* "Illi (Mauri) pro fortunis, pro libertate, pro laribus patriis, pro vita denique certabant."—Pietro Martyr, "Epist. 70."
The Christian commanders, seeing this, ordered many of the horsemen to dismount and fight on foot. The battle then became fierce and deadly, each disregarding his own life, provided he could slay his enemy. It was not so much a general battle as a multitude of petty actions, for every orchard and garden had its distinct contest. No one could see farther than the little scene of fury and bloodshed around him, nor know how the general battle fared. In vain the captains exerted their voices, in vain the trumpets brayed forth signals and commands: all was confounded and unheard in the universal din and uproar. No one kept to his standard, but fought as his own fury or fear dictated. In some places the Christians had the advantage, in others the Moors; often a victorious party, pursuing the vanquished, came upon a superior and triumphant force of the enemy, and the fugitives turned back upon them in an overwhelming wave. Some broken remnants, in their terror and confusion, fled from their own countrymen and sought refuge among their enemies, not knowing friend from foe in the obscurity of the groves. The Moors were more adroit in these wild skirmishings from their flexibility, lightness, and agility, and the rapidity with which they would disperse, rally, and return again to the charge.*
* Mariana, lib. 25, cap. 13.
The hardest fighting was about the small garden-towers and pavilions, which served as so many petty fortresses. Each party by turns gained them, defended them fiercely, and were driven out; many of the towers were set on fire, and increased the horrors of the fight by the wreaths of smoke and flame in which they wrapped the groves and by the shrieks of those who were burning.
Several of the Christian cavaliers, bewildered by the uproar and confusion and shocked at the carnage which prevailed, would have led their men out of the action, but they were entangled in a labyrinth and knew not which way to retreat. While in this perplexity Juan Perea, the standard-bearer of one of the squadrons of the grand cardinal, had his arm carried off by a cannon-ball; the standard was wellnigh falling into the hands of the enemy, when Rodrigo de Mendoza, an intrepid youth, natural son of the grand cardinal, rushed to its rescue through a shower of balls, lances, and arrows, and, bearing it aloft, dashed forward with it into the hottest of the combat, followed by his shouting soldiery.
King Ferdinand, who remained in the skirts of the orchard, was in extreme anxiety. It was impossible to see much of the action for the multiplicity of trees and towers and the wreaths of smoke, and those who were driven out defeated or came out wounded and exhausted gave different accounts, according to the fate of the partial conflicts in which they had been engaged. Ferdinand exerted himself to the utmost to animate and encourage his troops to this blind encounter, sending reinforcements of horse and foot to those points where the battle was most sanguinary and doubtful.
Among those who were brought forth mortally wounded was Don Juan de Luna, a youth of uncommon merit, greatly prized by the king, beloved by the army, and recently married to Dona Catalina de Urrea, a young lady of distinguished beauty.* They laid him at the foot of a tree, and endeavored to stanch and bind up his wounds with a scarf which his bride had wrought for him; but his life-blood flowed too profusely, and while a holy friar was yet administering to him the last sacred offices of the Church, he expired, almost at the feet of his sovereign.
* Mariana, P. Martyr, Zurita.
On the other hand, the veteran alcayde Mohammed Ibn Hassan, surrounded by a little band of chieftains, kept an anxious eye upon the scene of combat from the walls of the city. For nearly twelve hours the battle raged without intermission. The thickness of the foliage hid all the particulars from their sight, but they could see the flash of swords and glance of helmets among the trees. Columns of smoke rose in every direction, while the clash of arms, the thundering of ribadoquines and arquebuses, the shouts and cries of the combatants, and the groans and supplications of the wounded bespoke the deadly conflict waging in the bosom of the groves. They were harassed, too, by the shrieks and lamentations of the Moorish women and children as their wounded relatives were brought bleeding from the scene of action, and were stunned by a general outcry of woe on the part of the inhabitants as the body of Reduan Zafarjal, a renegado Christian and one of the bravest of their generals, was borne breathless into the city.
At length the din of battle approached nearer to the skirts of the orchards. They beheld their warriors driven out from among the groves by fresh squadrons of the enemy, and, after disputing the ground inch by inch, obliged to retire to a place between the orchards and the suburbs which was fortified with palisadoes.
The Christians immediately planted opposing palisadoes, and established strong outposts near to the retreat of the Moors, while at the same time King Ferdinand ordered that his encampment should be pitched within the hard-won orchards.
