From this time there was appointed an additional guard around the tents of the king and queen, composed of four hundred cavaliers of rank of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. No person was admitted to the royal presence armed; no Moor was allowed to enter the camp without a previous knowledge of his character and business; and on no account was any Moor to be introduced into the presence of the sovereigns.
An act of treachery of such ferocious nature gave rise to a train of gloomy apprehensions. There were many cabins and sheds about the camp constructed of branches of trees which had become dry and combustible, and fears were entertained that they might be set on fire by the mudexares, or Moorish vassals, who visited the army. Some even dreaded that attempts might be made to poison the wells and fountains. To quiet these dismal alarms all mudexares were ordered to leave the camp, and all loose, idle loiterers who could not give a good account of themselves were taken into custody.
HOW HAMET EL ZEGRI WAS HARDENED IN HIS OBSTINACY BY THE ARTS OF A MOORISH ASTROLOGER.
Among those followers of the santon that had effected their entrance into the city was a dark African of the tribe of the Gomeres, who was likewise a hermit or dervise and passed among the Moors for a holy and inspired man. No sooner were the mangled remains of his predecessor buried with the honors of martyrdom than this dervise elevated himself in his place and professed to be gifted with the spirit of prophecy. He displayed a white banner, which he assured the Moors was sacred, that he had retained it for twenty years for some signal purpose, and that Allah had revealed to him that under that banner the inhabitants of Malaga should sally forth upon the camp of the unbelievers, put it to utter rout, and banquet upon the provisions in which it abounded.* The hungry and credulous Moors were elated at this prediction, and cried out to be led forth at once to the attack; but the dervise told them the time was not yet arrived, for every event had its allotted day in the decrees of fate: they must wait patiently, therefore, until the appointed time should be revealed to him by Heaven. Hamet el Zegri listened to the dervise with profound reverence, and his example had great effect in increasing the awe and deference of his followers. He took the holy man up into his stronghold of Gibralfaro, consulted him on all occasions, and hung out his white banner on the loftiest tower as a signal of encouragement to the people of the city.
* Cura de los Palacios, cap. 84.
In the mean time, the prime chivalry of Spain was gradually assembling before the walls of Malaga. The army which had commenced the siege had been worn out by extreme hardships, having had to construct immense works, to dig trenches and mines, to mount guard by sea and land, to patrol the mountains, and to sustain incessant conflicts. The sovereigns were obliged, therefore, to call upon various distant cities for reinforcements of horse and foot. Many nobles also assembled their vassals and repaired of their own accord to the royal camp.
Every little while some stately galley or gallant caravel would stand into the harbor, displaying the well-known banner of some Spanish cavalier and thundering from its artillery a salutation to the sovereigns and a defiance to the Moors. On the land side also reinforcements would be seen winding down from the mountains to the sound of drum and trumpet, and marching into the camp with glistening arms as yet unsullied by the toils of war.
One morning the whole sea was whitened by the sails and vexed by the oars of ships and galleys bearing toward the port. One hundred vessels of various kinds and sizes arrived, some armed for warlike service, others deep freighted with provisions. At the same time the clangor of drum and trumpet bespoke the arrival of a powerful force by land, which came pouring in lengthening columns into the camp. This mighty reinforcement was furnished by the duke of Medina Sidonia, who reigned like a petty monarch over his vast possessions. He came with this princely force a volunteer to the royal standard, not having been summoned by the sovereigns, and he brought, moreover, a loan of twenty thousand doblas of gold.
When the camp was thus powerfully reinforced Isabella advised that new offers of an indulgent kind should be made to the inhabitants, for she was anxious to prevent the miseries of a protracted siege or the effusion of blood that must attend a general attack. A fresh summons was therefore sent for the city to surrender, with a promise of life, liberty, and property in case of immediate compliance, but denouncing all the horrors of war if the defence were obstinately continued.
Hamet again rejected the offer with scorn. His main fortifications as yet were but little impaired, and were capable of holding out much longer; he trusted to the thousand evils and accidents that beset a besieging army and to the inclemencies of the approaching season; and it is said that he, as well as his followers, had an infatuated belief in the predictions of the dervise.
The worthy Fray Antonio Agapida does not scruple to affirm that the pretended prophet of the city was an arch nigromancer, or Moorish magician, "of which there be countless many," says he, "in the filthy sect of Mahomet," and that he was leagued with the prince of the powers of the air to endeavor to work the confusion and defeat of the Christian army. The worthy father asserts also that Hamet employed him in a high tower of the Gibralfaro, which commanded a wide view over sea and land, where he wrought spells and incantations with astrolabes and other diabolical instruments to defeat the Christian ships and forces whenever they were engaged with the Moors.
To the potent spells of this sorcerer he ascribes the perils and losses sustained by a party of cavaliers of the royal household in a desperate combat to gain two towers of the suburb near the gate of the city called la Puerto de Granada. The Christians, led on by Ruy Lopez de Toledo, the valiant treasurer of the queen, took and lost and retook the towers, which were finally set on fire by the Moors and abandoned to the flames by both parties. To the same malignant influence he attributes the damage done to the Christian fleet, which was so vigorously assailed by the albatozas, or floating batteries, of the Moors that one ship, belonging to the duke of Medina Sidonia, was sunk and the rest were obliged to retire.
"Hamet el Zegri," says Fray Antonio Agapida, "stood on the top of the high tower of Gibralfaro and beheld this injury wrought upon the Christian force, and his proud heart was puffed up. And the Moorish nigromancer stood beside him. And he pointed out to him the Christian host below, encamped on every eminence around the city and covering its fertile valley, and the many ships floating upon the tranquil sea, and he bade him be strong of heart, for that in a few days all this mighty fleet would be scattered by the winds of heaven, and that he should sally forth under the guidance of the sacred banner and attack this host, and utterly defeat it, and make spoil of those sumptuous tents; and Malaga should be triumphantly revenged upon her assailants. So the heart of Hamet was hardened like that of Pharaoh, and he persisted in setting at defiance the Catholic sovereigns and their army of saintly warriors."
SIEGE OF MALAGA CONTINUED.—DESTRUCTION OF A TOWER BY FRANCISCO RAMIREZ DE MADRID.
Seeing the infatuated obstinacy of the besieged, the Christians now approached their works to the walls, gaining one position after another preparatory to a general assault. Near the barrier of the city was a bridge with four arches, defended at each end by a strong and lofty tower, by which a part of the army would have to pass in making an attack. The commander-in-chief of the artillery, Francisco Ramirez de Madrid, was ordered to take possession of this bridge. The approach to it was perilous in the extreme, from the exposed situation of the assailants and the number of Moors that garrisoned the towers. Francisco Ramirez therefore secretly excavated a mine leading beneath the first tower, and placed a piece of ordnance with its mouth upward immediately under the foundation, with a train of powder to produce an explosion at the necessary moment.
When this was arranged he advanced slowly with his forces in face of the towers, erecting bulwarks at every step, and gradually gaining ground until he arrived near to the bridge. He then planted several pieces of artillery in his works and began to batter the tower. The Moors replied bravely from their battlements, but in the heat of the combat the piece of ordnance under the foundation was discharged. The earth was rent open, a part of the tower overthrown, and several of the Moors were torn to pieces; the rest took to flight, overwhelmed with terror at this thundering explosion bursting beneath their feet and at beholding the earth vomiting flames and smoke, for never before had they witnessed such a stratagem in warfare. The Christians rushed forward and took possession of the abandoned post, and immediately commenced an attack upon the other tower at the opposite end of the bridge, to which the Moors had retired. An incessant fire of crossbows and arquebuses was kept up between the rival towers, volleys of stones were discharged, and no one dared to venture upon the intermediate bridge.
Francisco de Ramirez at length renewed his former mode of approach, making bulwarks step by step, while the Moors, stationed at the other end, swept the bridge with their artillery. The combat was long and bloody—furious on the part of the Moors, patient and persevering on the part of the Christians. By slow degrees they accomplished their advance across the bridge, drove the enemy before them, and remained masters of this important pass.
For this valiant and skilful achievement King Ferdinand after the surrender of the city conferred the dignity of knighthood upon Francisco Ramirez in the tower which he had so gloriously gained.* The worthy padre Fray Antonio Agapida indulges in more than a page of extravagant eulogy upon this invention of blowing up the foundation of the tower by a piece of ordnance; which, in fact, is said to be the first instance on record of gunpowder being used in a mine.
* Pulgar, part 3, c. 91.
HOW THE PEOPLE OF MALAGA EXPOSTULATED WITH HAMET EL ZEGRI.
