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The Romance of Spanish History by  John S.C. Abbott
Table of Contents


 

 

THE CONQUEST OF GRANADA

(From 1483 A.D. to 1492 A.D.)

The Siege and Capture of Malaga.—Chivalry of Ferdinand.—Desperation of the Moors.—Terms of Capitulation.—Doom of the Captives.—Siege of Baza.—Influence of the Queen.—Brilliant Pageant.—The Affiance of the Infanta Isabella.—The Tournament.—Siege of Granada.—Chivalric Encounters.—Santa Fé.—The Fall of Granada.—The Extinction of the Moorish Empire in Spain.

[166] FERDINAND and Isabella now commenced vigorously the enterprise of conquering Granada, and of thus expelling the Moors from their last foothold in Spain. The city of Malaga, on the coast of the Mediterranean, was perhaps the strongest of the Moorish fortified towns. It was a beautiful morning in April, 1487, when Ferdinand, at the head of a formidable host of forty thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, marched from the fair city of Cordova upon this renowned campaign. The most chivalric nobles of his realm, on gayly-caparisoned chargers, had gathered from all quarters of the kingdom to join the enterprise. In that warm and sunny clime April has all the charms of June in higher latitudes. 'The fields were full of verdure and bloom, and the groves resounded with bird-songs. The inhabitants of Cordova were assembled to witness the departure of the troops, and greeted them, as they defiled through the streets, with acclamations.

The march, through a wild and hilly country, was slow, as the roads were bad, and the rivers were swollen with excessive rains. On the 17th of April the Spanish army [167] sat down before one of the outposts of Malaga, called Velez-Malaga. The Moors were aware of the importance of this position, and had stationed a very strong force for its defense. Clouds of soldiers were seen mustering along the heights by day, and their innumerable camp-fires illumined the horizon by night. The Moors were as brave as the Christians, and as ably led by their heroic chieftains. The battle on both sides was fiercely urged with ambuscades and nocturnal sallies, and every other artifice of the most desperate warfare.

One day Ferdinand was dining in his tent, where he commanded a wide view of the field of conflict, when he saw a party of Christians, who had been sent to fortify an eminence near the enemy's works, retreating in disorder, hotly pursued by a squadron of moors. The impetuous king leaped upon his horse, and, though divested of all defensive armor except his cuirass, rallied his men, and, placing himself at their head, charged gallantly into the midst of the enemy. Having thrown his lance, he endeavored to draw his sword from its Scabbard, which hung from the saddle-bow. By some accidental indentation the sword was held fast, so that he could riot extricate it.

Just then several Moors fell fiercely upon him. He would inevitably have been slain but for the prompt action of two brave cavaliers who, with their attendants, rushed to his rescue, and, after a severe skirmish drove off the assailants. The nobles remonstrated with the king against such wanton exposure of his person, saying that he could serve them far more effectually with his head than with his hand. Ferdinand replied, in words which endeared him to the whole army, "I can not stop to calculate chances when my subjects are periling their lives for my sake."

[168] Velez-Malaga, after a siege of ten days, fell into the hands of Ferdinand. Then the Spanish army pressed triumphantly forward to the assault of Malaga itself. This city was second only to Granada, the capital of the Moorish kingdom. Enjoying one of the finest harbors upon the Mediterranean, it was the seat of opulence and refinement. In architectural splendor it was unsurpassed, its splendid mansions being surrounded with gardens blooming with flowers and sparkling with fountains. A series of fortifications of massive strength surrounded the city. The suburbs presented a delightful expanse of gardens fragrant with groves of pomegranate, olive, and orange, while vast vineyards, rich in time of vintage with blushing grapes, everywhere met the eye. The city was well provisioned, and abundantly supplied with artillery and ammunition. A renowned Moorish warrior, Hamet Zeli, was entrusted with the defense of the city, and the place was garrisoned by picked men, veterans in the hardships and the horrors of war.

