When the king and queen beheld the armies thus rushing to the combat, they threw themselves on their knees and implored the Holy Virgin to protect her faithful warriors. The prince and princess, the ladies of the court, and the prelates and friars who were present did the same, and the effect of the prayers of these illustrious and saintly persons was immediately apparent. The fierceness with which the Moors had rushed to the attack was suddenly cooled; they were bold and adroit for a skirmish, but unequal to the veteran Spaniards in the open field. A panic seized upon the foot-soldiers; they turned and took to flight. Muza and his cavaliers in vain endeavored to rally them. Some took refuge in the mountains, but the greater part fled to the city in such confusion that they overturned and trampled upon each other. The Christians pursued them to the very gates. Upward of two thousand were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, and the two pieces of ordnance were brought off as trophies of the victory. Not a Christian lance but was bathed that day in the blood of an infidel.*
* Cura de los Palacios, cap. 101; Zurita, lib. 20, c. 88.
Such was the brief but bloody action which was known among the Christian warriors by the name of "the Queen's Skirmish;" for when the marques of Cadiz waited upon Her Majesty to apologize for breaking her commands, he attributed the victory entirely to her presence. The queen, however, insisted that it was all owing to her troops being led on by so valiant a commander. Her Majesty had not yet recovered from her agitation at beholding so terrible a scene of bloodshed, though certain veterans present pronounced it as gay and gentle a skirmish as they had ever witnessed.
The gayety of this gentle pass at arms, however, was somewhat marred by a rough reverse in the evening. Certain of the Christian cavaliers, among whom were the count de Urena, Don Alonso Aguilar, his brother Gonsalvo of Cordova, Diego Castrillo, commander of Calatrava, and others to the number of fifty, remained in ambush near Armilla, expecting the Moors would sally forth at night to visit the scene of battle and to bury their dead. They were discovered by a Moor who had climbed an elm tree to reconnoitre, and who hastened into the city to give notice of their ambush. Scarce had night fallen when the cavaliers found themselves surrounded by a host which in the darkness seemed innumerable. The Moors attacked them with sanguinary fury to revenge the disgrace of the morning. The cavaliers fought to every disadvantage, overwhelmed by numbers, ignorant of the ground, perplexed by thickets and by the water-courses of the gardens, the sluices of which were all thrown open. Even retreat was difficult. The count de Urena was surrounded and in imminent peril, from which he was saved by two of his faithful followers at the sacrifice of their lives. Several cavaliers lost their horses, and were themselves put to death in the water-courses. Gonsalvo of Cordova came near having his own illustrious career cut short in this obscure skirmish. He had fallen into a water-course, whence he extricated himself, covered with mud and so encumbered with his armor that he could not retreat. Inigo de Mendoza, a relative of his brother Alonso, seeing his peril, offered him his horse. "Take it, senor," said he, "for you cannot save yourself on foot, and I can; but should I fall take care of my wife and daughters."
Gonsalvo accepted the devoted offer, mounted the horse, and had made but few paces when a lamentable cry caused him to turn his head, and he beheld the faithful Mendoza transfixed by Moorish lances. The four principal cavaliers already named, with several of their followers, effected their retreat and reached the camp in safety; but this nocturnal reverse obscured the morning's triumph. Gonsalvo remembered the last words of the devoted Mendoza, and bestowed a pension on his widow and marriage portions on his daughters.*
* The account of this nocturnal affair is from Peter Martyr, lib. 4, Epist. 90, and Pulgar, Hazanas del Gran Capitan, page 188, as cited by Alcantara, Hist. Granada, tom. 4, cap. 18.
To commemorate the victory of which she had been an eye-witness, Queen Isabella afterward erected a monastery in the village of Zubia dedicated to St. Francisco, which still exists, and in its garden is a laurel planted by her hands.*
* The house whence the king and queen contemplated the battle is likewise to be seen at the present day. It is in the first street to the right on entering the village from the Vega, and the royal arms are painted on the ceilings. It is inhabited by a worthy farmer, Francisco Garcia, who in showing the house to the writer refused all compensation with true Spanish pride, offering, on the contrary, the hospitalities of his mansion. His children are versed in the old Spanish ballads about the exploits of Hernan Perez del Pulgar and Garcilasso de la Vega.
THE LAST RAVAGE BEFORE GRANADA.
The ravages of war had as yet spared a little portion of the Vega of Granada. A green belt of gardens and orchards still flourished round the city, extending along the banks of the Xenil and the Darro. They had been the solace and delight of the inhabitants in their happier days, and contributed to their sustenance in this time of scarcity. Ferdinand determined to make a final and exterminating ravage to the very walls of the city, so that there should not remain a single green thing for the sustenance of man or beast. The eighth of July was the day appointed for this act of desolation. Boabdil was informed by his spies of the intention of the Christian king, and prepared to make a desperate defence. Hernando de Baeza, a Christian who resided with the royal family in the Alhambra as interpreter, gives in a manuscript memoir an account of the parting of Boabdil from his family as he went forth to battle. At an early hour on the appointed day, the eighth of July, he bathed and perfumed himself, as the Moors of high rank were accustomed to do when they went forth to peril their lives. Arrayed in complete armor, he took leave of his mother, his wife, and his sister in the antechamber of the Tower of Comares. Ayxa la Horra, with her usual dignity, bestowed on him her benediction and gave him her hand to kiss. It was a harder parting with his son and his daughter, who hung round him with sobs and tears: the duenas and doncellas too of the royal household made the halls of the Alhambra resound with their lamentations. He then mounted his horse and put himself in front of his squadrons.*
* Hernando de Baeza, as cited by Alcantara, Hist. Gran., t. 4, c. 18.
The Christian army approached close to the city, and were laying waste the gardens and orchards when Boabdil sallied forth, surrounded by all that was left of the flower and chivalry of Granada. There is one place where even the coward becomes brave—that sacred spot called home. What, then, must have been the valor of the Moors, a people always of chivalrous spirit, when the war was thus brought to their thresholds! They fought among the scenes of their loves and pleasures, the scenes of their infancy, and the haunts of their domestic life. They fought under the eyes of their wives and children, their old men and their maidens—of all that was helpless and all that was dear to them; for all Granada, crowded on tower and battlement, watched with trembling heart the fate of this eventful day.
There was not so much one battle as a variety of battles: every garden and orchard became a scene of deadly contest; every inch of ground was disputed with an agony of grief and valor by the Moors; every inch of ground that the Christians advanced they valiantly maintained, but never did they advance with severer fighting or greater loss of blood.
The cavalry of Muza was in every part of the field; wherever it came it gave fresh ardor to the fight. The Moorish soldier, fainting with heat, fatigue, and wounds, was roused to new life at the approach of Muza; and even he who lay gasping in the agonies of death turned his face toward him and faintly uttered cheers and blessings as he passed.
The Christians had by this time gained possession of various towers near the city, whence they had been annoyed by crossbows and arquebuses. The Moors, scattered in various actions, were severely pressed. Boabdil, at the head of the cavaliers of his guard, mingling in the fight in various parts of the field, endeavored to inspirit the foot-soldiers to the combat. But the Moorish infantry was never to be depended upon. In the heat of the action a panic seized upon them; they fled, leaving their sovereign exposed with his handful of cavaliers to an overwhelming force. Boabdil was on the point of falling into the hands of the Christians, when, wheeling round, he and his followers threw the reins on the necks of their steeds and took refuge by dint of hoof within the walls of the city.*
* Zurita, lib. 20, c. 88.
Muza endeavored to retrieve the fortune of the field. He threw himself before the retreating infantry, calling upon them to turn and fight for their homes, their families, for everything sacred and dear to them. All in vain: totally broken and dismayed, they fled tumultuously for the gates. Muza would fain have kept the field with his cavalry; but this devoted band, having stood the brunt of war throughout this desperate campaign, was fearfully reduced in numbers, and many of the survivors were crippled and enfeebled by their wounds. Slowly and reluctantly, therefore, he retreated to the city, his bosom swelling with indignation and despair. Entering the gates, he ordered them to be closed and secured with bolts and bars; for he refused to place any further confidence in the archers and arquebusiers stationed to defend them, and vowed never more to sally with foot-soldiers to the field.
In the mean time, the artillery thundered from the walls and checked all further advance of the Christians. King Ferdinand therefore called off his troops, and returned in triumph to his camp, leaving the beautiful city of Granada wrapped in the smoke of her fields and gardens and surrounded by the bodies of her slaughtered children.
Such was the last sally of the Moors in defence of their favorite city. The French ambassador, who witnessed it, was filled with wonder at the prowess, the dexterity, and the daring of the Moslems.
In truth, this whole war was an instance, memorable in history, of the most persevering resolution. For nearly ten years had the war endured—an almost uninterrupted series of disasters to the Moorish arms. Their towns had been taken, one after another, and their brethren slain or led into captivity. Yet they disputed every city and town and fortress and castle, nay, every rock itself, as if they had been inspirited by victories. Wherever they could plant foot to fight, or find wall or cliff whence to launch an arrow, they disputed their beloved country; and now, when their capital was cut off from all relief and a whole nation thundered at its gates, they still maintained defence, as if they hoped some miracle to interpose in their behalf. Their obstinate resistance (says an ancient chronicler) shows the grief with which they yielded up the Vega, which was to them a paradise and heaven. Exerting all the strength of their arms, they embraced, as it were, that most beloved soil, from which neither wounds nor defeats, nor death itself, could part them. They stood firm, battling for it with the united force of love and grief, never drawing back the foot while they had hands to fight or fortune to befriend them.*
* Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, R. 30, c. 3.
CONFLAGRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN CAMP.—BUILDING OF SANTA FE.
The moors now shut themselves up gloomily within their walls; there were no longer any daring sallies from their gates, and even the martial clangor of the drum and trumpet, which had continually resounded within the warrior city, was now seldom heard from its battlements. In the midst of this deep despondency a single disaster in the Christian camp for a moment lit up a ray of hope in the bosom of the Moors.