While the dervise was deluding the garrison of Malaga with vain hopes the famine increased to a terrible degree. The Gomeres ranged about the city as though it had been a conquered place, taking by force whatever they found eatable in the houses of the peaceful citizens, and breaking open vaults and cellars and demolishing walls wherever they thought provisions might be concealed.
The wretched inhabitants had no longer bread to eat; the horse-flesh also now failed them, and they were fain to devour skins and hides toasted at the fire, and to assuage the hunger of their children with vine-leaves cut up and fried in oil. Many perished of famine or of the unwholesome food with which they endeavored to relieve it, and many took refuge in the Christian camp, preferring captivity to the horrors which surrounded them.
At length the sufferings of the inhabitants became so great as to conquer even their fears of Hamet and his Gomeres. They assembled before the house of Ali Dordux, the wealthy merchant, whose stately mansion was at the foot of the hill of the Alcazaba, and they urged him to stand forth as their leader and to intercede with Hamet for a surrender. Ali Dordux was a man of courage as well as policy; he perceived also that hunger was giving boldness to the citizens, while he trusted it was subduing the fierceness of the soldiery. He armed himself, therefore, cap-a-pie, and undertook this dangerous parley with the alcayde. He associated with him an alfaqui named Abraham Alhariz and an important inhabitant named Amar ben Amar, and they ascended to the fortress of Gibralfaro, followed by several of the trembling merchants.
They found Hamet el Zegri, not, as before, surrounded by ferocious guards and all the implements of war, but in a chamber of one of the lofty towers, at a table of stone covered with scrolls traced with strange characters and mystic diagrams, while instruments of singular and unknown form lay about the room. Beside Hamet stood the prophetic dervise, who appeared to have been explaining to him the mysterious inscriptions of the scrolls. His presence filled the citizens with awe, for even Ali Dordux considered him a man inspired.
The alfaqui, Abraham Alhariz, whose sacred character gave him boldness to speak, now lifted up his voice and addressed Hamet el Zegri. "We implore thee," said he, solemnly, "in the name of the most powerful God, no longer to persist in a vain resistance which must end in our destruction, but deliver up the city while clemency is yet to be obtained. Think how many of our warriors have fallen by the sword; do not suffer those who survive to perish by famine. Our wives and children cry to us for bread, and we have none to give them. We see them expire in lingering agony before our eyes, while the enemy mocks our misery by displaying the abundance of his camp. Of what avail is our defence? Are our walls, peradventure, more strong than the walls of Ronda? Are our warriors more brave than the defenders of Loxa? The walls of Ronda were thrown down and the warriors of Loxa had to surrender. Do we hope for succor?—whence are we to receive it? The time for hope is gone by. Granada has lost its power; it no longer possesses chivalry, commanders, nor a king. Boabdil sits a vassal in the degraded halls of the Alhambra; El Zagal is a fugitive, shut up within the walls of Guadix. The kingdom is divided against itself—its strength is gone, its pride fallen, its very existence at an end. In the name of Allah we conjure thee, who art our captain, be not our direst enemy, but surrender these ruins of our once-happy Malaga and deliver us from these overwhelming horrors."
Such was the supplication forced from the inhabitants by the extremity of their sufferings. Hamet listened to the alfaqui without anger, for he respected the sanctity of his office. His heart too was at that moment lifted up with a vain confidence. "Yet a few days of patience," said he, "and all these evils will suddenly have an end. I have been conferring with this holy man, and find that the time of our deliverance is at hand. The decrees of fate are inevitable; it is written in the book of destiny that we shall sally forth and destroy the camp of the unbelievers, and banquet upon those mountains of grain which are piled up in the midst of it. So Allah hath promised by the mouth of this his prophet. Allah Akbar! God is great! Let no man oppose the decrees of Heaven!"
The citizens bowed with profound reverence, for no true Moslem pretends to struggle against whatever is written in the book of fate. Ali Dordux, who had come prepared to champion the city and to brave the ire of Hamet, humbled himself before this holy man and gave faith to his prophecies as the revelations of Allah. So the deputies returned to the citizens, and exhorted them to be of good cheer. "A few days longer," said they, "and our sufferings are to terminate. When the white banner is removed from the tower, then look out for deliverance, for the hour of sallying forth will have arrived." The people retired to their homes with sorrowful hearts; they tried in vain to quiet the cries of their famishing children, and day by day and hour by hour their anxious eyes were turned to the sacred banner, which still continued to wave on the tower of Gibralfaro.
HOW HAMET EL ZEGRI SALLIED FORTH WITH THE SACRED BANNER TO ATTACK THE CHRISTIAN CAMP.
"The Moorish nigromancer," observes the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, "remained shut up in a tower of the Gibralfaro devising devilish means to work mischief and discomfiture upon the Christians. He was daily consulted by Hamet, who had great faith in those black and magic arts which he had brought with him from the bosom of heathen Africa."
From the account given of this dervise and his incantations by the worthy father it would appear that he was an astrologer, and was studying the stars and endeavoring to calculate the day and hour when a successful attack might be made upon the Christian camp.
Famine had now increased to such a degree as to distress even the garrison of Gibralfaro, although the Gomeres had seized upon all the provisions they could find in the city. Their passions were sharpened by hunger, and they became restless and turbulent and impatient for action.
Hamet was one day in council with his captains, perplexed by the pressure of events, when the dervise entered among them. "The hour of victory," exclaimed he, "is at hand. Allah has commanded that to-morrow morning ye shall sally forth to the fight. I will bear before you the sacred banner and deliver your enemies into your hands. Remember, however, that ye are but instruments in the hands of Allah to take vengeance on the enemies of the faith. Go into battle, therefore, with pure hearts, forgiving each other all past offences, for those who are charitable toward each other will be victorious over the foe." The words of the dervise were received with rapture; all Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba resounded immediately with the din of arms, and Hamet sent throughout the towers and fortifications of the city and selected the choicest troops and most distinguished captains for this eventful combat.
In the morning early the rumor went throughout the city that the sacred banner had disappeared from the tower of Gibralfaro, and all Malaga was roused to witness the sally that was to destroy the unbelievers. Hamet descended from his stronghold, accompanied by his principal captain, Ibrahim Zenete, and followed by his Gomeres. The dervise led the way, displaying the white banner, the sacred pledge of victory. The multitude shouted "Allah Akbar!" and prostrated themselves before the banner as it passed. Even the dreaded Hamet was hailed with praises, for in their hopes of speedy relief through the prowess of his arm the populace forgot everything but his bravery. Every bosom in Malaga was agitated by hope and fear: the old men, the women, and children, and all who went not forth to battle mounted on tower and battlement and roof to watch a combat that was to decide their fate.
Before sallying forth from the city the dervise addressed the troops, reminding them of the holy nature of this enterprise, and warning them not to forfeit the protection of the sacred banner by any unworthy act. They were not to pause to make spoil nor to take prisoners: they were to press forward, fighting valiantly, and granting no quarter. The gate was then thrown open, and the dervise issued forth, followed by the army. They directed their assaults upon the encampments of the master of Santiago and the master of Alcantara, and came upon them so suddenly that they killed and wounded several of the guards. Ibrahim Zenete made his way into one of the tents, where he beheld several Christian striplings just starting from their slumber. The heart of the Moor was suddenly touched with pity for their youth, or perhaps he scorned the weakness of the foe.
He smote them with the flat instead of the edge of the sword. "Away, imps!" cried he, "away to your mothers!" The fanatic dervise reproached him with his clemency. "I did not kill them," replied Zenete, "because I saw no beards!"*
* Cura de los Palacios, c. 84.
The alarm was given in the camp, and the Christians rushed from all quarters to defend the gates of the bulwarks. Don Pedro Puerto Carrero, senior of Moguer, and his brother, Don Alonzo Pacheco, planted themselves with their followers in the gateway of the encampment of the master of Santiago, and bore the whole brunt of battle until they were reinforced. The gate of the encampment of the master of Calatrava was in like manner defended by Lorenzo Saurez de Mendoza. Hamet was furious at being thus checked where he had expected a miraculous victory. He led his troops repeatedly to the attack, hoping to force the gates before succor should arrive: they fought with vehement ardor, but were as often repulsed, and every time they returned to the assault they found their enemies doubled in number. The Christians opened a cross-fire of all kinds of missiles from their bulwarks; the Moors could effect but little damage upon a foe thus protected behind their works, while they themselves were exposed from head to foot. The Christians singled out the most conspicuous cavaliers, the greater part of whom were either slain or wounded. Still, the Moors, infatuated by the predictions of the prophet, fought desperately and devotedly, and they were furious to revenge the slaughter of their leaders. They rushed upon certain death, endeavoring madly to scale the bulwarks or force the gates, and fell amidst showers of darts and lances, filling the ditches with their mangled bodies.