Mohammed Ibn Hassan sallied forth to the aid of the prince Cid Hiaya, and made a desperate attempt to dislodge the enemy from this formidable position, but the night had closed, and the darkness rendered it impossible to make any impression. The Moors, however, kept up constant assaults and alarms throughout the night, and the weary Christians, exhausted by the toils and sufferings of the day, were not allowed a moment of repose.*
* Pulgar, part 3, cap. 106, 107; Cura de los Palacios, cap. 92; Zurita, lib. 20, cap 31.
SIEGE OF BAZA.—EMBARRASSMENTS OF THE ARMY.
The morning sun rose upon a piteous scene before the walls of Baza. The Christian outposts, harassed throughout the night, were pale and haggard, while the multitudes of slain which lay before their palisadoes showed the fierce attacks they had sustained and the bravery of their defence.
Beyond them lay the groves and gardens of Baza, once favorite resorts for recreation and delight, now a scene of horror and desolation. The towers and pavilions were smoking ruins; the canals and water-courses were discolored with blood and choked with the bodies of the slain. Here and there the ground, deep dinted with the tramp of man and steed and plashed and slippery with gore, showed where had been some fierce and mortal conflict, while the bodies of Moors and Christians, ghastly in death, lay half concealed among the matted and trampled shrubs and flowers and herbage.
Amidst these sanguinary scenes rose the Christian tents, hastily pitched among the gardens in the preceding evening. The experience of the night, however, and the forlorn aspect of everything in the morning convinced King Ferdinand of the perils and hardships to which his camp must be exposed in its present situation, and after a consultation with his principal cavaliers he resolved to abandon the orchards.
It was a dangerous movement, to extricate his army from so entangled a situation in the face of so alert and daring an enemy. A bold front was therefore kept up toward the city; additional troops were ordered to the advanced posts, and works begun as if for a settled encampment. Not a tent was struck in the gardens, but in the mean time the most active and unremitting exertions were made to remove all the baggage and furniture of the camp back to the original station.
All day the Moors beheld a formidable show of war maintained in front of the gardens, while in the rear the tops of the Christian tents and the pennons of the different commanders were seen rising above the groves. Suddenly, toward evening the tents sank and disappeared, the outposts broke up their stations and withdrew, and the whole shadow of an encampment was fast vanishing from their eyes.
The Moors saw too late the subtle manoeuvre of King Ferdinand. Cid Hiaya again sallied forth with a large force of horse and foot, and pressed furiously upon the Christians. The latter; however, experienced in Moorish attack, retired in close order, sometimes turning upon the enemy and driving them to their barricadoes, and then pursuing their retreat. In this way the army was extricated without much further loss from the perilous labyrinths of the gardens.
The camp was now out of danger, but it was also too distant from the city to do mischief, while the Moors could sally forth and return without hindrance. The king called a council of war to consider in what manner to proceed. The marques of Cadiz was for abandoning the siege for the present, the place being too strong, too well garrisoned and provided, and too extensive for their limited forces either to carry it by assault or invest and reduce it by famine, while in lingering before it the army would be exposed to the usual maladies and sufferings of besieging armies, and when the rainy season came on would be shut up by the swelling of the rivers. He recommended, instead, that the king should throw garrisons of horse and foot into all the towns captured in the neighborhood, and leave them to keep up a predatory war upon Baza, while he should overrun and ravage all the country, so that in the following year Almeria and Guadix, having all their subject towns and territories taken from them, might be starved into submission.
Don Gutierre de Cardenas, senior commander of Leon, on the other hand, maintained that to abandon the siege would be construed by the enemy into a sign of weakness and irresolution. It would give new spirits to the partisans of El Zagal, and would gain to his standard many of the wavering subjects of Boabdil, if it did not encourage the fickle populace of Granada to open rebellion. He advised, therefore, that the siege should be prosecuted with vigor.
The pride of Ferdinand pleaded in favor of the last opinion, for it would be doubly humiliating again to return from a campaign in this part of the Moorish kingdom without effecting a blow. But when he reflected on all that his army had suffered, and on all that it must suffer should the siege continue—especially from the difficulty of obtaining a regular supply of provisions for so numerous a host across a great extent of rugged and mountainous country—he determined to consult the safety of his people and to adopt the advice of the marques of Cadiz.
When the soldiery heard that the king was about to raise the siege in mere consideration of their sufferings, they were filled with generous enthusiasm, and entreated as with one voice that the siege might never be abandoned until the city surrendered.