The setting sun of a hot summer's day, on the 10th of July, shone splendidly upon the Christian camp, which was in a bustle of preparation for the next day's service, when an attack was meditated on the city. The camp made a glorious appearance. The various tents of the royal family and the attendant nobles were adorned with rich hangings and sumptuous devices and costly furniture, forming, as it were, a little city of silk and brocade, where the pinnacles of pavilions of various gay colors, surmounted with waving standards and fluttering pennons, might vie with the domes and minarets of the capital they were besieging.
In the midst of this little gaudy metropolis the lofty tent of the queen domineered over the rest like a stately palace. The marques of Cadiz had courteously surrendered his own tent to the queen: it was the most complete and sumptuous in Christendom, and had been carried about with him throughout the war. In the centre rose a stately alfaneque, or pavilion, in Oriental taste, the rich hangings being supported by columns of lances and ornamented with martial devices. This central pavilion, or silken tower, was surrounded by other compartments, some of painted linen lined with silk, and all separated from each other by curtains. It was one of those camp palaces which are raised and demolished in an instant like the city of canvas which surrounds them.
As the evening advanced the bustle in the camp subsided. Every one sought repose, preparatory to the next day's trial. The king retired early, that he might be up with the crowing of the cock to head the destroying army in person. All stir of military preparation was hushed in the royal quarters: the very sound of minstrelsy was mute, and not the tinkling of a guitar was to be heard from the tents of the fair ladies of the court.
The queen had retired to the innermost part of her pavilion, where she was performing her orisons before a private altar: perhaps the peril to which the king might be exposed in the next day's foray inspired her with more than usual devotion. While thus at her prayers she was suddenly aroused by a glare of light and wreaths of suffocating smoke. In an instant the whole tent was in a blaze: there was a high gusty wind, which whirled the light flames from tent to tent and wrapped the whole in one conflagration.
Isabella had barely time to save herself by instant flight. Her first thought on being extricated from her tent was for the safety of the king. She rushed to his tent, but the vigilant Ferdinand was already at the entrance of it. Starting from bed on the first alarm and fancying it an assault of the enemy, he had seized his sword and buckler and sallied forth undressed with his cuirass upon his arm.
The late gorgeous camp was now a scene of wild confusion. The flames kept spreading from one pavilion to another, glaring upon the rich armor and golden and silver vessels, which seemed melting in the fervent heat. Many of the soldiers had erected booths and bowers of branches, which, being dry, crackled and blazed and added to the rapid conflagration. The ladies of the court fled, shrieking and half dressed, from their tents. There was an alarm of drum and trumpet, and a distracted hurry about the camp of men half armed. The prince Juan had been snatched out of bed by an attendant and conveyed to the quarters of the count de Cabra, which were at the entrance of the camp. The loyal count immediately summoned his people and those of his cousin Don Alonso de Montemayor, and formed a guard round the tent in which the prince was sheltered.
The idea that this was a stratagem of the Moors soon subsided, but it was feared they might take advantage of it to assault the camp. The marques of Cadiz, therefore, sallied forth with three thousand horse to check any advance from the city. As they passed along the whole camp was a scene of hurry and consternation—some hastening to their posts at the call of drum and trumpet; some attempting to save rich effects and glittering armor from the tents; others dragging along terrified and restive horses.
When they emerged from the camp they found the whole firmament illuminated. The flames whirled up in long light spires, and the air was filled with sparks and cinders. A bright glare was thrown upon the city, revealing every battlement and tower. Turbaned heads were seen gazing from every roof, and armor gleamed along the walls, yet not a single warrior sallied from the gates: the Moors suspected some stratagem on the part of the Christians and kept quietly within their walls. By degrees the flames expired; the city faded from sight; all again became dark and quiet, and the marques of Cadiz returned with his cavalry to the camp.
When the day dawned on the Christian camp nothing remained of that beautiful assemblage of stately pavilions but heaps of smouldering rubbish, with helms and corselets and other furniture of war, and masses of melted gold and silver glittering among the ashes. The wardrobe of the queen was entirely destroyed, and there was an immense loss in plate, jewels, costly stuffs, and sumptuous armor of the luxurious nobles. The fire at first had been attributed to treachery, but on investigation it proved to be entirely accidental. The queen on retiring to her prayers had ordered her lady in attendance to remove a light burning near her couch, lest it should prevent her sleeping. Through heedlessness, the taper was placed in another part of the tent near the hangings, which, being blown against it by a gust of wind, immediately took fire.
The wary Ferdinand knew the sanguine temperament of the Moors, and hastened to prevent their deriving confidence from the night's disaster. At break of day the drums and trumpets sounded to arms, and the Christian army issued forth from among the smoking ruins of their camp in shining squadrons, with flaunting banners and bursts of martial melody, as though the preceding night had been a time of high festivity instead of terror.
The Moors had beheld the conflagration with wonder and perplexity. When the day broke and they looked toward the Christian camp, they saw nothing but a dark smoking mass. Their scouts came in with the joyful intelligence that the whole camp was a scene of ruin. In the exultation of the moment they flattered themselves with hopes that the catastrophe would discourage the besiegers—that, as in former years, their invasion would end with the summer and they would withdraw before the autumnal rains.
The measures of Ferdinand and Isabella soon crushed these hopes. They gave orders to build a regular city upon the site of their camp, to convince the Moors that the siege was to endure until the surrender of Granada. Nine of the principal cities of Spain were charged with the stupendous undertaking, and they emulated each other with a zeal worthy of the cause. "It verily seems," says Fray Antonio Agapida, "as though some miracle operated to aid this pious work, so rapidly did arise a formidable city, with solid edifices and powerful walls and mighty towers, where lately had been seen nothing but tents and light pavilions. The city was traversed by two principal streets in form of a cross, terminating in four gates facing the four winds, and in the centre was a vast square where the whole army might be assembled. To this city it was proposed to give the name of Isabella, so dear to the army and the nation, but that pious princess," adds Antonio Agapida, "calling to mind the holy cause in which it was erected, gave it the name of Santa Fe (or the City of the Holy Faith), and it remains to this day a monument of the piety and glory of the Catholic sovereigns."
Hither the merchants soon resorted from all points. Long trains of mules were seen every day entering and departing from its gates; the streets were crowded with magazines filled with all kinds of costly and luxurious merchandise; a scene of bustling commerce and prosperity took place, while unhappy Granada remained shut up and desolate.
FAMINE AND DISCORD IN THE CITY.
The besieged city now began to suffer the distress of famine. Its supplies were all cut off; a cavalgada of flocks and herds and mules laden with money, coming to the relief of the city from the mountains of the Alpuxarras, was taken by the marques of Cadiz and led in triumph to the camp in sight of the suffering Moors. Autumn arrived, but the harvests had been swept from the face of the country; a rigorous winter was approaching and the city was almost destitute of provisions. The people sank into deep despondency. They called to mind all that had been predicted by astrologers at the birth of their ill-starred sovereign, and all that had been foretold of the fate of Granada at the time of the capture of Zahara.
Boabdil was alarmed by the gathering dangers from without and by the clamors of his starving people. He summoned a council, composed of the principal officers of the army, the alcaydes of the fortresses, the xequis or sages of the city, and the alfaquis or doctors of the faith. They assembled in the great Hall of Audience of the Alhambra, and despair was painted in their countenances. Boabdil demanded of them what was to be done in the present extremity, and their answer was, "Surrender." The venerable Abul Casim, governor of the city, represented its unhappy state: "Our granaries are nearly exhausted, and no further supplies are to be expected. The provender for the war-horses is required as sustenance for the soldiery; the very horses themselves are killed for food; of seven thousand steeds which once could be sent into the field, three hundred only remain. Our city contains two hundred thousand inhabitants, old and young, with each a mouth that calls piteously for bread."
The xequis and principal citizens declared that the people could no longer sustain the labors and sufferings of a defence. "And of what avail is our defence," said they, "when the enemy is determined to persist in the siege? What alternative remains but to surrender or to die?"
The heart of Boabdil was touched by this appeal, and he maintained a gloomy silence. He had cherished some faint hope of relief from the soldan of Egypt or the Barbary powers, but it was now at an end; even if such assistance were to be sent, he had no longer a seaport where it might debark. The counsellors saw that the resolution of the king was shaken, and they united their voices in urging him to capitulate.
Muza alone rose in opposition. "It is yet too early," said he, "to talk of surrender. Our means are not exhausted; we have yet one source of strength remaining, terrible in its effects, and which often has achieved the most signal victories—it is our despair. Let us rouse the mass of the people—let us put weapons in their hands—let us fight the enemy to the very utmost until we rush upon the points of their lances. I am ready to lead the way into the thickest of their squadrons; and much rather would I be numbered among those who fell in the defence of Granada than of those who survived to capitulate for her surrender."
The words of Muza were without effect, for they were addressed to broken-spirited and heartless men, or men, perhaps, to whom sad experience had taught discretion. They were arrived at that state of public depression when heroes and heroism are no longer regarded, and when old men and their counsels rise into importance. Boabdil el Chico yielded to the general voice: it was determined to capitulate with the Christian sovereigns, and the venerable Abul Casim was sent forth to the camp empowered to treat for terms.
CAPITULATION OF GRANADA.
The old governor Abul Casim was received with great courtesy by Ferdinand and Isabella, who, being informed of the purport of his embassy, granted the besieged a truce of sixty days from the 5th of October, and appointed Gonsalvo of Cordova and Hernando de Zafra, the secretary of the king, to treat about the terms of surrender with such commissioners as might be named by Boabdil. The latter on his part named Abul Casim, Aben Comixa the vizier, and the grand cadi. As a pledge of good faith Boabdil gave his son in hostage, who was taken to Moclin, where he was treated with the greatest respect and attention by the good count de Tendilla as general of the frontier.
