FALL OF MALAGA
"I have been thinking of the victims bound,
. . . . dying for the lack of air
And sunshine, in their close, damp cells of pain,
Where hope is not, and innocence in vain
Appeals against the torture and the chain!"
STATUE OF ISABELLA IN CATHEDRAL AT MALAGA.
The Moorish War Continued—Army Fleet at Malaga—Hamet El Zegri Defended Malaga, Besieged—Isabella
with Her Court at the Camp—The Old Moorish Seer Reinforcing—He Attempts To Assassinate the King and
Queen—The Capitulation—Ferdinand's Severity—The Christian Captives—The Mosques
Dedicated—The prisoners badly treated—The Return of the Court to Andalusia—Family Life
 ALL the smaller places, villages, hamlets and redoubts along the routes to Malaga, perhaps
twenty in number, hastened to capitulate and receive the same privileges as Velez-Malaga.
The main road from Velez-Malaga tan westward through an exceedingly fertile valley, an
expanse in places of considerable breadth.
Ferdinand's army, after but a short rest, pushed on to the vicinity of the larger city.
 His forces had been at this time some 40,000 strong, besides the fleet, which already had
possession of the port.
This naval squadron, with its armed vessels and its accompanying transports, made of it
itself a formidable show to the anxious inhabitants of the city.
Ferdinand, before reaching the suburbs and making junction with his seamen, encountered
two main obstacles where the valley narrows and seemingly ascends toward the great town.
On his left was the strong fort or citadel, Gibralfaro, situated upon a high bluff; it is
between the east end of the city and the sea, and commands all approaches from the east;
the other, on the opposite side, was the rugged hill, jagged with sharp rocks and
steep—a sort of foothill to the mountains that stretch along the north flank of
These the terrible Hamet el Zegri, with his battalions, had occupied in force. The Moor
burned all the houses in the suburbs that could afford shelter to his enemy's forces, and
met the first assaults of the Spaniards with great vigor. After a hard struggle, with
great losses on both sides, the foothill and every other point outside the thick walls of
the city except the castle of Gibralfaro were taken. Into this stronghold Hamet el Zegri
drew his shattered battalions. This castle. he
 made the headquarters of his operations. The Spaniards were not long in completely
investing the city. The story of the siege of Malaga need not be repeated. It is told by
many authors, with all its remarkable incidents. Gradually the forces of the king grew in
numbers till finally there were between 60,000 and 70,000 men, "while," says Irving, "a
fleet of vessels, freighted with heavy artillery and warlike munitions, kept pace with it
at a short distance from the land, covering the sea with a thousand gleaming sails."
Ferdinand had again and again offered favorable terms to the city; but Hamet el Zegri
overbore every faint heart, and made such short work with those who counselled prudence or
pointed out the uselessness of resistance, that before long no man dared speak his mind.
In fact, the citizens of Malaga, with few exceptions, became soldiers, and tried to outdo
Hamet's fierce Gomeses in their loyal support.
Indeed, the old warrior himself was sustained by many promises and rumors, which at last
proved themselves without foundation. He expected help from El Zagal. Many supplies,
designed to come to the besieger by water, had been long delayed; the plague was reported
as already breaking out in the neighboring villages; and it was told him
 that Isabella, hearing the rumor, by her letters had pleaded with her husband to return at
once to Cordova.
We recall the previous preparations of the queen to join the army at Velez-Malaga. Just as
soon as she was made aware of this obstinate defence and the cause of it, she set out with
the ladies of her court, the Cardinal of Spain, and other high officials of the Church and
the realm. The Marquis of Cadiz and the Master of Santiago received the queen and her
cortege at a short distance from the camp, and escorted her to her beautiful pavilion,
The soldiers, who always loved her appearing, standing in groups, watched the novel
procession, and filled the region with their loud and joyous greetings. Isabella's arrival
infused new life into all the operations of the siege. She begged that new offers for
capitulation might now be made. El Zegri, though he felt the change; though he received
appeals from the people, who began to suffer from hunger; though he was told that the
court of Spain had come to stay, still fiercely answered "No."
