all scenes that might inflame a wanton imagination—leaving them
to poems and romances, and such like highly seasoned works of fantasy
and recreation.

Let it suffice to say that Don Roderick pursued his suit to the
beautiful Florinda, his passion being more and more inflamed by the
resistance of the virtuous damsel. At length, forgetting what was
due to helpless beauty, to his own honor as a knight, and his word
as a sovereign, he triumphed over her weakness by base and unmanly

There are not wanting those who affirm that the hapless Florinda lent
a yielding ear to the solicitations of the monarch, and her name has
been treated with opprobrium in several of the ancient chronicles
and legendary ballads that have transmitted, from generation to
generation, the story of the woes of Spain. In very truth, however,
she appears to have been a guiltless victim, resisting as far as
helpless female could resist, the arts and intrigues of a powerful
monarch, who had naught to check the indulgence of his will, and
bewailing her disgrace with a poignancy that shows how dearly she had
prized her honor.

In the first paroxysm of her grief she wrote a letter to her father,
blotted with her tears and almost incoherent from her agitation.
“Would to God, my father,” said she, “that the earth had opened and
swallowed me ere I had been reduced to write these lines. I blush to
tell thee, what it is not proper to conceal. Alas, my father! thou
hast intrusted thy lamb to the guardianship of the lion. Thy daughter
has been dishonored, the royal cradle of the Goths polluted, and our
lineage insulted and disgraced. Hasten, my father, to rescue your
child from the power of the spoiler, and to vindicate the honor of
your house.”

When Florinda had written these lines she summoned a youthful esquire
who had been a page in the service of her father. “Saddle thy steed,”
said she, “and if thou dost aspire to knightly honor, or hope for
lady’s grace; if thou hast fealty for thy lord, or devotion to his
daughter, speed swiftly upon my errand. Rest not, halt not, spare not
the spur, but hie thee day and night until thou reach the sea; take
the first bark, and haste with sail and oar to Ceuta, nor pause until
thou give this letter to the count my father.” The youth put the
letter in his bosom. “Trust me, lady,” said he “I will neither halt,
nor turn aside, nor cast a look behind, until I reach Count Julian.”
He mounted his fleet steed, sped his way across the bridge, and soon
left behind him the verdant valley of the Tagus.




Don Roderick receives an Extraordinary Embassy.

The heart of Don Roderick was not so depraved by sensuality, but that
the wrong he had been guilty of toward the innocent Florinda, and the
disgrace he had inflicted on her house, weighed heavy on his spirits,
and a cloud began to gather on his once clear and unwrinkled brow.

Heaven at this time, say the old Spanish chronicles, permitted a
marvelous intimation of the wrath with which it intended to visit the
monarch and his people, in punishment of their sins; nor are we, say
the same orthodox writers, to startle and withhold our faith when we
meet in the page of discreet and sober history with these signs and
portents, which transcend the probabilities of ordinary life; for the
revolutions of empires and the downfalls of mighty kings are awful
events, that shake the physical as well as the moral world, and are
often announced by forerunning marvels and prodigious omens.

With such like cautious preliminaries do the wary but credulous
historiographers of yore usher in a marvelous event of prophecy
and enchantment, linked in ancient story with the fortunes of Don
Roderick, but which modern doubters would fain hold up as an
apocryphal tradition of Arabian origin.

Now, so it happened, according to the legend, that about this time,
as King Roderick was seated one day on his throne, surrounded by
his nobles, in the ancient city of Toledo, two men of venerable
appearance entered the hall of audience. Their snowy beards descended
to their breasts, and their gray hairs were bound with ivy. They were
arrayed in white garments of foreign or antiquated fashion, which
swept the ground, and were cintured with girdles, wrought with the
signs of the zodiac, from which were suspended enormous bunches of
keys of every variety of form. Having approached the throne and made
obeisance,—“Know, O king,” said one of the old men, “that in days of
yore, when Hercules of Lybia, surnamed the Strong, had set up his
pillars at the ocean strait, he erected a tower near to this ancient
city of Toledo. He built it of prodigious strength, and finished it
with magic art, shutting up within it a fearful secret, never to
be penetrated without peril and disaster. To protect this terrible
mystery he closed the entrance to the edifice with a ponderous door
of iron, secured by a great lock of steel, and he left a command that
every king who should succeed him should add another lock to the
portal; denouncing woe and destruction on him who should eventually
unfold the secret of the tower.

“The guardianship of the portal was given to our ancestors, and has
continued in our family, from generation to generation, since the
days of Hercules. Several kings, from time to time, have caused the
gate to be thrown open, and have attempted to enter, but have paid
dearly for their temerity. Some have perished within the threshold;
others have been overwhelmed with horror at tremendous sounds, which
shook the foundations of the earth, and have hastened to reclose the
door and secure it with its thousand locks. Thus, since the days of
Hercules, the inmost recesses of the pile have never been penetrated
by mortal man, and a profound mystery continues to prevail over this
great enchantment. This, O king, is all we have to relate; and our
errand is to entreat thee to repair to the tower and affix thy lock
to the portal, as has been done by all thy predecessors.” Having thus
said, the ancient men made a profound reverence and departed from the

  [10] _Perdida de España_, por Abulcasim Tarif Abentarique, L. 1,
  c. 6. _Cronica del Rey Don Rodrigo_, por el Moro Rasis, L. 1, c.
  1. Bleda, _Cron._ cap. vii.

Don Roderick remained for some time lost in thought after the
departure of the men; he then dismissed all his court excepting the
venerable Urbino, at that time Archbishop of Toledo. The long white
beard of this prelate bespoke his advanced age, and his overhanging
eyebrows showed him a man full of wary counsel.

“Father,” said the king, “I have an earnest desire to penetrate the
mystery of this tower.” The worthy prelate shook his hoary head.
“Beware, my son,” said he; “there are secrets hidden from man for
his good. Your predecessors for many generations have respected
this mystery, and have increased in might and empire. A knowledge
of it, therefore, is not material to the welfare of your kingdom.
Seek not then to indulge a rash and unprofitable curiosity, which is
interdicted under such awful menaces.”

“Of what importance,” cried the king, “are the menaces of Hercules
the Libyan? was he not a pagan? and can his enchantments have aught
avail against a believer in our holy faith? Doubtless in this tower
are locked up treasures of gold and jewels, amassed in days of old,
the spoils of mighty kings, the riches of the pagan world. My coffers
are exhausted; I have need of supply; and surely it would be an
acceptable act in the eyes of Heaven to draw forth this wealth which
lies buried under profane and necromantic spells, and consecrate it
to religious purposes.”

The venerable archbishop still continued to remonstrate, but Don
Roderick heeded not his counsel, for he was led on by his malignant
star. “Father,” said he, “it is in vain you attempt to dissuade me.
My resolution is fixed. To-morrow I will explore the hidden mystery,
or rather the hidden treasures, of this tower.”




Story of the Marvelous and Portentous Tower.

The morning sun shone brightly upon the cliff-built towers of Toledo,
when King Roderick issued out of the gate of the city at the head of
a numerous train of courtiers and cavaliers, and crossed the bridge
that bestrides the deep rocky bed of the Tagus. The shining cavalcade
wound up the road that leads among the mountains, and soon came in
sight of the necromantic tower.

Of this renowned edifice marvels are related by the ancient Arabian
and Spanish chroniclers, “and I doubt much,” adds the venerable
Agapida, “whether many readers will not consider the whole as a
cunningly devised fable, sprung from an Oriental imagination; but it
is not for me to reject a fact which is recorded by all those writers
who are the fathers of our national history; a fact too, which is
as well attested as most of the remarkable events in the story of
Don Roderick. None but light and inconsiderate minds,” continues the
good friar, “do hastily reject the marvelous. To the thinking mind
the whole world is enveloped in mystery, and everything is full of
type and portent. To such a mind the necromantic tower of Toledo
will appear as one of those wondrous monuments of the olden time;
one of those Egyptian and Chaldaic piles, storied with hidden wisdom
and mystic prophecy, which have been devised in past ages, when man
yet enjoyed an intercourse with high and spiritual natures, and when
human foresight partook of divination.”

This singular tower was round and of great height and grandeur,
erected upon a lofty rock, and surrounded by crags and precipices.
The foundation was supported by four brazen lions, each taller than
a cavalier on horseback. The walls were built of small pieces of
jasper and various colored marbles, not larger than a man’s hand;
so subtilely joined, however, that, but for their different hues,
they might be taken for one entire stone. They were arranged with
marvelous cunning, so as to represent battles and warlike deeds of
times and heroes long since passed away, and the whole surface was
so admirably polished that the stones were as lustrous as glass, and
reflected the rays of the sun with such resplendent brightness as to
dazzle all beholders.[11]

  [11] From the minute account of the good friar, drawn from the
  ancient chronicles, it would appear that the walls of the tower
  were pictured in mosaic work.

King Roderick and his courtiers arrived wondering and amazed at the
foot of the rock. Here there was a narrow arched way cut through the
living stone, the only entrance to the tower. It was closed by a
massive iron gate, covered with rusty locks of divers workmanship and
in the fashion of different centuries, which had been affixed by the
predecessors of Don Roderick. On either side of the portal stood the
two ancient guardians of the tower, laden with the keys appertaining
to the locks.

The king alighted, and approaching the portals, ordered the guardians
to unlock the gate. The hoary headed men drew back with terror.
“Alas!” cried they, “what is it your majesty requires of us? Would
you have the mischiefs of this tower unbound, and let loose to shake
the earth to its foundations?”

The venerable Archbishop Urbino likewise implored him not to
disturb a mystery which had been held sacred from generation to
generation within the memory of man, and which even Cæsar himself,
when sovereign of Spain, had not ventured to invade. The youthful
cavaliers, however, were eager to pursue the adventure, and
encouraged him in his rash curiosity.

“Come what come may,” exclaimed Don Roderick, “I am resolved to
penetrate the mystery of this tower.” So saying, he again commanded
the guardians to unlock the portal. The ancient men obeyed with
fear and trembling, but their hands shook with age, and when they
applied the keys the locks were so rusted by time, or of such strange
workmanship, that they resisted their feeble efforts, whereupon the
young cavaliers pressed forward and lent their aid. Still the locks
were so numerous and difficult, that with all their eagerness and
strength a great part of the day was exhausted before the whole of
them could be mastered.

When the last bolt had yielded to the key, the guardians and the
reverend archbishop again entreated the king to pause and reflect.
“Whatever is within this tower,” said they, “is as yet harmless, and
lies bound under a mighty spell; venture not then to open a door
which may let forth a flood of evil upon the land.” But the anger
of the king was roused, and he ordered that the portal should be
instantly thrown open. In vain, however, did one after another exert
his strength, and equally in vain did the cavaliers unite their
forces, and apply their shoulders to the gate; though there was
neither bar nor bolt remaining, it was perfectly immovable.

The patience of the king was now exhausted, and he advanced to
apply his hand; scarcely, however, did he touch the iron gate,
when it swung slowly open, uttering, as it were, a dismal groan,
as it turned reluctantly upon its hinges. A cold, damp wind issued
forth, accompanied by a tempestuous sound. The hearts of the ancient
guardians quaked within them, and their knees smote together; but
several of the youthful cavaliers rushed in, eager to gratify their
curiosity, or to signalize themselves in this redoubtable enterprise.
They had scarcely advanced a few paces, however, when they recoiled,
overcome by the baleful air, or by some fearful vision.[12] Upon
this, the king ordered that fires should be kindled to dispel the
darkness, and to correct the noxious and long-imprisoned air; he
then led the way into the interior; but, though stout of heart, he
advanced with awe and hesitation.

  [12] Bleda, _Cronica_, cap. 7.

After proceeding a short distance, he entered a hall or ante-chamber,
on the opposite side of which was a door, and before it, on a
pedestal stood a gigantic figure, of the color of bronze and of a
terrible aspect. It held a huge mace, which it whirled incessantly,
giving such cruel and resounding blows upon the earth as to prevent
all further entrance.

The king paused at sight of this appalling figure, for whether it
were a living being, or a statue of magic artifice, he could not
tell. On its breast was a scroll, whereon was inscribed, in large
letters, “I do my duty.”[13] After a little while, Roderick plucked
up heart, and addressed it with great solemnity. “Whatever thou be,”
said he, “know that I come not to violate this sanctuary, but to
inquire into the mystery it contains; I conjure thee, therefore, to
let me pass in safety.”

  [13] Bleda, _Cronica_ cap. 7.

Upon this the figure paused with uplifted mace, and the king and his
train passed unmolested through the door.

They now entered a vast chamber, of a rare and sumptuous
architecture, difficult to be described. The walls were incrusted
with the most precious gems, so joined together as to form one smooth
and perfect surface. The lofty dome appeared to be self-supported,
and was studded with gems, lustrous as the stars of the firmament.
There was neither wood, nor any other common or base material to be
seen throughout the edifice. There were no windows or other openings
to admit the day, yet a radiant light was spread throughout the place
which seemed to shine from the walls and to render every object
distinctly visible.

In the centre of this hall stood a table of alabaster, of the rarest
workmanship, on which was inscribed, in Greek characters, that
Hercules Alcides, the Theban Greek, had founded this tower in the
year of the world three thousand and six. Upon the table stood a
golden casket, richly set round with precious stones, and closed
with a lock of mother-of-pearl, and on the lid were inscribed the
following words:—

“In this coffer is contained the mystery of the tower. The hand of
none but a king can open it; but let him beware! for marvelous events
will be revealed to him, which are to take place before his death.”

King Roderick boldly seized upon the casket. The venerable archbishop
laid his hand upon his arm, and made a last remonstrance. “Forbear,
my son,” said he; “desist while there is yet time. Look not into
the mysterious decrees of Providence. God has hidden them in mercy
from our sight, and it is impious to rend the veil by which they are

“What have I to dread from a knowledge of the future?” replied
Roderick, with an air of haughty presumption. “If good be destined me
I shall enjoy it by anticipation; if evil, I shall arm myself to meet
it.” So saying, he rashly broke the lock.

Within the coffer he found nothing but a linen cloth, folded
between two tablets of copper. On unfolding it, he beheld painted
on it figures of men on horseback, of fierce demeanor, clad in
turbans and robes of various colors, after the fashion of the Arabs,
with scimetars hanging from their necks, and cross-bows at their
saddle-backs, and they carried banners and pennons with divers
devices. Above them was inscribed, in Greek characters, “Rash
monarch! behold the men who are to hurl thee from thy throne, and
subdue thy kingdom!”

At sight of these things the king was troubled in spirit, and
dismay fell upon his attendants. While they were yet regarding the
paintings, it seemed as if the figures began to move, and a faint
sound of warlike tumult arose from the cloth, with the clash of
cymbal and bray of trumpet, the neigh of steed and shout of army;
but all was heard indistinctly, as if afar off, or in a reverie or
dream. The more they gazed, the plainer became the motion, and the
louder the noise; and the linen cloth rolled forth, and amplified,
and spread out, as it were, a mighty banner, and filled the hall,
and mingled with the air, until its texture was no longer visible,
or appeared as a transparent cloud. And the shadowy figures became
all in motion, and the din and uproar became fiercer and fiercer;
and whether the whole were an animated picture, or a vision, or an
array of embodied spirits, conjured up by supernatural power, no one
present could tell. They beheld before them a great field of battle,
where Christians and Moslems were engaged in deadly conflict.
They heard the rush and tramp of steeds, the blast of trump and
clarion, the clash of cymbal, and the stormy din of a thousand drums.
There was the clash of swords, and maces, and battle-axes, with
the whistling of arrows and the hurtling of darts and lances. The
Christians quailed before the foe; the infidels pressed upon them and
put them to utter rout; the standard of the cross was cast down, the
banner of Spain was trodden under foot, the air resounded with shouts
of triumph, with yells of fury, and with the groans of dying men.
Amidst the flying squadrons King Roderick beheld a crowned warrior,
whose back was towards him, but whose armor and device were his own,
and who was mounted on a white steed that resembled his own war-horse
Orelia. In the confusion of the flight, the warrior was dismounted,
and was no longer to be seen, and Orelia galloped wildly through the
field of battle without a rider.

Roderick stayed to see no more, but rushed from the fatal hall,
followed by his terrified attendants. They fled through the outer
chamber, where the gigantic figure with the whirling mace had
disappeared from his pedestal, and, on issuing into the open air,
they found the two ancient guardians of the tower lying dead at the
portal, as though they had been crushed by some mighty blow. All
nature, which had been clear and serene, was now in wild uproar. The
heavens were darkened by heavy clouds; loud bursts of thunder rent
the air, and the earth was deluged with rain and rattling hail.

The king ordered that the iron portal should be closed, but the door
was immovable, and the cavaliers were dismayed by the tremendous
turmoil and the mingled shouts and groans that continued to prevail
within. The king and his train hastened back to Toledo, pursued
and pelted by the tempest. The mountains shook and echoed with the
thunder, trees were uprooted and blown down, and the Tagus raged
and roared and flowed above its banks. It seemed to the affrighted
courtiers as if the phantom legions of the tower had issued forth
and mingled with the storm; for amidst the claps of thunder and the
howling of the wind, they fancied they heard the sound of the drums
and trumpets, the shouts of armies, and the rush of steeds. Thus
beaten by tempest and overwhelmed with horror, the king and his
courtiers arrived at Toledo, clattering across the bridge of the
Tagus, and entering the gate in headlong confusion, as though they
had been pursued by an enemy.

In the morning the heavens were again serene, and all nature was
restored to tranquillity. The king, therefore, issued forth with
his cavaliers, and took the road to the tower, followed by a great
multitude, for he was anxious once more to close the iron door, and
shut up those evils that threatened to overwhelm the land. But lo! on
coming in sight of the tower, a new wonder met their eyes. An eagle
appeared high in the air, seeming to descend from heaven. He bore in
his beak a burning brand, and, lighting on the summit of the tower,
fanned the fire with his wings. In a little while the edifice burst
forth into a blaze, as though it had been built of rosin, and the
flames mounted into the air with a brilliancy more dazzling than
the sun; nor did they cease until every stone was consumed, and the
whole was reduced to a heap of ashes. Then there came a vast flight
of birds, small of size and sable of hue, darkening the sky like a
cloud; and they descended, and wheeled in circles round the ashes,
causing so great a wind with their wings that the whole was borne
up into the air, and scattered throughout all Spain, and wherever
a particle of that ashes fell it was as a stain of blood. It is
furthermore recorded by ancient men and writers of former days, that
all those on whom this dust fell were afterwards slain in battle,
when the country was conquered by the Arabs, and that the destruction
of this necromantic tower was a sign and token of the approaching
perdition of Spain.

“Let all those,” concludes the cautious friar, “who question the
verity of this most marvelous occurrence, consult those admirable
sources of our history, the chronicle of the Moor Rasis, and the work
entitled “The Fall of Spain,” written by the Moor Abulcasim Tarif
Abentarique. Let them consult, moreover, the venerable historian
Bleda, and the cloud of other Catholic Spanish writers who have
treated of this event, and they will find I have related nothing that
has not been printed and published under the inspection and sanction
of our holy mother Church. God alone knoweth the truth of these
things; I speak nothing but what has been handed down to me from
times of old.”




Count Julian.—His Fortunes in Africa.—He hears of the Dishonor of his
Child.—His Conduct thereupon.

The course of our legendary narration now returns to notice the
fortunes of Count Julian, after his departure from Toledo, to resume
his government on the coast of Barbary. He left the Countess Frandina
at Algeziras, his paternal domain, for the province under his command
was threatened with invasion. In fact, when he arrived at Ceuta he
found his post in imminent danger from the all-conquering Moslems.
The Arabs of the East, the followers of Mahomet, having subjugated
several of the most potent Oriental kingdoms, had established their
seat of empire at Damascus, where at this time it was filled by
Waled Almanzor, surnamed “The Sword of God.” From thence the tide
of Moslem conquest had rolled on to the shores of the Atlantic, so
that all Almagreb, or Western Africa, had submitted to the standard
of the Prophet, with the exception of a portion of Tingitania, lying
along the straits,—being the province held by the Goths of Spain,
and commanded by Count Julian. The Arab invaders were a hundred
thousand strong, most of them veteran troops, seasoned in warfare
and accustomed to victory. They were led by an old Arab general, Muza
ben Nosier, to whom was confided the government of Almagreb,—most
of which he had himself conquered. The ambition of this veteran was
to make the Moslem conquest complete, by expelling the Christians
from the African shores; with this view his troops menaced the few
remaining Gothic fortresses of Tingitania, while he himself sat down
in person before the walls of Ceuta. The Arab chieftain had been
rendered confident by continual success, and thought nothing could
resist his arms and the sacred standard of the Prophet. Impatient of
the tedious delays of a siege, he led his troops boldly against the
rock-built towers of Ceuta, and attempted to take the place by storm.
The onset was fierce, and the struggle desperate: the swarthy sons
of the desert were light and vigorous, and of fiery spirit; but the
Goths, inured to danger on this frontier, retained the stubborn valor
of their race, so impaired among their brethren in Spain. They were
commanded, too, by one skilled in warfare and ambitious of renown.
After a vehement conflict, the Moslem assailants were repulsed from
all points, and driven from the walls. Don Julian sallied forth and
harassed them in their retreat, and so severe was the carnage that
the veteran Muza was fain to break up his camp and retire confounded
from the siege.

The victory at Ceuta resounded throughout Tingitania, and spread
universal joy. On every side were heard shouts of exultation, mingled
with praises of Count Julian. He was hailed by the people, wherever
he went, as their deliverer, and blessings were invoked upon his
head. The heart of Count Julian was lifted up, and his spirit swelled
within him; but it was with noble and virtuous pride, for he was
conscious of having merited the blessings of his country.

In the midst of his exultation, and while the rejoicings of the
people were yet sounding in his ears, the page arrived who bore the
letter from his unfortunate daughter.

“What tidings from the king?” said the count, as the page knelt
before him. “None, my lord,” replied the youth; “but I bear a letter
sent in all haste by the Lady Florinda.”

He took the letter from his bosom and presented it to his lord. As
Count Julian read it, his countenance darkened and fell. “This,” said
he, bitterly, “is my reward for serving a tyrant; and these are the
honors heaped on me by my country while fighting its battles in a
foreign land. May evil overtake me, and infamy rest upon my name, if
I cease until I have full measure of revenge.”

Count Julian was vehement in his passions, and took no counsel in
his wrath. His spirit was haughty in the extreme, but destitute of
true magnanimity, and when once wounded, turned to gall and venom.
A dark and malignant hatred entered into his soul, not only against
Don Roderick, but against all Spain; he looked upon it as the scene
of his disgrace, a land in which his family was dishonored, and, in
seeking to revenge the wrongs he had suffered from his sovereign, he
meditated against his native country one of the blackest schemes of
treason that ever entered into the human heart.

The plan of Count Julian was to hurl King Roderick from his
throne, and to deliver all Spain into the hands of the infidels.
In concerting and executing this treacherous plot, it seemed as if
his whole nature was changed; every lofty and generous sentiment
was stifled, and he stooped to the meanest dissimulation. His first
object was, to extricate his family from the power of the king and to
remove it from Spain before his treason should be known; his next,
to deprive the country of its remaining means of defense against an

With these dark purposes at heart, but with an open and serene
countenance, he crossed to Spain and repaired to the court at Toledo.
Wherever he came he was hailed with acclamation as a victorious
general, and appeared in the presence of his sovereign radiant with
the victory at Ceuta. Concealing from King Roderick his knowledge of
the outrage upon his house, he professed nothing but the most devoted
loyalty and affection.

The king loaded him with favors; seeking to appease his own
conscience by heaping honors upon the father in atonement of the
deadly wrong inflicted upon his child. He regarded Count Julian,
also, as a man able and experienced in warfare, and took his advice
in all matters relating to the military affairs of the kingdom. The
count magnified the dangers that threatened the frontier under his
command, and prevailed upon the king to send thither the best horses
and arms remaining from the time of Witiza, there being no need of
them in the centre of Spain, in its present tranquil state. The
residue, at his suggestion, was stationed on the frontiers of Gallia;
so that the kingdom was left almost wholly without defense against
any sudden irruption from the south.

Having thus artfully arranged his plans, and all things being
prepared for his return to Africa, he obtained permission to
withdraw his daughter from the court, and leave her with her mother,
the Countess Frandina, who, he pretended, lay dangerously ill at
Algeziras. Count Julian issued out of the gate of the city, followed
by a shining band of chosen followers, while beside him, on a
palfrey, rode the pale and weeping Florinda. The populace hailed
and blessed him as he passed, but his heart turned from them with
loathing. As he crossed the bridge of the Tagus he looked back with
a dark brow upon Toledo, and raised his mailed hand and shook it at
the royal palace of King Roderick, which crested the rocky height.
“A father’s curse,” said he, “be upon thee and thine! may desolation
fall upon thy dwelling, and confusion and defeat upon thy realm!”

In his journeyings through the country, he looked round him with
a malignant eye: the pipe of the shepherd and the song of the
husbandman were as discord to his soul; every sight and sound of
human happiness sickened him at heart; and, in the bitterness of his
spirit, he prayed that he might see the whole scene of prosperity
laid waste with fire and sword by the invader.

The story of domestic outrage and disgrace had already been made
known to the Countess Frandina. When the hapless Florinda came in
presence of her mother, she fell on her neck, and hid her face in her
bosom, and wept; but the countess shed never a tear, for she was a
woman haughty of spirit and strong of heart. She looked her husband
sternly in the face. “Perdition light upon thy head,” said she, “if
thou submit to this dishonor. For my own part, woman as I am, I will
assemble the followers of my house, nor rest until rivers of blood
have washed away this stain.”

“Be satisfied,” replied the count; “vengeance is on foot, and will be
sure and ample.”

Being now in his own domains, surrounded by his relatives and
friends, Count Julian went on to complete his web of treason. In this
he was aided by his brother-in-law, Oppas, the Bishop of Seville,—a
man dark and perfidious as the night, but devout in demeanor, and
smooth and plausible in council. This artful prelate had contrived
to work himself into the entire confidence of the king, and had
even prevailed upon him to permit his nephews, Evan and Siseburto,
the exiled sons of Witiza, to return into Spain. They resided in
Andalusia, and were now looked to as fit instruments in the present
traitorous conspiracy.

By the advice of the bishop, Count Julian called a secret meeting
of his relatives and adherents on a wild rocky mountain, not far
from Consuegra, and which still bears the Moorish appellation of
“La Sierra de Calderin,” or the Mountain of Treason.[14] When all
were assembled, Count Julian appeared among them, accompanied by the
bishop and by the Countess Frandina. Then gathering around him those
who were of his blood and kindred, he revealed the outrage that had
been offered to their house. He represented to them that Roderick was
their legitimate enemy; that he had dethroned Witiza, their relation,
and had now stained the honor of one of the most illustrious
daughters of their line. The Countess Frandina seconded his words.
She was a woman majestic in person and eloquent of tongue, and being
inspired by a mother’s feelings, her speech aroused the assembled
cavaliers to fury.

  [14] Bleda, cap. 5.

The count took advantage of the excitement of the moment to unfold
his plan. The main object was to dethrone Don Roderick, and give
the crown to the sons of the late King Witiza. By this means they
would visit the sins of the tyrant upon his head, and, at the same
time, restore the regal honors to their line. For this purpose their
own force would be insufficient, but they might procure the aid of
Muza ben Nosier, the Arabian general in Mauritania, who would no
doubt gladly send a part of his troops into Spain to assist in the

The plot thus suggested by Count Julian received the unholy
sanction of Bishop Oppas, who engaged to aid it secretly with all
his influence and means; for he had great wealth and possessions,
and many retainers. The example of the reverend prelate determined
all who might otherwise have wavered, and they bound themselves by
dreadful oaths to be true to the conspiracy. Count Julian undertook
to proceed to Africa, and seek the camp of Muza, to negotiate for his
aid, while the bishop was to keep about the person of King Roderick,
and lead him into the net prepared for him.

All things being thus arranged, Count Julian gathered together his
treasure, and taking his wife and daughter and all his household,
abandoned the country he meant to betray,—embarking at Malaga for
Ceuta. The gate in the wall of that city, through which they went
forth, continued for ages to bear the name of Puerta de la Cava, or
the Gate of the Harlot; for such was the opprobrious and unmerited
appellation bestowed by the Moors on the unhappy Florinda.[15]

  [15] Bleda, cap. 4.




Secret Visit of Count Julian to the Arab Camp.—First Expedition of
Taric el Tuerto.

When Count Julian had placed his family in security in Ceuta,
surrounded by soldiery devoted to his fortunes, he took with him
a few confidential followers and departed in secret for the camp
of the Arabian Emir, Muza ben Nosier. The camp was spread out in
one of those pastoral valleys which lie at the feet of the Barbary
Hills, with the great range of the Atlas Mountains towering in the
distance. In the motley army here assembled were warriors of every
tribe and nation, that had been united by pact or conquest in the
cause of Islam. There were those who had followed Muza from the
fertile regions of Egypt, across the deserts of Barca, and those who
had joined his standard from among the sunburnt tribes of Mauritania.
There were Saracen and Tartar, Syrian and Copt, and swarthy Moor;
sumptuous warriors from the civilized cities of the East, and the
gaunt and predatory rovers of the desert. The greater part of the
army, however, was composed of Arabs; but differing greatly from the
first rude hordes that enlisted under the banner of Mahomet. Almost
a century of continual wars with the cultivated nations of the East
had rendered them accomplished warriors; and the occasional sojourn
in luxurious countries and populous cities, had acquainted them with
the arts and habits of civilized life. Still the roving, restless,
and predatory habits of the genuine son of Ishmael prevailed, in
defiance of every change of clime or situation.

Count Julian found the Arab conqueror Muza surrounded by somewhat
of Oriental state and splendor. He was advanced in life, but of a
noble presence, and concealed his age by tingeing his hair and beard
with henna. The count assumed an air of soldier-like frankness and
decision when he came into his presence. “Hitherto,” said he, “we
have been enemies; but I come to thee in peace, and it rests with
thee to make me the most devoted of thy friends. I have no longer
country or king. Roderick the Goth is an usurper, and my deadly
foe; he has wounded my honor in the tenderest point, and my country
affords me no redress. Aid me in my vengeance, and I will deliver all
Spain into thy hands,—a land far exceeding in fertility and wealth
all the vaunted regions thou hast conquered in Tingitania.”

The heart of Muza leaped with joy at these words, for he was a bold
and ambitious conqueror, and, having overrun all western Africa, had
often cast a wistful eye to the mountains of Spain, as he beheld them
brightening beyond the waters of the strait. Still he possessed the
caution of a veteran, and feared to engage in an enterprise of such
moment, and to carry his arms into another division of the globe,
without the approbation of his sovereign. Having drawn from Count
Julian the particulars of his plan, and of the means he possessed to
carry it into effect, he laid them before his confidential counselors
and officers, and demanded their opinion. “These words of Count
Julian,” said he, “may be false and deceitful; or he may not possess
the power to fulfill his promises. The whole may be a pretended
treason to draw us on to our destruction. It is more natural that he
should be treacherous to us than to his country.”

Among the generals of Muza, was a gaunt, swarthy veteran, scarred
with wounds,—a very Arab, whose great delight was roving and
desperate enterprise, and who cared for nothing beyond his steed,
his lance, and scimetar. He was a native of Damascus; his name was
Taric ben Zeyad, but, from having lost an eye, he was known among
the Spaniards by the appellation of Taric el Tuerto, or Taric the

The hot blood of this veteran Ishmaelite was in a ferment when he
heard of a new country to invade and vast regions to subdue, and
he dreaded lest the cautious hesitation of Muza should permit the
glorious prize to escape them. “You speak doubtingly,” said he, “of
the words of this Christian cavalier, but their truth is easily to be
ascertained. Give me four galleys and a handful of men, and I will
depart with this Count Julian, skirt the Christian coast, and bring
thee back tidings of the land, and of his means to put it in our

The words of the veteran pleased Muza ben Nosier, and he gave his
consent; and Taric departed with four galleys, and five hundred
men, guided by the traitor Julian.[16] This first expedition of the
Arabs against Spain, took place, according to certain historians, in
the year of our Lord seven hundred and twelve; though others differ
on this point, as indeed they do upon almost every point in this
early period of Spanish history. The date to which the judicious
chroniclers incline, is that of seven hundred and ten, in the month
of July. It would appear from some authorities, also, that the
galleys of Taric cruised along the coasts of Andalusia and Lusitania,
under the feigned character of merchant barks, nor is this at all
improbable, while they were seeking merely to observe the land, and
get a knowledge of the harbors. Wherever they touched, Count Julian
dispatched emissaries to assemble his friends and adherents at an
appointed place. They gathered together secretly at Gezira Alhadra,
that is to say, the Green Island, where they held a conference with
Count Julian in presence of Taric ben Zeyad.[17] Here they again
avowed their readiness to flock to his standard whenever it should
be openly raised, and made known their various preparations for a
rebellion. Taric was convinced, by all that he had seen and heard,
that Count Julian had not deceived them, either as to his disposition
or his means to betray his country. Indulging his Arab inclinations,
he made an inroad into the land, collected great spoil and many
captives, and bore off his plunder in triumph to Muza, as a specimen
of the riches to be gained by the conquest of the Christian land.[18]

  [16] Beuter, _Cron. Gen. de España_, L. 1, c. 28. Marmol Descrip.
  de Africa, L. 2, c. 10.

  [17] Bleda, _Cron._ c. 5.

  [18] Conde, _Hist. Dom. Arab._ part 1, c. 8.




Letter of Muza to the Caliph.—Second Expedition of Taric el Tuerto.

In hearing the tidings brought by Taric el Tuerto, and beholding
the spoil he had collected, Muza wrote a letter to the Caliph Waled
Almanzor, setting forth the traitorous proffer of Count Julian, and
the probability, through his means, of making a successful invasion
of Spain. “A new land,” said he, “spreads itself out before our
delighted eyes, and invites our conquest: a land, too, that equals
Syria in the fertility of its soil and the serenity of its sky;
Yemen, or Arabia the Happy, in its delightful temperature; India, in
its flowers and spices; Hegiaz, in its fruits and flowers; Cathay,
in its precious minerals; and Aden, in the excellence of its ports
and harbors. It is populous also, and wealthy; having many splendid
cities and majestic monuments of ancient art. What is to prevent
this glorious land from becoming the inheritance of the faithful?
Already we have overcome the tribes of Berbery, of Zab, of Derar of
Zaara, Mazamuda and Sus, and the victorious standard of Islam floats
on the towers of Tangier. But four leagues of sea separate us from
the opposite coast. One word from my sovereign, and the conquerors
of Africa will pour their legions into Andalusia, rescue it from
the domination of the unbeliever, and subdue it to the law of the

  [19] Conde, part 1, c. 8.

The Caliph was overjoyed with the contents of the letter. “God is
great!” exclaimed he, “and Mahomet is his prophet! It has been
foretold by the ambassador of God that his law should extend to the
ultimate parts of the West, and be carried by the sword into new
and unknown regions. Behold another land is opened for the triumphs
of the faithful. It is the will of Allah, and be his sovereign will
obeyed.” So the Caliph sent missives to Muza, authorizing him to
undertake the conquest.

Upon this there was a great stir of preparation, and numerous vessels
were assembled and equipped at Tangier to convey the invading
army across the straits. Twelve thousand men were chosen for this
expedition,—most of them light Arabian troops, seasoned in warfare,
and fitted for hardy and rapid enterprise. Among them were many
horsemen, mounted on fleet Arabian steeds. The whole was put under
the command of the veteran Taric el Tuerto, or the one-eyed, in
whom Muza reposed implicit confidence as in a second self. Taric
accepted the command with joy; his martial fire was roused at the
idea of having such an army under his sole command, and such a
country to overrun, and he secretly determined never to return unless

He chose a dark night to convey his troops across the Straits of
Hercules, and by break of day they began to disembark at Tarifa
before the country had time to take the alarm. A few Christians
hastily assembled from the neighborhood and opposed their landing,
but were easily put to flight. Taric stood on the sea-side, and
watched until the last squadron had landed, and all the horses,
armor, and munitions of war were brought on shore; he then gave
orders to set fire to the ships. The Moslems were struck with terror
when they beheld their fleet wrapped in flames and smoke, and sinking
beneath the waves. “How shall we escape,” exclaimed they, “if the
fortune of war should be against us?” “There is no escape for the
coward,” cried Taric; “the brave man thinks of none; your only chance
is victory.” “But how without ships shall we ever return to our
homes?” “Your homes,” replied Taric, “are before you; but you must
win them with your swords.”

While Taric was yet talking with his followers, says one of the
ancient chroniclers, a Christian female was descried waving a white
pennon on a reed, in signal of peace. On being brought into the
presence of Taric, she prostrated herself before him. “Señor,” said
she, “I am an ancient woman; and it is now fully sixty years past
and gone since, as I was keeping vigils one winter’s night by the
fireside, I heard my father, who was an exceeding old man, read a
prophecy said to have been written by a holy friar; and this was the
purport of the prophecy, that a time would arrive when our country
would be invaded and conquered by a people from Africa of a strange
garb, a strange tongue, and a strange religion. They were to be led
by a strong and valiant captain, who would be known by these signs:
on his right shoulder he would have a hairy mole, and his right arm
would be much longer than the left, and of such length as to enable
him to cover his knee with his hand without bending his body.”

Taric listened to the old beldame with grave attention, and when she
had concluded, he laid bare his shoulder, and lo! there was the mole
as it had been described; his right arm, also, was in verity found to
exceed the other in length, though not to the degree that had been
mentioned. Upon this the Arab host shouted for joy, and felt assured
of conquest.

The discreet Antonio Agapida, though he records this circumstance as
it is set down in ancient chronicle, yet withholds his belief from
the pretended prophecy, considering the whole a cunning device of
Taric to increase the courage of his troops. “Doubtless,” says he,
“there was a collusion between this ancient sibyl and the crafty
son of Ishmael; for these infidel leaders were full of damnable
inventions to work upon the superstitious fancies of their followers,
and to inspire them with a blind confidence in the success of their

Be this as it may, the veteran Taric took advantage of the excitement
of his soldiery, and led them forward to gain possession of a
stronghold, which was in a manner the key to all the adjacent
country. This was a lofty mountain or promontory almost surrounded
by the sea, and connected with the main-land by a narrow isthmus. It
was called the rock of Calpe, and, like the opposite rock of Ceuta,
commanded the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. Here, in old times,
Hercules had set up one of his pillars, and the city of Heraclea had
been built.

As Taric advanced against this promontory, he was opposed by a
hasty levy of the Christians, who had assembled under the banner
of a Gothic noble of great power and importance, whose domains lay
along the mountainous coast of the Mediterranean. The name of this
Christian cavalier was Theodomir, but he has universally been called
Tadmir by the Arabian historians, and is renowned as being the first
commander that made any stand against the inroads of the Moslems.
He was about forty years of age; hardy, prompt, and sagacious; and
had all the Gothic nobles been equally vigilant and shrewd in their
defense, the banner of Islam would never have triumphed over the land.

Theodomir had but seventeen hundred men under his command, and
these but rudely armed; yet he made a resolute stand against the
army of Taric, and defended the pass to the promontory with great
valor. He was at length obliged to retreat, and Taric advanced and
planted his standard on the rock of Calpe, and fortified it as
his stronghold, and as the means of securing an entrance into the
land. To commemorate his first victory, he changed the name of the
promontory, and called it Gibel Taric, or the Mountain of Taric, but
in process of time the name has gradually been altered to Gibraltar.

In the mean time, the patriotic chieftain Theodomir, having collected
his routed forces, encamped with them on the skirts of the mountains,
and summoned the country round to join his standard. He sent off
missives in all speed to the king, imparting in brief and blunt
terms the news of the invasion, and craving assistance with equal
frankness. “Señor,” said he, in his letter, “the legions of Africa
are upon us, but whether they come from heaven or earth I know not.
They seem to have fallen from the clouds, for they have no ships. We
have been taken by surprise, overpowered by numbers, and obliged to
retreat; and they have fortified themselves in our territory. Send
us aid, Señor, with instant speed, or rather, come yourself to our

  [20] Conde, part 1, c. 9.




Measures of Don Roderick on Hearing of the Invasion.—Expedition of
Ataulpho.—Vision of Taric.

When Don Roderick heard that legions of turbaned troops had poured
into the land from Africa, he called to mind the visions and
predictions of the necromantic tower, and great fear came upon
him. But, though sunk from his former hardihood and virtue, though
enervated by indulgence, and degraded in spirit by a consciousness of
crime, he was resolute of soul, and roused himself to meet the coming
danger. He summoned a hasty levy of horse and foot, amounting to
forty thousand; but now were felt the effects of the crafty counsel
of Count Julian, for the best of the horses and armor intended for
the public service had been sent into Africa, and were really in
possession of the traitors. Many nobles, it is true, took the field
with the sumptuous array with which they had been accustomed to
appear at tournaments and jousts, but most of their vassals were
destitute of weapons, and cased in cuirasses of leather, or suits
of armor almost consumed by rust. They were without discipline or
animation; and their horses, like themselves, pampered by slothful
peace, were little fitted to bear the heat, the dust, and toil of
long campaigns.

This army Don Roderick put under the command of his kinsman Ataulpho,
a prince of the royal blood of the Goths, and of a noble and generous
nature; and he ordered him to march with all speed to meet the foe,
and to recruit his forces on the way with the troops of Theodomir.

In the mean time, Taric el Tuerto had received large reinforcements
from Africa, and the adherents of Count Julian and all those
discontented with the sway of Don Roderick had flocked to his
standard; for many were deceived by the representations of Count
Julian, and thought that the Arabs had come to aid him in placing the
sons of Witiza upon the throne. Guided by the count, the troops of
Taric penetrated into various parts of the country, and laid waste
the land; bringing back loads of spoil to their stronghold at the
rock of Calpe.

The Prince Ataulpho marched with his army through Andalusia, and was
joined by Theodomir with his troops; he met with various detachments
of the enemy foraging the country, and had several bloody skirmishes;
but he succeeded in driving them before him, and they retreated to
the rock of Calpe, where Taric lay gathered up with the main body of
his army.

The prince encamped not far from the bay which spreads itself out
before the promontory. In the evening he dispatched the veteran
Theodomir, with a trumpet, to demand a parley of the Arab chieftain,
who received the envoy in his tent, surrounded by his captains.
Theodomir was frank and abrupt in speech, for the most of his life
had been passed far from courts. He delivered, in round terms, the
message of the Prince Ataulpho; upbraiding the Arab general with his
wanton invasion of the land, and summoning him to surrender his army
or to expect no mercy.

The single eye of Taric el Tuerto glowed like a coal of fire at this
message. “Tell your commander,” replied he, “that I have crossed the
strait to conquer Spain, nor will I return until I have accomplished
my purpose. Tell him I have men skilled in war, and armed in proof,
with whose aid I trust soon to give a good account of his rabble

A murmur of applause passed through the assemblage of Moslem
captains. Theodomir glanced on them a look of defiance, but his eye
rested on a renegado Christian, one of his own ancient comrades, and
a relation of Count Julian. “As to you, Don Graybeard,” said he,
“you who turn apostate in your declining age, I here pronounce you a
traitor to your God, your king, and country; and stand ready to prove
it this instant upon your body, if field be granted me.”

The traitor knight was stung with rage at these words, for truth
rendered them piercing to the heart. He would have immediately
answered to the challenge, but Taric forbade it, and ordered that
the Christian envoy should be conducted from the camp. “’Tis well,”
replied Theodomir; “God will give me the field which you deny. Let
yon hoary apostate look to himself to-morrow in the battle, for I
pledge myself to use my lance upon no other foe until it has shed
his blood upon the native soil he has betrayed.” So saying, he left
the camp, nor could the Moslem chieftains help admiring the honest
indignation of this patriot knight, while they secretly despised his
renegado adversary.

The ancient Moorish chroniclers relate many awful portents and
strange and mysterious visions, which appeared to the commanders
of either army during this anxious night. Certainly it was a night
of fearful suspense, and Moslem and Christian looked forward with
doubt to the fortune of the coming day. The Spanish sentinel walked
his pensive round, listening occasionally to the vague sounds from
the distant rock of Calpe, and eying it as the mariner eyes the
thunder-cloud, pregnant with terror and destruction. The Arabs,
too, from their lofty cliffs, beheld the numerous camp-fires of the
Christians gradually lighted up, and saw that they were a powerful
host; at the same time the night breeze brought to their ears the
sullen roar of the sea which separated them from Africa. When they
considered their perilous situation,—an army on one side, with a
whole nation aroused to reinforce it, and on the other an impassable
sea,—the spirits of many of the warriors were cast down, and they
repented the day when they had ventured into this hostile land.

Taric marked their despondency, but said nothing. Scarce had the
first streak of morning light trembled along the sea, however, when
he summoned his principal warriors to his tent. “Be of good cheer,”
said he; “Allah is with us and has sent his Prophet to give assurance
of his aid. Scarce had I retired to my tent last night, when a man
of a majestic and venerable presence stood before me. He was taller
by a palm than the ordinary race of men, his flowing beard was of
a golden hue, and his eyes were so bright that they seemed to send
forth flashes of fire. I have heard the Emir Bahamet, and other
ancient men, describe the Prophet, whom they had seen many times
while on earth, and such was his form and lineament. ‘Fear nothing, O
Taric, from the morrow,’ said he; ‘I will be with thee in the fight.
Strike boldly, then, and conquer. Those of thy followers who survive
the battle will have this land for an inheritance; for those who fall
a mansion in Paradise is prepared, and immortal houries await their
coming.’ He spake and vanished; I heard a strain of celestial melody,
and my tent was filled with the odors of Arabia the Happy.” “Such,”
say the Spanish chroniclers, “was another of the arts by which this
arch son of Ishmael sought to animate the hearts of his followers;
and the pretended vision has been recorded by the Arabian writers as
a veritable occurrence. Marvelous, indeed, was the effect produced by
it upon the infidel soldiery, who now cried out with eagerness to be
led against the foe.”




Battle of Calpe.—Fate of Ataulpho.

The gray summits of the rock of Calpe brightened with the first rays
of morning, as the Christian army issued forth from its encampment.
The Prince Ataulpho rode from squadron to squadron, animating his
soldiers for the battle. “Never should we sheathe our swords,” said
he, “while these infidels have a footing in the land. They are pent
up within you rocky mountain; we must assail them in their rugged
hold. We have a long day before us; let not the setting sun shine
upon one of their host who is not a fugitive, a captive, or a corpse.”

The words of the prince were received with shouts, and the army moved
towards the promontory. As they advanced, they heard the clash of
cymbals and the bray of trumpets, and the rocky bosom of the mountain
glittered with helms and spears and scimetars; for the Arabs,
inspired with fresh confidence by the words of Taric, were sallying
forth, with flaunting banners, to the combat.

The gaunt Arab chieftain stood upon a rock as his troops marched
by; his buckler was at his back, and he brandished in his hand a
double-pointed spear. Calling upon the several leaders by their
names, he exhorted them to direct their attacks against the Christian
captains, and especially against Ataulpho; “for the chiefs being
slain,” said he, “their followers will vanish from before us like the
morning mist.”

The Gothic nobles were easily to be distinguished by the splendor of
their arms, but the Prince Ataulpho was conspicuous above all the
rest for the youthful grace and majesty of his appearance and the
bravery of his array. He was mounted on a superb Andalusian charger,
richly caparisoned with crimson velvet, embroidered with gold. His
surcoat was of like color and adornment, and the plumes that waved
above his burnished helmet were of the purest white. Ten mounted
pages, magnificently attired, followed him to the field, but their
duty was not so much to fight as to attend upon their lord, and to
furnish him with steed or weapon.

The Christian troops, though irregular and undisciplined, were full
of native courage; for the old warrior spirit of their Gothic sires
still glowed in their bosoms. There were two battalions of infantry,
but Ataulpho stationed them in the rear; “for God forbid,” said he,
“that foot-soldiers should have the place of honor in the battle,
when I have so many valiant cavaliers.” As the armies drew nigh to
each other, however, it was discovered that the advance of the Arabs
was composed of infantry. Upon this the cavaliers checked their
steeds, and requested that the foot soldiery might advance and
disperse this losel crew, holding it beneath their dignity to contend
with pedestrian foes. The prince, however, commanded them to charge;
upon which, putting spurs to their steeds, they rushed upon the foe.

The Arabs stood the shock manfully, receiving the horses upon the
points of their lances; many of the riders were shot down with bolts
from cross-bows, or stabbed with the poniards of the Moslems. The
cavaliers succeeded, however, in breaking into the midst of the
battalion and throwing it into confusion, cutting down some with
their swords, transpiercing others with their spears, and trampling
many under the hoofs of their horses. At this moment they were
attacked by a band of Spanish horsemen, the recreant partisans of
Count Julian. Their assault bore hard upon their countrymen, who were
disordered by the contest with the foot-soldiers, and many a loyal
Christian knight fell beneath the sword of an unnatural foe.

The foremost among these recreant warriors was the renegado cavalier
whom Theodomir had challenged in the tent of Taric. He dealt his
blows about him with a powerful arm and with malignant fury, for
nothing is more deadly than the hatred of an apostate. In the midst
of his career he was espied by the hardy Theodomir, who came spurring
to the encounter. “Traitor,” cried he, “I have kept my vow. This
lance has been held sacred from all other foes to make a passage
for thy perjured soul.” The renegade had been renowned for prowess
before he became a traitor to his country, but guilt will sap the
courage of the stoutest heart. When he beheld Theodomir rushing upon
him, he would have turned and fled; pride alone withheld him; and,
though an admirable master of defense, he lost all skill to ward the
attack of his adversary. At the first assault the lance of Theodomir
pierced him through and through; he fell to the earth, gnashed his
teeth as he rolled in the dust, but yielded his breath without
uttering a word.

The battle now became general, and lasted throughout the morning with
varying success. The stratagem of Taric, however, began to produce
its effect. The Christian leaders and most conspicuous cavaliers were
singled out and severally assailed by overpowering numbers. They
fought desperately, and performed miracles of prowess, but fell,
one by one, beneath a thousand wounds. Still the battle lingered on
throughout a great part of the day, and as the declining sun shone
through the clouds of dust, it seemed as if the conflicting hosts
were wrapped in smoke and fire.

The Prince Ataulpho saw that the fortune of battle was against him.
He rode about the field, calling out the names of the bravest of his
knights, but few answered to his call; the rest lay mangled on the
field. With this handful of warriors he endeavored to retrieve the
day, when he was assailed by Tenderos, a partisan of Count Julian,
at the head of a body of recreant Christians. At the sight of this
new adversary, fire flashed from the eyes of the prince, for
Tenderos had been brought up in his father’s palace. “Well dost thou,
traitor!” cried he, “to attack the son of thy lord, who gave thee
bread; thou, who hast betrayed thy country and thy God!”

So saying, he seized a lance from one of his pages, and charged
furiously upon the apostate; but Tenderos met him in mid career, and
the lance of the prince was shivered upon his shield. Ataulpho then
grasped his mace, which hung at his saddle-bow, and a doubtful fight
ensued. Tenderos was powerful of frame and superior in the use of
his weapons, but the curse of treason seemed to paralyze his arm. He
wounded Ataulpho slightly between the greaves of his armor, but the
prince dealt a blow with his mace that crushed through helm and skull
and reached the brain; and Tenderos fell dead to earth, his armor
rattling as he fell.

At the same moment, a javelin hurled by an Arab transpierced the
horse of Ataulpho, which sunk beneath him. The prince seized the
reins of the steed of Tenderos, but the faithful animal, as though
he knew him to be the foe of his late lord, reared and plunged and
refused to let him mount. The prince, however, used him as a shield
to ward off the press of foes, while with his sword he defended
himself against those in front of him. Taric ben Zeyad arrived at
the scene of conflict, and paused for a moment in admiration of the
surpassing prowess of the prince; recollecting, however, that his
fall would be a death-blow to his army, he spurred upon him, and
wounded him severely with his scimetar. Before he could repeat his
blow, Theodomir led up a body of Christian cavaliers to the rescue,
and Taric was parted from his prey by the tumult of the fight. The
prince sank to the earth, covered with wounds and exhausted by the
loss of blood. A faithful page drew him from under the hoofs of
the horses, and, aided by a veteran soldier, an ancient vassal of
Ataulpho, conveyed him to a short distance from the scene of battle,
by the side of a small stream that gushed out from among rocks. They
stanched the blood that flowed from his wounds, and washed the dust
from his face, and laid him beside the fountain. The page sat at his
head, and supported it on his knees, and the veteran stood at his
feet, with his brow bent and his eyes full of sorrow. The prince
gradually revived, and opened his eyes. “How fares the battle?” said
he. “The struggle is hard,” replied the soldier, “but the day may yet
be ours.”

The prince felt that the hour of his death was at hand, and ordered
that they should aid him to rise upon his knees. They supported him
between them, and he prayed fervently for a short time, when, finding
his strength declining, he beckoned the veteran to sit down beside
him on the rock. Continuing to kneel, he confessed himself to that
ancient soldier, having no priest or friar to perform that office
in this hour of extremity. When he had so done, he sunk again upon
the earth and pressed it with his lips, as if he would take a fond
farewell of his beloved country. The page would then have raised his
head, but found that his lord had yielded up the ghost.

A number of Arab warriors, who came to the fountain to slake their
thirst, cut off the head of the prince, and bore it in triumph to
Taric, crying, “Behold the head of the Christian leader.” Taric
immediately ordered that the head should be put upon the end of a
lance, together with the surcoat of the prince, and borne about the
field of battle, with the sound of trumpets, atabals, and cymbals.

When the Christians beheld the surcoat, and knew the features of
the prince, they were struck with horror, and heart and hand failed
them. Theodomir endeavored in vain to rally them; they threw by their
weapons and fled; and they continued to fly, and the enemy to pursue
and slay them, until the darkness of the night. The Moslems then
returned and plundered the Christian camp, where they found abundant




Terror of the Country.—Roderick rouses himself to Arms.

The scattered fugitives of the Christian army spread terror
throughout the land. The inhabitants of the towns and villages
gathered around them as they applied at their gates for food, or laid
themselves down, faint and wounded, beside the public fountains. When
they related the tale of their defeat, old men shook their heads and
groaned, and the women uttered cries and lamentations. So strange and
unlooked-for a calamity filled them with consternation and despair;
for it was long since the alarm of war had sounded in their land, and
this was a warfare that carried chains and slavery, and all kinds of
horrors in its train.

Don Roderick was seated with his beauteous queen, Exilona, in the
royal palace which crowned the rocky summit of Toledo, when the
bearer of ill tidings came galloping over the bridge of the Tagus.
“What tidings from the army?” demanded the king, as the panting
messenger was brought into his presence. “Tidings of great woe,”
exclaimed the soldier. “The prince has fallen in battle. I saw his
head and surcoat upon a Moorish lance, and the army was overthrown
and fled.”

At hearing these words, Roderick covered his face with his hands,
and for some time sat in silence; and all his courtiers stood mute
and aghast, and no one dared to speak a word. In that awful space
of time, passed before his thoughts all his errors and his crimes,
and all the evils that had been predicted in the necromantic tower.
His mind was filled with horror and confusion, for the hour of his
destruction seemed at hand; but he subdued his agitation by his
strong and haughty spirit; and when he uncovered his face, no one
could read on his brow the trouble and agony of his heart. Still
every hour brought fresh tidings of disaster. Messenger after
messenger came spurring into the city, distracting it with new
alarms. The infidels, they said, were strengthening themselves in
the land; host after host were pouring in from Africa; the seaboard
of Andalusia glittered with spears and scimetars. Bands of turbaned
horsemen had overrun the plains of Sidonia, even to the banks of the
Guadiana. Fields were laid waste, towns and cities plundered, the
inhabitants carried into captivity, and the whole country lay in
smoking desolation.

Roderick heard all these tidings with an undaunted aspect, nor did
he ever again betray sign of consternation; but the anxiety of his
soul was evident in his warlike preparations. He issued orders that
every noble and prelate of his kingdom should put himself at the head
of his retainers and take the field, and that every man capable of
bearing arms should hasten to his standard, bringing whatever horse
and mule and weapon he possessed; and he appointed the plain of
Cordova for the place where the army was to assemble. Throwing by,
then, all the trappings of his late slothful and voluptuous life, and
arming himself for warlike action, he departed from Toledo at the
head of his guard, composed of the flower of the youthful nobility.
His queen, Exilona, accompanied him, for she craved permission to
remain in one of the cities of Andalusia, that she might be near her
lord in this time of peril.

Among the first who appeared to hail the arrival of the king at
Cordova, was the Bishop Oppas, the secret partisan of the traitor
Julian. He brought with him his two nephews, Evan and Siseburto,
the sons of the late King Witiza, and a great host of vassals and
retainers, all well armed and appointed; for they had been furnished
by Count Julian with a part of the arms sent by the king to Africa.
The bishop was smooth of tongue and profound in his hypocrisy; his
pretended zeal and devotion, and the horror with which he spoke of
the treachery of his kinsman, imposed upon the credulous spirit of
the king, and he was readily admitted into his most secret councils.

The alarm of the infidel invasion had spread throughout the land, and
roused the Gothic valor of the inhabitants. On receiving the orders
of Roderick, every town and hamlet, every mountain and valley, had
sent forth its fighting men, and the whole country was on the march
towards Andalusia. In a little while there were gathered together, on
the plain of Cordova, near fifty thousand horsemen and a countless
host of foot-soldiers. The Gothic nobles appeared in burnished
armor, curiously inlaid and adorned, with chains and jewels of gold,
and ornaments of precious stones, and silken scarfs, and surcoats
of brocade, or velvet richly embroidered; betraying the luxury and
ostentation into which they had declined from the iron hardihood of
their warlike sires. As to the common people, some had lances and
shields and swords and cross-bows, but the greater part were unarmed,
or provided merely with slings, and clubs studded with nails, and
with the iron implements of husbandry; and many had made shields for
themselves from the doors and windows of their habitations. They
were a prodigious host, and appeared, say the Arabian chroniclers,
like an agitated sea; but, though brave in spirit, they possessed no
knowledge of warlike art, and were ineffectual through lack of arms
and discipline.

Several of the most ancient and experienced cavaliers, beholding the
state of the army, advised Don Roderick to await the arrival of more
regular troops, which were stationed in Iberia, Cantabria, and Gallia
Gothica; but this counsel was strenuously opposed by the Bishop
Oppas; who urged the king to march immediately against the infidels.
“As yet,” said he, “their number is but limited; but every day new
hosts arrive, like flocks of locusts, from Africa. They will augment
faster than we; they are living, too, at our expense, and while we
pause, both armies are consuming the substance of the land.”

King Roderick listened to the crafty counsel of the bishop, and
determined to advance without delay. He mounted his war-horse Orelia,
and rode among his troops assembled on that spacious plain, and
wherever he appeared he was received with acclamations; for nothing
so arouses the spirit of the soldier as to behold his sovereign in
arms. He addressed them in words calculated to touch their hearts and
animate their courage. “The Saracens,” said he, “are ravaging our
land, and their object is our conquest. Should they prevail, your
very existence as a nation is at an end. They will overturn your
altars, trample on the cross, lay waste your cities, carry off your
wives and daughters, and doom yourselves and sons to hard and cruel
slavery. No safety remains for you but in the prowess of your arms.
For my own part, as I am your king, so will I be your leader, and
will be the foremost to encounter every toil and danger.”

The soldiery answered their monarch with loud acclamations, and
solemnly pledged themselves to fight to the last gasp in defense of
their country and their faith. The king then arranged the order of
their march; all those who were armed with cuirasses and coats of
mail were placed in the front and rear; the centre of the army was
composed of a promiscuous throng, without body-armor and but scantily
provided with weapons.

When they were about to march, the king called to him a noble
cavalier named Ramiro, and, delivering him the royal standard,
charged him to guard it well for the honor of Spain; scarcely,
however, had the good knight received it in his hand, when he fell
dead from his horse, and the staff of the standard was broken in
twain. Many ancient courtiers who were present looked upon this as
an evil omen, and counseled the king not to set forward on his march
that day; but, disregarding all auguries and portents, he ordered
the royal banner to be put upon a lance, and gave it in charge of
another standard-bearer; then commanding the trumpets to be sounded,
he departed at the head of his host to seek the enemy.

The field where this great army assembled was called, from the solemn
pledge given by the nobles and the soldiers, _El campo de la verdad_;
or, The Field of Truth—a name, says the sage chronicler Abulcasim,
which it bears even to the present day.[21]

  [21] _La Perdida de España_, cap. 9. Bleda, L. 2, c. 8.




March of the Gothic Army.—Encampment on the Banks of the
Guadalete.—Mysterious Predictions of a Palmer.—Conduct of Pelistes

The hopes of Andalusia revived as this mighty host stretched in
lengthening lines along its fertile plains; from morn until night it
continued to pour along, with sound of drum and trumpet; it was led
on by the proudest nobles and bravest cavaliers of the land, and, had
it possessed arms and discipline, might have undertaken the conquest
of the world.

After a few days’ march, Don Roderick arrived in sight of the
Moslem army, encamped on the banks of the Guadalete,[22] where that
beautiful stream winds through the fertile land of Xeres. The infidel
host was far inferior in number to the Christians, but then it was
composed of hardy and dexterous troops, seasoned to war and admirably
armed. The camp shone gloriously in the setting sun, and resounded
with the clash of cymbal, the note of the trumpet, and the neighing
of fiery Arabian steeds. There were swarthy troops from every nation
of the African coast, together with legions from Syria and Egypt,
while the light Bedouins were careering about the adjacent plain.
What grieved and incensed the spirits of the Christian warriors,
however, was to behold, a little apart from the Moslem host, an
encampment of Spanish cavaliers, with the banner of Count Julian
waving above their tents. They were ten thousand in number, valiant
and hardy men, the most experienced of Spanish soldiery, most of
them having served in the African wars; they were well armed and
appointed, also, with the weapons of which the count had beguiled his
sovereign; and it was a grievous sight to behold such good soldiers
arrayed against their country and their faith.

  [22] This name was given to it subsequently by the Arabs. It
  signifies the River of Death. _Vide_ Pedraza, _Hist. Granad._ p.
  3, c. 1.

The Christians pitched their tents about the hour of vespers, at
a short league distant from the enemy, and remained gazing with
anxiety and awe upon this barbaric host that had caused such terror
and desolation in the land; for the first sight of a hostile
encampment in a country disused to war is terrible to the newly
enlisted soldier. A marvelous occurrence is recorded by the Arabian
chroniclers as having taken place in the Christian camp; but discreet
Spanish writers relate it with much modification, and consider it
a stratagem of the wily Bishop Oppas, to sound the loyalty of the
Christian cavaliers.

As several leaders of the army were seated with the bishop in his
tent, conversing on the dubious fortunes of the approaching contest,
an ancient pilgrim appeared at the entrance. He was bowed down with
years, his snowy beard descended to his girdle, and he supported
his tottering steps with a palmer’s staff. The cavaliers rose and
received him with great reverence as he advanced within the tent.
Holding up his withered hand, “Woe, woe to Spain!” exclaimed he, “for
the vial of the wrath of Heaven is about to be poured out. Listen,
warriors, and take warning. Four months since, having performed my
pilgrimage to the sepulchre of our Lord in Palestine, I was on my
return towards my native land. Wearied and wayworn, I lay down one
night to sleep beneath a palm-tree, by the side of a fountain, when
I was awakened by a voice saying unto me, in soft accents, ‘Son of
sorrow, why sleepest thou?’ I opened my eyes, and beheld one of a
fair and beauteous countenance, in shining apparel, and with glorious
wings, standing by the fountain; and I said, ‘Who art thou who
callest upon me in this deep hour of the night?’

“‘Fear not,’ replied the stranger; ‘I am an angel from heaven, sent
to reveal unto thee the fate of thy country. Behold, the sins of
Roderick have come up before God, and his anger is kindled against
him, and He has given him up to be invaded and destroyed. Hasten then
to Spain, and seek the camp of thy countrymen. Warn them that such
only shall be saved as shall abandon Roderick; but those who adhere
to him shall share his punishment, and shall fall under the sword of
the invader.’”

The pilgrim ceased, and passed forth from the tent; certain of
the cavaliers followed him to detain him, that they might converse
further with him about these matters, but he was nowhere to be found.
The sentinel before the tent said, “I saw no one come forth, but it
was as if a blast of wind passed by me, and there was a rustling as
of dry leaves.”

The cavaliers remained looking upon each other with astonishment. The
Bishop Oppas sat with his eyes fixed upon the ground, and shadowed
by his overhanging brow. At length, breaking silence, in a low and
faltering voice, “Doubtless,” said he, “this message is from God;
and since He has taken compassion upon us, and given us notice
of his impending judgment, it behooves us to hold grave council,
and determine how best we may accomplish his will and avert his

The chiefs still remained silent, as men confounded. Among them was
a veteran noble named Pelistes. He had distinguished himself in the
African wars, fighting side by side with Count Julian; but the latter
had never dared to tamper with his faith, for he knew his stern
integrity. Pelistes had brought with him to the camp his only son,
who had never drawn a sword except in tourney. When the young man saw
that the veterans held their peace, the blood mantled in his cheek,
and, overcoming his modesty, he broke forth with a generous warmth:
“I know not, cavaliers,” said he, “what is passing in your minds,
but I believe this pilgrim to be an envoy from the devil; for none
else could have given such dastard and perfidious counsel. For my
own part, I stand ready to defend my king, my country, and my faith;
I know no higher duty than this, and if God thinks fit to strike me
dead in the performance of it, his sovereign will be done!”

When the young man had risen to speak, his father had fixed his eyes
upon him with a grave and stern demeanor, leaning upon a two-handed
sword. As soon as the youth had finished, Pelistes embraced him with
a father’s fondness. “Thou hast spoken well, my son,” said he; “if
I held my peace at the counsel of this losel pilgrim, it was but
to hear thy opinion, and to learn whether thou wert worthy of thy
lineage and of the training I had given thee. Hadst thou counseled
otherwise than thou hast done,—hadst thou shown thyself craven and
disloyal,—so help me God, I would have struck off thy head with this
weapon which I hold in my hand. But thou hast counseled like a loyal
and a Christian knight, and I thank God for having given me a son
worthy to perpetuate the honors of my line. As to this pilgrim, be
he saint or be he devil, I care not; this much I promise, that if I
am to die in defense of my country and my king, my life shall be a
costly purchase to the foe. Let each man make the same resolve, and
I trust we shall yet prove the pilgrim a lying prophet.” The words
of Pelistes roused the spirits of many of the cavaliers; others,
however, remained full of anxious foreboding; and when this fearful
prophecy was rumored about the camp, as it presently was by the
emissaries of the bishop, it spread awe and dismay among the soldiery.




Skirmishing of the Armies.—Pelistes and his Son.—Pelistes and the

On the following day the two armies remained regarding each other
with wary but menacing aspect. About noontide King Roderick sent
forth a chosen force of five hundred horse and two hundred foot,
the best armed of his host, to skirmish with the enemy, that, by
gaining some partial advantage, they might raise the spirits of the
army. They were led on by Theodomir, the same Gothic noble who had
signalized himself by first opposing the invasion of the Moslems.