The commissioners on both parts held repeated conferences in secret in the dead of the night at the village of Churriana, those who first arrived at the place of meeting giving notice to the others by signal-fires or by means of spies. After many debates and much difficulty the capitulation was signed on the 25th of November. According to this, the city was to be delivered up, with all its gates, towers and fortresses, within sixty days.
All Christian captives should be liberated without ransom.
Boabdil and his principal cavaliers should perform the act of homage and take an oath of fealty to the Castilian Crown.
The Moors of Granada should become subjects of the Spanish sovereigns, retaining their possessions, their arms and horses, and yielding up nothing but their artillery. They should be protected in the exercise of their religion, and governed by their own laws, administered by cadis of their own faith under governors appointed by the sovereigns. They should be exempted from tribute for three years, after which term they should pay the same that they had been accustomed to render to their native monarchs.
Those who chose to depart for Africa within three years should be provided with a passage for themselves and their effects, free of charge, from whatever port they should prefer.
For the fulfilment of these articles five hundred hostages from the principal families were required previous to the surrender, who should be treated with great respect and distinction by the Christians, and subsequently restored. The son of the king of Granada and all other hostages in possession of the Castilian sovereigns were to be restored at the same time.
Such are the main articles affecting the public weal which were agreed upon, after much discussion, by the mixed commission. There were other articles, however, secretly arranged, which concerned the royal family. These secured to Boabdil, to his wife Morayma, his mother Ayza, his brothers, and to Zoraya, the widow of Muley Abul Hassan, all the landed possessions, houses, mills, baths, and other hereditaments which formed the royal patrimony, with the power of selling them, personally or by agent, at any and all times. To Boabdil was secured, moreover, his wealthy estates both in and out of Granada, and to him and his descendants in perpetuity the lordships of various town and lands and fertile valleys in the Alpuxarras, forming a petty sovereignty. In addition to all which it was stipulated that on the day of surrender he should receive thirty thousand castelanos of gold.*
* Alcantara, t. 4, c. 18.
The conditions of surrender being finally agreed upon by the commissioners, Abul Casim proceeded to the royal camp at Santa Fe, where they were signed by Ferdinand and Isabella; he then returned to Granada, accompanied by Hernando de Zafra, the royal secretary, to have the same ratified also by the Moorish king. Boabdil assembled his council, and with a dejected countenance laid before it the articles of capitulation as the best that could be obtained from the besieging foe.
When the members of the council found the awful moment arrived when they were to sign and seal the perdition of their empire and blot themselves out as a nation, all firmness deserted them, and many gave way to tears. Muza alone retained an unaltered mien. "Leave, seniors," cried he, "this idle lamentation to helpless women and children: we are men—we have hearts, not to shed tender tears, but drops of blood. I see the spirit of the people so cast down that it is impossible to save the kingdom. Yet there still remains an alternative for noble minds—a glorious death! Let us die defending our liberty and avenging the woes of Granada. Our mother earth will receive her children into her bosom, safe from the chains and oppressions of the conqueror, or, should any fail a sepulchre to hide his remains, he will not want a sky to cover him. Allah forbid it should be said the nobles of Granada feared to die in her defence!"
Muza ceased to speak, and a dead silence reigned in the assembly. Boabdil looked anxiously round and scanned every face, but he read in all the anxiety of careworn men, in whose hearts enthusiasm was dead and who had grown callous to every chivalrous appeal. "Allah Akbar!" exclaimed he; "there is no God but God, and Mahomet is his prophet! We have no longer forces in the city and the kingdom to resist our powerful enemies. It is in vain to struggle against the will of Heaven. Too surely was it written in the book of fate that I should be unfortunate and the kingdom expire under my rule."
"Allah Akbar!" echoed the viziers and alfaquis; "the will of God be done!" So they all agreed with the king that these evils were preordained, that it was hopeless to contend with them, and that the terms offered by the Castilian monarchs were as favorable as could be expected.
When Muza heard them assent to the treaty of surrender he rose in violent indignation. "Do not deceive yourselves," cried he, "nor think the Christians will be faithful to their promises, or their king as magnanimous in conquest as he has been victorious in war. Death is the least we have to fear. It is the plundering and sacking of our city, the profanation of our mosques, the ruin of our homes, the violation of our wives and daughters, cruel oppression, bigoted intolerance, whips and chains, the dungeon, the fagot, and the stake: such are the miseries and indignities we shall see and suffer; at least those grovelling souls will see and suffer them who now shrink from an honorable death. For my part, by Allah, I will never witness them!"
With these words he left the council-chamber, and passed gloomily through the Court of Lions and the outer halls of the Alhambra without deigning to speak to the obsequious courtiers who attended in them. He repaired to his dwelling, armed himself at all points, mounted his favorite warhorse, and, issuing from the city by the gate of Elvira, was never seen or heard of more.*
* Conde, part 4.
COMMOTIONS IN GRANADA.
The capitulation for the surrender of Granada was signed on the 25th of November, 1481, and produced a sudden cessation of those hostilities which had raged for so many years. Christian and Moor might now be seen mingling courteously on the banks of the Xenil and the Darro, where to have met a few days previous would have produced a scene of sanguinary contest. Still, as the Moors might be suddenly roused to the defence if within the allotted term of sixty days succors should arrive from abroad, and as they were at all times a rash, inflammable people, the wary Ferdinand maintained a vigilant watch upon the city and permitted no supplies of any kind to enter. His garrisons in the seaports and his cruisers in the Straits of Gibraltar were ordered likewise to guard against any relief from the grand soldan of Egypt or the princes of Barbary. There was no need of such precautions. Those powers were either too much engrossed by their own wars or too much daunted by the success of the Spanish arms to interfere in a desperate cause, and the unfortunate Moors of Granada were abandoned to their fate.
The month of December had nearly passed away: the famine became extreme, and there was no hope of any favorable event within the term specified in the capitulation. Boabdil saw that to hold out to the end of the allotted time would but be to protract the miseries of his people. With the consent of his council he determined to surrender the city on the sixth of January. He accordingly sent his grand vizier, Yusef Aben Comixa, to King Ferdinand to make known his intention, bearing him, at the same time, a present of a magnificent scimetar and two Arabian steeds superbly caparisoned.
The unfortunate Boabdil was doomed to meet with trouble to the end of his career. The very next day the santon or dervise, Hamet Aben Zarrax, the same who had uttered prophecies and excited commotions on former occasions, suddenly made his appearance. Whence he came no one knew: it was rumored that he had been in the mountains of the Alpuxarras and on the coast of Barbary endeavoring to rouse the Moslems to the relief of Granada. He was reduced to a skeleton; his eyes glowed like coals in their sockets, and his speech was little better than frantic raving. He harangued the populace in the streets and squares, inveighed against the capitulation, denounced the king and nobles as Moslems only in name, and called upon the people to sally forth against the unbelievers, for that Allah had decreed them a signal victory.
Upward of twenty thousand of the populace seized their arms and paraded the streets with shouts and outcries. The shops and houses were shut up; the king himself did not dare to venture forth, but remained a kind of prisoner in the Alhambra.
The turbulent multitude continued roaming and shouting and howling about the city during the day and a part of the night. Hunger and a wintry tempest tamed their frenzy, and when morning came the enthusiast who had led them on had disappeared. Whether he had been disposed of by the emissaries of the king or by the leading men of the city is not known: his disappearance remains a mystery.*
Boabdil now issued from the Alhambra, attended by his principal nobles, and harangued the populace. He set forth the necessity of complying with the capitulation, from the famine that reigned in the city, the futility of defence, and from the hostages having already been delivered into the hands of the besiegers.
In the dejection of his spirits the unfortunate Boabdil attributed to himself the miseries of the country. "It was my crime in ascending the throne in rebellion against my father," said he, mournfully, "which has brought these woes upon the kingdom; but Allah has grievously visited my sins upon my head. For your sake, my people, I have now made this treaty, to protect you from the sword, your little ones from famine, your wives and daughters from outrage, and to secure you in the enjoyment of your properties, your liberties, your laws, and your religion under a sovereign of happier destinies than the ill-starred Boabdil."
The versatile population were touched by the humility of their sovereign: they agreed to adhere to the capitulation, and there was even a faint shout of "Long live Boabdil the Unfortunate!" and they all returned to their homes in perfect tranquillity.
Boabdil immediately sent missives to King Ferdinand apprising him of these events, and of his fears lest further delay should produce new tumults. The vizier, Yusef Aben Comixa, was again the agent between the monarchs. He was received with unusual courtesy and attention by Ferdinand and Isabella, and it was arranged between them that the surrender should take place on the second day of January, instead of the sixth. A new difficulty now arose in regard to the ceremonial of surrender. The haughty Ayxa la Horra, whose pride rose with the decline of her fortunes, declared that as sultana-mother she would never consent that her son should stoop to the humiliation of kissing the hand of his conquerors, and unless this part of the ceremonial were modified she would find means to resist a surrender accompanied by such indignities.
Aben Comixa was sorely troubled by this opposition. He knew the high spirit of the indomitable Ayxa and her influence over her less heroic son, and wrote an urgent letter on the subject to his friend, the count de Tendilla. The latter imparted the circumstance to the Christian sovereigns; a council was called on the matter. Spanish pride and etiquette were obliged to bend in some degree to the haughty spirit of a woman. It was agreed that Boabdil should sally forth on horseback—that on approaching the Spanish sovereigns he should make a slight movement, as if about to draw his foot from the stirrup and dismount, but would be prevented from doing so by Ferdinand, who should treat him with a respect due to his dignity and elevated birth. The count de Tendilla despatched a messenger with this arrangement, and the haughty scruples of Ayxa la Horra were satisfied.*
* Salazar de Mendoza, Chron. del Gran Cardinal, lib. 1, c. 69, p. 1; Mondajar, His. MS., as cited by Alcantara, t. 4, c. 18.
SURRENDER OF GRANADA.