Perplexed by conflicting counsels, the king despatched messengers to the queen at Jaen, requesting her advice. Posts had been stationed between them in such manner that missives from the camp could reach the queen within ten hours. Isabella sent instantly her reply. She left the policy of raising or continuing the siege to the decision of the king and his captains, but, should they determine to persevere, she pledged herself, with the aid of God, to forward them men, money, provisions and all other supplies until the city should be taken.
The reply of the queen determined Ferdinand to persevere, and when his determination was made known to the army, it was hailed with as much joy as if it had been tidings of a victory.
SIEGE OF BAZA CONTINUED.—HOW KING FERDINAND COMPLETELY INVESTED THE CITY.
The Moorish prince Cid Hiaya had received tidings of the doubts and discussions in the Christian camp, and flattered himself with hopes that the besieging army would soon retire in despair, though the veteran Mohammed shook his head with incredulity. A sudden movement one morning in the Christian camp seemed to confirm the sanguine hopes of the prince. The tents were struck, the artillery and baggage were conveyed away, and bodies of soldiers began to march along the valley. The momentary gleam of triumph was soon dispelled. The Catholic king had merely divided his host into two camps, the more effectually to distress the city.
One, consisting of four thousand horse and eight thousand foot, with all the artillery and battering engines, took post on the side of the city toward the mountain. This was commanded by the marques of Cadiz, with whom were Don Alonso de Aguilar, Luis Fernandez Puerto Carrero, and many other distinguished cavaliers.
The other camp was commanded by the king, having six thousand horse and a great host of foot-soldiers, the hardy mountaineers of Biscay, Guipuscoa, Galicia, and the Asturias. Among the cavaliers who were with the king were the brave count de Tendilla, Don Rodrigo de Mendoza, and Don Alonso de Cardenas, master of Santiago.
The two camps were wide asunder, on opposite sides of the city, and between them lay the thick wilderness of orchards. Both camps were therefore fortified by great trenches, breastworks, and palisadoes. The veteran Mohammed, as he saw these two formidable camps glittering on either side of the city, and noted the well-known pennons of renowned commanders fluttering above them, still comforted his companions. "These camps," said he, "are too far removed from each other for mutual succor and cooperation, and the forest of orchards is as a gulf between them." This consolation was but of short continuance. Scarcely were the Christian camps fortified when the ears of the Moorish garrison were startled by the sound of innumerable axes and the crash of falling trees. They looked with anxiety from their highest towers, and beheld their favorite groves sinking beneath the blows of the Christian pioneers. The Moors sallied forth with fiery zeal to protect their beloved gardens and the orchards in which they so much delighted. The Christians, however, were too well supported to be driven from their work. Day after day the gardens became the scene of incessant and bloody skirmishings; yet still the devastation of the groves went on, for King Ferdinand was too well aware of the necessity of clearing away this screen of woods not to bend all his forces to the undertaking. It was a work, however, of gigantic toil and patience. The trees were of such magnitude, and so closely set together, and spread over so wide an extent, that, notwithstanding four thousand men were employed, they could scarcely clear a strip of land ten paces broad within a day; and such were the interruptions from the incessant assaults of the Moors that it was full forty days before the orchards were completely levelled.
The devoted city of Baza now lay stripped of its beautiful covering of groves and gardens, at once its ornament, its delight, and its protection. The besiegers went on slowly and surely, with almost incredible labors, to invest and isolate the city. They connected their camps by a deep trench across the plain a league in length, into which they diverted the waters of the mountain-streams. They protected this trench by palisadoes, fortified by fifteen castles at regular distances. They dug a deep trench also, two leagues in length, across the mountain in the rear of the city, reaching from camp to camp, and fortified it on each side with walls of earth and stone and wood. Thus the Moors were enclosed on all sides by trenches, palisadoes, walls, and castles, so that it was impossible for them to sally beyond this great line of circumvallation, nor could any force enter to their succor. Ferdinand made an attempt likewise to cut off the supply of water from the city; "for water," observes the worthy Agapida, "is more necessary to these infidels than bread, making use of it in repeated daily ablutions enjoined by their damnable religion, and employing it in baths and in a thousand other idle and extravagant modes of which we Spaniards and Christians make but little account."