The Christian squadrons paraded with flying pennons in the valley
which lay between the armies. The Arabs were not slow in answering
their defiance. A large body of horsemen sallied forth to the
encounter, together with three hundred of the followers of Count
Julian. There was hot skirmishing about the field and on the banks
of the river; many gallant feats were displayed on either side,
and many valiant warriors were slain. As the night closed in, the
trumpets from either camp summoned the troops to retire from the
combat. In this day’s action the Christians suffered greatly in
the loss of their distinguished cavaliers; for it is the noblest
spirits who venture most, and lay themselves open to danger; and the
Moslem soldiers had instructions to single out the leaders of the
adverse host. All this is said to have been devised by the perfidious
Bishop Oppas, who had secret communications with the enemy, while he
influenced the councils of the king; and who trusted that by this
skirmishing warfare the flower of the Christian troops would be cut
off, and the rest disheartened.

On the following morning a larger force was ordered out to skirmish,
and such of the soldiery as were unarmed were commanded to stand
ready to seize the horses and strip off the armor of the killed and
wounded. Among the most illustrious of the warriors who fought that
day was Pelistes, the Gothic noble who had so sternly checked the
tongue of the Bishop Oppas. He led to the field a large body of his
own vassals and retainers, and of cavaliers trained up in his house,
who had followed him to the wars in Africa, and who looked up to
him more as a father than a chieftain. Beside him was his only son,
who now for the first time was fleshing his sword in battle. The
conflict that day was more general and bloody than the day preceding;
the slaughter of the Christian warriors was immense, from their
lack of defensive armor; and as nothing could prevent the flower
of the Gothic chivalry from spurring to the combat, the field was
strewed with the bodies of the youthful nobles. None suffered more,
however, than the warriors of Pelistes. Their leader himself was
bold and hardy, and prone to expose himself to danger; but years
and experience had moderated his early fire; his son, however, was
eager to distinguish himself in this, his first essay, and rushed
with impetuous ardor into the hottest of the battle. In vain his
father called to caution him; he was ever in the advance, and seemed
unconscious of the perils that surrounded him. The cavaliers and
vassals of his father followed him with devoted zeal, and many of
them paid for their loyalty with their lives. When the trumpets
sounded in the evening for retreat, the troops of Pelistes were
the last to reach the camp. They came slowly and mournfully, and
much decreased in number. Their veteran commander was seated on his
war-horse, but the blood trickled from the greaves of his armor.
His valiant son was borne on the shields of his vassals; when they
laid him on the earth near to where the king was standing, they
found that the heroic youth had expired of his wounds. The cavaliers
surrounded the body, and gave utterance to their grief, but the
father restrained his agony, and looked on with the stern resignation
of a soldier.

Don Roderick surveyed the field of battle with a rueful eye, for it
was covered with the mangled bodies of his most illustrious warriors;
he saw, too, with anxiety, that the common people, unused to war
and unsustained by discipline, were harassed by incessant toils and
dangers, and were cooling in their zeal and courage.

The crafty Bishop Oppas marked the internal trouble of the king, and
thought a favorable moment had arrived to sway him to his purpose.
He called to his mind the various portents and prophecies which had
forerun their present danger. “Let not my lord the king,” said he,
“make light of these mysterious revelations, which appear to be so
disastrously fulfilling. The hand of Heaven appears to be against
us. Destruction is impending over our heads. Our troops are rude and
unskillful, but slightly armed, and much cast down in spirit. Better
is it that we should make a treaty with the enemy, and by granting
part of his demands, prevent the utter ruin of our country. If such
counsel be acceptable to my lord the king, I stand ready to depart
upon an embassy to the Moslem camp.”

Upon hearing these words, Pelistes, who had stood in mournful
silence, regarding the dead body of his son, burst forth with honest
indignation. “By this good sword,” said he, “the man who yields such
dastard counsel deserves death from the hand of his countrymen rather
than from the foe; and, were it not for the presence of the king, may
I forfeit salvation if I would not strike him dead upon the spot.”

The bishop turned an eye of venom upon Pelistes. “My lord,” said he,
“I, too, bear a weapon, and know how to wield it. Were the king not
present you would not dare to menace, nor should you advance one step
without my hastening to meet you.”

The king interposed between the jarring nobles, and rebuked the
impetuosity of Pelistes, but at the same time rejected the counsel of
the bishop. “The event of this conflict,” said he, “is in the hand of
God; but never shall my sword return to its scabbard while an infidel
invader remains within the land.”

He then held a council with his captains, and it was determined to
offer the enemy general battle on the following day. A herald was
dispatched defying Taric ben Zeyad to the contest, and the defiance
was gladly accepted by the Moslem chieftain.[23] Don Roderick then
formed the plan of action, and assigned to each commander his several
station, after which he dismissed his officers, and each one sought
his tent, to prepare by diligence or repose for the next day’s
eventful contest.

  [23] Bleda, _Cronica_.




Traitorous Message of Count Julian.

Taric Ben Zeyad had been surprised by the valor of the Christian
cavaliers in the recent battles, and at the number and apparent
devotion of the troops which accompanied the king to the field. The
confident defiance of Don Roderick increased his surprise. When
the herald had retired, he turned an eye of suspicion on Count
Julian. “Thou hast represented thy countrymen,” said he, “as sunk in
effeminacy and lost to all generous impulse; yet I find them fighting
with the courage and the strength of lions. Thou hast represented thy
king as detested by his subjects and surrounded by secret treason;
but I behold his tents whitening the hills and dales, while thousands
are hourly flocking to his standard. Woe unto thee if thou hast dealt
deceitfully with us, or betrayed us with guileful words.”

Don Julian retired to his tent in great trouble of mind, and fear
came upon him that the Bishop Oppas might play him false; for it is
the lot of traitors ever to distrust each other. He called to him the
same page who had brought him the letter from Florinda, revealing
the story of her dishonor.

“Thou knowest, my trusty page,” said he, “that I have reared thee in
my household, and cherished thee above all thy companions. If thou
hast loyalty and affection for thy lord, now is the time to serve
him. Hie thee to the Christian camp, and find thy way to the tent
of the Bishop Oppas. If any one ask thee who thou art, tell them
thou art of the household of the bishop, and bearer of missives from
Cordova. When thou art admitted to the presence of the bishop, show
him this ring, and he will commune with thee in secret. Then tell him
Count Julian greets him as a brother, and demands how the wrongs of
his daughter Florinda are to be redressed. Mark well his reply, and
bring it word for word. Have thy lips closed, but thine eyes and ears
open; and observe everything of note in the camp of the king. So,
speed thee on thy errand—away, away!”

The page hastened to saddle a Barbary steed, fleet as the wind, and
of a jet black color, so as not to be easily discernible in the
night. He girded on a sword and dagger, slung an Arab bow with a
quiver of arrows at his side, and a buckler at his shoulder. Issuing
out of the camp, he sought the banks of the Guadalete, and proceeded
silently along its stream, which reflected the distant fires of the
Christian camp. As he passed by the place which had been the scene
of the recent conflict, he heard from time to time the groan of some
expiring warrior who had crawled among the reeds on the margin
of the river, and sometimes his steed stepped cautiously over the
mangled bodies of the slain. The young page was unused to the sights
of war, and his heart beat quick within him. He was hailed by the
sentinels as he approached the Christian camp, and, on giving the
reply taught him by Count Julian, was conducted to the tent of the
Bishop Oppas.

The bishop had not yet retired to his couch. When he beheld the ring
of Count Julian, and heard the words of his message, he saw that the
page was one in whom he might confide. “Hasten back to thy lord,”
said he, “and tell him to have faith in me and all shall go well. As
yet I have kept my troops out of the combat. They are all fresh, well
armed, and well appointed. The king has confided to myself, aided by
the princes Evan and Siseburto, the command of a wing of the army.
To-morrow, at the hour of noon, when both armies are in the heat of
action, we will pass over with our forces to the Moslems. But I claim
the compact made with Taric ben Zeyad, that my nephews be placed in
dominion over Spain, and tributary only to the Caliph of Damascus.”
With this traitorous message the page departed. He led his black
steed by the bridle, to present less mark for observation, as he went
stumbling along near the expiring fires of the camp. On passing the
last outpost, where the guards were half slumbering on their arms, he
was overheard and summoned, but leaped lightly into the saddle and
put spurs to his steed. An arrow whistled by his ear, and two more
stuck in the target which he had thrown upon his back. The clatter
of swift hoofs echoed behind him, but he had learnt of the Arabs to
fight and fly. Plucking a shaft from his quiver, and turning and
rising in the stirrups as his courser galloped at fall speed, he drew
the arrow to the head and launched it at his pursuer. The twang of
the bow-string was followed by the crash of armor, and a deep groan,
as the horseman tumbled to the earth. The page pursued his course
without further molestation, and arrived at the Moslem camp before
the break of day.




Last Day of the Battle.

A light had burned throughout the night in the tent of the king, and
anxious thoughts and dismal visions troubled his repose. If he fell
into a slumber, he beheld in his dreams the shadowy phantoms of the
necromantic tower, or the injured Florinda, pale and disheveled,
imprecating the vengeance of Heaven upon his head. In the mid-watches
of the night, when all was silent except the footstep of the
sentinel pacing before his tent, the king rose from his couch, and
walking forth, looked thoughtfully upon the martial scene before
him. The pale crescent of the moon hung over the Moorish camp, and
dimly lighted up the windings of the Guadalete. The heart of the
king was heavy and oppressed; but he felt only for himself, says
Antonio Agapida; he thought nothing of the perils impending over the
thousands of devoted subjects in the camp below him; sleeping, as it
were, on the margin of their graves. The faint clatter of distant
hoofs, as if in rapid flight, reached the monarch’s ear, but the
horsemen were not to be descried. At that very hour, and along the
shadowy banks of that river, here and there gleaming with the scanty
moonlight, passed the fugitive messenger of Count Julian, with the
plan of the next day’s treason.

The day had not yet dawned when the sleepless and impatient monarch
summoned his attendants and arrayed himself for the field. He then
sent for the venerable Bishop Urbino, who had accompanied him to
the camp, and, laying aside his regal crown, he knelt with head
uncovered, and confessed his sins before the holy man. After this
a solemn mass was performed in the royal tent, and the eucharist
administered to the monarch. When these ceremonies were concluded,
he besought the archbishop to depart forthwith for Cordova, there
to await the issue of the battle, and to be ready to bring forward
reinforcements and supplies. The archbishop saddled his mule and
departed just as the faint blush of morning began to kindle in the
east. Already the camp resounded with the thrilling call of the
trumpet, the clank of armor, and the tramp and neigh of steeds.
As the archbishop passed through the camp, he looked with a
compassionate heart on this vast multitude, of whom so many were soon
to perish. The warriors pressed to kiss his hand, and many a cavalier
full of youth and fire received his benediction, who was to lie stiff
and cold before the evening.

When the troops were marshaled for the field, Don Roderick prepared
to sally forth in the state and pomp with which the Gothic kings
were wont to go to battle. He was arrayed in robes of gold brocade;
his sandals were embroidered with pearls and diamonds; he had a
sceptre in his hand, and he wore a regal crown resplendent with
inestimable jewels. Thus gorgeously appareled, he ascended a lofty
chariot of ivory, the axle-trees of which were of silver, and the
wheels and pole covered with plates of burnished gold. Above his head
was a canopy of cloth of gold, embossed with armorial devices, and
studded with precious stones.[24] This sumptuous chariot was drawn
by milk-white horses, with caparisons of crimson velvet, embroidered
with pearls. A thousand youthful cavaliers surrounded the car, all of
the noblest blood and bravest spirit; all knighted by the king’s own
hand, and sworn to defend him to the last.

  [24] Entrand. _Chron. an. Chris._ 714.

When Roderick issued forth in this resplendent state, says an Arabian
writer, surrounded by his guards in gilded armor and waving plumes
and scarfs and surcoats of a thousand dyes, it was as if the sun were
emerging in the dazzling chariot of the day from amidst the glorious
clouds of morning.

As the royal car rolled along in front of the squadrons, the
soldiers shouted with admiration. Don Roderick waved his sceptre and
addressed them from his lofty throne, reminding them of the horror
and desolation which had already been spread through the land by
the invaders. He called upon them to summon up the ancient valor
of their race, and avenge the blood of their brethren. “One day of
glorious fighting,” said he, “and this infidel horde will be driven
into the sea or will perish beneath your swords. Forward bravely to
the fight; your families are behind you praying for your success; the
invaders of your country are before you; God is above to bless his
holy cause, and your king leads you to the field.” The army shouted
with one accord, “Forward to the foe, and death be his portion who
shuns the encounter!”

The rising sun began to shine along the glistening waters of the
Guadalete as the Moorish army, squadron after squadron, came sweeping
down a gentle declivity to the sound of martial music. Their turbans
and robes, of various dyes and fashions, gave a splendid appearance
to their host; as they marched, a cloud of dust arose and partly hid
them from the sight, but still there would break forth flashes of
steel and gleams of burnished gold, like rays of vivid lightning;
while the sound of drum and trumpet, and the clash of Moorish cymbal,
were as the warlike thunder within that stormy cloud of battle.

As the armies drew near each other, the sun disappeared among
gathering clouds, and the gloom of the day was increased by the
columns of dust which rose from either host. At length the trumpets
sounded for the encounter. The battle commenced with showers of
arrows, stones, and javelins. The Christian foot-soldiers fought to
disadvantage, the greater part being destitute of helm or buckler. A
battalion of light Arabian horsemen, led by a Greek renegado named
Maguel el Rumi, careered in front of the Christian line, launching
their darts, and then wheeling off beyond the reach of the missiles
hurled after them. Theodomir now brought up his seasoned troops into
the action, seconded by the veteran Pelistes, and in a little while
the battle became furious and promiscuous. It was glorious to behold
the old Gothic valor shining forth in this hour of fearful trial.
Wherever the Moslems fell, the Christians rushed forward, seized upon
their horses, and stripped them of their armor and their weapons.
They fought desperately and successfully, for they fought for their
country and their faith. The battle raged for several hours; the
field was strewn with slain, and the Moors, overcome by the multitude
and fury of their foes, began to falter.

When Taric beheld his troops retreating before the enemy, he threw
himself before them, and, rising in his stirrups, “O Moslems!
conquerors of Africa!” cried he, “whither would you fly? The sea is
behind you, the enemy before; you have no hope but in your valor and
the help of God! Do as I do, and the day is ours!”

With these words he put spurs to his horse and sprung among the
enemy, striking to right and left, cutting down and destroying, while
his steed, fierce as himself, trampled upon the foot-soldiers, and
tore them with his teeth. At this moment a mighty shout arose in
various parts of the field; the noontide hour had arrived. The Bishop
Oppas, with the two princes, who had hitherto kept their bands out of
the fight, suddenly went over to the enemy, and turned their weapons
upon their astonished countrymen. From that moment the fortune of
the day was changed, and the field of battle became a scene of
wild confusion and bloody massacre. The Christians knew not whom to
contend with, or whom to trust. It seemed as if madness had seized
upon their friends and kinsmen, and that their worst enemies were
among themselves.

The courage of Don Roderick rose with his danger. Throwing off the
cumbrous robes of royalty, and descending from his car, he sprang
upon his steed Orelia, grasped his lance and buckler, and endeavored
to rally his retreating troops. He was surrounded and assailed by a
multitude of his own traitorous subjects, but defended himself with
wondrous prowess. The enemy thickened around him; his loyal band of
cavaliers were slain, bravely fighting in his defense; the last that
was seen of the king was in the midst of the enemy, dealing death at
every blow.

A complete panic fell upon the Christians; they threw away their
arms and fled in all directions. They were pursued with dreadful
slaughter, until the darkness of the night rendered it impossible to
distinguish friend from foe. Taric then called off his troops from
the pursuit, and took possession of the royal camp; and the couch
which had been pressed so uneasily on the preceding night by Don
Roderick, now yielded sound repose to his conqueror.[25]

  [25] This battle is called indiscriminately by historians the
  battle of Guadalete, or of Xeres, from the neighborhood of that




The Field of Battle after the Defeat.—The Fate of Roderick.

On the morning after the battle, the Arab leader, Taric ben Zeyad,
rode over the bloody field of the Guadalete, strewed with the ruins
of those splendid armies which had so lately passed like glorious
pageants along the river banks. There Moor and Christian, horseman
and horse, lay gashed with hideous wounds; and the river, still red
with blood, was filled with the bodies of the slain. The gaunt Arab
was as a wolf roaming through the fold he had laid waste. On every
side his eye reveled on the ruin of the country, on the wrecks of
haughty Spain. There lay the flower of her youthful chivalry, mangled
and destroyed, and the strength of her yeomanry prostrated in the
dust. The Gothic noble lay confounded with his vassals, the peasant
with the prince—all ranks and dignities were mingled in one bloody

When Taric had surveyed the field, he caused the spoils of the dead
and the plunder of the camp to be brought before him. The booty was
immense. There were massy chains and rare jewels of gold, pearls and
precious stones, rich silks and brocades, and all other luxurious
decorations in which the Gothic nobles had indulged in the latter
times of their degeneracy. A vast amount of treasure was likewise
found, which had been brought by Roderick for the expenses of the war.

Taric then ordered that the bodies of the Moslem warriors should
be interred; as for those of the Christians, they were gathered
in heaps, and vast pyres of wood were formed, on which they were
consumed. The flames of these pyres rose high in the air, and were
seen afar off in the night; and when the Christians beheld them from
the neighboring hills, they beat their breasts and tore their hair,
and lamented over them as over the funeral fires of their country.
The carnage of that battle infected the air for two whole months, and
bones were seen lying in heaps upon the field for more than forty
years; nay, when ages had passed and gone, the husbandman, turning up
the soil, would still find fragments of Gothic cuirasses and helms,
and Moorish scimetars, the relics of that dreadful fight.

For three days the Arabian horsemen pursued the flying Christians,
hunting them over the face of the country, so that but a scanty
number of that mighty host escaped to tell the tale of their disaster.

Taric ben Zeyad considered his victory incomplete so long as the
Gothic monarch survived; he proclaimed great rewards, therefore, to
whomsoever should bring Roderick to him, dead or alive. A diligent
search was accordingly made in every direction, but for a long
time in vain; at length a soldier brought to Taric the head of a
Christian warrior, on which was a cap decorated with feathers and
precious stones. The Arab leader received it as the head of the
unfortunate Roderick, and sent it, as a trophy of his victory, to
Muza ben Nosier, who, in like manner, transmitted it to the Caliph
at Damascus. The Spanish historians, however, have always denied its

A mystery has ever hung, and ever must continue to hang, over the
fate of King Roderick, in that dark and doleful day of Spain. Whether
he went down amidst the storm of battle, and atoned for his sins
and errors by a patriot grave, or whether he survived to repent of
them in hermit exile, must remain matter of conjecture and dispute.
The learned Archbishop Rodrigo, who has recorded the events of this
disastrous field, affirms that Roderick fell beneath the vengeful
blade of the traitor Julian, and thus expiated with his blood his
crime against the hapless Florinda; but the archbishop stands alone
in his record of the fact. It seems generally admitted that Orelia,
the favorite war-horse of Don Roderick, was found entangled in a
marsh on the borders of the Guadalete, with the sandals and mantle
and royal insignia of the king lying close by him. The river at this
place ran broad and deep, and was encumbered with the dead bodies
of warriors and steeds; it has been supposed, therefore, that he
perished in the stream; but his body was not found within its waters.

When several years had passed away, and men’s minds, being restored
to some degree of tranquillity, began to occupy themselves about the
events of this dismal day, a rumor arose that Roderick had escaped
from the carnage on the banks of the Guadalete, and was still alive.
It was said that having from a rising ground caught a view of the
whole field of battle, and seen that the day was lost, and his army
flying in all directions, he likewise sought his safety in flight.
It is added that the Arab horsemen, while scouring the mountains in
quest of fugitives, found a shepherd arrayed in the royal robes,
and brought him before the conqueror, believing him to be the king
himself. Count Julian soon dispelled the error. On being questioned,
the trembling rustic declared that while tending his sheep in the
folds of the mountains, there came a cavalier on a horse wearied and
spent and ready to sink beneath the spur. That the cavalier with
an authoritative voice and menacing air commanded him to exchange
garments with him, and clad himself in his rude garb of sheep-skin,
and took his crook and his scrip of provisions, and continued up the
rugged defiles of the mountains leading towards Castile, until he was
lost to view.[26]

  [26] Bleda, _Cron._ L. 2, c. 9. Abulcasim Tarif Abentarique, L.
  1, c. 10.

This tradition was fondly cherished by many, who clung to the
belief in the existence of their monarch as their main hope for the
redemption of Spain. It was even affirmed that he had taken refuge,
with many of his host, in an island of the “Ocean sea,” from whence
he might yet return once more to elevate his standard, and battle for
the recovery of his throne.

Year after year, however, elapsed, and nothing was heard of Don
Roderick; yet, like Sebastian of Portugal and Arthur of England, his
name continued to be a rallying-point for popular faith, and the
mystery of his end to give rise to romantic fables. At length, when
generation after generation had sunk into the grave, and near two
centuries had passed and gone, traces were said to be discovered that
threw a light on the final fortunes of the unfortunate Roderick. At
that time Don Alphonso the Great, king of Leon, had wrested the city
of Viseo in Lusitania from the hands of the Moslems. As his soldiers
were ranging about the city and its environs, one of them discovered
in a field, outside of the walls, a small chapel or hermitage, with
a sepulchre in front, on which was inscribed this epitaph in Gothic


  [27] Here lies Roderick,
  The last King of the Goths.

It has been believed by many that this was the veritable tomb of
the monarch, and that in this hermitage he had finished his days in
solitary penance. The warrior, as he contemplated the supposed tomb
of the once haughty Roderick, forgot all his faults and errors, and
shed a soldier’s tear over his memory; but when his thoughts turned
to Count Julian, his patriotic indignation broke forth, and with his
dagger he inscribed a rude malediction on the stone.

“Accursed,” said he, “be the impious and headlong vengeance of the
traitor Julian. He was a murderer of his king, a destroyer of his
kindred, a betrayer of his country. May his name be bitter in every
mouth, and his memory infamous to all generations.”

Here ends the legend of Don Roderick.



The venerable Sebastiano, Bishop of Salamanca, declares that the
inscription on the tomb at Viseo in Portugal existed in his time, and
that he had seen it. A particular account of the exile and hermit
life of Roderick is furnished by Berganza, on the authority of
Portuguese chronicles.

“Algunos historiadores Portugueses asseguran, que el Rey Rodrigo,
perdida la battalla, huyo a tierra de Merida, y se recogio en el
monasterio de Cauliniano, en donde, arrepentido de sus culpas,
procuro confessarlas con muchas lagrimas. Deseando mas retiro, y
escogiendo por compañero a un monge llamado Roman, y elevando la
Imagen de Nazareth, que Cyriaco monge de nacion griego avra traido
de Jerusalem al monasterio de Cauliniano, se subio á un monte muy
aspero, que estaba sobre el mar, junto al lugar de Pederneyra. Vivio
Rodrigo en compania de el monge en el hueco de una gruta por espacio
de un año; despues se passo á la ermita de san Miguel, que estaba
cerca de Viseo, en donde murio y fue sepultado.

“Puedese ver esta relacion en las notas de Don Thomas Tamayo sobre
Paulo deacano. El chronicon de san Millan, que llega hasta el año
883, deze que, hasta su tiempo, si ignora el fin del Rey Rodrigo.
Pocos años despues el Rey Don Alonzo el Magno, aviéndo ganado la
ciudad de Viseo, encontro en una iglesia el epitafio que en romance
dize—aqui yaze, Rodrigo, ultimo Rey de los Godos.”—_Berganza_, L. i.
c. 13.


As the story of the necromantic tower is one of the most famous as
well as least credible points in the history of Don Roderick, it may
be well to fortify or buttress it by some account of another marvel
of the city of Toledo. This ancient city, which dates its existence
almost from the time of the flood, claiming as its founder Tubal, the
son of Japhet, and grandson of Noah,[28] has been the warrior hold of
many generations and a strange diversity of races. It bears traces of
the artifices and devices of its various occupants, and is full of
mysteries and subjects for antiquarian conjecture and perplexity. It
is built upon a high rocky promontory, with the Tagus brawling round
its base, and is overlooked by cragged and precipitous hills. These
hills abound with clefts and caverns; and the promontory itself, on
which the city is built, bears traces of vaults and subterraneous
habitations, which are occasionally discovered under the ruins of
ancient houses, or beneath the churches and convents.

  [28] Salazar, _Hist. Gran. Cardinal. Prologo_, vol. i. plan 1.

These are supposed by some to have been the habitations or retreats
of the primitive inhabitants; for it was the custom of the ancients,
according to Pliny, to make caves in high and rocky places, and live
in them through fear of floods; and such a precaution, says the
worthy Don Pedro de Roxas, in his history of Toledo, was natural
enough among the first Toledans, seeing that they founded their city
shortly after the deluge, while the memory of it was still fresh in
their minds.

Some have supposed these secret caves and vaults to have been places
of concealment of the inhabitants and their treasure during times of
war and violence; or rude temples for the performance of religious
ceremonies in times of persecution. There are not wanting other, and
grave writers, who give them a still darker purpose. In these caves,
say they, were taught the diabolical mysteries of magic; and here
were performed those infernal ceremonies and incantations horrible
in the eyes of God and man. “History,” says the worthy Don Pedro de
Roxas, “is full of accounts that the magi taught and performed their
magic and their superstitious rites in profound caves and secret
places; because as this art of the devil was prohibited from the very
origin of Christianity, they always sought for hidden places in which
to practice it.” In the time of the Moors this art, we are told,
was publicly taught at their universities, the same as astronomy,
philosophy, and mathematics, and at no place was it cultivated with
more success than at Toledo. Hence this city has ever been darkly
renowned for mystic science; insomuch that the magic art was called
by the French, and by other nations, the Arte Toledana.

Of all the marvels, however, of this ancient, picturesque, romantic,
and necromantic city, none in modern times surpass the Cave of
Hercules, if we may take the account of Don Pedro de Roxas for
authentic. The entrance to this cave is within the church of San
Gines, situated in nearly the highest part of the city. The portal is
secured by massy doors, opening within the walls of the church, but
which are kept rigorously closed. The cavern extends under the city
and beneath the bed of the Tagus to the distance of three leagues
beyond. It is, in some places, of rare architecture, built of small
stones curiously wrought, and supported by columns and arches.

In the year 1546 an account of this cavern was given to the
archbishop and Cardinal Don Juan Martinez Siliceo, who, desirous
of examining it, ordered the entrance to be cleaned. A number of
persons, furnished with provisions, lanterns, and cords, then went
in, and, having proceeded about half a league, came to a place where
there was a kind of chapel or temple, having a table or altar, with
several statues of bronze in niches or on pedestals.

While they were regarding this mysterious scene of ancient worship
or incantation, one of the statues fell, with a noise that echoed
through the cavern, and smote the hearts of the adventurers with
terror. Recovering from their alarm, they proceeded onward, but were
soon again dismayed by a roaring and rushing sound that increased as
they advanced. It was made by a furious and turbulent stream, the
dark waters of which were too deep and broad and rapid to be crossed.
By this time their hearts were so chilled with awe, and their
thoughts so bewildered, that they could not seek any other passage
by which they might advance; so they turned back and hastened out of
the cave. It was nightfall when they sallied forth, and they were so
much affected by the terror they had undergone, and by the cold and
damp air of the cavern, to which they were the more sensible from its
being in the summer, that all of them fell sick and several of them
died. Whether the archbishop was encouraged to pursue his research
and gratify his curiosity, the history does not mention.

Alonzo Telles de Meneses, in his history of the world, records that
not long before his time a boy of Toledo, being threatened with
punishment by his master, fled and took refuge in this cave. Fancying
his pursuer at his heels, he took no heed of the obscurity or
coldness of the cave, but kept groping and blundering forward, until
he came forth at three leagues’ distance from the city.

Another and very popular story of this cave, current among the common
people, was, that in its remote recesses lay concealed a great
treasure of gold, left there by the Romans. Whoever would reach this
precious hoard must pass through several caves or grottoes; each
having its particular terror, and all under the guardianship of a
ferocious dog, who has the key of all the gates, and watches day and
night. At the approach of any one, he shows his teeth, and makes a
hideous growling; but no adventurer after wealth has had courage to
brave a contest with this terrific cerberus.

The most intrepid candidate on record was a poor man who had lost
his all, and had those grand incentives to desperate enterprise,
a wife and a large family of children. Hearing the story of this
cave, he determined to venture alone in search of the treasure. He
accordingly entered, and wandered many hours, bewildered, about the
cave. Often would he have returned, but the thoughts of his wife and
children urged him on. At length he arrived near to the place where
he supposed the treasure lay hidden; but here, to his dismay, he
beheld the floor of the cavern strewn with human bones, doubtless the
remains of adventurers like himself, who had been torn to pieces.

Losing all courage, he now turned and sought his way out of the cave.
Horrors thickened upon him as he fled. He beheld direful phantoms
glaring and gibbering around him, and heard the sound of pursuit
in the echoes of his footsteps. He reached his home overcome with
affright; several hours elapsed before he could recover speech to
tell his story, and he died on the following day.

The judicious Don Pedro de Roxas holds the account of the buried
treasure for fabulous, but the adventure of this unlucky man for very
possible—being led on by avarice, or rather the hope of retrieving a
desperate fortune. He, moreover, pronounces his dying shortly after
coming forth as very probable; because the darkness of the cave, its
coldness, the fright at finding the bones, the dread of meeting the
imaginary dog, all joining to operate upon a man who was past the
prime of his days, and enfeebled by poverty and scanty food, might
easily cause his death.

Many have considered this cave as intended originally for a sally
or retreat from the city in case it should be taken; an opinion
rendered probable, it is thought, by its grandeur and great extent.

The learned Salazar de Mendoza, however, in his history of the
grand cardinal of Spain, affirms it as an established fact, that
it was first wrought out of the rock by Tubal, the son of Japhet,
and grandson of Noah, and afterwards repaired and greatly augmented
by Hercules the Egyptian, who made it his habitation after he had
erected his pillars at the Straits of Gibraltar. Here, too, it
is said, he read magic to his followers, and taught them those
supernatural arts by which he accomplished his vast achievements.
Others think that it was a temple dedicated to Hercules, as was the
case, according to Pomponius Mela, with the great cave in the rock of
Gibraltar; certain it is, that it has always borne the name of “The
Cave of Hercules.”

There are not wanting some who have insinuated that it was a work
dating from the time of the Romans, and intended as a cloaca or sewer
of the city; but such a groveling insinuation will be treated with
proper scorn by the reader, after the nobler purposes to which he has
heard this marvelous cavern consecrated.

From all the circumstances here adduced from learned and reverend
authors, it will be perceived that Toledo is a city fruitful of
marvels, and that the necromantic tower of Hercules has more solid
foundation than most edifices of similar import in ancient history.

The writer of these pages will venture to add the result of his
personal researches respecting the far-famed cavern in question.
Rambling about Toledo in the year 1826, in company with a small knot
of antiquity hunters, among whom were an eminent British painter,[29]
and an English nobleman,[30] who has since distinguished himself
in Spanish historical research, we directed our steps to the church
of San Gines, and inquired for the portal of the secret cavern. The
sacristan was a voluble and communicative man, and one not likely to
be niggard of his tongue about anything he knew, or slow to boast of
any marvel pertaining to his church; but he professed utter ignorance
of the existence of any such portal. He remembered to have heard,
however, that immediately under the entrance to the church there was
an arch of mason work, apparently the upper part of some subterranean
portal; but that all had been covered up and a pavement laid down
thereon; so that whether it led to the magic cave or the necromantic
tower remains a mystery, and so must remain until some monarch or
archbishop shall again have courage and authority to break the spell.

  [29] Mr. D. W—kie.

  [30] Lord Mah—n.











  [31] In this legend most of the facts respecting the Arab inroads
  into Spain are on the authority of Arabian writers, who had
  the most accurate means of information. Those relative to the
  Spaniards are chiefly from old Spanish chronicles. It is to be
  remarked that the Arab accounts have most the air of verity,
  and the events as they relate them are in the ordinary course
  of common life. The Spanish accounts, on the contrary, are full
  of the marvelous; for there were no greater romancers than the
  monkish chroniclers.


Consternation of Spain.—Conduct of the Conquerors.—Missives between
Taric and Muza.

The overthrow of King Roderick and his army on the banks of the
Guadalete, threw open all southern Spain to the inroads of the
Moslems. The whole country fled before them; villages and hamlets
were hastily abandoned; the inhabitants placed their aged and infirm,
their wives and children, and their most precious effects, on mules
and other beasts of burden, and, driving before them their flocks
and herds, made for distant parts of the land, for the fastnesses of
the mountains, and for such of the cities as yet possessed walls and
bulwarks. Many gave out, faint and weary, by the way, and fell into
the hands of the enemy; others, at the distant sight of a turban or
a Moslem standard, or on hearing the clangor of a trumpet, abandoned
their flocks and herds and hastened their flight with their families.
If their pursuers gained upon them, they threw by their household
goods and whatever was of burden, and thought themselves fortunate
to escape, naked and destitute, to a place of refuge. Thus the roads
were covered with scattered flocks and herds, and with spoil of all

The Arabs, however, were not guilty of wanton cruelty or ravage;
on the contrary, they conducted themselves with a moderation but
seldom witnessed in more civilized conquerors. Taric el Tuerto,
though a thorough man of the sword, and one whose whole thoughts were
warlike, yet evinced wonderful judgment and discretion. He checked
the predatory habits of his troops with a rigorous hand. They were
forbidden, under pain of severe punishment, to molest any peaceable
and unfortified towns, or any unarmed and unresisting people, who
remained quiet in their homes. No spoil was permitted to be made,
excepting in fields of battle, in camps of routed foes, or in cities
taken by the sword.

Taric had little need to exercise his severity; his orders were
obeyed through love, rather than fear, for he was the idol of his
soldiery. They admired his restless and daring spirit, which nothing
could dismay. His gaunt and sinewy form, his fiery eye, his visage
seamed with scars, were suited to the hardihood of his deeds; and
when mounted on his foaming steed, careering the field of battle with
quivering lance or flashing scimetar, his Arabs would greet him with
shouts of enthusiasm. But what endeared him to them more than all was
his soldier-like contempt of gain. Conquest was his only passion:
glory the only reward he coveted. As to the spoil of the conquered,
he shared it freely among his followers, and squandered his own
portion with open-handed generosity.

While Taric was pushing his triumphant course through Andalusia,
tidings of his stupendous victory on the banks of the Guadalete
were carried to Muza ben Nosier. Messenger after messenger arrived,
vying who should most extol the achievements of the conqueror and
the grandeur of the conquest. “Taric,” said they, “has overthrown
the whole force of the unbelievers in one mighty battle. Their king
is slain; thousands and tens of thousands of their warriors are
destroyed; the whole land lies at our mercy; and city after city is
surrendering to the victorious arms of Taric.”

The heart of Muza ben Nosier sickened at these tidings, and, instead
of rejoicing at the success of the cause of Islam, he trembled with
jealous fear lest the triumphs of Taric in Spain should eclipse his
own victories in Africa. He dispatched missives to the Caliph Waled
Almanzor, informing him of these new conquests, but taking the
whole glory to himself, and making no mention of the services of
Taric; or at least, only mentioning him incidentally as a subordinate
commander. “The battles,” said he, “have been terrible as the day of
judgment; but by the aid of Allah we have gained the victory.”

He then prepared in all haste to cross over into Spain and assume the
command of the conquering army; and he wrote a letter in advance to
interrupt Taric in the midst of his career. “Wherever this letter may
find thee,” said he, “I charge thee halt with thy army and await my
coming. Thy force is inadequate to the subjugation of the land, and
by rashly venturing, thou mayst lose everything. I will be with thee
speedily, with a reinforcement of troops competent to so great an

The letter overtook the veteran Taric while in the full glow of
triumphant success, having overrun some of the richest part of
Andalusia, and just received the surrender of the city of Ecija.
As he read the letter the blood mantled in his sunburnt cheek and
fire kindled in his eye, for he penetrated the motives of Muza. He
suppressed his wrath, however, and turning with a bitter expression
of forced composure to his captains, “Unsaddle your steeds,” said he,
“and plant your lances in the earth; set up your tents and take your
repose, for we must await the coming of the Wali with a mighty force
to assist us in our conquest.”

The Arab warriors broke forth with loud murmurs at these words.
“What need have we of aid,” cried they, “when the whole country is
flying before us; and what better commander can we have than Taric to
lead us on to victory?”

Count Julian, also, who was present, now hastened to give his
traitorous counsel.

“Why pause,” cried he, “at this precious moment? The great army
of the Goths is vanquished, and their nobles are slaughtered or
dispersed. Follow up your blow before the land can recover from its
panic. Overrun the provinces, seize upon the cities, make yourself
master of the capital, and your conquest is complete.”[32]

  [32] Conde, p. 1, c. 10.

The advice of Julian was applauded by all the Arab chieftains, who
were impatient of any interruption in their career of conquest. Taric
was easily persuaded to what was the wish of his heart. Disregarding
the letter of Muza, therefore, he prepared to pursue his victories.
For this purpose he ordered a review of his troops on the plain
of Ecija. Some were mounted on steeds which they had brought from
Africa; the rest he supplied with horses taken from the Christians.
He repeated his general orders, that they should inflict no wanton
injury, nor plunder any place that offered no resistance. They were
forbidden, also, to encumber themselves with booty, or even with
provisions; but were to scour the country with all speed, and seize
upon all its fortresses and strongholds.

He then divided his host into three several armies. One he placed
under the command of the Greek renegado, Maguel el Rumi, a man of
desperate courage; and sent it against the ancient city of Cordova.
Another was sent against the city of Malaga, and was led by Zayd
ben Kesadi, aided by the Bishop Oppas. The third was led by Taric
himself, and with this he determined to make a wide sweep through the

  [33] _Chronica de España_, de Alonzo el Sabio. P. 3, c. 1.




Capture of Granada.—Subjugation of the Alpuxarra Mountains.

The terror of the arms of Taric ben Zeyad went before him; and,
at the same time, the report of his lenity to those who submitted
without resistance. Wherever he appeared, the towns, for the most
part, sent forth some of their principal inhabitants to proffer a
surrender; for they were destitute of fortifications, and their
fighting men had perished in battle. They were all received into
allegiance to the Caliph, and were protected from pillage or

After marching some distance through the country, he entered one
day a vast and beautiful plain, interspersed with villages, adorned
with groves and gardens, watered by winding rivers, and surrounded
by lofty mountains. It was the famous vega, or plain of Granada,
destined to be for ages the favorite abode of the Moslems. When
the Arab conquerors beheld this delicious vega, they were lost in
admiration; for it seemed as if the Prophet had given them a paradise
on earth, as a reward for their services in his cause.

Taric approached the city of Granada, which had a formidable aspect,
seated on lofty hills and fortified with Gothic walls and towers,
and with the red castle or citadel, built in times of old by the
Phœnicians or the Romans. As the Arab chieftain eyed the place, he
was pleased with its stern warrior look, contrasting with the smiling
beauty of its vega, and the freshness and voluptuous abundance of its
hills and valleys. He pitched his tents before its walls, and made
preparations to attack it with all his force.

The city, however, bore but the semblance of power. The flower of
its youth had perished in the battle of the Guadalete; many of the
principal inhabitants had fled to the mountains, and few remained
in the city excepting old men, women, and children, and a number of
Jews, which last were well disposed to take part with the conquerors.
The city, therefore, readily capitulated, and was received into
vassalage on favorable terms. The inhabitants were to retain their
property, their laws, and their religion; their churches and priests
were to be respected; and no other tribute was required of them than
such as they had been accustomed to pay to their Gothic kings.

On taking possession of Granada, Taric garrisoned the towers and
castles, and left as alcayde or governor a chosen warrior named Betiz
Aben Habuz, a native of Arabia Felix, who had distinguished himself
by his valor and abilities. This alcayde subsequently made himself
king of Granada, and built a palace on one of its hills; the remains
of which may be seen at the present day[34].

  [34] The house shown as the ancient residence of Aben Habuz is
  called _la Casa del Gallo_, or the house of the weathercock; so
  named, says Pedraza, in his history of Granada, from a bronze
  figure of an Arab horseman, armed with lance and buckler, which
  once surmounted it, and which varied with every wind. On this
  warlike weathercock was inscribed, in Arabic characters,—

    “Dice el sabio Aben Habuz
    Que asi se defiende el Andaluz.”

    (In this way, says Aben Habuz the Wise,
    The Andalusian his foe defies.)

  The Casa del Gallo, even until within twenty years, possessed
  two great halls beautifully decorated with morisco reliefs.
  It then caught fire and was so damaged as to require to be
  nearly rebuilt. It is now a manufactory of coarse canvas, and
  has nothing of the Moorish character remaining. It commands a
  beautiful view of the city and the vega.

Even the delights of Granada had no power to detain the active and
ardent Taric. To the east of the city he beheld a lofty chain of
mountains, towering to the sky, and crowned with shining snow. These
were the “Mountains of the Sun and Air;” and the perpetual snows
on their summits gave birth to streams that fertilized the plains.
In their bosoms, shut up among cliffs and precipices, were many
small valleys of great beauty and abundance. The inhabitants were a
bold and hardy race, who looked upon their mountains as everlasting
fortresses that could never be taken. The inhabitants of the
surrounding country had fled to these natural fastnesses for refuge,
and driven thither their flocks and herds.

Taric felt that the dominion he had acquired of the plains would be
insecure until he had penetrated and subdued these haughty mountains.
Leaving Aben Habuz, therefore, in command of Granada, he marched
with his army across the vega, and entered the folds of the sierra,
which stretch towards the south. The inhabitants fled with affright
on hearing the Moorish trumpets, or beholding the approach of the
turbaned horsemen, and plunged deeper into the recesses of their
mountains. As the army advanced, the roads became more and more
rugged and difficult; sometimes climbing great rocky heights, and at
other times descending abruptly into deep ravines, the beds of winter
torrents. The mountains were strangely wild and sterile; broken into
cliffs and precipices of variegated marble. At their feet were little
valleys, enameled with groves and gardens, interlaced with silver
streams, and studded with villages and hamlets,—but all deserted
by their inhabitants. No one appeared to dispute the inroad of the
Moslems, who continued their march with increasing confidence, their
pennons fluttering from rock and cliff, and the valleys echoing to
the din of trumpet, drum, and cymbal. At length they came to a defile
where the mountains seemed to have been rent asunder to make way for
a foaming torrent. The narrow and broken road wound along the dizzy
edge of precipices, until it came to where a bridge was thrown across
the chasm. It was a fearful and gloomy pass; great beetling cliffs
overhung the road, and the torrent roared below. This awful defile
has ever been famous in the warlike history of those mountains, by
the name, in former times, of the Barranco de Tocos, and at present
of the Bridge of Tablete. The Saracen army entered fearlessly into
the pass; a part had already crossed the bridge, and was slowly
toiling up the rugged road on the opposite side, when great shouts
arose, and every cliff appeared suddenly peopled with furious foes.
In an instant a deluge of missiles of every sort was rained upon
the astonished Moslems. Darts, arrows, javelins, and stones, came
whistling down, singling out the most conspicuous cavaliers; and
at times great masses of rock, bounding and thundering along the
mountain side, crushed whole ranks at once, or hurled horses and
riders over the edge of the precipices.

It was in vain to attempt to brave this mountain warfare. The enemy
were beyond the reach of missiles, and safe from pursuit; and the
horses of the Arabs were here an incumbrance rather than an aid.
The trumpets sounded a retreat, and the army retired in tumult and
confusion, harassed by the enemy until extricated from the defile.
Taric, who had beheld cities and castles surrendering without a
blow, was enraged at being braved by a mere horde of mountain boors,
and made another attempt to penetrate the mountains, but was again
waylaid and opposed with horrible slaughter.

The fiery son of Ishmael foamed with rage at being thus checked
in his career and foiled in his revenge. He was on the point of
abandoning the attempt, and returning to the vega, when a Christian
boor sought his camp, and was admitted to his presence. The miserable
wretch possessed a cabin and a little patch of ground among the
mountains, and offered, if these should be protected from ravage, to
inform the Arab commander of a way by which troops of horse might
be safely introduced into the bosom of the sierra, and the whole
subdued. The name of this caitiff was Fandino, and it deserves to be
perpetually recorded with ignominy. His case is an instance how much
it is in the power, at times, of the most insignificant being to do
mischief, and how all the valor of the magnanimous and the brave may
be defeated by the treason of the selfish and the despicable.

Instructed by this traitor, the Arab commander caused ten thousand
foot-soldiers and four thousand horsemen, commanded by a valiant
captain, named Ibrahim Albuxarra, to be conveyed by sea to the little
port of Adra, at the Mediterranean foot of the mountains. Here they
landed, and, guided by the traitor, penetrated to the heart of the
sierra, laying everything waste. The brave mountaineers, thus hemmed
in between two armies, destitute of fortresses and without hope of
succor, were obliged to capitulate; but their valor was not without
avail, for never, even in Spain, did vanquished people surrender
on prouder or more honorable terms. We have named the wretch who
betrayed his native mountains; let us equally record the name of
him whose pious patriotism saved them from desolation. It was the
reverend Bishop Centerio. While the warriors rested on their arms
in grim and menacing tranquillity among the cliffs, this venerable
prelate descended to the Arab tents in the valley, to conduct the
capitulation. In stipulating for the safety of his people, he did not
forget that they were brave men, and that they still had weapons in
their hands. He obtained conditions accordingly. It was agreed that
they should be permitted to retain their houses, lands, and personal
effects; that they should be unmolested in their religion, and their
temples and priests respected; and that they should pay no other
tribute than such as they had been accustomed to render to their
kings. Should they prefer to leave the country and remove to any part
of Christendom, they were to be allowed to sell their possessions,
and to take with them the money, and all their other effects.[35]

  [35] Pedraza, _Hist. Granad._ p. 3, c. 2. Bleda, _Cronica_, L 2
  c. 10.

Ibrahim Albuxarra remained in command of the territory, and the whole
sierra, or chain of mountains, took his name, which has since been
slightly corrupted into that of the Alpuxarras. The subjugation of
this rugged region, however, was for a long time incomplete; many of
the Christians maintained a wild and hostile independence, living in
green glens and scanty valleys among the heights; and the sierra of
the Alpuxarras has in all ages been one of the most difficult parts
of Andalusia to be subdued.




Expedition of Magued against Cordova.—Defense of the Patriot Pelistes.

While the veteran Taric was making this wide circuit through the
land, the expedition under Magued the renegado proceeded against the
city of Cordova. The inhabitants of that ancient place had beheld
the great army of Don Roderick spreading like an inundation over
the plain of the Guadalquivir, and had felt confident that it must
sweep the infidel invaders from the land. What then was their dismay
when scattered fugitives, wild with horror and affright, brought
them tidings of the entire overthrow of that mighty host, and the
disappearance of the king! In the midst of their consternation, the
Gothic noble Pelistes arrived at their gates, haggard with fatigue
of body and anguish of mind, and leading a remnant of his devoted
cavaliers, who had survived the dreadful battle of the Guadalete.
The people of Cordova knew the valiant and steadfast spirit of
Pelistes, and rallied round him as a last hope. “Roderick is fallen,”
cried they, “and we have neither king nor captain; be unto us as a
sovereign; take command of our city, and protect us in this hour of

The heart of Pelistes was free from ambition, and was too much
broken by grief to be flattered by the offer of command; but he
felt above everything for the woes of his country, and was ready to
assume any desperate service in her cause. “Your city,” said he, “is
surrounded by walls and towers, and may yet check the progress of
the foe. Promise to stand by me to the last, and I will undertake
your defense.” The inhabitants all promised implicit obedience and
devoted zeal; for what will not the inhabitants of a wealthy city
promise and profess in a moment of alarm? The instant, however,
that they heard of the approach of the Moslem troops, the wealthier
citizens packed up their effects and fled to the mountains, or to the
distant city of Toledo. Even the monks collected the riches of their
convents and churches, and fled. Pelistes, though he saw himself thus
deserted by those who had the greatest interest in the safety of the
city, yet determined not to abandon its defense. He had still his
faithful though scanty band of cavaliers, and a number of fugitives
of the army, in all amounting to about four hundred men. He stationed
guards, therefore, at the gates and in the towers, and made every
preparation for a desperate resistance.

In the mean time, the army of Moslems and apostate Christians
advanced, under the command of the Greek renegado Magued, and guided
by the traitor Julian. While they were yet at some distance from
the city, their scouts brought to them a shepherd, whom they had
surprised on the banks of the Guadalquivir. The trembling hind was
an inhabitant of Cordova, and revealed to them the state of the place
and the weakness of its garrison.

“And the walls and gates,” said Magued, “are they strong and well

“The walls are high and of wondrous strength,” replied the shepherd,
“and soldiers hold watch at the gates by day and night. But there
is one place where the city may be secretly entered. In a part of
the wall, not far from the bridge, the battlements are broken, and
there is a breach at some height from the ground. Hard by stands a
fig-tree, by the aid of which the wall may easily be scaled.”

Having received this information, Magued halted with his army, and
sent forward several renegado Christians, partisans of Count Julian,
who entered Cordova as if flying before the enemy. On a dark and
tempestuous night, the Moslems approached to the end of the bridge
which crosses the Guadalquivir, and remained in ambush. Magued took
a small party of chosen men, and, guided by the shepherd, forded the
stream, and groped silently along the wall to the place where stood
the fig-tree. The traitors, who had fraudulently entered the city,
were ready on the wall to render assistance. Magued ordered his
followers to make use of the long folds of their turbans instead of
cords, and succeeded without difficulty in clambering into the breach.

Drawing their scimetars, they now hastened to the gate which opened
towards the bridge; the guards, suspecting no assault from within,
were taken by surprise and easily overpowered; the gate was thrown
open, and the army that had remained in ambush rushed over the
bridge, and entered without opposition.

The alarm had by this time spread throughout the city; but already
a torrent of armed men was pouring through the streets. Pelistes
sallied forth with his cavaliers and such of the soldiery as he could
collect, and endeavored to repel the foe; but every effort was in
vain. The Christians were slowly driven from street to street and
square to square, disputing every inch of ground; until, finding
another body of the enemy approaching to attack them in rear, they
took refuge in a convent, and succeeded in throwing to and barring
the ponderous doors. The Moors attempted to force the gates, but
were assailed with such showers of missiles from the windows and
battlements that they were obliged to retire. Pelistes examined the
convent, and found it admirably calculated for defense. It was of
great extent, with spacious courts and cloisters. The gates were
massive, and secured with bolts and bars; the walls were of great
thickness; the windows high and grated; there was a great tank
or cistern of water, and the friars, who had fled from the city,
had left behind a good supply of provisions. Here, then, Pelistes
proposed to make a stand, and to endeavor to hold out until succor
should arrive from some other city. His proposition was received with
shouts by his loyal cavaliers, not one of whom but was ready to lay
down his life in the service of his commander.




Defense of the Convent of St. George by Pelistes.

For three long and anxious months did the good knight Pelistes
and his cavaliers defend their sacred asylum against the repeated
assaults of the infidels. The standard of the true faith was
constantly displayed from the loftiest tower, and a fire blazed there
throughout the night, as signals of distress to the surrounding
country. The watchman from his turret kept a wary lookout over the
land, hoping in every cloud of dust to descry the glittering helms of
Christian warriors. The country, however, was forlorn and abandoned,
or if perchance a human being was perceived, it was some Arab
horseman, careering the plain of the Guadalquivir as fearlessly as if
it were his native desert.

By degrees the provisions of the convent were consumed, and the
cavaliers had to slay their horses, one by one, for food. They
suffered the wasting miseries of famine without a murmur, and always
met their commander with a smile. Pelistes, however, read their
sufferings in their wan and emaciated countenances, and felt more for
them than for himself. He was grieved at heart that such loyalty and
valor should only lead to slavery or death, and resolved to make one
desperate attempt for their deliverance. Assembling them one day in
the court of the convent, he disclosed to them his purpose.

“Comrades and brothers in arms,” said he, “it is needless to conceal
danger from brave men. Our case is desperate; our countrymen either
know not or heed not our situation, or have not the means to help us.
There is but one chance of escape; it is full of peril, and, as your
leader, I claim the right to brave it. To-morrow, at break of day, I
will sally forth and make for the city gates at the moment of their
being opened; no one will suspect a solitary horseman; I shall be
taken for one of those recreant Christians who have basely mingled
with the enemy. If I succeed in getting out of the city I will hasten
to Toledo for assistance. In all events I shall be back in less than
twenty days. Keep a vigilant lookout toward the nearest mountain. If
you behold five lights blazing upon its summit, be assured I am at
hand with succor, and prepare yourselves to sally forth upon the city
as I attack the gates. Should I fail in obtaining aid, I will return
to die with you.”

When he had finished, his warriors would fain have severally
undertaken the enterprise, and they remonstrated against his exposing
himself to such peril; but he was not to be shaken from his purpose.
On the following morning, ere the break of day, his horse was led
forth, caparisoned, into the court of the convent, and Pelistes
appeared in complete armor. Assembling his cavaliers in the chapel,
he prayed with them for some time before the altar of the holy
Virgin. Then rising and standing in the midst of them, “God knows,
my companions,” said he, “whether we have any longer a country; if
not, better were we in our graves. Loyal and true have ye been to me,
and loyal have ye been to my son, even to the hour of his death; and
grieved am I that I have no other means of proving my love for you,
than by adventuring my worthless life for your deliverance. All I ask
of you before I go, is a solemn promise to defend yourselves to the
last like brave men and Christian cavaliers, and never to renounce
your faith, or throw yourselves on the mercy of the renegado Magued,
or the traitor Julian.” They all pledged their words, and took a
solemn oath to the same effect before the altar.

Pelistes then embraced them one by one, and gave them his
benediction, and as he did so his heart yearned over them, for
he felt towards them, not merely as a companion in arms and as a
commander, but as a father; and he took leave of them as if he had
been going to his death. The warriors, on their part, crowded round
him in silence, kissing his hands and the hem of his surcoat, and
many of the sternest shed tears.

The gray of the dawning had just streaked the east, when Pelistes
took lance in hand, hung his shield about his neck, and mounting his
steed, issued quietly forth from a postern of the convent. He paced
slowly though the vacant streets, and the tramp of his steed echoed
afar in that silent hour; but no one suspected a warrior, moving
thus singly and tranquilly in an armed city, to be an enemy. He
arrived at the gate just at the hour of opening; a foraging party
was entering with cattle and with beasts of burden, and he passed
unheeded through the throng. As soon as he was out of sight of the
soldiers who guarded the gate, he quickened his pace, and at length,
galloping at full speed, succeeded in gaining the mountains. Here he
paused, and alighted at a solitary farm-house to breathe his panting
steed; but had scarce put foot to ground when he heard the distant
sound of pursuit, and beheld a horseman spurring up the mountain.

Throwing himself again upon his steed, he abandoned the road and
galloped across the rugged heights. The deep dry channel of a torrent
checked his career, and his horse stumbling upon the margin, rolled
with his rider to the bottom. Pelistes was sorely bruised by the
fall, and his whole visage was bathed in blood. His horse, too, was
maimed and unable to stand, so that there was no hope of escape. The
enemy drew near, and proved to be no other than Magued the renegado
general, who had perceived him as he issued forth from the city and
had followed singly in pursuit. “Well met, señor alcaid!” exclaimed
he, “and overtaken in good time. Surrender yourself my prisoner.”

Pelistes made no other reply than by drawing his sword, bracing his
shield, and preparing for defense. Magued, though an apostate, and a
fierce warrior, possessed some sparks of knightly magnanimity. Seeing
his adversary dismounted, he disdained to take him at a disadvantage,
but, alighting, tied his horse to a tree.

The conflict that ensued was desperate and doubtful, for seldom had
two warriors met so well matched or of equal prowess. Their shields
were hacked to pieces, the ground was strewed with fragments of their
armor, and stained with their blood. They paused repeatedly to take
breath, regarding each other with wonder and admiration. Pelistes,
however, had been previously injured by his fall, and fought to great
disadvantage. The renegado perceived it, and sought not to slay him,
but to take him alive. Shifting his ground continually, he wearied
his antagonist, who was growing weaker and weaker from the loss of
blood. At length Pelistes seemed to summon up all his remaining
strength to make a signal blow; it was skillfully parried, and he
fell prostrate upon the ground. The renegado ran up, and putting his
foot upon his sword, and the point of his scimetar to his throat,
called upon him to ask his life; but Pelistes lay without sense, and
as one dead. Magued then unlaced the helmet of his vanquished enemy,
and seated himself on a rock beside him, to recover breath. In this
situation the warriors were found by certain Moorish cavaliers, who
marveled much at the traces of that stern and bloody combat.

Finding there was yet life in the Christian knight, they laid him
upon one of their horses, and aiding Magued to remount his steed,
proceeded slowly to the city. As the convoy passed by the convent,
the cavaliers looked forth and beheld their commander borne along
bleeding and a captive. Furious at the sight, they sallied forth
to the rescue, but were repulsed by a superior force and driven
back to the great portal of the church. The enemy entered pell-mell
with them, fighting from aisle to aisle, from altar to altar, and
in the courts and cloisters of the convent. The greater part of
the cavaliers died bravely, sword in hand; the rest were disabled
with wounds and made prisoners. The convent, which was lately
their castle, was now made their prison, and in after-times, in
commemoration of this event, was consecrated by the name of St.
George of the Captives.




Meeting between the Patriot Pelistes and the Traitor Julian.

The loyalty and prowess of the good knight Pelistes had gained him
the reverence even of his enemies. He was for a long time disabled
by his wounds, during which he was kindly treated by the Arab
chieftains, who strove by every courteous means to cheer his sadness
and make him forget that he was a captive. When he was recovered from
his wounds they gave him a magnificent banquet, to testify their
admiration of his virtues.

Pelistes appeared at the banquet clad in sable armor, and with a
countenance pale and dejected, for the ills of his country evermore
preyed upon his heart. Among the assembled guests was Count Julian,
who held a high command in the Moslem army, and was arrayed in
garments of mingled Christian and morisco fashion. Pelistes had been
a close and bosom friend of Julian in former times, and had served
with him in the wars in Africa, but when the count advanced to accost
him with his wonted amity, he turned away in silence and deigned
not to notice him, neither, during the whole of the repast, did he
address to him ever a word, but treated him as one unknown.

When the banquet was nearly at a close, the discourse turned upon
the events of the war, and the Moslem chieftains, in great courtesy,
dwelt upon the merits of many of the Christian cavaliers who had
fallen in battle, and all extolled the valor of those who had
recently perished in the defense of the convent. Pelistes remained
silent for a time, and checked the grief which swelled within his
bosom as he thought of his devoted cavaliers. At length, lifting up
his voice, “Happy are the dead,” said he, “for they rest in peace,
and are gone to receive the reward of their piety and valor! I could
mourn over the loss of my companions in arms, but they have fallen
with honor and are spared the wretchedness I feel in witnessing the
thraldom of my country. I have seen my only son, the pride and hope
of my age, cut down at my side; I have beheld kindred, friends, and
followers falling one by one around me, and have become so seasoned
to those losses that I have ceased to weep. Yet there is one man over
whose loss I will never cease to grieve. He was the loved companion
of my youth, and the steadfast associate of my graver years. He
was one of the most loyal of Christian knights. As a friend, he
was loving and sincere; as a warrior, his achievements were above
all praise. What has become of him, alas, I know not! If fallen in
battle, and I knew where his bones were laid, whether bleaching on
the plains of Xeres or buried in the waters of the Guadalete, I
would seek them out and enshrine them as the relics of a sainted
patriot. Or if, like many of his companions in arms, he should be
driven to wander in foreign lands, I would join him in his hapless
exile, and we would mourn together over the desolation of our

Even the hearts of the Arab warriors were touched by the lament of
the good Pelistes, and they said—“Who was this peerless friend in
whose praise thou art so fervent?”

“His name,” replied Pelistes, “was Count Julian.”

The Moslem warriors started with surprise. “Noble cavalier,”
exclaimed they, “has grief disordered thy senses? Behold thy friend
living and standing before thee, and yet thou dost not know him!
This, this is Count Julian!”

Upon this, Pelistes turned his eyes upon the count, and regarded
him for a time with a lofty and stern demeanor; and the countenance
of Julian darkened, and was troubled, and his eye sank beneath the
regard of that loyal and honorable cavalier. And Pelistes said, “In
the name of God, I charge thee, man unknown! to answer. Dost thou
presume to call thyself Count Julian?”

The count reddened with anger at these words. “Pelistes,” said he,
“what means this mockery? thou knowest me well; thou knowest me for
Count Julian.”

“I know thee for a base impostor!” cried Pelistes. “Count Julian was
a noble Gothic knight; but thou appearest in mongrel Moorish garb.
Count Julian was a Christian, faithful and devout; but I behold in
thee a renegado and an infidel. Count Julian was ever loyal to his
king, and foremost in his country’s cause; were he living, he would
be the first to put shield on neck and lance in rest, to clear the
land of her invaders; but thou art a hoary traitor; thy hands are
stained with the royal blood of the Goths, and thou hast betrayed thy
country and thy God. Therefore, I again repeat, man unknown! if thou
sayest thou art Count Julian, thou liest! My friend, alas, is dead;
and thou art some fiend from hell, which hast taken possession of his
body to dishonor his memory and render him an abhorrence among men!”
So saying, Pelistes turned his back upon the traitor, and went forth
from the banquet; leaving Count Julian overwhelmed with confusion,
and an object of scorn to all the Moslem cavaliers.




How Taric el Tuerto captured the City of Toledo through the aid of
the Jews, and how he found the famous Talismanic Table of Solomon.

While these events were passing in Cordova, the one-eyed Arab
general, Taric el Tuerto, having subdued the city and vega of
Granada, and the Mountains of the Sun and Air, directed his march
into the interior of the kingdom, to attack the ancient city of
Toledo, the capital of the Gothic kings. So great was the terror
caused by the rapid conquests of the invaders, that at the very rumor
of their approach many of the inhabitants, though thus in the very
citadel of the kingdom, abandoned it and fled to the mountains with
their families. Enough remained, however, to have made a formidable
defense; and, as the city was seated on a lofty rock, surrounded
by massive walls and towers, and almost girdled by the Tagus, it
threatened a long resistance. The Arab warriors pitched their tents
in the vega, on the borders of the river, and prepared for a tedious

One evening, as Taric was seated in his tent, meditating on the
mode in which he should assail this rock-built city, certain of the
patrols of the camp brought a stranger before him. “As we were going
our rounds,” said they, “we beheld this man lowered down with cords
from a tower, and he delivered himself into our hands, praying to
be conducted to thy presence, that he might reveal to thee certain
things important for thee to know.”

Taric fixed his eye upon the stranger; he was a Jewish rabbi, with a
long beard which spread upon his gabardine, and descended even to his
girdle. “What hast thou to reveal?” said he to the Israelite. “What
I have to reveal,” replied the other, “is for thee alone to hear;
command, then, I entreat thee, that these men withdraw.” When they
were alone he addressed Taric in Arabic: “Know, leader of the host of
Islam,” said he, “that I am sent to thee on the part of the children
of Israel, resident in Toledo. We have been oppressed and insulted
by the Christians in the time of their prosperity, and now that they
are threatened with siege, they have taken from us all our provisions
and our money; they have compelled us to work like slaves, repairing
their walls; and they oblige us to bear arms and guard a part of the
towers. We abhor their yoke, and are ready, if thou wilt receive us
as subjects, and permit us the free enjoyment of our religion and our
property, to deliver the towers we guard into thy hands, and to give
thee safe entrance into the city.”

The Arab chief was overjoyed at this proposition, and he rendered
much honor to the rabbi, and gave orders to clothe him in a costly
robe, and to perfume his beard with essences of a pleasant odor, so
that he was the most sweet-smelling of his tribe; and he said, “Make
thy words good, and put me in possession of the city, and I will
do all and more than thou hast required, and will bestow countless
wealth upon thee and thy brethren.”

Then a plan was devised between them by which the city was to be
betrayed and given up. “But how shall I be secured,” said he, “that
all thy tribe will fulfill what thou hast engaged, and that this is
not a stratagem to get me and my people into your power?”

“This shall be thy assurance,” replied the rabbi; “ten of the
principal Israelites will come to this tent and remain as hostages.”

“It is enough,” said Taric; and he made oath to accomplish all
that he had promised; and the Jewish hostages came and delivered
themselves into his hands.

On a dark night a chosen band of Moslem warriors approached the part
of the walls guarded by the Jews, and were secretly admitted into
a postern gate and concealed within a tower. Three thousand Arabs
were at the same time placed in ambush among rocks and thickets,
in a place on the opposite side of the river, commanding a view of
the city. On the following morning Taric ravaged the gardens of the
valley, and set fire to the farm-houses, and then, breaking up his
camp, marched off as if abandoning the siege.

The people of Toledo gazed with astonishment from their walls at the
retiring squadrons of the enemy, and scarcely could credit their
unexpected deliverance; before night there was not a turban nor a
hostile lance to be seen in the vega. They attributed it all to
the special intervention of their patron saint, Leocadia; and the
following day being Palm Sunday, they sallied forth in procession,
man, woman, and child, to the church of that blessed saint, which is
situated without the walls, that they might return thanks for her
marvelous protection.

When all Toledo had thus poured itself forth, and was marching with
cross and relic and solemn chant towards the chapel, the Arabs who
had been concealed in the tower rushed forth, and barred the gates of
the city. While some guarded the gates, others dispersed themselves
about the streets, slaying all who made resistance; and others
kindled a fire and made a column of smoke on the top of the citadel.
At sight of this signal, the Arabs in ambush beyond the river rose
with a great shout, and attacked the multitude who were thronging to
the church of St. Leocadia. There was a great massacre, although the
people were without arms and made no resistance; and it is said in
ancient chronicles that it was the apostate Bishop Oppas who guided
the Moslems to their prey, and incited them to this slaughter. The
pious reader, says Fray Antonio Agapida, will be slow to believe such
turpitude; but there is nothing more venomous than the rancor of an
apostate priest; for the best things in this world, when corrupted,
become the worst and most baneful.

Many of the Christians had taken refuge within the church, and
had barred the doors, but Oppas commanded that fire should be set
to the portals, threatening to put every one within to the sword.
Happily the veteran Taric arrived just in time to stay the fury of
this reverend renegado. He ordered the trumpets to call off the
troops from the carnage, and extended grace to all the surviving
inhabitants. They were permitted to remain in quiet possession of
their homes and effects, paying only a moderate tribute; and they
were allowed to exercise the rites of their religion in the existing
churches, to the number of seven, but were prohibited from erecting
any others. Those who preferred to leave the city were suffered to
depart in safety, but not to take with them any of their wealth.

Immense spoil was found by Taric in the alcazar, or royal castle,
situated on a rocky eminence in the highest part of the city. Among
the regalia treasured up in a secret chamber were twenty-five regal
crowns of fine gold, garnished with jacinths, amethysts, diamonds,
and other precious stones. These were the crowns of the different
Gothic kings who had reigned in Spain; it having been the usage
on the death of each king to deposit his crown in this treasury,
inscribing on it his name and age.[36]

  [36] Conde, _Hist. de los Arabes en España_, c. 12.