Ferdinand first attempted to induce a capitulation by making very liberal offers to the Moorish commander and his garrison. The heroic reply was returned, "I am stationed here to defend the place to the last extremity. The Christian king can not offer a bribe large enough to induce me to betray my trust."

By gradual approaches, Ferdinand encompassed the city by land and by sea. In these encounters Christian and Moor frequently fought with desperation which could not have been surpassed by human valor or mortal sinews. Often they threw away their lances, precipitated themselves upon each other, and grappling, rolled in the death-struggle over the ground and down the ravines. Neither party either asked for mercy or granted it.

[169] Early in May the Christian host had gained all the important points, so that the beleaguered city was encompassed with bristling lines extending over the hills and the valleys from the sea below to the sea above. At the same time a Spanish fleet blockaded the port, so as effectually to cut off all communication by water.

We will not attempt to describe the slow operations of the siege, the breaches, the assaults, the repulses, the invasion of the plague, the hopes, and the many fears. At last Ferdinand, to cheer his soldiers, who were beginning to despond, sent for Isabella to join him. The young and beautiful queen, with a brilliant train of ladies and cavaliers, repaired to the camp of Ferdinand. An imposing escort was sent out to meet her, and she was conducted with great magnificence of parade and with every demonstration of joy to the quarters prepared for her. The presence of the queen not only inspired the soldiers with new hopes, but induced gallant young men from all quarters to throng the camp. It was the age of chivalry, and thousands were eager to fight beneath the eye and to win the smile of a queenly woman.

The assault was now renewed with heavier ordnance, and more fiercely than ever. The Moors, conscious that the fall of Malaga would probably prove to them a fatal blow, fought with all the desperation which pride or religious zeal could inspire. The determination of the combatants may be inferred from the following incident:

A party of Moors attempted to hew their way through the Christian lines into the city. A few succeeded. Many were cut to pieces. One was made prisoner. He begged to be conducted to the tent of Ferdinand and Isabella, as he could communicate important information. He was led [170] To the royal tent. It was early in the afternoon, and Ferdinand was taking a nap. The queen deferred the audience until her husband should awake, and directed the captive to be conducted to an adjoining tent.

It so happened that this tent was occupied by Isabella's intimate friend, Dona Beatrice de Bobadilla, the heroic lady of whom we have above spoken who threatened to poniard the infamous grand-master of Calatrava if he should venture to appear demanding Isabella for his bride. Beatrice was conversing with a Portuguese nobleman. The Moor did not understand the Castilian language. Deceived by the rich attire, the regal figures, and the courtly bearing of these personages, he mistook them for Ferdinand and Isabella.

Watching his opportunity, while pretending to refresh himself with a glass of water, he drew a concealed dagger from beneath this mantle, and, darting upon the nobleman, gave him a severe wound in the head. Then, springing like a panther upon Beatrice, he endeavored to bury the dagger to its hilt in her side. Fortunately the point was turned by the heavy embroidery of her robes, and she was save from death. Attendants, alarmed by the shrieks of Beatrice, rushed upon the wrench, and he was instantly cut down. His mangled remains an hour after were hurled by a ponderous catapult, through the air and over the walls into the city. The Moors took barbaric revenge by immediately slaying a Spanish gentleman, binding the bloody corpse astride a mule, and driving the animal, thus laden, out of the gates into the Christian camp.

Famine at length commenced it hideous reign in the crowded streets of Malaga. An incessant cannonade had consumed most of the ammunition of the besieged. From [171] all parts of the peninsula Spanish volunteers swarmed to swell the ranks of the besieging army, till their numbers amounted, according to different estimates, from sixty to ninety thousand men. Religious discipline was rigorously enacted. Neither oaths nor gambling were allowed, and all women of immoral character were banished from the lines. The exercises of religion, in accordance with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, were performed with the most imposing splendor.