There was a noble fountain of pure water which gushed out at the foot of the hill Albohacen just behind the city. The Moors had almost a superstitious fondness for this fountain, and chiefly depended upon it for their supplies. Receiving intimation from some deserters of the plan of King Ferdinand to get possession of this precious fountain, they sallied forth at night and threw up such powerful works upon the impending hill as to set all attempts of the Christian assailants at defiance.
EXPLOIT OF HERNANDO PEREZ DEL PULGAR AND OTHER CAVALIERS.
The siege of Baza, while it displayed the skill and science of the Christian commanders, gave but little scope for the adventurous spirit and fiery valor of the young Spanish cavaliers. They repined at the tedious monotony and dull security of their fortified camp, and longed for some soul-stirring exploit of difficulty and danger. Two of the most spirited of these youthful cavaliers were Francisco de Bazan and Antonio de Cueva, the latter of whom was son to the duke of Albuquerque. As they were one day seated on the ramparts of the camp, and venting their impatience at this life of inaction, they were overheard by a veteran adalid, one of those scouts or guides who were acquainted with all parts of the country. "Seniors," said he, "if you wish for a service of peril and profit, if you are willing to pluck the fiery old Moor by the beard, I can lead you to where you may put your mettle to the proof. Hard by the city of Guadix are certain hamlets rich in booty. I can conduct you by a way in which you may come upon them by surprise, and if you are as cool in the head as you are hot in the spur, you may bear off your spoils from under the very eyes of old El Zagal."
The idea of thus making booty at the very gates of Guadix pleased the hot-spirited youths. These predatory excursions were frequent about this time, and the Moors of Padul, Alhenden, and other towns of the Alpuxarras had recently harassed the Christian territories by expeditions of the kind. Francisco de Bazan and Antonio de Cueva soon found other young cavaliers of their age eager to join in the adventure, and in a little while they had nearly three hundred horse and two hundred foot ready equipped and eager for the foray.
Keeping their destination secret, they sallied out of the camp on the edge of an evening, and, guided by the adalid, made their way by starlight through the most secret roads of the mountains. In this way they pressed on rapidly day and night, until early one morning, before cock-crowing, they fell suddenly upon the hamlets, made prisoners of the inhabitants, sacked the houses, ravaged the fields, and, sweeping through the meadows, gathered together all the flocks and herds. Without giving themselves time to rest, they set out upon their return, making with all speed for the mountains before the alarm should be given and the country roused.
Several of the herdsmen, however, had fled to Guadix, and carried tidings of the ravage to El Zagal. The beard of old Muley trembled with rage: he immediately sent out six hundred of his choicest horse and foot, with orders to recover the booty and to bring those insolent marauders captive to Guadix.
The Christian cavaliers were urging their cavalgada of cattle and sheep up a mountain as fast as their own weariness would permit, when, looking back, they beheld a great cloud of dust, and presently descried the turbaned host hot upon their traces.
They saw that the Moors were superior in number; they were fresh also, both man and steed, whereas both they and their horses were fatigued by two days and two nights of hard marching. Several of the horsemen therefore gathered round the commanders and proposed that they should relinquish their spoil and save themselves by flight. The captains, Francisco de Bazan and Antonio de Cueva, spurned at such craven counsel. "What?" cried they, "abandon, our prey without striking a blow? Leave our foot-soldiers too in the lurch, to be overwhelmed by the enemy? If any one gives such counsel through fear, he mistakes the course of safety, for there is less danger in presenting a bold front to the foe than in turning a dastard back, and fewer men are killed in a brave advance than in a cowardly retreat."
Some of the cavaliers were touched by these words, and declared that they would stand by the foot-soldiers like true companions-in-arms: the great mass of the party, however, were volunteers, brought together by chance, who received no pay nor had any common tie to keep them together in time of danger. The pleasure of the expedition being over, each thought but of his own safety, regardless of his companions. As the enemy approached the tumult of opinions increased and everything was in confusion. The captains, to put an end to the dispute, ordered the standard-bearer to advance against the Moors, well knowing that no true cavalier would hesitate to follow and defend his banner. The standard-bearer hesitated: the troops were on the point of taking to flight.