When Taric was thus in possession of the city, the Jews came to
him in procession, with songs and dances and the sound of timbrel
and psaltery, hailing him as their lord, and reminding him of his

The son of Ishmael kept his word with the children of Israel; they
were protected in the possession of all their wealth and the exercise
of their religion, and were, moreover, rewarded with jewels of gold
and jewels of silver and much moneys.[37]

  [37] The stratagem of the Jews of Toledo is recorded briefly by
  Bishop Lucas de Tuy, in his chronicle, but is related at large in
  the chronicle of the Moor Rasis.

A subsequent expedition was led by Taric against Guadalaxara, which
surrendered without resistance; he moreover captured the city of
Medina Celi, where he found an inestimable table which had formed
a part of the spoil taken at Rome by Alaric, at the time that the
sacred city was conquered by the Goths. It was composed of one
single and entire emerald, and possessed talismanic powers; for
traditions affirm that it was the work of genii, and had been wrought
by them for King Solomon the Wise, the son of David. This marvelous
relic was carefully preserved by Taric, as the most precious of
all his spoils, being intended by him as a present to the caliph;
and in commemoration of it the city was called by the Arabs Medina
Almeyda,—that is to say, “The City of the Table.”[38]

  [38] According to Arabian legends, this table was a mirror
  revealing all great events; insomuch that by looking on it the
  possessor might behold battles and sieges and feats of chivalry,
  and all actions worthy of renown; and might thus ascertain the
  truth of all historic transactions. It was a mirror of history
  therefore; and had very probably aided King Solomon in acquiring
  that prodigious knowledge and wisdom for which he was renowned.

Having made these and other conquests of less importance, and having
collected great quantities of gold and silver, and rich stuffs and
precious stones, Taric returned with his booty to the royal city of




Muza ben Nosier.— His Entrance into Spain and Capture of Carmona.

Let us leave for a season the bold Taric in his triumphant progress
from city to city, while we turn our eyes to Muza ben Nosier, the
renowned emir of Almagreb, and the commander-in-chief of the Moslem
forces of the West. When that jealous chieftain had dispatched his
letter commanding Taric to pause and await his coming, he immediately
made every preparation to enter Spain with a powerful reinforcement,
and to take command of the conquering army. He left his eldest son,
Abdalasis, in Cairvan, with authority over Almagreb, or Western
Africa. This Abdalasis was in the flower of his youth, and beloved by
the soldiery for the magnanimity and the engaging affability which
graced his courage.

Muza ben Nosier crossed the Strait of Hercules with a chosen force
of ten thousand horse and eight thousand foot, Arabs and Africans.
He was accompanied by his two sons, Meruan and Abdelola, and by
numerous illustrious Arabian cavaliers of the tribe of the Koreish.
He landed his shining legions on the coast of Andalusia, and pitched
his tents near to the Guadiana. There first he received intelligence
of the disobedience of Taric to his orders, and that, without waiting
his arrival, the impetuous chieftain had continued his career, and
with his light Arab squadrons had overrun and subdued the noblest
provinces and cities of the kingdom.

The jealous spirit of Muza was still more exasperated by these
tidings; he looked upon Taric no longer as a friend and coadjutor,
but as an invidious rival, the decided enemy of his glory, and he
determined on his ruin. His first consideration, however, was to
secure to himself a share in the actual conquest of the land before
it should be entirely subjugated.

Taking guides, therefore, from among his Christian captives, he set
out to subdue such parts of the country as had not been visited by
Taric. The first place which he assailed was the ancient city of
Carmona; it was not of great magnitude, but was fortified with high
walls and massive towers, and many of the fugitives of the late army
had thrown themselves into it.

The Goths had by this time recovered from their first panic; they had
become accustomed to the sight of Moslem troops, and their native
courage had been roused by danger. Shortly after the Arabs had
encamped before their walls, a band of cavaliers made a sudden sally
one morning before the break of day, fell upon the enemy by surprise,
killed above three hundred of them in their tents, and effected their
retreat into the city; leaving twenty of their number dead, covered
with honorable wounds, and in the very centre of the camp.

On the following day they made another sally, and fell on a different
quarter of the encampment; but the Arabs were on their guard, and met
them with superior numbers. After fighting fiercely for a time, they
were routed, and fled full speed for the city, with the Arabs hard
upon their traces. The guards within feared to open the gate, lest
with their friends they should admit a torrent of enemies. Seeing
themselves thus shut out, the fugitives determined to die like brave
soldiers rather than surrender. Wheeling suddenly round, they opened
a path through the host of their pursuers, fought their way back to
the camp, and raged about it with desperate fury until they were all
slain, after having killed above eight hundred of the enemy.[39]

  [39] Abulcasim, _Perdida de España_, L. 1, c. 13.

Muza now ordered that the place should be taken by storm. The Moslems
assailed it on all sides, but were vigorously resisted; many were
slain by showers of stones, arrows, and boiling pitch, and many
who had mounted with scaling-ladders were thrown headlong from the
battlements. The alcayde, Galo, aided solely by two men, defended
a tower and a portion of the wall, killing and wounding with a
cross-bow more than eighty of the enemy. The attack lasted above
half a day, when the Moslems were repulsed with the loss of fifteen
hundred men.

Muza was astonished and exasperated at meeting with such formidable
resistance from so small a city; for it was one of the few places,
during that memorable conquest, where the Gothic valor shone forth
with its proper lustre. While the Moslem army lay encamped before
the place, it was joined by Magued the renegado, and Count Julian
the traitor, with one thousand horsemen; most of them recreant
Christians, base betrayers of their country, and more savage in their
warfare than the Arabs of the desert. To find favor in the eyes of
Muza, and to evince his devotion to the cause, the count undertook,
by wily stratagem, to put this gallant city in his power.

One evening, just at twilight, a number of Christians, habited as
travelling merchants, arrived at one of the gates, conducting a
train of mules laden with arms and warlike munitions. “Open the gate
quickly,” cried they; “we bring supplies for the garrison, but the
Arabs have discovered and are in pursuit of us.” The gate was thrown
open, the merchants entered with their beasts of burden, and were
joyfully received. Meat and drink were placed before them, and after
they had refreshed themselves they retired to the quarters allotted
to them.

These pretended merchants were Count Julian and a number of his
partisans. At the hour of midnight they stole forth silently, and
assembling together, proceeded to what is called the Gate of Cordova.
Here setting suddenly upon the unsuspecting guards, they put them to
the edge of the sword, and throwing open the gates, admitted a great
body of the Arabs. The inhabitants were roused from their sleep by
sound of drum and trumpet and the clattering of horses. The Arabs
scoured the streets; a horrible massacre was commenced, in which
none were spared but such of the females as were young and beautiful,
and fitted to grace the harems of the conquerors. The arrival of Muza
put an end to the pillage and the slaughter, and he granted favorable
terms to the survivors. Thus the valiant little city of Carmona,
after nobly resisting the open assaults of the infidels, fell a
victim to the treachery of apostate Christians.[40]

  [40] _Cron. gen. de España_, por Alonzo el Sabio. P. 3, c. 1.




Muza marches against the City of Seville.

After the capture of Carmona, Muza descended into a noble plain,
covered with fields of grain, with orchards and gardens, through
which glided the soft-flowing Guadalquivir. On the borders of the
river stood the ancient city of Seville, surrounded by Roman walls,
and defended by its golden tower. Understanding from his spies that
the city had lost the flower of its youth in the battle of the
Guadalete, Muza anticipated but a faint resistance. A considerable
force, however, still remained within the place, and what they wanted
in numbers they made up in resolution. For some days they withstood
the assaults of the enemy, and defended their walls with great
courage. Their want of warlike munitions, however, and the superior
force and skill of the besieging army, left them no hope of being
able to hold out long. There were two youthful cavaliers of uncommon
valor in the city. They assembled the warriors and addressed them.
“We cannot save the city,” said they; “but at least we may save
ourselves, and preserve so many strong arms for the service of our
country. Let us cut our way through the infidel force, and gain some
secure fortress, from whence we may return with augmented numbers for
the rescue of the city.”

The advice of the young cavaliers was adopted. In the dead of
the night the garrison assembled, to the number of about three
thousand,—the most part mounted on horseback. Suddenly sallying from
one of the gates, they rushed in a compact body upon the camp of the
Saracens, which was negligently guarded, for the Moslems expected no
such act of desperation. The camp was a scene of great carnage and
confusion; many were slain on both sides; the two valiant leaders of
the Christians fell covered with wounds, but the main body succeeded
in forcing their way through the centre of the army, and in making
their retreat to Beja in Lusitania.

Muza was at a loss to know the meaning of this desperate sally. In
the morning he perceived the gates of the city wide open. A number of
ancient and venerable men presented themselves at his tent, offering
submission and imploring mercy, for none were left in the place but
the old, the infirm, and the miserable. Muza listened to them with
compassion, and granted their prayer, and the only tribute he exacted
was three measures of wheat and three of barley from each house or
family. He placed a garrison of Arabs in the city, and left there
a number of Jews to form a body of population. Having thus secured
two important places in Andalusia, he passed the boundaries of the
province, and advanced with great martial pomp into Lusitania.




Muza besieges the City of Merida.

The army of Muza was now augmented to about eighteen thousand
horsemen, but he took with him but few foot-soldiers, leaving them
to garrison the conquered towns. He met with no resistance on his
entrance into Lusitania. City after city laid its keys at his feet
and implored to be received in peaceful vassalage. One city alone
prepared for vigorous defense, the ancient Merida, a place of great
extent, uncounted riches, and prodigious strength. A noble Goth named
Sacarus was the governor,—a man of consummate wisdom, patriotism, and
valor. Hearing of the approach of the invaders, he gathered within
the walls all the people of the surrounding country, with their
horses and mules, their flocks and herds, and most precious effects.
To insure for a long time a supply of bread, he filled the magazines
with grain, and erected wind-mills on the churches. This done, he
laid waste the surrounding country to a great extent, so that a
besieging army would have to encamp in a desert.

When Muza came in sight of this magnificent city, he was struck
with admiration. He remained for some time gazing in silence upon
its mighty walls and lordly towers, its vast extent, and the stately
palaces and temples with which it was adorned. “Surely,” cried he, at
length, “all the people of the earth have combined their power and
skill to embellish and aggrandize this city. Allah Achbar! Happy will
he be who shall have the glory of making such a conquest!”

Seeing that a place so populous and so strongly fortified would
be likely to maintain a long and formidable resistance, he sent
messengers to Africa to his son Abdalasis, to collect all the forces
that could be spared from the garrisons of Mauritania, and to hasten
and reinforce him.

While Muza was forming his encampment, deserters from the city
brought him word that a chosen band intended to sally forth at
midnight and surprise his camp. The Arab commander immediately took
measures to receive them with a counter surprise. Having formed his
plan, and communicated it to his principal officers, he ordered
that, throughout the day, there should be kept up an appearance of
negligent confusion in his encampment. The outposts were feebly
guarded; fires were lighted in various places, as if preparing for
feasting; bursts of music and shouts of revelry resounded from
different quarters, and the whole camp seemed to be rioting in
careless security on the plunder of the land. As the night advanced,
the fires were gradually extinguished, and silence ensued, as if the
soldiery had sunk into deep sleep after the carousal.

In the mean time, bodies of troops had been secretly and silently
marched to reinforce the outposts; and the renegado Magued, with a
numerous force, had formed an ambuscade in a deep stone quarry by
which the Christians would have to pass. These preparations being
made, they awaited the approach of the enemy in breathless silence.

About midnight the chosen force intended for the sally assembled,
and the command was confided to Count Tendero, a Gothic cavalier
of tried prowess. After having heard a solemn mass and received
the benediction of the priest, they marched out of the gate with
all possible silence. They were suffered to pass the ambuscade in
the quarry without molestation; as they approached the Moslem camp
everything appeared quiet, for the foot-soldiers were concealed in
slopes and hollows, and every Arab horseman lay in his armor beside
his steed. The sentinels on the outposts waited until the Christians
were close at hand, and then fled in apparent consternation.

Count Tendero gave the signal for assault, and the Christians rushed
confidently forward. In an instant an uproar of drums, trumpets,
and shrill war-cries burst forth from every side. An army seemed to
spring up from the earth; squadrons of horse came thundering on them
in front while the quarry poured forth legions of armed warriors in
their rear.

The noise of the terrific conflict that took place was heard on the
city walls, and answered by shouts of exultation, for the Christians
thought it rose from the terror and confusion of the Arab camp. In
a little while, however, they were undeceived by fugitives from the
fight, aghast with terror and covered with wounds. “Hell itself,”
cried they, “is on the side of these infidels; the earth casts forth
warriors and steeds to aid them. We have fought, not with men, but

The greater part of the chosen troops who had sallied were cut to
pieces in that scene of massacre, for they had been confounded by
the tempest of battle which suddenly broke forth around them. Count
Tendero fought with desperate valor, and fell covered with wounds.
His body was found the next morning, lying among the slain, and
transpierced with half a score of lances. The renegado Magued cut
off his head and tied it to the tail of his horse, and repaired with
this savage trophy to the tent of Muza; but the hostility of the Arab
general was of a less malignant kind. He ordered that the head and
body should be placed together upon a bier, and treated with becoming

In the course of the day a train of priests and friars came forth
from the city to request permission to seek for the body of the
count. Muza delivered it to them, with many soldier-like encomiums on
the valor of that good cavalier. The priests covered it with a pall
of cloth of gold, and bore it back in melancholy procession to the
city where it was received with loud lamentations.

The siege was now pressed with great vigor, and repeated assaults
were made, but in vain. Muza saw, at length, that the walls were too
high to be scaled, and the gates too strong to be burst open without
the aid of engines, and he desisted from the attack until machines
for the purpose could be constructed. The governor suspected from
this cessation of active warfare that the enemy flattered themselves
to reduce the place by famine; he caused, therefore, large baskets
of bread to be thrown from the wall, and sent a messenger to Muza
to inform him that if his army should be in want of bread he would
supply it, having sufficient corn in his granaries for a ten years’

  [41] Bleda, _Cronica_, L. 2, c. 11.

The citizens, however, did not possess the undaunted spirit of
their governor. When they found that the Moslems were constructing
tremendous engines for the destruction of their walls, they lost all
courage, and, surrounding the governor in a clamorous multitude,
compelled him to send forth persons to capitulate.

The ambassadors came into the presence of Muza with awe, for they
expected to find a fierce and formidable warrior in one who had
filled the land with terror; but, to their astonishment, they beheld
an ancient and venerable man, with white hair, a snowy beard, and
a pale, emaciated countenance. He had passed the previous night
without sleep, and had been all day in the field; he was exhausted,
therefore, by watchfulness and fatigue, and his garments were covered
with dust.

“What a devil of a man is this,” murmured the ambassadors, one to
another, “to undertake such a siege when on the verge of the grave.
Let us defend our city the best way we can; surely we can hold out
longer than the life of this graybeard.”

They returned to the city, therefore, scoffing at an invader who
seemed fitter to lean on a crutch than wield a lance; and the terms
offered by Muza, which would otherwise have been thought favorable,
were scornfully rejected by the inhabitants. A few days put an end to
this mistaken confidence. Abdalasis, the son of Muza, arrived from
Africa at the head of his reinforcement; he brought seven thousand
horsemen and a host of Barbary archers, and made a glorious display
as he marched into the camp. The arrival of this youthful warrior
was hailed with great acclamations, so much had he won the hearts of
the soldiery by the frankness, the suavity, and generosity of his
conduct. Immediately after his arrival a grand assault was made upon
the city, and several of the huge battering engines being finished,
they were wheeled up and began to thunder against the walls.

The unsteady populace were again seized with terror, and, surrounding
their governor with fresh clamors, obliged him to send forth
ambassadors a second time to treat of a surrender. When admitted to
the presence of Muza, the ambassadors could scarcely believe their
eyes, or that this was the same withered, white-headed old man of
whom they had lately spoken with scoffing. His hair and beard were
tinged of a ruddy brown; his countenance was refreshed by repose
and flushed with indignation, and he appeared a man in the matured
vigor of his days. The ambassadors were struck with awe. “Surely,”
whispered they, one to the other, “this must be either a devil or a
magician, who can thus make himself old and young at pleasure!”

Muza received them haughtily. “Hence,” said he, “and tell your people
I grant them the same terms I have already proffered, provided the
city be instantly surrendered; but, by the head of Mahomet, if there
be any further delay, not one mother’s son of ye shall receive mercy
at my hands!”

The deputies returned into the city pale and dismayed. “Go forth!
go forth!” cried they, “and accept whatever terms are offered; of
what avail is it to fight against men who can renew their youth at
pleasure? Behold, we left the leader of the infidels an old and
feeble man, and to-day we find him youthful and vigorous.”[42]

  [42] _Conde_, p. 1, c. 13. Ambrosio de Morales. N. B.—In the
  chronicle of Spain, composed by order of Alonzo the Wise, this
  anecdote is given as having happened at the siege of Seville.

The place was, therefore, surrendered forthwith, and Muza entered it
in triumph. His terms were merciful. Those who chose to remain were
protected in persons, possessions, and religion; he took the property
of those only who abandoned the city or had fallen in battle;
together with all arms and horses, and the treasures and ornaments
of the churches. Among these sacred spoils was found a cup made of
a single pearl, which a king of Spain, in ancient times, had brought
from the temple of Jerusalem when it was destroyed by Nabuchodonosor.
This precious relic was sent by Muza to the caliph, and was placed in
the principal mosque of the city of Damascus.[43]

  [43] Marmol, _Descrip. de Africa_, T. 1, L. 2.

Muza knew how to esteem merit even in an enemy. When Sacarus, the
Governor of Merida, appeared before him, he lauded him greatly for
the skill and courage he had displayed in the defense of his city;
and, taking off his own scimetar, which was of great value, girded
it upon him with his own hands. “Wear this,” said he, “as a poor
memorial of my admiration; a soldier of such virtue and valor is
worthy of far higher honors.”

He would have engaged the governor in his service, or have persuaded
him to remain in the city, as an illustrious vassal of the caliph,
but the noble-minded Sacarus refused to bend to the yoke of the
conquerors; nor could he bring himself to reside contentedly in his
country, when subjected to the domination of the infidels. Gathering
together all those who chose to accompany him into exile, he embarked
to seek some country where he might live in peace and in the free
exercise of his religion. What shore these ocean pilgrims landed upon
has never been revealed; but tradition vaguely gives us to believe
that it was some unknown island far in the bosom of the Atlantic.[44]

  [44] Abulcasim, _Perdida de España_, L. 1, c. 13.




Expedition of Abdalasis against Seville and the “Land of Tadmir.”

After the capture of Merida, Muza gave a grand banquet to his
captains and distinguished warriors in that magnificent city. At
this martial feast were many Arab cavaliers who had been present in
various battles, and they vied with each other in recounting the
daring enterprises in which they had been engaged, and the splendid
triumphs they had witnessed. While they talked with ardor and
exultation, Abdalasis, the son of Muza, alone kept silence, and sat
with a dejected countenance. At length, when there was a pause, he
turned to his father and addressed him with modest earnestness. “My
lord and father,” said he, “I blush to hear your warriors recount
the toils and dangers they have passed while I have done nothing
to entitle me to their companionship. When I return to Egypt and
present myself before the caliph, he will ask me of my services in
Spain; what battle I have gained; what town or castle I have taken.
How shall I answer him? If you love me, then, as your son, give me
a command, intrust to me an enterprise, and let me acquire a name
worthy to be mentioned among men.”

The eyes of Muza kindled with joy at finding Abdalasis thus ambitious
of renown in arms. “Allah be praised!” exclaimed he, “the heart of my
son is in the right place. It is becoming in youth to look upward and
be aspiring. Thy desire, Abdalasis, shall be gratified.”

An opportunity at that very time presented itself to prove the
prowess and discretion of the youth. During the siege of Merida,
the Christian troops which had taken refuge at Beja had reinforced
themselves from Peñaflor, and suddenly returning, had presented
themselves before the gates of the city of Seville.[45] Certain of
the Christian inhabitants threw open the gates and admitted them. The
troops rushed to the alcazar, took it by surprise, and put many of
the Moslem garrison to the sword; the residue made their escape, and
fled to the Arab camp before Merida, leaving Seville in the hands of
the Christians.

  [45] Espinosa, _Antq. y Grand. de Seville_, L. 2, c. 3.

The veteran Muza, now that the siege of Merida was at an end, was
meditating the recapture and punishment of Seville at the very time
when Abdalasis addressed him. “Behold, my son,” exclaimed he, “an
enterprise worthy of thy ambition! Take with thee all the troops
thou hast brought from Africa; reduce the city of Seville again to
subjection, and plant thy standard upon its alcazar. But stop not
there: carry thy conquering sword into the southern parts of Spain;
thou wilt find there a harvest of glory yet to be reaped.”

Abdalasis lost no time in departing upon this enterprise. He took
with him Count Julian, Magued el Rumi, and the Bishop Oppas, that
he might benefit by their knowledge of the country. When he came in
sight of the fair city of Seville, seated like a queen in the midst
of its golden plain, with the Guadalquivir flowing beneath its walls,
he gazed upon it with the admiration of a lover, and lamented in his
soul that he had to visit it as an avenger. His troops, however,
regarded it with wrathful eyes, thinking only of its rebellion and of
the massacre of their countrymen in the alcazar.

The principal people of the city had taken no part in this gallant
but fruitless insurrection; and now, when they beheld the army of
Abdalasis encamped upon the banks of the Guadalquivir, would fain
have gone forth to make explanations, and intercede for mercy. The
populace, however, forbade any one to leave the city, and, barring
the gates, prepared to defend themselves to the last.

The place was attacked with resistless fury. The gates were soon
burst open; the Moslems rushed in, panting for revenge. They confined
not their slaughter to the soldiery in the alcazar, but roamed
through every street, confounding the innocent with the guilty in one
bloody massacre, and it was with the utmost difficulty that Abdalasis
could at length succeed in staying their sanguinary career.[46]

  [46] Conde, P. 1, c. 14.

The son of Muza proved himself as mild in conquest as he had been
intrepid in assault. The moderation and benignity of his conduct
soothed the terrors of the vanquished, and his wise precautions
restored tranquillity. Having made proper regulations for the
protection of the inhabitants, he left a strong garrison in the place
to prevent any future insurrection, and then departed on the further
prosecution of his enterprise.

Wherever he went his arms were victorious; and his victories were
always characterized by the same magnanimity. At length he arrived
on the confines of that beautiful region, comprising lofty and
precipitous mountains and rich and delicious plains, afterwards known
by the name of the kingdom of Murcia. All this part of the country
was defended by the veteran Theodomir, who, by skillful management,
had saved a remnant of his forces after the defeat on the banks of
the Guadalete.

Theodomir was a stanch warrior, but a wary and prudent man. He
had experienced the folly of opposing the Arabs in open field,
where their cavalry and armor gave them such superiority; on their
approach, therefore, he assembled all his people capable of bearing
arms, and took possession of the cliffs and mountain passes. “Here,”
said he, “a simple goat-herd, who can hurl down rocks and stones,
is as good as a warrior armed in proof.” In this way he checked
and harassed the Moslem army in all its movements,—showering down
missiles upon it from overhanging precipices, and waylaying it in
narrow and rugged defiles, where a few raw troops could make stand
against a host.

Theodomir was in a fair way to baffle his foes, and oblige them
to withdraw from his territories; unfortunately, however, the wary
veteran had two sons with him, young men of hot and heady valor,
who considered all this prudence of their father as savoring of
cowardice, and who were anxious to try their prowess in the open
field. “What glory,” said they, “is to be gained by destroying an
enemy in this way, from the covert of rocks and thickets?”

“You talk like young men,” replied the veteran. “Glory is a prize one
may fight for abroad, but safety is the object when the enemy is at
the door.”

One day, however, the young men succeeded in drawing down their
father into the plain. Abdalasis immediately seized on the
opportunity, and threw himself between the Goths and their mountain
fastnesses. Theodomir saw too late the danger into which he was
betrayed. “What can our raw troops do,” said he, “against those
squadrons of horse that move like castles? Let us make a rapid
retreat to Orihuela, and defend ourselves from behind its walls.”

“Father,” said the eldest son, “it is too late to retreat; remain
here with the reserve while my brother and I advance. Fear nothing;
am not I your son, and would I not die to defend you?”

“In truth,” replied the veteran, “I have my doubts whether you are my
son. But if I remain here, and you should all be killed, where then
would be my protection? Come,” added he, turning to the second son,
“I trust that thou art virtually my son, let us hasten to retreat
before it is too late.”

“Father,” replied the youngest, “I have not a doubt that I am
honestly and thoroughly your son, and as such I honor you; but I owe
duty likewise to my mother, and when I sallied to the war she gave me
her blessing as long as I should act with valor, but her curse should
I prove craven and fly the field. Fear nothing, father; I will defend
you while living, and even after you are dead. You shall never fail
of an honorable sepulture among your kindred.”

“A pestilence on ye both,” cried Theodomir, “for a brace of
misbegotten madmen! What care I, think ye, where ye lay my body
when I am dead? One day’s existence in a hovel is worth an age of
interment in a marble sepulchre. Come, my friends,” said he, turning
to his principal cavaliers, “let us leave these hot-headed striplings
and make our retreat; if we tarry any longer the enemy will be upon

Upon this, the cavaliers and proud hidalgoes drew up scornfully and
tossed their heads: “What do you see in us,” said they, “that you
think we will show our backs to the enemy? Forward! was ever the good
old Gothic watchword, and with that will we live and die!”

While time was lost in these disputes, the Moslem army kept advancing
until retreat was no longer practicable. The battle was tumultuous
and bloody. Theodomir fought like a lion, but it was all in vain;
he saw his two sons cut down, and the greater part of their rash
companions, while his raw mountain troops fled in all directions.

Seeing there was no longer any hope, he seized the bridle of a
favorite page who was near him, and who was about spurring for the
mountains. “Part not from me,” said he, “but do thou, at least,
attend to my counsel, my son; and of a truth I believe thou art my
son, for thou art the offspring of one of my handmaids who was kind
unto me.” And indeed the youth marvelously resembled him. Turning
then the reins of his own steed, and giving him the spur, he fled
amain from the field, followed by the page; nor did he stop until he
arrived within the walls of Orihuela.

Ordering the gates to be barred and bolted, he prepared to receive
the enemy. There were but few men in the city capable of bearing
arms, most of the youth having fallen in the field. He caused the
women, therefore, to clothe themselves in male attire, to put on hats
and helmets, to take long reeds in their hands instead of lances, and
to cross their hair upon their chins in semblance of beards. With
these troops he lined the walls and towers.

It was about the hour of twilight that Abdalasis approached with his
army, but he paused when he saw the walls so numerously garrisoned.
Then Theodomir took a flag of truce in his hand, and put a herald’s
tabard on the page, and they two sallied forth to capitulate, and
were graciously received by Abdalasis.

“I come,” said Theodomir, “on the behalf of the commander of this
city, to treat for terms worthy of your magnanimity and of his
dignity. You perceive that the city is capable of withstanding a
long siege, but he is desirous of sparing the lives of his soldiers.
Promise that the inhabitants shall be at liberty to depart unmolested
with their property, and the city will be delivered up to you
to-morrow morning without a blow; otherwise we are prepared to fight
until not a man be left.”

Abdalasis was well pleased to get so powerful a place upon such easy
terms, but stipulated that the garrison should lay down their arms.
To this Theodomir readily assented, with the exception, however, of
the governor and his retinue, which was granted out of consideration
for his dignity. The articles of capitulation were then drawn out,
and when Abdalasis had affixed his name and seal, Theodomir took the
pen and wrote his signature. “Behold in me,” said he, “the governor
of the city!”

Abdalasis was pleased with the hardihood of the commander of the
place in thus venturing personally into his power, and entertained
the veteran with still greater honor. When Theodomir returned to the
city, he made known the capitulation, and charged the inhabitants to
pack up their effects during the night and be ready to sally forth
during the morning.

At the dawn of day the gates were thrown open, and Abdalasis looked
to see a great force issuing forth, but to his surprise beheld merely
Theodomir and his page in battered armor, followed by a multitude of
old men, women, and children.

Abdalasis waited until the whole had come forth, then turning to
Theodomir, “Where,” cried he, “are the soldiers whom I saw last
evening lining the walls and towers?”

“Soldiers have I none,” replied the veteran. “As to my garrison,
behold it before you. With these women did I man my walls, and this
my page is my herald, guard, and retinue.”

Upon this the Bishop Oppas and Count Julian exclaimed that the
capitulation was a base fraud and ought not to be complied with; but
Abdalasis relished the stratagem of the old soldier, and ordered
that the stipulations of the treaty should be faithfully performed.
Nay, so high an opinion did he conceive of the subtle wisdom of this
commander that he permitted him to remain in authority over the
surrounding country on his acknowledging allegiance and engaging to
pay tribute to the caliph; and all that part of Spain, comprising
the beautiful provinces of Murcia and Valencia, was long after known
by the Arabic name of its defender, and is still recorded in Arabian
chronicles as “The land of Tadmir.”[47]

  [47] Conde, p. 1. _Cronica del Moro Rasis._—_Cron. gen. España_,
  por Alonzo el Sabio, p. 3, c. 1.

Having succeeded in subduing this rich and fruitful region, and
having gained great renown for his generosity as well as valor,
Abdalasis returned with the chief part of his army to the city of




Muza arrives at Toledo.—Interview between him and Taric.

When Muza ben Nosier had sent his son Abdalasis to subdue Seville, he
departed for Toledo to call Taric to account for his disobedience to
his orders; for, amidst all his own successes, the prosperous career
of that commander preyed upon his mind. What can content the jealous
and ambitious heart? As Muza passed through the land, towns and
cities submitted to him without resistance; he was lost in wonder at
the riches of the country and the noble monuments of art with which
it was adorned; when he beheld the bridges, constructed in ancient
times by the Romans, they seemed to him the work, not of men, but
of genii. Yet all these admirable objects only made him repine the
more that he had not had the exclusive glory of invading and subduing
the land; and exasperated him the more against Taric, for having
apparently endeavored to monopolize the conquest.

Taric heard of his approach, and came forth to meet him at Talavera,
accompanied by many of the most distinguished companions of his
victories, and with a train of horses and mules laden with spoils,
with which he trusted to propitiate the favor of his commander.
Their meeting took place on the banks of the rapid river Tietar,
which rises in the mountains of Placencia and throws itself into the
Tagus. Muza, in former days, while Taric had acted as his subordinate
and indefatigable officer, had cherished and considered him as a
second self; but now that he had started up to be a rival, he could
not conceal his jealousy. When the veteran came into his presence,
he regarded him for a moment with a stern and indignant aspect.
“Why hast thou disobeyed my orders?” said he. “I commanded thee to
await my arrival with reinforcements, but thou hast rashly overrun
the country, endangering the loss of our armies and the ruin of our

“I have acted,” replied Taric, “in such manner as I thought would
best serve the cause of Islam, and in so doing I thought to fulfill
the wishes of Muza. Whatever I have done has been as your servant;
behold your share as commander-in-chief of spoils which I have
collected.” So saying he produced an immense treasure in silver and
gold, and costly stuffs and precious stones, and spread it before

The anger of the Arab commander was still more kindled at the sight
of this booty, for it proved how splendid had been the victories
of Taric; but he restrained his wrath for the present, and they
proceeded together in moody silence to Toledo. When he entered this
royal city, however, and ascended to the ancient palace of the Gothic
kings, and reflected that all this had been a scene of triumph to
his rival, he could no longer repress his indignation. He demanded of
Taric a strict account of all the riches he had gathered in Spain,
even of the presents he had reserved for the caliph, and, above all,
he made him yield up his favorite trophy, the talismanic table of
Solomon. When all this was done, he again upbraided him bitterly with
his disobedience of orders, and with the rashness of his conduct.
“What blind confidence in fortune hast thou shown,” said he, “in
overrunning such a country and assailing such powerful cities with
thy scanty force! What madness to venture everything upon a desperate
chance, when thou knewest I was coming with a force to make the
victory secure. All thy success has been owing to mere luck, not to
judgment nor generalship.”

He then bestowed high praises upon the other chieftains for their
services in the cause of Islam, but they answered not a word, and
their countenances were gloomy and discontented; for they felt the
injustice done to their favorite leader. As to Taric, though his eye
burned like fire, he kept his passion within bounds. “I have done the
best I could to serve God and the caliph,” said he emphatically; “my
conscience acquits me, and I trust my sovereign will do the same.”

“Perhaps he may,” replied Muza, bitterly; “but, in the mean time, I
cannot confide his interests to a desperado who is heedless of orders
and throws everything at hazard. Such a general is unworthy to be
intrusted with the fate of armies.”

So saying, he divested Taric of his command, and gave it to Magued
the renegado. The gaunt Taric still maintained an air of stern
composure. His only words were, “The caliph will do me justice!” Muza
was so transported with passion at this laconic defiance that he
ordered him to be thrown into prison, and even threatened his life.

Upon this, Magued el Rumi, though he had risen by the disgrace
of Taric, had the generosity to speak out warmly in his favor.
“Consider,” said he, to Muza, “what may be the consequences of this
severity. Taric has many friends in the army; his actions, too, have
been signal and illustrious, and entitle him to the highest honors
and rewards, instead of disgrace and imprisonment.”

The anger of Muza, however, was not to be appeased; and he trusted
to justify his measures by dispatching missives to the caliph,
complaining of the insubordination of Taric, and his rash and
headlong conduct. The result proved the wisdom of the caution
given by Magued. In the course of a little while Muza received a
humiliating letter from the caliph, ordering him to restore Taric to
the command of the soldiers “whom he had so gloriously conducted;”
and not to render useless “one of the best swords in Islam!”[48]

  [48] Conde, pt. 1. c. 15.

It is thus the envious man brings humiliation and reproach upon
himself, in endeavoring to degrade a meritorious rival. When the
tidings came of the justice rendered by the caliph to the merits of
the veteran, there was general joy throughout the army, and Muza read
in the smiling countenances of every one around him a severe censure
upon his conduct. He concealed, however, his deep humiliation, and
affected to obey the orders of his sovereign with great alacrity;
he released Taric from prison, feasted him at his own table, and
then publicly replaced him at the head of his troops. The army
received its favorite veteran with shouts of joy, and celebrated with
rejoicings the reconciliation of the commanders; but the shouts of
the soldiery were abhorrent to the ears of Muza.




Muza prosecutes the Scheme of Conquest.—Siege of Saragossa.—Complete
Subjugation of Spain.

The dissensions, which for a time had distracted the conquering
army, being appeased, and the Arabian generals being apparently once
more reconciled, Muza, as commander in-chief, proceeded to complete
the enterprise by subjugating the northern parts of Spain. The same
expeditious mode of conquest that had been sagaciously adopted by
Taric was still pursued. The troops were lightly armed, and freed
from every superfluous incumbrance. Each horseman, beside his arms,
carried a small sack of provisions, a copper vessel in which to
cook them, and a skin which served him for surcoat and for bed. The
infantry carried nothing but their arms. To each regiment or squadron
was allowed a limited number of sumpter-mules and attendants, barely
enough to carry their necessary baggage and supplies; nothing was
permitted that could needlessly diminish the number of fighting men,
delay their rapid movements, or consume their provisions. Strict
orders were again issued, prohibiting, on pain of death, all plunder
excepting the camp of an enemy, or cities given up to pillage.[49]

  [49] Conde, pt. 1, c. 15.

The armies now took their several lines of march. That under Taric
departed towards the northeast; beating up the country towards the
source of the Tagus, traversing the chain of Iberian or Arragonian
Mountains, and pouring down into the plains and valleys watered by
the Ebro. It was wonderful to see, in so brief a space of time, such
a vast and difficult country penetrated and subdued, and the invading
army, like an inundating flood, pouring its streams into the most
remote recesses.

While Taric was thus sweeping the country to the northeast, Muza
departed in an opposite direction; yet purposing to meet him, and
to join their forces in the north. Bending his course westwardly,
he made a circuit behind the mountains, and then, advancing into
the open country, displayed his banners before Salamanca, which
surrendered without resistance. From hence he continued on towards
Astorga, receiving the terrified submission of the land; then turning
up the Valley of the Douro, he ascended the course of that famous
river towards the east; crossed the Sierra de Moncayo, and, arriving
on the banks of the Ebro, marched down along its stream, until he
approached the strong city of Saragossa, the citadel of all that part
of Spain. In this place had taken refuge many of the most valiant
of the Gothic warriors—the remnants of armies, and fugitives from
conquered cities. It was one of the last rallying-points of the land.
When Muza arrived, Taric had already been for some time before the
place, laying close siege; the inhabitants were pressed by famine,
and had suffered great losses in repeated combats; but there was a
spirit and obstinacy in their resistance surpassing anything that had
yet been witnessed by the invaders.

Muza now took command of the siege, and ordered a general assault
upon the walls. The Moslems planted their scaling-ladders, and
mounted with their accustomed intrepidity, but were vigorously
resisted; nor could all their efforts obtain them a footing upon
the battlements. While they were thus assailing the walls, Count
Julian ordered a heap of combustibles to be placed against one of
the gates, and set on fire. The inhabitants attempted in vain, from
the barbican, to extinguish the flames. They burned so fiercely
that in a little while the gate fell from the hinges. Count Julian
galloped into the city, mounted upon a powerful charger, himself and
his steed all covered with mail. He was followed by three hundred of
his partisans, and supported by Magued the renegado, with a troop of

The inhabitants disputed every street and public square; they made
barriers of dead bodies, fighting behind these ramparts of their
slaughtered countrymen. Every window and roof was filled with
combatants; the very women and children joined in the desperate
fight, throwing down stones and missiles of all kinds, and scalding
water upon the enemy.

The battle raged until the hour of vespers, when the principal
inhabitants held a parley, and capitulated for a surrender. Muza
had been incensed at their obstinate resistance, which had cost the
lives of so many of his soldiers; he knew, also, that in the city
were collected the riches of many of the towns of eastern Spain. He
demanded, therefore, beside the usual terms, a heavy sum to be paid
down by the citizens, called the contribution of blood; as by this
they redeemed themselves from the edge of the sword. The people were
obliged to comply. They collected all the jewels of their richest
families, and all the ornaments of their temples, and laid them at
the feet of Muza; and placed in his power many of their noblest
youths as hostages. A strong garrison was then appointed, and thus
the fierce city of Saragossa was subdued to the yoke of the conqueror.

The Arab generals pursued their conquests even to the foot of the
Pyrenees; Taric then descended along the course of the Ebro, and
continued along the Mediterranean coast; subduing the famous city
of Valencia, with its rich and beautiful domains, and carrying the
success of his arms even to Denia.

Muza undertook with his host a wider range of conquest. He overcame
the cities of Barcelona, Gerona, and others that lay on the skirts
of the eastern mountains; then crossing into the land of the Franks,
he captured the city of Narbonne—in a temple of which he found seven
equestrian images of silver, which he brought off as trophies of
his victory.[50] Returning into Spain, he scoured its northern
regions along Gallicia and the Asturias; passed triumphantly through
Lusitania, and arrived once more in Andalusia, covered with laurels
and enriched with immense spoils.

  [50] Conde, pt. 1, c. 16.

Thus was completed the subjugation of unhappy Spain. All its cities,
and fortresses, and strongholds, were in the hands of the Saracens,
excepting some of the wild mountain tracts that bordered the Atlantic
and extended towards the north. Here, then, the story of the conquest
might conclude, but that the indefatigable chronicler, Fray Antonio
Agapida, goes on to record the fate of those persons who were most
renowned in the enterprise. We shall follow his steps, and avail
ourselves of his information, laboriously collected from various
sources; and, truly, the story of each of the actors in this great
historical drama bears with it its striking moral, and is full of
admonition and instruction.




Feud between the Arab Generals.—They are summoned to appear before
the Caliph at Damascus.—Reception of Taric.

The heart of Muza ben Nosier was now lifted up, for he considered
his glory complete. He held a sway that might have gratified the
ambition of the proudest sovereign, for all western Africa and the
newly acquired peninsula of Spain were obedient to his rule; and he
was renowned throughout all the lands of Islam as the great conqueror
of the West. But sudden humiliation awaited him in the very moment of
his highest triumph.

Notwithstanding the outward reconciliation of Muza and Taric, a deep
and implacable hostility continued to exist between them; and each
had busy partisans who distracted the armies by their feuds. Letters
were incessantly dispatched to Damascus by either party, exalting
the merits of their own leader and decrying his rival. Taric was
represented as rash, arbitrary, and prodigal, and as injuring the
discipline of the army, by sometimes treating it with extreme rigor
and at other times giving way to licentiousness and profusion. Muza
was lauded as prudent, sagacious, dignified, and systematic in his
dealings. The friends of Taric, on the other hand, represented him
as brave, generous, and high-minded; scrupulous in reserving to his
sovereign his rightful share of the spoils, but distributing the rest
bounteously among his soldiers, and thus increasing their alacrity
in the service. “Muza, on the contrary,” said they, “is grasping and
insatiable; he levies intolerable contributions and collects immense
treasure, but sweeps it all into his own coffers.”

The caliph was at length wearied out by these complaints, and feared
that the safety of the cause might be endangered by the dissensions
of the rival generals. He sent letters, therefore, ordering them
to leave suitable persons in charge of their several commands, and
appear, forthwith, before him at Damascus.

Such was the greeting from his sovereign that awaited Muza on his
return from the conquest of northern Spain. It was a grievous blow to
a man of his pride and ambition; but he prepared instantly to obey.
He returned to Cordova, collecting by the way all the treasures he
had deposited in various places. At that city he called a meeting of
his principal officers, and of the leaders of the faction of apostate
Christians, and made them all do homage to his son Abdalasis, as emir
or governor of Spain. He gave this favorite son much sage advice for
the regulation of his conduct, and left with him his nephew, Ayub,
a man greatly honored by the Moslems for his wisdom and discretion;
exhorting Abdalasis to consult him on all occasions, and consider him
as his bosom counselor. He made a parting address to his adherents,
full of cheerful confidence; assuring them that he would soon return,
loaded with new favors and honors by his sovereign, and enabled to
reward them all for their faithful services.

When Muza sallied forth from Cordova, to repair to Damascus, his
cavalagada appeared like the sumptuous pageant of some oriental
potentate; for he had numerous guards and attendants splendidly armed
and arrayed, together with four hundred hostages, who were youthful
cavaliers of the noblest families of the Goths, and a great number
of captives of both sexes, chosen for their beauty, and intended as
presents for the caliph. Then there was a vast train of beasts of
burden, laden with the plunder of Spain; for he took with him all the
wealth he had collected in his conquests, and all the share that had
been set apart for his sovereign. With this display of trophies and
spoils, showing the magnificence of the land he had conquered, he
looked forward with confidence to silence the calumnies of his foes.

As he traversed the valley of the Guadalquivir he often turned and
looked back wistfully upon Cordova; and, at the distance of a league,
when about to lose sight of it, he checked his steed upon the summit
of a hill, and gazed for a long time upon its palaces and towers. “O
Cordova!” exclaimed he, “great and glorious art thou among cities,
and abundant in all delights. With grief and sorrow do I part from
thee, for sure I am it would give me length of days to abide within
thy pleasant walls!” When he had uttered these words, say the
Arabian chronicles, he resumed his wayfaring; but his eyes were bent
upon the ground, and frequent sighs bespoke the heaviness of his

Embarking at Cadiz, he passed over to Africa with all his people and
effects, to regulate his government in that country. He divided the
command between his sons, Abdelola and Meruan, leaving the former
in Tangier and the latter in Cairvan. Thus having secured, as he
thought, the power and prosperity of his family, by placing all his
sons as his lieutenants in the country he had conquered, he departed
for Syria, bearing with him the sumptuous spoils of the West.

While Muza was thus disposing of his commands, and moving cumbrously
under the weight of wealth, the veteran Taric was more speedy and
alert in obeying the summons of the caliph. He knew the importance,
where complaints were to be heard, of being first in presence of the
judge; besides, he was ever ready to march at a moment’s warning,
and had nothing to impede him in his movements. The spoils he had
made in his conquests had either been shared among his soldiers, or
yielded up to Muza, or squandered away with open-handed profusion. He
appeared in Syria with a small train of war-worn followers, and had
no other trophies to show than his battered armor and a body seamed
with scars. He was received, however, with rapture by the multitude,
who crowded to behold one of those conquerors of the West, whose
wonderful achievements were the theme of every tongue. They were
charmed with his gaunt and martial air, his hard, sunburnt features,
and his scathed eye. “All hail,” cried they, “to the Sword of Islam,
the terror of the unbelievers! Behold the true model of a warrior,
who despises gain, and seeks for nought but glory!”

Taric was graciously received by the caliph, who asked tidings of his
victories. He gave a soldier-like account of his actions, frank and
full, without any feigned modesty, yet without vainglory. “Commander
of the Faithful,” said he, “I bring thee no silver, nor gold, nor
precious stones, nor captives, for what spoils I did not share with
my soldiers I gave up to Muza as my commander. How I have conducted
myself the honorable warriors of thy host will tell thee; nay, let
our enemies, the Christians, be asked if I have ever shown myself
cowardly, or cruel, or rapacious.”

“What kind of people are these Christians?” demanded the caliph.

“The Spaniards,” replied Taric, “are lions in their castles, eagles
in their saddles, but mere women when on foot. When vanquished they
escape like goats to the mountains, for they need not see the ground
they tread on.”

“And tell me of the Moors of Barbary.”

“They are like Arabs in the fierceness and dexterity of their attacks
and in their knowledge of the stratagems of war; they resemble them,
too, in feature, in fortitude, and hospitality; but they are the most
perfidious people upon earth, and never regard promise or plighted

“And the people of Afranc; what sayest thou of them?”

“They are infinite in number, rapid in the onset, fierce in battle,
but confused and headlong in flight.”

“And how fared it with thee among these people? Did they sometimes
vanquish thee?”

“Never, by Allah!” cried Taric, with honest warmth; “never did a
banner of mine fly the field. Though the enemy were two to one, my
Moslems never shunned the combat!”

The caliph was well pleased with the martial bluntness of the
veteran, and showed him great honor; and wherever Taric appeared he
was the idol of the populace.




Muza arrives at Damascus.—His Interview with the Caliph.—The Table of
Solomon.—A rigorous Sentence.

Shortly after the arrival of Taric el Tuerto at Damascus, the caliph
fell dangerously ill, insomuch that his life was despaired of. During
his illness, tidings were brought that Muza ben Nosier had entered
Syria with a vast cavalcade, bearing all the riches and trophies
gained in the western conquests. Now Suleiman ben Abdelmelec, brother
to the caliph, was successor to the throne, and he saw that his
brother had not long to live, and wished to grace the commencement of
his reign by this triumphant display of the spoils of Christendom; he
sent messengers, therefore, to Muza, saying, “The caliph is ill and
cannot receive thee at present; I pray thee tarry on the road until
his recovery.” Muza, however, paid no attention to the messages of
Suleiman, but rather hastened his march to arrive before the death of
the caliph. And Suleiman treasured up his conduct in his heart.

Muza entered the city in a kind of triumph, with a long train of
horses and mules and camels laden with treasure, and with the four
hundred sons of Gothic nobles as hostages, each decorated with a
diadem and a girdle of gold; and with one hundred Christian damsels,
whose beauty dazzled all beholders. As he passed through the streets
he ordered purses of gold to be thrown among the populace, who rent
the air with acclamations. “Behold,” cried they, “the veritable
conqueror of the unbelievers! Behold the true model of a conqueror,
who brings home wealth to his country!” And they heaped benedictions
on the head of Muza.

The Caliph Waled Almanzor rose from his couch of illness to receive
the emir, who, when he repaired to the palace, filled one of its
great courts with treasures of all kinds; the halls, too, were
thronged with youthful hostages, magnificently attired, and with
Christian damsels, lovely as the houris of paradise. When the caliph
demanded an account of the conquest of Spain, he gave it with great
eloquence; but, in describing the various victories, he made no
mention of the name of Taric, but spoke as if everything had been
effected by himself. He then presented the spoils of the Christians
as if they had been all taken by his own hands; and when he delivered
to the caliph the miraculous table of Solomon, he dwelt with
animation on the virtues of that inestimable talisman.

Upon this, Taric, who was present, could no longer hold his peace.
“Commander of the Faithful,” said he, “examine this precious table,
if any part be wanting.” The caliph examined the table, which was
composed of a single emerald, and he found that one foot was
supplied by a foot of gold. The caliph turned to Muza and said,
“Where is the other foot of the table?” Muza answered, “I know not;
one foot was wanting when it came into my hands.” Upon this, Taric
drew from beneath his robe a foot of emerald of like workmanship to
the others, and fitting exactly to the table, “Behold, O Commander of
the Faithful!” cried he, “a proof of the real finder of the table;
and so is it with the greater part of the spoils exhibited by Muza
as trophies of his achievements. It was I who gained them, and who
captured the cities in which they were found. If you want proof,
demand of these Christian cavaliers here present, most of whom I
captured; demand of those Moslem warriors who aided me in my battles.”

Muza was confounded for a moment, but attempted to vindicate himself.
“I spake,” said he, “as the chief of your armies, under whose orders
and banners this conquest was achieved. The actions of the soldier
are the actions of the commander. In a great victory it is not
supposed that the chief of the army takes all the captives, or kills
all the slain, or gathers all the booty, though all are enumerated
in the records of his triumph.” The caliph, however, was wroth, and
heeded not his words. “You have vaunted your own deserts,” said he,
“and have forgotten the deserts of others; nay, you have sought to
debase another who has loyally served his sovereign; the reward
of your envy and covetousness be upon your head!” So saying, he
bestowed a great part of the spoils upon Taric and the other chiefs,
but gave nothing to Muza; and the veteran retired amidst the sneers
and murmurs of those present.

In a few days the Caliph Waled died, and was succeeded by his brother
Suleiman. The new sovereign cherished deep resentment against Muza
for having presented himself at court contrary to his command, and he
listened readily to the calumnies of his enemies—for Muza had been
too illustrious in his deeds not to have many enemies. All now took
courage when they found he was out of favor, and they heaped slanders
on his head; charging him with embezzling much of the share of the
booty belonging to the sovereign. The new caliph lent a willing ear
to the accusation, and commanded him to render up all that he had
pillaged from Spain. The loss of his riches might have been borne
with fortitude by Muza, but the stigma upon his fame filled his heart
with bitterness. “I have been a faithful servant to the throne from
my youth upwards,” said he, “and now am I degraded in my old age. I
care not for wealth, I care not for life, but let me not be deprived
of that honor which God has bestowed upon me!”

The Caliph was still more exasperated at his repining, and stripped
him of his commands, confiscated his effects, fined him two
hundred thousand _pesants_ of gold, and ordered that he should be
scourged and exposed to the noontide sun, and afterwards thrown
into prison.[51] The populace, also; reviled and scoffed at him in
his misery, and as they beheld him led forth to the public gaze,
and fainting in the sun, they pointed at him with derision, and
exclaimed, “Behold the envious man and the impostor; this is he who
pretended to have conquered the land of the unbelievers!”

  [51] Conde, pt. 1, c. 17.




Conduct of Abdalasis as Emir of Spain.

While these events were happening in Syria, the youthful Abdalasis,
the son of Muza, remained as emir or governor of Spain. He was of a
generous and benignant disposition, but he was open and confiding,
and easily led away by the opinions of those he loved. Fortunately
his father had left with him, as a bosom counselor, the discreet
Ayub, the nephew of Muza; aided by his advice, he for some time
administered the public affairs prudently and prosperously.

Not long after the departure of his father, he received a letter from
him, written while on his journey to Syria; it was to the following

“Beloved son; honor of thy lineage; Allah guard thee from all harm
and peril! Listen to the words of thy father. Avoid all treachery,
though it should promise great advantage, and trust not in him who
counsels it, even though he should be a brother. The company of
traitors put far from thee; for how canst thou be certain that he who
has proved false to others will prove true to thee? Beware, O my son,
of the seductions of love. It is an idle passion, which enfeebles
the heart and blinds the judgment; it renders the mighty weak, and
makes slaves of princes. If thou shouldst discover any foible of a
vicious kind springing up in thy nature, pluck it forth, whatever
pang it cost thee. Every error, while new, may easily be weeded out,
but if suffered to take root, it flourishes and bears seed, and
produces fruit an hundred-fold. Follow these counsels, O son of my
affections, and thou shalt live secure.”

Abdalasis meditated upon this letter, for some part of it seemed to
contain a mystery which he could not comprehend. He called to him his
cousin and counselor, the discreet Ayub. “What means my father,” said
he, “in cautioning me against treachery and treason? Does he think my
nature so base that it could descend to such means?”

Ayub read the letter attentively. “Thy father,” said he, “would put
thee on thy guard against the traitors Julian and Oppas, and those
of their party who surround thee. What love canst thou expect from
men who have been unnatural to their kindred, and what loyalty from
wretches who have betrayed their country?”

Abdalasis was satisfied with the interpretation, and he acted
accordingly. He had long loathed all communion with these men, for
there is nothing which the open, ingenuous nature so much abhors
as duplicity and treason. Policy, too, no longer required their
agency; they had rendered their infamous service, and had no longer a
country to betray; but they might turn and betray their employers.
Abdalasis, therefore, removed them to a distance from his court, and
placed them in situations where they could do no harm, and he warned
his commanders from being in any wise influenced by their counsels or
aided by their arms.

He now confided entirely in his Arabian troops, and in the Moorish
squadrons from Africa, and with their aid he completed the conquest
of Lusitania to the ultimate parts of the Algarbe, or west, even
to the shores of the great Ocean sea.[52] From hence he sent his
generals to overrun all those vast and rugged sierras, which rise
like ramparts along the ocean borders of the peninsula; and they
carried the standard of Islam in triumph even to the Mountains of
Biscay, collecting all manner of precious spoil.

  [52] Algarbe, or Algarbia, in Arabic signifies the west, as
  Axarkia is the east, Algufia the north, and Aquibla the south.
  This will serve to explain some of the geographical names on the
  peninsula which are of Arabian origin.

“It is not enough, O Abdalasis,” said Ayub, “that we conquer and rule
this country with the sword; if we wish our dominion to be secure, we
must cultivate the arts of peace, and study to secure the confidence
and promote the welfare of the people we have conquered.” Abdalasis
relished counsel which accorded so well with his own beneficent
nature. He endeavored, therefore, to allay the ferment and confusion
of the conquest; forbade, under rigorous punishment, all wanton
spoil or oppression, and protected the native inhabitants in the
enjoyment and cultivation of their lands, and the pursuit of all
useful occupations. By the advice of Ayub, also, he encouraged great
numbers of industrious Moors and Arabs to emigrate from Africa, and
gave them houses and lands; thus introducing a peaceful and Mahometan
population in the conquered provinces.

The good effect of the counsels of Ayub were soon apparent. Instead
of a sudden but transient influx of wealth, made by the ruin of
the land, which left the country desolate, a regular and permanent
revenue sprang up, produced by reviving prosperity, and gathered
without violence. Abdalasis ordered it to be faithfully collected,
and deposited in coffers by public officers appointed in each
province for the purpose; and the whole was sent by ten deputies to
Damascus to be laid at the feet of the caliph; not as the spoils
of a vanquished country, but as the peaceful trophies of a wisely
administered government.

The common herd of warlike adventurers, the mere men of the sword,
who had thronged to Spain for the purpose of ravage and rapine,
were disappointed at being thus checked in their career, and at
seeing the reign of terror and violence drawing to a close. What
manner of leader is this, said they, who forbids us to make spoil
of the enemies of Islam, and to enjoy the land we have wrested from
the unbelievers? The partisans of Julian, also, whispered their
calumnies. “Behold,” said they, “with what kindness he treats the
enemies of your faith; all the Christians who have borne arms against
you, and withstood your entrance into the land, are favored and
protected; but it is enough for a Christian to have befriended the
cause of the Moslems to be singled out by Abdalasis for persecution,
and to be driven with scorn from his presence.”

These insinuations fermented the discontent of the turbulent and
rapacious among the Moslems, but all the friends of peace and order
and good government applauded the moderation of the youthful emir.




Loves of Abdalasis and Exilona.

Abdalasis had fixed his seat of government at Seville, as permitting
easy and frequent communications with the coast of Africa. His palace
was of noble architecture, with delightful gardens extending to the
banks of the Guadalquivir. In a part of this palace resided many of
the most beautiful Christian females, who were detained as captives,
or rather hostages, to insure the tranquillity of the country. Those
who were of noble rank were entertained in luxury and magnificence;
slaves were appointed to attend upon them, and they were arrayed in
the richest apparel and decorated with the most precious jewels.
Those of tender age were taught all graceful accomplishments; and
even where tasks were imposed, they were of the most elegant and
agreeable kind. They embroidered, they sang, they danced, and passed
their times in pleasing revelry. Many were lulled by this easy and
voluptuous existence; the scenes of horror through which they had
passed were gradually effaced from their minds, and a desire was
often awakened of rendering themselves pleasing in the eyes of their

After his return from his campaign in Lusitania and during the
intervals of public duty, Abdalasis solaced himself in the repose
of this palace, and in the society of these Christian captives. He
remarked one among them who ever sat apart, and neither joined in the
labors nor sports of her companions.

She was lofty in her demeanor, and the others always paid her
reverence; yet sorrow had given a softness to her charms, and
rendered her beauty touching to the heart. Abdalasis found her one
day in the garden with her companions; they had adorned their heads
with flowers, and were singing the songs of their country, but she
sat by herself and wept. The youthful emir was moved by her tears,
and accosted her in gentle accents. “O fairest of women!” said he,
“why dost thou weep, and why is thy heart troubled?” “Alas!” replied
she, “have I not cause to weep, seeing how sad is my condition, and
how great the height from which I have fallen? In me you behold the
wretched Exilona, but lately the wife of Roderick and the Queen of
Spain, now a captive and a slave!” and, having said these words, she
cast her eyes upon the earth, and her tears began to flow afresh.

The generous feelings of Abdalasis were aroused at the sight of
beauty and royalty in tears. He gave orders that Exilona should be
entertained in a style befitting her former rank; he appointed a
train of female attendants to wait upon her, and a guard of honor to
protect her from all intrusion. All the time that he could spare from
public concerns was passed in her society; and he even neglected
his divan, and suffered his counselors to attend in vain, while he
lingered in the apartments and gardens of the palace, listening to
the voice of Exilona.

The discreet Ayub saw the danger into which he was falling. “O
Abdalasis,” said he, “remember the words of thy father. ‘Beware, my
son,’ said he, ‘of the seductions of love. It renders the mighty
weak, and makes slaves of princes!’” A blush kindled on the cheek of
Abdalasis, and he was silent for a moment. “Why,” said he, at length,
“do you seek to charge me with such weakness? It is one thing to be
infatuated by the charms of a woman, and another to be touched by
her misfortunes. It is the duty of my station to console a princess
who has been reduced to the lowest humiliation by the triumphs
of our arms. In doing so I do but listen to the dictates of true

Ayub was silent, but his brow was clouded, and for once Abdalasis
parted in discontent from his counselor. In proportion as he was
dissatisfied with others or with himself, he sought the society of
Exilona, for there was a charm in her conversation that banished
every care. He daily became more and more enamored, and Exilona
gradually ceased to weep, and began to listen with secret pleasure
to the words of her Arab lover. When, however, he sought to urge his
passion, she recollected the light estimation in which her sex was
held by the followers of Mahomet, and assumed a countenance grave and

“Fortune,” said she, “has cast me at thy feet; behold I am thy
captive and thy spoil. But though my person is in thy power, my soul
is unsubdued; and know that, should I lack force to defend my honor,
I have resolution to wash out all stain upon it with my blood. I
trust, however, in thy courtesy as a cavalier to respect me in my
reverses, remembering what I have been, and that though the crown
has been wrested from my brow, the royal blood still warms within my

  [53] Faxardo, _Corona Gothica_, T. 1, p. 492.—Joan. _Mar. de Reb.
  Hisp._ L. 6, c. 27.

The lofty spirit of Exilona, and her proud repulse, served but to
increase the passion of Abdalasis. He besought her to unite her
destiny with his, and share his state and power, promising that she
should have no rival nor copartner in his heart. Whatever scruples
the captive queen might originally have felt to a union with one of
the conquerors of her lord, and an enemy of her adopted faith, they
were easily vanquished, and she became the bride of Abdalasis. He
would fain have persuaded her to return to the faith of her fathers;
but though of Moorish origin, and brought up in the doctrines of
Islam, she was too thorough a convert to Christianity to consent, and
looked back with disgust upon a religion that admitted a plurality of

When the sage Ayub heard of the resolution of Abdalasis to espouse
Exilona he was in despair. “Alas, my cousin!” said he, “what
infatuation possesses thee? Hast thou then entirely forgotten the
letter of thy father? ‘Beware, my son,’ said he, ‘of love; it is an
idle passion, which enfeebles the heart and blinds the judgment.’”
But Abdalasis interrupted him with impatience. “My father,” said he,
“spake but of the blandishments of wanton love; against these I am
secured by my virtuous passion for Exilona.”

Ayub would fain have impressed upon him the dangers he ran of
awakening suspicion in the caliph, and discontent among the Moslems,
by wedding the queen of the conquered Roderick, and one who was
an enemy to the religion of Mahomet; but the youthful lover only
listened to his passion. Their nuptials were celebrated at Seville
with great pomp and rejoicings, and he gave his bride the name of
Omalisam; that is to say, she of the precious jewels;[54] but she
continued to be known among the Christians by the name of Exilona.

  [54] Conde, pt. 1, c. 17.




Fate of Abdalasis and Exilona.—Death of Muza.

Possession, instead of cooling the passion of Abdalasis, only added
to its force; he became blindly enamored of his beautiful bride, and
consulted her will in all things; nay, having lost all relish for
the advice of the discreet Ayub, he was even guided by the counsels
of his wife in the affairs of government. Exilona, unfortunately,
had once been a queen, and she could not remember her regal glories
without regret. She saw that Abdalasis had great power in the
land,—greater even than had been possessed by the Gothic kings,—but
she considered it as wanting in true splendor until his brow should
be encircled with the outward badge of royalty. One day when they
were alone in the palace of Seville, and the heart of Abdalasis was
given up to tenderness, she addressed him in fond yet timid accents.
“Will not my lord be offended,” said she, “if I make an unwelcome
request?” Abdalasis regarded her with a smile. “What canst thou ask
of me, Exilona,” said he, “that it would not be a happiness for me to
grant?” Then Exilona produced a crown of gold, sparkling with jewels,
which had belonged to the king, Don Roderick, and said, “Behold,
thou art king in authority; be so in thy outward state. There is
majesty and glory in a crown; it gives a sanctity to power.” Then
putting the crown upon his head, she held a mirror before him that
he might behold the majesty of his appearance. Abdalasis chid her
fondly, and put the crown away from him, but Exilona persisted in her
prayer. “Never,” said she, “has there been a king in Spain that did
not wear a crown.” So Abdalasis suffered himself to be beguiled by
the blandishments of his wife, and to be invested with the crown and
sceptre and other signs of royalty.[55]

  [55] _Chron. gen._ de Alonzo el Sabio, p. 3. Joan _Mar. de Reb.
  Hisp._ lib. 6, c. 27. Conde, pt. 1, c. 19.

It is affirmed by ancient and discreet chroniclers, that Abdalasis
only assumed this royal state in the privacy of his palace, and to
gratify the eye of his youthful bride; but where was a secret ever
confined within the walls of a palace? The assumption of the insignia
of the ancient Gothic kings was soon rumored about, and caused the
most violent suspicions. The Moslems had already felt jealous of
the ascendency of this beautiful woman, and it was now confidently
asserted that Abdalasis, won by her persuasions, had secretly turned

The enemies of Abdalasis, those whose rapacious spirits had been kept
in check by the beneficence of his rule, seized upon this occasion to
ruin him. They sent letters to Damascus, accusing him of apostacy,
and of an intention to seize upon the throne in right of his wife,
Exilona, as widow of the late king Roderick. It was added, that the
Christians were prepared to flock to his standard as the only means
of regaining ascendency in their country.

These accusations arrived at Damascus just after the accession of
the sanguinary Suleiman to the throne, and in the height of his
persecution of the unfortunate Muza. The caliph waited for no proofs
in confirmation; he immediately sent private orders that Abdalasis
should be put to death, and that the same fate should be dealt to his
two brothers who governed in Africa, as a sure means of crushing the
conspiracy of this ambitious family.

The mandate for the death of Abdalasis was sent to Abhilbar ben
Obeidah and Zeyd ben Nabegat, both of whom had been cherished friends
of Muza, and had lived in intimate favor and companionship with
his son. When they read the fatal parchment, the scroll fell from
their trembling hands. “Can such hostility exist against the family
of Muza?” exclaimed they. “Is this the reward for such great and
glorious services?” The cavaliers remained for some time plunged in
horror and consternation. The order, however, was absolute, and left
them no discretion. “Allah is great,” said they, “and commands us to
obey our sovereign.” So they prepared to execute the bloody mandate
with the blind fidelity of Moslems.

It was necessary to proceed with caution. The open and magnanimous
character of Abdalasis had won the hearts of a great part of the
soldiery, and his magnificence pleased the cavaliers who formed his
guard; it was feared, therefore, that a sanguinary opposition would
be made to any attempt upon his person. The rabble, however, had been
imbittered against him from his having restrained their depredations,
and because they thought him an apostate in his heart, secretly bent
upon betraying them to the Christians. While, therefore, the two
officers made vigilant dispositions to check any movement on the part
of the soldiery, they let loose the blind fury of the populace by
publishing the fatal mandate. In a moment the city was in a ferment,
and there was a ferocious emulation who should be first to execute
the orders of the caliph.

Abdalasis was at this time at a palace in the country not far from
Seville, commanding a delightful view of the fertile plain of the
Guadalquivir. Hither he was accustomed to retire from the tumult
of the court, and to pass his time among groves and fountains and
the sweet repose of gardens, in the society of Exilona. It was the
dawn of day, the hour of early prayer, when the furious populace
arrived at this retreat. Abdalasis was offering up his orisons in
a small mosque which he had erected for the use of the neighboring
peasantry. Exilona was in a chapel in the interior of the palace,
where her confessor, a holy friar, was performing mass. They were
both surprised at their devotions, and dragged forth by the hands of
the rabble. A few guards, who attended at the palace, would have made
defense, but they were overawed by the sight of the written mandate
of the caliph.

The captives were borne in triumph to Seville. All the beneficent
virtues of Abdalasis were forgotten; nor had the charms of Exilona
any effect in softening the hearts of the populace. The brutal
eagerness to shed blood, which seems inherent in human nature, was
awakened; and woe to the victims when that eagerness is quickened by
religious hate. The illustrious couple, adorned with all the graces
of youth and beauty, were hurried to a scaffold in the great square
of Seville, and there beheaded amidst the shouts and execrations of
an infatuated multitude. Their bodies were left exposed upon the
ground, and would have been devoured by dogs, had they not been
gathered at night by some friendly hand, and poorly interred in one
of the courts of their late dwelling.

Thus terminated the loves and lives of Abdalasis and Exilona, in
the year of the Incarnation seven hundred and fourteen. Their names
were held sacred as martyrs to the Christian faith; but many read in
their untimely fate a lesson against ambition and vainglory; having
sacrificed real power and substantial rule to the glittering bauble
of a crown.