Hamet el Zegri raged along the front of the bulwarks seeking an opening for attack. He gnashed his teeth with fury as he saw so many of his chosen warriors slain around him. He seemed to have a charmed life, for, though constantly in the hottest of the fight amidst showers of missiles, he still escaped uninjured. Blindly confiding in the prophecy of victory, he continued to urge on his devoted troops. The dervise too ran like a maniac through the ranks, waving his white banner and inciting the Moors by howlings rather than by shouts. "Fear not! the victory is ours, for so it is written!" cried he. In the midst of his frenzy a stone from a catapult struck him in the head and dashed out his bewildered brains.*
* Garibay, lib. 18, c. 33.
When the Moors beheld their prophet slain and his banner in the dust, they were seized with despair and fled in confusion to the city. Hamet el Zegri made some effort to rally them, but was himself confounded by the fall of the dervise. He covered the flight of his broken forces, turning repeatedly upon their pursuers and slowly making his retreat into the city.
The inhabitants of Malaga witnessed from their walls with trembling anxiety the whole of this disastrous conflict. At the first onset, when they beheld the guards of the camp put to flight, they exclaimed, "Allah has given us the victory!" and they sent up shouts of triumph. Their exultation, however, was soon turned into doubt when they beheld their troops repulsed in repeated attacks. They could see from time to time some distinguished warrior laid low and others brought back bleeding to the city. When at length the sacred banner fell and the routed troops came flying to the gates, pursued and cut down by the foe, horror and despair seized upon the populace.
As Hamet entered the gates he heard nothing but loud lamentations: mothers whose sons had been slain shrieked curses after him as he passed; some in the anguish of their hearts threw down their famishing babes before him, exclaiming, "Trample on them with thy horse's feet, for we have no food to give them, and we cannot endure their cries." All heaped execrations on his head as the cause of the woes of Malaga.
The warlike part of the citizens also, and many warriors who with their wives and children had taken refuge in Malaga from the mountain-fortresses, now joined in the popular clamor, for their hearts were overcome by the sufferings of their families.
Hamet el Zegri found it impossible to withstand this torrent of lamentations, curses, and reproaches. His military ascendancy was at an end, for most of his officers and the prime warriors of his African band had fallen in this disastrous sally. Turning his back, therefore, upon the city and abandoning it to its own counsels, he retired with the remnant of his Gomeres to his stronghold in the Gibralfaro.
HOW THE CITY OF MALAGA CAPITULATED.
The people of Malaga, being no longer overawed by Hamet el Zegri and his Gomeres, turned to Ali Dordux, the magnanimous merchant, and put the fate of the city into his hands. He had already gained the alcaydes of the castle of the Genoese and of the citadel into his party, and in the late confusion had gained the sway over those important fortresses. He now associated himself with the alfaqui Abraham Alhariz and four of the principal inhabitants, and, forming a provisional junta, they sent heralds to the Christian sovereigns offering to surrender the city on certain terms protecting the persons and property of the inhabitants, permitting them to reside as mudexares or tributary vassals either in Malaga or elsewhere.
When the herald arrived at the camp and made known their mission to King Ferdinand, his anger was kindled. "Return to your fellow-citizens," said he, "and tell them that the day of grace is gone by. They have persisted in a fruitless defence until they are driven by necessity to capitulate; they must surrender unconditionally and abide the fate of the vanquished. Those who merit death shall suffer death; those who merit captivity shall be made captives."
This stern reply spread consternation among the people of Malaga, but Ali Dordux comforted them, and undertook to go in person and pray for favorable terms. When the people beheld this great and wealthy merchant, who was so eminent in their city, departing with his associates on this mission, they plucked up heart, for they said, "Surely the Christian king will not turn a deaf ear to such a man as Ali Dordux."
Ferdinand, however, would not even admit the ambassadors to his presence. "Send them to the devil!" said he in a great passion to the commander of Leon; "I'll not see them. Let them get back to their city. They shall all surrender to my mercy as vanquished enemies."*
* Cura de los Palacios, cap. 84.
To give emphasis to this reply he ordered a general discharge from all the artillery and batteries, and there was a great shout throughout the camp, and all the lombards and catapults and other engines of war thundered furiously upon the city, doing great damage.
Ali Dordux and his companions returned to the city with downcast countenances, and could scarce make the reply of the Christian sovereign be heard for the roaring of the artillery, the tumbling of the walls, and the cries of women and children. The citizens were greatly astonished and dismayed when they found the little respect paid to their most eminent man; but the warriors who were in the city exclaimed, "What has this merchant to do with questions between men of battle? Let us not address the enemy as abject suppliants who have no power to injure, but as valiant men who have weapons in their hands."
So they despatched another message to the Christian sovereigns, offering to yield up the city and all their effects on condition of being secured in their personal liberty. Should this be denied, they declared they would hang from the battlements fifteen hundred Christian captives, male and female—that they would put all their old men, their women, and children into the citadel, set fire to the city, and sally forth, sword in hand, to fight until the last gasp. "In this way," said they, "the Spanish sovereigns shall gain a bloody victory, and the fall of Malaga be renowned while the world endures."
To this fierce and swelling message Ferdinand replied that if a single Christian captive were injured, not a Moor in Malaga but should be put to the edge of the sword.
A great conflict of counsels now arose in Malaga. The warriors were for following up their menace by some desperate act of vengeance or of self-devotion. Those who had families looked with anguish upon their wives and daughters, and thought it better to die than live to see them captives. By degrees, however, the transports of passion and despair subsided, the love of life resumed its sway, and they turned once more to Ali Dordux as the man most prudent in council and able in negotiation. By his advice fourteen of the principal inhabitants were chosen from the fourteen districts of the city, and sent to the camp bearing a long letter couched in terms of the most humble supplication.
Various debates now took place in the Christian camp. Many of the cavaliers were exasperated against Malaga for its long resistance, which had caused the death of many of their relatives and favorite companions. It had long been a stronghold also for Moorish depredators and the mart where most of the warriors captured in the Axarquia had been exposed in triumph and sold to slavery. They represented, moreover, that there were many Moorish cities yet to be besieged, and that an example ought to be made of Malaga to prevent all obstinate resistance thereafter. They advised, therefore, that all the inhabitants should be put to the sword.*
The humane heart of Isabella revolted at such sanguinary counsels: she insisted that their triumph should not be disgraced by cruelty. Ferdinand, however, was inflexible in refusing to grant any preliminary terms, insisting on an unconditional surrender.
The people of Malaga now abandoned themselves to paroxysms of despair; on one side they saw famine and death, on the other slavery and chains. The mere men of the sword, who had no families to protect, were loud for signalizing their fall by some illustrious action. "Let us sacrifice our Christian captives, and then destroy ourselves," cried some. "Let us put all the women and children to death, set fire to the city, fall on the Christian camp, and die sword in hand," cried others.
Ali Dordux gradually made his voice be heard amidst the general clamor. He addressed himself to the principal inhabitants and to those who had children. "Let those who live by the sword die by the sword," cried he, "but let us not follow their desperate counsels. Who knows what sparks of pity may be awakened in the bosoms of the Christian sovereigns when they behold our unoffending wives and daughters and our helpless little ones? The Christian queen, they say, is full of mercy."
At these words the hearts of the unhappy people of Malaga yearned over their families, and they empowered Ali Dordux to deliver up their city to the mercy of the Castilian sovereigns.
The merchant now went to and fro, and had several communications with Ferdinand and Isabella, and interested several principal cavaliers in his cause; and he sent rich presents to the king and queen of Oriental merchandise and silks and stuffs of gold and jewels and precious stones and spices and perfumes, and many other sumptuous things, which he had accumulated in his great tradings with the East; and he gradually found favor in the eyes of the sovereigns.* Finding that there was nothing to be obtained for the city, he now, like a prudent man and able merchant, began to negotiate for himself and his immediate friends. He represented that from the first they had been desirous of yielding up the city, but had been prevented by warlike and high-handed men, who had threatened their lives; he entreated, therefore, that mercy might be extended to them, and that they might not be confounded with the guilty.
* MS. Chron. of Valera.
The sovereigns had accepted the presents of Ali Dordux—how could they then turn a deaf ear to his petition? So they granted a pardon to him and to forty families which he named, and it was agreed that they should be protected in their liberties and property, and permitted to reside in Malaga as mudexares or Moslem vassals, and to follow their customary pursuits.* All this being arranged, Ali Dordux delivered up twenty of the principal inhabitants to remain as hostages until the whole city should be placed in the possession of the Christians.