Ferdinand, yielding to the solicitations of the queen to spare as much as possible the lives of his soldiers, had endeavored to starve the garrison into submission, avoiding the slaughter which would inevitably attend an assault. But as the months rolled on, and there were no signs of capitulation, preparations were made to storm the works. Immense towers were built on wheels, to be rolled up to the ramparts. Galleries were dug to sap the walls. But the Moors were as vigilant as the Christians were enterprising. Along the ramparts, underneath the ground, and upon the sea the battle raged without intermission. The Moors, by the desperation of their defense, won the admiration of their enemies. "Who," exclaims one of the Christian annalists of the times, "does not marvel at the bold heart of these infidels in battle, their prompt obedience to their chiefs, their dexterity in the wiles of war, their patience under privation, and undaunted perseverance in their purposes!"

Gradually the Christians gained ground until they succeeded in blowing up a tower, and thus obtaining a pass into the city. Three months of the siege had passed away. The citizens of Malaga, suffering from famine and pestilence, were in despair. For some time they had been liv- [172] ing upon nothing but the flesh of horses, dogs, and cats. Many were dying in the streets. Everywhere there was presented the most appalling aspect of starvation, misery, and death. The inhabitants demanded capitulation. In view of their sufferings, Hamet Zeli humanely gave the citizens permission to make the best terms they could with their conqueror. A deputation was accordingly sent to the Christian camp; but Ferdinand would listen to no terms but unconditional surrender.

After a tumultuous debate, in which counsels were inspired by despair, the deputation returned to Ferdinand with the declaration that they were willing to resign to him the city, the fortifications, and all the property, if he would spare their lives and give them their freedom.

"If these terms are refused," said they, "we will take the six hundred Christian captives who are in our hands, and hang them like dogs over the battlements. We will then inclose our old men, women, and children in the fortress, set fire to the town, and sell our lives as dearly as possible in the attempt to cut our way through our enemies. Thus, if you gain a victory, it shall be such a one as will make the name of Malaga ring throughout the world to ages yet unborn."

Unintimidated by these threats, Ferdinand firmly replied, "If a single hair of a Christian's head is harmed, I will put to the sword every man, woman, and child in the city."

The whole population anxiously thronged the gates to hear the reply of the embassy on its return. Gloom and despair sat upon every countenance. Some in their frenzy were in favor of resorting to the most violent measures. But in the end moderate councils prevailed, and it was de- [173] cided to cast themselves upon the mercy of Ferdinand. The city was unconditionally surrendered. The Spanish troops, in all the triumphant pageantry of war, entered the city, and the banners of Christian Spain were proudly unfurled from all its towers.

It was the eighteenth day of August, 1487. Ferdinand and Isabella, with great military and ecclesiastical pomp, repaired to the cathedral, where the Te Deum was for the first time performed within its walls, and the whole Spanish army prostrated itself in ceremonial adoration before the Lord of hosts. The Christian captives were liberated from the Moorish dungeons. Dreadful was the spectacle they presented. All eyes were bathed in tears, as this band of sufferers, haggard, emaciate, heavily manacled with chains, were brought from the dark cells, where many of them had lingered for ten or fifteen years, and were led into the presence of the sovereigns who had redeemed them. They were addressed by Ferdinand and Isabella in kindest words of sympathy, and were dismissed with rich presents.

The heroic chieftain, Zegri, who had so gallantly defended the place, was brought, loaded with fetters, to the tent of his conquerors. Upon being asked why he had so obstinately persisted in his rebellion, he replied, "Because I was commissioned to defend the place to the last extremity. And if I had been properly supported, I would have died sooner than have surrendered."

And now came the doom pronounced by the Christian upon the Moor. The whole population of the city, men, women, and children, were assembled in the great square. The surrounding ramparts, overlooking the scene, were garrisoned by the Spanish soldiers. First, the whole [174] population of the city was consigned to perpetual slavery. Then one-third of these slaves was selected to be sent to Africa in exchange for an equal number of Christian captives detained there. Another portion was sold to the highest bidders, to obtain indemnity for the expenses of the war. The remainder were distributed to friends of the court. The Holy Father at Rome received a gift of one hundred carefully selected Moorish soldiers, whom he incorporated into his guard, and whom he succeeded by argument, menaces, or bribes, more probably by all united, to convert into "good Christians."