Upon this a cavalier of the royal guards rode to the front. It was Hernan Perez del Pulgar, alcayde of the fortress of Salar, the same dauntless ambassador who once bore to the turbulent people of Malaga the king's summons to surrender. Taking off a handkerchief which he wore round his head after the Andalusian fashion, he tied it to the end of a lance and elevated it in the air. "Cavaliers," cried he, "why do ye take weapons in your hands if you depend upon your feet for safety? This day will determine who is the brave man and who the coward. He who is disposed to fight shall not want a standard: let him follow this handkerchief." So saying, he waved his banner and spurred bravely against the Moors. His example shamed some and filled others with generous emulation: all turned with one accord, and, following Pulgar, rushed with shouts upon the enemy. The Moors scarcely waited to receive the shock of their encounter. Seized with a panic, they took to flight, and were pursued for a considerable distance with great slaughter. Three hundred of their dead strewed the road, and were stripped and despoiled by the conquerors; many were taken prisoners, and the Christian cavaliers returned in triumph to the camp with a long cavalgada of sheep and cattle and mules laden with booty, and bearing before them the singular standard which had conducted them to victory.
King Ferdinand was so pleased with the gallant action of Hernan Perez del Pulgar that he immediately conferred on him the honor of knighthood, using in the ceremony the sword of Diego de Aguero, the captain of the royal guards; the duke of Esculona girded one of his own gilt spurs upon his heel, and the grand master of Santiago, the count de Cabra, and Gonsalvo of Cordova officiated as witnesses. Furthermore, to perpetuate in his family the memory of his achievement, the sovereigns authorized him to emblazon on his escutcheon a golden lion in an azure field, bearing a lance with a handkerchief at the end of it. Round the border of the escutcheon were depicted the eleven alcaydes vanquished in the battle.* The foregoing is but one of many hardy and heroic deeds done by this brave cavalier in the wars against the Moors, by which he gained great renown and the distinguished appellation of "El de las hazanas," or "He of the exploits."**
* Alcantara, Hist. de Granada, tomo iv. cap. 18; Pulgar, Cron., part iii.
* *Hernan or Hernando del Pulgar, the historian, secretary to Queen Isabella, is confounded with this cavalier by some writers. He was also present at the siege of Baza, and has recounted this transaction in his Chronicle of the Catholic sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella.
CONTINUATION OF THE SIEGE OF BAZA.
The Moorish king, El Zagal, mounted a tower and looked out eagerly to enjoy the sight of the Christian marauders brought captive into the gates of Guadix, but his spirits fell when he beheld his own troops stealing back in the dusk of the evening in broken and dejected parties.
The fortune of war bore hard against the old monarch; his mind was harassed by disastrous tidings brought each day from Baza, of the sufferings of the inhabitants, and the numbers of the garrison slain in the frequent skirmishes. He dared not go in person to the relief of the place, for his presence was necessary in Guadix to keep a check upon his nephew in Granada. He sent reinforcements and supplies, but they were intercepted and either captured or driven back. Still, his situation was in some respects preferable to that of his nephew Boabdil. He was battling like a warrior on the last step of his throne; El Chico remained a kind of pensioned vassal in the luxurious abode of the Alhambra. The chivalrous part of the inhabitants of Granada could not but compare the generous stand made by the warriors of Baza for their country and their faith with their own time-serving submission to the yoke of an unbeliever. Every account they received of the woes of Baza wrung their hearts with agony; every account of the exploits of its devoted defenders brought blushes to their cheeks. Many stole forth secretly with their weapons and hastened to join the besieged, and the partisans of El Zagal wrought upon the patriotism and passions of the remainder until another of those conspiracies was formed that were continually menacing the unsteady throne of Granada. It was concerted by the conspirators to assail the Alhambra on a sudden, slay Boabdil, assemble the troops, and march to Guadix, where, being reinforced by the garrison of that place and led on by the old warrior monarch, they might fall with overwhelming power upon the Christian army before Baza.
Fortunately for Boabdil, he discovered the conspiracy in time, and the heads of the leaders were struck off and placed upon the walls of the Alhambra—an act of severity unusual with this mild and wavering monarch, which struck terror into the disaffected, and produced a kind of mute tranquillity throughout the city.
Ferdinand had full information of all the movements and measures for the relief of Baza, and took precautions to prevent them. Bodies of horsemen held watch in the mountain-passes to prevent supplies and intercept any generous volunteers from Granada, and watch-towers were erected or scouts placed on every commanding height to give the alarm at the least sign of a hostile turban.