The head of Abdalasis was embalmed and inclosed in a casket, and sent
to Syria to the cruel Suleiman. The messenger who bore it overtook
the caliph as he was performing a pilgrimage to Mecca. Muza was among
the courtiers in his train, having been released from prison. On
opening the casket and regarding its contents, the eyes of the tyrant
sparkled with malignant satisfaction. Calling the unhappy father to
his side, “Muza,” said he, “dost thou know this head?” The veteran
recognized the features of his beloved son, and turned his face
away with anguish. “Yes! well do I know it,” replied he; “and may
the curse of God light upon him who has destroyed a better man than

Without adding another word, he retired to Mount Deran, a prey to
devouring melancholy. He shortly after received tidings of the death
of his two sons, whom he had left in the government of western
Africa, and who had fallen victims to the jealous suspicions of the
Caliph. His advanced age was not proof against these repeated blows,
and this utter ruin of his late prosperous family, and he sank into
his grave sorrowing and broken-hearted.

Such was the lamentable end of the conqueror of Spain; whose great
achievements were not sufficient to atone, in the eye of his
sovereign, for a weakness to which all men ambitious of renown are
subject; and whose triumphs eventually brought persecution upon
himself and untimely death upon his children.

Here ends the legend of the Subjugation of Spain.










In the preceding legends is darkly shadowed out a true story of the
woes of Spain. It is a story full of wholesome admonition, rebuking
the insolence of human pride and the vanity of human ambition, and
showing the futility of all greatness that is not strongly based on
virtue. We have seen, in brief space of time, most of the actors in
this historic drama disappearing, one by one, from the scene, and
going down, conqueror and conquered, to gloomy and unhonored graves.
It remains to close this eventful history by holding up, as a signal
warning, the fate of the traitor whose perfidious scheme of vengeance
brought ruin on his native land.

Many and various are the accounts given in ancient chronicles of
the fortunes of Count Julian and his family, and many are the
traditions on the subject still extant among the populace of Spain,
and perpetuated in those countless ballads sung by peasants and
muleteers, which spread a singular charm over the whole of this
romantic land.

He who has travelled in Spain in the true way in which the country
ought to be travelled,—sojourning in its remote provinces, rambling
among the rugged defiles and secluded valleys of its mountains, and
making himself familiar with the people in their out-of-the-way
hamlets and rarely-visited neighborhoods,—will remember many a group
of travellers and muleteers, gathered of an evening around the door
or the spacious hearth of a mountain venta, wrapped in their brown
cloaks, and listening with grave and profound attention to the long
historic ballad of some rustic troubadour, either recited with the
true _ore rotundo_ and modulated cadences of Spanish elocution,
or chanted to the tinkling of a guitar. In this way he may have
heard the doleful end of Count Julian and his family recounted in
traditionary rhymes, that have been handed down from generation to
generation. The particulars, however, of the following wild legend
are chiefly gathered from the writings of the pseudo Moor Rasis;
how far they may be safely taken as historic facts it is impossible
now to ascertain; we must content ourselves, therefore, with their
answering to the exactions of poetic justice.

As yet everything had prospered with Count Julian. He had gratified
his vengeance; he had been successful in his treason, and had
acquired countless riches from the ruin of his country. But it
is not outward success that constitutes prosperity. The tree
flourishes with fruit and foliage while blasted and withering at the
heart. Wherever he went, Count Julian read hatred in every eye. The
Christians cursed him as the cause of all their woe; the Moslems
despised and distrusted him as a traitor. Men whispered together as
he approached, and then turned away in scorn; and mothers snatched
away their children with horror if he offered to caress them. He
withered under the execration of his fellow-men, and last, and worst
of all, he began to loathe himself. He tried in vain to persuade
himself that he had but taken a justifiable vengeance; he felt that
no personal wrong can justify the crime of treason to one’s country.

For a time he sought in luxurious indulgence to soothe or forget
the miseries of the mind. He assembled round him every pleasure
and gratification that boundless wealth could purchase, but all in
vain. He had no relish for the dainties of his board; music had no
charm wherewith to lull his soul, and remorse drove slumber from
his pillow. He sent to Ceuta for his wife Frandina, his daughter
Florinda, and his youthful son Alarbot; hoping in the bosom of his
family to find that sympathy and kindness which he could no longer
meet with in this world. Their presence, however, brought him no
alleviation. Florinda, the daughter of his heart, for whose sake
he had undertaken this signal vengeance, was sinking a victim to
its effects. Wherever she went, she found herself a byword of shame
and reproach. The outrage she had suffered was imputed to her
as wantonness, and her calamity was magnified into a crime. The
Christians never mentioned her name without a curse, and the Moslems,
the gainers by her misfortune, spake of her only by the appellation
of Cava, the vilest epithet they could apply to woman.

But the opprobrium of the world was nothing to the upbraiding of
her own heart. She charged herself with all the miseries of these
disastrous wars—the deaths of so many gallant cavaliers, the conquest
and perdition of her country. The anguish of her mind preyed upon
the beauty of her person. Her eye, once soft and tender in its
expression, became wild and haggard; her cheek lost its bloom, and
became hollow and pallid, and at times there was desperation in
her words. When her father sought to embrace her she withdrew with
shuddering from his arms, for she thought of his treason and the
ruin it had brought upon Spain. Her wretchedness increased after her
return to her native country, until it rose to a degree of frenzy.
One day when she was walking with her parents in the garden of their
palace, she entered a tower, and, having barred the door, ascended to
the battlements. From thence she called to them in piercing accents,
expressive of her insupportable anguish and desperate determination.
“Let this city,” said she, “be henceforth called Malacca, in memorial
of the most wretched of women, who therein put an end to her days.”
So saying, she threw herself headlong from the tower, and was dashed
to pieces. The city, adds the ancient chronicler, received the name
thus given it, though afterwards softened to Malaga, which it still
retains in memory of the tragical end of Florinda.

The Countess Frandina abandoned this scene of woe, and returned to
Ceuta, accompanied by her infant son. She took with her the remains
of her unfortunate daughter, and gave them honorable sepulture in
a mausoleum of the chapel belonging to the citadel. Count Julian
departed for Carthagena, where he remained plunged in horror at this
doleful event.

About this time, the cruel Suleiman, having destroyed the family of
Muza, had sent an Arab general, named Alahor, to succeed Abdalasis
as emir or governor of Spain. The new emir was of a cruel and
suspicious nature, and commenced his sway with a stern severity that
soon made those under his command look back with regret to the easy
rule of Abdalasis. He regarded with an eye of distrust the renegado
Christians who had aided in the conquest, and who bore arms in the
service of the Moslems; but his deepest suspicions fell upon Count
Julian. “He has been a traitor to his own countrymen,” said he; “how
can we be sure that he will not prove traitor to us?”

A sudden insurrection of the Christians who had taken refuge in
the Asturian Mountains, quickened his suspicions, and inspired him
with fears of some dangerous conspiracy against his power. In the
height of his anxiety, he bethought him of an Arabian sage named
Yuza, who had accompanied him from Africa. This son of science was
withered in form, and looked as if he had outlived the usual term
of mortal life. In the course of his studies and travels in the
East, he had collected the knowledge and experience of ages; being
skilled in astrology, and, it is said, in necromancy, and possessing
the marvelous gift of prophecy or divination. To this expounder of
mysteries Alahor applied to learn whether any secret treason menaced
his safety.

The astrologer listened with deep attention and overwhelming brow to
all the surmises and suspicion of the emir, then shut himself up to
consult his books and commune with those supernatural intelligences
subservient to his wisdom. At an appointed hour the emir sought him
in his cell. It was filled with the smoke of perfumes; squares and
circles and various diagrams were described upon the floor, and
the astrologer was poring over a scroll of parchment, covered with
cabalistic characters. He received Alahor with a gloomy and sinister
aspect; pretending to have discovered fearful portents in the
heavens, and to have had strange dreams and mystic visions.

“O emir,” said he, “be on your guard! treason is around you and in
your path; your life is in peril. Beware of Count Julian and his

“Enough,” said the emir. “They shall all die! Parents and
children—all shall die!”

He forthwith sent a summons to Count Julian to attend him in Cordova.
The messenger found him plunged in affliction for the recent death
of his daughter. The count excused himself, on account of this
misfortune, from obeying the commands of the emir in person, but
sent several of his adherents. His hesitation, and the circumstance
of his having sent his family across the straits to Africa, were
construed by the jealous mind of the emir into proofs of guilt. He no
longer doubted his being concerned in the recent insurrections, and
that he had sent his family away preparatory to an attempt by force
of arms, to subvert the Moslem domination. In his fury he put to
death Siseburto and Evan, the nephews of Bishop Oppas and sons of the
former king, Witiza, suspecting them of taking part in the treason.
Thus did they expiate their treachery to their country in the fatal
battle of the Guadalete.

Alahor next hastened to Carthagena to seize upon Count Julian. So
rapid were his movements that the count had barely time to escape
with fifteen cavaliers, with whom he took refuge in the strong castle
of Marcuello, among the mountains of Aragon. The emir, enraged to
be disappointed of his prey, embarked at Carthagena and crossed the
straits to Ceuta, to make captives of the Countess Frandina and her

The old chronicle from which we take this part of our legend,
presents a gloomy picture of the countess in the stern fortress to
which she had fled for refuge—a picture heightened by supernatural
horrors. These latter the sagacious reader will admit or object
according to the measure of his faith and judgment; always
remembering that in dark and eventful times, like those in question,
involving the destinies of nations, the downfall of kingdoms, and
the crimes of rulers and mighty men, the hand of fate is sometimes
strangely visible, and confounds the wisdom of the worldly wise by
intimations and portents above the ordinary course of things. With
this proviso, we make no scruple to follow the venerable chronicler
in his narration.

Now so it happened that the Countess Frandina was seated late at
night in her chamber, in the citadel of Ceuta, which stands on a
lofty rock, overlooking the sea. She was revolving in gloomy thought
the late disasters of her family, when she heard a mournful noise
like that of the sea-breeze moaning about the castle walls. Raising
her eyes, she beheld her brother, the Bishop Oppas, at the entrance
of the chamber. She advanced to embrace him, but he forbade her with
a motion of his hand, and she observed that he was ghastly pale, and
that his eyes glared as with lambent flames.

“Touch me not, sister,” said he, with a mournful voice, “lest thou
be consumed by the fire which rages within me. Guard well thy son,
for bloodhounds are upon his track. His innocence might have secured
him the protection of Heaven, but our crimes have involved him in
our common ruin.” He ceased to speak, and was no longer to be seen.
His coming and going were alike without noise, and the door of the
chamber remained fast bolted.

On the following morning a messenger arrived with tidings that the
Bishop Oppas had been made prisoner in battle by the insurgent
Christians of the Asturias, and had died in fetters in a tower of the
mountains. The same messenger brought word that the Emir Alahor had
put to death several of the friends of Count Julian; had obliged him
to fly for his life to a castle in Aragon, and was embarking with a
formidable force for Ceuta.

The Countess Frandina, as has already been shown, was of courageous
heart, and danger made her desperate. There were fifty Moorish
soldiers in the garrison; she feared that they would prove
treacherous, and take part with their countrymen. Summoning her
officers, therefore, she informed them of their danger, and commanded
them to put those Moors to death. The guards sallied forth to obey
her orders. Thirty-five of the Moors were in the great square,
unsuspicious of any danger, when they were severally singled out by
their executioners, and, at a concerted signal, killed on the spot.
The remaining fifteen took refuge in a tower. They saw the armada
of the emir at a distance, and hoped to be able to hold out until
its arrival. The soldiers of the countess saw it also, and made
extraordinary efforts to destroy these internal enemies before they
should be attacked from without. They made repeated attempts to storm
the tower, but were as often repulsed with severe loss. They then
undermined it, supporting its foundations by stanchions of wood.
To these they set fire, and withdrew to a distance, keeping up a
constant shower of missiles to prevent the Moors from sallying forth
to extinguish the flames. The stanchions were rapidly consumed, and
when they gave way the tower fell to the ground. Some of the Moors
were crushed among the ruins; others were flung to a distance and
dashed among the rocks; those who survived were instantly put to the

The fleet of the emir arrived at Ceuta about the hour of vespers.
He landed, but found the gates closed against him. The countess
herself spoke to him from a tower, and set him at defiance. The emir
immediately lay siege to the city. He consulted the astrologer Yuza,
who told him that for seven days his star would have the ascendant
over that of the youth Alarbot, but after that time the youth would
be safe from his power, and would effect his ruin.

Alahor immediately ordered the city to be assailed on every side,
and at length carried it by storm. The countess took refuge with her
forces in the citadel, and made desperate defense; but the walls
were sapped and mined, and she saw that all resistance would soon
be unavailing. Her only thoughts now were to conceal her child.
“Surely,” said she, “they will not think of seeking him among the
dead.” She led him, therefore, into the dark and dismal chapel. “Thou
art not afraid to be alone in this darkness, my child?” said she.

“No, mother,” replied the boy; “darkness gives silence and sleep.”
She conducted him to the tomb of Florinda. “Fearest thou the dead, my
child?” “No, mother; the dead can do no harm, and what should I fear
from my sister?”

The countess opened the sepulchre. “Listen, my son,” said she. “There
are fierce and cruel people who have come hither to murder thee.
Stay here in company with thy sister, and be quiet as thou dost value
thy life!” The boy, who was of a courageous nature, did as he was
bidden, and remained there all that day, and all the night, and the
next day until the third hour.

In the mean time the walls of the citadel were sapped, the troops of
the emir poured in at the breach, and a great part of the garrison
was put to the sword. The countess was taken prisoner, and brought
before the emir. She appeared in his presence with a haughty
demeanor, as if she had been a queen receiving homage; but when he
demanded her son, she faltered and turned pale, and replied, “My son
is with the dead.”

“Countess,” said the emir, “I am not to be deceived; tell me where
you have concealed the boy, or tortures shall wring from you the

“Emir,” replied the countess, “may the greatest torments be my
portion, both here and hereafter, if what I speak be not the truth.
My darling child lies buried with the dead.”

The emir was confounded by the solemnity of her words; but the
withered astrologer Yuza, who stood by his side regarding the
countess from beneath his bushed eyebrows, perceived trouble in her
countenance and equivocation in her words. “Leave this matter to me,”
whispered he to Alahor; “I will produce the child.”

He ordered strict search to be made by the soldiery, and he obliged
the countess to be always present. When they came to the chapel, her
cheek turned pale and her lip quivered. “This,” said the subtile
astrologer, “is the place of concealment!”

The search throughout the chapel, however, was equally vain, and the
soldiers were about to depart, when Yuza remarked a slight gleam of
joy in the eye of the countess. “We are leaving our prey behind,”
thought he; “the countess is exulting.”

He now called to mind the words of her asseveration, that her child
was with the dead. Turning suddenly to the soldiers, he ordered them
to search the sepulchres. “If you find him not,” said he, “drag forth
the bones of that wanton Cava, that they may be burned, and the ashes
scattered to the winds.”

The soldiers searched among the tombs, and found that of Florinda
partly open. Within lay the boy in the sound sleep of childhood, and
one of the soldiers took him gently in his arms to bear him to the

When the countess beheld that her child was discovered, she rushed
into the presence of Alahor, and, forgetting all her pride, threw
herself upon her knees before him.

“Mercy! mercy!” cried she in piercing accents, “mercy on my son—my
only child! O emir! listen to a mother’s prayer and my lips shall
kiss thy feet. As thou art merciful to him so may the most high God
have mercy upon thee, and heap blessings on thy head.”

“Bear that frantic woman hence,” said the emir, “but guard her well.”

The countess was dragged away by the soldiery, without regard to her
struggles and her cries, and confined in a dungeon of the citadel.

The child was now brought to the emir. He had been awakened by
the tumult, but gazed fearlessly on the stern countenances of the
soldiers. Had the heart of the emir been capable of pity, it would
have been touched by the tender youth and innocent beauty of the
child; but his heart was as the nether millstone, and he was bent
upon the destruction of the whole family of Julian. Calling to him
the astrologer, he gave the child into his charge with a secret
command. The withered son of the desert took the boy by the hand and
led him up the winding staircase of a tower. When they reached the
summit, Yuza placed him on the battlements.

“Cling not to me, my child,” said he; “there is no danger.” “Father,
I fear not,” said the undaunted boy; “yet it is a wondrous height!”

The child looked around with delighted eyes. The breeze blew his
curling locks from about his face, and his cheek glowed at the
boundless prospect; for the tower was reared upon that lofty
promontory on which Hercules founded one of his pillars. The surges
of the sea were heard far below, beating upon the rocks, the sea-gull
screamed and wheeled about the foundations of the tower, and the
sails of lofty caraccas were as mere specks on the bosom of the deep.

“Dost thou know yonder land beyond the blue water?” said Yuza.

“It is Spain,” replied the boy; “it is the land of my father and my

“Then stretch forth thy hands and bless it, my child,” said the

The boy let go his hold of the wall; and, as he stretched forth his
hands, the aged son of Ishmael, exerting all the strength of his
withered limbs, suddenly pushed him over the battlements. He fell
headlong from the top of that tall tower, and not a bone in his
tender frame but was crushed upon the rocks beneath.

Alahor came to the foot of the winding stairs.

“Is the boy safe?” cried he.

“He is safe,” replied Yuza; “come and behold the truth with thine own

The emir ascended the tower and looked over the battlements, and
beheld the body of the child, a shapeless mass on the rocks far
below, and the sea-gulls hovering about it; and he gave orders that
it should be thrown into the sea, which was done.

On the following morning the countess was led forth from her dungeon
into the public square. She knew of the death of her child, and that
her own death was at hand, but she neither wept nor supplicated. Her
hair was disheveled, her eyes were haggard with watching, and her
cheek was as the monumental stone; but there were the remains of
commanding beauty in her countenance and the majesty of her presence
awed even the rabble into respect.

A multitude of Christian prisoners were then brought forth, and
Alahor cried out: “Behold the wife of Count Julian! behold one of
that traitorous family which has brought ruin upon yourselves and
upon your country!” And he ordered that they should stone her to
death. But the Christians drew back with horror from the deed, and
said, “In the hand of God is vengeance; let not her blood be upon
our heads.” Upon this the emir swore with horrid imprecations that
whoever of the captives refused should himself be stoned to death. So
the cruel order was executed, and the Countess Frandina perished by
the hands of her countrymen. Having thus accomplished his barbarous
errand, the emir embarked for Spain, and ordered the citadel of Ceuta
to be set on fire, and crossed the straits at night by the light of
its towering flames.

The death of Count Julian, which took place not long after, closed
the tragic story of his family. How he died remains involved in
doubt. Some assert that the cruel Alahor pursued him to his retreat
among the mountains, and, having taken him prisoner, beheaded him;
others that the Moors confined him in a dungeon, and put an end to
his life with lingering torments; while others affirm that the tower
of the castle of Marcuello, near Huesca, in Aragon, in which he
took refuge, fell on him and crushed him to pieces. All agree that
his latter end was miserable in the extreme and his death violent.
The curse of Heaven, which had thus pursued him to the grave, was
extended to the very place which had given him shelter; for we are
told that the castle is no longer inhabited on account of the strange
and horrible noises that are heard in it; and that visions of armed
men are seen above it in the air; which are supposed to be the
troubled spirits of the apostate Christians who favored the cause of
the traitor.

In after times a stone sepulchre was shown, outside of the chapel
of the castle, as the tomb of Count Julian; but the traveller and
the pilgrim avoided it, or bestowed upon it a malediction; and the
name of Julian has remained a byword and a scorn in the land for the
warning of all generations. Such ever be the lot of him who betrays
his country.

Here end the legends of the Conquest of Spain.

  WRITTEN IN THE ALHAMBRA, _June 10, 1829_.


El licenciado Ardevines (lib. 2, c. 8) dize que dichos Duendos
caseros, o los del aire, hazen aparacer exercitos y peleas, como lo
que se cuenta por tradicion (y aun algunos personas lo deponen como
testigos de vista) de la torre y castello de Marcuello, lugar al
pie de las montañas de Aragon (aora inhabitable, por las grandes y
espantables ruidos, que en el se oyen) donde se retraxo el Conde Don
Julian, causa de la perdicion de España; sobre el qual castillo, deze
se ven en el aire ciertas visiones, como de soldados, que el vulgo
dize son los cavalleros y gente que le favorecian.

Vide “El Ente Dislucidado,” por Fray Antonio de Fuentalapeña,
Capuchin. Seccion 3, Subseccion 5, Instancia 8, Num. 644.

As readers unversed in the Spanish language may wish to know the
testimony of the worthy and discreet Capuchin friar, Antonio de
Fuentalapeña, we subjoin a translation of it:—

“The licentiate Ardevines (book ii., chap. 8) says that the said
house fairies (or familiar spirits), or those of the air, cause the
apparitions of armies and battles,—such as those which are related
in tradition (and some persons even depose to the truth of them as
eye-witnesses), of the town and castle of Marcuello, a fortress at
the foot of the mountains of Aragon (at present uninhabitable, on
account of the great and frightful noises heard in it), the place of
retreat of Count Don Julian, the cause of the perdition of Spain. It
is said that certain apparitions of soldiers are seen in the air,
which the vulgar say are those of the courtiers and people who aided





[THE “Legend of Pelayo,” a fragment of which was printed in “The
Spirit of the Fair,” in 1864, and another, entitled “Pelayo and the
Merchant’s Daughter,” in “The Knickerbocker,” in 1840, is now first
published entire.—ED.]




Obscurity of the Ancient Chronicles.—The Loves of Doña Lucia and the
Duke Favila.—Birth of Pelayo, and what happened thereupon; His Early
Fortunes, and His Tutelage under the veteran Count Grafeses.

It is the common lamentation of Spanish historians that, in the
obscure and melancholy space of time which succeeded the perdition
of their country, its history is a mere wilderness of dubious facts,
wild exaggerations, and evident fables. Many learned men in cells
and cloisters have passed their lives in the weary and fruitless
task of attempting to correct incongruous events and reconcile
absolute contradictions. The worthy Jesuit Pedro Abarca confesses
that for more than forty years, during which he had been employed
in theological controversies, he had never found any questions so
obscure and inexplicable as those rising out of this portion of
Spanish history; and that the only fruit of an indefatigable, prolix,
and even prodigious study of the subject, was a melancholy and
mortifying indecision.[56]

  [56] Abarca, _Anales de Aragon_. Ante regno, § 2.

Let us console ourselves, therefore, in our attempts to thread this
mazy labyrinth with the reflection that, if we occasionally err and
become bewildered, we do but share the errors and perplexities of our
graver and more laborious predecessors; and that, if we occasionally
stray into the flowery by-ways of fanciful tradition, we are as
likely to arrive at the truth as those who travel by more dry and
dusty but not more authenticated paths.

We premise these suggestions before proceeding to cull, from the
midst of the fables and extravagances of ancient chronicles, a few
particulars of the story of Pelayo, the deliverer of Spain; whose
name, like that of William Wallace, the hero of Scotland, will ever
be linked with the glory of his country; but linked, like his, by a
band in which fact and fiction are indissolubly mingled.

In the ensuing pages it is our intention to give little more than
an abstract of an old chronicle teeming with extravagances, yet
containing facts of admitted credibility, and presenting pictures of
Spanish life, partly sylvan, partly chivalrous, which have all the
quaint merit of the curious delineations in old tapestry.

The origin of Pelayo is wrapped in great obscurity, though all
writers concur in making him of royal Gothic lineage. The chronicle
in question makes Pelayo the offspring of a love affair in the court
of Ezica, one of the last of the Gothic kings, who held his seat of
government at Toledo. Among the noble damsels brought up in the
royal household was the beautiful Lucia, niece and maid of honor to
the queen. A mutual passion subsisted between her and Favila, the
youthful Duke of Cantabria, one of the most accomplished cavaliers of
the kingdom. The duke, however, had a powerful rival in the Prince
Witiza, son to the king, and afterwards known, for the profligacy
of his reign, by the name of Witiza the Wicked. The prince, to rid
himself of a favored rival, procured the banishment of Favila to
his estates in Cantabria; not, however, before he had been happy in
his loves in stolen interviews with the fair Lucia. The cautious
chronicler, however, lets us know that a kind of espousal took place,
by the lovers plighting their faith with solemn vows before an image
of the Virgin, and as the image gave no sign of dissent by way of
forbidding the bans, the worthy chronicler seems to consider them as
good as man and wife.

After the departure of the duke, the prince renewed his suit with
stronger hope of success, but met with a repulse which converted his
love into implacable and vengeful hate.

The beautiful Lucia continued in attendance on the queen, but soon
became sensible of the consequences of her secret and informal
nuptials so tacitly sanctioned by the Virgin. In the process of time,
with great secrecy, she gave birth to a male child, whom she named
Pelayo. For fifteen days the infant was concealed in her apartment,
and she trusted all was safe, when, to her great terror, she learned
that her secret had been betrayed to Prince Witiza, and that search
was to be made for the evidence of her weakness.

The dread of public scorn and menace of a cruel death overcame even
the feelings of a mother. Through means of a trusty female of her
chamber she procured a little ark, so constructed as to be impervious
to water. She then arrayed her infant in costly garments, wrapping it
in a mantle of rich brocade, and when about to part with it, kissed
it many times, and laid it in her lap, and wept over it. At length
the child was borne away by the Dueña of her chamber and a faithful
handmaid. It was dark midnight when they conveyed it to the borders
of the Tagus, where it washes the rocky foundations of Toledo.
Covering it from the dew and night air, they committed the ark to the
eddying current, which soon swept it from the shore. As it glided
down the rapid stream, says the ancient chronicle, they could mark
its course even in the darkness of the night; for it was surrounded
by a halo of celestial light.[57] They knew not how to account for
this prodigy, says the same authentic writer, until they remembered
that the mother had blessed the child with the sign of the cross,
and had baptized it with her own hand. Others, however, explain this
marvel differently; for in this child, say they, was centred the
miraculous light which was afterwards to shine forth with comfort and
deliverance in the darkest hour of Spain.

  [57] El Moro Rasis, _La Destruycion de España_. Rojas, _Hist.
  Toledo_, pt. 2, L. 4, cl.

The chronicle quoted by Fray Antonio Agapida goes on to state
what befell the fair Lucia after the departure of the child. Her
apartments were searched at early dawn, but no proof appeared
to substantiate the charges made against her. The Prince Witiza
persisted in accusing her publicly of having brought disgrace upon
her line by her frailty. A cavalier of the court, suborned by him,
supported the accusation by an oath, and offered to maintain the
truth of it by his sword. A month was granted by the king for the
afflicted lady to find a champion, and a day appointed for the lists;
if none appeared, or if her champion were overcome, she was to be
considered guilty and put to death. The day arrived, the accusing
knight was on the ground in complete armor, proclamation was made,
but no one stepped forward to defend the lady. At length a trumpet
sounded; an unknown knight, with visor closed, entered the lists.
The combat was long and doubtful, for it would appear as if the Holy
Virgin was not perfectly satisfied with the nature of the espousals
which had taken place before her image. At length the accusing knight
was overcome and slain, to the great joy of the court and all the
spectators, and the beautiful Lucia was pronounced as immaculate as
the Virgin, her protectress.

The unknown champion of course proved to be the Duke of Cantabria.
He obtained a pardon of the king for returning from banishment
without the royal permission; what is more, he obtained permission
formally to espouse the lady whose honor he had so gallantly
established. Their nuptials were solemnized in due form and with
great magnificence, after which he took his blooming bride to his
castle in Cantabria, to be out of reach of the persecutions of the
Prince Witiza.

Having made this brief abstract of what occupies many a wordy page in
the ancient chronicle, we return to look after the fortunes of the
infant Pelayo, when launched upon the waves in the darkness of the

The ark containing this future hope of Spain, continues the old
chronicle, floated down the current of the Golden Tagus, where that
renowned river winds through the sylvan solitudes of Estremadura. All
night, and throughout the succeeding day and the following night, it
made its tranquil way: the stream ceased its wonted turbulence and
dimpled round it; the swallow circled round it with lively chirp and
sportive wing, the breezes whispered musically among the reeds, which
bowed their tall heads as it passed; such was the bland influence of
the protection of the Virgin.

Now, so it happened that at this time there lived in a remote part of
Estremadura an ancient cavalier, a hale and hearty bachelor, named
the Count Grafeses. He had been a warrior in his youth, but now,
in a green and vigorous old age, had retired from camp and court
to a domain on the banks of the Tagus, inherited from his Gothic
ancestors. His great delight was in the chase, which he followed
successfully in the vast forests of Estremadura. Every morning heard
the woods resounding with the melody of hound and horn; and the heads
of stags, of wolves, and wild boars vied in his castle hall with the
helms and bucklers and lances, and the trophies of his youthful and
martial days.

The jovial count was up at early dawn pursuing a boar in the thick
forest bordering the Tagus, when he beheld the little ark floating
down the stream. He ordered one of his huntsmen to strip and enter
the river and bring the ark to land. On opening it, he was surprised
to behold within an infant wrapped in costly robes, but pale and
wan, and apparently almost exhausted. Beside it was a purse of gold,
and on its bosom a cross of rubies and a parchment scroll, on which
was written, “Let this infant be honorably entertained; he is of
illustrious lineage; his name is Pelayo.”

The good count shrewdly surmised the cause of this perilous exposure
of a helpless infant. He had a heart kind and indulgent toward the
weaker sex, as the heart of a genial old bachelor is prone to be; and
while he looked with infinite benevolence upon the beauteous child,
felt a glow of compassion for the unknown mother. Commanding his
huntsman to be silent as to what he had witnessed, he took the infant
in his arms and returned with it to his castle.

Now, so it happened that the wife of his steward had, about a week
before, been delivered of a child which lived out a very few days,
leaving the mother in great affliction. The count gave her the
infant, and the money found with it, and told her the story of the
ark, with a strong injunction of secrecy, entreating her to take
charge of the child and rear it as her own. The good woman doubted
the story, and strongly suspected her master of having fallen into
an error in his old age; she received the infant, however, as a gift
from Heaven, sent to console her in her affliction, and pressed it
with tears to her bosom, for she thought of the child she had lost.

Pelayo, therefore, was reared on the banks of the Tagus as the
offspring of the steward and his wife, and the adopted son of the
count. That veteran cavalier bore in mind, however, that his youthful
charge was of illustrious lineage, and took delight in accomplishing
him in all things befitting a perfect hidalgo. He placed him astride
of a horse almost as soon as he could walk; a lance and cross-bow
were his earliest playthings, and he was taught to hunt the small
game of the forest until strong enough to accompany the count in
his more rugged sports. Thus he was inured to all kinds of hardy
exercises, and rendered heedless of danger and fatigue. Nor was
the discipline of his mind neglected. Under the instructions of a
neighboring friar, he learned to read in a manner that surprised the
erudition of his foster-father; for he could con more correctly all
the orisons of the Virgin, and listened to mass, and attended all the
ceremonies of the Church, with a discretion truly exemplary. Some
ancient chroniclers have gone so far as to say that he even excelled
in clerkly craft; but this is most likely a fond exaggeration.

Time glided by. King Ezica was gathered to his fathers, and his son
Witiza reigned in his stead. All the chivalry of the kingdom was
summoned to Toledo to give splendor to his coronation. The good old
count prepared, among the rest, to appear at a court from which he
had long been absent. His ancient serving-men were arrayed in the
antiquated garbs in which they had figured in his days of youthful
gallantry, and his household troops in the battered armor which had
seen hard service in the field, but which had long rusted in the
armory. He determined to take with him his adopted son Pelayo, now
seven years of age. A surcoat was made for him from the mantle of
rich brocade in which he had been found wrapped in the ark. A palfrey
was also caparisoned for him in warlike style. It was a rare sight,
says the old chronicler, to see the antiquated chivalry of the good
Count Grafeses parading across the bridge of the Tagus, or figuring
in the streets of Toledo, in contrast to the silken and shining
retinues of the more modern courtiers; but the veteran was hailed
with joy by many of the ancient nobles, his early companions in arms.
The populace, too, when they beheld the youthful Pelayo ambling by
his side on his gentle palfrey, were struck with the chivalrous
demeanor of the boy, and the perfect manner in which he managed his




What happened to Pelayo at the Court of Witiza.

Among the nobles, continues the old chronicle, who appeared in Toledo
to do homage to the new king was Favila, Duke of Cantabria. He left
his wife in their castle among the mountains,—for the fair Lucia was
still in the meridian of her beauty, and he feared lest the sight of
her might revive the passion of Witiza. They had no other fruit of
their union but a little daughter of great beauty, called Lucinda,
and they still mourned in secret the loss of their first-born. The
duke was related to Count Grafeses; and when he first beheld Pelayo
his heart throbbed, he knew not why, and he followed him with his
eyes in all his youthful sports. The more he beheld him the more his
heart yearned toward him, and he entreated the count to grant him the
youth for a time as a page, to be reared by him in all the offices of
chivalry, as was the custom in the houses of warlike nobles in those

The count willingly complied with his request, knowing the great
prowess of the Duke of Cantabria, who was accounted a mirror of
knightly virtue. “For my own part,” said he, “I am at present but
little capable of instructing the boy; for many years have passed
since I gave up the exercise of arms, and little am I worth at
present excepting to blow the horn and follow the hound.”

When the ceremonies of the coronation were over, therefore, the Duke
of Cantabria departed for his castle, accompanied by the young Pelayo
and the count, for the good old cavalier could not yet tear himself
from his adopted child.

As they drew near the castle, the duchess came forth with a grand
retinue; for they were as petty sovereigns in their domains. The duke
presented Pelayo to her as her page, and the youth knelt to kiss her
hand, but she raised him and kissed him on the forehead; and as she
regarded him the tears stood in her eyes.

“God bless thee, gentle page,” said she, “and preserve thee to the
days of manhood; for thou hast in thee the promise of an accomplished
cavalier; joyful must be the heart of the mother who can boast of
such a son!”

On that day, when the dinner was served with becoming state, Pelayo
took his place among the other pages in attendance, who were all
children of nobles; but the duchess called him to her as her peculiar
page. He was arrayed in his surcoat of brocade, made from the mantle
in which he had been folded in the ark, and round his neck hung the
cross of rubies.

As the duchess beheld these things, she turned pale and trembled.
“What is the name of thy son,” said she to Count Grafeses. “His
name,” replied the count, “is Pelayo.” “Tell me of a truth,” demanded
she, still more earnestly, “is this indeed thy son?” The count was
not prepared for so direct a question. “Of a truth,” said he, “he
is but the son of my adoption; yet is he of noble lineage.” The
duchess again addressed him with tenfold solemnity. “On thy honor as
a knight, do not trifle with me; who are the parents of this child?”
The count, moved by her agitation, briefly told the story of the ark.
When the duchess heard it she gave a great sigh and fell as one dead.
On reviving, she embraced Pelayo with mingled tears and kisses, and
proclaimed him as her long-lost son.




How Pelayo lived among the Mountains of Cantabria.—His Adventure
with the Needy Hidalgo of Gascony and the Rich Merchant of
Bordeaux.—Discourse of the Holy Hermit.

The authentic Agapida passes over many pages of the ancient chronicle
narrating the early life of Pelayo, presenting nothing of striking
importance. His father, the Duke of Cantabria, was dead, and he was
carefully reared by his widowed mother at a castle in the Pyrenees,
out of the reach of the dangers and corruptions of the court. Here
that hardy and chivalrous education was continued which had been
commenced by his veteran foster-father on the banks of the Tagus. The
rugged mountains around abounded with the bear, the wild boar, and
the wolf, and in hunting these he prepared himself for the conflicts
of the field.

The old chronicler records an instance of his early prowess in the
course of one of his hunting expeditions on the immediate borders of
France. The mountain passes and the adjacent lands were much infested
and vexed by marauders from Gascony. The Gascons, says the worthy
Agapida, were a people ready to lay their hands upon everything
they met. They used smooth words when necessary, but force when they
dared. Though poor, they were proud: there was not one who did not
plume himself upon being a hijo de algo, or son of somebody. Whenever
Pelayo, therefore, hunted on the borders infested by these, he was
attended by a page conducting his horse, with his buckler and lance,
to be at hand in case of need.

At the head of a band of fourteen of these self-styled hidalgos of
Gascony was a broken-down cavalier by the name of Arnaud. He and
four of his comrades were well armed and mounted, the rest were mere
scamper-grounds on foot, armed with darts and javelins. This band was
the terror of the border; here to-day, gone to-morrow; sometimes in
one pass of the mountains, sometimes in another; sometimes they made
descents into Spain, harassing the roads and marauding the country,
and were over the mountains again and into France before a force
could be sent against them.

It so happened that while Pelayo with a number of his huntsmen was
on the border, this Gascon cavalier and his crew were on the maraud.
They had heard of a rich merchant of Bordeaux who was to pass through
the mountains on his way to one of the ports of Biscay, with which
several of his vessels traded, and that he would carry with him much
money for the purchase of merchandise. They determined to ease him
of his money-bags; for, being hidalgos who lived by the sword, they
considered all peaceful men of trade as lawful spoil, sent by Heaven
for the supply of men of valor and gentle blood.

As they waylaid a lonely defile they beheld the merchant approaching.
He was a fair and portly man, whose looks bespoke the good cheer of
his native city. He was mounted on a stately and well-fed steed;
beside him on palfreys paced his wife, a comely dame, and his
daughter, a damsel of marriageable age, and fair to look upon. A
young man, his nephew, who acted as his clerk, rode with them, and a
single domestic followed.

When the travellers had advanced within the defile, the bandoleros
rushed from behind a rock and set upon them. The nephew fought
valiantly and was slain; the servant fled; the merchant, though
little used to the exercise of arms, and of unwieldy bulk, made
courageous defense, having his wife and daughter and his money-bags
at hazard. He was wounded in two places and overpowered.

The freebooters were disappointed at not finding the booty they
expected, and putting their swords to the breast of the merchant,
demanded where was the money with which he was to traffic in Biscay.
The trembling merchant informed them that a trusty servant was
following him at no great distance with a stout hackney laden with
bags of money. Overjoyed at this intelligence, they bound their
captives to trees and awaited the arrival of the treasure.

In the mean time Pelayo was on a hill near a narrow pass, awaiting
a wild boar which his huntsmen were to rouse. While thus posted the
merchant’s servant, who had escaped, came running in breathless
terror, but fell on his knees before Pelayo and craved his life in
the most piteous terms, supposing him another of the robbers. It
was some time before he could be persuaded of his mistake and made
to tell the story of the robbery. When Pelayo heard the tale, he
perceived that the robbers in question must be the Gascon hidalgos
upon the scamper. Taking his armor from the page, he put on his
helmet, slung his buckler round his neck, took lance in hand, and
mounting his horse, compelled the trembling servant to guide him to
the scene of the robbery. At the same time he dispatched his page to
summon as many of his huntsmen as possible to his assistance.

When the robbers saw Pelayo advancing through the forest, the sun
sparkling upon his rich armor, and saw that he was attended but by a
single page, they considered him a new prize, and Arnaud and two of
his companions mounting their horses advanced to meet him. Pelayo put
himself in a narrow pass between two rocks, where he could only be
attacked in front, and, bracing his buckler and lowering his lance,
awaited their coming.

“Who and what are ye,” cried he, “and what seek ye in this land?”

“We are huntsmen,” cried Arnaud, “in quest of game; and lo! it runs
into our toils.”

“By my faith,” said Pelayo, “thou wilt find the game easier roused
than taken; have at thee for a villain.”

So saying, he put spurs to his horse and charged upon him. Arnaud
was totally unprepared for so sudden an assault, having scarce
anticipated a defense. He hastily couched his lance, but it merely
glanced on the shield of Pelayo, who sent his own through the middle
of his breast, and threw him out of his saddle to the earth. One of
the other robbers made at Pelayo and wounded him slightly in the
side, but received a blow on the head which cleft his skull-cap and
sank into his brain. His companion, seeing him fall, galloped off
through the forest.

By this time three or four of the robbers on foot had come up, and
assailed Pelayo. He received two of their darts on his buckler, a
javelin razed his cuirass, and his horse received two wounds. Pelayo
then rushed upon them and struck one dead; the others, seeing several
huntsmen advancing, took to flight; two were overtaken and made
prisoners, the rest escaped by clambering among rocks and precipices.

The good merchant of Bordeaux and his family beheld this scene with
trembling and amazement. They almost looked upon Pelayo as something
more than mortal, for they had never witnessed such feats of arms.
Still they considered him as a leader of some rival band of robbers,
and when he came up and had the bands loosened by which they were
fastened to the trees, they fell at his feet and implored for mercy.
It was with difficulty he could pacify their fears; the females were
soonest reassured, especially the daughter, for the young maid was
struck with the gentle demeanor and noble countenance of Pelayo, and
said to herself, Surely nothing wicked can dwell in so heavenly a

Pelayo now ordered that the wounds of the merchant should be dressed,
and his own examined. When his cuirass was taken off, his wound was
found to be but slight; but his men were so exasperated at seeing
his blood, that they would have put the two captive Gascons to death
had he not forbade them. He now sounded his hunting horn, which
echoed from rock to rock, and was answered by shouts and horns from
various parts of the mountains. The merchant’s heart misgave him; he
again thought he was among robbers; nor were his fears allayed when
he beheld in a little while more than forty men assembling together
from various parts of the forest, clad in hunting-dresses, with
boar-spears, darts, and hunting-swords, and each leading a hound by
a long cord. All this was a new and a wild world to the astonished
merchant, nor was his uneasiness abated when he beheld his servant
arrive leading the hackney laden with money. Certainly, said he to
himself, this will be too tempting a spoil for these wild men of the

The huntsmen brought with them a boar, which they had killed, and
being hungry from the chase, they lighted a fire at the foot of a
tree, and each cutting such portion of the boar as he liked best,
roasted it at the fire, and ate it with bread taken from his wallet.
The merchant, his wife, and daughter looked at all this and wondered,
for they had never beheld so savage a repast. Pelayo then inquired of
them if they did not desire to eat. They were too much in awe of him
to decline, though they felt a loathing at the idea of this hunter’s
fare. Linen cloths were therefore spread under the shade of a great
oak, to screen them from the sun; and when they had seated themselves
round it, they were served, to their astonishment, not with the
flesh of the boar, but with dainty viands, such as the merchant
had scarcely hoped to find out of the walls of his native city of

While they were eating, the young damsel, the daughter of the
merchant, could not keep her eyes from Pelayo. Gratitude for his
protection, admiration of his valor, had filled her heart; and when
she regarded his noble countenance, now that he had laid aside his
helmet, she thought she beheld something divine. The heart of the
tender Donzella, says the old historian, was kind and yielding; and
had Pelayo thought fit to ask the greatest boon that love and beauty
could bestow,—doubtless meaning her own fair hand,—she would not have
had the cruelty to say him nay. Pelayo, however, had no such thought.
The love of woman had never yet entered in his heart: and though he
regarded the damsel as the fairest maiden he had ever beheld, her
beauty caused no perturbation in his breast.

When the repast was over, Pelayo offered to conduct the merchant
and his family through the passes of the mountains, which were yet
dangerous from the scattered band of Gascons. The bodies of the slain
marauders were buried, and the corpse of the nephew of the merchant
was laid upon one of the horses captured in the battle. They then
formed their cavalcade and pursued their way slowly up one of the
steep and winding defiles of the Pyrenees.

Towards sunset they arrived at the dwelling of a holy hermit. It was
hewn out of the solid rock, a cross was over the door, and before it
was a spreading oak, with a sweet spring of water at its foot. Here
the body of the merchant’s nephew was buried, close by the wall of
this sacred retreat, and the hermit performed a mass for the repose
of his soul. Pelayo then obtained leave from the holy father that
the merchant’s wife and daughter should pass the night within his
cell; and the hermit made beds of moss for them and gave them his
benediction; but the damsel found little rest, so much were her
thoughts occupied by the youthful cavalier who had delivered her from
death or dishonor.

When all were buried in repose, the hermit came to Pelayo, who was
sleeping by the spring under the tree, and he awoke him and said,
“Arise my son, and listen to my words.” Pelayo arose and seated
himself on a rock, and the holy man stood before him, and the beams
of the moon fell on his silver hair and beard, and he said: “This is
no time to be sleeping; for know that thou art chosen for a great
work. Behold the ruin of Spain is at hand, destruction shall come
over it like a cloud, and there shall be no safeguard. For it is the
will of Heaven that evil shall for a time have sway, and whoever
withstands it shall be destroyed. But tarry thou not to see these
things, for thou canst not relieve them. Depart on a pilgrimage, and
visit the sepulchre of our blessed Lord in Palestine, and purify
thyself by prayer, and enrol thyself in the order of chivalry, and
prepare for the work of the redemption of thy country. When thou
shalt return, thou wilt find thyself a stranger in the land. Thy
residence will be in wild dens and caves of the earth, which thy
young foot has never trodden. Thou wilt find thy countrymen harboring
with the beasts of the forest and the eagles of the mountains. The
land which thou leavest smiling with cornfields, and covered with
vines and olives, thou wilt find overrun with weeds and thorns and
brambles; and wolves will roam where there have been peaceful flocks
and herds. But thou wilt weed out the tares, and destroy the wolves,
and raise again the head of thy suffering country.”

Much further discourse had Pelayo with this holy man, who revealed to
him many of the fearful events that were to happen, and counseled him
the way in which he was to act.

When the morning sun shone upon the mountains, the party assembled
round the door of the hermitage, and made a repast by the fountain
under the tree. Then, having received the benediction of the hermit,
they departed, and travelled through the forests and defiles of the
mountain, in the freshness of the day; and when the merchant beheld
his wife and daughter thus secure by his side, and the hackney laden
with his treasure following close behind him, his heart was light in
his bosom, and he carolled as he went. But Pelayo rode in silence,
for his mind was deeply moved by the revelations and the counsel of
the hermit; and the daughter of the merchant ever and anon regarded
him with eyes of tenderness and admiration, and deep sighs spoke the
agitation of her bosom.

At length they came to where the forests and the rocks terminated,
and a secure road lay before them; and here Pelayo paused to take his
leave, appointing a number of his followers to attend and guard them
to the nearest town.

When they came to part, the merchant and his wife were loud in their
thanks and benedictions; but for some time the daughter spake never
a word. At length she raised her eyes, which were filled with tears,
and looked wistfully at Pelayo, and her bosom throbbed, and after
a struggle between strong affection and virgin modesty her heart
relieved itself by words.

“Señor,” said she, “I know that I am humble and unworthy of the
notice of so noble a cavalier, but suffer me to place this ring on
a finger of your right hand, with which you have so bravely rescued
us from death; and when you regard it, you shall consider it as a
memorial of your own valor, and not of one who is too humble to be
remembered by you.” With these words she drew a ring from off her
finger and put it upon the finger of Pelayo; and having done this,
she blushed and trembled at her own boldness, and stood as one
abashed, with her eyes cast down upon the earth.

Pelayo was moved at her words, and at the touch of her fair hand, and
at her beauty as she stood thus troubled and in tears before him;
but as yet he knew nothing of woman, and his heart was free from the
snares of love. “Amiga” (friend), said he, “I accept thy present, and
will wear it in remembrance of thy goodness.” The damsel was cheered
by these words, for she hoped she had awakened some tenderness in his
bosom; but it was no such thing, says the ancient chronicler, for his
heart was ignorant of love, and was devoted to higher and more sacred
matters; yet certain it is, that he always guarded well that ring.

They parted, and Pelayo and his huntsmen remained for some time on
a cliff on the verge of the forest, watching that no evil befell
them about the skirts of the mountain; and the damsel often turned
her head to look at him, until she could no longer see him for the
distance and the tears that dimmed her eyes.

And, for that he had accepted her ring, she considered herself
wedded to him in her heart, and never married; nor could be brought
to look with eyes of affection upon any other man, but for the true
love which she bore Pelayo she lived and died a virgin. And she
composed a book, continues the old chronicler, which treated of love
and chivalry, and the temptations of this mortal life,—and one part
discoursed of celestial things,—and it was called the “Contemplations
of Love;” because at the time she wrote it she thought of Pelayo,
and of his having received her jewel, and called her by the gentle
name of “Amiga;” and often thinking of him, and of her never having
beheld him more, in tender sadness she would take the book which she
had written, and would read it for him, and, while she repeated the
words of love which it contained, she would fancy them uttered by
Pelayo, and that he stood before her.[58]

  [58] El Moro Rasis, _Destruycion de España_, pt. 2, c. 101.




Pilgrimage of Pelayo, and what befell him on his Return to Spain.

Pelayo, according to the old chronicle before quoted, returned to his
home deeply impressed with the revelations made to him by the saintly
hermit, and prepared to set forth upon the pilgrimage to the Holy
Sepulchre. Some historians have alleged that he was quickened to this
pious expedition by fears of violence from the wicked King Witiza;
but at this time Witiza was in his grave, and Roderick swayed the
Gothic sceptre; the sage Agapida is therefore inclined to attribute
the pilgrimage to the mysterious revelation already mentioned.

Having arranged the concerns of his household, chosen the best suit
of armor from his armory, and the best horse from his stable, and
supplied himself with jewels and store of gold for his expenses, he
took leave of his mother and his sister Lucinda, as if departing
upon a distant journey in Spain, and, attended only by his page, set
out upon his holy wayfaring. Descending from the rugged Pyrenees, he
journeyed through the fair plains of France to Marseilles, where,
laying by his armor, and leaving his horses in safe keeping, he
put on a pilgrim’s garb, with staff and scrip and cockle-shell,
and embarked on board of a galley bound for Sicily. From Messina
he voyaged in a small bark to Rhodes; thence in a galliot, with a
number of other pilgrims, to the Holy Land. Having passed a year of
pious devotion at the Holy Sepulchre, and visited all the places
rendered sacred by the footsteps of our Lord, and of his mother the
ever-blessed Virgin, and having received the order of knighthood, he
turned his steps toward his native land.

The discreet Agapida here pauses and forbears to follow the ancient
chronicler further in his narration, for an interval of obscurity
now occurs in the fortunes of Pelayo. Some who have endeavored to
ascertain and connect the links of his romantic and eventful story,
have represented him as returning from his pilgrimage in time to
share in the last struggle of his country, and as signalizing himself
in the fatal battle on the banks of the Guadalete. Others declare
that by the time he arrived in Spain the perdition of the country was
complete; that infidel chieftains bore sway in the palaces of his
ancestors; that his paternal castle was a ruin, his mother in her
grave, and his sister Lucinda carried away into captivity.

Stepping lightly over this disputed ground, the cautious Agapida
resumes the course of the story where Pelayo discovers the residence
of his sister in the city of Gijon, on the Atlantic coast, at the
foot of the Asturian Mountains. It was a formidable fortress, chosen
by Taric as a military post, to control the seaboard, and hold in
check the Christian patriots who had taken refuge in the neighboring
mountains. The commander of this redoubtable fortress was a renegado
chief, who has been variously named by historians, and who held
the sister of Pelayo a captive; though others affirm that she had
submitted to become his wife, to avoid a more degrading fate.
According to the old chronicle already cited, Pelayo succeeded by
artifice in extricating her from his hands, and bearing her away to
the mountains. They were hotly pursued, but Pelayo struck up a steep
and rugged defile, where scarcely two persons could pass abreast, and
partly by his knowledge of the defiles, partly by hurling down great
masses of rock to check his pursuers, effected the escape of his
sister and himself to a secure part of the mountains. Here they found
themselves in a small green meadow, blocked up by a perpendicular
precipice, whence fell a stream of water with great noise into a
natural basin or pool, the source of the river Deva. Here was the
hermitage of one of those holy men who had accompanied the Archbishop
Urbano in his flight from Toledo, and had established a sanctuary
among these mountains. He received the illustrious fugitives with
joy, especially when he knew their rank and story, and conducted them
to his retreat. A kind of ladder led up to an aperture in the face of
the rock, about two pike lengths from the ground. Within was a lofty
cavern capable of containing many people, with an inner cavern of
still greater magnitude. The outer cavern served as a chapel, having
an altar, a crucifix, and an image of the blessed Mary.

This wild retreat had never been molested; not a Moslem turban had
been seen within the little valley. The cavern was well known to the
Gothic inhabitants of the mountains and the adjacent valleys. They
called it the cave of Santa Maria; but it is more commonly known to
fame by the name of Covadonga. It had many times been a secure place
of refuge to suffering Christians, being unknown to their foes, and
capable of being made a natural citadel. The entrance was so far
from the ground that, when the ladder was removed, a handful of men
could defend it from all assault. The small meadow in front afforded
pasturage and space for gardens; and the stream that fell from the
rock was from a never-failing spring. The valley was high in the
mountains; so high that the crow seldom winged its flight across it,
and the passes leading to it were so steep and dangerous that single
men might set whole armies at defiance.

Such was one of the wild fastnesses of the Asturias, which formed
the forlorn hope of unhappy Spain. The anchorite, too, was one
of those religious men permitted by the conquerors, from their
apparently peaceful and inoffensive lives, to inhabit lonely chapels
and hermitages, but whose cells formed places of secret resort and
council for the patriots of Spain, and who kept up an intercourse and
understanding among the scattered remnants of the nation. The holy
man knew all the Christians of the Asturias, whether living in the
almost inaccessible caves and dens of the cliffs, or in the narrow
valleys imbedded among the mountains. He represented them to Pelayo
as brave and hardy, and ready for any desperate enterprise that might
promise deliverance; but they were disheartened by the continued
subjection of their country, and on the point, many of them, of
descending into the plains and submitting, like the rest of their
countrymen, to the yoke of the conquerors.

When Pelayo considered all these things, he was persuaded the time
was come for effecting the great purpose of his soul. “Father,” said
he, “I will no longer play the fugitive, nor endure the disgrace of
my country and my line. Here in this wilderness will I rear once more
the royal standard of the Goths, and attempt, with the blessing of
God, to shake off the yoke of the invader.”

The hermit hailed his words with transport, as prognostics of the
deliverance of Spain. Taking staff in hand, he repaired to the
nearest valley inhabited by Christian fugitives. “Hasten in every
direction,” said he, “and proclaim far and wide among the mountains
that Pelayo, a descendant of the Gothic kings, has unfurled his
banner at Covadonga as a rallying-point for his countrymen.”

The glad tidings ran like wildfire throughout all the regions of the
Asturias. Old and young started up at the sound, and seized whatever
weapons were at hand. From mountain cleft and secret glen issued
forth stark and stalwart warriors, grim with hardship, and armed
with old Gothic weapons that had rusted in caves since the battle of
the Guadalete. Others turned their rustic implements into spears and
battle-axes, and hastened to join the standard of Pelayo. Every day
beheld numbers of patriot warriors arriving in the narrow valley, or
rather glen, of Covadonga, clad in all the various garbs of ancient
Spain,—for here were fugitives from every province, who had preferred
liberty among the sterile rocks of the mountains to ease and slavery
in the plains. In a little while Pelayo found himself at the head
of a formidable force, hardened by toil and suffering, fired with
old Spanish pride, and rendered desperate by despair. With these he
maintained a warlike sway among the mountains. Did any infidel troops
attempt to penetrate to their stronghold, the signal fires blazed
from height to height, the steep passes and defiles bristled with
armed men, and rocks were hurled upon the heads of the intruders.

By degrees the forces of Pelayo increased so much in number, and
in courage of heart, that he sallied forth occasionally from the
mountains, swept the sea-coast, assailed the Moors in their towns
and villages, put many of them to the sword, and returned laden with
spoil to the mountains.

His name now became the terror of the infidels, and the hope and
consolation of the Christians. The heart of old Gothic Spain was once
more lifted up, and hailed his standard as the harbinger of happier
days. Her scattered sons felt again as a people, and the spirit of
empire arose once more among them. Gathering together from all parts
of the Asturias in the Valley of Cangas, they resolved to elect their
champion their sovereign. Placing the feet of Pelayo upon a shield,
several of the starkest warriors raised him aloft, according to
ancient Gothic ceremonial, and presented him as king. The multitude
rent the air with their transports, and the mountain cliffs, which so
long had echoed nothing but lamentations, now resounded with shouts
of joy.[59] Thus terminated the interregnum of Christian Spain, which
had lasted since the overthrow of King Roderick and his host on the
banks of the Guadalete, and the new king continued with augmented
zeal his victorious expeditions against the infidels.

  [59] Morales, _Cronicon de España_, L. 13, c. 2.




The Battle of Covadonga.

Tidings soon spread throughout Spain that the Christians of the
Asturias were in arms and had proclaimed a king among the mountains.
The veteran chief, Taric el Tuerto, was alarmed for the safety of
the seaboard, and dreaded lest this insurrection should extend into
the plains. He despatched, therefore, in all haste, a powerful force
from Cordova, under the command of Ibrahim Alcamar, one of his most
experienced captains, with orders to penetrate the mountains and
crush this dangerous rebellion. The perfidious Bishop Oppas, who had
promoted the perdition of Spain, was sent with this host, in the hope
that through his artful eloquence Pelayo might be induced to lay down
his arms and his newly assumed sceptre.

The army made rapid marches, and in a few days arrived among the
narrow valleys of the Asturias. The Christians had received notice
of their approach, and fled to their fastnesses. The Moors found the
valleys silent and deserted; there were traces of men, but not a man
was to be seen. They passed through the most wild and dreary defiles,
among impending rocks,—here and there varied by small green strips
of mountain meadow,—and directed their march for the lofty valley, or
rather glen, of Covadonga, whither they learnt from their scouts that
Pelayo had retired.

The newly elected king, when he heard of the approach of this mighty
force, sent his sister, and all the women and children, to a distant
and secret part of the mountain. He then chose a thousand of his best
armed and most powerful men, and placed them within the cave. The
lighter armed and less vigorous he ordered to climb to the summit of
the impending rocks, and conceal themselves among the thickets with
which they were crowned. This done, he entered the cavern and caused
the ladder leading to it to be drawn up.

In a little while the bray of distant trumpets, and the din of
atabals resounded up the glen, and soon the whole gorge of the
mountain glistened with armed men; squadron after squadron of swarthy
Arabs spurred into the valley, which was soon whitened by their
tents. The veteran Ibrahim Alcamar, trusting that he had struck
dismay into the Christians by this powerful display, sent the crafty
Bishop Oppas to parley with Pelayo, and persuade him to surrender.

The bishop advanced on his steed until within a short distance of
the cave, and Pelayo appeared at its entrance with lance in hand.
The silver-tongued prelate urged him to submit to the Moslem power,
assuring him that he would be rewarded with great honors and estates.
He represented the mildness of the conquerors to all who submitted to
their sway, and the hopelessness of resistance. “Remember,” said he,
“how mighty was the power of the Goths, who vanquished both Romans
and Barbarians, yet how completely was it broken down and annihilated
by these people. If the whole nation in arms could not stand before
them, what canst thou do with thy wretched cavern and thy handful
of mountaineers? Be counseled then, Pelayo; give up this desperate
attempt; accept the liberal terms offered thee; abandon these sterile
mountains, and return to the plains to live in wealth and honor under
the magnanimous rule of Taric.”

Pelayo listened to the hoary traitor with mingled impatience and
disdain. “Perdition has come upon Spain,” replied he, “through the
degeneracy of her sons, the sins of her rulers,—like the wicked King
Witiza thy brother,—and the treachery of base men like thee. But when
punishment is at an end, mercy and forgiveness succeed. The Goths
have reached the lowest extreme of misery; it is for me to aid their
fortune in the turn, and soon I trust will it arise to its former
grandeur. As to thee, Don Oppas, thou shalt stand abhorred among men,
false to thy country, traitorous to thy king, a renegado Christian,
and an apostate priest.”

So saying he turned his back upon the bishop and retired into his

Oppas returned pale with shame and malice to Alcamar. “These people,”
said he, “are stiff-necked in their rebellion; their punishment
should be according to their obstinacy, and should serve as a terror
to evil doers; not one of them should be permitted to survive.”

Upon this Alcamar ordered a grand assault upon the cavern; and the
slingers and the cross-bow men advanced in great force, and with a
din of atabals and trumpets that threatened to rend the very rocks.
They discharged showers of stones and arrows at the mouth of the
cavern, but their missiles rebounded from the face of the rock, and
many of them fell upon their own heads. This is recorded as a miracle
by pious chroniclers of yore, who affirm that the stones and arrows
absolutely turned in the air and killed those who had discharged them.

When Alcamar and Oppas saw that the attack was ineffectual, they
brought up fresh forces and made preparations to scale the mouth of
the cavern. At this moment, says the old chronicle, a banner was put
in the hand of Pelayo, bearing a white cross on a blood-red field,
and inscribed on it in Chaldean characters was the name of Jesus.
And a voice spake unto him and said, “Arouse thy strength; go forth
in the name of Jesus Christ, and thou shalt conquer.” Who gave
the banner and uttered the words has never been known; the whole,
therefore, stands recorded as a miracle.

Then Pelayo elevated the banner. “Behold,” said he, “a sign from
Heaven,—a sacred cross sent to lead us on to victory.”

Upon this the people gave a great shout of joy; and when the Saracens
heard that shout within the entrails of the mountain their hearts
quaked, for it was like the roar of a volcano giving token of an

Before they could recover from their astonishment, the Christians
issued in a torrent from the cave, all fired with rage and holy
confidence. By their impetuous assault they bore back the first rank
of their adversaries and forced it upon those behind, and as there
was no space in that narrow valley to display a front of war, or for
many to fight at a time, the numbers of the foe but caused their
confusion. The horse trampled on the foot, and the late formidable
host became a mere struggling and distracted multitude. In the front
was carnage and confusion, in the rear terror and fright; wherever
the sacred standard was borne, the infidels appeared to fall before
it, as if smitten by some invisible hand rather than by the Christian

Early in the fight Pelayo encountered Ibrahim Alcamar. They fought
hand to hand on the border of the pool from which springs the river
Deva, and the Saracen was slain upon the margin of that pool, and his
blood mingled with its waters.

When the Bishop Oppas beheld this he would have fled, but the valley
was closed up by the mass of combatants, and Pelayo overtook him and
defied him to the fight. But the bishop, though armed, was as craven
as he was false, and yielding up his weapons implored for mercy. So
Pelayo spared his life, but sent him bound to the cavern.

The whole Moorish host now took to headlong flight. Some attempted to
clamber to the summit of the mountains, but they were assailed by
the troops stationed there by Pelayo, who showered down darts and
arrows and great masses of rock, making fearful havoc.

The great body of the army fled by the road leading along the ledge
or shelf overhanging the deep ravine of the Deva; but as they
crowded in one dense multitude upon the projecting precipice, the
whole mass suddenly gave way, and horse and horseman, tree and rock,
were precipitated in one tremendous ruin into the raging river.
Thus perished a great part of the flying army. The venerable Bishop
Sebastiano, who records this event with becoming awe, as another
miracle wrought in favor of the Christians, assures us that, in his
time, many years afterwards, when during the winter season the Deva
would swell and rage and tear away its banks, spears and scimetars
and corselets, and the mingled bones of men and steeds, would be
uncovered, being the wrecks and relics of the Moslem host, thus
marvelously destroyed.[60]

  [60] Judicio Domini actum est, ut ipsius montis pars se a
  fundamentis evolvens, sexaginta tria millia caldeorum stupenter
  in fulmina projecit, atque eos omnes opressit. Ubi usque
  nunc ipse fluvius dum tempore hyemali alveum suum implet,
  ripasque dissoluit, signa armorum et ossa eorum evidentissime
  ostendit.—_Sebastianus Salmanticensis Episc._

NOTE.—To satisfy all doubts with respect to the miraculous banner of
Pelayo, that precious relic is still preserved in the sacred chamber
of the church of Oviedo, richly ornamented with gold and precious
stones. It was removed to that place by order of Alonzo the Third,
from the church of Santa Cruz, near Cangas, which was erected by
Favila, the son and successor of Pelayo, in memory of this victory.




Pelayo becomes King of Leon.—His Death.

When Pelayo beheld his enemies thus scattered and destroyed, he saw
that Heaven was on his side, and proceeded to follow up his victory.
Rearing the sacred banner, he descended through the valleys of
the Asturias, his army augmenting, like a mountain torrent, as it
rolled along; for the Christians saw in the victory of Covadonga a
miraculous interposition of Providence in behalf of ruined Spain, and
hastened from all parts to join the standard of the deliverer.

Emboldened by numbers, and by the enthusiasm of his troops, Pelayo
directed his march towards the fortress of Gijon. The renegado
Magued, however, did not await his coming. His heart failed him
on hearing of the defeat and death of Alcamar, the destruction of
the Moslem army, and the augmenting force of the Christians; and,
abandoning his post, he marched towards Leon with the greatest
part of his troops. Pelayo received intelligence of his movements,
and advancing rapidly through the mountains, encountered him in
the Valley of Ollalas. A bloody battle ensued on the banks of the
river which flows through that valley. The sacred banner was again
victorious; Magued was slain by the hand of Pelayo, and so great was
the slaughter of his host, that for two days the river ran red with
the blood of the Saracens.

From hence, Pelayo proceeded rapidly to Gijon, which he easily
carried by assault. The capture of this important fortress gave him
the command of the seaboard, and of the skirts of the mountains.
While reposing himself after his victories, the Bishop Oppas was
brought in chains before him, and the Christian troops called
loudly for the death of that traitor and apostate. But Pelayo
recollected that he had been a sacred dignitary of the Church, and
regarded him as a scourge in the hand of Heaven for the punishment
of Spain. He would not, therefore, suffer violent hands to be laid
upon him, but contented himself with placing him where he could no
longer work mischief. He accordingly ordered him to be confined in
one of the towers of Gijon, with nothing but bread and water for
his subsistence. There he remained a prey to the workings of his
conscience, which filled his prison with horrid spectres of those who
had perished through his crimes. He heard wailings and execrations in
the sea-breeze that howled round the tower, and in the roaring of the
waves that beat against its foundations; and in a little time he was
found dead in his dungeon, hideously distorted, as if he had died in
agony and terror.[61]

  [61] _La Destruycion de España_, part 3.

The sacred banner that had been elevated at Covadonga never sank nor
receded, but continued to be the beacon of deliverance to Spain.
Pelayo went on from conquest to conquest, increasing and confirming
his royal power. Having captured the city of Leon, he made it the
capital of his kingdom, and took there the title of the King of Leon.
He moreover adopted the device of the city for his arms—a blood-red
lion rampant, in a silver field. This long continued to be the arms
of Spain, until in after times the lion was quartered with the
castle, the device of Burgos, capital of Old Castile.

We forbear to follow this patriot prince through the rest of
his glorious career. Suffice it to say that he reigned long and
prosperously; extending on all sides the triumphs of his arms;
establishing on solid foundations the reviving empire of Christian
Spain; and that, after a life of constant warfare, he died in peace
in the city of Cangas, and lies buried with his queen, Gaudiosa, in
the church of Santa Eulalia, near to that city.

Here ends the legend of Pelayo.







[THE Memoir of Abderahman, the founder of the dynasty of the Ommiades
in Spain, was published in the “Knickerbocker Magazine” in 1840. In
introducing it to that periodical, the author, after stating that
he had conformed to the facts furnished by the Arabian chronicles,
as cited by Conde, remarks: “The story of Abderahman has almost
the charm of romance; but it derives a higher interest from the
heroic, yet gentle virtues which it illustrates, and from recording
the fortunes of the founder of that splendid dynasty which shed
such a lustre upon Spain during the domination of the Arabs.” The
accomplished Ford says of the history of Abderahman: “No fiction of
romance ever surpassed the truth of his eventful life.”