The Moorish girls were renowned for their personal loveliness. Fifty of the most beautiful damsels were sent by Isabella as a present to the Queen of Naples, and thirty were sent to the Queen of Portugal. Thus the whole population of Malaga was disposed of. All the property of the victims, whether consisting of lands, jewels, or plate, were seized by the Crown. It is estimated that the population within the walls of Malaga at the time of the capture amounted to not less than twenty thousand. Humanity recoils in view of the utter ruin which thus overwhelmed them. And yet their doom, dreadful as it appears, was deemed mild, in the estimate of that barbaric age. It is said that Isabella was urged by her spiritual guides to put every man, woman, and child to the sword, as a warning to others. When we reflect that not four hundred years have elapsed since such scenes were enacted by the very best court then in Europe, it must be admitted that the world has made progress.

Malaga, thus depopulated, was immediately filled again with the subjects of Isabella. The tide of Christian population flowed rapidly into the city, as houses and lands [175] were freely given to those who would take possession of them. The Spanish soldiers, elate with the success of their brilliant campaign, returned to Cordova, there to enjoy a winter's repose, and to prepare to resume their conquests in the spring.

In the autumn the royal couple made a visit to Ferdinand's kingdom of Aragon. Early in the summer of the next year Ferdinand took the command of a small army of twenty thousand, and directed his march from the east upon the city of Granada, the capital of the Moorish kingdom of the same name. The campaign was a failure. The Christians were driven back, and the exasperated Moors pursued them into their own territories, plundering and destroying in all directions. Undismayed by this reverse, Ferdinand and Isabella prepared to prosecute the war, in the following year, on a grander scale. An army of eighty thousand infantry and fifteen thousand cavalry was collected. The cavalry was composed of the highest nobility of the realm, knights who, magnificently mounted and attended by stately retinues, composed a military arm which has never had its superior.

The advance of this host was first upon Baza from the east. As the Christian troops surmounted the summit of the ridge of hills which border the west of the beautiful valley in which the city reposes, they were charmed with the vision of loveliness which was spread out before them. The city, brilliant in the gorgeous display of Moorish architecture, was encompassed with groves, gardens, and villas, which were rendered doubly attractive at the time by the bloom and verdure of opening summer. The fortifications of the city were of great strength. Twenty thousand disciplined men garrisoned them. The town was victualled [176] for fifteen months, and the troops were ordered to bold it to the last extremity.

The Moors bravely sallied from their walls to meet the Christians upon the fields in front of the city, in the midst of gardens, pleasure-houses, precipitous ravines, and dense masses of foliage. The battle raged for twelve hours, the troops being often lost in groves and valleys, from the view of their commanders, and frequently engaging in a hand-to-hand combat. Gradually the Moors were driven back behind their intrenchments, and the Christians encamped upon the field. The conflict had however been so severe and sanguinary that, in the morning, Ferdinand found it necessary to withdraw his troops to their former position, and to convene a council of war. The council advised, in view of the difficulties which had been developed, to abandon the siege of Baza until some of the surrounding places had been captured. Ferdinand, fully conscious of the commanding mental endowments of the Queen, sent dispatches to her at Jaen, soliciting her opinion. The reply she returned was so encouraging in its tone and so cogent in argument, that it reanimated all hearts.

New vigor was immediately infused into the whole Christian army. Four thousand troops, carefully protected from assault, were employed in cutting down the groves; trenches were dug, ramparts reared, and the city on one side was thus completely invested. Still the work went on. In less than two months, by herculean labor, an unbroken line of circumvallation was constructed around the whole city. In the mean time there were daily skirmishes and chivalric personal encounters between the equally brave and high-spirited knights on either side.