His hopes from El Zagal were, however, soon rudely crushed. The old king did set out again
from the country beyond Granada with a reasonable body of relief; but this
 time Boabdil intercepted, and defeated all the reinforcing column, and sent the news of
it, with presents and congratulations, to the sovereigns, giving them a renewal of his
pledges of allegiance.
From Guadix came 400 more devoted men, with a singular old Moorish seer at their head; by
a rush and half surprise, and after a bloody combat, about two hundred succeeded in
getting into the city. The old seer was found near the camp; but he was spared on account
of the singular sanctity of his manner and appearance. He told the Marquis of Cadiz that
he had an important message that he had vowed to deliver to the sovereigns. The marquis
brought him to the court. Ferdinand was taking an afternoon siesta, so Isabella put off
the interview sought for till he should awaken. Meanwhile, the marquis took the seer to
another tent. Here Donna Beatriz, Isabella's early friend, and Don Alvaro, a young
Portuguese knight, were sitting conversing. The saintly old Moor mistook them for the king
and queen. Seizing his hidden cimeter, as he broke from his guard, he struck down Don
Alvaro at one blow and aimed another at Beatriz. Fortunately for her the raised cimeter
was caught by some tent hangings and then again by an ornament in her hair, and so did
 The old fanatic was instantly caught and slain by the guard and others close at hand, and
immediately thereafter his body was shot from a catapult into the beleaguered town.
After this alarming experience the court guards were increased, and every soldier in the
army seemed stimulated to redouble his exertions. As the siege went on the force outside
still increased, and even distant nations sent there a small representative quota. The
discipline at this place was remarkable. Gamblers and women of ill repute were shut out.
Dice-throwing and card-playing were prohibited. Profane oaths and blasphemy ceased. There
was never a bloody affray and hardly a dispute among the soldiers, who had been assembled
from so many classes. At this siege all that military science in this mediaeval time had
invented was brought together—wooden towers, with ladders and bridges; pieces of
artillery to be buried and used as a mine; catapults and battering-rams, and all the
apparatus for shaping stone missiles; the seven lombards, called the "seven sisters of
Ximenes," to bombard thick walls and make practicable breaches.
Francis Ramirez finally led the way by his subterranean mines and galleries, and after
breaking through all obstacles, and then after a terrific engagement within the city
 captured the town. El Zegri, sullen still, drew off his relentless Gomeses to Gibralfaro,
and left the starving citizens and their families to their fate.
On the 18th day of August, 1487, the city of Malaga, through its wealthy citizen, Ali
Dordux, surrendered without conditions to Don Ferdinand, the king, who was himself in
person commanding the besieging forces. Ali Dordux and 40 of his relatives were allowed
their freedom and their property. This was almost the limit of the clemency of Ferdinand,
who was very angry at the long-continued obstinacy of the Malagans—angry at their
final reluctance to trust him; at their threat to hang all the Christian prisoners, and to
destroy their city and immolate themselves; at their attempts to assassinate his queen and
himself; and at their horrid cruelty, shown by their merciless executions during the
There was one Moorish leader, Abrahen Zenete, who was pardoned out and out because in the
heat of battle he had shown mercy and spared several youths against the remonstrances of
his furious followers. He subsequently answered their charges by saying, "I saw no beard
upon their young faces." Indeed, even in the heat of conflict we trace the noblesse
Hamet el Zegri gave up the castle on the
 20th, two days after the capitulation of the city.
It is written that Isabella earnestly desired that the terms for Malaga should be more
compassionate and humane. But we may understand some things from the universal resentment
that followed the release of those 1600 prisoners. A large tent was prepared and put up
outside the city, in which the queen received them. Many had the chains and fetters still
clanking on their limbs. All were nearly starved. Some, dazed and stupid from long
confinement, with no flesh upon their bones, staggered along half supported by stronger
companions. Some, understanding nothing, mumbled meaningless words, but the most wept like
children, and many tried to kiss the feet of the sovereigns in their joy at deliverance.
Naked, filthy, and broken, a pitiable mass of humanity, these first inspired in the good
queen and her friends about her the tenderest compassion, followed by sobs and weeping.