The prince Cid Hiaya and his brave companions-in-arms were thus gradually walled up, as it were, from the rest of the world. A line of towers, the battlements of which bristled with troops, girded their city, and behind the intervening bulwarks and palisadoes passed and repassed continual squadrons of troops. Week after week and month after month passed away, but Ferdinand waited in vain for the garrison to be either terrified or starved into surrender. Every day they sallied forth with the spirit and alacrity of troops high fed and flushed with confidence. "The Christian monarch," said the veteran Mohammed Ibn Hassan, "builds his hopes upon our growing faint and desponding—we must manifest unusual cheerfulness and vigor. What would be rashness in other service becomes prudence with us." The prince Cid Hiaya agreed with him in opinion, and sallied forth with his troops upon all kinds of hare-brained exploits. They laid ambushes, concerted surprises, and made the most desperate assaults. The great extent of the Christian works rendered them weak in many parts: against these the Moors directed their attacks, suddenly breaking into them, making a hasty ravage, and bearing off their booty in triumph to the city. Sometimes they would sally forth by passes and clefts of the mountain in the rear of the city which it was difficult to guard, and, hurrying down into the plain, sweep off all cattle and sheep that were grazing near the suburbs and all stragglers from the camp.
These partisan sallies brought on many sharp and bloody encounters, in some of which Don Alonso de Aguilar and the alcayde de los Donceles distinguished themselves greatly. During one of these hot skirmishes, which happened on the skirts of the mountain about twilight, a cavalier named Martin Galindo beheld a powerful Moor dealing deadly blows about him and making great havoc among the Christians. Galindo pressed forward and challenged him to single combat. The Moor was not slow in answering the call.
Couching their lances, they rushed furiously upon each other. At the first shock the Moor was wounded in the face and borne out of his saddle. Before Galindo could check his steed and turn from his career the Moor sprang upon his feet, recovered his lance, and, rushing upon him, wounded him in the head and the arm. Though Galindo was on horseback and the Moor on foot, yet such was the prowess and address of the latter that the Christian knight, being disabled in the arm, was in the utmost peril when his comrades hastened to his assistance. At their approach the valiant pagan retreated slowly up the rocks, keeping them at bay until he found himself among his companions.
Several of the young Spanish cavaliers, stung by the triumph of this Moslem knight, would have challenged others of the Moors to single combat, but King Ferdinand prohibited all vaunting encounters of the kind. He forbade his troops also to provoke skirmishes, well knowing that the Moors were more dextrous than most people in this irregular mode of fighting, and were better acquainted with the ground.
HOW TWO FRIARS FROM THE HOLY LAND ARRIVED AT THE CAMP.
While the holy Christian army (says Fray Antonio Agapida) was thus beleaguering this infidel city of Baza there rode into the camp one day two reverend friars of the order of St. Francis. One was of portly person and authoritative air: he bestrode a goodly steed, well conditioned and well caparisoned, while his companion rode beside him upon a humble hack, poorly accoutred, and, as he rode, he scarcely raised his eyes from the ground, but maintained a meek and lowly air.
The arrival of two friars in the camp was not a matter of much note, for in these holy wars the Church militant continually mingled in the affray, and helmet and cowl were always seen together; but it was soon discovered that these worthy saints-errant were from a far country and on a mission of great import.
They were, in truth, just arrived from the Holy Land, being two of the saintly men who kept vigil over the sepulchre of our Blessed Lord at Jerusalem. He of the tall and portly form and commanding presence was Fray Antonio Millan, prior of the Franciscan convent in the Holy City. He had a full and florid countenance, a sonorous voice, and was round and swelling and copious in his periods, like one accustomed to harangue and to be listened to with deference. His companion was small and spare in form, pale of visage, and soft and silken and almost whispering in speech. "He had a humble and lowly way," says Agapida, "evermore bowing the head, as became one of his calling." Yet he was one of the most active, zealous, and effective brothers of the convent, and when he raised his small black eye from the earth there was a keen glance out of the corner which showed that, though harmless as a dove, he was nevertheless as wise as a serpent.
These holy men had come on a momentous embassy from the grand soldan of Egypt, or, as Agapida terms him in the language of the day, the soldan of Babylon. The league which had been made between that potentate and his arch-foe the Grand Turk, Bajazet II., to unite in arms for the salvation of Granada, as has been mentioned in a previous chapter of this chronicle, had come to naught. The infidel princes had again taken up arms against each other, and had relapsed into their ancient hostility. Still, the grand soldan, as head of the whole Moslem religion, considered himself bound to preserve the kingdom of Granada from the grasp of unbelievers. He despatched, therefore, these two holy friars with letters to the Castilian sovereigns, as well as to the pope and to the king of Naples, remonstrating against the evils done to the Moors of the kingdom of Granada, who were of his faith and kindred whereas it was well known that great numbers of Christians were indulged and protected in the full enjoyment of their property, their liberty, and their faith in his dominions. He insisted, therefore, that this war should cease—that the Moors of Granada should be reinstated in the territory of which they had been dispossessed: otherwise he threatened to put to death all the Christians beneath his sway, to demolish their convents and temples, and to destroy the Holy Sepulchre.