The night preceding the surrender was a night of doleful lamentings within the walls of the Alhambra, for the household of Boabdil were preparing to take a last farewell of that delightful abode. All the royal treasures and most precious effects were hastily packed upon mules; the beautiful apartments were despoiled, with tears and wailings, by their own inhabitants. Before the dawn of day a mournful cavalcade moved obscurely out of a postern gate of the Alhambra and departed through one of the most retired quarters of the city. It was composed of the family of the unfortunate Boabdil, which he sent off thus privately, that they might not be exposed to the eyes of scoffers or the exultation of the enemy. The mother of Boabdil, the sultana Ayxa la Horra, rode on in silence, with dejected yet dignified demeanor; but his wife Morayma and all the females of his household gave way to loud lamentations as they looked back upon their favorite abode, now a mass of gloomy towers behind them. They were attended by the ancient domestics of the household, and by a small guard of veteran Moors loyally attached to the fallen monarch, and who would have sold their lives dearly in defence of his family. The city was yet buried in sleep as they passed through its silent streets. The guards at the gate shed tears as they opened it for their departure. They paused not, but proceeded along the banks of the Xenil on the road that leads to the Alpuxarras, until they arrived at a hamlet at some distance from the city, where they halted and waited until they should be joined by King Boabdil. The night which had passed so gloomily in the sumptuous halls of the Alhambra had been one of joyful anticipation in the Christian camp. In the evening proclamation had been made that Granada was to be surrendered on the following day, and the troops were all ordered to assemble at an early hour under their several banners. The cavaliers, pages, and esquires were all charged to array themselves in their richest and most splendid style for the occasion, and even the royal family determined to lay by the mourning they had recently assumed for the sudden death of the prince of Portugal, the husband of the princess Isabella. In a clause of the capitulation it had been stipulated that the troops destined to take possession should not traverse the city, but should ascend to the Alhambra by a road opened for the purpose outside of the walls. This was to spare the feelings of the afflicted inhabitants, and to prevent any angry collision between them and their conquerors. So rigorous was Ferdinand in enforcing this precaution that the soldiers were prohibited under pain of death from leaving the ranks to enter into the city.
The rising sun had scarce shed his rosy beams upon the snowy summits of the Sierra Nevada when three signal guns boomed heavily from the lofty fortress of the Alhambra. It was the concerted sign that all was ready for the surrender. The Christian army forthwith poured out of the city, or rather camp, of Santa Fe, and advanced across the Vega. The king and queen, with the prince and princess, the dignitaries and ladies of the court, took the lead, accompanied by the different orders of monks and friars, and surrounded by the royal guards splendidly arrayed. The procession moved slowly forward, and paused at the village of Armilla, at the distance of half a league from the city.
In the mean time, the grand cardinal of Spain, Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, escorted by three thousand foot and a troop of cavalry, and accompanied by the commander Don Gutierrez de Cardenas and a number of prelates and hidalgos, crossed the Xenil and proceeded in the advance to ascend to the Alhambra and take possession of that royal palace and fortress. The road which had been opened for the purpose led by the Puerta de los Molinos, or Gate of Mills, up a defile to the esplanade on the summit of the Hill of Martyrs. At the approach of this detachment the Moorish king sallied forth from a postern gate of the Alhambra, having left his vizier, Yusef Aben Comixa, to deliver up the palace. The gate by which he sallied passed through a lofty tower of the outer wall, called the Tower of the Seven Floors (de los siete suelos). He was accompanied by fifty cavaliers, and approached the grand cardinal on foot. The latter immediately alighted, and advanced to meet him with the utmost respect. They stepped aside a few paces, and held a brief conversation in an under tone, when Boabdil, raising his voice, exclaimed, "Go, senor, and take possession of those fortresses in the name of the powerful sovereigns to whom God has been pleased to deliver them in reward of their great merits and in punishment of the sins of the Moors." The grand cardinal sought to console him in his reverses, and offered him the use of his own tent during any time he might sojourn in the camp. Boabdil thanked him for the courteous offer, adding some words of melancholy import, and then, taking leave of him gracefully, passed mournfully on to meet the Catholic sovereigns, descending to the Vega by the same road by which the cardinal had come. The latter, with the prelates and cavaliers who attended him, entered the Alhambra, the gates of which were thrown wide open by the alcayde Aben Comixa. At the same time the Moorish guards yielded up their arms, and the towers and battlements were taken possession of by the Christian troops.
While these transactions were passing in the Alhambra and its vicinity the sovereigns remained with their retinue and guards near the village of Armilla, their eyes fixed on the towers of the royal fortress, watching for the appointed signal of possession. The time that had elapsed since the departure of the detachment seemed to them more than necessary for the purpose, and the anxious mind of Ferdinand began to entertain doubts of some commotion in the city. At length they saw the silver cross, the great standard of this crusade, elevated on the Torre de la Vela, or Great Watch-tower, and sparkling in the sunbeams. This was done by Hernando de Talavera, bishop of Avila. Beside it was planted the pennon of the glorious apostle St. James, and a great shout of "Santiago! Santiago!" rose throughout the army. Lastly was reared the royal standard by the king-at-arms, with the shout of "Castile! Castile! for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella!" The words were echoed by the whole army, with acclamations that resounded across the Vega. At sight of these signals of possession the sovereigns sank upon their knees, giving thanks to God for this great triumph; the whole assembled host followed their example, and the choristers of the royal chapel broke forth into the solemn anthem of "Te Deum laudamus."
The king now advanced with a splendid escort of cavalry and the sound of trumpets, until he came to a small mosque near the banks of the Xenil, and not far from the foot of the Hill of Martyrs, which edifice remains to the present day consecrated as the hermitage of St. Sebastian. Here he beheld the unfortunate king of Granada approaching on horseback at the head of his slender retinue. Boabdil as he drew near made a movement to dismount, but, as had previously been concerted, Ferdinand prevented him. He then offered to kiss the king's hand, which according to arrangement was likewise declined, whereupon he leaned forward and kissed the king's right arm; at the same time he delivered the keys of the city with an air of mingled melancholy and resignation. "These keys," said he, "are the last relics of the Arabian empire in Spain: thine, O king, are our trophies, our kingdom, and our person. Such is the will of God! Receive them with the clemency thou hast promised, and which we look for at thy hands."*
* Abarca, Anales de Aragon, Rey 30, c. 3.
King Ferdinand restrained his exultation into an air of serene magnanimity. "Doubt not our promises," replied he, "nor that thou shalt regain from our friendship the prosperity of which the fortune of war has deprived thee."
Being informed that Don Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, the good count of Tendilla, was to be governor of the city, Boabdil drew from his finger a gold ring set with a precious stone and presented it to the count. "With this ring," said he, "Granada has been governed; take it and govern with it, and God make you more fortunate than I!"*
* This ring remained in the possession of the descendants of the count until the death of the marques Don Inigo, the last male heir, who died in Malaga, without children, in 1656. The ring was then lost through inadvertence and ignorance of its value, Dona Maria, the sister of the marques, being absent in Madrid—"Alcantara," 1. 4, c.18.
He then proceeded to the village of Armilla, where the queen Isabella remained with her escort and attendants. The queen, like her husband, declined all acts of homage, and received him with her accustomed grace and benignity. She at the same time delivered to him his son, who had been held as a hostage for the fulfilment of the capitulation. Boabdil pressed his child to his bosom with tender emotion, and they seemed mutually endeared to each other by their misfortunes.*
* Zurita, Anales de Aragon, lib. 20, cap. 92.
Having rejoined his family, the unfortunate Boabdil continued on toward the Alpuxarras, that he might not behold the entrance of the Christians into his capital. His devoted band of cavaliers followed him in gloomy silence, but heavy sighs burst from their bosoms as shouts of joy and strains of triumphant music were borne on the breeze from the victorious army.
Having rejoined his family, Boabdil set forth with a heavy heart for his allotted residence in the valley of Purchena. At two leagues' distance the cavalcade, winding into the skirts of the Alpuxarras, ascended an eminence commanding the last view of Granada. As they arrived at this spot the Moors paused involuntarily to take a farewell gaze at their beloved city, which a few steps more would shut from their sight for ever. Never had it appeared so lovely in their eyes. The sunshine, so bright in that transparent climate, lit up each tower and minaret, and rested gloriously upon the crowning battlements of the Alhambra, while the Vega spread its enamelled bosom of verdure below, glistening with the silver windings of the Xenil. The Moorish cavaliers gazed with a silent agony of tenderness and grief upon that delicious abode, the scene of their loves and pleasures. While they yet looked a light cloud of smoke burst forth from the citadel, and presently a peal of artillery, faintly heard, told that the city was taken possession of, and the throne of the Moslem kings was lost for ever. The heart of Boabdil, softened by misfortunes and overcharged with grief, could no longer contain itself. "Allah Akbar! God is great!" said he but the words of resignation died upon his lips and he burst into tears.
The mother, the intrepid Ayxa, was indignant at his weakness. "You do well," said she, "to weep like a woman for what you failed to defend like a man."
The vizier Aben Comixa endeavored to console his royal master. "Consider, senor," said he, "that the most signal misfortunes often render men as renowned as the most prosperous achievements, provided they sustain them with magnanimity."
The unhappy monarch, however, was not to be consoled; his tears continued to flow. "Allah Akbar!" exclaimed he, "when did misfortune ever equal mine?"
From this circumstance the hill, which is not far from Padul, took the name of Feg Allah Akbar, but the point of view commanding the last prospect of Granada is known among Spaniards by the name of "El ultimo suspiro del Moro," or "The last sigh of the Moor."
HOW THE CASTILIAN SOVEREIGNS TOOK POSSESSION OF GRANADA.