Then came a feeling of strong resentment against the Moors, who had inflicted such
terrible cruelties. With this feeling upon her, she this time did little to mitigate the
severity of her husband's judgments, who himself, his friends must admit, was prone to
exceed the Jewish rule of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
 First, the city was cleansed of dead animals and decaying corpses. Then the chief mosque
of the Moors was washed, scrubbed, and made ready for formal consecration. When all things
were ready, the king and the queen made their triumphant entry into Malaga, renamed the
grand mosque Santa Maria de la Encarnacion, and passed into it, led by the great Cardinal
of Spain, in order to consecrate it forever as a house of Christian worship. They then
chanted the usual forms of praise and thanksgiving. How strange that all men, both Jew and
Gentile, could not have been embraced in the love of their hearts! The Spanish troops
slowly wound their way to the plaza and to all the gates of the city and took military
possession. In the spacious courtyard of what was called the "Lower Citadel" were gathered
the surrendered soldiers, regular and volunteer, but without their arms; also the people
of the neighboring villages, who had come for the same terms as the citizens of the city;
and all the remaining population of Malaga, from 15,000 to 20,000 in number. After a few
had been set apart for special purposes, the rest were separated into three divisions; the
first were kept for exchange with Christian prisoners who were still held in bondage; the
second were to be sold into slavery (with privilege of redemption for
 eight or nine months) to defray the expenses of the war; the third, by a system of
allotment, were to be given to the nobles and leaders in the war. One hundred Gomeses were
sent to the Pope's guard; the Queen of Naples, Ferdinand's sister, received 5o Moorish
maids, and the Queen of Portugal 30; others, it is said, Isabella gave to her own personal
friends among the ladies of her court. Four or five hundred of the Jews, who seldom fail
each other when in trouble, were saved from slavery by the prompt action of their brethren
elsewhere, their ransoms being promptly paid.
In the line of redemption there was a clause which fixed the sum for the whole Moorish
people present at the rate of 36 ducats per head. The people were to be kept as hostages
for eight months, or till it was finally paid. The poor people gave up everything, but
were unable at the end of the eight months to get enough together to meet the demand.
These were indeed cruel conditions, but they are perfectly consonant with the character of
King Ferdinand. He was often selfish and crafty in his policy and cruel in his exactions;
but they do not comport with the usual theory and practice of Isabella. One very friendly
author (De Nervo) remarks, after gazing at this picture, "Yes, Isabella joined in this
 cruelty—even she!" As for her assent to the establishment of the terrible
Inquisition, and for her favor to its first beginnings, there are many apologies; for
example, the character of the times, the prevailing opinion of heresy, and the influence
of churchmen; so there are reasons in extenuation for the severities in which she
participated toward the people of Malaga—for example, the cruelty of the Moors
themselves, and particularly the strong desires of the sovereigns to inspire such terror
throughout the entire Moslem domain that the remaining cities would surrender without the
expenditure of money and the horrors of the siege. But still the biographer is
disappointed that, in order to render the truth of history, such apologies and
extenuations have to be given at all.
Malaga, thus deprived of its inhabitants, was soon repeopled. The so called Christian
immigrants, under generous grants, succeeded to the lands and dwellings of the Moors. The
rights of the conqueror were not in those days limited and softened by the present law of
nations. After the fall of Malaga, Velez-Malaga, and their dependencies, Granada's fate
was substantially sealed. From the Moors' standpoint the great capital itself was
surrounded by relentless and implacable foes, and almost shut off from exterior
communi-  cation by the sea. It was clear enough that the Spaniards would take time only for a
little rest and recruitment, and then hasten to put the finishing stroke to their work.
The court and army, leaving sufficient garrison, passed on with short marches to
Andalusia. Isabella and her consort spent the winter in Cordova. It was a brilliant
winter, but as the necessities of a fresh campaign were pressing her, the queen did not
encourage either idleness or extraordinary display.
The cares of her own family—for we know how attentive she never failed to be to her
children—must at this period have taken no little time and thought.
Her fifth and last child, Catalina, born December 5th, 1485, was now two years old. Her
birthplace was Alcala de Henares. However eager to prosecute this to Isabella always a
holy war, she derived no small comfort from the little circle around her, upon whom she
could lavish a mother's affection and to their tender life give the impress of her own