The present Memoir is not an exact reprint of the article in the
“Knickerbocker,” but is given as altered from that, in 1847, when the
author was thinking of preparing for the press the “Chronicle of the
Ommiades,” embracing the whole line which he had “roughly sketched
out at Madrid in 1827, just after he had finished Columbus.”—ED.]




Of the Youthful Fortunes of Abderahman.

“Blessed be God!” exclaims an Arabian historian; “in his hands alone
is the destiny of princes. He overthrows the mighty, and humbles the
haughty to the dust; and he raises up the persecuted and afflicted
from the very depths of despair!”

The illustrious house of Omeya, one of the two lines descended from
Mahomet, had swayed the sceptre at Damascus for nearly a century,
when a rebellion broke out, headed by Abu al Abbas Safah, who
aspired to the throne of the caliphs, as being descended from Abbas,
the uncle of the prophet. The rebellion was successful. Meruan,
the last caliph of the house of Omeya, was defeated and slain. A
general proscription of the Ommiades took place. Many of them fell
in battle; many were treacherously slain in places where they had
taken refuge; above seventy, most noble and distinguished, were
murdered at a banquet to which they had been invited, and their dead
bodies, covered with cloths, were made to serve as tables for the
horrible festivity. Others were driven forth, forlorn and desolate
wanderers in various parts of the earth, and pursued with relentless
hatred; for it was the determination of the usurper that not one of
the persecuted family should escape. Abu al Abbas took possession
of three stately palaces, and delicious gardens, and founded the
powerful dynasty of the Abbassides, which, for several centuries,
maintained dominion in the East.

“Blessed be God!” again exclaims the Arabian historian; “it was
written in his eternal decrees that, notwithstanding the fury of the
Abbassides, the noble stock of Omeya should not be destroyed. One
fruitful branch remained to flourish with glory and greatness in
another land.”

When the sanguinary proscription of the Ommiades took place, two
young princes of that line, brothers, by the names of Solyman and
Abderahman, were spared for a time. Their personal graces, noble
demeanor, and winning affability, had made them many friends, while
their extreme youth rendered them objects of but little dread to the
usurper. Their safety, however, was but transient. In a little while
the suspicions of Abu al Abbas were aroused. The unfortunate Solyman
fell beneath the scimetar of the executioner. His brother Abderahman
was warned of his danger in time. Several of his friends hastened
to him, bringing him jewels, a disguise, and a fleet horse. “The
emissaries of the caliph,” said they, “are in search of thee; thy
brother lies weltering in his blood; fly to the desert! There is no
safety for thee in the habitations of man!”

Abderahman took the jewels, clad himself in the disguise, and
mounting the steed, fled for his life. As he passed, a lonely
fugitive, by the palaces of his ancestors, in which his family had
long held sway, their very walls seemed disposed to betray him, as
they echoed the swift clattering of his steed.

Abandoning his native country, Syria, where he was liable at each
moment to be recognized and taken, he took refuge among the Bedouin
Arabs, a half-savage race of shepherds. His youth, his inborn majesty
and grace, and the sweetness and affability that shone forth in his
azure eyes, won the hearts of these wandering men. He was but twenty
years of age, and had been reared in the soft luxury of a palace; but
he was tall and vigorous, and in a little while hardened himself so
completely to the rustic life of the fields, that it seemed as though
he had passed all his days in the rude simplicity of a shepherd’s

His enemies, however, were upon his traces, and gave him but little
rest. By day he scoured the plains with the Bedouins, hearing in
every blast the sound of pursuit, and fancying in every distant cloud
of dust a troop of the caliph’s horsemen. His night was passed in
broken sleep and frequent watchings, and at the earliest dawn he was
the first to put the bridle to his steed.

Wearied by these perpetual alarms, he bade farewell to his friendly
Bedouins, and leaving Egypt behind, sought a safer refuge in Western
Africa. The province of Barca was at that time governed by Aben
Habib, who had risen to rank and fortune under the fostering favor of
the Ommiades. “Surely,” thought the unhappy prince, “I shall receive
kindness and protection from this man; he will rejoice to show his
gratitude for the benefits showered upon him by my kindred.”

Abderahman was young, and as yet knew little of mankind. None are so
hostile to the victim of power as those whom he has befriended. They
fear being suspected of gratitude by his persecutors, and involved in
his misfortunes.

The unfortunate Abderahman had halted for a few days to repose
himself among a horde of Bedouins, who had received him with their
characteristic hospitality. They would gather round him in the
evenings to listen to his conversation, regarding with wonder this
gently spoken stranger from the more refined country of Egypt. The
old men marveled to find so much knowledge and wisdom in such early
youth, and the young men, won by his frank and manly carriage,
entreated him to remain among them.

In the mean time the Wali Aben Habib, like all the governors of
distant posts, had received orders from the caliph to be on the
watch for the fugitive prince. Hearing that a young man answering
the description had entered the province alone, from the frontiers
of Egypt, on a steed worn down by travel, he sent forth horsemen
in his pursuit, with orders to bring him to him dead or alive. The
emissaries of the wali traced him to his resting-place, and coming
upon the encampment in the dead of the night, demanded of the Arabs
whether a young man, a stranger from Syria, did not sojourn among
their tribe. The Bedouins knew by the description that the stranger
must be their guest, and feared some evil was intended him. “Such a
youth,” said they, “has indeed sojourned among us; but he has gone,
with some of our young men, to a distant valley to hunt the lion.”
The emissaries inquired the way to the place, and hastened on to
surprise their expected prey.

The Bedouins repaired to Abderahman, who was still sleeping. “If thou
hast aught to fear from man in power,” said they, “arise and fly; for
the horsemen of the wali are in quest of thee! We have sent them off
for a time on a wrong errand, but they will soon return.”

“Alas! whither shall I fly?” cried the unhappy prince; “my enemies
hunt me like the ostrich of the desert. They follow me like the wind,
and allow me neither safety nor repose!”

Six of the bravest youths of the tribe stepped forward. “We have
steeds,” said they, “that can outstrip the wind, and hands that can
hurl the javelin. We will accompany thee in thy flight, and will
fight by thy side while life lasts, and we have weapons to wield.”

Abderahman embraced them with tears of gratitude. They mounted their
steeds, and made for the most lonely parts of the desert. By the
faint light of the stars, they passed through dreary wastes, and over
hills of sand. The lion roared and the hyena howled unheeded, for
they fled from man, more cruel and relentless, when in pursuit of
blood, than the savage beasts of the desert.

At sunrise they paused to refresh themselves beside a scanty well,
surrounded by a few palm-trees. One of the young Arabs climbed a
tree, and looked in every direction, but not a horseman was to be

“We have outstripped pursuit,” said the Bedouins; “whither shall we
conduct thee? Where is thy home, and the land of thy people?”

“Home have I none!” replied Abderahman, mournfully, “nor family, nor
kindred! My native land is to me a land of destruction, and my people
seek my life!”

The hearts of the youthful Bedouins were touched with compassion at
these words, and they marveled that one so young and gentle should
have suffered such great sorrow and persecution.

Abderahman sat by the well and mused for a time. At length, breaking
silence, “In the midst of Mauritania,” said he, “dwells the tribe
of Zeneta. My mother was of that tribe; and perhaps when her son
presents himself, a persecuted wanderer, at their door, they will not
turn him from the threshold.”

“The Zenetes,” replied the Bedouins, “are among the bravest and
most hospitable of the people of Africa. Never did the unfortunate
seek refuge among them in vain, nor was the stranger repulsed from
their door.” So they mounted their steeds with renewed spirits, and
journeyed with all speed to Tahart, the capital of the Zenetes.

When Abderahman entered the place, followed by his six rustic Arabs,
all wayworn and travel-stained, his noble and majestic demeanor shone
through the simple garb of a Bedouin. A crowd gathered around him
as he alighted from his weary steed. Confiding in the well-known
character of the tribe, he no longer attempted concealment.

“You behold before you,” said he, “one of the proscribed house of
Omeya. I am that Abderahman upon whose head a price has been set, and
who has been driven from land to land. I come to you as my kindred.
My mother was of your tribe, and she told me with her dying breath
that in all time of need I would find a home and friends among the

The words of Abderahman went straight to the hearts of his hearers.
They pitied his youth and his great misfortunes, while they were
charmed by his frankness, and by the manly graces of his person. The
tribe was of a bold and generous spirit, and not to be awed by the
frown of power. “Evil be upon us and upon our children,” said they,
“if we deceive the trust thou hast placed in us!”

One of the noblest, Xeques, then took Abderahman to his house, and
treated him as his own child; and the principal people of the tribe
strove who most should cherish him and do him honor—endeavoring to
obliterate by their kindness the recollection of his past misfortunes.

Abderahman had resided some time among the hospitable Zenetes, when
one day two strangers of venerable appearance, attended by a small
retinue, arrived at Tahart. They gave themselves out as merchants,
and from the simple style in which they travelled, excited no
attention. In a little while they sought out Abderahman, and, taking
him apart, “Hearken,” said they, “Abderahman, of the royal line of
Omeya. We are ambassadors, sent on the part of the principal Moslems
of Spain, to offer thee, not merely an asylum, for that thou hast
already among these brave Zenetes, but an empire! Spain is a prey
to distracting factions, and can no longer exist as a dependence
upon a throne too remote to watch over its welfare. It needs to be
independent of Asia and Africa, and to be under the government of a
good prince, who shall reside within it and devote himself entirely
to its prosperity; a prince with sufficient title to silence all
rival claims and bring the warring parties into unity and peace;
and, at the same time, with sufficient ability and virtue to insure
the welfare of his dominions. For this purpose the eyes of all the
honorable leaders in Spain have been turned to thee as a descendant
of the royal line of Omeya, and an offset from the same stock
as our holy prophet. They have heard of thy virtues, and of thy
admirable constancy under misfortunes; and invite thee to accept the
sovereignty of one of the noblest countries in the world. Thou wilt
have some difficulties to encounter from hostile men; but thou wilt
have on thy side the bravest captains that have signalized themselves
in the conquest of the unbelievers.”

The ambassadors ceased, and Abderahman remained for a time lost
in wonder and admiration. “God is great!” exclaimed he, at length;
“there is but one God, who is God, and Mahomet is his prophet!
Illustrious ambassadors, you have put new life into my soul, for you
have shown me something to live for. In the few years that I have
lived, troubles and sorrows have been heaped upon my head, and I
have become inured to hardships and alarms. Since it is the wish of
the valiant Moslems of Spain, I am willing to become their leader
and defender, and devote myself to their cause, be it happy or

The ambassadors now cautioned him to be silent as to their errand,
and to depart secretly for Spain. “The seaboard of Africa,” said
they, “swarms with your enemies, and a powerful faction in Spain
would intercept you on landing, did they know your name and rank, and
the object of your coming.”

But Abderahman replied: “I have been cherished in adversity by these
brave Zenetes; I have been protected and honored by them when a price
was set upon my head, and to harbor me was great peril. How can I
keep my good fortune from my benefactors, and desert their hospitable
roofs in silence? He is unworthy of friendship who withholds
confidence from his friend.”

Charmed with the generosity of his feelings, the ambassadors made
no opposition to his wishes. The Zenetes proved themselves worthy
of his confidence. They hailed with joy the great change in his
fortunes. The warriors and the young men pressed forward to follow
and aid them with horse and weapon; “for the honor of a noble house
and family,” said they, “can be maintained only by lances and
horsemen.” In a few days he set forth with the ambassadors, at the
head of nearly a thousand horsemen, skilled in war, and exercised
in the desert, and a large body of infantry, armed with lances. The
venerable Xeque, with whom he had resided, blessed him, and shed
tears over him at parting, as though he had been his own child; and
when the youth passed over the threshold, the house was filled with




Landing of Abderahman in Spain.—Condition of the Country.

Abderahman Ben Omeya arrived in safety on the coast of Andalusia
and landed at Almunecar, or Malaga, with his little band of warlike
Zenetes. Spain was at that time in great confusion. Upwards of
forty years had elapsed since the Conquest. The civil wars in Syria
and Egypt, and occasional revolts in Africa, had caused frequent
overflowings of different tribes into Spain, which was a place of
common refuge. Hither, too, came the fragments of defeated armies,
desperate in fortune, with weapons in their hands. These settled
themselves in various parts of the peninsula, which thus became
divided between the Arabs of Yemen, the Egyptians, the Syrians,
and the Alabdarides. The distractions in its Eastern and African
provinces prevented the main government at Damascus from exercising
any control over its distant and recently acquired territory in
Spain, which soon became broken up into factions and a scene of
all kinds of abuses. Every sheik and wali considered the town or
province committed to his charge an absolute property, and practiced
the most arbitrary extortions. These excesses at length became
insupportable, and at a convocation of the principal leaders it was
determined, as a means of ending these dissensions, to unite all
the Moslem provinces of the peninsula under one emir, or general
governor. Yusuf el Fehri, an ancient man of honorable lineage, being
of the tribe of Koreish, and a descendant of Ocba, the conqueror of
Africa, was chosen for this station. He began his reign with policy,
and endeavored to conciliate all parties. At the head of the Egyptian
faction was a veteran warrior, named Samael, to whom Yusuf gave the
government of Toledo, and to his son that of Saragossa. At the head
of the Alabdarides was Amer ben Amru, Emir of the Seas; his office
being suppressed, Yusuf gave him in place thereof the government of
the noble city of Seville. Thus he proceeded, distributing honors
and commands, and flattered himself that he secured the loyalty and
good-will of every one whom he benefited.

Who shall pretend, says the Arabian sage, to content the human heart
by benefits, when even the bounties of Allah are ineffectual? In
seeking to befriend all parties, Yusuf created for himself inveterate
enemies. Amer ben Amru, powerful from his wealth and connections,
and proud of his descent from Mosab, the standard-bearer of the
prophet in the battle of Beder, was indignant that Samael and his
son, with whom he was at deadly feud, should be appointed to such
important commands. He demanded one of those posts for himself, and
was refused. An insurrection and a civil war was the consequence;
and the country was laid waste with fire and sword. The inhabitants
of the villages fled to the cities for refuge; flourishing towns
disappeared from the face of the earth, or were reduced to heaps of

In these dismal times, say the Arabian chroniclers, the very heavens
gave omens of the distress and desolation of the earth. At Cordova
two pale and livid suns were seen shedding a baleful light. In the
north appeared a flaming scythe, and the heavens were red as blood.
These were regarded as presages of direful calamities and bloody wars.

At the time of the landing of Abderahman in Spain, Yusuf had captured
Saragossa, in which was Amer ben Amru, with his son and secretary,
and loading them with chains and putting them on camels, he set out
on his return to Cordova. He had halted one day in a valley called
Wadaramla, and was reposing with his family in his tent, while his
people and the prisoners made a repast in the open air. The heart
of the old emir was lifted up, for he thought there was no one
to dispute with him the domination of Spain. In the midst of his
exultation some horsemen were seen spurring up the valley, bearing
the standard of the Wali Samael.

That officer arrived, covered with dust and exhausted with fatigue.
He brought tidings of the arrival of Abderahman, and that the whole
seaboard was flocking to his standard. Messenger after messenger
arrived confirming the fearful tidings, and adding that this
descendant of the Omeyas had been secretly invited to Spain by Amru
and his party.

Yusuf waited not to ascertain the truth of this accusation. In a
transport of fury he ordered that Amru, his son, and secretary should
be cut to pieces. His orders were instantly executed; and this
cruelty, adds the Arabian chronicler, lost him the favor of Allah;
for from that time success deserted his standard.




Triumphs of Abderahman.—The Palm-tree which he planted, and
the Verses he composed thereupon.—Insurrections.—His Enemies
subdued.—Undisputed Sovereign of the Moslems of Spain.—Begins the
famous Mosque in Cordova.—His Death.

Abderahman had indeed been hailed with joy on his landing. The old
people hoped to find tranquillity under the sway of one supreme
chieftain, descended from their ancient caliphs; the young men were
rejoiced to have a youthful warrior to lead them on to victories;
and the populace, charmed with his freshness and manly beauty, his
majestic yet gracious and affable demeanor, shouted, “Long live
Abderahman, Miramamolin of Spain!”

In a few days the youthful sovereign saw himself at the head of more
than twenty thousand men, from the neighborhood of Elvira, Almeria,
Malaga, Xeres, and Sidonia. Fair Seville threw open its gates at
his approach, and celebrated his arrival with public rejoicings. He
continued his march into the country, vanquished one of the sons of
Yusuf before the gates of Cordova, and obliged him to take refuge
within its walls, where he held him in close siege. Hearing, however,
of the approach of Yusuf, the father, with a powerful army, he
divided his forces, and leaving ten thousand men to press the siege,
he hastened with the other ten to meet the coming foe.

Yusuf had indeed mustered a formidable force, from the east and
south of Spain, and accompanied by his veteran general, Samael,
came with confident boasting to drive this intruder from the land.
His confidence increased on beholding the small army of Abderahman.
Turning to Samael, he repeated, with a scornful sneer, a verse from
an Arabian poetess, which says:—

“How hard is our lot! We come, a thirsty multitude, and lo! but this
cup of water to share among us!”

There was indeed a fearful odds. On the one side were two veteran
generals, grown gray in victory, with a mighty host of warriors,
seasoned in the wars of Spain. On the other side was a mere youth,
scarce attained to manhood, with a hasty levy of half-disciplined
troops; but the youth was a prince, flushed with hope, and aspiring
after fame and empire, and surrounded by a devoted band of warriors
from Africa, whose example infused zeal into the little army.

The encounter took place at daybreak. The impetuous valor of the
Zenetes carried everything before it. The cavalry of Yusuf was broken
and driven back upon the infantry, and before noon the whole host
was put to headlong flight. Yusuf and Samael were born along in the
torrent of the fugitives, raging and storming, and making ineffectual
efforts to rally them. They were separated widely in the confusion
of the flight, one taking refuge in the Algarves, the other in the
kingdom of Murcia. They afterward rallied, reunited their forces,
and made another desperate stand near to Almunecar. The battle was
obstinate and bloody, but they were again defeated, and driven,
with a handful of followers, to take refuge in the rugged mountains
adjacent to Elvira.

The spirit of the veteran Samael gave way before these fearful
reverses. “In vain, O Yusuf!” said he, “do we contend with the
prosperous star of this youthful conqueror; the will of Allah be
done! Let us submit to our fate, and sue for favorable terms while we
have yet the means of capitulation.”

It was a hard trial for the proud spirit of Yusuf, that had once
aspired to uncontrolled sway; but he was compelled to capitulate.
Abderahman was as generous as brave. He granted the two gray-headed
generals the most honorable conditions, and even took the veteran
Samael into favor, employing him, as a mark of confidence, to visit
the eastern provinces of Spain, and restore them to tranquillity.
Yusuf, having delivered up Elvira and Granada, and complied with
other articles of his capitulation, was permitted to retire to
Murcia, and rejoin his son Muhamad. A general amnesty to all chiefs
and soldiers who should yield up their strongholds and lay down their
arms completed the triumph of Abderahman, and brought all hearts into
obedience. Thus terminated this severe struggle for the domination of
Spain; and thus the illustrious family of Omeya, after having been
cast down and almost exterminated in the East, took new root, and
sprang forth prosperously in the West.

Wherever Abderahman appeared, he was received with rapturous
acclamations. As he rode through the cities, the populace rent
the air with shouts of joy; the stately palaces were crowded with
spectators, eager to gain a sight of his graceful form and beaming
countenance; and when they beheld the mingled majesty and benignity
of their new monarch, and the sweetness and gentleness of his whole
conduct, they extolled him as something more than mortal,—as a
beneficent genius, sent for the happiness of Spain.

In the interval of peace which now succeeded, Abderahman occupied
himself in promoting the useful and elegant arts, and in introducing
into Spain the refinements of the East. Considering the building
and ornamenting of cities as among the noblest employments of the
tranquil hours of princes, he bestowed great pains upon beautifying
the city of Cordova and its environs. He reconstructed banks and
dykes to keep the Guadalquivir from overflowing its borders, and on
the vast terraces thus formed he planted delightful gardens. In the
midst of these he erected a lofty tower, commanding a view of the
vast and fruitful valley, enlivened by the windings of the river.
In this tower would he pass hours of meditation, gazing on the soft
and varied landscape, and inhaling the bland and balmy airs of that
delightful region. At such times his thoughts would recur to the
past, and the misfortunes of his youth; the massacre of his family
would rise to view, mingled with tender recollections of his native
country, from which he was exiled. In these melancholy musings, he
would sit with his eyes fixed upon a palm-tree which he had planted
in the midst of his garden. It is said to have been the first ever
planted in Spain, and to have been the parent stock of all the
palm-trees which grace the southern provinces of the peninsula. The
heart of Abderahman yearned toward this tree; it was the offspring
of his native country, and like him an exile. In one of his moods
of tenderness he composed verses upon it, which have since become
famous throughout the world. The following is a rude but literal

“Beauteous palm! thou also wert hither brought a stranger; but thy
roots have found a kindly soil, thy head is lifted to the skies, and
the sweet airs of Algarve fondle and kiss thy branches.

“Thou hast known, like me, the storms of adverse fortune. Bitter
tears wouldst thou shed, couldst thou feel my woes. Repeated griefs
have overwhelmed me. With early tears I bedewed the palms on the
banks of the Euphrates; but neither tree nor river heeded my sorrows,
when driven by cruel fate and the ferocious Abu al Abbas, from the
scenes of my childhood and the sweet objects of my affection.

“To thee no remembrance remains of my beloved country; I, unhappy!
can never recall it without tears!”

The generosity of Abderahman to his vanquished foe was destined to
be abused. The veteran Yusuf, in visiting certain of the cities
which he had surrendered, found himself surrounded by zealous
partisans, ready to peril life in his service. The love of command
revived in his bosom, and he repented the facility with which he
had suffered himself to be persuaded to submission. Flushed with
new hopes of success, he caused arms to be secretly collected and
deposited in various villages, most zealous in their professions of
devotion, and raising a considerable body of troops, seized upon
the castle of Almodovar. The rash rebellion was short-lived. At the
first appearance of an army sent by Abderahman, and commanded by
Abdelmelee, governor of Seville, the villages which had so recently
professed loyalty to Yusuf, hastened to declare their attachment to
the monarch, and to give up the concealed arms. Almodovar was soon
retaken, and Yusuf, driven to the environs of Lorea, was surrounded
by the cavalry of Abdelmelee. The veteran endeavored to cut a passage
through the enemy, but after fighting with desperate fury, and with
a force of arm incredible in one of his age, he fell beneath blows
from weapons of all kinds, so that after the battle his body could
scarcely be recognized, so numerous were the wounds. His head was cut
off and sent to Cordova, where it was placed in an iron cage, over
the gate of the city.

The old lion was dead, but his whelps survived. Yusuf had left three
sons, who inherited his warlike spirit, and were eager to revenge his
death. Collecting a number of the scattered adherents of their house,
they surprised and seized upon Toledo during the absence of Temam,
its wali or commander. In this old warrior city, built upon a rock,
and almost surrounded by the Tagus, they set up a kind of robber
hold, scouring the surrounding country, levying tribute, seizing upon
horses, and compelling the peasantry to join their standard. Every
day cavalcades of horses and mules, laden with spoil, with flocks of
sheep and droves of cattle, came pouring over the bridges on either
side of the city, and thronging in at the gates,—the plunder of the
surrounding country. Those of the inhabitants who were still loyal to
Abderahman dared not lift up their voices, for men of the sword bore
sway. At length one day, when the sons of Yusuf, with their choicest
troops, were out on a maraud, the watchmen on the towers gave the
alarm. A troop of scattered horsemen were spurring wildly toward the
gates. The banners of the sons of Yusuf were descried. Two of them
spurred into the city, followed by a handful of warriors, covered
with confusion and dismay. They had been encountered and defeated by
the Wali Temam, and one of the brothers had been slain.

The gates were secured in all haste, and the walls were scarcely
manned when Temam appeared before them with his troops, and summoned
the city to surrender. A great internal commotion ensued between the
loyalists and the insurgents; the latter, however, had weapons in
their hands, and prevailed; and for several days, trusting to the
strength of their rock-built fortress, they set the wali at defiance.
At length some of the loyal inhabitants of Toledo, who knew all its
secret and subterraneous passages, some of which, if chroniclers
may be believed, have existed since the days of Hercules, if not
of Tubal Cain, introduced Temam, and a chosen band of his warriors,
into the very centre of the city, where they suddenly appeared as
if by magic. A panic seized upon the insurgents. Some sought safety
in submission, some in concealment, some in flight. Casim, one of
the sons of Yusuf, escaped in disguise; the youngest, unharmed, was
taken, and was sent captive to the king, accompanied by the head of
his brother, who had been slain in battle.

When Abderahman beheld the youth laden with chains, he remembered his
own sufferings in his early days, and had compassion on him; but, to
prevent him from doing further mischief, he imprisoned him in a tower
of the wall of Cordova.

In the mean time, Casim, who had escaped, managed to raise another
band of warriors. Spain, in all ages a guerilla country, prone to
partisan warfare and petty maraud, was at that time infested by bands
of licentious troops, who had sprung up in the civil contests; their
only object pillage, their only dependence the sword, and ready to
flock to any new and desperate standard that promised the greatest
license. With a ruffian force thus levied, Casim scoured the country,
took Sidonia by storm, and surprised Seville while in a state of
unsuspecting security.

Abderahman put himself at the head of his faithful Zenetes, and took
the field in person. By the rapidity of his movements the rebels were
defeated, Sidonia and Seville speedily retaken, and Casim was made
prisoner. The generosity of Abderahman was again exhibited toward
this unfortunate son of Yusuf. He spared his life, and sent him to be
confined in a tower at Toledo.

The veteran Samael had taken no part in these insurrections, but had
attended faithfully to the affairs intrusted to him by Abderahman.
The death of his old friend and colleague Yusuf, however, and the
subsequent disasters of his family, filled him with despondency.
Fearing the inconstancy of fortune, and the dangers incident to
public employ, he entreated the king to be permitted to retire to
his house in Seguenza, and indulge a privacy and repose suited to
his advanced age. His prayer was granted. The veteran laid by his
arms, battered in a thousand conflicts; hung his sword and lance
against the wall, and, surrounded by a few friends, gave himself up
apparently to the sweets of quiet and unambitious leisure.

Who can count, however, upon the tranquil content of a heart nurtured
amid the storms of war and ambition? Under the ashes of this outward
humility were glowing the coals of faction. In his seemingly
philosophical retirement, Samael was concerting with his friends new
treason against Abderahman. His plot was discovered; his house was
suddenly surrounded by troops; and he was conveyed to a tower at
Toledo, where, in the course of a few months, he died in captivity.

The magnanimity of Abderahman was again put to the proof by a new
insurrection at Toledo. Hixem ben Adra, a relation of Yusuf, seized
upon the Alcazar, or citadel, slew several of the royal adherents
of the king, liberated Casim from his tower, and, summoning all the
banditti of the country, soon mustered a force of ten thousand men.
Abderahman was quickly before the walls of Toledo, with the troops of
Cordova and his devoted Zenetes. The rebels were brought to terms,
and surrendered the city on promise of general pardon, which was
extended even to Hixem and Casim. When the chieftains saw Hixem and
his principal confederates in the power of Abderahman, they advised
him to put them all to death. “A promise given to traitors and
rebels,” said they, “is not binding when it is to the interest of the
state that it should be broken.”

“No!” replied Abderahman, “if the safety of my throne were at stake,
I would not break my word.” So saying, he confirmed the amnesty, and
granted Hixem ben Adra a worthless life, to be employed in further

Scarcely had Abderahman returned from this expedition, when a
powerful army, sent by the caliph, landed from Africa on the coast
of the Algarves. The commander, Aly ben Mogueth, Emir of Cairvan,
elevated a rich banner which he had received from the hands of the
caliph. Wherever he went, he ordered the caliph of the East to be
proclaimed by sound of trumpet, denouncing Abderahman as a usurper,
the vagrant member of a family proscribed and execrated in all the
mosques of the East.

One of the first to join his standard was Hixem ben Adra, so
recently pardoned by Abderahman. He seized upon the citadel of
Toledo, and repairing to the camp of Aly, offered to deliver the city
into his hands.

Abderahman, as bold in war as he was gentle in peace, took the
field with his wonted promptness; overthrew his enemies with great
slaughter; drove some to the sea-coast to regain their ships, and
others to the mountains. The body of Aly was found on the field of
battle. Abderahman caused the head to be struck off, and conveyed
to Cairvan, where it was affixed at night to a column in the public
square, with this inscription,—“Thus Abderahman, the descendant of
the Omeyas, punishes the rash and arrogant.”

Hixem ben Adra escaped from the field of battle, and excited further
troubles, but was eventually captured by Abdelmelee, who ordered his
head to be struck off on the spot, lest he should again be spared
through the wonted clemency of Abderahman.

Notwithstanding these signal triumphs, the reign of Abderahman was
disturbed by further insurrections, and by another descent from
Africa, but he was victorious over them all; striking the roots
of his power deeper and deeper into the land. Under his sway, the
government of Spain became more regular and consolidated, and
acquired an independence of the empire of the East. The caliph
continued to be considered as first pontiff and chief of the
religion, but he ceased to have any temporal power over Spain.

Having again an interval of peace, Abderahman devoted himself to
the education of his children. Suleiman, the eldest, he appointed
wali, or governor, of Toledo; Abdallah, the second, was intrusted
with the command of Merida; but the third son, Hixem, was the delight
of his heart, the son of Howara, his favorite sultana whom he loved
throughout life with the utmost tenderness. With this youth, who was
full of promise, he relaxed from the fatigues of government; joining
in his youthful sports amidst the delightful gardens of Cordova, and
teaching him the gentle art of falconry, of which the king was so
fond that he received the name of the Falcon of Coraixi.

While Abderahman was thus indulging in the gentle propensities of his
nature, mischief was secretly at work. Muhamad, the youngest son of
Yusuf, had been for many years a prisoner in the tower of Cordova.
Being passive and resigned, his keepers relaxed their vigilance, and
brought him forth from his dungeon. He went groping about, however,
in broad daylight, as if still in the darkness of his tower. His
guards watched him narrowly, lest this should be a deception, but
were at length convinced that the long absence of light had rendered
him blind. They now permitted him to descend frequently to the
lower chambers of the tower, and to sleep there occasionally during
the heats of summer. They even allowed him to grope his way to the
cistern, in quest of water for his ablutions.

A year passed in this way, without anything to excite suspicion.
During all this time, however, the blindness of Muhamad was entirely
a deception; and he was concerting a plan of escape, through the
aid of some friends of his father, who found means to visit him
occasionally. One sultry evening in midsummer the guards had gone
to bathe in the Guadalquivir, leaving Muhamad alone, in the lower
chambers of the tower. No sooner were they out of sight and hearing,
than he hastened to a window of the staircase, leading down to the
cistern, lowered himself as far as his arms would reach, and dropped
without injury to the ground. Plunging into the Guadalquivir, he
swam across to a thick grove on the opposite side, where his friends
were waiting to receive him. Here, mounting a horse which they had
provided for an event of the kind, he fled across the country, by
solitary roads, and made good his escape to the mountains of Jaen.

The guardians of the tower dreaded for some time to make known
his flight to Abderahman. When at length it was told to him, he
exclaimed,—“All is the work of eternal wisdom; it is intended to
teach us that we cannot benefit the wicked without injuring the good.
The flight of that blind man will cause much trouble and bloodshed.”

His predictions were verified. Muhamad reared the standard of
rebellion in the mountains; the seditious and discontented of all
kinds hastened to join it, together with soldiers of fortune, or
rather wandering banditti, and he had soon six thousand men, well
armed, hardy in habits, and desperate in character. His brother Casim
also reappeared about the same time, in the mountains of Ronda, at
the head of a daring band, that laid all the neighboring valleys
under contribution.

Abderahman summoned his alcaids from their various military posts,
to assist in driving the rebels from their mountain fastnesses into
the plains. It was a dangerous and protracted toil, for the mountains
were frightfully wild and rugged. He entered them with a powerful
host, driving the rebels from height to height, and valley to valley,
and harassing them by a galling fire from thousands of cross-bows. At
length a decisive battle took place near the river Guadalemar. The
rebels were signally defeated; four thousand fell in action; many
were drowned in the river, and Muhamad, with a few horsemen, escaped
to the mountains of the Algarves. Here he was hunted by the alcaids
from one desolate retreat to another; his few followers grew tired of
sharing the disastrous fortunes of a fated man, one by one deserted
him, and he himself deserted the remainder, fearing they might give
him up, to purchase their own pardon.

Lonely and disguised, he plunged into the depths of the forests, or
lurked in dens and caverns like a famished wolf, often casting back
his thoughts with regret to the time of his captivity in the gloomy
tower of Cordova. Hunger at length drove him to Alarcon, at the
risk of being discovered. Famine and misery, however, had so wasted
and changed him, that he was not recognized. He remained nearly a
year in Alarcon, unnoticed and unknown, yet constantly tormenting
himself with the dread of discovery, and with groundless fears
of the vengeance of Abderahman. Death at length put an end to his

A milder fate attended his brother Casim. Being defeated in the
mountains of Murcia, he was conducted in chains to Cordova. On coming
into the presence of Abderahman, his once fierce and haughty spirit,
broken by distress, gave way; he threw himself on the earth, kissed
the dust beneath the feet of the king, and implored his clemency.
The benignant heart of Abderahman was filled with melancholy, rather
than exultation, at beholding this wreck of the once haughty family
of Yusuf a suppliant at his feet, and suing for mere existence. He
thought upon the mutability of Fortune, and felt how insecure are
all her favors. He raised the unhappy Casim from the earth, ordered
his irons to be taken off, and, not content with mere forgiveness,
treated him with honor, and gave him possessions in Seville, where he
might live in state conformable to the ancient dignity of his family.
Won by this great and persevering magnanimity, Casim ever after
remained one of the most devoted of his subjects.

All the enemies of Abderahman were at length subdued; he reigned
undisputed sovereign of the Moslems of Spain; and so benign was his
government, that every one blessed the revival of the illustrious
line of Omeya. He was at all times accessible to the humblest of his
subjects; the poor man ever found in him a friend, and the oppressed
a protector. He improved the administration of justice, established
schools for public instruction, encouraged poets and men of letters,
and cultivated the sciences. He built mosques in every city that he
visited; inculcated religion by example as well as by precept; and
celebrated all the festivals prescribed by the Koran with the utmost

As a monument of gratitude to God for the prosperity with which he
had been favored, he undertook to erect a mosque in his favorite
city of Cordova that should rival in splendor the great mosque
of Damascus, and excel the one recently erected in Bagdad by the
Abbassides, the supplanters of his family.

It is said that he himself furnished the plan for this famous
edifice, and even worked on it, with his own hands, one hour in each
day, to testify his zeal and humility in the service of God, and to
animate his workmen. He did not live to see it completed, but it was
finished according to his plans by his son Hixem. When finished, it
surpassed the most splendid mosques of the East. It was six hundred
feet in length, and two hundred and fifty in breadth. Within were
twenty-eight aisles, crossed by nineteen, supported by a thousand and
ninety-three columns of marble. There were nineteen portals, covered
with plates of bronze, of rare workmanship. The principal portal
was covered with plates of gold. On the summit of the grand cupola
were three gilt balls, surmounted by a golden pomegranate. At night
the mosque was illuminated with four thousand seven hundred lamps,
and great sums were expended in amber and aloes, which were burnt
as perfumes. The mosque remains to this day shorn of its ancient
splendor, yet still one of the grandest Moslem monuments in Spain.

Finding himself advancing in years, Abderahman assembled in his
capital of Cordova the principal governors and commanders of his
kingdom, and in presence of them all, with great solemnity, nominated
his son Hixem as the successor to the throne. All present made an
oath of fealty to Abderahman during his life, and to Hixem after
his death. The prince was younger than his brothers, Suleiman and
Abdallah; but he was the son of Howara, the tenderly beloved sultana
of Abderahman, and her influence, it is said, gained him this

Within a few months afterward Abderahman fell grievously sick at
Merida. Finding his end approaching, he summoned Hixem to his
bedside. “My son,” said he, “the angel of death is hovering over
me; treasure up, therefore, in thy heart this dying counsel, which
I give through the great love I bear thee. Remember that all empire
is from God, who gives and takes it away, according to his pleasure.
Since God, through his divine goodness, has given us regal power
and authority, let us do his holy will, which is nothing else than
to do good to all men, and especially to those committed to our
protection. Render equal justice, my son, to the rich and the poor,
and never suffer injustice to be done within thy dominion, for it is
the road to perdition. Be merciful and benignant to those dependent
upon thee. Confide the government of thy cities and provinces to men
of worth and experience; punish without compassion those ministers
who oppress thy people with exorbitant exactions. Pay thy troops
punctually; teach them to feel a certainty in thy promises; command
them with gentleness but firmness, and make them in truth the
defenders of the state, not its destroyers. Cultivate unceasingly
the affections of thy people; for in their good-will consists the
security of the state, in their distrust its peril, in their hatred
its certain ruin. Protect the husbandmen, who cultivate the earth and
yield us necessary sustenance; never permit their fields and groves
and gardens to be disturbed. In a word, act in such wise that thy
people may bless thee, and may enjoy, under the shadow of thy wing, a
secure and tranquil life. In this consists good government; if thou
dost practice it, thou wilt be happy among thy people, and renowned
throughout the world.”

Having given this excellent counsel, the good King Abderahman blessed
his son Hixem, and shortly after died, being but in the sixtieth year
of age. He was interred with great pomp; but the highest honors that
distinguished his funeral were the tears of real sorrow shed upon his
grave. He left behind him a name for valor, justice, and magnanimity,
and forever famous as being the founder of the glorious line of the
Ommiades in Spain.










At the time of the general wreck of Spain by the sudden tempest of
Arab invasion, many of the inhabitants took refuge in the mountains
of the Asturias, burying themselves in narrow valleys difficult
of access, wherever a constant stream of water afforded a green
bosom of pasture-land and scanty fields for cultivation. For mutual
protection they gathered together in small villages called castros,
or castrellos, with watch-towers and fortresses on impending cliffs,
in which they might shelter and defend themselves in case of sudden
inroad. Thus arose the kingdom of the Asturias, subject to Pelayo and
the kings his successors, who gradually extended their dominions,
built towns and cities, and after a time fixed their seat of
government at the city of Leon.

An important part of the region over which they bore sway was ancient
Cantabria, extending from the Bay of Biscay to the Duero, and
called Castile from the number of castles with which it was studded.
They divided it into seigniories, over which they placed civil and
military governors called counts—a title said to be derived from the
Latin _comes_, a companion, the person enjoying it being admitted to
the familiar companionship of the king, entering into his councils in
time of peace, and accompanying him to the field in time of war. The
title of count was therefore more dignified than that of duke in the
time of the Gothic kings.

The power of these counts increased to such a degree that four of
them formed a league to declare themselves independent of the crown
of Leon. Ordoño II., who was then king, received notice of it, and
got them into his power by force, as some assert, but as others
maintain, by perfidious artifice. At any rate, they were brought to
court, convicted of treason, and publicly beheaded. The Castilians
flew to arms to revenge their deaths. Ordoño took the field with a
powerful army, but his own death defeated all his plans.

The Castilians now threw off allegiance to the kingdom of Leon, and
elected two judges to rule over them—one in a civil, the other in
a military capacity. The first who filled those stations were Nuño
Rasura and Lain Calvo, two powerful nobles, the former descended from
Diego Porcello, a count of Lara; the latter, ancestor of the renowned
Cid Campeador.

Nuño Rasura, the civil and political judge, was succeeded by his son
Gonzalez Nuño, who married Doña Ximena, a daughter of one of the
counts of Castile put to death by Ordoño II. From this marriage came
Fernan Gonzalez, the subject of the following chronicle.




Installation of Fernan Gonzalez as Count of Castile. His First
Campaign against the Moors.—Victory of San Quirce.—How the Count
disposed of the Spoils.

The renowned Fernan Gonzalez, the most complete hero of his time,
was born about the year 887. Historians trace his descent to Nuño
Belchidez, nephew of the Emperor Charlemagne, and Doña Sula Bella,
granddaughter to the Prince Don Sancho, rightful sovereign of Spain,
but superseded by Roderick, the last of the Gothic kings.

Fernan Gonzalez was hardily educated among the mountains in a strong
place called Maron, in the house of Martin Gonzalez, a gallant and
veteran cavalier. From his earliest years he was inured to all
kinds of toils and perils, taught to hunt, to hawk, to ride the
great horse, to manage sword, lance, and buckler; in a word, he was
accomplished in all the noble exercises befitting a cavalier.

His father Gonzalvo Nuñez died in 903, and his elder brother
Rodrigo in 904, without issue; and such was the admiration already
entertained of Fernan Gonzalez by the hardy mountaineers and old
Castilian warriors, that though scarce seventeen years of age he was
unanimously elected to rule over them. His title is said to have been
Count, Duke, and Consul, under the seigniory of Alonzo the Great,
King of Leon. A cortes, or assemblage of the nobility and chivalry of
Castile and of the mountains, met together at the recently built city
of Burgos to do honor to his installation. Sebastian, the renowned
Bishop of Oca, officiated.

In those stern days of Spain, the situation of a sovereign was not
that of silken ease and idle ceremonial. When he put the rich crown
upon his head, he encircled it likewise with shining steel. With the
sceptre were united the lance and shield, emblems of perpetual war
against the enemies of the faith. The cortes took this occasion to
pass the following laws for the government of the realm:—

1. Above all things the people should observe the law of God, the
canons and statutes of the holy fathers, the liberty and privileges
of the Church, and the respect due to its ministers.

2. No person should prosecute another out of Castile at any tribunal
of justice or of arms, under pain of being considered a stranger.

3. All Jews and Moors who refused to acknowledge the Christian faith
should depart from Castile within two months.

4. That cavaliers of noble blood should treat their tenants and
vassals with love and gentleness.

5. That he who slew another, or committed any other grave offense,
should make equal measure of atonement.

6. That no one should take the property of another; but, if oppressed
by poverty, should come to the count, who ought to be as a father to

7. That all should unite and be of one heart, and aid one another in
defense of their faith and of their country.

Such were the ordinances of the ancient Cortes of Burgos; brief
and simple, and easy to be understood; not, as at the present day,
multifarious and perplexed, to the confusion and ruin of clients and
the enrichment of lawyers.

Scarce was the installation ended, and while Burgos was yet abandoned
to festivity, the young count, with the impatient ardor of youth,
caused the trumpets to sound through the streets a call to arms. A
captain of the Moorish king of Toledo was ravaging the territory of
Castile at the head of seven thousand troops, and against him the
youthful count determined to make his first campaign. In the spur of
the moment but one hundred horsemen and fifteen hundred foot-soldiers
could be collected; but with this slender force the count prepared
to take the field. Ruy Velasquez, a valiant cavalier, remonstrated
against such rashness, but in vain. “I owe,” said the count, “a
death to the grave; the debt can never be paid so honorably as in
the service of God and my country. Let every one, therefore, address
himself heart and hand to this enterprise; for if I come face to
face with this Moor, I will most assuredly give him battle.” So
saying, he knelt before Bishop Sebastian of Salamanca and craved his
benediction. The reverend prelate invoked on his head the blessing
and protection of Heaven, for his heart yearned toward him; but when
he saw the youthful warrior about to depart, he kindled as it were
with a holy martial fire, and ordering his steed to be saddled he
sallied forth with him to the wars.

The little army soon came upon traces of the enemy in fields laid
waste, and the smoking ruins of villages and hamlets. The count sent
out scouts to clamber every height and explore every defile. From the
summit of a hill they beheld the Moors encamped in a valley which was
covered with the flocks and herds swept from the neighboring country.
The camp of the marauders was formidable as to numbers, with various
standards floating in the breeze; for in this foray were engaged the
Moorish chiefs of Saragossa, Denia, and Seville, together with many
valiant Moslems who had crossed the straits from Africa to share in
what they considered a holy enterprise. The scouts observed, however,
that the most negligent security reigned throughout the camp; some
reposing, others feasting and reveling, all evidently considering
themselves safe from any attack.

Upon hearing this the count led his men secretly and silently to
the assault, and came upon the Moors in the midst of their revelry,
before they had time to buckle on their armor. The infidels, however,
made a brave though confused resistance; the camp was strewn with
their dead; many were taken prisoners, and the rest began to falter.
The count killed their captain-general with his own hand, in single
fight, as he was bravely rallying his troops. Upon seeing him fall,
the Moors threw down their weapons and fled.

Immense booty was found in the Moorish camp,—partly the rich arms
and equipments of the infidel warriors, partly the plunder of the
country. An ordinary victor would have merely shared the spoils
with his soldiery, but the count was as pious as he was brave, and,
moreover, had by his side the venerable Bishop of Salamanca as
counselor. Contenting himself, therefore, with distributing one third
among his soldiery, he shared the rest with God, devoting a large
part to the Church, and to the relief of souls in purgatory—a pious
custom, which he ever after observed. He moreover founded a church on
the field of battle, dedicated to St. Quirce, on whose festival (the
16th July) this victory was obtained. To this church was subsequently
added a monastery where a worthy fraternity of monks were maintained
in the odor of sanctity, to perpetuate the memory of this victory.
All this was doubtless owing to the providential presence of the
good bishop on this occasion; and this is one instance of the great
benefit derived from those priests and monks and other purveyors of
the Church, who hovered about the Christian camps throughout all
these wars with the infidels.




Of the Sally from Burgos and Surprise of the Castle of
Lara.—Capitulation of the Town.—Visit to Alfonso the Great, King of

Count Fernan Gonzalez did not remain idle after the victory of
San Quirce. There was at this time an old castle, strong but much
battered in the wars, which protected a small town, the remains of
the once flourishing city of Lara. It was the ancient domain of his
family, but was at present in possession of the Moors. In sooth it
had repeatedly been taken and retaken; for in those iron days no
castle nor fortress remained long under the same masters. One year
it was in the hands of the Christians; the next, of the Moors. Some
of these castles, with their dependent towns, were sacked, burnt,
and demolished; others remained silent and deserted, their original
owners fearing to reside in them; and their ruined towers were only
tenanted by bats and owls and screaming birds of prey. Lara had lain
for a time in ruins after being captured by the Moors, but had been
rebuilt by them with diminished grandeur, and they held a strong
garrison in the castle, whence they sallied forth occasionally to
ravage the lands of the Christians. The Moorish chieftain of Lara,
as has been observed, was among the associated marauders who had been
routed in the battle of San Quirce; and the Count Fernan Gonzalez
thought this a favorable time to strike for the recovery of his
family domain, now that the infidel possessor was weakened by defeat
and could receive no succor.

Appointing Rodrigo Velasquez and the Count Don Vela Alvarez to act as
governors of Castile during his absence, the count sallied forth from
Burgos with a brilliant train of chivalry. Among the distinguished
cavaliers who attended him were Martin Gonzalez, Don Gustios
Gonzalez, Don Velasco, and Don Lope de Biscaya, which last brought
a goodly band of stout Biscayans. The alferez, or standard-bearer,
was Orbita Velasquez, who had distinguished himself in the battle
of San Quirce. He bore as a standard a great cross of silver, which
shone gloriously in front of the host, and is preserved, even to the
present day, in the church of San Pedro de Arlanza. One hundred and
fifty noble cavaliers, well armed and mounted, with many esquires and
pages of the lance, and three thousand foot-soldiers, all picked men,
formed this small but stout-hearted army.

The count led his troops with such caution that they arrived in the
neighborhood of Lara without being discovered. It was the vigil of
St. John; the country was wrapped in evening shadows, and the count
was enabled to approach near to the place to make his observations.
He perceived that his force was too inconsiderable to invest the town
and fortress. Besides, about two leagues distant was the gaunt and
rock-built castle of Carazo, a presidio or stronghold of the Moors,
whence he might be attacked in the rear, should he linger before the
fortress. It was evident, therefore, that whatever was to be effected
must be done promptly and by sudden surprise. Revolving these things
in his mind he put his troops in ambush in a deep ravine where they
took their rest, while he kept watch upon the castle; maturing his
plans against the morrow. In this way he passed his midsummer’s
night, the vigil of the blessed St. John.

The festival of St. John is observed as well by Mahometans as
Christians. During the night the bonfires blazed on the hill-tops and
the sound of music and festivity was heard from within the town. When
the rising sun shone along the valley of the Arlanza the Moors in the
castle, unsuspicious of any lurking danger, threw open the gates and
issued forth to recreate themselves in the green fields and along
the banks of the river. When they had proceeded to a considerable
distance, and a hill shut them from view, the count with his eager
followers issued silently but swiftly from their hiding-place and
made directly for the castle. On the way they met with another band
of Moors who had likewise come forth for amusement. The count struck
the leader to the earth with one blow of his lance; the rest were
either slain or taken prisoners; so that not one escaped to give the

Those of the garrison who had remained in the castle, seeing a
Christian force rushing up to the very walls, hastened to close the
gates, but it was too late. The count and his cavaliers burst them
open and put every one to the sword who made opposition. Leaving
Don Velasco and a number of soldiers to guard the castle, the count
hastened with the rest in pursuit of the Moors who were solemnizing
the day on the banks of the Arlanza. Some were reclining on the
grass, others were amusing themselves with music and the popular
dance of the Zambra, while their arms lay scattered among the herbage.

At sight of the Christians, they snatched up their weapons and made
a desperate though vain resistance. Within two hours almost all
were either slain or captured; a few escaped to the neighboring
mountains of Carazo. The town, seeing the castle in the hands of
the Christians, and the garrison routed and destroyed, readily
capitulated; and the inhabitants were permitted to retain unmolested
possession of their houses, on agreeing to pay to the count the same
tribute which had been exacted from them by the Moorish king. Don
Velasco was left alcaid of the fortress, and the count returned,
covered with glory, to his capital of Burgos.

The brilliant victories and hardy deeds of arms with which the
youthful Count of Castile had commenced his reign excited the
admiration of Alonzo the Great, King of Leon, and he sent missives
urging him to appear at his royal court. The count accordingly
set forth with a cavalcade of his most approved knights and many
of his relatives, sumptuously armed and arrayed and mounted on
steeds richly caparisoned. It was a pageant befitting a young and
magnificent chief, in the freshness and pleasance of his years.

The king came out of the city to meet him, attended by all the pomp
and grandeur of his court. The count alighted, and approached to kiss
the king’s hand; but Alfonso alighted also, and embraced him with
great affection, and the friendship of these illustrious princes
continued without interruption throughout the life of the king.




Expedition against the Fortress of Muñon.—Desperate Defense of the
Moors.—Enterprise against Castro Xeriz.

Many are the doughty achievements recorded in ancient chronicles
of this most valorous cavalier; among others is his expedition,
with a chosen band, against the castle of Muñon, a place of great
importance, which stood at no great distance from Burgos. He sallied
from his capital in an opposite direction, to delude the Moorish
scouts; but making a sudden turn, came upon the fortress by surprise,
broke down the gates, and forced his way in at the head of his
troops, having nothing but a dagger in his hand, his lance and sword
having been broken in the assault. The Moors fought desperately from
court to tower, from tower to wall; and when they saw all resistance
vain, many threw themselves from the battlements into the ditch
rather than be made captives. Leaving a strong garrison in the place,
the count returned to Burgos.

His next enterprise was against Castro Xeriz, a city with a strong
castle, which had been a thorn in the side of Castile—the Moorish
garrison often sweeping the road between Burgos and Leon, carrying
off travellers, capturing cattle, and plundering convoys of
provisions and merchandise. The count advanced against this place in
open day, ravaging the country and announcing his approach by clouds
of smoke from the burning habitations of the Moors. Abdallah, the
alcaid of the fortress, would have made peace, but the count refused
all terms. “God,” said he, “has appointed me to rescue his holy
inheritance from the power of infidels; nothing is to be negotiated
but by the edge of the sword.”

Abdallah then made a sally with a chosen band of his cavaliers. They
at first careered lightly with their Arabian steeds and launched
their Moorish darts, but the Christians closed in the old Gothic
style, fighting hand to hand. Abdallah fell by the sword of the
count, and his followers fled with loosened reins back to the city.
The Christians followed hard upon them, strewing the ground with
dead. At the gate of the city they were met by Almondir, the son
of Abdallah, who disputed the gateway and the street inch by inch,
until the whole place ran with blood. The Moors, driven from the
streets, took refuge in the castle, where Almondir inspirited them
to a desperate defense, until a stone struck him as he stood on the
battlements, and he fell to the earth dead. Having no leader to
direct them, the Moors surrendered. When the town was cleared of the
dead and order restored, the count divided the spoils—allotting the
houses among his followers, and peopling the place with Christians.
He gave the command of it to Layn Bermudez, with the title of count.
From him descended an illustrious line of cavaliers termed de Castro,
whose male line became extinct in Castile, but continued to flourish
in Portugal. The place is said to have been called Castro Xeriz, in
consequence of the blood shed in this conflict—xeriz, in the Arabic
language signifying bloody.[62]

  [62] Sandoval, p. 301.




How the Count of Castile and the King of Leon make a Triumphant Foray
into the Moorish Country.—Capture of Salamanca.—Of the Challenge
brought by the Herald, and of the Count’s Defiance.

Count Fernan Gonzalez was restless, daring, and impetuous; he
seldom suffered lance to rest on wall or steed in stable, and no
Moorish commander could sleep in quiet who held town or tower in his
neighborhood. King Alonzo the Great became emulous of sharing in his
achievements, and they made a campaign together against the Moors.
The count brought a splendid array of Castilian chivalry into the
field, together with a host of Montaneses, hardy and vigorous troops
from the Asturias, excellent for marauding warfare. The King of Leon
brought his veteran bands, seasoned to battle. With their united
forces they ravaged the Moorish country, marking their way with
havoc and devastation; arrived before Salamanca, they took that city
by storm after a brave defense, and gave it up to be sacked by the
soldiery. After which such of the Moors as chose to remain in it were
suffered to retain their possessions as vassals to the king. Having
accomplished this triumphant foray, they returned, each one to his

The Count of Castile did not repose long in his palace. One day a
Moorish herald magnificently dressed, rode into the city of Burgos,
bringing Fernan Gonzalez a cartel of defiance. It was from a vaunting
Moor named Acefali, who had entered the territories of Castile
with a powerful force of horse and foot, giving out that he had
come to measure strength and prowess with the count in battle. Don
Fernan Gonzalez replied to the defiance with weapon in hand at the
head of his warriors. A pitched battle ensued, which lasted from
early morn until evening twilight. In the course of the fight the
count was in imminent peril, his horse being killed under him and
himself surrounded, but he was rescued by his cavaliers. After great
bloodshed, the Moors were routed and pursued beyond the borders. The
spoil gained in this battle was devoutly expended in repairing the
churches of Castile and the Montaneses.




A Night Assault upon the Castle of Carazo.—The Moorish Maiden who
betrayed the Garrison.

In those warlike times of Spain every one lived with sword in hand;
there was scarcely a commanding cliff or hill-top but had its
castle. Moors and Christians regarded each other from rival towers
and battlements perched on opposite heights, and were incessantly
contending for the dominion of the valleys.

We have seen that Count Fernan Gonzalez had regained possession of
the ancient town and fortress of Lara, the domain of his ancestors;
but it will be recollected that within two leagues’ distance stood
the Moorish presidio of Carazo. It was perched like an eagle’s
nest on the summit of a mountain, and the cragged steepness of
its position, and its high and thick walls seemed to render it
proof against all assault. The Moors who garrisoned it were fierce
marauders, who used to sweep down like birds of prey from their lofty
nest, pounce upon the flocks and dwellings of the Christians, make
hasty ravages, and bear away their spoils to the mountain-top. There
was no living with safety or tranquillity within the scope of their

Intelligence of their misdeeds was brought to the count at Burgos.
He determined to have that castle of Carazo, whatever might be the
cost: for this purpose he called a council of his chosen cavaliers.
He did not conceal the peril of the enterprise, from the crag-built
situation of the castle, its great strength, and the vigilance
and valor of its garrison. Still the Castilian cavaliers offered
themselves to carry the fortress or die.

The count sallied secretly from Burgos with a select force, and
repaired in the night-time to Lara, that the Moors might have no
intimation nor suspicion of his design. In the midst of the next
night, the castle gate was quietly opened and they issued forth as
silently as possible, pursuing their course in the deep shadows of
the valley until they came to the foot of the mountain of Carazo.
Here they remained in ambush, and sent forth scouts. As the latter
prowled about the day began to dawn, and they heard a female voice
singing above them on the side of the mountain. It was a Moorish
damsel coming down, with a vessel upon her head. She descended to
a fountain which gushed forth beneath a grove of willows, and as
she sang she began to fill her vessel with water. The spies issued
from their concealment, seized her, and carried her to Count Fernan

Overcome by terror or touched by conviction, the Moorish damsel
threw herself on her knees before the count, declared her wish to
turn Christian, and offered, in proof of her sincerity, to put him
in a way of gaining possession of the castle. Being encouraged to
proceed, she told him that there was to be a marriage feast that day
in the castle, and of course a great deal of revelry, which would
put the garrison off its guard. She pointed out a situation where
he might lie in ambush with his troops in sight of the tower, and
promised when a favorable moment presented for an attack to give a
signal with a light.

The count regarded her for a time with a fixed and earnest gaze,
but saw no faltering nor change of countenance. The case required
bold measures, combined with stratagem; so he confided in her, and
permitted her to return to the castle. All day he lay in ambush
with his troops, each man his hand upon his weapon to guard against
surprise. The distant sound of revelry from the castle, with now
and then the clash of cymbals, the bray of trumpets, and a strain
of festive music, showed the gayety that reigned within. Night came
on; lights gleamed from walls and windows, but none resembling the
appointed signal. It was almost midnight, and the count began to fear
the Moorish damsel had deceived him, when to his great joy he saw the
signal-light gleaming from one of the towers.

He now sallied forth with his men, and all, on foot, clambered up the
steep and rugged height. They had almost attained the foot of the
towers when they were descried by a sentinel who cried with a loud
voice, “The foe! the foe! to arms! to arms!” The count, followed by
his hardy cavaliers, rushed forward to the gate, crying, “God and
Saint Millan!” The whole castle was instantly in an uproar. The
Moors were bewildered by the sudden surprise and the confusion of a
night assault. They fought bravely, but irregularly. The Christians
had but one plan and one object. After a hard struggle and great
bloodshed, they forced the gate and made themselves masters of the

The count remained several days, fortifying the place and garrisoning
it, that it might not fall again into the possession of the Moors.
He bestowed magnificent rewards on the Moorish damsel who had thus
betrayed her countrymen; she embraced the Christian faith, to which
she had just given such a signal proof of devotion, though it is not
said whether the count had sufficient confidence in her conversion
and her newly moulted piety to permit her to remain in the fortress
she had betrayed.

Having completed his arrangements, the count departed on his return,
and encountered on the road his mother Doña Nuña Fernandez, who,
exulting in his success, had set out to visit him at Carazo. The
mother and son had a joyful meeting, and gave the name of Contreras
to the place of their encounter.




Death of Alfonso, King of Leon.—The Moors determined to strike a
fresh Blow at the Count, who summons all Castile to his Standard.—Of
his Hunt in the Forest while waiting for the Enemy, and of the Hermit
that he met with.

Alfonso the Great was now growing old and infirm, and his queen and
sons, taking advantage of his age and feebleness, endeavored by
harsh treatment to compel him to relinquish the crown. Count Fernan
Gonzalez interceded between them, but in vain; and Alfonso was at
length obliged to surrender his crown to his oldest son, Don Garcia.
The aged monarch then set out upon a pilgrimage to the shrine of St.
Iago; but, falling ill of his mortal malady, sent for the count to
come to him to his death-bed at Zamora. The count hastened thither
with all zeal and loyalty. He succeeded in effecting a reconciliation
between Alfonso and his son Don Garcia in his dying moments, and was
with the monarch when he quietly breathed his last. The death of
the king gave fresh courage to the Moors, and they thought this a
favorable moment to strike a blow at the rising power of the count.
Abderahman was at this time king of Cordova and Miramamolin, or
sovereign of the Moors in Spain. He had been enraged at the capture
of the castle of Carazo, and the other victories of the count; and
now that the latter had no longer the King of Leon to back him, it
was thought he might, by a vigorous effort, be completely crushed.
Abderahman accordingly assembled at Cordova a great army of Moorish
warriors, both those of Spain and Africa, and sent them, under the
command of Almanzor, to ravage the country of Count Fernan Gonzalez.
This Almanzor was the most valiant Moorish general in Spain, and one
on whom Abderahman depended as upon his right hand.

On hearing of the impending danger, Count Fernan Gonzalez summoned
all men of Castile capable of bearing arms to repair to his standard
at Muñon. His force when assembled was but small, but composed of
the bravest chivalry of Castile, any one knight of which he esteemed
equal to ten Moors. One of the most eminent of his cavaliers was
Don Gonzalo Gustios, of Lara, who brought seven valiant sons to the
field—the same afterwards renowned in Spanish story as the seven
princes of Lara. With Don Gonzalo came also his wife’s brother, Ruy
or Rodrigo Velasquez, a cavalier of great prowess.

In the mean time tidings continued to arrive of the great force of
the enemy, which was said to cover the country with its tents. The
name of the Moorish general, Almanzor, likewise inspired great alarm.
One of the count’s cavaliers, therefore, Gonzalo Diaz, counseled him
not to venture upon an open battle against such fearful odds; but
rather to make a tula, or ravaging inroad into the country of the
Moors, by way of compelling them to make a truce. The count, however,
rejected his advice. “As to their numbers,” said he, “one lion is
worth ten sheep, and thirty wolves could kill thirty thousand lambs.
As to that Moor, Almanzor, be assured we shall vanquish him, and the
greater his renown the greater will be the honor of the victory.”

The count now marched his little army to Lara, where he paused to
await the movements of the enemy. While his troops were lying there
he mounted his horse one day and went forth with a few attendants to
hunt in the forests which bordered the river Arlanza. In the course
of the chase he roused a monstrous boar and pursued it among rocks
and brakes until he became separated from his attendants. Still
following the track of the boar, he came to the foot of a rocky
precipice, up which the animal mounted by a rugged and narrow path,
where the horse could not follow. The count alighted, tied his horse
to an oak, and clambered up the path, assisting himself at times
with his boar-spear. The path led to a close thicket of cedars,
surrounding a small edifice partly built of stone and partly hewn out
of the solid rock. The boar had taken refuge within, and had taken
his stand behind what appeared to be a mass of stone. The count was
about to launch his javelin when he beheld a cross of stone standing
on what he now perceived was an altar, and he knew that he was in a
holy place. Being as pious as he was brave, the good count now knelt
before the altar and asked pardon of God for the sin he had been on
the point of committing; and when he had finished this prayer, he
added another for victory over the foe.

While he was yet praying, there entered a venerable monk, Fray
Pelayo by name, who, seeing him to be a Christian knight, gave him
his benediction. He informed the count that he resided in this
hermitage in company with two other monks—Arsenio and Silvano. The
count marveled much how they could live there in a country overrun
by enemies, and which had for a long time, and but recently, been in
the power of the infidels. The hermit replied that in the service of
God they were ready to endure all hardships. It is true they suffered
much from cold and hunger, being obliged to live chiefly on herbs
and roots; but by secret paths and tracks they were in communication
with other hermitages scattered throughout the country, so that they
were enabled to aid and comfort each other. They could also secretly
sustain in the faith the Christians who were held in subjection by
the Moors, and afford them places of refuge and concealment in cases
of extremity.

The count now opened his heart to the good hermit, revealing his name
and rank, and the perils impending over him from the invasion of the
infidel. As the day was far spent, Fray Pelayo prevailed upon him to
pass the night in the hermitage, setting before him barley bread and
such simple fare as his cell afforded.

Early in the morning the count went forth and found the hermit
seated beneath a tree on a rock, whence he could look far and wide
out of the forest and over the surrounding country. The hermit then
accosted him as one whose holy and meditative life and mortifications
of the flesh had given to look into the future almost with the eye
of prophecy. “Of a truth, my son,” said he, “there are many trials
and hardships in store for thee; but be of good cheer, thou wilt
conquer these Moors, and wilt increase thy power and possessions.”
He now revealed to the count certain signs and portents which would
take place during battle. “When thou shalt see these,” said he, “be
assured that Heaven is on thy side, and thy victory secure.” The
count listened with devout attention. “If these things do indeed come
to pass,” said he, “I will found a church and convent in this place,
to be dedicated to St. Peter, the patron saint of this hermitage;
and when I die my body shall be interred here.” Receiving then the
benediction of the holy friar he departed.




The Battle of the Ford of Cascajares.

When Count Fernan Gonzalez returned to his troops he found them in
great alarm at his absence, fearing some evil had befallen him; but
he cheered them with an account of his adventure and of the good
fortune predicted by the hermit.

It was in the month of May, on the day of the Holy Cross, that the
Christian and Moslem armies came in sight of each other. The Moors
advanced with a great sound of trumpets, atabals, and cymbals, and
their mighty host extended over hill and valley. When they saw how
small was the force of the Christians they put up derisive shouts,
and rushed forward to surround them.

Don Fernan Gonzalez remained calm and unmoved upon a rising ground,
for the hour was at hand when the sign of victory promised by the
hermit was to take place. Near by him was a youthful cavalier, Pedro
Gonzalez by name, native of La Puente de Hitero, of fiery courage
but vainglorious temper. He was cased in shining armor, and mounted
on a beautiful horse impatient of spirit as himself, and incessantly
foaming and champing on the bit and pawing the earth. As the Moors
drew near, while there was yet a large space between them and the
Christians, this fiery cavalier could no longer contain himself, but
giving reins to his steed set off headlong to encounter the foe; when
suddenly the earth opened, man and horse rushed downward into an
abyss, and the earth closed as before.

A cry of horror ran through the Christian ranks, and a panic was
like to seize upon them, but Don Fernan Gonzalez rode in front of
them, exclaiming, “This is the promised sign of victory. Let us
see how Castilians defend their lord, for my standard shall be
borne into the thickest of the fight.” So saying, he ordered Orbita
Fernandez to advance his standard; and when his troops saw the silver
cross glittering on high and borne toward the enemy, they shouted,
“Castile! Castile!” and rushed forward to the fight. Immediately
around the standard fought Don Gonzalo Gustios and his seven sons,
and he was, say the old chroniclers, like a lion leading his whelps
into the fight. Wherever they fought their way, they might be traced
by the bodies of bleeding and expiring infidels. Few particulars of
this battle remain on record; but it is said the Moors were as if
struck with sudden fear and weakness, and fled in confusion. Almanzor
himself escaped by the speed of his horse, attended by a handful of
his cavaliers.

In the camp of the Moors was found vast booty in gold and silver, and
other precious things, with sumptuous armor and weapons. When the
spoil was divided and the troops were refreshed, Don Fernan Gonzalez
went with his cavaliers in pious procession to the hermitage of San
Pedro. Here he gave much silver and gold to the worthy Fray Pelayo,
to be expended in masses for the souls of the Christian warriors
who had fallen in battle, and in prayers for further victories over
the infidels; after which he returned in triumph to his capital of

  [63] It does not appear that Count Fernan Gonzalez kept his
  promise of founding a church and monastery on the site of the
  hermitage. The latter edifice remained to after ages. “It
  stands,” says Sandoval, “on a precipice overhanging the river
  Arlanza, insomuch that it inspires dread to look below. It is
  extremely ancient; large enough to hold a hundred persons. Within
  the chapel is an opening like a chasm, leading down to a cavern
  larger than the church, formed in the solid rock, with a small
  window which overlooks the river. It was here the Christians used
  to conceal themselves.”