The summer passed away, and the cool breezes of [177] autumn came, foreboding the chill gales and driving rains of winter. Ferdinand ordered a thousand huts to be built for his soldiers. Suddenly a city sprang up of apparently substantial dwellings, with its streets and squares laid out in regular order. The inhabitants of Baza gazed with amazement upon the vision which seemed, as if by magic, to unfold itself before them. Engaged in these works, and in almost an incessant battle, five months had glided swiftly away.

And now the black and menacing clouds of winter began to gather upon the brows of the mountains. Providence seemed to bring its battalions to the aid of the Moors. A tempest of terrible severity swept the plains, tearing into shreds the canvas tents which remained standing, and sweeping away many of the more substantial edifices reared for the soldiers. The rain fell in floods, and, rushing down the rocky sides of the mountains, inundated the camp of the besiegers. The roads were so gullied as to be rendered almost impassable, and for a time the line of communication between Jaen and the army of Ferdinand was completely cut off.

The energetic queen was ever at hand in hours of disaster. She immediately dispatched six thousand pioneers to repair the roads by constructing causeways, rebuilding bridges, and filling up the gullies. Two roads were soon in good condition, along which Isabella forwarded ample supplies to her husband. She also raised large loans to meet the expenses of the war, and even pawned the crown jewels and her own personal ornaments.

But no signs of despondency appeared among the besieged. They had an ample supply of provisions, and their courage was unwavering. The Moorish women man- [178] ifested as much zeal in defense of their cause as even Isabella had exhibited in behalf of the Christian banners. At length the Spanish troops began to despond, and Isabella was sent for to revive their waning courage by her presence. On the 7th of November, the queen, accompanied by her daughter Isabella, several ladies of honor, a choir of beautiful maidens, and a brilliant escort, entered the camp of Ferdinand.

The inhabitants of Baza crowded their walls and towers, to gaze upon the glittering pageant as it wound its way through the defiles of the mountains and emerged upon the plain, with gold embroidered banners and strains of martial music. The Spanish cavaliers sallied forth in a body from their camp, to receive their beloved queen and to greet her with an enthusiastic reception. The presence of this extraordinary woman, in whose character there was combined, with feminine grace, so much of manly self-reliance and energy, not only reanimated the drooping spirits of the besiegers, but convinced the besieged that the Spanish army would never withdraw until the place was surrendered. Though there was no want of food for the beleaguered Moors, their ammunition was nearly expended, and the garrison was greatly reduced by sickness, wounds, and death.

Soon after the arrival of the queen, the Moorish garrison, much to the joy, and not a little to the surprise of Ferdinand, proposed to capitulate. So eager was the king to get possession of the place without a continuation of the struggle, that he acceded to terms of capitulation which allowed the garrison to march out with the honors of war, and the citizens to retire with their personal property wherever they pleased. On the 4th of December, 1489, Ferdi- [179] nand and Isabella took possession of Baza, celebrating their great victory with all the most imposing pageants of civil, religious, and military display.

The fall of Baza secured the surrender of many other of the most important strongholds of the Moors in the eastern part of the kingdom of Granada. Thus the campaign was so eminently successful, as not only to elate all Christian Spain, but also to send a thrill of joy throughout Christendom. In the spring of the year 1490 the queen's eldest child, Isabella, was affianced to Alonso, heir to the crown of Portugal. Isabella was a tender mother, and so fondly loved this gentle and affectionate child that the thought of separation from her was exceedingly painful.

The ceremony of affiance took place at Seville, in the midst of rejoicings which were magnified by the triumphant campaign from which Ferdinand and Isabella had but just returned. The fetes which were got up in honor of the occasion attracted to Seville a very brilliant assembly of high-born ladies and renowned cavaliers from all parts of the peninsula. A smooth and beautiful plain upon the banks of the Guadalquiver was selected as the arena for the chivalric display. Galleries of ascending seats were reared, draped with satin and cloth of gold, and sheltered from the sun by silken awnings richly embroidered with the armorial bearings of the old Castilian families.