* Cura de los Palacios, cap. 84.
Don Gutierrez de Cardenas, senior commander of Leon, now entered the city armed cap-a-pie, on horseback, and took possession in the name of the Castilian sovereigns. He was followed by his retainers and by the captains and cavaliers of the army, and in a little while the standards of the cross and of the blessed Santiago and of the Catholic sovereigns were elevated on the principal tower of the Alcazaba. When these standards were beheld from the camp, the queen and the princess and the ladies of the court and all the royal retinue knelt down and gave thanks and praises to the Holy Virgin and to Santiago for this great triumph of the faith; and the bishops and other clergy who were present and the choristers of the royal chapel chanted "Te Deum Laudamus" and "Gloria in Excelsis."
FULFILMENT OF THE PROPHECY OF THE DERVISE.—FATE OF HAMET EL ZEGRI.
No sooner was the city delivered up than the wretched inhabitants implored permission to purchase bread for themselves and their children from the heaps of grain which they had so often gazed at wistfully from their walls. Their prayer was granted, and they issued forth with the famished eagerness of starving men. It was piteous to behold the struggles of those unhappy people as they contended who first should have their necessities relieved.
"Thus," says the pious Fray Antonio Agapida,—"thus are the predictions of false prophets sometimes permitted to be verified, but always to the confusion of those who trust in them; for the words of the Moorish nigromancer came to pass that the people of Malaga should eat of those heaps of bread, but they ate in humiliation and defeat and with sorrow and bitterness of heart."
Dark and fierce were the feelings of Hamet el Zegri as he looked down from the castle of Gibralfaro and beheld the Christian legions pouring into the city and the standard of the cross supplanting the crescent on the citadel. "The people of Malaga," said he, "have trusted to a man of trade, and he has trafficked them away; but let us not suffer ourselves to be bound hand and foot and delivered up as part of his bargain. We have yet strong walls around us and trusty weapons in our hands. Let us fight until buried beneath the last tumbling tower of Gibralfaro, or, rushing down from among its ruins, carry havoc among the unbelievers as they throng the streets of Malaga."
The fierceness of the Gomeres, however, was broken. They could have died in the breach had their castle been assailed, but the slow advances of famine subdued their strength without rousing their passions, and sapped the force of both soul and body. They were almost unanimous for a surrender.
It was a hard struggle for the proud spirit of Hamet to bow itself to ask for terms. Still, he trusted that the valor of his defence would gain him respect in the eyes of a chivalrous foe. "Ali," said he, "has negotiated like a merchant; I will capitulate as a soldier." He sent a herald, therefore, to Ferdinand, offering to yield up his castle, but demanding a separate treaty. (15) The Castilian sovereign made a laconic and stern reply: "He shall receive no terms but such as have been granted to the community of Malaga."
For two days Hamet el Zegri remained brooding in his castle after the city was in possession of the Christians; at length the clamors of his followers compelled him to surrender. When the remnant of this fierce African garrison descended from their cragged fortress, they were so worn by watchfulness, famine, and battle, yet carried such a lurking fury in their eyes, that they looked more like fiends than men. They were all condemned to slavery, excepting Ibrahim Zenete. The instance of clemency which he had shown in refraining to harm the Spanish striplings on the last sally from Malaga won him favorable terms. It was cited as a magnanimous act by the Spanish cavaliers, and all admitted that, though a Moor in blood, he possessed the Christian heart of a Castilian hidalgo.*
* Cura de los Palacios, cap. 84.
As to Hamet el Zegri, on being asked what moved him to such hardened obstinacy, he replied, "When I undertook my command, I pledged myself to fight in defence of my faith, my city, and my sovereign until slain or made prisoner; and, depend upon it, had I had men to stand by me, I should have died fighting, instead of thus tamely surrendering myself without a weapon in my hand."
"Such," says the pious Fray Antonio Agapida, "was the diabolical hatred and stiff-necked opposition of this infidel to our holy cause. But he was justly served by our most Catholic and high-minded sovereign for his pertinacious defence of the city, for Ferdinand ordered that he should be loaded with chains and thrown into a dungeon." He was subsequently retained in rigorous confinement at Carmona.*
* Pulgar, part 3, cap. 93; Pietro Martyr, lib. 1, cap. 69; Alcantara, Hist. Granada, vol. 4, c. 18.
HOW THE CASTILIAN SOVEREIGNS TOOK POSSESSION OF THE CITY OF MALAGA, AND HOW KING FERDINAND SIGNALIZED HIMSELF BY HIS SKILL IN BARGAINING WITH THE INHABITANTS FOR THEIR RANSOM.
One of the first cares of the conquerors on entering Malaga was to search for Christian captives. Nearly sixteen hundred men and women were found, and among them were persons of distinction. Some of them had been ten, fifteen, and twenty years in captivity. Many had been servants to the Moors or laborers on public works, and some had passed their time in chains and dungeons. Preparations were made to celebrate their deliverance as a Christian triumph. A tent was erected not far from the city, and furnished with an altar and all the solemn decorations of a chapel. Here the king and queen waited to receive the Christian captives. They were assembled in the city and marshalled forth in piteous procession. Many of them had still the chains and shackles on their legs; they were wasted with famine, their hair and beards overgrown and matted, and their faces pale and haggard from long confinement. When they found themselves restored to liberty and surrounded by their countrymen, some stared wildly about as if in a dream, others gave way to frantic transports, but most of them wept for joy. All present were moved to tears by so touching a spectacle. When the procession arrived at what is called the Gate of Granada, it was met by a great concourse from the camp with crosses and pennons, who turned and followed the captives, singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving. When they came in presence of the king and queen, they threw themselves on their knees, and would have kissed their feet as their saviors and deliverers, but the sovereigns prevented such humiliation and graciously extended to them their hands. They then prostrated themselves before the altar, and all present joined them in giving thanks to God for their liberation from this cruel bondage. By orders of the king and queen their chains were then taken off, and they were clad in decent raiment and food was set before them. After they had ate and drunk, and were refreshed and invigorated, they were provided with money and all things necessary for their journey, and sent joyfully to their homes.
While the old chroniclers dwell with becoming enthusiasm on this pure and affecting triumph of humanity, they go on in a strain of equal eulogy to describe a spectacle of a far different nature. It so happened that there were found in the city twelve of those renegado Christians who had deserted to the Moors and conveyed false intelligence during the siege: a barbarous species of punishment was inflicted upon them, borrowed, it is said, from the Moors and peculiar to these wars. They were tied to stakes in a public place, and horsemen exercised their skill in transpiercing them with pointed reeds, hurled at them while careering at full speed, until the miserable victims expired beneath their wounds. Several apostate Moors also, who, having embraced Christianity, had afterward relapsed into their early faith, and had taken refuge in Malaga from the vengeance of the Inquisition, were publicly burnt. "These," says an old Jesuit historian exultingly,—"these were the tilts of reeds and the illuminations most pleasing for this victorious festival and for the Catholic piety of our sovereigns."*
* "Los renegados fuernon acanavareados: y los conversos quemados; y estos fueron las canas, y luminarias mas alegres, por la fiesta de la vitoria, para la piedad Catholica de nuestros Reyes."—Abarca, "Anales de Aragon," tom. 2, Rey xxx. c. 3.
When the city was cleansed from the impurities and offensive odors which had collected during the siege, the bishops and other clergy who accompanied the court, and the choir of the royal chapel, walked in procession to the principal mosque, which was consecrated and entitled Santa Maria de la Incarnacion. This done, the king and queen entered the city, accompanied by the grand cardinal of Spain and the principal nobles and cavaliers of the army, and heard a solemn mass. The church was then elevated into a cathedral, and Malaga was made a bishopric, and many of the neighboring towns were comprehended in its diocese. The queen took up her residence in the Alcazaba, in the apartments of her valiant treasurer, Ruy Lopez, whence she had a view of the whole city, but the king established his quarters in the warrior castle of Gibralfaro.
And now came to be considered the disposition of the Moorish prisoners. All those who were strangers in the city, and had either taken refuge there or had entered to defend it, were at once considered slaves. They were divided into three lots: one was set apart for the service of God in redeeming Christian captives from bondage, either in the kingdom of Granada or in Africa; the second lot was divided among those who had aided either in field or cabinet in the present siege, according to their rank; the third was appropriated to defray by their sale the great expenses incurred in the reduction of the place. A hundred of the Gomeres were sent as presents to Pope Innocent VIII., and were led in triumph through the streets of Rome, and afterward converted to Christianity. Fifty Moorish maidens were sent to the queen Joanna of Naples, sister to King Ferdinand, and thirty to the queen of Portugal. Isabella made presents of others to the ladies of her household and of the noble families of Spain.
