THE FALL OF MALAGA
 WHEN King Ferdinand learned that the Moorish king was a prisoner he was puzzled to know what to
do with him. Happily he had at his right hand one who was wiser and stronger-minded than
he. This was his wife, Isabella. For some time she had been residing at Seville, and
though she was barely thirty, she had presided over the royal court of justice there, had
heard cases, and decided them wisely. The king had learned to lean upon her judgment for
counsel. She now advised that Boabdil be released, on condition of his paying the old
tribute to the King of Castile, and of setting free a certain number of captives. The
prisoner readily agreed to these terms, and started for Granada.
But Boabdil had not heard the news from his capital. No sooner had his capture by the
Christians become known there than his fiery old father dashed into the place at the head
of his troopers, proclaimed that he was king once more, and camped in the Alhambra.
Boabdil's mother, Ayesha, he drove out of the palace, and bade her find lodgings in the
quarter where the workmen lived. She, who was as fierce as her husband, barricaded herself
in the quarter which had been assigned her, seized one of the gates of the city, and bade
defiance to Muley. When Boabdil, who had left Granada in such glory and splendor, came
creeping back under cover of night, cowering and quaking from fear of his terrible father,
she let him in, flung herself on his neck, called the workmen to his support, and told
 "It depends on thyself whether thou wilt remain here a king or a captive."
When day dawned and old Muley Abul Hassan heard that his son was back he foamed with rage
and summoned his fighting men. Ayesha summoned hers, and the two parties—father
against son—fought all day in the streets. When night came Boabdil cried "Enough!"
and ran away to live at Almeria, his mother taunting him as he went with the jibe that a
man was not worthy of being called a king who could not hold his own capital city.
King Ferdinand's hope for peace and a revival of tribute were ended when Boabdil was
overthrown; so he began again to raid the Moorish country, to carry off booty, and to make
slaves of the Moors. At first Muley Abul Hassan watched him from the highest tower of the
Alhambra, growling like a tiger and grinding his teeth, because he could not trust his
troops; but at last a body of them were collected who were willing to follow the Christian
example of fighting for plunder, and they raided Andalusia, while Ferdinand raided the
plain or vega of Granada. I do not think that you can feel much sympathy for either. There
was very little fighting done in comparison with the amount of robbing. The chief
sufferers by the war were the poor peasants and residents of small towns and villages, who
lost everything they had, and saw their children carried off to be sold as slaves, Moors
by Christians, Christians by Moors. It could not have mattered much to them whether they
were despoiled by Moslems or Christians. Whichever race it was, the peasant lost his wheat
crop, his vines, his orchard, his orange and olive grove, and his sons and daughters.
But the Christians had the advantage in this border warfare. King Ferdinand took town
after town, castle after castle, village after village, and what he took he kept. Muley
Abut Hassan took few places, and those he did take were quickly wrenched out of his grasp.
During the whole of the year 1484 the Moorish territory was
 gradually growing narrower and the Spanish territory wider.
Moreover, from repeated defeat, the Moors were losing heart. The old king, who had spent
such a life of toil and battle, became blind and bedridden. His son Boabdil, who was
always conspiring against him, was chased out of the kingdom by his uncle, El Zagal, and
forced to take refuge, like an outcast, with the Christians at Cordova. When El Zagal
appeared at Almeria to seize him, Queen Ayesha intrepidly faced him, and called him a
perfidious traitor. So El Zagal thrust her into prison, and made an end of her for the
Meanwhile, May, 1486, King Ferdinand assembled at Cordova an army of twelve thousand
horse, forty thousand foot soldiers armed with cross-bows, lances, and arquebuses, and a
park of heavy cannon, which were then called Lombards. With these he marched down against
the Moorish strongholds in Southern Spain lying back of Malaga. He took them all, one
after the other—Loxa, Elora, Moclin, and others; thus gradually, by slow degrees, he
encircled Malaga in his grip.