The spectacle was as brilliant as the art and opulence of the fifteenth century could create. Isabella, with the beautiful young bride, occupied the central position. They were attended by seventy of the noblest ladies of the realm in splendid and costly attire, while a hundred pages, fresh and blooming, in picturesque costume, augmented the fairy like character of the scene. The tournament was thronged [180] by the proudest cavaliers of Castile and Aragon, old and young, magnificently mounted, and with long trains of followers. Ferdinand himself, who was alike renowned for bravery, horsemanship, and military prowess, broke several lances on the occasion.

In the evening the somewhat perilous feats of mimic warfare gave place to the more effeminate pleasures of music and dancing. After long familiarity with the stern hardships of war, all seemed to enjoy the return to scenes of festivity. The young, beautiful, and loving bride was escorted by a splendid retinue to Portugal. Her dowry was so great as to attract the special and admiring remark of the chroniclers of those times. Her husband, the prince Alonso, was young, chivalric, affectionate, and the heir of an important crown. But man is born to mourn. The palace as well as the cottage is exposed to the inevitable doom,

"Sorrow is for the sons of men,

And weeping for earth's daughters."

But a few months passed away ere Alonso was thrown from his horse, fatally wounded, and soon died. Isabella was left, a heart-broken widow, with every joy of earth blighted.

Granada, the capital of the Moorish kingdom, was still in the hands of the Moors; and, upon the withdrawal of the armies of Ferdinand, many other strong places, which had for a time bowed to his supremacy, assumed the attitude of revolt. Ferdinand again raised an army, variously estimated at from fifty to eighty thousand horse and foot, and on the 26th of April, 1491, encamped within six miles of the battlements of Granada. Scenes of war's pomp and pageantry, as well as of its misery, ensued, which have [181] tasked the pens of the historian and of the poet, and to which the artist has in vain endeavored to do justice on canvas.

Abdallah, the king of the Spanish Moors, was in personal command at Granada. The city was admirably situated for defense, and was supported by the strongest fortresses which the military art of the time could rear. Crowded by immigration from the surrounding country, the city presented a population of two hundred thousand souls. Twenty thousand of the proudest and the bravest of the Moslem cavaliers, who had passed through the perils of innumerable battles, aided in garrisoning the works. A wild, rugged mountain barrier, whose summits were white with ice and snow, protected the city upon the south. On the north, .an undulating plain, blooming with flowers, rich in gardens, groves, and vineyards, spread out, over a distance of thirty leagues, towards the setting sun. The towers and walls of the city, facing this plain, were of such massive solidity as seemed to bid defiance to any assault.

Upon this arena the most attractive exhibitions of human nature—heroism, chivalric courtesy, and magnanimity—were blended with the most revolting scenes of destruction and carnage, investing the fall of Granada with deathless renown. At times a company of Moors, incased in steel, mounted upon the proudest Arabian chargers, would ride forth from the gates, while bugle-blasts echoed over the hills and plains, and challenge an equal number of Christian knights to mortal combat. Promptly the defiance was ever met. The housetops, battlements, and towers of Granada would be crowded with interested spectators, gazing upon the exciting spectacle. Both armies would lean upon their weapons, awaiting, without any [182] interference, the issue of the strife, until the one party or the other was destroyed. Again a single knight, glittering in armor, and mounted upon a steed proudly caparisoned, would ride forth from the ranks of the Christians, and challenge any Moorish cavalier to meet him in single combat.

The level ground in front of the walls of Granada was the arena where these warriors, inspired by the highest principles of humor, met to display their prowess in the presence of both armies. The ladies of the two hostile courts each cheered their respective champion with smiles, as they awaited, with throbbing hearts, the event of the conflict, which was always the death of the one or the other. The victor retired, amidst shouts of applause from his friends, with the horse and the accoutrements of his slain antagonist, as the trophies of his victory.