Among the inhabitants of Malaga were four hundred and fifty Moorish Jews, for the most part women, speaking the Arabic language and dressed in the Moresco fashion. These were ransomed by a wealthy Jew of Castile, farmer-general of the royal revenues derived from the Jews of Spain. He agreed to make up within a certain time the sum of twenty thousand doblas, or pistoles of gold, all the money and jewels of the captives being taken in part payment. They were sent to Castile in two armed galleys. As to Ali Dordux, such favors and honors were heaped upon him by the Spanish sovereigns for his considerate mediation in the surrender that the disinterestedness of his conduct has often been called in question. He was appointed chief justice and alcayde of the (10) mudexares or Moorish subjects, and was presented with twenty houses, one public bakery, and several orchards, vineyards, and tracts of open country. He retired to Antiquera, where he died several years afterward, leaving his estate and name to his son, Mohamed Dordux. The latter embraced the Christian faith, as did his wife, the daughter of a Moorish noble. On being baptized he received the name of Don Fernando de Malaga, his wife that of Isabella, after the queen. They were incorporated with the nobility of Castile, and their descendants still bear the name of Malaga.*
* Conversaciones Malaguenas, 26, as cited by Alcantara in his History of Granada, vol. 4, c. 18.
As to the great mass of Moorish inhabitants, they implored that they might not be scattered and sold into captivity, but might be permitted to ransom themselves by an amount paid within a certain time. Upon this King Ferdinand took the advice of certain of his ablest counsellors. They said to him: "If you hold out a prospect of hopeless captivity, the infidels will throw all their gold and jewels into wells and pits, and you will lose the greater part of the spoil; but if you fix a general rate of ransom, and receive their money and jewels in part payment, nothing will be destroyed." The king relished greatly this advice, and it was arranged that all the inhabitants should be ransomed at the general rate of thirty doblas or pistoles in gold for each individual, male or female, large or small; that all their gold, jewels, and other valuables should be received immediately in part payment of the general amount, and that the residue should be paid within eight months—that if any of the number, actually living, should die in the interim, their ransom should nevertheless be paid. If, however, the whole of the amount were not paid at the expiration of the eight months, they should all be considered and treated as slaves.
The unfortunate Moors were eager to catch at the least hope of future liberty, and consented to these hard conditions. The most rigorous precautions were taken to exact them to the uttermost. The inhabitants were numbered by houses and families, and their names taken down; their most precious effects were made up into parcels, and sealed and inscribed with their names, and they were ordered to repair with them to certain large corrales or enclosures adjoining the Alcazaba, which were surrounded by high walls and overlooked by watch-towers, to which places the cavalgadas of Christian captives had usually been driven to be confined until the time of sale like cattle in a market. The Moors were obliged to leave their houses one by one: all their money, necklaces, bracelets, and anklets of gold, pearl, coral, and precious stones were taken from them at the threshold, and their persons so rigorously searched that they carried off nothing concealed.
Then might be seen old men and helpless women and tender maidens, some of high birth and gentle condition, passing through the streets, heavily burdened, toward the Alcazaba. As they left their homes they smote their breasts and wrung their hands, and raised their weeping eyes to heaven in anguish; and this is recorded as their plaint: "O Malaga! city so renowned and beautiful! where now is the strength of thy castle, where the grandeur of thy towers? Of what avail have been thy mighty walls for the protection of thy children? Behold them driven from thy pleasant abodes, doomed to drag out a life of bondage in a foreign land, and to die far from the home of their infancy! What will become of thy old men and matrons when their gray hairs shall be no longer reverenced? What will become of thy maidens, so delicately reared and tenderly cherished, when reduced to hard and menial servitude? Behold thy once happy families scattered asunder, never again to be united—sons separated from their fathers, husbands from their wives, and tender children from their mothers: they will bewail each other in foreign lands, but their lamentations will be the scoff of the stranger. O Malaga! city of our birth! who can behold thy desolation and not shed tears of bitterness?"*
* Pulgar, Reyes Catolicos, c. 93.
When Malaga was completely secured a detachment was sent against two fortresses near the sea, called Mixas and Osuna, which had frequently harassed the Christian camp. The inhabitants were threatened with the sword unless they instantly surrendered. They claimed the same terms that had been granted to Malaga, imagining them to be freedom of person and security of property. Their claim was granted: they were transported to Malaga with all their riches, and on arriving there were overwhelmed with consternation at finding themselves captives. "Ferdinand," observes Fray Antonio Agapida, "was a man of his word; they were shut up in the enclosure at the Alcazaba with the people of Malaga and shared their fate."
The unhappy captives remained thus crowded in the courtyards of the Alcazaba, like sheep in a fold, until they could be sent by sea and land to Seville. They were then distributed about in city and country, each Christian family having one or more to feed and maintain as servants until the term fixed for the payment of the residue of the ransom should expire. The captives had obtained permission that several of their number should go about among the Moorish towns of the kingdom of Granada collecting contributions to aid in the purchase of their liberties, but these towns were too much impoverished by the war and engrossed by their own distresses to lend a listening ear; so the time expired without the residue of the ransom being paid, and all the captives of Malaga, to the number, as some say, of eleven, and others of fifteen, thousand, became slaves. "Never," exclaims the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida in one of his usual bursts of zeal and loyalty,—"never has there been recorded a more adroit and sagacious arrangement than this made by the Catholic monarch, by which he not only secured all the property and half of the ransom of these infidels, but finally got possession of their persons into the bargain. This truly may be considered one of the greatest triumphs of the pious and politic Ferdinand, and as raising him above the generality of conquerors, who have merely the valor to gain victories, but lack the prudence and management necessary to turn them to account."*
* The detestable policy of Ferdinand in regard to the Moorish captives of Malaga is recorded at length by the curate of Los Palacios (c. 87), a contemporary, a zealous admirer of the king, and one of the most honest of chroniclers, who really thought he was recording a notable instance of sagacious piety.
HOW KING FERDINAND PREPARED TO CARRY THE WAR INTO A DIFFERENT PART OF THE TERRITORIES OF THE MOORS.
The western part of the kingdom of Granada had now been conquered by the Christian arms. The seaport of Malaga was captured; the fierce and warlike inhabitants of Serrania de Ronda and the other mountain-holds of the frontier were all disarmed and reduced to peaceful and laborious vassalage; their haughty fortresses, which had so long overawed the valleys of Andalusia, now displayed the standard of Castile and Aragon; the watch-towers which crowned every height, whence the infidels had kept a vulture eye over the Christian territories, were now either dismantled or garrisoned with Catholic troops. "What signalized and sanctified this great triumph," adds the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, "were the emblems of ecclesiastical domination which everywhere appeared. In every direction rose stately convents and monasteries, those fortresses of the faith garrisoned by its spiritual soldiery of monks and friars. The sacred melody of Christian bells was again heard among the mountains, calling to early matins or sounding the Angelus at the solemn hour of evening."*
* The worthy curate of Los Palacios intimates in his chronicle that this melody, so grateful to the ears of pious Christians, was a source of perpetual torment to the ears of infidels.
While this part of the kingdom was thus reduced by the Christian sword, the central part, round the city of Granada, forming the heart of the Moorish territory, was held in vassalage of the Castilian monarch by Boabdil, surnamed El Chico. That unfortunate prince lost no occasion to propitiate the conquerors of his country by acts of homage and by professions that must have been foreign to his heart. No sooner had he heard of the capture of Malaga than he sent congratulations to the Catholic sovereigns, accompanied with presents of horses richly caparisoned for the king, and precious cloth of gold and Oriental perfumes for the queen. His congratulations and his presents were received with the utmost graciousness, and the short-sighted prince, lulled by the temporary and politic forbearance of Ferdinand, flattered himself that he was securing the lasting friendship of that monarch.
The policy of Boabdil had its transient and superficial advantages. The portion of Moorish territory under his immediate sway had a respite from the calamities of war, the husbandmen cultivated their luxuriant fields in security, and the Vega of Granada once more blossomed like the rose. The merchants again carried on a gainful traffic: the gates of the city were thronged with beasts of burden, bringing the rich products of every clime. Yet, while the people of Granada rejoiced in their teeming fields and crowded marts, they secretly despised the policy which had procured them these advantages, and held Boabdil for little better than an apostate and an unbeliever. Muley Abdallah el Zagal was now the hope of the unconquered part of the kingdom, and every Moor whose spirit was not quite subdued with his fortunes lauded the valor of the old monarch and his fidelity to the faith, and wished success to his standard.