Malaga lies on the shore of the Mediterranean, and is backed up against a range of sloping
mountains, whose sides are clothed with the vines bearing Malaga grapes, which I dare say
you have eaten, and with fragrant plantations of oranges, lemons, olives, and
pomegranates. Five hundred years ago two of the heights behind the city were crowned, the
one with the citadel and the other with a fort called the Gibralfaro. The latter, which
was a strong work, was commanded by a dark and fierce-eyed Moor, who was known as Hamet el
Zegri, and garrisoned with Moors fresh from Africa. Round the town itself ran a high wall
with tall towers at intervals.
Ferdinand fired his heavy guns at the towers, and presently made a breach through one of
them by which some of his troops entered; but the Moors attacked them with heavy stones
and boiling pitch, and undermined the tower
 which the Christians had taken, so that it fell in. Then the Marquis of Cadiz massed his
men to storm Gibralfaro, but the Moors sallied forth at night, swooped upon the enemy with
such fury and threw so many down the cliff-side that the stormers drew off with sore
heads. Then the Christians undertook to undermine the walls. Hamet found it out and dug
countermines, so that sometimes one tunnel would run into another, and Christian and Moor
would engage in a death-grapple under the ground.
Ferdinand held the sea, and Malaga could get no food from outside. Hamet had seized all
the food in the city for the use of his soldiers, doling out to them a quarter of a pound
of bread in the morning, and half as much at night. Women and children ate what they could
get—the flesh of horses and stray remains of dried fruits. And all the while they
saw ships arriving with grain for the Chris¬tians, and droves of cattle slowly winding
over the hills. Queen Isabella, who had joined her husband in camp, was touched by the
stories of suffering in Malaga, and sent word that the most liberal terms would be granted
in case of surrender. But Hamet el Zegri replied that he had only begun the fight, and
that the sooner King. Ferdinand raised the siege the better it would be for him. Numbers
of citizens were ready to surrender, but Hamet threatened then with death if they spoke.
After a time the fathers of starving families climbed up the rock of Gibralfaro, and
besought the Moorish chief not to doom so many to die of hunger. He replied that the day
of deliverance was at hand. All he asked was a little patience. It seems he had on his
staff a crazy dervish, who pretended to be an astrologer; this astrologer said that it had
been revealed to him by the stars that an attack made upon the Christians on a certain
day, he leading the Moors with a certain white flag in his hand, was certain to make an
end of the Spanish army.
Accordingly, on the day set, the dervish led the way with his white flag, and the whole
Moslem army in brave
 array sallied forth and fell upon the Spaniards. It was a foolhardy enterprise. The
Christians were at first taken by surprise, but they recovered their wits, and attacked
the Moors with such fury that hundreds of them were slain and the rest driven back,
wounded and bruised, into Malaga. The crazy dervish had his poor sick brains knocked out
by a stone.
The city of Malaga then surrendered, and the starving people were abundantly supplied with
food from King Ferdinand's stores. Hamet el Zegri shut himself up in his castle of
Gibralfaro. But the Africans had suffered so dreadfully from battle, hunger, and fatigue
that there was a dangerous light in their eyes; and when they bade Hamet ask terms of
surrender, he did not keep them waiting. He wanted to make special terms for himself and
his men; but Ferdinand, like some one else whom you will remember, answered that the only
terms he would accept were unconditional surrender. And those were the terms settled.
Hamet was imprisoned for life. His Moors were all sold as slaves but one.
That one was Ibraham Zenete. I must close this chapter with the reason why, of all that
band, Zenete alone was spared.
When Hamet el Zegri made his great sortie from Malaga, under the guidance of the crazy
dervish, Zenete led the advance. In leading the van, he broke into a house which was
occupied by Spanish officers, and in a room in that house he found three Spanish boys in a
bed sleeping. lie struck them sharply with the flat of his sword, and cried:
"Away to your mothers, brats!"
"Why," said a Moorish officer, "do you not kill the Christian dogs?"
"Because," replied Zenete, "I see no beards on their faces."
This was accounted so chivalrous an act that King Ferdinand declared a Castilian hidalgo
could not have been more high-minded; and this was why, when all his
com-  rades were sold into slavery, Zenete was forgiven and set at liberty.
Malaga fell in the year 1488; and when it fell, as the Moorish saying went, the eye of
Granada was plucked out.
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