Isabella witnessed all these scenes from the Spanish camp. She was accompanied by her children, and ever attended by a train of courtly ladies, selected for their birth and beauty, and embellished with the most picturesque and richest costume of the day. The memory of these brilliant yet deadly tourneys still inspires the songs of the Castilians.

"The Spanish ballads glow with picturesque details of these knightly tourneys, forming the most romantic minstrelsy, which, celebrating the prowess of Moslem as well as Christian warriors, sheds a dying glory round the last hours of Granada."'

Isabella took an active part in all the military operations, developing martial genius which commanded the respect of her ablest chieftains. She often appeared upon the field mounted on a splendid steed and incased in full [183] armor, inspiring, wherever she appeared, the enthusiasm of the troops. Upon one occasion an accident occurred which came near proving fatal to the life of the queen. It was a sultry night in July. The blazing sun of Southern Spain had so thoroughly dried all combustible matter as to convert the camp into a tinder-box which a spark would throw into flame.

Isabella occupied a pavilion very richly draped with flowing hangings. A gust of wind blew some fringe into the flame of a lamp, and the whole pavilion was almost instantly in a blaze. It was midnight. All were asleep except the sentinels. The trumpet immediately sounded to arms. It was supposed that the Moors had made a sortie. Instantly, with clang of weapons and loud outcries, both hosts rushed to their appointed positions marshaled for battle. The flames, fanned by the wind, spread from tent to tent with fearful rapidity, and the peril for a time was great that the whole camp would vanish in a general conflagration. The queen and her children were rescued with the greatest difficulty. At length the fire was extinguished. But nearly all the tents of the nobility, which surrounded the pavilion of the queen, were destroyed, and with them a vast amount of property in jewels, plate, and other costly decorations.

To guard against the recurrence of such a calamity, the king ordered a city to be built of substantial houses upon the spot occupied by his army. Only enough soldiers were reserved from the work to act as a guard. Every other man was employed in the peaceful labor of creating, not destroying. In three months a large and stately city arose, with its substantial houses, stables, gardens, its broad avenues, its thronged thoroughfares. The soldiers wished to [184] call it Isabella. But the queen, modestly declining the honor, named it Santa Fe, in devout recognition of her faith in Divine Providence. The city still stands, a monument of the martial energies of those times, "the only city," writes a Spanish annalist, "which has never been contaminated by the Moslem heresy."

As this city, in its enduring strength, rose rapidly upon the plain, the hearts of the Moorish chieftains were smitten with dismay. It was demonstration to them that the war was to be permanent until the Crescent in Spain should everywhere give place to the Cross. The inhabitants of Granada, beginning to feel the pressure of famine, were in despair, in view of the miseries of starvation, pestilence, and death which must inevitably ensue. The Moorish king, convinced that the place could not be much longer maintained, sent a messenger by night, and with the utmost secrecy, to negotiate for the surrender. The martial Moors, ever hoping for re-enforcements from Africa which Abdallah knew could not reach them, were unwilling to entertain a thought of capitulation. The conferences were consequently conducted with the greatest caution, sometimes in a retired cottage about three miles from the city, and again in a chamber within the walls of Granada. The terms were at length concluded.

The city, its artillery, and fortifications were all to be surrendered to the Christians, and the whole region was to become subject to the Spanish sway. The Moorish inhabitants of the territory of Granada, though under the control of a Spanish governor, were to retain their mosques and the free exercises of their religion; they were also to be unmolested in their ancient usages, and were to be permitted to retain their language and style of dress. Their [185] property was to be respected, and they were to enjoy the liberty of migrating whenever and wherever they pleased. A small mountainous territory in the midst of the Alpuxarras Mountains was assigned to the unfortunate King Abdallah, where he was to reign as governor, doing homage to the Christian crown.