  As a corroboration of the adventure of the Count of Castile,
  Sandoval assures us that in his day the oak still existed to
  which Don Fernan Gonzalez tied his horse, when he alighted to
  scramble up the hill in pursuit of the boar. The worthy Fray
  Agapida, however, needed no corroboration of the kind, swallowing
  the whole story with the ready credence of a pious monk. The
  action here recorded was known by the name of the battle of the
  Ford of Cascajares.

  Sandoval gives a different account of the fate of the hermits.
  He says that Almanzor, in a rage at their prognostics, overthrew
  their chapel, and, without alighting from his horse, ordered the
  three monks to be beheaded in his presence. “This martyrdom,” he
  adds, “is represented in an ancient painting of the chapel which
  still exists.”




Of the Message sent by the Count to Sancho II., King of Navarre; and
the Reply.—Their Encounter in Battle.

The good Count of Castile was so inspirited by this signal victory
over the Moors, and their great general Almanzor, that he determined,
now that he had a breathing-spell from infidel warfare, to redress
certain grievances sustained from one of his Christian neighbors.
This was Don Sancho II., King of Navarre, surnamed Abarca, either
from the abarcas or shepherd shoes which he had worn in early life,
when brought up in secrecy and indigence, during the overthrow of
his country by the Moors, or from making his soldiers wear shoes of
the kind in crossing the snowy Pyrenees. It was a name by which the
populace delighted to call him.

This prince had recovered all Navarre from the infidels, and even
subjected to his crown all Biscay, or Cantabria, and some territory
beyond the Pyrenees, on the confines of France. Not content with
these acquisitions, he had made occasional inroads into Castile, in
consequence of a contest respecting the territories of Navarre and
Rioxa, to which he laid claim. These incursions he repeated whenever
he had peace or truce with the Moors.[64]

  [64] Sandoval. _The Five Bishops._ Mariana, lib. 8, c. 5, p. 367.
  _Cron. Gen. de España_, part 3, c. 18, fol. 53.

Count Fernan Gonzalez, having now time, as has been observed, to
attend to these matters, sent an ambassador to King Sancho, charged
with a courteous but resolute message. “I come, Señor,” said the
ambassador to the king, “by command of the Count Fernan Gonzalez of
Castile, and this is what I am told to say. You have done him much
wrong in times past, by leaguing with the infidels and making inroads
into his territories while he was absent or engaged in war. If you
will amend your ways in this respect, and remedy the past, you will
do him much pleasure; but if you refuse, he sends you his defiance.”

King Sancho Abarca was lost in astonishment and indignation at
receiving such a message from a count of Castile. “Return to the
count,” said he, “and tell him I will amend nothing; that I marvel
at his insolence, and hold him for a madman for daring to defy me.
Tell him he has listened to evil counsel, or a few trifling successes
against the Moors have turned his brain; but it will be very
different when I come to seek him, for there is not town or tower
from which I will not drag him forth.”[65]

  [65] _Cron. Gen. de España_, ut supra.

The ambassador returned with this reply, nor did he spare the least
of its scorn and bitterness. Upon this the count assembled his
cavaliers and councilors, and represented the case. He exhorted them
to stand by him in seeking redress for this insult and injury to
their country and their chieftain. “We are not equal in numbers to
the enemy, but we are valiant men, united and true to each other, and
one hundred good lances, all in the hands of chosen cavaliers, all of
one heart and mind, are worth three hundred placed by chance in the
hands of men who have no common tie.” The cavaliers all assured him
they would follow and obey him as loyal subjects of a worthy lord,
and would prove their fealty in the day of battle.

A little army of staunch Castilians was soon assembled, the silver
cross was again reared on high by the standard-bearer Orbita
Velasquez, and the count advanced resolutely a day’s journey into the
kingdom of Navarre, for his maxim was to strike quickly and sudden.
King Sancho wondered at his daring, but hastened to meet him with a
greatly superior force. The armies came in sight of each other at a
place called the Era de Gollanda.

The count now addressed his men. “The enemy,” said he, “are more
numerous than we; they are vigorous of body and light of foot, and
are dexterous in throwing darts. They will have the advantage if they
attack us; but if we attack them and close manfully, we shall get the
field of them before they have time to hurl their darts and wound
us. For my part, I shall make for the king. If I can but revenge the
wrongs of Castile upon his person I care not how soon I die.”

As the armies drew near each other the Castilians, true to the
orders of their chieftain, put up the war-cry, “Castile! Castile!”
and rushing forward, broke through the squadrons of Navarre. Then
followed a fight so pitiless and deadly, says an old chronicler, that
the strokes of their weapons resounded through the whole country.
The count sought King Sancho throughout the whole field; they met
and recognized each other by their armorial bearings and devices.
They fought with fury, until both fell from their horses as if dead.
The Castilians cut their way through the mass of the enemy, and
surrounded their fallen chief. Some raised him from the earth while
others kept off the foe. At first they thought him dead, and were
loud in their lamentations; but when the blood and dust were wiped
from his face he revived and told them not to heed him, for his
wounds were nothing; but to press on and gain the victory, for he had
slain the King of Navarre.

At hearing this they gave a great shout and returned to the fight;
but those of Navarre, seized with terror at the fall of their king,
turned their backs and fled.

The count then caused the body of the king to be taken from among
the slain and to be conducted, honorably attended, to Navarre. Thus
fell Sancho Abarca, King of Navarre, and was succeeded by his son Don
Garcia, surnamed the Trembler.




How the Count of Toulouse makes a Campaign against Castile, and how
he returns in his Coffin.

While the Count Fernan Gonzalez was yet ill of his wounds in his
capital, and when his soldiers had scarce laid by their cuirasses and
hung up their shields and lances, there was a fresh alarm of war. The
Count of Toulouse and Poictiers, the close friend and ally of King
Sancho Abarca, had come from France with a host to his assistance,
but finding him defeated and slain, raised his standard to make a
campaign, in his revenge, against the Castilians. The Navarrese all
gathered round him, and now an army was on foot more powerful than
the one which had recently been defeated.

Count Fernan Gonzalez, wounded as he was, summoned his troops to
march against this new enemy; but the war-worn Castilians, vexed at
being thus called again to arms before they had time to breathe,
began to murmur. “This is the life of the very devil,” said they, “to
go about day and night, without a moment’s rest. This lord of ours
is assuredly Satan himself, and we are lesser devils in his employ,
always busy entrapping the souls of men. He has no pity for us, so
battered and worn, nor for himself, so badly wounded. It is necessary
that some one should talk with him, and turn him from this madness.”

Accordingly a hardy cavalier, Nuño Laynez, remonstrated with the
count against further fighting until he should be cured of his wounds
and his people should have time to repose; for mortal men could not
support this kind of life. “Nor is this urged through cowardice,”
added he, “for your men are ready to fight for and defend you as they
would their own souls.”

“Well have you spoken, Nuño Laynez,” replied the count; “yet for all
this I am not minded to defer this fight. A day lost never returns.
An opportunity foregone can never be recalled. The warrior who
indulges in repose will never leave the memory of great deeds behind
him. His name dies when his soul leaves the body. Let us, therefore,
make the most of the days and hours allotted us, and crown them with
such glorious deeds that the world shall praise us in all future

When Nuño Laynez repeated these generous words to the cavaliers, the
blood glowed in their veins, and they prepared themselves manfully
for the field; nor did the count give them time to cool before he
put himself at their head and marched to meet the enemy. He found
them drawn up on the opposite side of a river which was swollen and
troubled by recent rains. Without hesitation he advanced to ford
it, but his troops were galled by flights of darts and arrows as
they crossed, and received with lances on the water’s edge; the
bodies of many floated down the turbid stream, and many perished on
the banks. They made good their crossing, however, and closed with
the enemy. The fight was obstinate and the Castilians were hardly
pressed, being so inferior in number. Don Fernan Gonzalez galloped
along the front of the enemy. “Where is the Count of Toulouse?” cried
he; “let him come forth and face me,—me, Fernan Gonzalez of Castile,
who defy him to single combat!” The count answered promptly to the
defiance. No one from either side presumed to interfere while the two
counts encountered, man to man and horse to horse, like honorable
and generous cavaliers. They rushed upon each other with the full
speed of their horses; the lance of Don Fernan pierced through all
the armor and accoutrements of the Count of Toulouse and bore him
out of the saddle, and before he touched the earth his soul had
already parted from his body. The men of Toulouse, seeing their chief
fall dead, fled amain, but were pursued, and three hundred of them

  [66] _Cron. Gen. de España._

The field being won, Count Fernan Gonzalez alighted and took off the
armor of the Count of Toulouse, with his own hands, and wrapped him
in a xemete, or Moorish mantle, of great value, which he had gained
when he conquered Almanzor. He ordered a coffin to be made, and
covered with cloth of gold, and studded with silver nails, and he
put therein the body of the count, and delivered it to the captive
cavaliers, whom he released and furnished with money for their
expenses, making them swear not to leave the body of the count until
they had conducted it to Toulouse. So the count, who had come from
France in such chivalrous state, at the head of an array of shining
warriors, returned in his coffin with a mourning train of vanquished
cavaliers, while Count Fernan Gonzalez conducted his victorious
troops in triumph back to Burgos.

This signal victory took place in the year of our Redemption 926, in
the beginning of the reign of Alfonso the Monk on the throne of Leon
and the Asturias.[67]

  [67] Mariana, lib. 8, c. 5, p. 367.




How the Count went to receive the Hand of a Princess, and was thrown
into a Dungeon.—Of the Stranger that visited him in his Chains, and
of the Appeal that he made to the Princess for his Deliverance.

Garcia II., who had succeeded to the throne of Navarre on the death
of his father, was brave of soul, though surnamed El Tembloso, or
The Trembler. He was so called because he was observed to tremble
on going into battle; but, as has been said of others, it was only
the flesh that trembled, foreseeing the dangers into which the
spirit would carry it. This king was deeply grieved at the death of
his father, slain by Count Fernan Gonzalez, and would have taken
vengeance by open warfare, but he was counseled by his mother,
the Queen Teresa, to pursue a subtler course. At her instigation
overtures were made to the count to settle all the feuds between
Navarre and Castile by a firm alliance, and to this end it was
proposed that the count should take to wife Doña Sancha, the sister
of King Garcia and daughter of King Sancho Abarca. The count accepted
gladly the proffered alliance, for he had heard of the great merit
and beauty of the princess, and was pleased with so agreeable a
mode of putting an end to all their contests. A conference was
accordingly appointed between the count and King Garcia, to take
place at Ciruena, each to be attended only by five cavaliers.

The count was faithful to his compact, and appeared at the appointed
place with five of the bravest of his cavaliers; but the king arrived
with five-and-thirty chosen men, all armed _cap-a-pie_. The count,
suspecting treachery, retreated with his cavaliers into a neighboring
hermitage, and, barricading the door, defended himself throughout
the day until nightfall. Seeing there was no alternative, he at
length capitulated and agreed to surrender himself a prisoner, and
pay homage to the king, on the latter assuring him, under oath, that
his life should be secure. King Garcia the Trembler, having in this
wily manner gained possession of the count, threw him in irons and
conducted him prisoner to Navarre, where he confined him in a strong
castle called Castro Viejo. At his intercession, however, his five
cavaliers were released, and carried back to Castile the doleful
tidings of his captivity.

Now it came to pass that a brave Norman count, who was performing a
pilgrimage to St. Iago of Compostella, heard that the Count Fernan
Gonzalez, whose renown had spread far and wide, lay in chains in
Castro Viejo. Having a vehement desire to see the man of whom fame
had spoken so loudly, he repaired to the castle, and bribed his way
to the prison of the count. When he entered and beheld so noble a
cavalier in a solitary dungeon and in chains, he was sore at heart.
The count looked up with wonder as this stranger stood before him in
pilgrim garb and with sorrowful aspect, but when he learned his name
and rank, and the object of his visit, he gave him the right hand of

The pilgrim count left the castle more enamored than ever of the
character of Count Fernan Gonzalez. At a festival of the court he
beheld the Princess Sancha, who had served as a lure to draw the good
count into the power of his enemies, and he found her of surpassing
beauty, and of a gentle and loving demeanor; so he determined to seek
an opportunity to speak with her in private, for surely, thought he,
in such a bosom must dwell the soft pity of womanhood. Accordingly,
one day as the princess was walking in the garden with her ladies,
he presented himself before her in his pilgrim’s garb, and prayed
to speak with her apart, as if on some holy mission. And when they
were alone, “How is this, Princess,” said he, “that you are doing
such great wrong to Heaven, to yourself, and to all Christendom?” The
princess started, and said, “What wrong have I done?” Then replied
the pilgrim count, “Behold, for thy sake the noblest of cavaliers,
the pride of Spain, the flower of chivalry, the hope of Christendom,
lies in a dungeon, fettered with galling chains. What lady but would
be too happy to be honored with the love of Count Fernan Gonzalez;
and thou hast scorned it! How will it tell for thy fame in future
times, that thou wast made a snare to capture an honorable knight;
that the gentlest, the bravest, the most generous of cavaliers was
inveigled by the love of thee to be thrown into a dungeon? How hast
thou reversed the maxims of chivalry! Beauty has ever been the friend
of valor; but thou hast been its foe! The fair hands of lovely dames
have ever bestowed laurels and rewards on those gallant knights
who sought and deserved their loves; thou hast bestowed chains and
a dungeon. Behold, the Moors rejoice in his captivity, while all
Christians mourn. Thy name will be accursed throughout the land like
that of Cava; but shouldst thou have the heroism to set him free,
thou wilt be extolled above all Spanish ladies. Hadst thou but seen
him as I have done,—alone, abandoned, enchained; yet so noble, so
courteous, so heroic in his chains, that kings upon their thrones
might envy the majesty of his demeanor. If thou couldst feel love for
man, thou shouldst do it for this knight; for I swear to thee on this
cross which I bear, that never was there king or emperor in the world
so worthy of woman’s love.” When the pilgrim count had thus spoken,
he left the princess to meditate upon his words.




Of the Meditations of the Princess, and their Result.—Her Flight from
the Prison with the Count, and Perils of the Escape.—The Nuptials.

The Princess Sancha remained for some time in the garden, revolving
in her mind all that she had just heard, and tenderness for the Count
Fernan Gonzalez began to awaken in her bosom; for nothing so touches
the heart of woman as the idea of valor suffering for her sake.
The more the princess meditated the more she became enamored. She
called to mind all she had heard of the illustrious actions of the
count. She thought upon the pictures just drawn of him in prison—so
noble, so majestic in his chains. She remembered the parting words
of the pilgrim count—“Never was there king nor emperor so worthy
of a woman’s love.” “Alas!” cried she, “was there ever a lady more
unfortunate than I? All the love and devotion of this noble cavalier
I might have had, and behold it has been made a mockery. Both he and
myself have been wronged by the treachery of my brother.”

At length the passion of the princess arose to such a height that
she determined to deliver the count from the misery of which she had
been made the instrument. So she found means one night to bribe
the guards of his prison, and made her way to his dungeon. When the
count saw her, he thought it a beautiful vision, or some angel sent
from heaven to comfort him, for certainly her beauty surpassed the
ordinary loveliness of woman.

“Noble cavalier,” said the princess, “this is no time for idle words
and ceremonies. Behold before you the Princess Doña Sancha; the word
which my brother brake I am here to fulfill. You came to receive my
hand, and, instead, you were thrown in chains. I come to yield you
that hand, and to deliver you from those chains. Behold, the door of
your prison is open, and I am ready to fly with you to the ends of
the earth. Swear to me one word, and when you have sworn it, I know
your loyalty too well to doubt that you will hold your oath sacred.
Swear that if I fly with you, you will treat me with the honor of a
knight; that you will make me your wife, and never leave me for any
other woman.”

The count swore all this on the faith of a Christian cavalier; and
well did he feel disposed to keep his oath, for never before had he
beheld such glorious beauty.

So the princess led the way, and her authority and her money had
conquered the fidelity of the guards, so that they permitted the
count to sally forth with her from the prison.

It was a dark night, and they left the great road and climbed a
mountain. The count was so fettered by his chains that he moved with
difficulty, but the princess helped and sometimes almost carried
him; for what will not delicate woman perform when her love and
pity are fully aroused. Thus they toiled on their way until the day
dawned, when they hid themselves in the cliffs of the mountain, among
rocks and thickets. While thus concealed they beheld an archpriest
of the castle, mounted on a mule with a falcon on his fist, hawking
about the lower part of the mountain. The count knew him to be a base
and malignant man, and watched his movements with great anxiety. He
had two hounds beating about the bushes, which at length got upon
the traces of the count and princess, and discovering them, set up a
violent barking. Alighting from his mule, the archpriest clambered
up to where the fugitives were concealed. He knew the count, and saw
that he had escaped. “Aha! traitor,” cried he, drawing his sword,
“think not to escape from the power of the king.” The count saw that
resistance was in vain, for he was without weapon and in chains,
and the archpriest was a powerful man, exceeding broad across the
shoulders; he sought, therefore, to win him by fair words, promising
that if he would aid him to escape he would give him a city in
Castile, for him and his heirs forever. But the archpriest was more
violent than ever, and held his sword at the breast of the count to
force him back to the castle. Upon this the princess rushed forward,
and with tears in her eyes implored him not to deliver the count into
the hands of his enemies. But the heart of the priest was inflamed
by the beauty of the princess, and thinking her at his mercy,
“Gladly,” said he, “will I assist the count to escape, but upon one
condition.” Then he whispered a proposal which brought a crimson glow
of horror and indignation into the cheeks of the princess, and he
would have laid his hand upon her, but he was suddenly lifted from
the earth by the strong grasp of the count, who bore him to the edge
of a precipice and flung him headlong down; and his neck was broken
in the fall.

The count then took the mule of the archpriest, his hawk, and his
hounds, and after keeping in the secret parts of the mountain all
day, he and the princess mounted the mule at night, and pursued their
way, by the most rugged and unfrequented passes, toward Castile.

As the day dawned they found themselves in an open plain at the foot
of the mountains, and beheld a body of horsemen riding toward them,
conducting a car, in which sat a knight in armor, bearing a standard.
The princess now gave all up for lost. “These,” said she, “are sent
by my brother in pursuit of us; how can we escape, for this poor
animal has no longer strength nor speed to bear us up the mountains?”
Upon this Count Fernan alighted, and drawing the sword of the
archpriest, placed himself in a narrow pass. “Do you,” said he to the
princess, “turn back and hasten to the mountains, and dearly shall it
cost him who attempts to follow you.” “Not so,” replied the princess;
“for the love of me hast thou been brought from thine own domain and
betrayed into all these dangers, and I will abide to share them with

The count would have remonstrated, when to his astonishment he saw,
as the car drew near, that the knight seated in it was clad in his
own armor, with his own devices, and held his own banner in his hand.
“Surely,” said he, crossing himself, “this is enchantment;” but on
looking still nearer, he recognized among the horsemen Nuño Sandias
and Nuño Laynez, two of his most faithful knights. Then his heart
leaped for joy. “Fear nothing,” cried he to the princess; “behold my
standard, and behold my vassals. Those whom you feared as enemies
shall kneel at your feet and kiss your hand in homage.”

Now so it appears that the tidings of the captivity of the count
had spread mourning and consternation throughout Castile, and the
cavaliers assembled together to devise means for his deliverance. And
certain of them had prepared this effigy of the count, clad in his
armor and bearing his banner and devices, and having done homage and
sworn fealty to it as they would have done to the count himself, they
had placed it in this car and set forth with it as a leader, making
a vow, in the spirit of ancient chivalry, never to return to their
homes until they should have delivered the count from his captivity.

When the cavaliers recognized the count, they put up shouts of
joy, and kissed his hands and the hands of the princess in token
of devoted loyalty. And they took off the fetters of the count and
placed him in the car and the princess beside him, and returned
joyfully to Castile.

Vain would be the attempt to describe the transports of the
multitude as Count Fernan Gonzalez entered his noble capital of
Burgos. The Princess Sancha, also, was hailed with blessings wherever
she passed, as the deliverer of their lord and the savior of Castile,
and shortly afterwards her nuptials with the count were celebrated
with feasting and rejoicing and tilts and tournaments, which lasted
for many days.




King Garcia confined in Burgos by the Count.—The Princess intercedes
for his Release.

The rejoicings for the marriage of Count Fernan Gonzalez with the
beautiful Princess Sancha were scarcely finished when King Garcia the
Trembler came with a powerful army to revenge his various affronts.
The count sallied forth to meet him, and a bloody and doubtful battle
ensued. The Navarrese at length were routed, and the king was wounded
and taken prisoner in single combat by Count Fernan, who brought him
to Burgos and put him in close confinement.

The Countess Doña Sancha was now almost as much afflicted at the
captivity of her brother as she had been at that of the count, and
interceded with her husband for his release. The count, however,
retained too strong a recollection of the bad faith of King Garcia
and of his own treacherous and harsh imprisonment to be easily moved,
and the king was kept in duress for a considerable time. The countess
then interested the principal cavaliers in her suit, reminding them
of the services she had rendered them in aiding the escape of their
lord. Through their united intercessions the count was induced to
relent; so King Garcia the Trembler was released and treated with
great honor, and sent back to his dominions with a retinue befitting
his rank.




Of the Expedition against the ancient City of Sylo.—The unwitting
Trespass of the Count into a Convent, and his Compunction thereupon.

Volumes would it take to follow the Count Fernan Gonzalez in his
heroic achievements against the infidels,—achievements which give to
sober history almost the air of fable. I forbear to dwell at large
upon one of his campaigns, wherein he scoured the Valley of Laguna;
passed victoriously along the banks of the Douro, building towers and
castles to keep the country in subjection; how he scaled the walls of
the castle of Ormaz, being the first to mount, sword in hand; how by
the valor of his arm he captured the city of Orma; how he took the
town of Sandoval, the origin of the cavaliers of Sandoval, who were
anciently called Salvadores; how he made an inroad even to Madrid,
then a strongly fortified village, and having taken and sacked it,
returned in triumph to Burgos.

But it would be wronging the memory of this great and good cavalier
to pass in silence over one of his exploits in which he gave a
singular instance of his piety. This was in an expedition against
the ancient city of Sylo. It was not a place of much value in itself,
being situated in a cold and sterile country, but it had become a
stronghold of the Moors, whence they carried on their warfare. This
place the count carried by assault, entering it in full armor, on his
steed, overturning and slaying all who opposed him. In the fury of
his career he rode into a spacious edifice which he supposed to be a
mosque, with the pious intention of slaying every infidel he might
find within. On looking round, however, great was his astonishment
at beholding images of saints, the blessed cross of our Saviour, and
various other sacred objects, which announced a church devoted to
the veritable faith. Struck with remorse, he sprang from his horse,
threw himself upon his knees, and with many tears implored pardon of
God for the sin he had unknowingly committed. While he was yet on his
knees, several monks of the order of St. Dominic approached, meagre
in looks and squalid in attire, but hailing him with great joy as
their deliverer. In sooth this was a convent of San Sebastian, the
fraternity of which had remained captives among the Moors, supporting
themselves poorly by making baskets, but permitted to continue in the
exercise of their religion.

Still filled with pious compunction for the trespass he had made,
the count ordered that the shoes should be taken from his horse and
nailed upon the door of the church; for never, said he, shall they
tread any other ground after having trodden this holy place. From
that day, we are told, it has been the custom to nail the shoes of
horses on the portal of that convent—a custom which has extended to
many other places.

The worthy Fray Prudencio de Sandoval records a marvelous memento of
the expedition of the count against this city, which remained, he
says, until his day. Not far from the place, on the road which passes
by Lara, is to be seen the print of his horse’s hoofs in a solid
rock, which has received the impression as though it had been made
in softened wax.[68] It is to be presumed that the horse’s hoofs had
been gifted with miraculous hardness in reward to the count for his
pious oblation of the shoes.

  [68] Sandoval, p. 313.




Of the Moorish Host that came up from Cordova, and how the Count
repaired to the Hermitage of San Pedro, and prayed for Success
against them, and received Assurance of Victory in a Vision.—Battle
of Hazinas.

The worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, from whose manuscripts this memoir
is extracted, passes by many of the striking and heroic deeds of the
count, which crowd the pages of ancient chroniclers; but the good
friar ever is sure to dwell with delight upon any of those miraculous
occurrences which took place in Spain in those days, and which
showed the marked interposition of Heaven in behalf of the Christian
warriors in their battles with the infidels. Such was the renowned
battle of Hazinas, which, says Agapida, for its miraculous events is
worthy of eternal blazon.

Now so it was that the Moorish king of Cordova had summoned all the
faithful, both of Spain and Africa, to assist him in recovering the
lands wrested from him by the unbelievers, and especially by Count
Fernan Gonzalez in his late victories; and such countless legions of
turbaned warriors were assembled that it was said they covered the
plains of Andalusia like swarms of locusts.

Hearing of their threatening approach, the count gathered together
his forces at Piedrafita, while the Moors encamped in Hazinas. When,
however, he beheld the mighty host arrayed against him, his heart
for once was troubled with evil forebodings, and calling to mind the
cheering prognostications of the friar Pelayo on a like occasion, he
resolved to repair again to that holy man for counsel. Leaving his
camp, therefore, secretly, he set out, accompanied by two cavaliers,
to seek the chapel which he had ordered to be built at the hermitage
of San Pedro, on the mountain overhanging the river Arlanza, but when
arrived there he heard to his great grief that the worthy friar was

Entering the chapel, however, he knelt down at the altar and prayed
for success in the coming fight; humbly representing that he had
never, like many of the kings and nobles of Spain, done homage to the
infidels and acknowledged them for sovereigns. The count remained a
long time at prayer, until sleep gradually stole over him; and as he
lay slumbering before the altar the holy Fray Pelayo appeared before
him in a vision, clad in garments as white as snow. “Why sleepest
thou, Fernan Gonzalez?” said he; “arise, and go forth, and know that
thou shalt conquer those Moors. For, inasmuch as thou art a faithful
vassal of the Most High, he has commanded the Apostle San Iago and
myself, with many angels, to come to thy aid, and we will appear in
the battle clad in white armor, with each of us a red cross upon our
pennon. Therefore arise, I say, and go hence with a valiant heart.”

The count awoke, and while he was yet musing upon the vision he heard
a voice saying, “Arise, and get thee hence; why dost thou linger?
Separate thy host into three divisions: enter the field of battle by
the east, with the smallest division, and I will be with thee; and
let the second division enter by the west, and that shall be aided by
San Iago; and let the third division enter by the north. Know that I
am San Millan who come to thee with this message.”

The count departed joyfully from the chapel, and returned to his
army; and when he told his troops of this, his second visit to the
hermitage, and of the vision he had had, and how the holy friar San
Pelayo had again assured him of victory, their hearts were lifted
up, and they rejoiced to serve under a leader who had such excellent
counselors in war.

In the evening preceding the battle Don Fernan Gonzalez divided his
forces as he had been ordered. The first division was composed of two
hundred horsemen and six thousand infantry; hardy mountaineers, light
of foot and of great valor. In the advance were Don Gustios Gonzalez
of Salas, and his seven sons and two nephews, and his brother Ruy
Velasquez, and a valiant cavalier named Gonzalo Diaz.

The second division was led by Don Lope de Biscaya, with the people
of Burueba and Trevino, and Old Castile and Castro and the Asturias.
Two hundred horsemen and six thousand infantry.

The third division was led by the count himself, and with him went
Ruy Cavia, and Nuño Cavia and the Velascos, whom the count that
day dubbed knights, and twenty esquires of the count, whom he had
likewise knighted. His division consisted of four hundred and fifty
horse and fifteen hundred foot; and he told his men that if they
should not conquer the Moors on the following day, they should draw
off from the battle when he gave the word. Late at night, when all
the camp, excepting the sentinels and guards, were buried in sleep,
a light suddenly illumined the heavens, and a great serpent was seen
in the air, wounded and covered with blood, and vomiting flames, and
making a loud hissing that awakened all the soldiers. They rushed
out of their tents, and ran hither and thither, running against each
other in their affright. Count Fernan Gonzalez was awakened by their
outcries, but before he came forth the serpent had disappeared. He
rebuked the terrors of his people, representing to them that the
Moors were great necromancers, and by their arts could raise devils
to their aid; and that some Moorish astrologer had doubtless raised
this spectrum to alarm them; but he bade them be of good heart, since
they had San Iago on their side, and might set Moor, astrologer, and
devil at defiance.

In the first day’s fight Don Fernan fought hand to hand with a
powerful Moor, who had desired to try his prowess with him. It was
an obstinate contest, in which the Moor was slain; but the count
so badly wounded that he fell to the earth, and had not his men
surrounded and defended him, he would have been slain or captured.
The battle lasted all day long, and Gustios Gonzalez and his kindred
warriors showed prodigies of valor. Don Fernan, having had his wounds
stanched, remounted his horse and galloped about, giving courage
to his men; but he was covered with dust and blood, and so hoarse
that he could no longer be heard. The sun went down, the Moors kept
on fighting, confiding in their great numbers. The count, seeing
the night approaching, ordered the trumpets to be sounded, and,
collecting his troops, made one general charge on the Moors, and
drove them from the field. He then drew off his men to their tents,
where the weary troops found refreshment and repose, though they
slept all night upon their arms.

On the second day the count rose before the dawn, and having attended
mass like a good Christian, attended next to his horses, like a
good cavalier, seeing with his own eyes that they were well fed
and groomed, and prepared for the field. The battle this day was
obstinate as the day before, with great valor and loss on either side.

On the third day the count led forth his forces at an early hour,
raising his silver standard of the cross, and praying devoutly for
aid. Then lowering their lances, the Castilians shouted San Iago! San
Iago! and rushed to the attack.

Don Gustios Gonzalo de Salas, the leader of one of the divisions,
made a lane into the centre of the Moorish host, dealing death on
either side. He was met by a Moorish cavalier of powerful frame.
Covering themselves with their shields, they attacked each other with
great fury; but the days of Gustios Gonzalo were numbered, and the
Moor slew him, and with him fell a nephew of Count Fernan, and many
of his principal cavaliers.

Count Fernan Gonzalez encountered the Moor who had just slain his
friend. The infidel would have avoided him, having heard that never
man escaped alive from a conflict with him; but the count gave him
a furious thrust with his lance, which stretched him dead upon the

The Moors, however, continued to press the count sorely, and their
numbers threatened to overwhelm him. Then he put up a prayer for
the aid promised in his vision, and of a sudden the Apostle San
Iago appeared, with a great and shining company of angels in white,
bearing the device of a red cross, and all rushing upon the Moors.
The Moors were dismayed at the sight of this reinforcement to the
enemy. The Christians, on the other hand, recovered their forces,
knowing the Apostle San Iago to be at hand. They charged the Moors
with new vigor, and put them to flight, and pursued them for two
days, killing and making captive. They then returned and gathered
together the bodies of the Christians who had been slain, and buried
them in the chapel of San Pedro of Arlanza and in other hermitages.
The bodies of the Moors were piled up and covered with earth, forming
a mound which is still to be seen on the field of battle.

Some have ascribed to the signal worn in this battle by the celestial
warriors the origin of the Cross of Calatrava.




The Count imprisoned by the King of Leon.—The Countess concerts his
Escape.—Leon and Castile united by the Marriage of the Prince Ordoño
with Urraca, the Daughter of the Count by his first Wife.

Not long after this most renowned and marvelous battle, a Moorish
captain named Aceyfa became a vassal of the Count Don Fernan. Under
his protection, and that of a rich and powerful Castilian cavalier
named Diego Muñon, he rebuilt Salamanca and Ledesma, and several
places on the river Tormes, which had been desolated and deserted in
times past.

Ramiro the Second, who was at this time King of Leon, was alarmed at
seeing a strong line of Moorish fortresses erected along the borders
of his territories, and took the field with an army to drive the Moor
Aceyfa from the land. The proud spirit of Count Fernan Gonzalez was
aroused at this attack upon his Moorish vassal, which he considered
an indignity offered to himself; so being seconded by Don Diego
Muñon, he marched forth with his chivalry to protect the Moor. In the
present instance he had trusted to his own head, and had neglected
to seek advice of saint or hermit; so his army was defeated by King
Ramiro, and himself and Don Diego Muñon taken prisoner. The latter
was sent in chains to the castle of Gordon; but the count was carried
to Leon, where he was confined in a tower of the wall, which to this
day is pointed out as his prison.[69]

  [69] In the _Cronica General de España_, this imprisonment is
  said to have been by King Sancho the Fat; but the cautious
  Agapida goes according to his favorite Sandoval in attributing
  it to King Ramiro, and in so doing he is supported by the
  _Chronicle_ of Bleda, L. 3, c. 19.

All Castile was thrown into grief and consternation by this event,
and lamentations were heard throughout the land, as though the count
had been dead. The countess, however, did not waste time in idle
tears, for she was a lady of most valiant spirit. She forthwith
assembled five hundred cavaliers, chosen men of tried loyalty and
devotion to the count. They met in the chapel of the palace, and took
an oath upon the Holy Evangelists to follow the countess through all
difficulties and dangers, and to obey implicitly all her commands
for the rescue of their lord. With this band the countess departed
secretly at nightfall, and travelled rapidly until morning, when they
left the roads, and took to the mountains, lest their march should
be discovered. Arrived near to Leon, she halted her band in a thick
wood in the mountain of Samosa where she ordered them to remain
in secrecy. Then clothing herself as a pilgrim with her staff and
pannier, she sent word to King Ramiro that she was on a pilgrimage to
San Iago, and entreated that she might have permission to visit her
husband in his prison. King Ramiro not merely granted her request,
but sallied forth above a league from the city with a great retinue
to do her honor. So the countess entered a second time the prison
where the count lay in chains, and stood before him as his protecting
angel. At sight of him in this miserable and dishonored state,
however, the valor of spirit which had hitherto sustained her gave
way, and tears flowed from her eyes. The count received her joyfully,
and reproached her with her tears; “for it becomes us,” said he, “to
submit to what is imposed upon us by God.”

The countess now sent to entreat the king that while she remained
with the count his chains should be taken off. The king again granted
her request; and the count was freed from his irons and an excellent
bed prepared in his prison.

The countess remained with him all night and concerted his escape.
Before it was daylight she gave him her pilgrim’s dress and staff,
and the count went forth from the chamber disguised as his wife. The
porter at the outer portal, thinking it to be the countess, would
have waited for orders from the king; but the count, in a feigned
voice, entreated not to be detained, lest he should not be able to
perform his pilgrimage. The porter, mistrusting no deceit, opened the
door. The count issued forth, repaired to a place pointed out by the
countess, where the two cavaliers awaited him with a fleet horse.
They all sallied quietly forth from the city at the opening of the
gates, until they found themselves clear of the walls, when they put
spurs to their horses and made their way to the mountain of Samosa.
Here the count was received with shouts of joy by the cavaliers whom
the countess had left there in concealment.

As the day advanced the keeper of the prison entered the apartment of
Don Fernan, but was astonished to find there the beautiful countess
in place of her warrior husband. He conducted her before the king,
accusing her of the fraud by which she had effected the escape of
the count. King Ramiro was greatly incensed, and he demanded of the
countess how she dared to do such an act. “I dared,” replied she,
“because I saw my husband in misery, and felt it my duty to relieve
him; and I dared because I was the daughter of a king, and the wife
of a distinguished cavalier; as such I trust to your chivalry to
treat me.”

The king was charmed with her intrepidity. “Señora,” said he, “you
have acted well and like a noble lady, and it will redound to your
laud and honor.” So he commanded that she should be conducted to her
husband in a manner befitting a lady of high and noble rank; and
the count was overjoyed to receive her in safety, and they returned
to their dominions and entered Burgos at the head of their train of
cavaliers, amidst the transports and acclamations of their people.
And King Ramiro sought the amity of Count Fernan Gonzalez, and
proposed that they should unite their houses by some matrimonial
alliance which should serve as a bond of mutual security. The count
gladly listened to his proposals. He had a fair daughter named
Urraca, by his first wife, who was now arrived at a marriageable
age; so it was agreed that nuptials should be solemnized between her
and the Prince Ordoño, son of King Ramiro; and all Leon and Castile
rejoiced at this union, which promised tranquillity to the land.




Moorish Incursion into Castile.—Battle of San Estevan.—Of Pascual
Vivas and the Miracle that Befell him.—Death of Ordoño III.

For several succeeding years of the career of this most redoubtable
cavalier, the most edifying and praiseworthy traces which remain,
says Fray Antonio Agapida, are to be found in the archives of various
monasteries, consisting of memorials of pious gifts and endowments
made by himself and his countess, Doña Sancha.

In the process of time King Ramiro died, and was succeeded by his son
Ordoño III., the same who had married Urraca, the daughter of Count
Fernan. He was surnamed the Fierce, either from his savage temper or
savage aspect. He had a step-brother named Don Sancho, nephew, by
the mother’s side, of King Garcia of Navarre, surnamed the Trembler.
This Don Sancho rose in arms against Ordoño at the very outset of his
reign, seeking to deprive him of his crown. He applied for assistance
to his uncle Garcia and to Count Fernan Gonzalez, and it is said
both favored his pretensions. Nay, the count soon appeared in the
field in company with King Garcia the Trembler, in support of Prince
Sancho. It may seem strange that he should take up arms against his
own son-in-law; and so it certainly appeared to Ordoño III., for he
was so incensed against the count that he repudiated his wife Urraca
and sent her back to her father, telling him that since he would not
acknowledge him as king, he should not have him for son-in-law.

The kingdom now became a prey to civil wars; the restless part of
the subjects of King Ordoño rose in rebellion, and everything was in
confusion. King Ordoño succeeded, however, in quelling the rebellion,
and defended himself so ably against King Garcia and Count Fernan
Gonzalez, that they returned home without effecting their object.

About this time, say the records of Compostella, the sinful
dissensions of the Christians brought on them a visible and awful
scourge from Heaven. A great flame, or, as it were, a cloud of fire,
passed throughout the land, burning towns, destroying men and beasts,
and spreading horror and devastation even over the sea. It passed
over Zamora, consuming a great part of the place; it scorched Castro
Xerez likewise, and Brebiesco and Pan Corvo in its progress, and in
Burgos one hundred houses were consumed.

“These,” says the worthy Agapida, “were fiery tokens of the
displeasure of Heaven at the sinful conduct of the Christians in
warring upon each other, instead of joining their arms like brethren
in the righteous endeavor to extirpate the vile sect of Mahomet.”

While the Christians were thus fighting among themselves, the
Moors, taking advantage of their discord, came with a great army,
and made an incursion into Castile as far as Burgos. King Ordoño
and Count Fernan Gonzalez, alarmed at the common danger, came to a
reconciliation, and took arms together against the Moors; though it
does not appear that the king received again his repudiated wife
Urraca. These confederate princes gave the Moors a great battle near
to San Estevan. “This battle,” says Fray Antonio Agapida, “is chiefly
memorable for a miracle which occurred there,” and which is recorded
by the good friar with an unction and perfect credence worthy of a
monkish chronicler.

The Christians were incastellated at San Estevan de Gormaz, which is
near the banks of the Douro. The Moors had possession of the fortress
of Gormaz, about a league further up the river on a lofty and rocky

The battle commenced at the dawn of day. Count Fernan Gonzalez,
however, before taking the field, repaired with his principal
cavaliers to the church, to attend the first morning’s mass. Now, at
this time, there was in the service of the count a brave cavalier
named Pascual Vivas, who was as pious as he was brave, and would pray
with as much fervor and obstinacy as he would fight. This cavalier
made it a religious rule with himself, or rather had made a solemn
vow, that, whenever he entered a church in the morning, he would on
no account leave it until all the masses were finished.

On the present occasion the firmness of this brave but pious cavalier
was put to a severe proof. When the first mass was finished, the
count and his cavaliers rose and sallied from the church in clanking
armor, and soon after the sound of trumpet and quick tramp of steed
told that they were off to the encounter. Pascual Vivas, however,
remained kneeling all in armor before the altar, waiting, according
to custom, until all the masses should be finished. The masses that
morning were numerous, and hour after hour passed away; yet still the
cavalier remained kneeling all in armor, with weapon in hand, yet so
zealous in his devotion that he never turned his head.

All this while the esquire of the cavalier was at the door of the
church, holding his war-horse, and the esquire beheld with surprise
the count and his warriors depart, while his lord remained in the
chapel; and, from the height on which the chapel stood, he could see
the Christian host encounter the Moors at the ford of the river,
and could hear the distant sound of trumpets and din of battle; and
at the sound the war-horse pricked his ears and snuffed the air
and pawed the earth, and showed all the eagerness of a noble steed
to be among the armed men, but still Pascual Vivas came not out of
the chapel. The esquire was wroth, and blushed for his lord, for he
thought it was through cowardice and not piety that he remained in
the chapel while his comrades were fighting in the field.

At length the masses were finished, and Pascual Vivas was about to
sally forth when horsemen came riding up the hill with shouts of
victory, for the battle was over and the Moors completely vanquished.

When Pascual Vivas heard this he was so troubled in mind that he
dared not leave the chapel nor come into the presence of the count,
for he said to himself, “Surely I shall be looked upon as a recreant
knight, who have hidden myself in the hour of danger.” Shortly,
however, came some of his fellow-cavaliers, summoning him to the
presence of the count; and as he went with a beating heart, they
lauded him for the valor he had displayed and the great services he
had rendered, saying that to the prowess of his arm they owed the
victory. The good knight, imagining they were scoffing at him, felt
still more cast down in spirit, and entered the presence of the count
covered with confusion. Here again he was received with praises and
caresses, at which he was greatly astonished, but still thought it
all done in mockery. When the truth came to be known, however, all
present were filled with wonder, for it appeared as if this cavalier
had been, at the same moment, in the chapel and in the field; for
while he remained on his knees before the altar, with his steed
pawing the earth at the door, a warrior exactly resembling him, with
the same arms, device, and steed, had appeared in the hottest of
the fight, penetrating and overthrowing whole squadrons of Moors;
that he had cut his way to the standard of the enemy, killed the
standard-bearer, and carried off the banner in triumph; that his
pourpoint and coat of mail were cut to pieces, and his horse covered
with wounds; yet still he fought on, and through his valor chiefly
the victory was obtained.

What more moved astonishment was that for every wound received by
the warrior and his steed in the field, there appeared marks on the
pourpoint and coat of mail and upon the steed of Pascual Vivas, so
that he had the semblance of having been in the severest press of the

The matter was now readily explained by the worthy friars who
followed the armies in those days, and who were skillful in
expounding the miracles daily occurring in those holy wars. A
miraculous intervention had been vouchsafed to Pascual Vivas. That
his piety in remaining at his prayers might not put him to shame
before sinful men, an angel bearing his form and semblance had taken
his place in battle, and fought while he prayed.

The matter being thus explained, all present were filled with pious
admiration, and Pascual Vivas, if he ceased to be extolled as a
warrior, came near being canonized as a saint.[70]

  [70] Exactly the same kind of miracle is recorded as happening in
  the same place to a cavalier of the name of Don Fernan Antolenez,
  in the service of the Count Garcia Fernandez. Fray Antonio
  Agapida has no doubt that the same miracle did actually happen to
  both cavaliers; “for in those days,” says he, “there was such a
  demand for miracles that the same had frequently to be repeated;”
  witness the repeated appearance of Santiago in precisely the same
  manner, to save Christian armies from imminent danger of defeat,
  and achieve wonderful victories over the infidels, as we find
  recorded throughout the Spanish chronicles.

King Ordoño III. did not long survive this battle. Scarce had he
arrived at Zamora on his way homeward, when he was seized with a
mortal malady of which he died. He was succeeded by his brother Don
Sancho, the same who had formerly endeavored to dispossess him of his




King Sancho the Fat.—Of the Homage he exacted from Count Fernan
Gonzalez, and of the strange Bargain that he made with him for the
purchase of his Horse and Falcon.

King Sancho I., on ascending the throne, held a cortes at Leon,
where all the great men of the kingdom and the princes who owed
allegiance to him were expected to attend and pay homage. As the
court of Leon was excessively tenacious of its claim to sovereignty
over Castile, the absence of Count Fernan Gonzalez was noticed with
great displeasure by the king, who sent missives to him commanding
his attendance. The count being proud of heart, and standing much
upon the independence of Castile, was unwilling to kiss the hand of
any one in token of vassalage. He was at length induced to stifle his
repugnance and repair to the court, but he went in almost regal style
and with a splendid retinue, more like a sovereign making a progress
through his dominions.

As he approached the city of Leon, King Sancho came forth in great
state to receive him, and they met apparently as friends, but there
was enmity against each other in their hearts.

The rich and gallant array with which Count Fernan made his entry
in Leon was the theme of every tongue; but nothing attracted more
notice than a falcon, thoroughly trained, which he carried on his
hand, and an Arabian horse of wonderful beauty, which he had gained
in his wars with the Moors. King Sancho was seized with a vehement
desire to possess this horse and falcon, and offered to purchase
them of the count. Don Fernan haughtily declined to enter into
traffic; but offered them to the monarch as a gift. The king was
equally punctilious in refusing to accept a favor; but as monarchs do
not easily forego anything on which they have set their hearts, it
became evident to Count Fernan that it was necessary, for the sake
of peace, to part with his horse and falcon. To save his dignity,
however, he asked a price corresponding to his rank; for it was
beneath a cavalier, he said, to sell his things cheap, like a mean
man. He demanded, therefore, one thousand marks of silver for the
horse and falcon,—to be paid on a stipulated day; if not paid on that
day the price to be doubled on the next, and on each day’s further
delay the price should in like manner be doubled. To these terms the
king gladly consented, and the terms were specified in a written
agreement, which was duly signed and witnessed. The king thus gained
the horse and falcon, but it will be hereinafter shown that this
indulgence of his fancy cost him dear.

This eager desire for an Arabian steed appears the more singular
in Sancho the First, from his being so corpulent that he could
not sit on horseback. Hence he is commonly known in history by the
appellation of King Sancho the Fat. His unwieldy bulk, also, may be
one reason why he soon lost the favor of his warrior subjects, who
looked upon him as a mere trencherman and bed-presser, and not fitted
to command men who lived in the saddle, and had rather fight than
either eat or sleep.

King Sancho saw that he might soon have hard fighting to maintain
his throne; and how could he figure as a warrior who could not mount
on horseback. In his anxiety he repaired to his uncle Garcia, king
of Navarre, surnamed the Trembler, who was an exceeding meagre man,
and asked counsel of him what he should do to cure himself of this
troublesome corpulency. Garcia the Trembler was totally at a loss for
a recipe, his own leanness being a gift of Nature; he advised him,
however, to repair to Abderahman, the Miramamolin of Spain and King
of Cordova, with whom he was happily at peace, and consult with him,
and seek advice of the Arabian physicians resident at Cordova—the
Moors being generally a spare and active people, and the Arabian
physicians skillful above all others in the treatment of diseases.

King Sancho the Fat, therefore, sent amicable messages beforehand to
the Moorish miramamolin, and followed them as fast as his corpulency
would permit; and he was well received by the Moorish sovereign,
and remained for a long time at Cordova, diligently employed in
decreasing his rotundity.

While the corpulent king was thus growing leaner, discontent broke
out among his subjects at home; and, Count Fernan Gonzalez taking
advantage of it, stirred up an insurrection, and placed upon the
throne of Leon Ordoño the Fourth, surnamed the Bad, who was a kinsman
of the late King Ordoño III., and he moreover gave him his daughter
for wife—his daughter Urraca, the repudiated wife of the late king.

If the good Count Fernan Gonzalez supposed he had fortified himself
by this alliance, and that his daughter was now fixed for the second
time, and more firmly than ever, on the throne of Leon, he was
grievously deceived; for Sancho I. returned from Cordova at the head
of a powerful host of Moors, and was no longer to be called the Fat,
for he had so well succeeded under the regimen prescribed by the
miramamolin and his Arabian physicians, that he could vault into the
saddle with merely putting his hand upon the pommel.

Ordoño IV. was a man of puny heart; no sooner did he hear of the
approach of King Sancho, and of his marvelous leanness and agility,
than he was seized with terror, and, abandoning his throne and
his twice-repudiated spouse Urraca, he made for the mountains of
Asturias, or, as others assert, was overtaken by the Moors and killed
with lances.




Further of the Horse and Falcon.

King Sancho I., having reëstablished himself on the throne, and
recovered the good-will of his subjects by his leanness and
horsemanship, sent a stern message to Count Fernan Gonzalez to come
to his cortes, or resign his countship. The count was exceedingly
indignant at this order, and feared, moreover, that some indignity
or injury would be offered him should he repair to Leon. He made the
message known to his principal cavaliers, and requested their advice.
Most of them were of opinion that he should not go to the cortes.
Don Fernan declared, however, that he would not act disloyally in
omitting to do that which the counts of Castile had always performed,
although he felt that he incurred the risk of death or imprisonment.
Leaving his son, Garcia Fernandez, therefore, in charge of his
councilors, he departed for Leon with only seven cavaliers.

As he approached the gates of that city, no one came forth to greet
him, as had always been the custom. This he considered an evil
sign. Presenting himself before the king, he would have kissed his
hand, but the monarch withheld it. He charged the count with being
vainglorious and disloyal; with having absented himself from the
cortes and conspired against his throne;—for all which he should make
atonement, and should give hostages or pledges for his good faith
before he left the court.

The count in reply accounted for absenting himself from the cortes
by the perfidious treatment he had formerly experienced at Leon. As
to any grievances the king might have to complain of, he stood ready
to redress them, provided the king would make good his own written
engagement, signed with his own hand and sealed with his own seal, to
pay for the horse and falcon which he had purchased of the count on
his former visit to Leon. Three years had now elapsed since the day
appointed for the payment, and in the mean time the price had gone on
daily doubling, according to stipulation.

They parted mutually indignant; and, after the count had retired to
his quarters, the king, piqued to maintain his royal word, summoned
his major-domo, and ordered him to take a large amount of treasure
and carry it to the Count of Castile in payment of his demand. So
the major-domo repaired to the count with a great sack of money to
settle with him for the horse and hawk; but when he came to cast up
the account, and double it each day that had intervened since the
appointed day of payment, the major-domo, though an expert man at
figures, was totally confounded, and, returning to the king, assured
him that all the money in the world would not suffice to pay the
debt. King Sancho was totally at a loss how to keep his word, and pay
off a debt which was more than enough to ruin him. Grievously did he
repent his first experience in traffic, and found that it is not safe
even for a monarch to trade in horses.

In the mean time the count was suffered to return to Castile; but
he did not let the matter rest here; for, being sorely incensed
at the indignities he had experienced, he sent missives to King
Sancho, urging his demand of payment for the horse or falcon—menacing
otherwise to make seizures by way of indemnification. Receiving no
satisfactory reply, he made a foray into the kingdom of Leon, and
brought off great spoil of sheep and cattle.

King Sancho now saw that the count was too bold and urgent a creditor
to be trifled with. In his perplexity he assembled the estates of
his kingdom, and consulted them upon this momentous affair. His
counselors, like himself, were grievously perplexed between the
sanctity of the royal word and the enormity of the debt. After much
deliberation they suggested a compromise—the Count Fernan Gonzalez
to relinquish the debt, and in lieu thereof to be released from his

The count agreed right gladly to this compromise, being thus relieved
from all tribute and imposition, and from the necessity of kissing
the hand of any man in the world as his sovereign. Thus did King
Sancho pay with the sovereignty of Castile for a horse and falcon,
and thus were the Castilians relieved, by a skillful bargain in
horse-dealing, from all subjection to the kingdom of Leon.[71]

  [71] _Cronica_ de Alonzo el Sabio, pt. 3 c. 19.




The Last Campaign of Count Fernan.—His Death.

The good Count Fernan Gonzalez was now well stricken in years. The
fire of youth was extinct, the pride and ambition of manhood were
over; instead of erecting palaces and lofty castles, he began now
to turn his thoughts upon the grave and to build his last earthly
habitation, the sepulchre.

Before erecting his own, he had one built of rich and stately
workmanship for his first wife, the object of his early love, and
had her remains conveyed to it and interred with great solemnity.
His own sepulchre, according to ancient promise, was prepared at the
chapel and hermitage of San Pedro at Arlanza, where he had first
communed with the holy Friar Pelayo. When it was completed, he merely
inscribed upon it the word “Obijt,” leaving the rest to be supplied
by others after his death.

When the Moors perceived that Count Fernan Gonzalez, once so
redoubtable in arms, was old and infirm, and given to build tombs
instead of castles, they thought it a favorable time to make an
inroad into Castile. They passed the border, therefore, in great
numbers, laying everything waste and bearding the old lion in his
very den.

The veteran had laid by sword and buckler, and had almost given up
the world; but the sound of Moorish drum and trumpet called him back
even from the threshold of the sepulchre. Buckling on once more
his armor and bestriding his war-steed, he summoned around him his
Castilian cavaliers, seasoned like him in a thousand battles, and
accompanied by his son Garcia Fernandez, who inherited all the valor
of his father, issued forth to meet the foe; followed by the shouts
and blessings of the populace, who joyed to see him once more in arms
and glowing with his ancient fire.

The Moors were retiring from an extensive ravage, laden with booty
and driving before them an immense cavalgada, when they descried a
squadron of cavaliers, armed all in steel, emerging from a great
cloud of dust, and bearing aloft the silver cross, the well-known
standard of Count Fernan Gonzalez. That veteran warrior came on, as
usual, leading the way, sword in hand. The very sight of his standard
had struck dismay into the enemy; they soon gave way before one of
his vigorous charges, nor did he cease to pursue them until they
took shelter within the very walls of Cordova. Here he wasted the
surrounding country with fire and sword, and after thus braving the
Moor in his very capital, returned triumphant to Burgos.

“Such,” says Fray Antonio Agapida, “was the last campaign in
this life of this most valorous cavalier;” and now, abandoning
all further deeds of mortal enterprise in arms to his son Garcia
Fernandez, he addressed all his thoughts, as he said, to prepare for
his campaign in the skies. He still talked as a veteran warrior,
whose whole life had been passed in arms, but his talk was not of
earthly warfare nor of earthly kingdoms. He spoke only of the kingdom
of heaven, and what he must do to make a successful inroad and gain
an eternal inheritance in that blessed country.

He was equally indefatigable in preparing for his spiritual as for
his mortal campaign. Instead, however, of mailed warriors tramping
through his courts, and the shrill neigh of steed or clang of trumpet
echoing among their walls, there were seen holy priests and barefoot
monks passing to and fro, and the halls resounded with the sacred
melody of litany and psalm. So pleased was Heaven with the good
works of this pious cavalier, and especially with rich donations to
churches and monasteries which he made under the guidance of his
spiritual counselors, that we are told it was given to him to foresee
in vision the day and hour when he should pass from this weary life
and enter the mansions of eternal rest.

Knowing that the time approached, he prepared for his end like a
good Christian. He wrote to the kings of Leon and Navarre in terms
of great humility, craving their pardon for all past injuries and
offenses, and entreating them, for the good of Christendom, to live
in peace and amity, and make common cause for the defense of the

Ten days before the time which Heaven had appointed for his death he
sent for the abbot of the chapel and convent of Arlanza, and bending
his aged knees before him, confessed all his sins. This done, as in
former times he had shown great state and ceremony in his worldly
pageants, so now he arranged his last cavalgada to the grave. He
prayed the abbot to return to his monastery and have his sepulchre
prepared for his reception, and that the abbots of St. Sebastian
and Silos and Quirce, with a train of holy friars, might come at
the appointed day for his body; that thus, as he commended his soul
to Heaven through the hands of his confessor, he might, through the
hands of these pious men, resign his body to the earth.

When the abbot had departed, the count desired to be left alone; and
clothing himself in a coarse friar’s garb, he remained in fervent
prayer for the forgiveness of his sins. As he had been a valiant
captain all his life against the enemies of the faith, so was he in
death against the enemies of the soul. He died in the full command of
all his faculties, making no groans nor contortions, but rendering up
his spirit with the calmness of a heroic cavalier.

We are told that when he died voices were heard from heaven in
testimony of his sanctity while the tears and lamentations of all
Spain proved how much he was valued and beloved on earth. His remains
were conveyed, according to his request, to the monastery of St.
Pedro de Arlanza by a procession of holy friars with solemn chant
and dirge. In the church of that convent they still repose; and two
paintings are to be seen in the convent,—one representing the count
valiantly fighting with the Moors, the other conversing with St.
Pelayo and St. Millan, as they appeared to him in vision before the
battle of Hazinas.

The cross which he used as his standard is still treasured up in the
sacristy of the convent. It is of massive silver, two ells in length,
with our Saviour sculptured upon it, and above the head, in Gothic
letters, I. N. R. I. Below is Adam awaking from the grave, with the
words of St. Paul, “Awake, thou who sleepest, and arise from the
tomb, for Christ shall give thee life.”

This holy cross still has the form at the lower end by which the
standard-bearer rested it in the pommel of his saddle.

“Inestimable,” adds Fray Antonio Agapida, “are the relics and remains
of saints and sainted warriors.” In after times, when Fernando the
Third, surnamed the Saint, went to the conquest of Seville, he took
with him a bone of this thrice-blessed and utterly renowned cavalier,
together with his sword and pennon, hoping through their efficacy
to succeed in his enterprise,—nor was he disappointed; but what is
marvelous to hear, but which we have on the authority of the good
Bishop Sandoval, on the day on which King Fernando the Saint entered
Seville in triumph, great blows were heard to resound within the
sepulchre of the count at Arlanza, as if veritably his bones which
remained behind exulted in the victory gained by those which had been
carried to the wars. Thus were marvelously fulfilled the words of
the holy psalm,—“Exaltabant ossa humilitata.”[72]

Here ends the chronicle of the most valorous and renowned Don Fernan
Gonzalez, Count of Castile. _Laus Deo._

  [72] Sandoval, p. 334.








The Parentage of Fernando.—Queen Berenguela.—The Laras.—Don Alvar
conceals the Death of King Henry.—Mission of Queen Berenguela to
Alfonso IX.—She renounces the Crown of Castile in favor of her son

Fernando III., surnamed the Saint, was the son of Alfonso III. King
of Leon, and of Berenguela, a princess of Castile; but there were
some particulars concerning his parentage which it is necessary
clearly to state before entering upon his personal history.

Alfonso III. of Leon, and Alfonso IX. King of Castile, were cousins,
but there were dissensions between them. The King of Leon, to
strengthen himself, married his cousin, the Princess Theresa,
daughter of his uncle, the King of Portugal. By her he had two
daughters. The marriage was annulled by Pope Celestine III. on
account of their consanguinity, and, on their making resistance,
they were excommunicated and the kingdom laid under an interdict.
This produced an unwilling separation in 1195. Alfonso III. did not
long remain single. Fresh dissensions having broken out between him
and his cousin Alfonso IX. of Castile, they were amicably adjusted
by his marrying the Princess Berenguela, daughter of that monarch.
This second marriage, which took place about three years after the
divorce, came likewise under the ban of the Church, and for the same
reason, the near propinquity of the parties. Again the commands
of the Pope were resisted, and again the refractory parties were
excommunicated and the kingdom laid under an interdict.

The unfortunate king of Leon was the more unwilling to give up the
present marriage, as the Queen Berenguela had made him the happy
father of several children, one of whom he hoped might one day
inherit the two crowns of Leon and Castile.

The intercession and entreaties of the bishops of Castile so far
mollified the rigor of the Pope, that a compromise was made; the
legitimacy of the children by the present marriage was not to be
affected by the divorce of the parents, and Fernando, the eldest,
the subject of the present chronicle, was recognized as successor to
his father to the throne of Leon. The divorced Queen Berenguela left
Fernando in Leon, and returned in 1204 to Castile, to the court of
her father, Alfonso III. Here she remained until the death of her
father in 1214, who was succeeded by his son, Enrique, or Henry I.
The latter being only in his eleventh year, his sister, the ex-Queen
Berenguela, was declared regent. She well merited the trust, for
she was a woman of great prudence and wisdom, and a resolute and
magnanimous spirit.

At this time the house of Lara had risen to great power. There were
three brothers of that turbulent and haughty race, Don Alvar Nuñez,
Don Fernan Nuñez, and Don Gonzalo Nuñez. The Laras had caused great
trouble in the kingdom during the minority of Prince Henry’s father,
by arrogating to themselves the regency; and they now attempted, in
like manner, to get the guardianship of the son, declaring it an
office too important and difficult to be intrusted to a woman. Having
a powerful and unprincipled party among the nobles, and using great
bribery among persons in whom Berenguela confided, they carried their
point; and the virtuous Berenguela, to prevent civil commotions,
resigned the regency into the hands of Don Alvar Nuñez de Lara, the
head of that ambitious house. First, however, she made him kneel
and swear that he would conduct himself toward the youthful king,
Enrique, as a thorough friend and a loyal vassal, guarding his person
from all harm; that he would respect the property of individuals,
and undertake nothing of importance without the counsel and consent
of Queen Berenguela. Furthermore, that he would guard and respect
the hereditary possessions of Queen Berenguela, left to her by her
father, and would always serve her as his sovereign, the daughter of
his deceased king. All this Don Alvar Nuñez solemnly swore upon the
sacred evangelists and the holy cross.

No sooner, however, had he got the young king in his power, than
he showed the ambition, rapacity, and arrogance of his nature. He
prevailed upon the young king to make him a count; he induced him to
hold cortes without the presence of Queen Berenguela; issuing edicts
in the king’s name, he banished refractory nobles, giving their
offices and lands to his brothers; he levied exactions on rich and
poor, and, what is still more flagrant, he extended these exactions
to the Church. In vain did Queen Berenguela remonstrate; in vain did
the Dean of Toledo thunder forth an excommunication; he scoffed at
them both, for in the king’s name he persuaded himself he had a tower
of strength. He even sent a letter to Queen Berenguela in the name of
the young king, demanding of her the castles, towns, and ports which
had been left to her by her father. The queen was deeply grieved at
this letter, and sent a reply to the king that, when she saw him
face to face, she would do with those possessions whatever he should
command, as her brother and sovereign.

On receiving this message, the young king was shocked and distressed
that such a demand should have been made in his name; but he was
young and inexperienced, and could not openly contend with a man of
Don Alvar’s overbearing character. He wrote secretly to the queen,
however, assuring her that the demand had been made without his
knowledge, and saying how gladly he would come to her if he could,
and be relieved from the thraldom of Don Alvar.

In this way the unfortunate prince was made an instrument in the
hands of this haughty and arrogant nobleman of inflicting all kinds
of wrongs and injuries upon his subjects. Don Alvar constantly kept
him with him, carrying him from place to place of his dominions,
wherever his presence was necessary to effect some new measure of
tyranny. He even endeavored to negotiate a marriage between the young
king and some neighboring princess, in order to retain an influence
over him, but in this he was unsuccessful.

For three years had he maintained this iniquitous sway, until one
day in 1217, when the young king was with him at Palencia, and was
playing with some youthful companions in the court-yard of the
episcopal palace, a tile, either falling from the roof of a tower, or
sportively thrown by one of his companions, struck him in the head,
and inflicted a wound of which he presently died.

This was a fatal blow to the power of Don Alvar. To secure himself
from any sudden revulsion in the popular mind, he determined to
conceal the death of the king as long as possible, and gave out that
he had retired to the fortress of Tariego, whither he had the body
conveyed, as if still living. He continued to issue dispatches from
time to time in the name of the king, and made various excuses for
his non-appearance in public.

Queen Berenguela soon learned the truth. According to the laws of
Castile she was heiress to the crown, but she resolved to transfer it
to her son Fernando, who, being likewise acknowledged successor to
the crown of Leon, would unite the two kingdoms under his rule. To
effect her purpose she availed herself of the cunning of her enemy,
kept secret her knowledge of the death of her brother, and sent
two of her confidential cavaliers, Don Lope Diaz de Haro, Señor of
Biscay, and Don Gonzalo Ruyz Giron, and Don Alonzo Tellez de Meneses,
to her late husband, Alfonso IX., King of Leon, who, with her son
Fernando, was then at Toro, entreating him to send the latter to her
to protect her from the tyranny of Don Alvar. The prudent mother,
however, forbore to let King Alfonso know of her brother’s death,
lest it might awaken in him ambitious thoughts about the Castilian

This mission being sent, she departed with the cavaliers of her party
for Palencia. The death of the King Enrique being noised about, she
was honored as Queen of Castile, and Don Tello, the bishop, came
forth in procession to receive her. The next day she proceeded to the
castle of Duenas, and, on its making some show of resistance, took it
by force.

The cavaliers who were with the queen endeavored to effect a
reconciliation between her and Don Alvar, seeing that the latter
had powerful connections, and through his partisans and retainers
held possession of the principal towns and fortresses; that haughty
nobleman, however, would listen to no proposals unless the Prince
Fernando was given into his guardianship, as had been the Prince

In the mean time the request of Queen Berenguela had been granted by
her late husband, the King of Leon, and her son Fernando hastened to
meet her. The meeting took place at the castle of Otiella, and happy
was the anxious mother once more to embrace her son. At her command
the cavaliers in her train elevated him on the trunk of an elm-tree
for a throne, and hailed him king with great acclamations.

They now proceeded to Valladolid, which at that time was a great and
wealthy town. Here the nobility and chivalry of Estremadura and other
parts hastened to pay homage to the queen. A stage was erected in the
market-place, where the assembled states acknowledged her for queen
and swore fealty to her. She immediately, in presence of her nobles,
prelates, and people, renounced the crown in favor of her son. The
air rang with the shouts of “Long live Fernando, King of Castile!”
The bishops and clergy then conducted the king in state to the
church. This was on the 31st of August, 1217, and about three months
from the death of King Enrique.

Fernando was at this time about eighteen years of age, an
accomplished cavalier, having been instructed in everything befitting
a prince and a warrior.




King Alfonso of Leon ravages Castile.—Captivity of Don Alvar.—Death
of the Laras.

King Alfonso of Leon was exceedingly exasperated at the furtive
manner in which his son Fernando had left him, without informing
him of King Henry’s death. He considered, and perhaps with reason,
the transfer of the crown of Castile by Berenguela to her son, as a
manœuvre to evade any rights or claims which he, King Alfonso, might
have over her, notwithstanding their divorce; and he believed that
both mother and son had conspired to deceive and outwit him; and,
what was especially provoking, they had succeeded. It was natural
for King Alfonso to have become by this time exceedingly irritable
and sensitive; he had been repeatedly thwarted in his dearest
concerns; excommunicated out of two wives by the Pope, and now, as he
conceived, cajoled out of a kingdom.

In his wrath he flew to arms,—a prompt and customary recourse of
kings in those days when they had no will to consult but their own;
and notwithstanding the earnest expostulations and entreaties of
holy men, he entered Castile with an army, ravaging the legitimate
inheritance of his son, as if it had been the territory of an enemy.
He was seconded in his outrages by Count Alvar Nuñez de Lara and his
two bellicose brothers, who hoped still to retain power by rallying
under his standard.