El Zagal, though he no longer sat enthroned in the Alhambra, yet reigned over more considerable domains than his nephew. His territories extended from the frontier of Jaen along the borders of Murcia to the Mediterranean, and reached into the centre of the kingdom. On the northeast he held the cities of Baza and Guadix, situated in the midst of fertile regions. He had the important seaport of Almeria also, which at one time rivalled Granada itself in wealth and population. Besides these, his territories included a great part of the Alpuxarras mountains, which extend across the kingdom and shoot out branches toward the sea-coast. This mountainous region was a stronghold of wealth and power. Its stern and rocky heights, rising to the clouds, seemed to set invasion at defiance, yet within their rugged embraces were sheltered delightful valleys of the happiest temperature and richest fertility. The cool springs and limpid rills which gushed out in all parts of the mountains, and the abundant streams which for a great part of the year were supplied by the Sierra Nevada, spread a perpetual verdure over the skirts and slopes of the hills, and, collecting in silver rivers in the valleys, wound along among plantations of mulberry trees and groves of oranges and citrons, of almonds, figs, and pomegranates. Here was produced the finest silk of Spain, which gave employment to thousands of manufacturers. The sunburnt sides of the hills also were covered with vineyards; the abundant herbage of the mountain-ravines and the rich pasturage of the valleys fed vast flocks and herds; and even the arid and rocky bosoms of the heights teemed with wealth from the mines of various metals with which they were impregnated. In a word, the Alpuxarras mountains had ever been the great source of revenue to the monarchs of Granada. Their inhabitants also were hardy and warlike, and a sudden summons from the Moorish king could at any time call forth fifty thousand fighting-men from their rocky fastnesses.
Such was the rich but rugged fragment of an empire which remained under the sway of the old warrior-monarch El Zagal. The mountain-barriers by which it was locked up had protected it from most of the ravages of the present war. El Zagal prepared himself by strengthening every fortress to battle fiercely for its maintenance.
The Catholic sovereigns saw that fresh troubles and toils awaited them. The war had to be carried into a new quarter, demanding immense expenditure, and new ways and means must be devised to replenish their exhausted coffers. "As this was a holy war, however," says Fray Antonio Agapida, "and peculiarly redounded to the prosperity of the Church, the clergy were full of zeal, and contributed vast sums of money and large bodies of troops. A pious fund was also produced from the first fruits of that glorious institution, the Inquisition."
It so happened that about this time there were many families of wealth and dignity in the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia and the principality of Catalonia whose forefathers had been Jews, but had been converted to Christianity. Notwithstanding the outward piety of these families, it was surmised, and soon came to be strongly suspected, that many of then had a secret hankering after Judaism, and it was even whispered that some of them practised Jewish rites in private.
The Catholic monarch (continues Agapida) had a righteous abhorrence of all kinds of heresy and a fervent zeal for the faith; he ordered, therefore, a strict investigation of the conduct of these pseudo-Christians. Inquisitors were sent into the provinces for the purpose, who proceeded with their accustomed zeal. The consequence was, that many families were convicted of apostasy from the Christian faith and of the private practice of Judaism. Some, who had grace and policy sufficient to reform in time, were again received into the Christian fold after being severely mulcted and condemned to heavy penance; others were burnt at "auto de fes" for the edification of the public, and their property was confiscated for the good of the state.
As these Hebrews were of great wealth and had an hereditary passion for jewelry, there was found abundant store in their possession of gold and silver, of rings and necklaces, and strings of pearl and coral, and precious stones—treasures easy of transportation and wonderfully adapted for the emergencies of war. "In this way," concludes the pious Agapida, "these backsliders, by the all-seeing contrivances of Providence, were made to serve the righteous cause which they had so treacherously deserted; and their apostate wealth was sanctified by being devoted to the service of Heaven and the Crown in this holy crusade against the infidels."
It must be added, however, that these pious financial expedients received some check from the interference of Queen Isabella. Her penetrating eyes discovered that many enormities had been committed under color of religious zeal, and many innocent persons accused by false witnesses of apostasy, either through malice or a hope of obtaining their wealth: she caused strict investigation, therefore, into the proceedings which had been held, many of which were reversed, and suborners punished in proportion to their guilt.*
* Pulgar, part 3, c. 100.
HOW KING FERDINAND INVADED THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE KINGDOM OF GRANADA, AND HOW HE WAS RECEIVED BY EL ZAGAL.
"Muley Abdallah el Zagal," says the venerable Jesuit father Pedro Abarca, "was the most venomous Mahometan in all Morisma;" and the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida most devoutly echoes his opinion. "Certainly," adds the latter, "none ever opposed a more heathenish and diabolical obstinacy to the holy inroads of the cross and sword."
El Zagal felt that it was necessary to do something to quicken his popularity with the people, and that nothing was more effectual than a successful inroad. The Moors loved the stirring call to arms and a wild foray among the mountains, and delighted more in a hasty spoil, wrested with hard fighting from the Christians, than in all the steady and certain gains secured by peaceful traffic.
There reigned at this time a careless security along the frontier of Jaen. The alcaydes of the Christian fortresses were confident of the friendship of Boabdil el Chico, and they fancied his uncle too distant and too much engrossed by his own perplexities to think of molesting them. On a sudden El Zagal issued out of Guadix with a chosen band, passed rapidly through the mountains which extend behind Granada, and fell like a thunderbolt upon the territories in the neighborhood of Alcala la Real. Before the alarm could be spread and the frontier roused he had made a wide career of destruction through the country, sacking and burning villages, sweeping off flocks and herds, and carrying away captives. The warriors of the frontier assembled, but El Zagal was already far on his return through the mountains, and he re-entered the gates of Guadix in triumph, his army laden with Christian spoil and conducting an immense cavalgada. Such was one of El Zagal's preparatives for the expected invasion of the Christian king, exciting the warlike spirit of his people, and gaining for himself a transient popularity.
King Ferdinand assembled his army at Murcia in the spring of 1488. He left that city on the fifth of June with a flying camp of four thousand horse and fourteen thousand foot. The marques of Cadiz led the van, followed by the adelantado of Murcia. The army entered the Moorish frontier by the sea-coast, spreading terror through the land: wherever it appeared, the towns surrendered without a blow, so great was the dread of experiencing the woes which had desolated the opposite frontier. In this way Vera, Velez el Rubio, Velez el Blanco, and many towns of inferior note to the number of sixty yielded at the first summons.
It was not until it approached Almeria that the army met with resistance. This important city was commanded by the prince Zelim, a relation of El Zagal. He led forth his Moors bravely to the encounter, and skirmished fiercely with the advance guard in the gardens near the city. King Ferdinand came up with the main body of the army and called off his troops from the skirmish. He saw that to attack the place with his present force was fruitless. Having reconnoitred the city and its environs, therefore, against a future campaign, he retired with his army and marched toward Baza.
The old warrior El Zagal was himself drawn up in the city of Baza with a powerful garrison. He felt confidence in the strength of the place, and rejoiced when he heard that the Christian king was approaching. In the valley in front of Baza there extended a great tract of gardens, like a continued grove, intersected by canals and water courses. In this he stationed an ambuscade of arquebusiers and crossbowmen. The vanguard of the Christian army came marching gayly up the valley with great sound of drum and trumpet, and led on by the marques of Cadiz and the adelantado of Murcia. As they drew near El Zagal sallied forth with horse and foot and attacked them for a time with great spirit. Gradually falling back, as if pressed by their superior valor, he drew the exulting Christians among the gardens. Suddenly the Moors in ambuscade burst from their concealment, and opened such a fire in flank and rear that many of the Christians were slain and the rest thrown into confusion. King Ferdinand arrived in time to see the disastrous situation of his troops, and gave signal for the vanguard to retire.
El Zagal did not permit the foe to draw off unmolested. Ordering out fresh squadrons, he fell upon the rear of the retreating troops with triumphant shouts, driving them before him with dreadful havoc. The old war-cry of "El Zagal! El Zagal!" was again put up by the Moors, and echoed with transport from the walls of the city. The Christians were in imminent peril of a complete rout, when, fortunately, the adelantado of Murcia threw himself with a large body of horse and foot between the pursuers and the pursued, covering the retreat of the latter and giving them time to rally. The Moors were now attacked so vigorously in turn that they gave over the contest and drew back slowly into the city. Many valiant cavaliers were slain in this skirmish; among the number was Don Philip of Aragon, master of the chivalry of St. George of Montesor: he was illegitimate son of the king's illegitimate brother Don Carlos, and his death was greatly bewailed by Ferdinand. He had formerly been archbishop of Palermo, but had doffed the cassock for the cuirass, and, according to Fray Antonio Agapida, had gained a glorious crown of martyrdom by falling in this holy war.