When the Moors were informed of the terms of the capitulation, which ended forever the Moorish dominion in Spain, the exasperation was so great as to give rise to an insurrection in the city which menaced the life of Abdallah. The surrender was consequently hurried, and took place on the 2d of January, 1492. This last great act in one of the sublimest of historical dramas—the invasion of Spain by the Moors—was performed with the most imposing martial and religious rites. The Alhambra was first taken possession of by veteran Christian troops, including the body-guard of the king.

Ferdinand, surrounded by a very brilliant cortege glittering in polished armor, took his station near an Arabian mosque, now called the Hermitage of St. Sebastian. At a short distance in the rear the queen, Isabella., took her position, accompanied by a no less splendid retinue, her high-born warriors proudly displaying the armorial bearings of their families. The immense column of the Christian army commenced its march up the Hill of Martyrs into the city. Abdallah, accompanied by fifty cavaliers, passed them, descending the hill to make the surrender of himself to Ferdinand. The heart-broken Moor threw himself from his horse, and would have seized the hand of Ferdinand, kissing it in token of homage, but the Christian king magnanimously spared him the humiliation, and threw his arms around the deposed monarch in a respectful and affection [186] ate embrace. Abdallah then presented the keys of the Alhambra to the conqueror, saying,

"They are thine, O king, since Allah so decrees it. Use thy success with clemency and moderation."

He then, not waiting for the words of consolation which the king was about to utter, rode on to offer the same acts of submission and homage to Queen Isabella. In the mean time the Castilian army, winding slowly up the hill and around the walls, entered the city by the gate of Los Molinos. The large silver cross which Ferdinand had ever borne with him in his crusade against the Moors was now elevated upon the Alhambra, while the banners of the conqueror were proudly unfurled from its towers.

It was the signal for the whole army to fall upon its knees in recognition of that Providence which had granted them so signal a victory. The solemn strains of the Te Deum, performed by the choir of the royal chapel, then swelled majestically over the prostrate host. The Spanish grandees now gathered around Isabella, and kneeling, kissed her hand in recognition of her sovereignty as queen of Granada.


[Illustration]

THE LAST SIGH OF THE MOOR.

The Moorish king did not tarry to witness these painful scenes. With his small retinue he rapidly continued his route towards the mountains of Alpuxarras in the east. Here, upon one of the rocky eminences, he stopped his horse, and looked sadly back upon the beautiful realms over which his ancestors had reigned for a period of seven hundred and forty-one years. The emotions which the scene was calculated to inspire so overcame him that, after an ineffectual struggle to repress his feelings, he burst into tears. His mother, in cruel reproach, exclaimed, "You do well to weep as a woman for what you could not defend [189] like a man."

"Alas!" rejoined the king, "when were woes ever equal to mine!"

The bluff from which the king cast his last, lingering, tearful look upon the fair realms of Granada is still pointed out to the tourist. It is called by the appropriate name of El Ultimo Sospiro del Moro—"The Last Sigh of the Moor." The heart of Abdailah was broken. For a few months he pined away in his narrow and barren domain until, unable to endure such a reverse any longer, almost in sight of the theatre of his ancient glory and power, he the next year sold out his petty sovereignty to Ferdinand and Isabella for a small sum of money, and retiring across the sea, soon fell in battle in the service of an African prince.

The fall of Granada, terminating the Moorish dominion in Spain, was hailed with rejoicing throughout all Christendom. The Pope and his cardinals celebrated the event with all the appliances of religious pomp in the Cathedral of St. Peter. Corrupt as was the Christianity of those days, it probably contained within itself elements of progress not to be found in the religion of the Moors. The following sentiments are from the pen of one of the most illustrious historians of the events of those days: "With all our sympathy for the conquerors, it is impossible, without a deep feeling of regret, to contemplate the decay and final extinction of a race who had made such high advances in civilization as the Spanish Arabs, to see them driven from the stately palaces reared by their own hands, wandering as exiles over the lands, which still blossomed with the fruits of their industry, and wasting away under persecution until their very name as a nation was blotted from the map of history."


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