FERDINAND OF ARAGON
 FERDINAND OF ARAGON was the son of John II, king of the Spanish provinces of Navarre and Aragon.
For centuries before Ferdinand's time Spain had been divided into a number of petty kingdoms. Some
of them were in the hands of the Christians and the rest belonged to the Moors whose ancestors were
partly Arabs and partly people of North Africa.
The Moors were Mohammedans. About seven hundred years before the time of Ferdinand they had crossed
the Mediterranean Sea and invaded Spain, capturing nearly the whole of that country with the
exception of the provinces which lay in the extreme north.
For a long time, therefore, Spain was a Mohammedan country. But the Spanish Christians became more
numerous and more powerful; and during the time of the Crusades, they were almost continually at war
with their Moorish neighbors.
At the time that Ferdinand was born they had
 regained all Spain except the one kingdom of Granada.
THE CITY OF GRANADA
In Granada, several thousand Moors still lived. They irrigated the land and cultivated rice. They
planted mulberry trees and were famed for their production of silk. They even grew sugar cane, and
were the first to make Europeans acquainted with sugar. The beautiful city of Granada was their
capital and great stronghold at the time when Ferdinand became king; and even to-day travelers go by
thousands to see the remains of its splendid palaces.
Ferdinand married Isabella who was the queen
 of Castile; so that under these two sovereigns three of the Christian kingdoms of
Spain—Aragon, Navarre and Castile—were united.
LION COURT OF THE ALHAMBRA, GRANADA
It seemed to them, however, a disgrace to Christianity, as well as an injury to Spain, that there
should be a Mohammedan kingdom in their country. They therefore determined to add Granada to their
domains and a bitter war against the Moors was begun.
General Gonsalvo, a famous soldier, whom the Spaniards still delight to call "the great captain" was
put in command of the Spanish army.
Granada was invaded. Sallies were made by the Moors; and many single combats were fought between
their champions and the Christian knights. But no great battle was fought, and the war continued for
At one time the Spanish camp of tents took fire by accident and was destroyed. A permanent town with
houses of stone was then built by Ferdinand for his army. The town still stands, and is called Santa
When the Moorish king, who was named Boabdil (bo ab' deel), heard that King Ferdinand had threatened
to take Granada, he laughed in scorn; nevertheless, he at once made ready to defend his city.
 The war lasted more than ten years. The Moors defended themselves bravely; but the Spaniards
devastated the fruitful lands of their country, totally destroyed twenty-four of their principal
towns, and then besieged the city of Granada itself.
The Moors held out bravely for almost a year; then, being on the verge of starvation, they
It was agreed that Boabdil should reign over a small territory, and should do homage to Ferdinand
for it. He soon grew tired of his little kingdom, however, and crossed the Mediterranean to Africa,
where, not long afterwards, he perished in battle. He was the last of the Moorish kings of Spain.
The year 1492 proved to be a memorable one for Ferdinand and Isabella, and for the country which
they governed. It began with the conquest of Granada; and it ended in seeing Spain's condition
wonderfully improved in almost every particular.
For two hundred years the Turks had been the terror of Christendom. Christians who traded with India
were obliged to sail across the Mediterranean Sea, and to pass through lands that belonged to the
Turks to reach that country.
 They had also to bring back through those lands and across the Mediterranean whatever goods they
bought in India.
Their ships and cargoes were often captured by Turkish pirates, and the owners and crews were made
slaves. Thousands of such Christian slaves were chained to the rowing benches of the Turkish galleys
and were cruelly whipped if they did not obey their masters.
AFTER A MOORISH VICTORY
The people of those times wished to find a way by which to reach India without encountering these
difficulties and dangers. More than once did the different nations of Europe join together to make
war against the Turks. Ferdinand himself, after taking Granada from the Moors, sent a fleet across
the Mediterranean and captured Algiers, the great stronghold of the Turkish pirates.
Many Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Christians who had been slaves for years came home, most of
them sick, and all of them poor. You can imagine how the sight of them, when they landed, made the
people wish for some safer way to India. When, therefore, Columbus offered to find one, Ferdinand
and Isabella supplied him with money and ships and men.
He did not, indeed, find a new way to India,
 but he thought he had done so, and so did the king and. queen. The people of Spain, and of Europe
generally, rejoiced at the thought that trade with India could in future be carried on without so
great a loss of life and treasure.
While Columbus failed in this one important point, his discoveries were of great value to Spain, for
they gave her immense possessions in the "new world" and added largely to her wealth and power.
Ferdinand was at first rather cold toward Columbus. He did not have much faith either in the great
discoverer or in his plans. The real credit of Spain's assistance belongs far more to Queen Isabella
than to King Ferdinand. But by consolidating and strengthening his dominions, Ferdinand lifted Spain
into a prominent position among the European nations; and his influence was felt for many years
after his death, which occurred in 1516.