The warm reception of his advance guard brought King Ferdinand to a pause: he encamped on the banks of the neighboring river Guadalquiton, and began to consider whether he had acted wisely in undertaking this campaign with his present force. His late successes had probably rendered him over-confident: El Zagal had again schooled him into his characteristic caution. He saw that the old warrior was too formidably ensconced in Baza to be dislodged by anything except a powerful army and battering artillery, and he feared that should he persist in his invasion some disaster might befall his army, either from the enterprise of the foe or from a pestilence which prevailed in various parts of the country. He retired, therefore, from before Baza, as he had on a former occasion from before Loxa, all the wiser for a wholesome lesson in warfare, but by no means grateful to those who had given it, and with a solemn determination to have his revenge upon his teachers.
He now took measures for the security of the places gained in the campaign, placing in them strong garrisons, well armed and supplied, charging their alcaydes to be vigilant on their posts and to give no rest to the enemy. The whole of the frontier was under the command of Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero. As it was evident from the warlike character of El Zagal that there would be abundance of active service and hard fighting, many hidalgos and young cavaliers eager for distinction remained with Puerto Carrero.
All these dispositions being made, King Ferdinand closed the dubious campaign of this year, not, as usual, by returning in triumph at the head of his army to some important city of his dominions, but by disbanding the troops and repairing to pray at the cross of Caravaca.
HOW THE MOORS MADE VARIOUS ENTERPRISES AGAINST THE CHRISTIANS.
"While the pious king Ferdinand," observes Fray Antonio Agapida, "was humbling himself before the cross and devoutly praying for the destruction of his enemies, that fierce pagan, El Zagal, depending merely on arm of flesh and sword of steel, pursued his diabolical outrages upon the Christians." No sooner was the invading army disbanded than he sallied forth from his stronghold, and carried fire and sword into all those parts which had submitted to the Spanish yoke. The castle of Nixar, being carelessly guarded, was taken by surprise and its garrison put to the sword. The old warrior raged with sanguinary fury about the whole frontier, attacking convoys, slaying, wounding, and making prisoners, and coming by surprise upon the Christians wherever they were off their guard.
Carlos de Biedma, alcayde of the fortress of Culla, confiding in the strength of its walls and towers and in its difficult situation, being built on the summit of a lofty hill and surrounded by precipices, ventured to absent himself from his post. He was engaged to be married to a fair and noble lady of Baeza, and repaired to that city to celebrate his nuptials, escorted by a brilliant array of the best horsemen of his garrison. Apprised of his absence, the vigilant El Zagal suddenly appeared before Culla with a powerful force, stormed the town sword in hand, fought the Christians from street to street, and drove them with great slaughter to the citadel. Here a veteran captain, by the name of Juan de Avalos, a gray-headed warrior scarred in many a battle, assumed the command and made an obstinate defence. Neither the multitude of the enemy nor the vehemence of their attacks, though led on by the terrible El Zagal himself, had power to shake the fortitude of this doughty old soldier.
The Moors undermined the outer walls and one of the towers of the fortress, and made their way into the exterior court. The alcayde manned the tops of his towers, pouring down melted pitch and showering darts, arrows, stones, and all kinds of missiles upon the assailants. The Moors were driven out of the court, but, being reinforced with fresh troops, returned repeatedly to the assault. For five days the combat was kept up: the Christians were nearly exhausted, but were sustained by the cheerings of their stanch old alcayde and the fear of death from El Zagal should they surrender. At length the approach of a powerful force under Don Luis Puerto Carrero relieved them from this fearful peril. El Zagal abandoned the assault, but set fire to the town in his rage and disappointment, and retired to his stronghold of Guadix.
The example of El Zagal roused his adherents to action. Two bold Moorish alcaydes, Ali Aliatar and Yzan Aliatar, commanding the fortresses of Alhenden and Salobrena, laid waste the country of the subjects of Boabdil and the places which had recently submitted to the Christians: they swept off the cattle, carried off captives, and harassed the whole of the newly-conquered frontier.
The Moors also of Almeria and Tavernas and Purchena made inroads into Murcia, and carried fire and sword into its most fertile regions. On the opposite frontier also, among the wild valleys and rugged recesses of the Sierra Bermeja, or Red Mountains, many of the Moors who had lately submitted again flew to arms. The marques of Cadiz suppressed by timely vigilance the rebellion of the mountain-town of Gausin, situated on a high peak almost among the clouds; but others of the Moors fortified themselves in rock-built towers and castles, inhabited solely by warriors, whence they carried on a continual war of forage and depredation, sweeping down into the valleys and carrying off flocks and herds and all kinds of booty to these eagle-nests, to which it was perilous and fruitless to pursue them.
The worthy Fray Antonio Agapida closes his history of this checkered year in quite a different strain from those triumphant periods with which he is accustomed to wind up the victorious campaigns of the sovereigns. "Great and mighty," says this venerable chronicler, "were the floods and tempests which prevailed throughout the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon about this time. It seemed as though the windows of heaven were again opened and a second deluge overwhelming the face of nature. The clouds burst as it were in cataracts upon the earth; torrents rushed down from the mountains, overflowing the valleys; brooks were swelled into raging rivers; houses were undermined; mills were swept away by their own streams; the affrighted shepherds saw their flocks drowned in the midst of the pasture, and were fain to take refuge for their lives in towers and high places. The Guadalquivir for a time became a roaring and tumultuous sea, inundating the immense plain of the Tablada and filling the fair city of Seville with affright.
"A vast black cloud moved over the land, accompanied by a hurricane and a trembling of the earth. Houses were unroofed, the walls and battlements of fortresses shaken, and lofty towers rocked to their foundations. Ships riding at anchor were either stranded or swallowed up; others, under sail, were tossed to and fro upon mountain waves and cast upon the land, where the whirlwind rent them in pieces and scattered them in fragments in the air. Doleful was the ruin and great the terror where this baleful cloud passed by, and it left a long track of desolation over sea and land. Some of the faint-hearted," adds Antonio Agapida, "looked upon this torment of the elements as a prodigious event, out of the course of nature. In the weakness of their fears they connected it with those troubles which occurred in various places, considering it a portent of some great calamity about to be wrought by the violence of the bloody-handed El Zagal and his fierce adherents."*
* See Cura de los Palacios, cap. 91; Palencia, De Bello Granad., lib. 8.
HOW KING FERDINAND PREPARED TO BESIEGE THE CITY OF BAZA, AND HOW THE CITY PREPARED FOR DEFENCE.
The stormy winter had passed away, and the spring of 1489 was advancing, yet the heavy rains had broken up the roads, the mountain-brooks were swollen to raging torrents, and the late shallow and peaceful rivers were deep, turbulent, and dangerous. The Christian troops had been summoned to assemble in early spring on the frontiers of Jaen, but were slow in arriving at the appointed place. They were entangled in the miry defiles of the mountains or fretted impatiently on the banks of impassable floods. It was late in the month of May before they assembled in sufficient force to attempt the proposed invasion, when at length a valiant army of thirteen thousand horse and forty thousand foot marched merrily over the border. The queen remained at the city of Jaen with the prince-royal and the princesses her children, accompanied and supported by the venerable cardinal of Spain and those reverend prelates who assisted in her councils throughout this holy war.
The plan of King Ferdinand was to lay siege to the city of Baza, the key of the remaining possessions of the Moor. That important fortress taken, Guadix and Almeria must soon follow, and then the power of El Zagal would be at an end. As the Catholic king advanced he had first to secure various castles and strongholds in the vicinity of Baza which might otherwise harass his army. Some of these made obstinate resistance, especially the town of Zujar. The Christians assailed the walls with various machines to sap them and batter them down. The brave alcayde, Hubec Abdilbar, opposed force to force and engine to engine. He manned his towers with his bravest warriors, who rained down an iron shower upon the enemy, and he linked caldrons together by strong chains and cast fire from them, consuming the wooden engines of their assailants and those who managed them.
The siege was protracted for several days: the bravery of the alcayde could not save his fortress from an overwhelming foe, but it gained him honorable terms. Ferdinand permitted the garrison and the inhabitants to repair with their effects to Baza, and the valiant Hubec marched forth with the remnant of his force and took he way to that devoted city.