Queen Isabella having joined the king, the royal pair, followed by a triumphant host, passed up the road by the Hill of Martyrs, and thence to the main entrance of the Alhambra. The grand cardinal awaited them under the lofty arch of the great Gate of Justice, accompanied by Don Gutierrez de Cardenas and Aben Comixa. Here King Ferdinand gave the keys which had been delivered up to him into the hands of the queen; they were passed successively into the hands of the prince Juan, the grand cardinal, and finally into those of the count de Tendilla, in whose custody they remained, that brave cavalier having been named alcayde of the Alhambra and captain-general of Granada.
The sovereigns did not remain long in the Alhambra on this first visit, but, leaving a strong garrison there under the count de Tendilla to maintain tranquillity in the palace and the subjacent city, returned to the camp at Santa Fe.
We must not omit to mention a circumstance attending the surrender of the city which spoke eloquently to the hearts of the victors. As the royal army had advanced in all the pomp of courtly and chivalrous array, a procession of a different kind came forth to meet it. This was composed of more than five hundred Christian captives, many of whom had languished for years in Moorish dungeons. Pale and emaciated, they came clanking their chains in triumph and shedding tears of joy. They were received with tenderness by the sovereigns. The king hailed them as good Spaniards, as men loyal and brave, as martyrs to the holy cause; the queen distributed liberal relief among them with her own hands, and they passed on before the squadrons of the army singing hymns of jubilee.
* Abarca, lib. sup.; Zurita, etc.
The sovereigns forebore to enter the city until it should be fully occupied by their troops and public tranquillity ensured. All this was done under the vigilant superintendence of the count de Tendilla, assisted by the marques of Villena, and the glistening of Christian helms and lances along the walls and bulwarks, and the standards of the faith and of the realm daunting from the towers, told that the subjugation of the city was complete. The proselyte prince, Cid Hiaya, now known by the Christian appellation of Don Pedro de Granada Vanegas,* was appointed chief alguazil of the city, and had charge of the Moorish inhabitants, and his son, lately the prince Alnayar, now Alonso de Granada Vanegas, was appointed admiral of the fleet.
* Cid Hiaya was made cavalier of the order of Santiago. He and his son intermarried with the Spanish nobility, and the marqueses of Compotejar are among their descendants. Their portraits and the portraits of their grandsons are to be seen in one of the rooms of the Generalife at Granada.
It was on the sixth of January, the Day of Kings and festival of the Epiphany, that the sovereigns made their triumphant entry with grand military parade. First advanced, we are told, a splendid escort of cavaliers in burnished armor and superbly mounted. Then followed the prince Juan, glittering with jewels and diamonds; on each side of him, mounted on mules, rode the grand cardinal, clothed in purple, Fray Hernando de Talavera, bishop of Airla and the archbishop-elect of Granada. To these succeeded the queen and her ladies, and the king, managing in galliard style, say the Spanish chroniclers, a proud and mettlesome steed (un caballo arrogante). Then followed the army in shining columns, with flaunting banners and the inspiring clamor of military music. The king and queen (says the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida) looked on this occasion as more than mortal: the venerable ecclesiastics, to whose advice and zeal this glorious conquest ought in a great measure be attributed, moved along with hearts swelling with holy exultation, but with chastened and downcast looks of edifying humility; while the hardy warriors, in tossing plumes and shining steel, seemed elevated with a stern joy at finding themselves in possession of this object of so many toils and perils. As the streets resounded with the tramp of steeds and swelling peals of music the Moors buried themselves in the deepest recesses of their dwellings. There they bewailed in secret the fallen glory of their race, but suppressed their groans, lest they should be heard by their enemies and increase their triumph.
The royal procession advanced to the principal mosque, which had been consecrated as a cathedral. Here the sovereigns offered up prayers and thanksgivings, and the choir of the royal chapel chanted a triumphant anthem, in which they were joined by all the courtiers and cavaliers. Nothing (says Fray Antonio Agapida) could exceed the thankfulness to God of the pious king Ferdinand for having enabled him to eradicate from Spain the empire and name of that accursed heathen race, and for the elevation of the cross in that city wherein the impious doctrines of Mahomet had so long been cherished. In the fervor of his spirit he supplicated from heaven a continuance of its grace and that this glorious triumph might be perpetuated.* The prayer of the pious monarch was responded to by the people, and even his enemies were for once convinced of his sincerity.
* The words of Fray Antonio Agapida are little more than an echo of those of the worthy Jesuit father Mariana (1. 25, c. 18).
When the religious ceremonies were concluded the court ascended to the stately palace of the Alhambra and entered by the great Gate of Justice. The halls lately occupied by turbaned infidels now rustled with stately dames and Christian courtiers, who wandered with eager curiosity over this far-famed palace, admiring its verdant courts and gushing fountains, its halls decorated with elegant arabesques and storied with inscriptions, and the splendor of its gilded and brilliantly painted ceilings.
It had been a last request of the unfortunate Boabdil—and one which showed how deeply he felt the transition of his fate—that no person might be permitted to enter or depart by the gate of the Alhambra through which he had sallied forth to surrender his capital. His request was granted; the portal was closed up, and remains so to the present day—a mute memorial of that event.*
* Garibay, Compend. Hist., lib. 40, c. 42. The existence of this gateway and the story connected with it are perhaps known to few, but were identified in the researches made to verify this history. The gateway is at the bottom of a tower at some distance from the main body of the Alhambra. The tower had been rent and ruined by gunpowder at the time when the fortress was evacuated by the French. Great masses lie around half covered by vines and fig trees. A poor man, by the name of Mateo Ximenes, who lives in one of the halls among the ruins of the Alhambra, where his family has resided for many generations, pointed out to the author the gateway, still closed up with stones. He remembered to have heard his father and grandfather say that it had always been stopped up, and that out of it King Boabdil had gone when he surrendered Granada. The route of the unfortunate king may be traced thence across the garden of the convent of Los Martyros, and down a ravine beyond, through a street of gypsy caves and hovels, by the gate of Los Molinos, and so on to the Hermitage of St. Sebastian. None but an antiquarian, however, will be able to trace it unless aided by the humble historian of the place, Mateo Ximenes.
The Spanish sovereigns fixed their throne in the presence-chamber of the palace, so long the seat of Moorish royalty. Hither the principal inhabitants of Granada repaired to pay them homage and kiss their hands in token of vassalage, and their example was followed by deputies from all the towns and fortresses of the Alpuxarras which had not hitherto submitted.
Thus terminated the war of Granada, after ten years of incessant fighting, equalling (says Fray Antonio Agapida) the far-famed siege of Troy in duration, and ending, like that, in the capture of the city. Thus ended also the dominion of the Moors in Spain, having endured seven hundred and seventy-eight years from the memorable defeat of Roderick, the last of the Goths, on the banks of the Guadalete. The authentic Agapida is uncommonly particular in fixing the epoch of this event. This great triumph of our holy Catholic faith, according to his computation, took place in the beginning of January in the year of our Lord 1492, being 3655 years from the population of Spain by the patriarch Tubal, 3797 from the general deluge, 5453 from the creation of the world, according to Hebrew calculation, and in the month Rabic, in the eight hundred and ninety-seventh year of the Hegira, or flight of Mahomet, whom may God confound! saith the pious Agapida.
The Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada is finished, but the reader may be desirous of knowing the subsequent fortunes of some of the principal personages.
The unfortunate Boabdil retired with his mother, his wife, his son, his sister, his vizier and bosom-counsellor Aben Comixa, and many other relatives and friends, to the valley of Purchena, where a small but fertile territory had been allotted him, comprising several towns of the Alpuxarras, with all their rights and revenues. Here, surrounded by obedient vassals, devoted friends, and a loving family, and possessed of wealth sufficient to enable him to indulge in his habitual luxury and magnificence, he for a time led a tranquil life, and may have looked back upon his regal career as a troubled dream from which he had happily awaked. Still, he appears to have pleased himself with a shadow of royalty, making occasionally progresses about his little domains, visiting the different towns, receiving the homage of the inhabitants, and bestowing largesses with a princely hand. His great delight, however, was in sylvan sports and exercises, with horses, hawks, and hounds, being passionately fond of hunting and falconry, so as to pass weeks together in sporting campaigns among the mountains. The jealous suspicions of Ferdinand followed him into his retreat. No exertions were spared by the politically pious monarch to induce him to embrace the Christian religion as a means of severing him in feelings and sympathies from his late subjects; but he remained true to the faith of his fathers, and it must have added not a little to his humiliation to live a vassal under Christian sovereigns.
His obstinacy in this respect aggravated the distrust of Ferdinand, who, looking back upon the past inconstancy of the Moors, could not feel perfectly secure in his newly-conquered territories while there was one within their bounds who might revive pretensions to the throne and rear the standard of an opposite faith in their behalf. He caused, therefore, a vigilant watch to be kept upon the dethroned monarch in his retirement, and beset him with spies who were to report all his words and actions. The reader will probably be surprised to learn that the foremost of these spies was Aben Comixa! Ever since the capture and release of the niece of the vizier by the count de Tendilla, Aben Comixa had kept up a friendly correspondence with that nobleman, and through this channel had gradually been brought over to the views of Ferdinand. Documents which have gradually come to light leave little doubt that the vizier had been corrupted by the bribes and promises of the Spanish king, and had greatly promoted his views in the capitulation of Granada. It is certain that he subsequently received great estates from the Christian sovereigns. While residing in confidential friendship with Boabdil in his retirement Aben Comixa communicated secretly with Hernando de Zafra, the secretary of Ferdinand, who resided at Granada, giving him information of all Boabdil's movements, which the secretary reported by letter to the king. Some of the letters of the secretary still exist in the archives of Samancas, and have been recently published in the collection of unedited documents.*
* El rey Muley Babdali (Boabdil) y sus criados andan continuamente a casa con glagos y azores, y alla esta agora en al campo de Dalias y en Verja, aunque su casa tiene en Andarax, y dican que estara alla por todo este mes.—"Carta Secreta de Hernando de Zafra," Decembre, 1492
The jealous doubts of Ferdinand were quickened by the letters of his spies. He saw in the hunting campaigns and royal progresses of the ex-king a mode of keeping up a military spirit and a concerted intelligence among the Moors of the Alpuxarras that might prepare them for future rebellion. By degrees the very residence of Boabdil within the kingdom became incompatible with Ferdinand's ideas of security. He gave his agents, therefore, secret instructions to work upon the mind of the deposed monarch, and induce him, like El Zagal, to relinquish his Spanish estates for valuable considerations and retire to Africa. Boabdil, however, was not to be persuaded: to the urgent suggestions of these perfidious counsellors he replied that he had given up a kingdom to live in peace, and had no idea of going to a foreign land to encounter new troubles and to be under the control of alarabes.*
* Letter of Hernando de Zafra to the sovereigns, Dec. 9, 1493.