This fearful menace had spread consternation among the Christians of Palestine, and when the intrepid Fray Antonio Millan and his lowly companion departed on their mission they were accompanied far from the gates of Jerusalem by an anxious throng of brethren and disciples, who remained watching them with tearful eyes as long as they were in sight. These holy ambassadors were received with great distinction by King Ferdinand, for men of their cloth had ever high honor and consideration in his court. He had long and frequent conversations with them about the Holy Land, the state of the Christian Church in the dominions of the grand soldan, and of the policy and conduct of that arch-infidel toward it. The portly prior of the Franciscan convent was full and round and oratorical in his replies, and the king expressed himself much pleased with the eloquence of his periods; but the politic monarch was observed to lend a close and attentive ear to the whispering voice of the lowly companion, "whose discourse," adds Agapida, "though modest and low, was clear and fluent and full of subtle wisdom." These holy friars had visited Rome in their journeying, where they had delivered the letter of the soldan to the sovereign pontiff. His Holiness had written by them to the Castilian sovereigns, requesting to know what reply they had to offer to this demand of the Oriental potentate.
The king of Naples also wrote to them on the subject, but in wary terms. He inquired into the cause of this war with the Moors of Granada, and expressed great marvel at its events, as if (says Agapida) both were not notorious throughout all the Christian world. "Nay," adds the worthy friar with becoming indignation, "he uttered opinions savoring of little better than damnable heresy; for he observed that, although the Moors were of a different sect, they ought not to be maltreated without just cause; and hinted that if the Castilian sovereigns did not suffer any crying injury from the Moors, it would be improper to do anything which might draw great damage upon the Christians—as if, when once the sword of the faith was drawn, it ought ever to be sheathed until this scum of heathendom were utterly destroyed or driven from the land. But this monarch," he continues, "was more kindly disposed toward the infidels than was honest and lawful in a Christian prince, and was at that very time in league with the soldan against their common enemy the Grand Turk."
These pious sentiments of the truly Catholic Agapida are echoed by Padre Mariana in his history;* but the worthy chronicler Pedro Abarca attributes the interference of the king of Naples not to lack of orthodoxy in religion, but to an excess of worldly policy, he being apprehensive that should Ferdinand conquer the Moors of Granada he might have time and means to assert a claim of the house of Aragon to the crown of Naples.
* Mariana, lib. 25, cap. 15.
"King Ferdinand," continues the worthy father Pedro Abarca, "was no less master of dissimulation than his cousin of Naples; so he replied to him with the utmost suavity of manner, going into a minute and patient vindication of the war, and taking great apparent pains to inform him of those things which all the world knew, but of which the other pretended to be ignorant."* At the same time he soothed his solicitude about the fate of the Christians in the empire of the grand soldan, assuring him that the great revenue extorted from them in rents and tributes would be a certain protection against the threatened violence.
* Abarca, Anales de Aragon, Rey xxx. cap. 3.
To the pope he made the usual vindication of the war—that it was for the recovery of ancient territory usurped by the Moors, for the punishment of wars and violences inflicted upon the Christians, and, finally, that it was a holy crusade for the glory and advancement of the Church.
"It was a truly edifying sight," says Agapida, "to behold these friars, after they had had their audience of the king, moving about the camp always surrounded by nobles and cavaliers of high and martial renown. These were insatiable in their questions about the Holy Land, the state of the sepulchre of our Lord, and the sufferings of the devoted brethren who guarded it and the pious pilgrims who resorted there to pay their vows. The portly prior of the convent would stand with lofty and shining countenance in the midst of these iron warriors and declaim with resounding eloquence on the history of the sepulchre, but the humbler brother would ever and anon sigh deeply, and in low tones utter some tale of suffering and outrage, at which his steel-clad hearers would grasp the hilts of their swords and mutter between their clenched teeth prayers for another crusade."