There were at this time full two thousand cavaliers with the youthful
king, resolute men, well armed and well appointed, and they urged him
to lead them against the King of Leon. Queen Berenguela, however,
interposed and declared her son should never be guilty of the impiety
of taking up arms against his father. By her advice King Fernando
sent an embassy to his father, expostulating with him, and telling
him that he ought to be thankful to God that Castile was in the hands
of a son disposed at all times to honor and defend him, instead of a
stranger who might prove a dangerous foe.

King Alfonso, however, was not so to be appeased. By the ambassadors
he sent proposals to Queen Berenguela that they reënter into wedlock,
for which he would procure a dispensation from the Pope; they would
then be jointly sovereigns of both Castile and Leon, and the Prince
Fernando, their son, should inherit both crowns. But the virtuous
Berenguela recoiled from this proposal of a second nuptials. “God
forbid,” replied she, “that I should return to a sinful marriage; and
as to the crown of Castile, it now belongs to my son, to whom I have
given it with the sanction of God and the good men of this realm.”

King Alfonso was more enraged than ever by this reply, and, being
incited and aided by Count Alvar and his faction, he resumed his
ravages, laying waste the country and burning the villages. He would
have attacked Duenas, but found that place strongly garrisoned by
Diego Lopez de Haro and Ruy Diaz de los Cameros; he next marched upon
Burgos, but that place was equally well garrisoned by Lope Diez de
Faro and other stout Castilian cavaliers; so perceiving his son to
be more firmly seated upon the throne than he had imagined, and that
all his own menaces and ravages were unavailing, he returned deeply
chagrined to his kingdom.

King Fernando, in obedience to the dictates of his mother as well
as of his own heart, abstained from any acts of retaliation on his
father; but he turned his arms against Muñon and Lerma and Lara,
and other places which either belonged to, or held out for, Count
Alvar, and, having subdued them, proceeded to Burgos, the capital
of his kingdom, where he was received by the bishop and clergy with
great solemnity, and whither the nobles and chivalry from all parts
of Castile hastened to rally round his throne. The turbulent Count
Alvar Nuñez de Lara and his brothers retaining other fortresses too
strong to be easily taken, refused all allegiance, and made ravaging
excursions over the country. The prudent and provident Berenguela,
therefore, while at Burgos, seeing that the troubles and contentions
of the kingdom would cause great expense and prevent much revenue,
gathered together all her jewels of gold and silver and precious
stones, and all her plate and rich silks, and other precious things,
and caused them to be sold, and gave the money to her son to defray
the cost of these civil wars.

King Fernando and his mother departed shortly afterwards for
Palencia; on their way they had to pass by Herrera, which at that
time was the stronghold of Count Alvar. When the king came in sight,
Count Fernan Nuñez, with his battalions, was on the banks of the
river, but drew within the walls. As the king had to pass close by
with his retinue, he ordered his troops to be put in good order and
gave it in charge to Alonzo Tellez and Suer Tellez and Alvar Ruyz to
protect the flanks.

As the royal troops drew near, Count Alvar, leaving his people in
the town, sallied forth with a few cavaliers to regard the army as
it passed. Affecting great contempt for the youthful king and his
cavaliers, he stood drawn up on a rising ground with his attendants,
looking down upon the troops with scornful aspect, and rejecting all
advice to retire into the town.

As the king and his immediate escort came nigh, their attention was
attracted to this little body of proud warriors drawn up upon a bank
and regarding them so loftily; and Alonzo Tellez and Suer Tellez
looking more closely, recognized Don Alvar, and putting spurs to
their horses, dashed up the bank, followed by several cavaliers. Don
Alvar repented of his vain confidence too late, and seeing great
numbers urging toward him, turned his reins and retreated toward
the town. Still his stomach was too high for absolute flight, and
the others, who spurred after him at full speed, overtook him.
Throwing himself from his horse, he covered himself with his shield
and prepared for defense. Alonzo Tellez, however, called to his men
not to kill the count, but to take him prisoner. He was accordingly
captured, with several of his followers, and borne off to the king
and queen. The count had everything to apprehend from their vengeance
for his misdeeds. They used no personal harshness, however, but
demanded from him that he should surrender all the castles and strong
places held by the retainers and partisans of his brothers and
himself, that he should furnish one hundred horsemen to aid in their
recovery, and should remain a prisoner until those places were all in
the possession of the crown.

Captivity broke the haughty spirit of Don Alvar. He agreed to those
conditions, and until they should be fulfilled was consigned to
the charge of Gonsalvo Ruyz Giron, and confined in the castle of
Valladolid. The places were delivered up in the course of a few
months, and thus King Fernando became strongly possessed of his

Stripped of power, state, and possessions, Count Alvar and his
brothers, after an ineffectual attempt to rouse the King of Leon to
another campaign against his son, became savage and desperate, and
made predatory excursions, pillaging the country, until Count Alvar
fell mortally ill of hydropsy. Struck with remorse and melancholy, he
repaired to Toro and entered the chivalrous order of Santiago, that
he might gain the indulgences granted by the Pope to those who die in
that order, and hoping, says an ancient chronicler, to oblige God,
as it were, by that religious ceremony, to pardon his sins.[73] His
illness endured seven months, and he was reduced to such poverty that
at his death there was not money enough left by him to convey his
body to Ucles, where he had requested to be buried, nor to pay for
tapers for his funeral. When Queen Berenguela heard this, she ordered
that the funeral should be honorably performed at her own expense,
and sent a cloth of gold to cover the bier.[74]

  [73] _Cronica Gotica_, por Don Alonzo Nuñez de Castro, p. 17.

  [74] _Cronica General de España_, pt. 3, p. 370.

The brother of Count Alvar, Don Fernando, abandoned his country
in despair and went to Marocco, where he was well received by the
miramamolin, and had lands and revenues assigned to him. He became a
great favorite among the Moors, to whom he used to recount his deeds
in the civil wars of Castile. At length he fell dangerously ill,
and caused himself to be taken to a suburb inhabited by Christians.
There happened to be there at that time one Don Gonsalvo, a knight
of the order of the Hospital of St. John de Acre, and who had been
in the service of Pope Innocent III. Don Fernando, finding his end
approaching, entreated of the knight his religious habit, that he
might die in it. His request was granted, and thus Count Fernando
died in the habit of a Knight Hospitaliere of St. John de Acre, in
Elbora, a suburb of Marocco. His body was afterwards brought to
Spain, and interred in a town on the banks of the Pisuerga, in which
repose likewise the remains of his wife and children.

The Count Gonsalvo Nuñez de Lara, the third of these brothers, also
took refuge among the Moors. He was seized with violent disease in
the city of Baeza, where he died. His body was conveyed to Campos a
Zalmos, which appertained to the Friars of the Temple, where the holy
fraternity gave it the rites of sepulture with all due honor. Such
was the end of these three brothers of the once proud and powerful
house of Lara, whose disloyal deeds had harassed their country and
brought ruin upon themselves.




Marriage of King Fernando.—Campaign against the Moors.—Aben Mohamed,
King of Baeza, declares himself the Vassal of King Fernando.—They
march to Jaen.—Burning of the Tower.—Fernando commences the Building
of the Cathedral at Toledo.

King Fernando, aided by the sage counsels of his mother, reigned for
some time in peace and quietness, administering his affairs with
equity and justice. The good Queen Berenguela now began to cast about
her eyes in search of a suitable alliance for her son, and had many
consultations with the Bishop Maurice of Burgos, and other ghostly
counselors, thereupon. They at length agreed upon the Princess
Beatrix, daughter of the late Philip, Emperor of Germany, and the
Bishop Maurice and Padre Fray Pedro de Arlanza were sent as envoys to
the Emperor Frederick II., cousin of the princess, to negotiate the
terms. An arrangement was happily effected, and the princess set out
for Spain. In passing through France she was courteously entertained
at Paris by King Philip, who made her rich presents. On the borders
of Castile she was met at Vittoria by the Queen Berenguela, with a
great train of prelates, monks, and masters of the religious orders,
and of abbesses and nuns, together with a glorious train of chivalry.
In this state she was conducted to Burgos, where the king and all his
court came forth to receive her, and their nuptials were celebrated
with great pomp and rejoicing.

King Fernando lived happily with his fair Queen Beatrix, and his
kingdom remained in peace; but by degrees he became impatient of
quiet, and anxious to make war upon the Moors. Perhaps he felt called
upon to make some signal essay in arms at present, having, the day
before his nuptials, been armed a knight in the monastery of Las
Huelgas, and in those iron days knighthood was not a matter of mere
parade and ceremony, but called for acts of valor and proofs of stern

The discreet Berenguela endeavored to dissuade her son from taking
the field, considering him not of sufficient age. In all things else
he was ever obedient to her counsels, and even to her inclinations,
but it was in vain that she endeavored to persuade him from making
war upon the infidels. “God,” would he say, “had put into his hands
not merely a sceptre to govern, but a sword to avenge his country.”

It was fortunate for the good cause, moreover, add the Spanish
chroniclers, that while the queen-mother was endeavoring to throw
a damper on the kindling fire of her son, a worthy prelate was at
hand to stir it up into a blaze. This was the illustrious historian
Rodrigo, Archbishop of Toledo, who now preached a crusade against the
Moors, promising like indulgences with those granted to the warriors
for the Holy Sepulchre. The consequence was a great assemblage of
troops from all parts at Toledo.

King Fernando was prevented for a time from taking the field in
person, but sent in advance Don Lope Diaz de Haro and Ruy Gonsalvo de
Giron and Alonzo Tellez de Meneses, with five hundred cavaliers well
armed and mounted. The very sight of them effected a conquest over
Aben Mohamed, the Moorish king of Baeza, insomuch that he sent an
embassy to King Fernando, declaring himself his vassal.

When King Fernando afterwards took the field, he was joined by this
Moorish ally at the Navas or plains of Tolosa; who was in company
with him when the king marched to Jaen, to the foot of a tower, and
set fire to it, whereupon those Moors who remained in the tower were
burned to death, and those who leaped from the walls were received on
the points of lances.

Notwithstanding the burnt-offering of this tower, Heaven did not
smile upon the attempt of King Fernando to reduce the city of Jaen.
He was obliged to abandon the siege, but consoled himself by laying
waste the country. He was more successful elsewhere. He carried the
strong town of Priego by assault, and gave the garrison their lives
on condition of yielding up all their property, and paying, moreover,
eighty thousand maravedis of silver. For the payment of this sum they
were obliged to give as hostages fifty-five damsels of great beauty,
and fifty cavaliers of rank, besides nine hundred of the common
people. The king divided his hostages among his bravest cavaliers
and the religious orders; but his vassal, the Moorish king of Baeza,
obtained the charge of the Moorish damsels.

The king then attacked Loxa, and his men scaled the walls and burnt
the gates, and made themselves masters of the place. He then led his
army into the Vega of Granada, the inhabitants of which submitted to
become his vassals, and gave up all the Christian captives in that
city, amounting to thirteen hundred.

Aben Mohamed, king of Baeza, then delivered to King Fernando the
towers of Martos and Andujar, and the king gave them to Don Alvar
Perez de Castro, and placed with him Don Gonzalo Ybañez, Master of
Calatrava, and Tello Alonzo Meneses, son of Don Alonzo Tellez, and
other stout cavaliers, fitted to maintain frontier posts. These
arrangements being made, and having ransacked every mountain and
valley, and taken many other places not herein specified, King
Fernando returned in triumph to Toledo, where he was joyfully
received by his mother Berenguela and his wife Beatrix.

Clerical historians do not fail to record with infinite satisfaction
a signal instance of the devout and zealous spirit which King
Fernando had derived from his constant communion with the reverend
fathers of the Church. As the king was one day walking with his
ghostly adviser the archbishop, in the principal church of Toledo,
which was built in the Morisco fashion, having been a mosque of the
infidels, it occurred, or more probably was suggested to him, that,
since God had aided him to increase his kingdom, and had given him
such victories over the enemies of his holy faith, it became him to
rebuild his holy temple, which was ancient and falling to decay, and
to adorn it richly with the spoils taken from the Moors. The thought
was promptly carried into effect. The king and the archbishop laid
the first stone with great solemnity, and in the fullness of time
accomplished that mighty cathedral of Toledo, which remains the
wonder and admiration of after ages.




Assassination of Aben Mohamed.—His Head carried as a Present to
Abullale, the Moorish King of Seville.—Advance of the Christians into
Andalusia.—Abullale purchases a Truce.

The worthy Fray Antonio Agapida records various other victories and
achievements of King Fernando in a subsequent campaign against the
Moors of Andalusia; in the course of which his camp was abundantly
supplied with grain by his vassal Aben Mohamed, the Moorish king
of Baeza. The assistance rendered by that Moslem monarch to the
Christian forces in their battles against those of his own race and
his own faith, did not meet with the reward it merited. “Doubtless,”
says Antonio Agapida, “because he halted half way in the right path,
and did not turn thorough renegado.” It appears that his friendship
for the Christians gave great disgust to his subjects, and some of
them rose upon him, while he was sojourning in the city of Cordova,
and sought to destroy him. Aben Mohamed fled by a gate leading to the
gardens, to take shelter in the tower of Almodovar; but the assassins
overtook him, and slew him on a hill near the tower. They then cut
off his head and carried it as a present to Abullale, the Moorish
king of Seville, expecting to be munificently rewarded; but that
monarch gave command that their heads should be struck off and their
bodies thrown to the dogs, as traitors to their liege lords.[75]

  [75] _Cron. Gen. de España_, pt. 4, fol. 373.

King Fernando was grieved when he heard of the assassination of his
vassal, and feared the death of Aben Mohamed might lead to a rising
of the Moors. He sent notice to Andujar, to Don Alvar Perez de Castro
and Alonzo Tellez de Meneses, to be on their guard; but the Moors,
fearing punishment for some rebellious movements, abandoned the town,
and it fell into the hands of the king. The Moors of Martos did the
like. The Alcazar of Baeza yielded also to the king, who placed in it
Don Lope Diaz de Haro with five hundred men.

Abullale, the Moorish sovereign of Seville, was alarmed at seeing
the advances which the Christians were making in Andalusia; and
attempted to wrest from their hands these newly acquired places. He
marched upon Martos, which was not strongly walled. The Countess Doña
Yrenia, wife to Don Alvar Perez de Castro, was in this place, and her
husband was absent. Don Tello Alonzo, with a Spanish force, hastened
to her assistance. Finding the town closely invested, he formed his
men into a troop, and endeavored to cut his way through the enemy.
A rude conflict ensued, the cavaliers fought their way forward, and
Christian and Moor arrived pell-mell at the gate of the town. Here
the press was excessive. Fernan Gomez de Pudiello, a stout cavalier,
who bore the pennon of Don Tello Alonzo, was slain, and the same fate
would have befallen Don Tello himself, but that a company of esquires
sallied from the town to his rescue.

King Abullale now encircled the town, and got possession of the
Peña, or rock, which commands it, killing two hundred Christians who
defended it.

Provisions began to fail the besieged, and they were reduced to
slay their horses for food, and even to eat the hides. Don Gonsalvo
Ybañez, master of Calatrava, who was in Baeza, hearing of the
extremity of the place, came suddenly with seventy men and effected
an entrance. The augmentation of the garrison only served to increase
the famine, without being sufficient in force to raise the siege. At
length word was brought to Don Alvar Perez de Castro, who was with
the king at Guadalaxara, of the imminent danger to which his wife was
exposed. He instantly set off for her relief, accompanied by several
cavaliers of note, and a strong force. They succeeded in getting into
Martos, recovered the Peña, or rock, and made such vigorous defense
that Abullale abandoned the siege in despair. In the following year
King Fernando led his host to take revenge upon this Moorish king of
Seville; but the latter purchased a truce for one year with three
hundred maravedis of silver.[76]

  [76] _Cron. Gen. de España_, pt. 4, c. ii.




Aben Hud.—Abullale purchases another Year’s Truce.—Fernando hears of
the Death of his Father, the King of Leon, while pressing the Siege
of Jaen.—He becomes Sovereign of the Two Kingdoms of Leon and Castile.

About this time a valiant sheik, named Aben Abdallah Mohammed ben
Hud, but commonly called Aben Hud, was effecting a great revolution
in Moorish affairs. He was of the lineage of Aben Alfange, and
bitterly opposed to the sect of Almohades, who for a long time had
exercised a tyrannical sway. Stirring up the Moors of Murcia to rise
upon their oppressors, he put himself at their head, massacred all
the Almohades that fell into his hands, and made himself sheik or
king of that region. He purified the mosques with water, after the
manner in which Christians purify their churches, as though they had
been defiled by the Almohades. Aben Hud acquired a name among those
of his religion for justice and good faith as well as valor; and
after some opposition, gained sway over all Andalusia. This brought
him in collision with King Fernando...

  ☞ (Something is wanting here.)[77]

  [77] The hiatus, here noted by the author, has evidently arisen
  from the loss of a leaf of his manuscript. The printed line which
  precedes the parenthesis concludes page 32 of the manuscript;
  the line which follows it begins page 34. The intermediate page
  is wanting. I presume the author did not become conscious of
  his loss until he had resorted to his manuscript for revision,
  and that he could not depend upon his memory to supply what was
  wanting without a fresh resort to authorities not at hand. Hence
  a postponement and ultimate omission. The missing leaf would
  scarce have filled half a page of print, and, it would seem from
  the context, must have related the invasion of Andalusia by
  Fernando and the ravages committed by his armies.—ED.

laying waste fields of grain. The Moorish sovereign of Seville
purchased another year’s truce of him for three hundred thousand
maravedis of silver. Aben Hud, on the other hand, collected a great
force and marched to oppose him, but did not dare to give him battle.
He went, therefore, upon Merida, and fought with King Alfonso of
Leon, father of King Fernando, where, however, he met with complete

On the following year King Fernando repeated his invasion of
Andalusia, and was pressing the siege of the city of Jaen, which
he assailed by means of engines discharging stones, when a courier
arrived in all speed from his mother, informing him that his father
Alfonso was dead, and urging him to proceed instantly to Leon, to
enforce his pretensions to the crown. King Fernando accordingly
raised the siege of Jaen, sending his engines to Martos, and repaired
to Castile, to consult with his mother, who was his counselor on all

It appeared that in his last will King Alfonso had named his two
daughters joint heirs to the crown. Some of the Leonese and Gallegos
were disposed to place the Prince Alonzo, brother to King Fernando,
on the throne; but he had listened to the commands of his mother,
and had resisted all suggestions of the kind; the larger part of
the kingdom, including the most important cities, had declared for

Accompanied by his mother, King Fernando proceeded instantly into the
kingdom of Leon with a powerful force. Wherever they went the cities
threw open their gates to them. The princesses Doña Sancha and Doña
Dulce, with their mother Theresa, would have assembled a force to
oppose them, but the prelates were all in favor of King Fernando. On
his approach to Leon, the bishops and clergy and all the principal
inhabitants came forth to receive him, and conducted him to the
cathedral, where he received their homage, and was proclaimed king,
with the _Te Deums_ of the choir and the shouts of the people.

Doña Theresa, who, with her daughters, was in Galicia, finding the
kingdom thus disposed of, sent to demand provision for herself
and the two princesses, who in fact were step-sisters of King
Fernando. Queen Berenguela, though she had some reason not to feel
kindly disposed towards Doña Theresa, who she might think had been
exercising a secret influence over her late husband, yet suppressed
all such feelings, and undertook to repair in person to Galicia, and
negotiate this singular family question. She had an interview with
Queen Theresa at Valencia de Merlio in Galicia, and arranged a noble
dower for her, and an annual revenue to each of her daughters of
thirty thousand maravedis of gold. The king then had a meeting with
his sisters at Benevente, where they resigned all pretensions to the
throne. All the fortified places which held for them were given up,
and thus Fernando became undisputed sovereign of the two kingdoms of
Castile and Leon.




Expedition of the Prince Alonzo against the Moors.—Encamps on the
Banks of the Guadalete.—Aben Hud marches out from Xerez and gives
Battle.—Prowess of Garcia Perez de Vargas.—Flight and Pursuit of the
Moors.—Miracle of the Blessed Santiago.

King Fernando III. having, through the sage counsel and judicious
management of his mother, made this amicable arrangement with his
step-sisters, by which he gained possession of their inheritance,
now found his territories to extend from the Bay of Biscay to the
vicinity of the Guadalquivir, and from the borders of Portugal to
those of Aragon and Valencia; and in addition to his titles of King
of Castile and Leon, called himself King of Spain by seigniorial
right. Being at peace with all his Christian neighbors, he now
prepared to carry on with more zeal and vigor than ever his holy wars
against the infidels. While making a progress, however, through his
dominions, administering justice, he sent his brother, the Prince
Alonzo, to make an expedition into the country of the Moors, and to
attack the newly-risen power of Aben Hud.

As the Prince Alonzo was young and of little experience, the king
sent Don Alvar Perez de Castro, the Castilian, with him as captain,
he being stout of heart, strong of hand, and skilled in war. The
prince and his captain went from Salamanca to Toledo, where they
recruited their force with a troop of cavalry. Thence they proceeded
to Andujar, where they sent out corredores, or light foraging troops,
who laid waste the country, plundering and destroying and bringing
off great booty. Thence they directed their ravaging course toward
Cordova, assaulted and carried Palma, and put all its inhabitants to
the sword. Following the fertile valley of the Guadalquivir, they
scoured the vicinity of Seville, and continued onward for Xerez,
sweeping off cattle and sheep from the pastures of Andalusia; driving
on long cavalgadas of horses and mules laden with spoil; until the
earth shook with the tramping of their feet, and their course was
marked by clouds of dust and the smoke of burning villages.

In this desolating foray they were joined by two hundred horse and
three hundred foot, Moorish allies, or rather vassals, being led by
the son of Aben Mohamed, the king of Baeza.

Arrived within sight of Xerez, they pitched their tents on the banks
of the Guadalete—that fatal river, sadly renowned in the annals of
Spain for the overthrow of Roderick and the perdition of the kingdom.

Here a good watch was set over the captured flocks and herds which
covered the adjacent meadows, while the soldiers, fatigued with
ravage, gave themselves up to repose on the banks of the river, or
indulged in feasting and revelry, or gambled with each other for
their booty.

In the mean time Aben Hud, hearing of this inroad, summoned all his
chivalry of the seaboard of Andalusia to meet him in Xerez. They
hastened to obey his call; every leader spurred for Xerez with his
band of vassals. Thither came also the king of the Azules, with seven
hundred horsemen, Moors of Africa, light, vigorous and active; and
the city was full of troops.

The camp of Don Alonzo had a formidable appearance at a distance,
from the flocks and herds which surrounded it, the vast number of
sumpter mules, and the numerous captives; but when Aben Hud came to
reconnoitre it, he found that its aggregate force did not exceed
three thousand five hundred men—a mere handful in comparison to his
army, and those encumbered with cattle and booty. He anticipated,
therefore, an easy victory. He now sallied forth from the city, and
took his position in the olive-fields between the Christians and the
city; while the African horsemen were stationed on each wing, with
instructions to hem in the Christians on either side, for he was only
apprehensive of their escaping. It is even said that he ordered great
quantities of cords to be brought from the city, and osier bands to
be made by the soldiery, wherewith to bind the multitude of prisoners
about to fall into their hands. His whole force he divided into seven
battalions, each containing from fifteen hundred to two thousand
cavalry. With these he prepared to give battle.

When the Christians thus saw an overwhelming force in front, cavalry
hovering on either flank, and the deep waters of the Guadalete behind
them, they felt the perils of their situation.

In this emergency Alvar Perez de Castro showed himself the able
captain that he had been represented. Though apparently deferring
to the prince in council, he virtually took the command, riding
among the troops lightly armed, with truncheon in hand, encouraging
every one by word and look and fearless demeanor. To give the most
formidable appearance to their little host, he ordered that as many
as possible of the foot-soldiers should mount upon the mules and
beasts of burden, and form a troop to be kept in reserve. Before
the battle he conferred the honor of knighthood on Garcia Perez de
Vargas, a cavalier destined to gain renown for hardy deeds of arms.

When the troops were all ready for the field, the prince exhorted
them as good Christians to confess their sins and obtain absolution.
There was a goodly number of priests and friars with the army, as
there generally was with all the plundering expeditions of this
holy war, but there were not enough to confess all the army; those,
therefore, who could not have a priest or monk for the purpose,
confessed to each other.

Among the cavaliers were two noted for their valor; but who, though
brothers-in-law, lived in mortal feud. One was Diego Perez, vassal
to Alvar Perez and brother to him who had just been armed knight;
the other was Pero Miguel, both natives of Toledo. Diego Perez was
the one who had given cause of offense. He now approached his
adversary and asked his pardon for that day only; that, in a time
of such mortal peril there might not be enmity and malice in their
hearts. The priests added their exhortations to this request, but
Pero Miguel sternly refused to pardon. When this was told to the
prince and Don Alvar, they likewise entreated Don Miguel to pardon
his brother-in-law. “I will,” replied he, “if he will come to my arms
and embrace me as a brother.” But Diego Perez declined the fraternal
embrace, for he saw danger in the eye of Pero Miguel, and he knew his
savage strength and savage nature, and suspected that he meant to
strangle him. So Pero Miguel went into battle without pardoning his
enemy who had implored forgiveness.

At this time, say the old chroniclers, the shouts and yells of the
Moorish army, the sound of their cymbals, kettle-drums, and other
instruments of warlike music, were so great that heaven and earth
seemed commingled and confounded. In regarding the battle about to
overwhelm him, Alvar Perez saw that the only chance was to form the
whole army into one mass, and by a headlong assault to break the
centre of the enemy. In this emergency he sent word to the prince,
who was in the rear with the reserve and had five hundred captives
in charge, to strike off the heads of the captives and join him with
the whole reserve. This bloody order was obeyed. The prince came
to the front, all formed together in one dense column, and then,
with the war-cry “Santiago! Santiago! Castile! Castile!” charged
upon the centre of the enemy. The Moors’ line was broken by the
shock, squadron after squadron was thrown into confusion, Moors and
Christians were intermingled, until the field became one scene of
desperate, chance-medley fighting. Every Christian cavalier fought as
if the salvation of the field depended upon his single arm. Garcia
Perez de Vargas, who had been knighted just before the battle, proved
himself worthy of the honor. He had three horses killed under him,
and engaged in a desperate combat with the King of the Azules, whom
at length he struck dead from his horse. This king had crossed from
Africa on a devout expedition in the cause of the Prophet Mahomet.
“Verily,” says Antonio Agapida, “he had his reward.”

Diego Perez was not behind his brother in prowess; and Heaven favored
him in that deadly fight, notwithstanding that he had not been
pardoned by his enemy. In the heat of the battle he had broken both
sword and lance; whereupon, tearing off a great knotted limb from an
olive-tree, he laid about him with such vigor and manhood that he who
got one blow in the head from that war-club never needed another. Don
Alvar Perez, who witnessed his feats, was seized with delight. At
each fresh blow that cracked a Moslem skull he would cry out, “Assi!
Assi! Diego, Machacha! Machacha!” (So! So! Diego, smash them! smash
them!) and from that day forward that strong-handed cavalier went by
the name of Diego Machacha, or Diego the Smasher, and it remained
the surname of several of his lineage.

At length the Moors gave way and fled for the gates of Xerez; being
hotly pursued they stumbled over the bodies of the slain, and thus
many were taken prisoners. At the gates the press was so great that
they killed each other in striving to enter; and the Christian sword
made slaughter under the walls.

The Christians gathered spoils of the field, after this victory,
until they were fatigued with collecting them, and the precious
articles found in the Moorish tents were beyond calculation. Their
camp-fires were supplied with the shafts of broken lances, and they
found ample use for the cords and osier bands which the Moors had
provided to bind their expected captives.

It was a theme of much marvel and solemn meditation that of all
the distinguished cavaliers who entered into this battle, not one
was lost, excepting the same Pero Miguel who refused to pardon his
adversary. What became of him no one could tell. The last that was
seen of him he was in the midst of the enemy, cutting down and
overturning, for he was a valiant warrior and of prodigious strength.
When the battle and pursuit were at an end, and the troops were
recalled by sound of trumpet, he did not appear. His tent remained
empty. The field of battle was searched, but he was nowhere to be
found. Some supposed that, in his fierce eagerness to make havoc
among the Moors, he had entered the gates of the city and there been
slain; but his fate remained a mere matter of conjecture, and the
whole was considered an awful warning that no Christian should go
into battle without pardoning those who asked forgiveness.

“On this day,” says the worthy Agapida, “it pleased Heaven to work
one of its miracles in favor of the Christian host; for the blessed
Santiago appeared in the air on a white horse, with a white banner in
one hand and a sword in the other, accompanied by a band of cavaliers
in white. This miracle,” he adds, “was beheld by many men of verity
and worth,” probably the monks and priests who accompanied the army;
“as well as by numbers of the Moors, who declared that the greatest
slaughter was effected by those sainted warriors.”

It may be as well to add that Fray Antonio Agapida is supported in
this marvelous fact by Rodrigo, Archbishop of Toledo, one of the most
learned and pious men of the age, who lived at the time and records
it in his chronicle. It is a matter, therefore, placed beyond the
doubts of the profane.

NOTE BY THE EDITOR.—A memorandum at the foot of this page of the
author’s manuscript, reminds him to “notice death of Queen Beatrix
about this time,” but the text continues silent on the subject.
According to Mariana, she died in the city of Toro in 1235, before
the siege of Cordova. Another authority gives the 5th of November,
1236, as the date of the decease, which would be some months after
the downfall of that renowned city. Her body was interred in the
nunnery of Las Huelgas at Burgos, and many years afterwards removed
to Seville, where reposed the remains of her husband.




A bold Attempt upon Cordova, the Seat of Moorish Power.

About this time certain Christian cavaliers of the frontiers received
information from Moorish captives that the noble city of Cordova was
negligently guarded, so that the suburbs might easily be surprised.
They immediately concerted a bold attempt, and sent to Pedro and
Alvar Perez, who were at Martos, entreating them to aid them with
their vassals. Having collected a sufficient force, and prepared
scaling ladders, they approached the city on a dark night in January,
amid showers of rain and howling blasts, which prevented their
footsteps being heard. Arrived at the foot of the ramparts, they
listened, but could hear no sentinel. The guards had shrunk into the
watch-towers for shelter from the pelting storm, and the garrison was
in profound sleep, for it was the midwatch of the night.

Some, disheartened by the difficulties of the place, were for
abandoning the attempt, but Domingo Muñoz, their adalid, or guide,
encouraged them. Silently fastening ladders together, so as to be of
sufficient length, they placed them against one of the towers. The
first who mounted were Alvar Colodro and Benito de Banos, who were
dressed as Moors and spoke the Arabic language. The tower which they
scaled is to this day called the tower of Alvar Colodro. Entering
it suddenly but silently, they found four Moors asleep, whom they
seized and threw over the battlements, and the Christians below
immediately dispatched them. By this time a number more of Christians
had mounted the ladder, and sallying forth, sword in hand, upon
the wall, they gained possession of several towers and of the gate
of Martos. Throwing open the gate, Pero Ruyz Tabur galloped in at
the head of a squadron of horse, and by the dawn of day the whole
suburbs of Cordova, called the Axarquia, were in their possession;
the inhabitants having hastily gathered such of their most valuable
effects as they could carry with them, and taken refuge in the city.

The cavaliers now barricaded every street of the suburbs excepting
the principal one, which was broad and straight; the Moors, however,
made frequent sallies upon them, or showered down darts and arrows
and stones from the walls and towers of the city. The cavaliers soon
found that they had got into warm quarters, which it would cost them
blood and toil to maintain. They sent off messengers, therefore, to
Don Alvar Perez, then at Martos, and to King Fernando, at Benevente,
craving instant aid. The messenger to the king travelled day and
night, and found the king at table; when, kneeling down, he presented
the letter with which he was charged.

No sooner had the king read the letter than he called for horse and
weapon. All Benevente instantly resounded with the clang of arms and
tramp of steed; couriers galloped off in every direction, rousing
the towns and villages to arms, and ordering every one to join the
king on the frontier. “Cordova! Cordova!” was the war-cry,—that proud
city of the infidels! that seat of Moorish power! The king waited not
to assemble a great force, but, within an hour after receiving the
letter, was on the road with a hundred good cavaliers.

It was the depth of winter; the rivers were swollen with rain. The
royal party were often obliged to halt on the bank of some raging
stream until its waters should subside. The king was all anxiety
and impatience. Cordova! Cordova! was the prize to be won, and the
cavaliers might be driven out of the suburbs before he could arrive
to their assistance.

Arrived at Cordova, he proceeded to the bridge of Alcolea, where he
pitched his tents and displayed the royal standard.

Before the arrival of the king, Alvar Perez had hastened from the
castle of Martos with a body of troops, and thrown himself into the
suburbs. Many warriors, both horse and foot, had likewise hastened
from the frontiers and from the various towns to which the king
had sent his mandates. Some came to serve the king, others out of
devotion to the holy faith, some to gain renown, and not a few to aid
in plundering the rich city of Cordova. There were many monks, also,
who had come for the glory of God and the benefit of their convents.

When the Christians in the suburbs saw the royal standard floating
above the camp of the king, they shouted for joy, and in the
exultation of the moment, forgot all past dangers and hardships.




A Spy in the Christian Camp.—Death of Aben Hud.—A Vital Blow to
Moslem Power.—Surrender of Cordova to King Fernando.

Aben Hud, the Moorish chief, who had been defeated by Alvar Perez
and Prince Alonzo before Xerez, was at this time in Ecija with a
large force, and disposed to hasten to the aid of Cordova, but his
recent defeat had made him cautious. He had in his camp a Christian
cavalier, Don Lorenzo Xuarez by name, who had been banished from
Castile by King Fernando. This cavalier offered to go as a spy into
the Christian camp, accompanied by three Christian horsemen, and to
bring accounts of its situation and strength. His offer was gladly
accepted, and Aben Hud promised to do nothing with his forces until
his return.

Don Lorenzo set out privately with his companions, and when he came
to the end of the bridge he alighted and took one of the three with
him, leaving the other two to guard the horses. He entered the camp
without impediment, and saw that it was small and of but little
force; for, though recruits had repaired from all quarters, they had
as yet arrived in but scanty numbers.

As Don Lorenzo approached the camp he saw a montero who stood
sentinel. “Friend,” said he, “do me the kindness to call to me some
person who is about the king, as I have something to tell him of
great importance.” The sentinel went in and brought out Don Otiella.
Don Lorenzo took him aside and said, “Do you not know me? I am Don
Lorenzo. I pray you tell the king that I entreat permission to enter
and communicate matters touching his safety.”

Don Otiella went in and awoke the king, who was sleeping, and
obtained permission for Don Lorenzo to enter. When the king beheld
him he was wroth at his presuming to return from exile; but Don
Lorenzo replied,—“Señor, your majesty banished me to the land of the
Moors to do me harm, but I believe it was intended by Heaven for the
welfare both of your majesty and myself.” Then he apprised the king
of the intention of Aben Hud to come with a great force against him,
and of the doubts and fears he entertained lest the army of the king
should be too powerful. Don Lorenzo, therefore, advised the king
to draw off as many troops as could be spared from the suburbs of
Cordova, and to give his camp as formidable an aspect as possible;
and that he would return and give Aben Hud such an account of the
power of the royal camp as would deter him from the attack. “If,”
continued Don Lorenzo, “I fail in diverting him from his enterprise,
I will come off with all my vassals and offer myself, and all I can
command, for the service of your majesty, and hope to be accepted for
my good intentions. As to what takes place in the Moorish camp, from
hence, in three days, I will send your majesty letters by this my

The king thanked Don Lorenzo for his good intentions, and pardoned
him, and took him as his vassal; and Don Lorenzo said: “I beseech
your majesty to order that for three or four nights there be made
great fires in various parts of the camp, so that in case Aben Hud
should send scouts by night, there may be the appearance of a great
host.” The king promised it should be done, and Don Lorenzo took his
leave; rejoining his companions at the bridge, they mounted their
horses and travelled all night and returned to Ecija.

When Don Lorenzo appeared in presence of Aben Hud he had the air of
one fatigued and careworn. To the inquiries of the Moor he returned
answers full of alarm, magnifying the power and condition of the
royal forces. “Señor,” added he, “if you would be assured of the
truth of what I say, send out your scouts, and they will behold the
Christian tents whitening all the banks of the Guadalquivir, and
covering the country as the snow covers the mountains of Granada;
or at night they will see fires on hill and dale illumining all the

This intelligence redoubled the doubts and apprehensions of Aben
Hud. On the following day two Moorish horsemen arrived in all haste
from Zaen, king of Valencia, informing him that King James of Aragon
was coming against that place with a powerful army, and offering him
the supremacy of the place if he would hasten with all speed to its

Aben Hud, thus perplexed between two objects, asked advice of his
counselors, among whom was the perfidious Don Lorenzo. They observed
that the Christians, though they had possession of the suburbs of
Cordova, could not for a long time master the place. He would have
time, therefore, to relieve Valencia, and then turn his arms and
those of King Zaen against the host of King Fernando.

Aben Hud listened to their advice, and marched immediately for
Almeria, to take thence his ships to guard the port of Valencia.
While at Almeria a Moor named Aben Arramin, and who was his especial
favorite, invited him to a banquet. The unsuspecting Aben Hud threw
off his cares for the time, and giving loose to conviviality in
the house of his favorite, drank freely of the winecup that was
insidiously pressed upon him, until he became intoxicated. He was
then suffocated by the traitor in a trough of water, and it was given
out that he had died of apoplexy.

At the death of Aben Hud, his host fell asunder, and every one hied
him to his home, whereupon Don Lorenzo and the Christians who were
with him hastened to King Fernando, by whom they were graciously
received and admitted into his royal service.

The death of Aben Hud was a vital blow to Moslem power, and spread
confusion throughout Andalusia. When the people of Cordova heard of
it, and of the dismemberment of his army, all courage withered from
their hearts. Day after day the army of King Fernando was increasing
the roads were covered with foot-soldiers hastening to his standard;
every hidalgo who could bestride a horse spurred to the banks of the
Guadalquivir to be present at the downfall of Cordova. The noblest
cavaliers of Castile were continually seen marching into the camp
with banners flying and long trains of retainers.

The inhabitants held out as long as there was help or hope; but they
were exhausted by frequent combats and long and increasing famine,
and now the death of Aben Hud cut off all chance of succor. With sad
and broken spirits, therefore, they surrendered their noble city
to King Fernando, after a siege of six months and six days. The
surrender took place on Sunday, the twenty-ninth day of July, the
feast of the glorious Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, in the year of
the Incarnation one thousand two hundred and thirty-six.

The inhabitants were permitted to march forth in personal safety,
but to take nothing with them. “Thus,” exclaims the pious Agapida,
“was the city of Cordova, the queen of the cities of Andalusia, which
so long had been the seat of the power and grandeur of the Moors,
cleansed from all the impurities of Mahomet and restored to the
dominion of the true faith.”

King Fernando immediately ordered the cross to be elevated on the
tower of the principal mosque, and beside it the royal standard;
while the bishops, the clergy, and all the people chanted _Te Deum
Laudamus_, as a song of triumph for this great victory of the

  [78] _Cron. Gen. de España_, pt. 4. Bleda, lib. 4, c. 10.

The king, having now gained full possession of the city, began to
repair, embellish, and improve it. The grand mosque, the greatest
and most magnificent in Spain, was now converted into a holy
Catholic church. The bishops and other clergy walked round it in
solemn procession, sprinkling holy water in every nook and corner,
and performing all other rites and ceremonies necessary to purify
and sanctify it. They erected an altar in it, also, in honor of the
Virgin, and chanted masses with great fervor and unction. In this way
they consecrated it to the true faith, and made it the cathedral of
the city.

In this mosque were found the bells of the church of San Iago in
Gallicia, which the Alhagib Almanzor, in the year of our Redemption
nine hundred and seventy-five, had brought off in triumph and placed
here, turned with their mouths upward to serve as lamps, and remain
shining mementos of his victory. King Fernando ordered that these
bells should be restored to the church of San Iago; and as Christians
had been obliged to bring those bells hither on their shoulders, so
infidels were compelled in like manner to carry them back. Great
was the popular triumph when these bells had their tongues restored
to them, and were once more enabled to fill the air with their holy

Having ordered all things for the security and welfare of the city,
the king placed it under the government of Don Tello Alonzo de
Meneses; he appointed Don Alvar Perez de Castro, also, general of
the frontier, having his stronghold in the castle of the rock of
Martos. The king then returned, covered with glory, to Toledo.

The fame of the recovery of the renowned city of Cordova, which
for five hundred and twenty-two years had been in the power of
the infidels, soon spread throughout the kingdom, and people came
crowding from every part to inhabit it. The gates which lately had
been thronged with steel-clad warriors were now besieged by peaceful
wayfarers of all kinds, conducting trains of mules laden with their
effects and all their household wealth; and so great was the throng
that in a little while there were not houses sufficient to receive

King Fernando, having restored the bells to San Iago, had others
suspended in the tower of the mosque, whence the muezzin had been
accustomed to call the Moslems to their worship. “When the pilgrims,”
says Fray Antonio Agapida, “who repaired to Cordova, heard the holy
sound of these bells chiming from the tower of the cathedral, their
hearts leaped for joy, and they invoked blessings on the head of the
pious King Fernando.”




Marriage of King Fernando to the Princess Juana.—Famine at
Cordova.—Don Alvar Perez.

When Queen Berenguela beheld King Fernando returning in triumph from
the conquest of Cordova, her heart was lifted up with transport, for
there is nothing that more rejoices the heart of a mother than the
true glory of her son. The queen, however, as has been abundantly
shown, was a woman of great sagacity and forecast. She considered
that upwards of two years had elapsed since the death of the Queen
Beatrix, and that her son was living in widowhood. It is true he was
of quiet temperament, and seemed sufficiently occupied by the cares
of government and the wars for the faith; so that apparently he had
no thought of further matrimony; but the shrewd mother considered
likewise that he was in the prime and vigor of his days, renowned in
arms, noble and commanding in person, and gracious and captivating
in manners, and surrounded by the temptations of a court. True, he
was a saint in spirit, but after all in flesh he was a man, and
might be led away into those weaknesses very incident to, but highly
unbecoming of, the exalted state of princes. The good mother was
anxious, therefore, that he should enter again into the secure and
holy state of wedlock.

King Fernando, a mirror of obedience to his mother, readily concurred
with her views in the present instance, and left it to her judgment
and discretion to make a choice for him. The choice fell upon the
Princess Juana, daughter of the Count of Pothier, and a descendant
of Louis the Seventh of France. The marriage was negotiated by Queen
Berenguela with the Count of Pothier; and the conditions being
satisfactorily arranged, the princess was conducted in due state
to Burgos, where the nuptials were celebrated with great pomp and

The king, as well as his subjects, was highly satisfied with the
choice of the sage Berenguela, for the bride was young, beautiful,
and of stately form, and conducted herself with admirable suavity and

After the rejoicings were over, King Fernando departed with his
bride, and visited the principal cities and towns of Castile and
Leon; receiving the homage of his subjects, and administering justice
according to the primitive forms of those days, when sovereigns
attended personally to the petitions and complaints of their
subjects, and went about hearing causes and redressing grievances.

In the course of his progress, hearing while at Toledo of a severe
famine which prevailed at Cordova, he sent a large supply of money to
that city, and at the same time issued orders to various parts, to
transport thither as much grain as possible. The calamity, however,
went on increasing. The conquest of Cordova had drawn thither great
multitudes, expecting to thrive on the well-known fertility and
abundance of the country. But the Moors, in the agitation of the
time, had almost ceased to cultivate their fields; the troops helped
to consume the supplies on hand; there were few hands to labor and
an infinity of mouths to eat, and the cry of famine went on daily
growing more intense.

Upon this, Don Alvar Perez, who had command of the frontier, set off
to represent the case in person to the king; for one living word from
the mouth is more effective than a thousand dead words from the pen.
He found the king at Valladolid, deeply immersed in the religious
exercises of Holy Week, and much did it grieve this saintly monarch,
say his chroniclers, to be obliged even for a moment to quit the holy
quiet of the church for the worldly bustle of the palace, to lay by
the saint and enact the sovereign. Having heard the representations
of Don Alvar Perez, he forthwith gave him ample funds wherewith to
maintain his castles, his soldiers, and even the idlers who thronged
about the frontier, and who would be useful subjects when the times
should become settled. Satisfied, also, of the zeal and loyalty of
Alvar Perez, which had been so strikingly displayed in the present
instance, he appointed him adelantado of the whole frontier of
Andalusia—an office equivalent to that at present called viceroy.
Don Alvar hastened back to execute his mission and enter upon his
new office. He took his station at Martos, in its rock-built castle,
which was the key of all that frontier, whence he could carry relief
to any point of his command, and could make occasional incursions
into the territories. The following chapter will show the cares and
anxieties which awaited him in his new command.




Aben Alhamar, Founder of the Alhambra.—Fortifies Granada and makes
it his Capital.—Attempts to surprise the Castle of Martos.—Peril
of the Fortress.—A Woman’s Stratagem to save it.—Diego Perez, the
Smasher.—Death of Count Alvar Perez de Castro.

On the death of Aben Hud, the Moorish power in Spain was broken up
into factions, as has already been mentioned, but these factions
were soon united under one head, who threatened to be a formidable
adversary to the Christians. This was Mohammed ben Alhamar, or Aben
Alhamar, as he is commonly called in history. He was a native of
Arjona, of noble descent, being of the Beni Nasar, or race of Nasar,
and had been educated in a manner befitting his rank. Arrived at
manly years, he had been appointed alcayde of Arjona and Jaen, and
had distinguished himself by the justice and benignity of his rule.
He was intrepid, also, and ambitious, and during the late dissensions
among the Moslems had extended his territories, making himself master
of many strong places.

On the death of Aben Hud, he made a military circuit through the
Moorish territories, and was everywhere hailed with acclamations
as the only one who could save the Moslem power in Spain from
annihilation. At length he entered Granada amidst the enthusiastic
shouts of the populace. Here he was proclaimed king, and found
himself at the head of the Moslems of Spain, being the first of
his illustrious line that ever sat upon a throne. It needs nothing
more to give lasting renown to Aben Alhamar than to say he was the
founder of the Alhambra, that magnificent monument which to this day
bears testimony to Moorish taste and splendor. As yet, however, Aben
Alhamar had not time to indulge in the arts of peace. He saw the
storm of war that threatened his newly-founded kingdom, and prepared
to buffet with it. The territories of Granada extended along the
coast from Algeziras almost to Murcia, and inland as far as Jaen and
Huescar. All the frontiers he hastened to put in a state of defense,
while he strongly fortified the city of Granada, which he made his

By the Mahometan law every citizen is a soldier, and to take arms in
defense of the country and the faith is a religious and imperative
duty. Aben Alhamar, however, knew the unsteadiness of hastily levied
militia, and organized a standing force to garrison his forts and
cities, the expense of which he defrayed from his own revenues. The
Moslem warriors from all parts now rallied under his standard, and
fifty thousand Moors, abandoning Valencia on the conquest of that
country by the king of Aragon, hastened to put themselves under the
dominion of Aben Alhamar.

Don Alvar Perez, on returning to his post, had intelligence of all
these circumstances, and perceived that he had not sufficient force
to make head against such a formidable neighbor, and that in fact the
whole frontier, so recently wrested from the Moors, was in danger of
being reconquered. With his old maxim, therefore, “There is more life
in one word from the mouth than in a thousand words from the pen,” he
determined to have another interview with King Fernando, and acquaint
him with the imminent dangers impending over the frontier.

He accordingly took his departure with great secrecy, leaving his
countess and her women and donzellas in his castle of the rock of
Martos, guarded by his nephew Don Tello and forty chosen men.

The departure of Don Alvar Perez was not so secret, however, but that
Aben Alhamar had notice of it by his spies, and he resolved to make
an attempt to surprise the castle of Martos, which, as has been said,
was the key to all this frontier.

Don Tello, who had been left in command of the fortress, was a young
galliard, full of the fire of youth, and he had several hardy and
adventurous cavaliers with him, among whom was Diego Perez de Vargas,
surnamed Machacha, or the Smasher, for his exploits at the battle
of Xerez in smashing the heads of the Moors with the limb of an
olive-tree. These hot-blooded cavaliers, looking out like hawks from
their mountain hold, were seized with an irresistible inclination to
make a foray into the lands of their Moorish neighbors. On a bright
morning they accordingly set forth, promising the donzellas of the
castle to bring them jewels and rich silks, the spoils of Moorish

The cavaliers had not been long gone when the castle was alarmed by
the sound of trumpets, and the watchman from the tower gave notice
of a cloud of dust, with Moorish banners and armor gleaming through
it. It was, in fact, the Moorish king, Aben Alhamar, who pitched his
tents before the castle.

Great was the consternation that reigned within the walls, for all
the men were absent, excepting one or two necessary for the service
of the castle. The dames and donzellas gave themselves up to despair,
expecting to be carried away captive, perhaps to supply some Moorish
harem. The countess, however, was of an intrepid spirit and ready
invention. Summoning her dueñas and damsels, she made them arrange
their hair, and dress themselves like men, take weapons in hand,
and show themselves between the battlements. The Moorish king was
deceived, and supposed the fort well garrisoned. He was deterred,
therefore, from attempting to take it by storm. In the mean time she
dispatched a messenger by the postern-gate, with orders to speed
swiftly in quest of Don Tello, and tell him the peril of the fortress.

At hearing these tidings, Don Tello and his companions turned their
reins and spurred back for the castle, but on drawing nigh, they
saw from a hill that it was invested by a numerous host who were
battering the walls. It was an appalling sight,—to cut their way
through such a force seemed hopeless,—yet their hearts were wrung
with anguish when they thought of the countess and her helpless
donzellas. Upon this, Diego Perez de Vargas, surnamed Machacha,
stepped forward and proposed to form a forlorn hope, and attempt to
force a passage to the castle. “If any of us succeed,” said he, “we
may save the countess and the rock; if we fall, we shall save our
souls and act the parts of good cavaliers. This rock is the key of
all the frontier, on which the king depends to get possession of the
country. Shame would it be if Moors should capture it; above all if
they should lead away our honored countess and her ladies captive
before our eyes, while our lances remain unstained by blood and we
unscarred with a wound. For my part, I would rather die than see
it. Life is but short; we should do in it our best. So, in a word,
cavaliers, if you refuse to join me I will take my leave of you and
do what I can with my single arm.”

“Diego Perez,” cried Don Tello, “you have spoken my very wishes;
I will stand by you until the death, and let those who are good
cavaliers and hidalgos follow our example.”

The other cavaliers caught fire at these words; forming a solid
squadron, they put spurs to their horses and rushed down upon the
Moors. The first who broke into the ranks of the enemy was Diego
Perez, the Smasher, and he opened a way for the others. Their only
object was to cut their way to the fortress; so they fought and
pressed forward. The most of them got to the rock; some were cut off
by the Moors, and died like valiant knights, fighting to the last

When the Moorish king saw the daring of these cavaliers, and that
they had succeeded in reinforcing the garrison, he despaired of
gaining the castle without much time, trouble, and loss of blood. He
persuaded himself, therefore, that it was not worth the price, and,
striking his tents, abandoned the siege. Thus the rock of Martos was
saved by the sagacity of the countess and the prowess of Diego Perez
de Vargas, surnamed the Smasher.

In the mean time, Don Alvar Perez de Castro arrived in presence of
the king at Hutiel. King Fernando received him with benignity, but
seemed to think his zeal beyond his prudence; leaving so important a
frontier so weakly guarded, sinking the viceroy in the courier, and
coming so far to give by word of mouth what might easily have been
communicated by letter. He felt the value, however, of his loyalty
and devotion, but, furnishing him with ample funds, requested him to
lose no time in getting back to his post. The count set out on his
return, but it is probable the ardor and excitement of his spirit
proved fatal to him, for he was seized with a violent fever when on
the journey, and died in the town of Orgaz.




Aben Hudiel, the Moorish King of Murcia, becomes the Vassal of
King Fernando.—Aben Alhamar seeks to drive the Christians out of
Andalusia.—Fernando takes the Field against him.—Ravages of the
King.—His Last Meeting with the Queen-Mother.

The death of Count Alvar Perez de Castro caused deep affliction to
King Fernando, for he considered him the shield of the frontier.
While he was at Cordova, or at his rock of Martos, the king felt
as assured of the safety of the border as though he had been there
himself. As soon as he could be spared from Castile and Leon, he
hastened to Cordova, to supply the loss the frontier had sustained
in the person of his vigilant lieutenant. One of his first measures
was to effect a truce of one year with the king of Granada,—a measure
which each adopted with great regret, compelled by his several
policy: King Fernando to organize and secure his recent conquests;
Aben Alhamar to regulate and fortify his newly founded kingdom.
Each felt that he had a powerful enemy to encounter and a desperate
struggle before him.

King Fernando remained at Cordova until the spring of the following
year (1241), regulating the affairs of that noble city, assigning
houses and estates to such of his cavaliers as had distinguished
themselves in the conquest, and, as usual, making rich donations
of towns and great tracts of land to the Church and to different
religious orders. Leaving his brother Alfonso with a sufficient force
to keep an eye upon the king of Granada and hold him in check, King
Fernando departed for Castile, making a circuit by Jaen and Baeza
and Andujar, and arriving in Toledo on the fourth of April. Here
he received important propositions from Aben Hudiel, the Moorish
king of Murcia. The death of Aben Hud had left that kingdom a scene
of confusion. The alcaydes of the different cities and fortresses
were at strife with each other, and many refused allegiance to Aben
Hudiel. The latter, too, was in hostility with Aben Alhamar, the king
of Granada, and he feared he would take advantage of his truce with
King Fernando, and the distracted state of the kingdom of Murcia,
to make an inroad. Thus desperately situated, Aben Hudiel had sent
missives to King Fernando, entreating his protection, and offering to
become his vassal.

The king of Castile gladly closed with this offer. He forthwith sent
his son and heir, the Prince Alfonso, to receive the submission
of the king of Murcia. As the prince was young and inexperienced
in these affairs of state, he sent with him Don Pelayo de Correa,
the Grand Master of Santiago, a cavalier of consummate wisdom and
address, and also Rodrigo Gonzalez Giron. The prince was received
in Murcia with regal honors; the terms were soon adjusted by which
the Moorish king acknowledged vassalage to King Fernando, and ceded
to him one half of his revenues, in return for which the king
graciously took him under his protection. The alcaydes of Alicant,
Elche, Oriola, and several other places, agreed to this covenant of
vassalage, but it was indignantly spurned by the Wali of Lorca; he
had been put in office by Aben Hud; and, now that potentate was no
more, he aspired to exercise an independent sway, and had placed
alcaydes of his own party in Mula and Carthagena.

As the Prince Alfonso had come to solemnize the act of homage and
vassalage proposed by the Moorish king, and not to extort submission
from his subjects by force of arms, he contented himself with making
a progress through the kingdom and receiving the homage of the
acquiescent towns and cities, after which he rejoined his father in

It is conceived by the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, as well as
by other monkish chroniclers, that this important acquisition of
territory by the saintly Fernando was a boon from Heaven in reward
of an offering which he made to God of his daughter Berenguela,
whom early in this year he dedicated as a nun in the convent of Las
Huelgas, in Burgos—of which convent the king’s sister Constanza was

  [79] _Cronica del Rey Santo_, cap. 13.

About this time it was that King Fernando gave an instance of his
magnanimity and his chivalrous disposition. We have seen the deadly
opposition he had experienced from the haughty house of Lara, and
the ruin which the three brothers brought upon themselves by their
traitorous hostility. The anger of the king was appeased by their
individual ruin; he did not desire to revenge himself upon their
helpless families, nor to break down and annihilate a house lofty
and honored in the traditions of Spain. One of the brothers, Don
Fernando, had left a daughter, Doña Sancha Fernandez de Lara; there
happened at this time to be in Spain a cousin-german of the king,
a prince of Portugal, Don Fernando by name, who held the señorio
of Serpa. Between this prince and Doña Sancha the king effected a
marriage, whence has sprung one of the most illustrious branches of
the ancient house of Lara.[80] The other daughters of Don Fernando
retained large possessions in Castile; and one of his sons will be
found serving valiantly under the standard of the king.

  [80] _Notas para la Vida del Santo Rey_, p. 554.

In the mean time the truce with Aben Alhamar, the king of Granada,
had greatly strengthened the hands of that monarch. He had received
accessions of troops from various parts, had fortified his capital
and his frontiers, and now fomented disturbances in the neighboring
kingdom of Murcia,—encouraging the refractory cities to persist in
their refusal of vassalage,—hoping to annex that kingdom to his own
newly consolidated dominions.

The Wali of Lorca and his partisans, the alcaydes of Mula and
Carthagena, thus instigated by the king of Granada, now increased in
turbulence, and completely overawed the feeble-handed Aben Hudiel.
King Fernando thought this a good opportunity to give his son and
heir his first essay in arms. He accordingly dispatched the prince a
second time to Murcia, accompanied as before by Don Pelayo de Correa,
the Grand Master of Santiago; but he sent him now with a strong
military force, to play the part of a conqueror. The conquest, as may
be supposed, was easy; Mula, Lorca, and Carthagena soon submitted,
and the whole kingdom was reduced to vassalage—Fernando henceforth
adding to his other titles King of Murcia. “Thus,” says Fray Antonio
Agapida, “was another precious jewel wrested from the kingdom of
Antichrist, and added to the crown of this saintly monarch.”

But it was not in Murcia alone that King Fernando found himself
called to contend with his new adversary the king of Granada. That
able and active monarch, strengthened as has been said during the
late truce, had made bold forays in the frontiers recently conquered
by King Fernando, and had even extended them to the neighborhood
of Cordova. In all this he had been encouraged by some degree of
negligence and inaction on the part of King Fernando’s brother
Alfonso, who had been left in charge of the frontier. The prince took
the field against Aben Alhamar, and fought him manfully; but the
Moorish force was too powerful to be withstood, and the prince was

Tidings of this was sent to King Fernando, and of the great danger of
the frontier, as Aben Alhamar, flushed with success, was aiming to
drive the Christians out of Andalusia. King Fernando immediately set
off for the frontier, accompanied by the Queen Juana. He did not wait
to levy a powerful force, but took with him a small number—knowing
the loyalty of his subjects and their belligerent propensities, and
that they would hasten to his standard the moment they knew he was in
the field and exposed to danger. His force accordingly increased as
he advanced. At Andujar he met his brother Alfonso with the relics
of his lately defeated army,—all brave and expert soldiers. He had
now a commanding force, and leaving the queen with a sufficient
guard at Andujar, he set off with his brother Alonzo and Don Nuño
Gonzalez de Lara, son of the Count Gonzalo, to scour the country
about Arjona, Jaen, and Alcaudete. The Moors took refuge in their
strong places, whence they saw with aching hearts the desolation of
their country—olive plantations on fire, vineyards laid waste, groves
and orchards cut down, and all the other modes of ravage practiced in
these unsparing wars.

The king of Granada did not venture to take the field; and King
Fernando, meeting no enemy to contend with, while ravaging the
lands of Alcaudete, detached a part of his force under Don Rodrigo
Fernandez de Castro, a son of the brave Alvar Perez lately deceased,
and he associated with him Nuño Gonzalez, with orders to besiege
Arjona. This was a place dear to Aben Alhamar, the King of Granada,
being his native place, where he had first tasted the sweets of
power. Hence he was commonly called the king of Arjona.

The people of the place, though they had quailed before King
Fernando, despised his officers and set them at defiance. The king
himself, however, made his appearance on the following day with the
remainder of his forces, whereupon Arjona capitulated.

While his troops were reposing from their fatigues, the king made
some further ravages, and reduced several small towns to obedience.
He then sent his brother Don Alfonso with sufficient forces to
carry fire and sword into the Vega of Granada. In the mean time he
returned to Andujar to the Queen Juana. He merely came, say the
old chroniclers, for the purpose of conducting her to Cordova;
fulfilling, always, his duty as a cavalier, without neglecting that
of a king.

The moment he had left her in her palace at Cordova, he hastened
back to join his brother in harassing the territories of Granada. He
came in time; for Aben Alhamar, enraged at seeing the destruction of
the Vega, made such a vigorous sally that had Prince Alfonso been
alone in command, he might have received a second lesson still more
disastrous than the first. The presence of the king, however, put new
spirits and valor into the troops: the Moors were driven back to the
city, and the Christians pursued them to the very gates. As the king
had not sufficient forces with him to attempt the capture of this
place, he contented himself with the mischief he had done, and, with
some more which he subsequently effected, he returned to Cordova to
let his troops rest from their fatigues.

While the king was in this city a messenger arrived from his mother,
the Queen Berenguela, informing him of her intention of coming to
pay him a visit. A long time had elapsed since they had seen each
other, and her extreme age rendered her anxious to embrace her son.
The king, to prevent her from taking so long a journey, set off to
meet her, taking with him his Queen Juana. The meeting took place in
Pezuelo near Burgos,[81] and was affecting on both sides, for never
did son and mother love and honor each other more truly. In this
interview, the queen represented her age and increasing weakness,
and her incapacity to cope with the fatigues of public affairs, of
which she had always shared the burden with the king; she therefore
signified her wish to retire to her convent, to pass the remnant of
her days in holy repose. King Fernando, who had ever found in his
mother his ablest counselor and best support, entreated her not to
leave his side in these arduous times, when the King of Granada on
one side, and the King of Seville on the other, threatened to put
all his courage and resources to the trial. A long and earnest, yet
tender and affectionate, conversation succeeded between them, which
resulted in the queen-mother’s yielding to his solicitations. The
illustrious son and mother remained together six weeks, enjoying each
other’s society, after which they separated—the king and queen for
the frontier, and the queen-mother for Toledo. They were never to
behold each other again upon earth, for the king never returned to

  [81] Some chronicles, through mistake, make it Pezuelo near
  Ciudal Real, in the mountains on the confines of Granada.




King Fernando’s Expedition to Andalusia.—Siege of Jaen.—Secret
Departure of Aben Alhamar for the Christian Camp.—He Acknowledges
himself the Vassal of the King, who enters Jaen in Triumph.

It was in the middle of August, 1245, that King Fernando set out on
his grand expedition to Andalusia, whence he was never to return.
All that autumn he pursued the same destructive course as in his
preceding campaigns, laying waste the country with fire and sword in
the vicinity of Jaen and to Alcala la Real. The town, too, of Illora,
built on a lofty rock and fancying itself secure, was captured and
given a prey to flames, which was as a bale-fire to the country.
Thence he descended into the beautiful Vega of Granada, ravaging that
earthly paradise. Aben Alhamar sallied forth from Granada with what
forces he could collect, and a bloody battle ensued about twelve
miles from Granada. A part of the troops of Aben Alhamar were hasty
levies, inhabitants of the city, and but little accustomed to combat;
they lost courage, gave way, and threw the better part of the troops
in disorder; a retreat took place which ended in a headlong flight,
in which there was great carnage.[82]

  [82] Conde, tom. iii. c. 5.

Content for the present with the ravage he had made and the victory
he had gained, King Fernando now drew off his troops and repaired
to his frontier hold of Martos, where they might rest after their
fatigues in security.

Here he was joined by Don Pelayo Perez Correa, the Grand Master
of Santiago. This valiant cavalier, who was as sage and shrewd in
council as he was adroit and daring in the field, had aided the
youthful Prince Alfonso in completing the tranquilization of Murcia,
and leaving him in the quiet administration of affairs in that
kingdom, had since been on a pious and political mission to the court
of Rome. He arrived most opportunely at Martos, to aid the king with
his counsels, for there was none in whose wisdom and loyalty the king
had more confidence.

The grand master listened to all the plans of the king for the
humiliation of the haughty King of Granada; he then gravely but most
respectfully objected to the course the king was pursuing. He held
the mere ravaging the country of little ultimate benefit. It harassed
and irritated, but did not destroy the enemy, while it fatigued and
demoralized the army. To conquer the country, they must not lay waste
the field, but take the towns; so long as the Moors retained their
strongholds, so long they had dominion over the land. He advised,
therefore, as a signal blow to the power of the Moorish king, the
capture of the city of Jaen. This was a city of immense strength,
the bulwark of the kingdom; it was well supplied with provisions
and the munitions of war; strongly garrisoned and commanded by Abu
Omar, native of Cordova, a general of cavalry, and one of the bravest
officers of Aben Alhamar. King Fernando had already besieged it in
vain, but the reasoning of the grand master had either convinced his
reason or touched his pride. He set himself down before the walls of
Jaen declaring he would never raise the siege until he was master
of the place. For a long time the siege was carried on in the depth
of winter, in defiance of rain and tempests. Aben Alhamar was in
despair: he could not relieve the place; he could not again venture
on a battle with the king after his late defeat. He saw that Jaen
must fall, and feared it would be followed by the fall of Granada. He
was a man of ardent spirit and quick and generous impulses. Taking a
sudden resolution, he departed secretly for the Christian camp, and
made his way to the presence of King Fernando. “Behold before you,”
said he, “the King of Granada. Resistance I find unavailing; I come,
trusting to your magnanimity and good faith, to put myself under your
protection and acknowledge myself your vassal.” So sayings, he knelt
and kissed the king’s hand in token of homage.

“King Fernando,” say the old chroniclers, “was not to be outdone in
generosity. He raised his late enemy from the earth, embraced him as
a friend, and left him in the sovereignty of his dominions; the good
king, however, was as politic as he was generous. He received Aben
Alhamar as a vassal; conditioned for the delivery of Jaen into his
hands; for the yearly payment of one half of his revenues; for his
attendance at the cortes as one of the nobles of the empire, and his
aiding Castile in war with a certain number of horsemen.”

In compliance with these conditions, Jaen was given up to the
Christian king, who entered it in triumph about the end of
February.[83] His first care was to repair in grand procession,
bearing the holy cross, to the principal mosque, which was purified
and sanctified by the Bishop of Cordova, and erected into a cathedral
and dedicated to the most holy Virgin Mary.

  [83] _Notas para la Vida_, etc., p. 562.

He remained some time in Jaen, giving repose to his troops,
regulating the affairs of this important place, disposing of houses
and estates among his warriors who had most distinguished themselves,
and amply rewarding the priests and monks who had aided him with
their prayers.

As to Aben Alhamar, he returned to Granada, relieved from
apprehension of impending ruin to his kingdom, but deeply humiliated
at having to come under the yoke of vassalage. He consoled himself
by prosecuting the arts of peace, improving the condition of his
people, building hospitals, founding institutions of learning, and
beautifying his capital with those magnificent edifices which remain
the admiration of posterity; for now it was that he commenced to
build the Alhambra.

NOTE.—There is some dispute among historians as to the duration of
the siege and the date of the surrender of Jaen. Some make the
siege endure eight months, from August into the middle of April. The
authentic Agapida adopts the opinion of the author of _Notas para
la Vida del Santo Rey_, etc., who makes the siege begin on the 31st
December and end about 26th February.




Axataf, King of Seville, exasperated at the Submission of the King of
Granada, rejects the Propositions of King Fernando for a Truce.—The
latter is encouraged by a Vision to undertake the Conquest of the
City of Seville.—Death of Queen Berenguela.—A Diplomatic Marriage.