Ferdinand persisted in his endeavors, and found means more effectual of operating on the mind of Boabdil and gradually disposing him to enter into negotiations. It would appear that Aben Comixa was secretly active in this matter in the interests of the Spanish monarch, and was with him at Barcelona as the vizier and agent of Boabdil. The latter, however, finding that his residence in the Alpuxarras was a cause of suspicion and uneasiness to Ferdinand, determined to go himself to Barcelona, have a conference with the sovereigns, and conduct all his negotiations with them in person. Zafra, the secretary of Ferdinand, who was ever on the alert, wrote a letter from Granada apprising the king of Boabdil's intention, and that he was making preparations for the journey. He received a letter in reply, charging him by subtle management to prevent, or at least delay, the coming of Boabdil to court.* The crafty monarch trusted to effect through Aben Comixa as vizier and agent of Boabdil an arrangement which it might be impossible to obtain from Boabdil himself. The politic plan was carried into effect. Boabdil was detained at Andarax by the management of Zafra. In the mean time a scandalous bargain was made on the 17th March, 1493, between Ferdinand and Aben Comixa, in which the latter, as vizier and agent of Boabdil, though without any license or authority from him, made a sale of his territory and the patrimonial property of the princesses for eighty thousand ducats of gold, and engaged that he should depart for Africa, taking care, at the same time, to make conditions highly advantageous for himself.**
* Letter of the sovereigns to Hernando de Zafra from Barcelona, Feb., 1493.
* *Alcantara, Hist. Granad., iv. c. 18.
This bargain being hastily concluded, Yusef Aben Comixa loaded the treasure upon mules and departed for the Alpuxarras. Here, spreading the money before Boabdil, "Senior," said he, "I have observed that as long as you live here you are exposed to constant peril. The Moors are rash and irritable; they may make some sudden insurrection, elevate your standard as a pretext, and thus overwhelm you and your friends with utter ruin. I have observed also that you pine away with grief, being continually reminded in this country that you were once its sovereign, but never more must hope to reign. I have put an end to these evils. Your territory is sold—behold the price of it! With this gold you may buy far greater possessions in Africa, where you may live in honor and security."
When Boabdil heard these words he burst into a sudden transport of rage, and, drawing his scimetar, would have sacrificed the officious Yusef on the spot had not the attendants interfered and hurried the vizier from his presence.*
* Marmol, Rebel. 1. 1, c. 22.
The rage of Boabdil gradually subsided: he saw that he had been duped and betrayed, but he knew the spirit of Ferdinand too well to hope that he would retract the bargain, however illegitimately effected. He contented himself, therefore, with obtaining certain advantageous modifications, and then prepared to bid a final adieu to his late kingdom and his native land.
It took some months to make the necessary arrangements, or, rather, his departure was delayed by a severe domestic affliction. Morayma, his gentle and affectionate wife, worn out by agitations and alarms, was gradually sinking into the grave, a prey to devouring melancholy. Her death took place toward the end of August. Hernando de Zafra apprised King Ferdinand of the event as one propitious to his purposes, removing an obstacle to the embarkation, which was now fixed for the month of September. Zafra was instructed to accompany the exiles until he saw them landed on the African coast.
The embarkation, however, did not take place until some time in the month of October. A caracca had been prepared at the port of Adra for Boabdil and his immediate family and friends. Another caracca and two galliots received a number of faithful adherents, amounting, it is said, to eleven hundred and thirty, who followed their prince into exile.
A crowd of his former subjects witnessed his embarkation. As the sails were unfurled and swelled to the breeze, and the vessel bearing Boabdil parted from the land, the spectators would fain have given him a farewell cheering; but the humbled state of their once proud sovereign forced itself upon their minds, and the ominous surname of his youth rose involuntarily to their tongues: "Farewell, Boabdil! Allah preserve thee, 'El Zogoybi!'" burst spontaneously from their lips. The unlucky appellation sank into the heart of the expatriated monarch, and tears dimmed his eyes as the snowy summits of the mountains of Granada gradually faded from his view.
He was received with welcome at the court of his relative, Muley Ahmed, caliph of Fez, the same who had treated El Zagal with such cruelty in his exile. For thirty-four years he resided in this court, treated with great consideration, and built a palace or alcazar at Fez, in which, it is said, he endeavored to emulate the beauties and delights of the Alhambra.
The last we find recorded of him is in the year 1536, when he followed the caliph to the field to repel the invasion of two brothers of the famous line of the Xerifes, who at the head of Berber troops had taken the city of Morocco and threatened Fez. The armies came in sight of each other on the banks of the Guadal Hawit, or river of slaves, at the ford of Balcuba. The river was deep, the banks were high and broken, and the ford could only be passed in single file; for three days the armies remained firing at each other across the stream, neither venturing to attempt the dangerous ford. At length the caliph divided his army into three battalions: the command of the first he gave to his brother-in-law and to Aliatar, son of the old alcayde of Loxa; another division he commanded himself; and the third, composed of his best marksmen, he put under the command of his son, the prince of Fez, and Boabdil, now a gray-haired veteran. The last mentioned column took the lead, dashed boldly across the ford, scrambled up the opposite bank, and attempted to keep the enemy employed until the other battalions should have time to cross. The rebel army, however, attacked them with such fury that the son of the king of Fez and several of the bravest alcaydes were slain upon the spot; multitudes were driven back into the river, which was already crowded with passing troops. A dreadful confusion took place; the horse trampled upon the foot; the enemy pressed on them with fearful slaughter; those who escaped the sword perished by the stream; the river was choked by the dead bodies of men and horses and by the scattered baggage of the army. In this scene of horrible carnage fell Boabdil, truly called El Zogoybi, or the Unlucky—an instance, says the ancient chronicler, of the scornful caprice of fortune, dying in defence of the kingdom of another after wanting spirit to die in defence of his own.*
* Marmol, Descrip. de Africa, p. 1, 1. 2, c. 40; idem, Hist. Reb. de los Moros, lib. 1, c. 21.
The aspersion of the chronicler is more caustic than correct. Boabdil never showed a want of courage in the defence of Granada, but he wanted firmness and decision: he was beset from the first by perplexities, and ultimately by the artifices of Ferdinand and the treachery of those in whom he most confided.*
* In revising this account of the ultimate fortunes of Boabdil the author has availed himself of facts recently brought out in Alcantara's History of Granada, which throw strong lights on certain parts of the subject hitherto covered with obscurity.
ZORAYA, THE STAR OF THE MORNING.
Notwithstanding the deadly rivalship of this youthful sultana with Ayxa la Horra, the virtuous mother of Boabdil, and the disasters to which her ambitious intrigues gave rise, the placable spirit of Boabdil bore her no lasting enmity. After the death of his father he treated her with respect and kindness, and evinced a brotherly feeling toward her sons Cad and Nazar. In the capitulations for the surrender of Granada he took care of her interests, and the possessions which he obtained for her were in his neighborhood in the valleys of the Alpuxarras. Zoraya, however, under the influence of Queen Isabella, returned to the Christian faith, the religion of her infancy, and resumed her Spanish name of Isabella. Her two sons, Cad and Nazar, were baptized under the names of Don Fernando and Don Juan de Granada, and were permitted to take the titles of infantas or princes. They intermarried with noble Spanish families, and the dukes of Granada, resident in Valladolid, are descendants of Don Juan (once Nazar), and preserve to the present day the blazon of their royal ancestor, Muley Abul Hassan, and his motto, Le Galib ile Ala, God alone is conqueror.
FATE OF ABEN COMIXA.
An ancient chronicle which has long remained in manuscript, but has been published of late years in the collection of Spanish historical documents,* informs us of the subsequent fortunes of the perfidious Aben Comixa. Discarded and despised by Boabdil for his treachery, he repaired to the Spanish court, and obtained favor in the eyes of the devout queen Isabella by embracing the Christian religion, being baptized under her auspices with the name of Don Juan de Granada. He even carried his zeal for his newly-adopted creed so far as to become a Franciscan friar. By degrees his affected piety grew cool and the friar's garb became irksome. Taking occasion of the sailing of some Venetian galleys from Almeria, he threw off his religious habit, embarked on board of one of them, and crossed to Africa, where he landed in the dress of a Spanish cavalier.
* Padilla, Cronica de Felipe el Hermosa, cap. 18, y 19, as cited by Alcantara.
In a private interview with Abderraman, the Moorish king of Bujia, he related his whole history, and declared that he had always been and still was at heart a true Mahometan. Such skill had he in inspiring confidence that the Moorish king took him into favor and appointed him governor of Algiers. While enjoying his new dignity a Spanish squadron of four galleys, under the celebrated count Pedro de Navarro, anchored in the harbor in 1509. Aben Comixa paid the squadron a visit of ceremony in his capacity of governor, gave the count repeated fetes, and in secret conversations with him laid open all the affairs of the king of Bujia, and offered, if the count should return with sufficient force, to deliver the city into his hands and aid him in conquering the whole territory. The count hastened back to Spain and made known the proposed treachery to the Cardinal Ximenes, then prime minister of Spain. In the following month of January he was sent with thirty vessels and four thousand soldiers to achieve the enterprise. The expedition of Navarro was successful. He made himself master of Bujia and seized in triumph on the royal palace, but he found there the base Aben Comixa weltering in his blood and expiring under numerous wounds. His treachery had been discovered, and the vengeance of the king of Bujia had closed his perfidious career.