The delays caused to the invading army by these various circumstances had been diligently improved by El Zagal, who felt that he was now making his last stand for empire, and that this campaign would decide whether he should continue a king or sink into a vassal. He was but a few leagues from Baza, at the city of Guadix. This last was the most important point of his remaining territories, being a kind of bulwark between them and the hostile city of Granada, the seat of his nephew's power. Though he heard of the tide of war, therefore, collecting and rolling toward the city of Baza, he dared not go in person to its assistance. He dreaded that should he leave Guadix, Boabdil would attack him in the rear while the Christian army was battling with him in front. El Zagal trusted in the great strength of Baza to defy any violent assault, and profited by the delays of the Christian army to supply it with all possible means of defence. He sent thither all the troops he could spare from his garrison of Guadix, and despatched missives throughout his territories calling upon all true Moslems to hasten to Baza and make a devoted stand in defence of their homes, their liberties, and their religion. The cities of Tavernas and Purchena and the surrounding heights and valleys responded to his orders and sent forth their fighting-men to the field. The rocky fastnesses of the Alpuxarras resounded with the din of arms: troops of horse and bodies of foot-soldiers were seen winding down the rugged cliffs and defiles of those marble mountains and hastening toward Baza. Many brave cavaliers of Granada also, spurning the quiet and security of Christian vassalage, secretly left the city and hastened to join their fighting countrymen. The great dependence of El Zagal, however, was upon the valor and loyalty of his cousin and brother-in-law, Cid Hiaya Alnagar,* who was alcayde of Almeria—a cavalier experienced in warfare and redoubtable in the field. He wrote to him to leave Almeria and repair with all speed at the head of his troops to Baza. Cid Hiaya departed immediately with ten thousand of the bravest Moors in the kingdom. These were for the most part hardy mountaineers, tempered to sun and storm and tried in many a combat. None equalled them for a sally or a skirmish. They were adroit in executing a thousand stratagems, ambuscadoes, and evolutions. Impetuous in their assaults, yet governed in their utmost fury by a word or sign from their commander, at the sound of a trumpet they would check themselves in the midst of their career, wheel off and disperse, and at another sound of a trumpet they would as suddenly reassemble and return to the attack. They were upon the enemy when least expected, coming like a rushing blast, spreading havoc and consternation, and then passing away in an instant; so that when one recovered from the shock and looked around, behold, nothing was to be seen or heard of this tempest of war but a cloud of dust and the clatter of retreating hoofs.**
* This name has generally been written Cidi Yahye. The present mode is adopted on the authority of Alcantara in his History of Granada, who appears to have derived it from Arabic manuscripts existing in the archives of the marques de Corvera, descendant of Cid Hiaya. The latter (Cid Hiaya) was son of Aben Zelim, a deceased prince of Almeria, and was a lineal descendant from the celebrated Aben Hud, surnamed the Just. The wife of Cid Hiaya was sister of the two Moorish generals, Abul Cacim and Reduan Vanegas, and, like them, the fruit of the union of a Christian knight, Don Pedro Vanegas, with Cetimerien, a Moorish princess.
* *Pulgar, part 3, c. 106.
When Cid Hiaya led his train of ten thousand valiant warriors into the gates of Baza, the city rang with acclamations and for a time the inhabitants thought themselves secure. El Zagal also felt a glow of confidence, notwithstanding his own absence from the city. "Cid Hiaya," said he, "is my cousin and my brother-in-law; related to me by blood and marriage, he is a second self: happy is that monarch who has his kindred to command his armies."
With all these reinforcements the garrison of Baza amounted to above twenty thousand men. There were at this time three principal leaders in the city: Mohammed Ibn Hassan, surnamed the Veteran, who was military governor or alcayde, an old Moor of great experience and discretion; the second was Hamet Abu Zali, who was captain of the troops stationed in the place; and the third was Hubec Abdilbar, late alcayde of Zujar, who had repaired hither with the remains of his garrison. Over all these Cid Hiaya exercised a supreme command in consequence of his being of the blood-royal and in the especial confidence of Muley Abdallah el Zagal. He was eloquent and ardent in council, and fond of striking and splendid achievements, but he was a little prone to be carried away by the excitement of the moment and the warmth of his imagination. The councils of war of these commanders, therefore, were more frequently controlled by the opinions of the old alcayde Mohammed Ibn Hassan, for whose shrewdness, caution, and experience Cid Hiaya himself felt the greatest deference.
The city of Baza was situated in a great valley, eight leagues in length and three in breadth, called the Hoya, or Basin, of Baza. It was surrounded by a range of mountains called the Sierra of Xabalcohol, the streams of which, collecting themselves into two rivers, watered and fertilized the country. The city was built in the plain, one part of it protected by the rocky precipices of the mountain and by a powerful citadel, the other by massive walls studded with immense towers. It had suburbs toward the plain imperfectly fortified by earthen walls. In front of these suburbs extended a tract of orchards and gardens nearly a league in length, so thickly planted as to resemble a continued forest. Here every citizen who could afford it had his little plantation and his garden of fruits and flowers and vegetables, watered by canals and rivulets and dominated by a small tower for recreation or defence. This wilderness of groves and gardens, intersected in all parts by canals and runs of water, and studded by above a thousand small towers, formed a kind of protection to this side of the city, rendering all approach extremely difficult and perplexed.
While the Christian army had been detained before the frontier posts, the city of Baza had been a scene of hurried and unremitting preparation. All the grain of the surrounding valley, though yet unripe, was hastily reaped and borne into the city to prevent it from yielding sustenance to the enemy. The country was drained of all its supplies; flocks and herds were driven, bleating and bellowing, into the gates: long trains of beasts of burden, some laden with food, others with lances, darts, and arms of all kinds, kept pouring into the place. Already were munitions collected sufficient for a siege of fifteen months: still, the eager and hasty preparation was going on when the army of Ferdinand came in sight.
On one side might be seen scattered parties of foot and horse spurring to the gates, and muleteers hurrying forward their burdened animals, all anxious to get under shelter before the gathering storm; on the other side, the cloud of war came sweeping down the valley, the roll of drum or clang of trumpet resounding occasionally from its deep bosom, or the bright glance of arms flashing forth like vivid lightning from its columns. King Ferdinand pitched his tents in the valley beyond the green labyrinth of gardens. He sent his heralds to summon the city to surrender, promising the most favorable terms in case of immediate compliance, and avowing in the most solemn terms his resolution never to abandon the siege until he had possession of the place.
Upon receiving this summons the Moorish commanders held a council of war. The prince Cid Hiaya, indignant at the menaces of the king, was for retorting by a declaration that the garrison never would surrender, but would fight until buried under the ruins of the walls. "Of what avail," said the veteran Mohammed, "is a declaration of the kind, which we may falsify by our deeds? Let us threaten what we know we can perform, and let us endeavor to perform more than we threaten."
In conformity to his advice, therefore, a laconic reply was sent to the Christian monarch, thanking him for his offer of favorable terms, but informing him that they were placed in the city to defend, not to surrender it.
THE BATTLE OF THE GARDENS BEFORE BAZA.
When the reply of the Moorish commanders was brought to King Ferdinand, he prepared to press the siege with the utmost vigor. Finding the camp too far from the city, and that the intervening orchards afforded shelter for the sallies of the Moors, he determined to advance it beyond the gardens, in the space between them and the suburbs, where his batteries would have full play upon the city walls. A detachment was sent in advance to take possession of the gardens and keep a check upon the suburbs, opposing any sally while the encampment should be formed and fortified. The various commanders entered the orchards at different points. The young cavaliers marched fearlessly forward, but the experienced veterans foresaw infinite peril in the mazes of this verdant labyrinth. The master of St. Jago, as he led his troops into the centre of the gardens, exhorted them to keep by one another, and to press forward in defiance of all difficulty or danger, assuring them that God would give them the victory if they attacked hardily and persisted resolutely.
Scarce had they entered the verge of the orchards when a din of drums and trumpets, mingled with war-cries, was heard from the suburbs, and a legion of Moorish warriors on foot poured forth. They were led on by the prince Cid Hiaya. He saw the imminent danger of the city should the Christians gain possession of the orchards. "Soldiers," he cried, "we fight for life and liberty, for our families, our country, our religion;* nothing is left for us to depend upon but the strength of our hands, the courage of our hearts, and the almighty protection of Allah." The Moors answered him with shouts of war and rushed to the encounter. The two hosts met in the midst of the gardens. A chance-medley combat ensued with lances, arquebuses, crossbows, and scimetars; the perplexed nature of the ground, cut up and intersected by canals and streams, the closeness of the trees, the multiplicity of towers and petty edifices, gave greater advantages to the Moors, who were on foot, than to the Christians, who were on horseback. The Moors, too, knew the ground, with all its alleys and passes, and were thus enabled to lurk, to sally forth, attack, and retreat almost without injury.