King Fernando, having reduced the fair kingdom of Granada to
vassalage, and fortified himself in Andalusia by the possession of
the strong city of Jaen, bethought him now of returning to Castile.
There was but one Moorish potentate in Spain whose hostilities he
had to fear: this was Axataf, the King of Seville. He was the son
of Aben Hud, and succeeded to a portion of his territories. Warned
by the signal defeat of his father at Xerez, he had forborne to
take the field against the Christians, but had spared no pains and
expense to put the city of Seville in the highest state of defense;
strengthening its walls and towers, providing it with munitions
of war of all kinds, and exercising his people continually in the
use of arms. King Fernando was loth to leave this great frontier
in its present unsettled state, with such a powerful enemy in the
neighborhood, who might take advantage of his absence to break into
open hostility; still it was his policy to let the sword rest in
the sheath until he had completely secured his new possessions. He
sought, therefore, to make a truce with King Axataf, and, to enforce
his propositions, it is said he appeared with his army before Seville
in May, 1246.[84] His propositions were rejected, as it were, at the
very gate. It appears that the King of Seville was exasperated rather
than dismayed by the submission of the King of Granada. He felt that
on himself depended the last hope of Islamism in Spain; he trusted
on aid from the coast of Barbary, with which his capital had ready
communication by water; and he resolved to make a bold stand in the
cause of his faith.

  [84] _Notas para la Vida del Santo Rey_, p. 572.

King Fernando retired indignant from before Seville, and repaired to
Cordova, with the pious determination to punish the obstinacy and
humble the pride of the infidel, by planting the standard of the
cross on the walls of his capital. Seville once in his power, the
rest of Andalusia would soon follow, and then his triumph over the
sect of Mahomet would be complete. Other reasons may have concurred
to make him covet the conquest of Seville. It was a city of great
splendor and wealth, situated in the midst of a fertile country, in a
genial climate, under a benignant sky; and having by its river, the
Guadalquivir, an open highway for commerce, it was the metropolis of
all Morisma—a world of wealth and delight within itself.

These were sufficient reasons for aiming at the conquest of this
famous city, but these were not sufficient to satisfy the holy friars
who have written the history of this monarch, and who have found a
reason more befitting his character of saint. Accordingly we are
told, by the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, that at a time when the
king was in deep affliction for the death of his mother, the Queen
Berenguela, and was praying with great fervor, there appeared before
him Saint Isidro, the great Apostle of Spain, who had been Archbishop
of Seville in old times, before the perdition of Spain by the Moors.
As the monarch gazed in reverend wonder at the vision, the saint laid
on him a solemn injunction to rescue from the empire of Mahomet his
city of Seville. “Que asi la llamo por suya en la patria, suya en la
silla, y suya en la proteccion.” “Such,” says Agapida, “was the true
reason why this pious king undertook the conquest of Seville;” and in
this assertion he is supported by many Spanish chroniclers; and by
the traditions of the Church—the vision of San Isidro being read to
this day among its services.[85]

  [85] Rodriguez, _Memorias del Santo Rey_, c. lviii.

The death of Queen Berenguela, to which we have just adverted,
happened some months after the conquest of Jaen and submission of
Granada. The grief of the king on hearing the tidings, we are told,
was past description. For a time it quite overwhelmed him. “Nor is
it much to be marveled at,” says an old chronicler; “for never did
monarch lose a mother so noble and magnanimous in all her actions.
She was indeed accomplished in all things, an example of every
virtue, the mirror of Castile and Leon and all Spain, by whose
counsel and wisdom the affairs of many kingdoms were governed. This
noble queen,” continues the chronicler, “was deplored in all the
cities, towns, and villages of Castile and Leon; by all people, great
and small, but _especially by poor cavaliers_, to whom she was ever a

  [86] _Cronica del Rey Don Fernando_, c. XIII.

Another heavy loss to King Fernando, about this time, was that of
the Archbishop of Toledo, Don Rodrigo, the great adviser of the king
in all his expeditions, and the prelate who first preached the grand
crusade in Spain. He lived a life of piety, activity, and zeal, and
died full of years, of honors, and of riches—having received princely
estates and vast revenues from the king in reward of his services in
the cause.

These private afflictions for a time occupied the royal mind; the
king was also a little disturbed by some rash proceedings of his son,
the hereditary Prince Alfonso, who, being left in the government of
Murcia, took a notion of imitating his father in his conquests, and
made an inroad into the Moorish kingdom of Valencia, at that time in
a state of confusion. This brought on a collision with King Jayme
of Aragon, surnamed the Conqueror, who had laid his hand upon all
Valencia, as his by right of arms. There was thus danger of a rupture
with Aragon, and of King Fernando having an enemy on his back, while
busied in his wars in Andalusia. Fortunately King Jayme had a fair
daughter, the Princess Violante; and the grave diplomatists of the
two courts determined that it were better the two children should
marry, than the two fathers should fight. To this arrangement King
Fernando and King Jayme gladly assented. They were both of the same
faith; both proud of the name of Christian; both zealous in driving
Mahometanism out of Spain, and in augmenting their empires with
its spoils. The marriage was accordingly solemnized in Valladolid
in the month of November in this same year; and now the saintly
King Fernando turned his whole energies to this great and crowning
achievement, the conquest of Seville, the emporium of Mahometanism in

Foreseeing, as long as the mouth of the Guadalquivir was open, the
city could receive reinforcements and supplies from Africa, the king
held consultations with a wealthy man of Burgos, Ramon Bonifaz, or
Boniface, by name,—some say a native of France,—one well experienced
in maritime affairs, and capable of fitting out and managing a fleet.
This man he constituted his admiral, and sent him to Biscay to
provide and arm a fleet of ships and galleys, with which to attack
Seville by water, while the king should invest it by land.




Investment of Seville.—All Spain aroused to Arms.—Surrender of
Alcala Del Rio.—The Fleet of Admiral Ramon Bonifaz advances up the
Guadalquivir.—Don Pelayo Correa, Master of Santiago.—His Valorous
Deeds and the Miracles wrought in his Behalf.

When it was bruited abroad that King Fernando the Saint intended to
besiege the great city of Seville, all Spain was roused to arms.
The masters of the various military and religious orders, the ricos
hombres, the princes, cavaliers, hidalgos, and every one of Castile
and Leon capable of bearing arms, prepared to take the field. Many of
the nobility of Catalonia and Portugal repaired to the standard of
the king, as did other cavaliers of worth and prowess from lands far
beyond the Pyrenees.

Prelates, priests, and monks likewise thronged to the army,—some to
take care of the souls of those who hazarded their lives in this holy
enterprise, others with a zealous determination to grasp buckler and
lance, and battle with the arm of flesh against the enemies of God
and the Church.

At the opening of spring the assembled host issued forth in shining
array from the gates of Cordova. After having gained possession of
Carmona, and Lora and Alcolea, and of other neighboring places,—some
by voluntary surrender others by force of arms,—the king crossed
the Guadalquivir, with great difficulty and peril, and made himself
master of several of the most important posts in the neighborhood
of Seville. Among these was Alcala del Rio, a place of great
consequence, through which passed all the succors from the mountains
to the city. This place was bravely defended by Axataf in person,
the commander of Seville. He remained in Alcala with three hundred
Moorish cavaliers, making frequent sallies upon the Christians, and
effecting great slaughter. At length he beheld all the country around
laid waste, the grain burnt or trampled down, the vineyards torn up,
the cattle driven away and the villages consumed; so that nothing
remained to give sustenance to the garrison or the inhabitants. Not
daring to linger there any longer, he departed secretly in the night
and retired to Seville, and the town surrendered to King Fernando.

While the king was putting Alcala del Rio in a state of defense.
Admiral Ramon Bonifaz arrived at the mouth of the Guadalquivir with a
fleet of thirteen large ships and several small vessels and galleys.
While he was yet hovering about the land, he heard of the approach
of a great force of ships from Tangier, Ceuta, and Seville, and of
an army to assail him from the shores. In this peril he sent in all
speed for succor to the king; when it reached the sea-coast the
enemy had not yet appeared; wherefore, thinking it a false alarm,
the reinforcement returned to the camp. Scarcely, however, had it
departed when the Africans came swarming over the sea, and fell upon
Ramon Bonifaz with a greatly superior force. The admiral, in no way
dismayed, defended himself vigorously—sunk several of the enemy, took
a few prizes, and put the rest to flight, remaining master of the
river. The king had heard of the peril of the fleet, and, crossing
the ford of the river, had hastened to its aid; but when he came
to the sea-coast, he found it victorious, at which he was greatly
rejoiced, and commanded that it should advance higher up the river.

It was on the twentieth of the month of August that King Fernando
began formally the siege of Seville, having encamped his troops,
small in number, but of stout hearts and valiant hands, near to the
city on the banks of the river. From hence Don Pelayo Correa, the
valiant Master of Santiago, with two hundred and sixty horsemen, many
of whom were warlike friars, attempted to cross the river at the ford
below Aznal Farache. Upon this, Aben Amaken, Moorish king of Niebla,
sallied forth with a great host to defend the pass, and the cavaliers
were exposed to imminent peril, until the king sent one hundred
cavaliers to their aid, led on by Rodrigo Flores and Alonzo Tellez
and Fernan Diañez.

Thus reinforced, the Master of Santiago scoured the opposite side of
the river, and with his little army of scarce four hundred horsemen,
mingled monks and soldiers, spread dismay throughout the country.
They attacked the town of Gelbes, and, after a desperate combat,
entered it, sword in hand, slaying or capturing the Moors, and making
rich booty. They made repeated assaults upon the castle of Triana,
and had bloody combats with its garrison, but could not take the
place. This hardy band of cavaliers had pitched their tents and
formed their little camp on the banks of the river, below the castle
of Aznal Farache. This fortress was situated on an eminence above the
river, and its massive ruins, remaining at the present day, attest
its formidable strength.

When the Moors from the castle towers looked down upon this little
camp of Christian cavaliers, and saw them sallying forth and
careering about the country, and returning in the evenings with
cavalgadas of sheep and cattle, and mules laden with spoil, and
long trains of captives, they were exceedingly wroth, and they
kept a watch upon them, and sallied forth every day to fight with
them, and to intercept stragglers from their camp, and to carry off
their horses. Then the cavaliers concerted together, and they lay
in ambush one day in the road by which the Moors were accustomed to
sally forth, and when the Moors had partly passed their ambush, they
rushed forth and fell upon them, and killed and captured above three
hundred, and pursued the remainder to the very gates of the castle.
From that time the Moors were so disheartened that they made no
further sallies.

Shortly after, the Master of Santiago receiving secret intelligence
that a Moorish sea-captain had passed from Seville to Triana, on
his way to succor the castle of Aznal Farache, placed himself, with
a number of chosen cavaliers, in ambuscade at a pass by which the
Moors were expected to come. After waiting a long time, their scouts
brought word that the Moors had taken another road, and were nearly
at the foot of the hill on which stood the castle. “Cavaliers,” cried
the master, “it is not too late; let us first use our spurs and then
our weapons, and if our steeds prove good, the day will yet be ours.”
So saying, he put spurs to his horse, and the rest following his
example, they soon came in sight of the Moors. The latter, seeing
the Christians coming after them full speed, urged their horses up
the hill towards the castle, but the Christians overtook them and
slew seven of those in the rear. In the skirmish, Garci Perez struck
the Moorish captain from his horse with a blow of his lance. The
Christians rushed forward to take him prisoner. On seeing this, the
Moors turned back, threw themselves between their commander and his
assailants, and kept the latter in check while he was conveyed into
the castle. Several of them fell, covered with wounds; the residue,
seeing their chieftain safe, turned their reins and galloped for the
castle, just entering in time to have the gates closed upon their

Time and space permit not to recount the many other valorous deeds
of Don Pelayo Correa, the good Master of Santiago, and his band
of cavaliers and monks. His little camp became a terror to the
neighborhood, and checked the sallies of the Moorish mountaineers
from the Sierra Morena. In one of his enterprises he gained a signal
advantage over the foe, but the approach of night threatened to
defraud him of his victory. Then the pious warrior lifted up his
voice and supplicated the Virgin Mary in those celebrated words:
“Santa Maria deten tu dia” (Holy Mary, detain thy day), for it
was one of the days consecrated to the Virgin. The blessed Virgin
listened to the prayer of her valiant votary; the daylight continued
in a supernatural manner, until the victory of the good Master of
Santiago was completed. In honor of this signal favor, he afterwards
erected a temple to the Virgin by the name of Nuestra Señora de

  [87] Zuniga, _Annales de Sevilla_, L. 1.

If any one should doubt this miracle, wrought in favor of this
pious warrior and his soldiers of the cowl, it may be sufficient to
relate another, which immediately succeeded, and which shows how
peculiarly he was under the favor of Heaven. After the battle was
over, his followers were ready to faint with thirst, and could find
no stream or fountain; and when the good master saw the distress of
his soldiers, his heart was touched with compassion, and, bethinking
himself of the miracle performed by Moses, in an impulse of holy zeal
and confidence, and in the name of the blessed Virgin, he struck
a dry and barren rock with his lance, and instantly there gushed
forth a fountain of water, at which all his Christian soldiery drank
and were refreshed.[88] So much at present for the good Master of
Santiago, Don Pelayo Correa.

  [88] Jacob Paranes, _Lib. de los Maestros de St. Iago._ _Corona
  Gothica_, T. 3, § xiii. Zuniga, _Annales de Sevilla_.




King Fernando changes his Camp.—Garci Perez and the seven Moors.

King Fernando the Saint soon found his encampment on the banks of
the Guadalquivir too much exposed to the sudden sallies and insults
of the Moors. As the land was level, they easily scoured the fields,
carried off horses and stragglers from the camp, and kept it in
continual alarm. He drew off, therefore, to a securer place, called
Tablada, the same where at present is situated the hermitage of
Nuestra Señora de el Balme. Here he had a profound ditch digged all
round the camp, to shut up the passes from the Moorish cavalry. He
appointed patrols of horsemen also, completely armed, who continually
made the rounds of the camp, in successive bands, at all hours of
the day and night.[89] In a little while his army was increased by
the arrival of troops from all parts,—nobles, cavaliers, and rich
men, with their retainers,—nor were there wanting holy prelates,
who assumed the warrior, and brought large squadrons of well-armed
vassals to the army. Merchants and artificers now daily arrived,
and wandering minstrels, and people of all sorts, and the camp
appeared like a warlike city, where rich and sumptuous merchandise
was mingled with the splendor of arms; and the various colors of the
tents and pavilions, and the fluttering standards and pennons bearing
the painted devices of the proudest houses of Spain, were gay and
glorious to behold.

  [89] _Corona Gothica_, T. 3, § viii.

When the king had established the camp in Tablada he ordered that
every day the foragers should sally forth in search of provisions and
provender, guarded by strong bodies of troops. The various chiefs of
the army took turns to command the guard who escorted the foragers.
One day it was the turn of Garci Perez, the same cavalier who had
killed the king of the Azules. He was a hardy, iron warrior, seasoned
and scarred in warfare, and renowned among both Moors and Christians
for his great prowess, his daring courage, and his coolness in the
midst of danger. Garci Perez had lingered in the camp until some time
after the foragers had departed, who were already out of sight. He at
length set out to join them, accompanied by another cavalier. They
had not proceeded far before they perceived seven Moorish genetes, or
light-horsemen, directly in their road. When the companion of Garci
Perez beheld such a formidable array of foes, he paused and said:
“Señor Perez, let us return; the Moors are seven and we but two,
and there is no law in the _duello_ which obliges us to make front
against such fearful odds.”

To this Garci Perez replied: “Señor, forward, always forward; let us
continue on our road; those Moors will never wait for us.” The other
cavalier, however, exclaimed such rashness, and turning the reins
of his horse, returned as privately as possible to the camp, and
hastened to his tent.

All this happened within sight of the camp. The king was at the door
of his royal tent, which stood on a rising ground and overlooked the
place where this occurred. When the king saw one cavalier return and
the other continue, notwithstanding that there were seven Moors in
the road, he ordered that some horsemen should ride forth to his aid.

Upon this Don Lorenzo Xuarez, who was with the king and had seen
Garci Perez sally forth from the camp, said: “Your majesty may leave
that cavalier to himself; that is Garci Perez, and he has no need
of aid against seven Moors. If the Moors know him they will not
meddle with him; and if they do, your majesty will see what kind of a
cavalier he is.”

They continued to watch the cavalier, who rode on tranquilly as if in
no apprehension. When he drew nigh to the Moors, who were drawn up on
each side of the road, he took his arms from his squire and ordered
him not to separate from him. As he was lacing his _morion_, an
embroidered cap which he wore on his head fell to the ground without
his perceiving it. Having laced the capellina, he continued on his
way, and his squire after him. When the Moors saw him near by they
knew by his arms that it was Garci Perez, and bethinking them of his
great renown for terrible deeds in arms, they did not dare to attack
him, but went along the road even with him, he on one side, they on
the other, making menaces.

Garci Perez went on his road with great serenity, without making any
movement. When the Moors saw that he heeded not their menaces, they
turned round and went back to about the place where he dropped his

Having arrived at some distance from the Moors, he took off his arms
to return them to his squire, and unlacing the capellina, found that
the cap was wanting. He asked the squire for it, but the latter
knew nothing about it. Seeing that it had fallen, he again demanded
his arms of the squire and returned in search of it, telling his
squire to keep close behind him and look out well for it. The squire
remonstrated. “What, señor,” said he, “will you return and place
yourself in such great peril for a mere capa? Have you not already
done enough for your honor, in passing so daringly by seven Moors,
and have you not been singularly favored by fortune in escaping
unhurt, and do you seek again to tempt fortune for a cap?”

“Say no more,” replied Garci Perez; “that cap was worked for me by
a fair lady; I hold it of great value. Besides, dost thou not see
that I have not a head to be without a cap?” alluding to the baldness
of his head, which had no hair in front. So saying, he tranquilly
returned towards the Moors. When Don Lorenzo Xuarez saw this, he
said to the king: “Behold! your majesty, how Garci Perez turns upon
the Moors; since they will not make an attack, he means to attack
them. Now your majesty will see the noble valor of this cavalier,
if the Moors dare to await him.” When the Moors beheld Garci Perez
approaching they thought he meant to assault them, and drew off, not
daring to encounter him. When Don Lorenzo saw this he exclaimed,—

“Behold! your majesty, the truth of what I told you. These Moors
dare not wait for him. I knew well the valor of Garci Perez, and it
appears the Moors are aware of it likewise.”

In the mean time Garci Perez came to the place where the capa had
fallen, and beheld it upon the earth. Then he ordered his squire to
dismount and pick it up, and putting it deliberately on his head, he
continued on his way to the foragers.

When he returned to the camp from guarding the foragers, Don Lorenzo
asked him, in presence of the king, who was the cavalier who had
set out with him from the camp, but had turned back on sight of the
Moors; he replied that he did not know him, and he was confused, for
he perceived that the king had witnessed what had passed, and he was
so modest withal, that he was ever embarrassed when his deeds were
praised in his presence.

Don Lorenzo repeatedly asked him who was the recreant cavalier,
but he always replied that he did not know, although he knew full
well and saw him daily in the camp. But he was too generous to say
anything that should take away the fame of another, and he charged
his squire that never, by word or look, he should betray the secret;
so that, though inquiries were often made, the name of that cavalier
was never discovered.




Of the Raft built by the Moors, and how it was boarded by Admiral
Bonifaz.—Destruction of the Moorish Fleet.—Succor from Africa.

While the army of King Fernando the Saint harassed the city by land
and cut off its supplies, the bold Bonifaz, with his fleet, shut up
the river, prevented all succor from Africa, and menaced to attack
the bridge between Triana and Seville, by which the city derived its
sustenance from the opposite country. The Moors saw their peril. If
this pass were destroyed, famine must be the consequence, and the
multitude of their soldiers, on which at present they relied for
safety, would then become the cause of their destruction.

So the Moors devised a machine by which they hoped to sweep the
river and involve the invading fleet in ruin. They made a raft so
wide that it reached from one bank to the other, and they placed
all around it pots and vessels filled with resin, pitch, tar, and
other combustibles, forming what is called Greek fire, and upon it
was a great number of armed men; and on each shore—from the castle
of Triana on the one side, and from the city on the other—sallied
forth legions of troops, to advance at the same time with the raft.
The raft was preceded by several vessels well armed, to attack the
Christian ships, while the soldiers on the raft should hurl on board
their pots of fire; and at length, setting all the combustibles in
a blaze, should send the raft flaming into the midst of the hostile
fleet, and wrap it in one general conflagration.

When everything was prepared, the Moors set off by land and water,
confident of success. But they proceeded in a wild, irregular manner,
shouting and sounding drums and trumpets, and began to attack the
Christian ships fiercely, but without concert, hurling their pots of
fire from a distance, filling the air with smoke, but falling short
of their enemy. The tumultuous uproar of their preparations had put
all the Christians on their guard. The bold Bonifaz waited not to be
assailed; he boarded the raft, attacked vigorously its defenders,
put many of them to the sword, and drove the rest into the water,
and succeeded in extinguishing the Greek fire. He then encountered
the ships of war, grappling them and fighting hand to hand from ship
to ship. The action was furious and bloody, and lasted all the day.
Many were cut down in flight, many fell into the water, and many in
despair threw themselves in and were drowned.

The battle had raged no less fiercely upon the land. On the side of
Seville, the troops had issued from the camp of King Fernando, while
on the opposite shore the brave Master of Santiago, Don Pelayo Perez
Correa, with his warriors and fighting friars, had made sharp work
with the enemy. In this way a triple battle was carried on; there was
the rush of squadrons, the clash of arms, and the din of drums and
trumpets on either bank, while the river was covered with vessels,
tearing each other to pieces as it were, their crews fighting in the
midst of flames and smoke, the waves red with blood and filled with
the bodies of the slain. At length the Christians were victorious;
most of the enemies’ vessels were taken or destroyed, and on either
shore the Moors, broken and discomfited, fled,—those on the one side
for the gates of Seville, and those on the other for the castle of
Triana,—pursued with great slaughter by the victors.

Notwithstanding the great destruction of their fleet, the Moors soon
renewed their attempts upon the ships of Ramon Bonifaz, for they knew
that the salvation of the city required the freedom of the river.
Succor arrived from Africa, of ships, with troops and provisions;
they rebuilt the fire-ships which had been destroyed, and incessant
combats, feints, and stratagems took place daily, both on land and
water. The admiral stood in great dread of the Greek fire used by
the Moors. He caused large stakes of wood to be placed in the river,
to prevent the passage of the fire-ships. This for some time was of
avail; but the Moors, watching an opportunity when the sentinels
were asleep, came and threw cables round the stakes, and fastening
the other ends to their vessels, made all sail, and, by the help
of wind and oars, tore away the stakes and carried them off with
shouts of triumph. The clamorous exultation of the Moors betrayed
them. The Admiral Bonifaz was aroused. With a few of the lightest of
his vessels he immediately pursued the enemy. He came upon them so
suddenly that they were too much bewildered either to fight or fly.
Some threw themselves into the waves in affright; others attempted to
make resistance and were cut down. The admiral took four barks laden
with arms and provisions, and with these returned in triumph to his

  [90] _Cronica Gotica_, L. 3, § 13. _Cronica General_, pt. 4.
  _Cronica de Santo Rey_, c. 55.




Of the Stout Prior Ferran Ruyz, and how he rescued his Cattle from
the Moors.—Further Enterprises of the Prior, and of the Ambuscade
into which he Fell.

It happened one day that a great part of the cavaliers of the army
were absent, some making cavalgadas about the country, others
guarding the foragers, and others gone to receive the Prince Alfonso,
who was on his way to the camp from Murcia. At this time ten Moorish
cavaliers, of the brave lineage of the Azules, finding the Christian
camp but thinly peopled, came prowling about, seeking where they
might make a bold inroad. As they were on the lookout they came to
that part of the camp where were the tents of the stout Friar Ferran
Ruyz, prior of the hospital. The stout prior, and his fighting
brethren, were as good at foraging as fighting. Around their quarters
there were several sleek cows grazing, which they had carried off
from the Moors. When the Azules saw these, they thought to make a
good prize, and to bear off the prior’s cattle as a trophy. Careering
lightly round, therefore, between the cattle and the camp, they began
to drive them towards the city. The alarm was given in the camp,
and six sturdy friars sallied forth, on foot, with two cavaliers,
in pursuit of the marauders. The prior himself was roused by the
noise; when he heard that the beeves of the Church were in danger
his ire was kindled; and buckling on his armor, he mounted his steed
and galloped furiously to the aid of his valiant friars, and the
rescue of his cattle. The Moors attempted to urge on the lagging
and full-fed kine, but finding the enemy close upon them, they were
obliged to abandon their spoil among the olive-trees, and to retreat.
The prior then gave the cattle in charge to a squire, to drive them
back to the camp. He would have returned himself, but his friars had
continued on for some distance. The stout prior, therefore, gave
spurs to his horse and galloped beyond them, to turn them back.
Suddenly great shouts and cries arose before and behind him, and
an ambuscade of Moors, both horse and foot, came rushing out of a
ravine. The stout Prior of San Juan saw that there was no retreat;
and he disdained to render himself a prisoner. Commending himself to
his patron saint, and bracing his shield, he charged bravely among
the Moors, and began to lay about him with a holy zeal of spirit
and a vigorous arm of flesh. Every blow that he gave was in the
name of San Juan, and every blow laid an infidel in the dust. His
friars, seeing the peril of their leader, came running to his aid,
accompanied by a number of cavaliers. They rushed into the fight,
shouting, “San Juan! San Juan!” and began to deal such sturdy blows
as savored more of the camp than of the cloister. Great and fierce
was this struggle between cowl and turban. The ground was strewn
with bodies of the infidels; but the Christians were a mere handful
among a multitude. A burly friar, commander of Sietefilla, was struck
to the earth, and his shaven head cleft by a blow of a scimetar;
several squires and cavaliers, to the number of twenty, fell covered
with wounds; yet still the stout prior and his brethren continued
fighting with desperate fury, shouting incessantly, “San Juan! San
Juan!” and dealing their blows with as good heart as they had ever
dealt benedictions on their followers.

The noise of this skirmish, and the holy shouts of the fighting
friars, resounded through the camp. The alarm was given, “The Prior
of San Juan is surrounded by the enemy! To the rescue! to the
rescue!” The whole Christian host was in agitation, but none were so
alert as those holy warriors of the Church, Don Garcia, Bishop of
Cordova, and Don Sancho, Bishop of Coria. Hastily summoning their
vassals, horse and foot, they bestrode their steeds, with cuirass
over cassock, and lance instead of crosier, and set off at full
gallop to the rescue of their brother saints. When the Moors saw the
warrior bishops and their retainers scouring to the field, they gave
over the contest, and leaving the prior and his companions, they drew
off towards the city. Their retreat was soon changed to a headlong
flight; for the bishops, not content with rescuing the prior,
continued in pursuit of his assailants. The Moorish foot-soldiers
were soon overtaken and either slaughtered or made prisoners: nor
did the horsemen make good their retreat into the city, until
the powerful arm of the Church had visited their rear with pious
vengeance.[91] Nor did the chastisement of Heaven end here. The stout
prior of the hospital, being once aroused, was full of ardor and
enterprise. Concerting with the Prince Don Enrique, and the Masters
of Calatrava and Alcantara, and the valiant Lorenzo Xuarez, they made
a sudden assault by night on the suburb of Seville called Benaljofar,
and broke their way into it with fire and sword. The Moors were
roused from their sleep by the flames of their dwellings and the
shouts of the Christians. There was hard and bloody fighting. The
prior of the hospital, with his valiant friars, was in the fiercest
of the action, and their war-cry of “San Juan! San Juan!” was heard
in all parts of the suburb. Many houses were burnt, many sacked, many
Moors slain or taken prisoners, and the Christian knights and warrior
friars, having gathered together a great cavalgada of the flocks and
herds which were in the suburb, drove it off in triumph to the camp,
by the light of the blazing dwellings.

  [91] _Cronica General_, pt. 4, p. 338.

A like inroad was made by the prior and the same cavaliers, a few
nights afterwards, into the suburb called Macarena, which they laid
waste in like manner, bearing off wealthy spoils. Such was the pious
vengeance which the Moors brought upon themselves by meddling with
the kine of the stout prior of the hospital.




Bravado of the Three Cavaliers.—Ambush at the Bridge over the
Guadayra.—Desperate Valor of Garci Perez.—Grand Attempt of Admiral
Bonifaz on the Bridge of Boats.—Seville dismembered from Triana.

Of all the Christian cavaliers who distinguished themselves in this
renowned siege of Seville, there was none who surpassed in valor the
bold Garci Perez de Vargas. This hardy knight was truly enamored
of danger, and like a gamester with his gold, he seemed to have no
pleasure of his life except in putting it in constant jeopardy.
One of the greatest friends of Garci Perez was Don Lorenzo Xuarez
Gallinato, the same who had boasted of the valor of Garci Perez at
the time that he exposed himself to be attacked by seven Moorish
horsemen. They were not merely companions, but rivals in arms; for in
this siege it was the custom among the Christian knights to vie with
each other in acts of daring enterprise.

One morning, as Garci Perez, Don Lorenzo Xuarez, and a third
cavalier, named Alfonso Tello, were on horseback, patrolling the
skirts of the camp, a friendly contest rose between them as to
who was most adventurous in arms. To settle the question, it was
determined to put the proof to the Moors, by going alone and
striking the points of their lances in the gate of the city.

No sooner was this mad bravado agreed upon than they turned the reins
of their horses and made for Seville. The Moorish sentinels, from and
towers of the gate, saw three Christian knights advancing over the
plain, and supposed them to be messengers or deserters from the army.
When the cavaliers drew near, each struck his lance against the gate,
and wheeling round, put spurs to his horse and retreated. The Moors,
considering this a scornful defiance, were violently exasperated, and
sallied forth in great numbers to revenge the insult. They soon were
hard on the traces of the Christian cavaliers. The first who turned
to fight with them was Alfonso Tello, being of a fiery and impatient
spirit. The second was Garci Perez; the third was Don Lorenzo, who
waited until the Moors came up with them, when he braced his shield,
couched his lance, and took the whole brunt of their charge. A
desperate fight took place, for though the Moors were overwhelming
in number, the cavaliers were three of the most valiant warriors in
Spain. The conflict was beheld from the camp. The alarm was given;
the Christian cavaliers hastened to the rescue of their companions
in arms; squadron after squadron pressed to the field, the Moors
poured out reinforcements from the gate; in this way a general battle
ensued, which lasted a great part of the day, until the Moors were
vanquished and driven within their walls.

There was one of the gates of Seville, called the gate of the
Alcazar, which led out to a small bridge over the Guadayra. Out of
this gate the Moors used to make frequent sallies, to fall suddenly
upon the Christian camp, or to sweep off the flocks and herds about
its outskirts, and then to scour back to the bridge, beyond which it
was dangerous to pursue them.

The defense of this part of the camp was intrusted to those two
valiant compeers in arms, Garci Perez de Vargas and Don Lorenzo
Xuarez; and they determined to take ample revenge upon the Moors for
all the depredations they had committed. They chose, therefore, about
two hundred hardy cavaliers, the flower of those seasoned warriors on
the opposite side of the Guadalquivir, who formed the little army of
the good Master of Santiago. When they were all assembled together,
Don Lorenzo put them in ambush, in the way by which the Moors were
accustomed to pass in their maraudings, and he instructed them, in
pursuing the Moors, to stop at the bridge, and by no means to pass
beyond it; for between it and the city there was a great host of the
enemy, and the bridge was so narrow that to retreat over it would
be perilous in the extreme. This order was given to all, but was
particularly intended for Garci Perez, to restrain his daring spirit,
which was ever apt to run into peril.

They had not been long in ambush when they heard the distant tramp
of the enemy upon the bridge, and found that the Moors were upon
the forage. They kept concealed, and the Moors passed by them in
careless and irregular manner, as men apprehending no danger. Scarce
had they gone by when the cavaliers rushed forth, charged into the
midst of them, and threw them all into confusion. Many were killed or
overthrown in the shock, the rest took to flight, and made at full
speed for the bridge. Most of the Christian soldiers, according to
orders, stopped at the bridge; but Don Lorenzo, with a few of his
cavaliers, followed the enemy half way across, making great havoc in
that narrow pass. Many of the Moors, in their panic, flung themselves
from the bridge, and perished in the Guadayra; others were cut down
and trampled under the hoofs of friends and foes. Don Lorenzo, in
the heat of the fight, cried aloud incessantly, defying the Moors,
and proclaiming his name,—“Turn hither! turn hither! ’Tis I, Lorenzo
Xuarez!” But few of the Moors cared to look him in the face.

Don Lorenzo now returned to his cavaliers, but on looking round,
Garci Perez was not to be seen. All were dismayed, fearing some evil
fortune had befallen him; when, on casting their eyes beyond the
bridge, they saw him on the opposite side, surrounded by Moors and
fighting with desperate valor.

“Garci Perez has deceived us,” said Don Lorenzo, “and has passed the
bridge, contrary to agreement. But to the rescue, comrades! never
let it be said that so good a cavalier as Garci Perez was lost for
want of our assistance.” So saying, they all put spurs to their
horses, rushed again upon the bridge, and broke their way across,
cutting down and overturning the Moors, and driving great numbers to
fling themselves into the river. When the Moors who had surrounded
Garci Perez saw this band of cavaliers rushing from the bridge, they
turned to defend themselves. The contest was fierce, but broken;
many of the Moors took refuge in the river, but the Christians
followed and slew them among the waves. They continued fighting for
the remainder of the day, quite up to the gate of the Alcazar; and
if the chronicles of the times speak with their usual veracity, full
three thousand infidels bit the dust on that occasion. When Don
Lorenzo returned to the camp, and was in presence of the king and
of numerous cavaliers, great encomiums were passed upon his valor;
but he modestly replied that Garci Perez had that day made them good
soldiers by force.

From that time forward the Moors attempted no further inroads into
the camp, so severe a lesson had they received from these brave

  [92] _Cronica General de España_, pt. 4. _Cronica del Rey
  Fernando el Santo_, c. 60. _Corona Gothica_, T. 3, p. 126.

The city of Seville was connected with the suburb of Triana by a
strong bridge of boats, fastened together by massive chains of iron.
By this bridge a constant communication was kept up between Triana
and the city, and mutual aid and support passed and repassed. While
this bridge remained, it was impossible to complete the investment of
the city, or to capture the castle of Triana.

The bold Admiral Bonifaz at length conceived a plan to break this
bridge asunder, and thus to cut off all communication between the
city and Triana. No sooner had this idea entered his mind than he
landed, and proceeded with great speed to the royal tent, to lay it
before the king. Then a consultation was summoned by the king of
ancient mariners and artificers of ships, and other persons learned
in maritime affairs; and after Admiral Bonifaz had propounded his
plan, it was thought to be good, and all preparations were made
to carry it into effect. The admiral took two of his largest and
strongest ships, and fortified them at the prows with solid timber
and with plates of iron; and he put within them a great number of
chosen men, well armed and provided with everything for attack and
defense. Of one he took the command himself. It was the third day of
May, the day of the most Holy Cross, that he chose for this grand and
perilous attempt; and the pious King Fernando, to insure success,
ordered that a cross should be carried as a standard at the masthead
of each ship.

On the third of May, towards the hour of noon, the two ships
descended the Guadalquivir for some distance, to gain room to come
up with the greater violence. Here they waited the rising of the
tide, and as soon as it was in full force, and a favorable wind
had sprung up from the sea, they hoisted anchor, spread all sail,
and put themselves in the midst of the current. The whole shores
were lined on each side with Christian troops, watching the event
with great anxiety. The king and the Prince Alfonso, with their
warriors, on the one side had drawn close to the city to prevent the
sallying forth of the Moors, while the good Master of Santiago, Don
Pelayo Perez Correa, kept watch upon the gates of Triana. The Moors
crowded the tops of their towers, their walls and house-tops, and
prepared engines and weapons of all kinds to overwhelm the ships with

Twice the bold admiral set all sail and started on his career, and
twice the wind died away before he had proceeded half his course.
Shouts of joy and derision rose from the walls and towers of Seville,
while the warriors in the ships began to fear that their attempt
would be unsuccessful. At length a fresh and strong wind arose
that swelled every sail and sent the ships ploughing up the waves
of the Guadalquivir. A dead silence prevailed among the hosts on
either bank, even the Moors remained silent, in fixed and breathless
suspense. When the ships arrived within reach of the walls of the
city and the suburbs, a tremendous attack was commenced from every
wall and tower; great engines discharged stones and offensive weapons
of all kinds, and flaming pots of Greek fire. On the tower of gold
were stationed catapults and vast cross-bows that were worked with
cranks, and from hence an iron shower was rained upon the ships. The
Moors in Triana were equally active; from every wall and turret, from
house-tops, and from the banks of the river, an incessant assault was
kept up with catapults, cross-bows, slings, darts, and everything
that could annoy. Through all this tempest of war, the ships kept
on their course. The first ship which arrived struck the bridge on
the part towards Triana. The shock resounded from shore to shore,
the whole fabric trembled, the ship recoiled and reeled, but the
bridge was unbroken; and shouts of joy rose from the Moors on each
side of the river. Immediately after came the ship of the admiral.
It struck the bridge just about the centre with a tremendous crash.
The iron chains which bound the boats together snapped as if they
had been flax. The boats were crushed and shattered and flung wide
asunder, and the ship of the admiral proceeded in triumph through
the open space. No sooner did the king and the Prince Alfonso see
the success of the admiral, than they pressed with their troops
closely round the city, and prevented the Moors from sallying forth;
while the ships, having accomplished their enterprise, extricated
themselves from their dangerous situation, and returned in triumph to
their accustomed anchorage. This was the fatal blow that dismembered
Seville from Triana, and insured the downfall of the city.




Investment of Triana.—Garci Perez and the Infanzon.

On the day after the breaking of the bridge, the king, the Prince
Alfonso, the Prince Enrique, the various masters of the orders, and
a great part of the army, crossed the Guadalquivir and commenced an
attack on Triana, while the bold Admiral Bonifaz approached with his
ships and assaulted the place from the water. But the Christian army
was unprovided with ladders or machines for the attack, and fought to
great disadvantage. The Moors, from the safe shelter of their walls
and towers, rained a shower of missiles of all kinds. As they were
so high above the Christians, their arrows, darts, and lances came
with the greater force. They were skillful with the cross-bow, and
had engines of such force that the darts which they discharged would
sometimes pass through a cavalier all armed, and bury themselves in
the earth.[93]

  [93] _Cronica General_, pt. 4, 341.

The very women combated from the walls, and hurled down stones that
crushed the warriors beneath.

While the army was closely investing Triana, and fierce encounters
were daily taking place between Moor and Christian, there arrived at
the camp a youthful Infanzon, or noble, of proud lineage. He brought
with him a shining train of vassals, all newly armed and appointed,
and his own armor, all fresh and lustrous, showed none of the dents
and bruises and abuses of the war. As this gay and gorgeous cavalier
was patrolling the camp, with several cavaliers, he beheld Garci
Perez pass by, in armor and accoutrements all worn and soiled by the
hard service he had performed, and he saw a similar device to his
own, of white waves, emblazoned on the scutcheon of this unknown
warrior. Then the nobleman was highly ruffled and incensed, and he
exclaimed, “How is this? who is this sorry cavalier that dares to
bear these devices? By my faith, he must either give them up or show
his reasons for usurping them.” The other cavaliers exclaimed, “Be
cautious how you speak; this is Garci Perez; a braver cavalier wears
not sword in Spain. For all he goes thus modestly and quietly about,
he is a very lion in the field, nor does he assume anything that he
cannot well maintain. Should he hear this which you have said, trust
us he would not rest quiet until he had terrible satisfaction.”

Now so it happened that certain mischief-makers carried word to Garci
Perez of what the nobleman had said, expecting to see him burst into
fierce indignation, and defy the other to the field. But Garci Perez
remained tranquil, and said not a word.

Within a day or two after, there was a sally from the castle of
Triana and a hot skirmish between the Moors and Christians; and Garci
Perez and the Infanzon, and a number of cavaliers, pursued the Moors
up to the barriers of the castle. Here the enemy rallied and made a
fierce defense, and killed several of the cavaliers. But Garci Perez
put spurs to his horse, and couching his lance, charged among the
thickest of the foes, and followed by a handful of his companions,
drove the Moors to the very gates of Triana. The Moors seeing how
few were their pursuers turned upon them, and dealt bravely with
sword and lance and mace, while stones and darts and arrows were
rained down from the towers above the gates. At length the Moors
took refuge within the walls, leaving the field to the victorious
cavaliers. Garci Perez drew off coolly and calmly amidst a shower of
missiles from the wall. He came out of the battle with his armor all
battered and defaced; his helmet bruised, the crest broken off, and
his buckler so dented and shattered that the device could scarcely be
perceived. On returning to the barrier, he found there the Infanzon,
with his armor all uninjured, and his armorial bearing as fresh as if
just emblazoned, for the vaunting warrior had not ventured beyond the
barrier. Then Garci Perez drew near to the Infanzon, and eying him
from head to foot, “Señor cavalier,” said he, “you may well dispute
my right to wear this honorable device in my shield, since you see I
take so little care of it that it is almost destroyed. You, on the
other hand, are worthy of bearing it. You are the guardian angel of
honor, since you guard it so carefully as to put it to no risk. I
will only observe to you that the sword kept in the scabbard rusts,
and the valor that is never put to the proof becomes sullied.”[94]

  [94] _Cronica General_, pt. 4. _Corona Gothica_, T. 3, § 16.

At these words the Infanzon was deeply humiliated, for he saw
that Garci Perez had heard of his empty speeches, and he felt how
unworthily he had spoken of so valiant and magnanimous a cavalier.
“Señor cavalier,” said he, “pardon my ignorance and presumption; you
alone are worthy of bearing those arms, for you derive not nobility
from them, but ennoble them by your glorious deeds.”

Then Garci Perez blushed at the praises he had thus drawn upon
himself, and he regretted the harshness of his words towards the
Infanzon, and he not merely pardoned him all that had passed, but
gave him his hand in pledge of amity, and from that time they were
close friends and companions in arms.[95]

  [95] _Cronica General_, pt. 4. _Cronica del Rey Santo._ _Corona
  Gothica_, T. 3, § 16.




Capitulation of Seville.—Dispersion of the Moorish
Inhabitants.—Triumphant Entry of King Fernando.

About this time there arrived in Seville a Moorish alfaqui, named
Orias, with a large company of warriors, who came to this war as if
performing a pilgrimage, for it was considered a holy war no less
by infidels than Christians. This Orias was of a politic and crafty
nature, and he suggested to the commander of Seville a stratagem by
which they might get Prince Alfonso in their power, and compel King
Fernando to raise the siege by way of ransom. The counsel of Orias
was adopted, after a consultation with the principal cavaliers,
and measures taken to carry it into execution; a Moor was sent,
therefore, as if secretly and by stealth, to Prince Alfonso, and
offered to put him in possession of two towers of the wall, if he
would come in person to receive them, which towers once in his
possession, it would be easy to overpower the city.

Prince Alfonso listened to the envoy with seeming eagerness, but
suspected some deceit, and thought it unwise to put his person in
such jeopardy. Lest, however, there should be truth in his proposals,
a party of chosen cavaliers were sent as if to take possession of
the towers, and with them was Don Pero Nuñez de Guzman, disguised as
the prince.

When they came to the place where the Moors had appointed to meet
them, they beheld a party of infidels, strongly armed, who advanced
with sinister looks, and attempted to surround Don Nuñez, but he,
being on his guard, put spurs to his horse, and, breaking through the
midst of them, escaped. His companions followed his example, all but
one, who was struck from his horse and cut to pieces by the Moors.[96]

  [96] _Cronica General_, pt. 4, p. 424.

Just after this event there arrived a great reinforcement to the camp
from the city of Cordova, bringing provisions and various munitions
of war. Finding his army thus increased, the king had a consultation
with Admiral Bonifaz, and determined completely to cut off all
communication between Seville and Triana, for the Moors still crossed
the river occasionally by fording. When they were about to carry
their plan into effect, the crafty Alfaqui Orias crossed to Triana,
accompanied by a number of Ganzules. He was charged with instructions
to the garrison, and to concert some mode of reuniting their forces,
or of effecting some blow upon the Christian camp; for unless they
could effect a union and coöperation, it would be impossible to make
much longer resistance.

Scarce had Orias passed, when the Christian sentinels gave notice.
Upon this, a detachment of the Christian army immediately crossed
and took possession of the opposite shore, and Admiral Bonifaz
stationed his fleet in the middle of the river. Thus the return of
Orias was prevented, and all intercourse between the places, even
by messenger, completely interrupted. The city and Triana were now
severally attacked, and unable to render each other assistance. The
Moors were daily diminishing in number; many slain in battle, many
taken captive, and many dying of hunger and disease. The Christian
forces were daily augmenting, and were animated by continual success,
whereas mutiny and sedition began to break out among the inhabitants
of the city. The Moorish commander Axataf, therefore, seeing all
further resistance vain, sent ambassadors to capitulate with King
Fernando. It was a hard and humiliating struggle to resign this fair
city, the queen of Andalusia, the seat of Moorish sway and splendor,
and which had been under Moorish domination ever since the Conquest.

The valiant Axataf endeavored to make various conditions; that King
Fernando should raise the siege on receiving the tribute which had
hitherto been paid to the miramamolin. This being peremptorily
refused, he offered to give up a third of the city, and then half,
building at his own cost a wall to divide the Moorish part from the
Christian. King Fernando, however, would listen to no such terms.
He demanded the entire surrender of the place, with the exception
of the persons and effects of the inhabitants, and permitting the
commander to retain possession of St. Lucar, Aznal Farache, and
Niebla. The commander of Seville saw the sword suspended over his
head, and had to submit; the capitulations of the surrender were
signed, when Axataf made one last request, that he might be permitted
to demolish the grand mosque and the principal tower (or Giralda) of
the city.[97] He felt that these would remain perpetual monuments of
his disgrace. The Prince Alfonso was present when this last demand
was made, and his father looked at him significantly, as if he
desired the reply to come from his lips. The prince rose indignantly
and exclaimed, that if there should be a single tile missing from
the temple or a single brick from the tower, it should be paid by so
many lives that the streets of Seville should run with blood. The
Moors were silenced by this reply, and prepared with heavy hearts to
fulfill the capitulation. One month was allowed them for the purpose,
the alcazar or citadel of Seville being given up to the Christians as
a security.

  [97] _Mariana_, L. 13, c. 7.

On the twenty-third day of November this important fortress was
surrendered, after a siege of eighteen months. A deputation of the
principal Moors came forth and presented King Fernando with the keys
of the city; at the same time the aljamia, or council of the Jews,
presented him with the key of Jewry, the quarter of the city which
they inhabited. This key was notable for its curious workmanship. It
was formed of all kinds of metals. The guards of it were wrought into
letters, bearing the following signification,—“God will open—the
king will enter.” On the ring was inscribed in Hebrew,—“The King of
kings will enter; all the world will behold him.” This key is still
preserved in the cathedral of Seville, in the place where repose the
remains of the sainted King Fernando.[98]

  [98] In Castile, whenever the kings entered any place where
  there was a synagogue, the Jews assembled in council and paid to
  the Monteros, or bull-fighters, twelve maravedis each, to guard
  them, that they should receive no harm from the the Christians;
  being held in such contempt and odium, that it was necessary they
  should be under the safeguard of the king, not to be injured or

  [A] Zuniga, _Annales de Sevilla_.

During the month of grace the Moors sold such of their effects as
they could not carry with them, and the king provided vessels for
such as chose to depart for Africa. Upwards of one hundred thousand,
it is said, were thus convoyed by Admiral Bonifaz, while upwards of
two hundred thousand dispersed themselves throughout such of the
territory of Andalusia as still remained in possession of the Moors.

When the month was expired, and the city was evacuated by its Moorish
inhabitants, King Fernando the Saint entered in solemn triumph, in a
grand religious and military procession. There were all the captains
and cavaliers of the army, in shining armor, with the prelates, and
masters of the religious and military orders, and the nobility of
Castile, Leon, and Aragon, in their richest apparel. The streets
resounded with the swelling notes of martial music and with the
joyous acclamations of the multitude.

In the midst of the procession was the venerable effigy of the most
Holy Mary, on a triumphal car of silver, wrought with admirable
skill; and immediately after followed the pious king, with a drawn
sword in his hand, and on his left was Prince Alfonso and the other

The procession advanced to the principal mosque, which had been
purified and consecrated as a Christian temple, where the triumphal
car of the Holy Virgin was placed at the grand altar. Here the pious
king knelt and returned thanks to Heaven and the Virgin for this
signal victory, and all present chanted _Te Deum Laudamus_.




Death of King Fernando.

When King Fernando had regulated everything for the good government
and prosperity of Seville, he sallied forth with his conquering army
to subdue the surrounding country. He soon brought under subjection
Xerez, Medina Sidonia, Alua, Bepel, and many other places near the
sea-coast; some surrendered voluntarily, others were taken by force;
he maintained a strict peace with his vassal the King of Granada,
but finding not sufficient scope for his arms in Spain, and being
inflamed with a holy zeal in the cause of the faith, he determined to
pass over into Africa, and retaliate upon the Moslems their daring
invasion of his country. For this purpose he ordered a powerful
armada to be prepared in the ports of Cantabria, to be put under the
command of the bold Admiral Bonifaz.

In the midst of his preparations, which spread consternation
throughout Mauritania, the pious king fell dangerously ill at Seville
of a dropsy. When he found his dying hour approaching, he made
his death-bed confession, and requested the holy Sacrament to be
administered to him. A train of bishops and other clergy, among whom
was his son Philip, Archbishop of Seville, brought the Sacrament
into his presence. The king rose from his bed, threw himself on
his knees, with a rope round his neck and a crucifix in his hand,
and poured forth his soul in penitence and prayer. Having received
the _viatica_ and the holy Sacrament, he commanded all ornaments
of royalty to be taken from his chamber. He assembled his children
round his bedside, and blessed his son the Prince Alfonso, as his
first-born and the heir of his throne, giving him excellent advice
for the government of his kingdom, and charging him to protect the
interests of his brethren. The pious king afterwards fell into an
ecstasy or trance, in which he beheld angels watching round his bed
to bear his soul to heaven. He awoke from this in a state of heavenly
rapture, and, asking for a candle, he took it in his hand and made
his ultimate profession of the faith. He then requested the clergy
present to repeat the litanies, and to chant the _Te Deum Laudamus_.
In chanting the first verse of the hymn, the king gently inclined
his head, with perfect serenity of countenance, and rendered up his
spirit. “The hymn,” says the ancient chronicle, “which was begun on
earth by men, was continued by the voices of angels, which were heard
by all present.” These doubtless were the angels which the king in
his ecstasy had beheld around his couch, and which now accompanied
him, in his glorious ascent to heaven, with songs of holy triumph.
Nor was it in his chamber alone that these voices were heard, but in
all the royal alcazars of Seville, the sweetest voices were heard in
the air and seraphic music, as of angelic choirs, at the moment that
the sainted king expired.[99] He died on the 30th of May, the vespers
of the Holy Trinity, in the year of the Incarnation one thousand
two hundred and forty-two, aged seventy-three years—having reigned
thirty-five years over Castile and twenty over Leon.

  [99] Pablo de Espinosa, _Grandesas de Sevilla_, fol. 146.
  _Cronica del Santo Rey_, c. 78. _Corona Gothica_, T. 3, p. 166.

Two days after his death he was interred in his royal chapel in the
Holy Church, in a sepulchre of alabaster, which still remains. It is
asserted by grave authors that at the time of putting his body in the
sepulchre, the choir of angels again was heard chanting his eulogium,
and filling the air with sweet melody in praise of his virtues.[100]

  [100] Argote de Molina, _Nobleza de Andaluzia_, L. 1, c. 21.
  Tomas Bocio, _Signales de la Iglesia_, L. 20. Don Rodrigo
  Sanchez, Bishop of Palencia, pt. 3, c. 40.

When Alhamar, the Moorish king of Granada, heard of his death, he
caused great demonstrations of mourning to be made throughout his
dominions. During his life he sent yearly a number of Moors with one
hundred wax tapers, to assist at his exequies, which ceremony was
observed by his successors, until the time of the conquest of Granada
by Fernando the Catholic.[101]

  [101] Pablo de Espinosa, fol. 146.







  _To the Editor of “The Knickerbocker”:—_

Sir,—I have already given you a legend or two, drawn from ancient
Spanish sources, and may occasionally give you a few more. I love
these old Spanish themes, especially when they have a dash of the
Morisco in them, and treat of the times when the Moslems maintained
a foothold in the peninsula. They have a high, spicy, oriental
flavor, not to be found in any other themes that are merely European.
In fact, Spain is a country that stands alone in the midst of
Europe—severed in habits, manners, and modes of thinking from all
its continental neighbors. It is a romantic country; but its romance
has none of the sentimentality of modern European romance; it is
chiefly derived from the brilliant regions of the East, and from the
high-minded school of Saracenic chivalry.

The Arab invasion and conquest brought a higher civilization, and
a nobler style of thinking into Gothic Spain. The Arabs were a
quick-witted, sagacious, proud-spirited, and poetical people, and
were imbued with oriental science and literature. Wherever they
established a seat of power, it became a rallying-place for the
learned and ingenious; and they softened and refined the people
whom they conquered. By degrees, occupancy seemed to give them a
hereditary right to their foothold in the land; they ceased to be
looked upon as invaders, and were regarded as rival neighbors. The
peninsula, broken up into a variety of states, both Christian and
Moslem, became for centuries a great campaigning ground, where the
art of war seemed to be the principal business of man, and was
carried to the highest pitch of romantic chivalry. The original
ground of hostility, a difference of faith, gradually lost its
rancor. Neighboring states, of opposite creeds, were occasionally
linked together in alliances, offensive and defensive; so that the
Cross and Crescent were to be seen side by side, fighting against
some common enemy. In times of peace, too, the noble youth of either
faith resorted to the same cities, Christian or Moslem, to school
themselves in military science. Even in the temporary truces of
sanguinary wars, the warriors who had recently striven together in
the deadly conflicts of the field, laid aside their animosity, met at
tournaments, jousts, and other military festivities, and exchanged
the courtesies of gentle and generous spirits. Thus the opposite
races became frequently mingled together in peaceful intercourse, or
if any rivalry took place, it was in those high courtesies and nobler
acts which bespeak the accomplished cavalier. Warriors of opposite
creeds became ambitious of transcending each other in magnanimity
as well as valor. Indeed, the chivalric virtues were refined upon to
a degree sometimes fastidious and constrained, but at other times
inexpressibly noble and affecting. The annals of the times teem with
illustrious instances of high-wrought courtesy, romantic generosity,
lofty disinterestedness, and punctilious honor, that warm the very
soul to read them. These have furnished themes for national plays
and poems, or have been celebrated in those all-pervading ballads,
which are as the life-breath of the people, and thus have continued
to exercise an influence on the national character which centuries
of vicissitude and decline have not been able to destroy; so that,
with all their faults, and they are many, the Spaniards, even at
the present day, are, on many points, the most high-minded and
proud-spirited people of Europe. It is true, the romance of feeling
derived from the sources I have mentioned has, like all other
romance, its affectations and extremes. It renders the Spaniard at
times pompous and grandiloquent; prone to carry the “pundonor,” or
point of honor, beyond the bounds of sober sense and sound morality;
disposed, in the midst of poverty, to affect the “grande caballero,”
and to look down with sovereign disdain upon arts “mechanical,” and
all the gainful pursuits of plebeian life; but this very inflation
of spirit, while it fills his brain with vapors, lifts him above a
thousand meannesses; and though it often keeps him in indigence, ever
protects him from vulgarity.

In the present day when popular literature is running into the
low levels of life, and luxuriating on the vices and follies of
mankind; and when the universal pursuit of gain is trampling down the
early growth of poetic feeling, and wearing out the verdure of the
soul, I question whether it would not be of service for the reader
occasionally to turn to these records of prouder times and loftier
modes of thinking, and to steep himself to the very lips in old
Spanish romance.

For my own part, I have a shelf or two of venerable, parchment-bound
tomes, picked up here and there about the peninsula, and filled with
chronicles, plays, and ballads about Moors and Christians, which
I keep by me as mental tonics, in the same way that a provident
house-wife has her cupboard of cordials. Whenever I find my mind
brought below par, by the common-place of every-day life, or jarred
by the sordid collisions of the world, or put out of tune by the
shrewd selfishness of modern utilitarianism, I resort to these
venerable tomes, as did the worthy hero of La Mancha to his books
of chivalry, and refresh and tone up my spirit by a deep draught
of their contents. They have some such effect upon me as Falstaff
ascribes to a good Sherris sack, “warming the blood, and filling the
brain with fiery and delectable shapes.”

I here subjoin, Mr. Editor, a small specimen of the cordials I have
mentioned, just drawn from my Spanish cupboard, which I recommend to
your palate. If you find it to your taste, you may pass it on to your

  Your correspondent and well-wisher,




In the cloisters of the ancient Benedictine convent of San Domingo,
at Silos, in Castile, are the mouldering yet magnificent monuments
of the once powerful and chivalrous family of Hinojosa. Among these
reclines the marble figure of a knight, in complete armor, with the
hands pressed together, as if in prayer. On one side of his tomb
is sculptured, in relief, a band of Christian cavaliers capturing
a cavalcade of male and female Moors; on the other side, the same
cavaliers are represented kneeling before an altar. The tomb, like
most of the neighboring monuments, is almost in ruins, and the
sculpture is nearly unintelligible, excepting to the keen eye of the
antiquary. The story connected with the sepulchre, however, is still
preserved in the old Spanish chronicles, and is to the following

In old times, several hundred years ago, there was a noble Castilian
cavalier, named Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa, lord of a border
castle, which had stood the brunt of many a Moorish foray. He
had seventy horsemen as his household troops, all of the ancient
Castilian proof; stark warriors, hard riders, and men of iron: with
these he scoured the Moorish lands, and made his name terrible
throughout the borders. His castle hall was covered with banners
and scimetars and Moslem helms, the trophies of his prowess. Don
Munio was, moreover, a keen huntsman; and rejoiced in hounds of all
kinds, steeds for the chase, and hawks for the towering sport of
falconry. When not engaged in warfare, his delight was to beat up
the neighboring forests; and scarcely ever did he ride forth without
hound and horn, a boar-spear in his hand, or a hawk upon his fist,
and an attendant train of huntsmen.

His wife, Doña Maria Palacin, was of a gentle and timid nature,
little fitted to be the spouse of so hardy and adventurous a knight;
and many a tear did the poor lady shed when he sallied forth upon his
daring enterprises, and many a prayer did she offer up for his safety.

As this doughty cavalier was one day hunting, he stationed himself
in a thicket, on the borders of a green glade of the forest, and
dispersed his followers to rouse the game and drive it towards his
stand. He had not been here long when a cavalcade of Moors, of both
sexes, came pranking over the forest lawn. They were unarmed, and
magnificently dressed in robes of tissue and embroidery, rich shawls
of India, bracelets and anklets of gold, and jewels that sparkled in
the sun.

At the head of this gay cavalcade rode a youthful cavalier, superior
to the rest in dignity and loftiness of demeanor, and in splendor
of attire; beside him was a damsel, whose veil, blown aside by the
breeze, displayed a face of surpassing beauty, and eyes cast down in
maiden modesty, yet beaming with tenderness and joy.

Don Munio thanked his stars for sending him such a prize, and exulted
at the thought of bearing home to his wife the glittering spoils of
these infidels. Putting his hunting-horn to his lips, he gave a blast
that rung through the forest. His huntsmen came running from all
quarters, and the astonished Moors were surrounded and made captives.

The beautiful Moor wrung her hands in despair, and her female
attendants uttered the most piercing cries. The young Moorish
cavalier alone retained self-possession. He inquired the name of the
Christian knight who commanded this troop of horsemen. When told
that it was Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa, his countenance lighted
up. Approaching that cavalier, and kissing his hand, “Don Munio
Sancho,” said he, “I have heard of your fame as a true and valiant
knight, terrible in arms, but schooled in the noble virtues of
chivalry. Such do I trust to find you. In me you behold Abadil, son
of a Moorish alcaid. I am on the way to celebrate my nuptials with
this lady; chance has thrown us in your power, but I confide in your
magnanimity. Take all our treasure and jewels; demand what ransom you
think proper for our persons, but suffer us not to be insulted or

When the good knight heard this appeal, and beheld the beauty of the
youthful pair, his heart was touched with tenderness and courtesy.
“God forbid,” said he, “that I should disturb such happy nuptials. My
prisoners in troth shall ye be, for fifteen days, and immured within
my castle, where I claim, as conqueror, the right of celebrating your

So saying, he dispatched one of his fleetest horsemen in advance, to
notify Doña Maria Palacin of the coming of this bridal party; while
he and his huntsmen escorted the cavalcade, not as captors, but as
a guard of honor. As they drew near to the castle, the banners were
hung out, and the trumpets sounded from the battlements; and on
their nearer approach, the drawbridge was lowered, and Doña Maria
came forth to meet them, attended by her ladies and knights, her
pages and her minstrels. She took the young bride, Allifra, in her
arms, kissed her with the tenderness of a sister, and conducted her
into the castle. In the mean time, Don Munio sent forth missives in
every direction, and had viands and dainties of all kinds collected
from the country round; and the wedding of the Moorish lovers was
celebrated with all possible state and festivity. For fifteen days
the castle was given up to joy and revelry. There were tiltings and
jousts at the ring, and bull-fights, and banquets, and dances to the
sound of minstrelsy. When the fifteen days were at an end, he made
the bride and bridegroom magnificent presents, and conducted them and
their attendants safely beyond the borders. Such, in old times, were
the courtesy and generosity of a Spanish cavalier.

Several years after this event, the king of Castile summoned his
nobles to assist him in a campaign against the Moors. Don Munio
Sancho was among the first to answer to the call, with seventy
horsemen, all stanch and well-tried warriors. His wife, Doña Maria,
hung about his neck. “Alas, my lord!” exclaimed she, “how often wilt
thou tempt thy fate, and when will thy thirst for glory be appeased?”

“One battle more,” replied Don Munio, “one battle more, for the honor
of Castile, and I here make a vow that when this is over, I will
lay by my sword, and repair with my cavaliers in pilgrimage to the
Sepulchre of our Lord at Jerusalem.” The cavaliers all joined with
him in the vow, and Doña Maria felt in some degree soothed in spirit;
still, she saw with a heavy heart the departure of her husband, and
watched his banner with wistful eyes, until it disappeared among the
trees of the forest.

The king of Castile led his army to the plains of Salmanara, where
they encountered the Moorish host, near to Ucles. The battle was long
and bloody; the Christians repeatedly wavered, and were as often
rallied by the energy of their commanders. Don Munio was covered with
wounds, but refused to leave the field. The Christians at length
gave way, and the king was hardly pressed, and in danger of being

Don Munio called upon his cavaliers to follow him to the rescue. “Now
is the time,” cried he, “to prove your loyalty. Fall to, like brave
men! We fight for the true faith, and if we lose our lives here, we
gain a better life hereafter.”

Rushing with his men between the king and his pursuers, they checked
the latter in their career, and gave time for their monarch to
escape; but they fell victims to their loyalty. They all fought
to the last gasp. Don Munio was singled out by a powerful Moorish
knight, but having been wounded in the right arm, he fought to
disadvantage, and was slain. The battle being over, the Moor paused
to possess himself of the spoils of this redoubtable Christian
warrior. When he unlaced the helmet, however, and beheld the
countenance of Don Munio, he gave a great cry; and smote his breast.
“Woe is me?” cried he, “I have slain my benefactor! the flower of
knightly virtue! the most magnanimous of cavaliers!”

While the battle had been raging on the plain of Salmanara, Doña
Maria Palacin remained in her castle, a prey to the keenest anxiety.
Her eyes were ever fixed on the road that led from the country of the
Moors, and often she asked the watchman of the tower, “What seest

One evening, at the shadowy hour of twilight, the warden sounded his
horn. “I see,” cried he, “a numerous train winding up the valley.
There are mingled Moors and Christians. The banner of my lord is in
the advance. Joyful tidings!” exclaimed the old seneschal; “my lord
returns in triumph, and brings captives!” Then the castle courts
rang with shouts of joy; and the standard was displayed, and the
trumpets were sounded, and the drawbridge was lowered, and Doña Maria
went forth with her ladies, and her knights, and her pages, and her
minstrels, to welcome her lord from the wars. But as the train drew
nigh, she beheld a sumptuous bier, covered with black velvet, and on
it lay a warrior, as if taking his repose; he lay in his armor, with
his helmet on his head, and his sword in his hand, as one who had
never been conquered, and around the bier were the escutcheons of the
house of Hinojosa.

A number of Moorish cavaliers attended the bier, with emblems of
mourning and with dejected countenances; and their leader cast
himself at the feet of Doña Maria, and hid his face in his hands. She
beheld in him the gallant Abadil, whom she had once welcomed with his
bride to her castle, but who now came with the body of her lord, whom
he had unknowingly slain in battle!

The sepulchre erected in the cloisters of the Convent of San Domingo
was achieved at the expense of the Moor Abadil, as a feeble testimony
of his grief for the death of the good knight Don Munio, and his
reverence for his memory. The tender and faithful Doña Maria soon
followed her lord to the tomb. On one of the stones of a small arch,
beside his sepulchre, is the following simple inscription: “_Hic
jacet Maria Palacin, uxor Munonis Sancij De Hinojosa_:” Here lies
Maria Palacin, wife of Munio Sancho de Hinojosa.

The legend of Don Munio Sancho does not conclude with his death.
On the same day on which the battle took place on the plain of
Salmanara, a chaplain of the Holy Temple at Jerusalem, while standing
at the outer gate, beheld a train of Christian cavaliers advancing,
as if in pilgrimage. The chaplain was a native of Spain, and as the
pilgrims approached, he knew the foremost to be Don Munio Sancho de
Hinojosa, with whom he had been well acquainted in former times.
Hastening to the patriarch, he told him of the honorable rank of the
pilgrims at the gate. The patriarch, therefore, went forth with a
grand procession of priests and monks, and received the pilgrims with
all due honor. There were seventy cavaliers, beside their leader,
all stark and lofty warriors. They carried their helmets in their
hands, and their faces were deadly pale. They greeted no one, nor
looked either to the right or to the left, but entered the chapel,
and kneeling before the Sepulchre of our Saviour, performed their
orisons in silence. When they had concluded, they rose as if to
depart, and the patriarch and his attendants advanced to speak to
them, but they were no more to be seen. Every one marveled what could
be the meaning of this prodigy. The patriarch carefully noted down
the day, and sent to Castile to learn tidings of Don Munio Sancho
de Hinojosa. He received for reply, that on the very day specified
that worthy knight, with seventy of his followers, had been slain in
battle. These, therefore, must have been the blessed spirits of those
Christian warriors, come to fulfill their vow of a pilgrimage to the
Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Such was Castilian faith in the olden
time, which kept its word, even beyond the grave.

If any one should doubt of the miraculous apparition of these phantom
knights, let him consult the “History of the Kings of Castile and
Leon,” by the learned and pious Fray Prudencio de Sandoval, Bishop of
Pamplona, where he will find it recorded in the History of the King
Don Alonzo VI., on the hundred and second page. It is too precious a
legend to be lightly abandoned to the doubter.


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