DEATH OF THE MARQUES OF CADIZ.
The renowned Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques-duke of Cadiz, was unquestionably the most distinguished among the cavaliers of Spain for his zeal, enterprise, and heroism in the great crusade of Granada. He began the war by the capture of Alhama; he was engaged in almost every inroad and siege of importance during its continuance; and was present at the surrender of the capital, the closing scene of the conquest. The renown thus acquired was sealed by his death, which happened in the forty-eighth year of his age, almost immediately at the close of his triumphs and before a leaf of his laurels had time to wither. He died at his palace in the city of Seville on the 27th day of August, 1492, but a few months after the surrender of Granada, and of an illness caused by exposures and fatigues undergone in this memorable war. That honest chronicler, Andres Bernaldez, the curate of Los Palacios, who was a contemporary of the marques, draws his portrait from actual knowledge and observation. He was universally cited (says he) as the most perfect model of chivalrous virtue of the age. He was temperate, chaste, and rigidly devout, a benignant commander, a valiant defender of his vassals, a great lover of justice, and an enemy to all flatterers, liars, robbers, traitors, and poltroons.
His ambition was of a lofty kind: he sought to distinguish himself and his family by heroic and resounding deeds, and to increase the patrimony of his ancestors by the acquisition of castles, domains, vassals, and other princely possessions. His recreations were all of a warlike nature; he delighted in geometry as applied to fortifications, and spent much time and treasure in erecting and repairing fortresses. He relished music, but of a military kind—the sound of clarions and sackbuts, of drums and trumpets. Like a true cavalier, he was a protector of the sex on all occasions, and an injured woman never applied to him in vain for redress. His prowess was so well known, and his courtesy to the fair, that the ladies of the court, when they accompanied the queen to the wars, rejoiced to find themselves under his protection; for wherever his banner was displayed the Moors dreaded to adventure. He was a faithful and devoted friend, but a formidable enemy; for he was slow to forgive, and his vengeance was persevering and terrible.
The death of this good and well-beloved cavalier spread grief and lamentation throughout all ranks. His relations, dependants, and companions-in-arms put on mourning for his loss, and so numerous were they that half of Seville was clad in black. None, however, deplored his death more deeply and sincerely than his friend and chosen companion Don Alonso de Aguilar.
The funeral ceremonies were of the most solemn and sumptuous kind. The body of the marques was arrayed in a costly shirt, a doublet of brocade, a sayo or long robe of black velvet, a marlota or Moorish tunic of brocade reaching to the feet, and scarlet stockings. His sword, superbly gilt, was girded to his side, as he used to wear it when in the field. Thus magnificently attired, the body was enclosed in a coffin which was covered with black velvet and decorated with a cross of white damask. It was then placed on a sumptuous bier in the centre of the great hall of the palace. Here the duchess made great lamentation over the body of her lord, in which she was joined by her train of damsels and attendants, as well as by the pages and esquires and innumerable vassals.
In the close of the evening, just before the Ave Maria, the funeral train issued from the palace. Ten banners were borne around the bier, the particular trophies of the marques won from the Moors by his valor in individual enterprises before King Ferdinand had commenced the war of Granada. The procession was swelled by an immense train of bishops, priests, and friars of different orders, together with the civil and military authorities and all the chivalry of Seville, headed by the count of Cifuentes, at that time intendente or commander of the city. It moved slowly and solemnly through the streets, stopping occasionally and chanting litanies and responses. Two hundred and forty waxen tapers shed a light like the day about the bier. The balconies and windows were crowded with ladies, who shed tears as the funeral train passed by, while the women of the lower classes were loud in their lamentations, as if bewailing the loss of a father or a brother. On approaching the convent of St. Augustine the monks came forth with the cross and tapers and eight censers and conducted the body into the church, where it lay in state until all the vigils were performed by the different orders, after which it was deposited in the family tomb of the Ponces in the same church, and the ten banners were suspended over the sepulchre.*
* Cura de los Palacios, c.104.
The tomb of the valiant Roderigo Ponce de Leon, with his banners mouldering above it, remained for ages an object of veneration with all who had read or heard of his virtues and achievements. In the year 1810, however, the chapel was sacked by the French, its altars were overturned, and the sepulchres of the family of the Ponces shattered to pieces. The present duchess of Benevente, the worthy descendant of this illustrious and heroic line, has since piously collected the ashes of her ancestors, restored the altar, and repaired the chapel. The sepulchres, however, were utterly destroyed: an inscription in gold letters on the wall of the chapel to the right of the altar is all that denotes the place of sepulture of the brave Ponce de Leon.
THE LEGEND OF THE DEATH OF DON ALONSO DE AGUILAR.
To such as feel an interest in the fortune of the valiant Don Alonso de Aguilar, the chosen friend and companion-in-arms of Ponce de Leon, marques of Cadiz, and one of the most distinguished heroes of the war of Granada, a few particulars of his remarkable fate will not be unacceptable.
For several years after the conquest of Granada the country remained feverish and unquiet. The zealous efforts of the Catholic clergy to effect the conversion of the infidels, and the coercion used for that purpose by government, exasperated the stubborn Moors of the mountains. Several missionaries were maltreated, and in the town of Dayrin two of them were seized and exhorted, with many menaces, to embrace the Moslem faith; on their resolutely refusing they were killed with staves and stones by the Moorish women and children, and their bodies burnt to ashes.*
* Cura de los Palacios, c. 165.
Upon this event a body of Christian cavaliers assembled in Andalusia to the number of eight hundred, and, without waiting for orders from the king, revenged the death of these martyrs by plundering and laying waste the Moorish towns and villages. The Moors fled to the mountains, and their cause was espoused by many of their nation who inhabited those rugged regions. The storm of rebellion began to gather and mutter its thunders in the Alpuxarras. They were echoed from the Serrania of Ronda, ever ready for rebellion, but the strongest hold of the insurgents was in the Sierra (12) Bermeja, or chain of Red Mountains, which lie near the sea, the savage rocks and precipices of which may be seen from Gibraltar.
When King Ferdinand heard of these tumults he issued a proclamation ordering all the Moors of the insurgent regions to leave them within ten days and repair to Castile; giving secret instructions, however, that those who should voluntarily embrace the Christian faith might be permitted to remain. At the same time he ordered Don Alonso de Aguilar and the counts of Urena and Cifuentes to march against the rebels.
Don Alonso de Aguilar was at Cordova when he received the commands of the king. "What force is allotted us for this expedition?" said he. On being told, he perceived that the number of troops was far from adequate. "When a man is dead," said he, "we send four men into his house to bring forth the body. We are now sent to chastise these Moors, who are alive, vigorous, in open rebellion, and ensconced in their castles; yet they do not give us man to man." These words of the brave Alonso de Aguilar were afterward frequently repeated, but, though he saw the desperate nature of the enterprise, he did not hesitate to undertake it.
Don Alonso was at that time in the fifty-first year of his age—a warrior in whom the fire of youth was yet unquenched, though tempered by experience. The greater part of his life had been spent in camp and field until danger was as his habitual element. His muscular frame had acquired the firmness of iron without the rigidity of age. His armor and weapons seemed to have become a part of his nature, and he sat like a man of steel on his powerful war-horse.
He took with him on this expedition his son, Don Pedro de Cordova, a youth of bold and generous spirit, in the freshness of his days, and armed and arrayed with the bravery of a young Spanish cavalier. When the populace of Cordova beheld the veteran father, the warrior of a thousand battles, leading forth his son to the field, they bethought themselves of the family appellation. "Behold," cried they, "the eagle teaching his young to fly! Long live the valiant line of Aguilar!"*
* "Aguilar," the Spanish for eagle.
The prowess of Don Alonso and of his companions-in-arms was renowned throughout the Moorish towns. At their approach, therefore, numbers of the Moors submitted, and hastened to Ronda to embrace Christianity. Among the mountaineers, however, were many of the Gandules, a tribe from Africa, too proud of spirit to bend their necks to the yoke. At their head was a Moor named El Feri of Ben Estepar, renowned for strength and courage. At his instigation his followers gathered together their families and most precious effects, placed them on mules, and, driving before them their flocks and herds, abandoned their valleys and retired up the craggy passes of the Sierra (13) Bermeja. On the summit was a fertile plain surrounded by rocks and precipices, which formed a natural fortress. Here El Feri placed all the women and children and all the property. By his orders his followers piled great stones on the rocks and cliffs which commanded the defiles and the steep sides of the mountain, and prepared to defend every pass that led to his place of refuge.
The Christian commanders arrived, and pitched their camp before the town of Monarda, a strong place, curiously fortified, and situated at the foot of the highest part of the Sierra (14) Bermeja. Here they remained for several days, unable to compel a surrender. They were separated from the skirt of the mountain by a deep barranca, or ravine, at the bottom of which flowed a small stream. The Moors commanded by El Feri drew down from their mountain-height, and remained on the opposite side of the brook to defend a pass which led up to their stronghold.
One afternoon a number of Christian soldiers in mere bravado seized a banner, crossed the brook, and, scrambling up the opposite bank, attacked the Moors. They were followed by numbers of their companions, some in aid, some in emulation, but most in hope of booty. A sharp action ensued on the mountain-side. The Moors were greatly superior in number, and had the vantage-ground. When the counts of Urena and Cifuentes beheld the skirmish, they asked Don Alonso de Aguilar his opinion. "My opinion," said he, "was given at Cordova, and remains the same: this is a desperate enterprise. However, the Moors are at hand, and if they suspect weakness in us it will increase their courage and our peril. Forward then to the attack, and I trust in God we shall gain a victory." So saying, he led his troops into the battle.*
* Bleda, 1. 5, c. 26.
On the skirts of the mountain were several level places, like terraces; here the Christians pressed valiantly upon the Moors, and had the advantage; but the latter retreated to the steep and craggy heights, whence they hurled darts and rocks upon their assailants. They defended their passes and defiles with valor, but were driven from height to height until they reached the plain on the summit of the mountain where their wives and children were sheltered. Here they would have made a stand, but Alonso de Aguilar, with his son Don Pedro, charged upon them at the head of three hundred men and put them to flight with great carnage. While they were pursuing the flying enemy the rest of the army, thinking the victory achieved, dispersed themselves over the little plain in search of plunder. They pursued the shrieking females, tearing off their necklaces, bracelets, and anklets of gold, and they found so much treasure of various kinds collected in this spot that they threw by their armor and weapons to load themselves with booty.
Evening was closing. The Christians, intent upon spoil, had ceased to pursue the Moors, and the latter were arrested in their flight by the cries of their wives and children. Their leader, El Feri, threw himself before them. "Friends, soldiers," cried he, "whither do you fly? Whither can you seek refuge where the enemy cannot follow you? Your wives, your children, are behind you—turn and defend them; you have no chance for safety but from the weapons in your hands."
The Moors turned at his words. They beheld the Christians scattered about the plain, many of them without armor, and all encumbered with spoil. "Now is the time!" shouted El Feri: "charge upon them while laden with your plunder. I will open a path for you." He rushed to the attack, followed by his Moors, with shouts and cries that echoed through the mountains. The scattered Christians were seized with panic, and, throwing down their booty, began to fly in all directions. Don Alonso de Aguilar advanced his banner and endeavored to rally them. Finding his horse of no avail in these rocky heights, he dismounted, and caused his men to do the same: he had a small band of tried followers, with which he opposed a bold front to the Moors, calling on the scattered troops to rally in the rear.
Night had completely closed. It prevented the Moors from seeing the smallness of the force with which they were contending, and Don Alonso and his cavaliers dealt their blows so vigorously that, aided by the darkness, they seemed multiplied to ten times their number. Unfortunately, a small cask of gunpowder blew up near to the scene of action. It shed a momentary but brilliant light over all the plain and on every rock and cliff. The Moors beheld, with surprise, that they were opposed by a mere handful of men, and that the greater part of the Christians were flying from the field. They put up loud shouts of triumph. While some continued the conflict with redoubled ardor, others pursued the fugitives, hurling after them stones and darts and discharging showers of arrows. Many of the Christians in their terror and their ignorance of the mountains, rushed headlong from the brinks of precipices and were dashed in pieces.
Don Alonso still maintained his ground, but, while some of the Moors assailed him in front, others galled him with all kinds of missiles from the impending cliffs. Some of the cavaliers, seeing the hopeless nature of the conflict, proposed to abandon the height and retreat down the mountain. "No," said Don Alonso proudly; "never did the banner of the house of Aguilar retreat one foot in the field of battle." He had scarcely uttered these words when his son Pedro was stretched at his feet. A stone hurled from a cliff had struck out two of his teeth, and a lance passed quivering through his thigh. The youth attempted to rise, and, with one knee on the ground, to fight by the side of his father. Don Alonso, finding him wounded, urged him to quit the field. "Fly, my son," said he; "let us not put everything at venture upon one hazard. Conduct thyself as a good Christian, and live to comfort and honor thy mother."
Don Pedro still refused to leave his side. Whereupon Don Alonso ordered several of his followers to bear him off by force. His friend Don Francisco Alvarez of Cordova, taking him in his arms, conveyed him to the quarters of the count of Urena, who had halted on the height at some distance from the scene of battle for the purpose of rallying and succoring the fugitives. Almost at the same moment the count beheld his own son, Don Pedro Giron, brought in grievously wounded.
In the mean time, Don Alonso, with two hundred cavaliers, maintained the unequal contest. Surrounded by foes, they fell, one after another, like so many stags encircled by the hunters. Don Alonso was the last survivor, without horse and almost without armor, his corselet unlaced and his bosom gashed with wounds. Still, he kept a brave front to the enemy, and, retiring between two rocks, defended himself with such valor that the slain lay in a heap before him.
He was assailed in this retreat by a Moor of surpassing strength and fierceness. The contest was for some time doubtful, but Don Alonso received a wound in the head, and another in the breast, which made him stagger. Closing and grappling with his foe, they had a desperate struggle, until the Christian cavalier, exhausted by his wounds, fell upon his back. He still retained his grasp upon his enemy. "Think not," cried he, "thou hast an easy prize; know that I am Don Alonso, he of Aguilar!"—"If thou art Don Alonso," replied the Moor, "know that I am El Feri of Ben Estepar." They continued their deadly struggle, and both drew their daggers, but Don Alonso was exhausted by seven ghastly wounds: while he was yet struggling his heroic soul departed from his body, and he expired in the grasp of the Moor.
Thus fell Alonso de Aguilar, the mirror of Andalusian chivalry—one of the most powerful grandees of Spain for person, blood, estate, and office. For forty years he had made successful war upon the Moors—in childhood by his household and retainers, in manhood by the prowess of his arm and in the wisdom and valor of his spirit. His pennon had always been foremost in danger; he had been general of armies, viceroy of Andalusia, and the author of glorious enterprises in which kings were vanquished and mighty alcaydes and warriors laid low. He had slain many Moslem chiefs with his own arm, and among others the renowned Ali Atar of Loxa, fighting foot to foot, on the banks of the Xenil. His judgment, discretion, magnanimity, and justice vied with his prowess. He was the fifth lord of his warlike house that fell in battle with the Moors.
"His soul," observes the worthy Padre Abarca, "it is believed, ascended to heaven to receive the reward of so Christian a captain; for that very day he had armed himself with the sacraments of confession and communion."*
* Abarca, Anales de Aragon, Rey xxx. cap. ii.
The Moors, elated with their success, pursued the fugitive Christians down the defiles and sides of the mountains. It was with the utmost difficulty that the count de Urena could bring off a remnant of his forces from that disastrous height. Fortunately, on the lower slope of the mountain they found the rear-guard of the army, led by the count de Cifuentes, who had crossed the brook and the ravine to come to their assistance. As the fugitives came flying in headlong terror down the mountain it was with difficulty the count kept his own troops from giving way in panic and retreating in confusion across the brook. He succeeded, however, in maintaining order, in rallying the fugitives, and checking the fury of the Moors; then, taking his station on a rocky eminence, he maintained his post until morning, sometimes sustaining violent attacks, at other times rushing forth and making assaults upon the enemy. When morning dawned the Moors ceased to combat, and drew up to the summit of the mountain.
It was then that the Christians had time to breathe and to ascertain the sad loss they had sustained. Among the many valiant cavaliers who had fallen was Don Francisco Ramirez of Madrid, who had been captain-general of artillery throughout the war of Granada, and contributed greatly by his valor and ingenuity to that renowned conquest. But all other griefs and cares were forgotten in anxiety for the fate of Don Alonso de Aguilar. His son, Don Pedro de Cordova, had been brought off with great difficulty from the battle, and afterward lived to be marques of Priego; but of Don Alonso nothing was known, except that he was left with a handful of cavaliers fighting valiantly against an overwhelming force.
As the rising sun lighted up the red cliffs of the mountains the soldiers watched with anxious eyes if perchance his pennon might be descried fluttering from any precipice or defile, but nothing of the kind was to be seen. The trumpet-call was repeatedly sounded, but empty echoes alone replied. A silence reigned about the mountain-summit which showed that the deadly strife was over. Now and then a wounded warrior came dragging his feeble steps from among the cliffs and rocks, but on being questioned he shook his head mournfully and could tell nothing of the fate of his commander.
The tidings of this disastrous defeat and of the perilous situation of the survivors reached King Ferdinand at Granada: he immediately marched at the head of all the chivalry of his court to the mountains of Ronda. His presence with a powerful force soon put an end to the rebellion. A part of the Moors were suffered to ransom themselves and embark for Africa; others were made to embrace Christianity; and those of the town where the Christian missionaries had been massacred were sold as slaves. From the conquered Moors the mournful but heroic end of Alonso de Aguilar was ascertained.
On the morning after the battle, when the Moors came to strip and bury the dead, the body of Don Alonso was found among those of more than two hundred of his followers, many of them alcaydes and cavaliers of distinction. Though the person of Don Alonso was well known to the Moors, being so distinguished among them both in peace and war, yet it was so covered and disfigured with wounds that it could with difficulty be recognized. They preserved it with great care, and on making their submission delivered it up to King Ferdinand. It was conveyed with great state to Cordova, amidst the tears and lamentations of all Andalusia. When the funeral train entered Cordova, and the inhabitants saw the coffin containing the remains of their favorite hero, and the war-horse led in mournful trappings on which they had so lately seen him sally forth from their gates, there was a general burst of grief throughout the city. The body was interred with great pomp and solemnity in the church of St. Hypolito.
Many years afterward his granddaughter, Dona Catalina of Aguilar and Cordova, marchioness of Priego, caused his tomb to be altered. On examining the body the head of a lance was found among the bones, received without doubt among the wounds of his last mortal combat. The name of this accomplished and Christian cavalier has ever remained a popular theme of the chronicler and poet, and is endeared to the public memory by many of the historical ballads and songs of his country. For a long time the people of Cordova were indignant at the brave count de Urena, who they thought had abandoned Don Alonso in his extremity; but the Castilian monarch acquitted him of all charge of the kind and continued him in honor and office. It was proved that neither he nor his people could succor Don Alonso, or even know his peril, from the darkness of the night. There is a mournful little Spanish ballad or romance which breathes the public grief on this occasion, and the populace on the return of the count de Urena to Cordova assailed him with one of its plaintive and reproachful verses:
Count Urena! Count Urena! Tell us, where is Don Alonso!
(Dezid conde Urena! Don Alonso, donde queda?)
* Bleda, 1. 5, c. 26.