The pious friars, having finished their mission to the king and been treated with all due distinction, took their leave, and wended their way to Jaen, to visit the most Catholic of queens. Isabella, whose heart was the seat of piety, received them as sacred men invested with more than human dignity. During their residence at Jaen they were continually in the royal presence: the respectable prior of the convent moved and melted the ladies of the court by his florid rhetoric, but his lowly companion was observed to have continual access to the royal ear. That saintly and soft-spoken messenger (says Agapida) received the reward of his humility; for the queen, moved by his frequent representations, made in all modesty and lowliness of spirit, granted a yearly sum in perpetuity of one thousand ducats in gold for the support of the monks of the Convent of the Holy Sepulchre.*
* "La Reyna dio a los Frayles mil ducados de renta cado ano para el sustento de los religiosos del santo sepulcro, que es la mejor limosna y sustento que hasta nuestros dias ha quedado a estos religiosos de Gerusalem: para donde les dio la Reyna un velo labrado por sus manos, para poner encima de la santa sepultura del Senor."—Garibay, "Compend Hist.," lib. 18, cap. 36.
Moreover, on the departure of these holy ambassadors, the excellent and most Catholic queen delivered to them a veil devoutly embroidered with her own royal hands, to be placed over the Holy Sepulchre;—a precious and inestimable present, which called forth a most eloquent tribute of thanks from the portly prior, but which brought tears into the eyes of his lowly companion.*
* It is proper to mention the result of this mission of the two friars, and which the worthy Agapida has neglected to record. At a subsequent period the Catholic sovereigns sent the distinguished historian, Pietro Martyr of Angleria, as ambassador to the grand soldan. That able man made such representations as were perfectly satisfactory to the Oriental potentate. He also obtained from him the remission of many exactions and extortions heretofore practised upon Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Sepulchre; which, it is presumed, had been gently but cogently detailed to the monarch by the lowly friar. Pietro Martyr wrote an account of his embassy to the grand soldan—a work greatly esteemed by the learned and containing much curious information. It is entitled "De Legatione Babylonica."
HOW QUEEN ISABELLA DEVISED MEANS TO SUPPLY THE ARMY WITH PROVISIONS.
It has been the custom to laud the conduct and address of King Ferdinand in this most arduous and protracted war, but the sage Agapida is more disposed to give credit to the counsels and measures of the queen, who, he observes, though less ostensible in action, was in truth the very soul, the vital principle, of this great enterprise. While King Ferdinand was bustling in his camp and making a glittering display with his gallant chivalry, she, surrounded by her saintly counsellors in the episcopal palace of Jaen, was devising ways and means to keep the king and his army in existence. She had pledged herself to keep up a supply of men and money and provisions until the city should be taken. The hardships of the siege caused a fearful waste of life, but the supply of men was the least difficult part of her undertaking. So beloved was the queen by the chivalry of Spain that on her calling on them for assistance not a grandee or cavalier that yet lingered at home but either repaired in person or sent forces to the camp; the ancient and warlike families vied with each other in marshalling forth their vassals, and thus the besieged Moors beheld each day fresh troops arriving before their city, and new ensigns and pennons displayed emblazoned with arms well known to the veteran warriors.
But the most arduous task was to keep up a regular supply of provisions. It was not the army alone that had to be supported, but also the captured towns and their garrisons; for the whole country around them had been ravaged, and the conquerors were in danger of starving in the midst of the land they had desolated. To transport the daily supplies for such immense numbers was a gigantic undertaking in a country where there was neither water conveyance nor roads for carriages. Everything had to be borne by beasts of burden over rugged and broken paths of mountains and through dangerous defiles exposed to the attacks and plunderings of the Moors.
The wary and calculating merchants accustomed to supply the army shrank from engaging at their own risk in so hazardous an undertaking. The queen therefore hired fourteen thousand beasts of burden, and ordered all the wheat and barley to be brought up in Andalusia and in the domains of the knights of Santiago and Calatrava. She entrusted the administration of these supplies to able and confidential persons. Some were employed to collect the grain; others to take it to the mills; others to superintend the grinding and delivery; and others to convey it to the camp. To every two hundred animals a muleteer was allotted to take charge of them on the route. Thus great lines of convoys were in constant movement, traversing to and fro, guarded by large bodies of troops to defend them from hovering parties of the Moors. Not a single day's intermission was allowed, for the army depended upon the constant arrival of the supplies for daily food. The grain when brought into the camp was deposited in an immense granary, and sold to the army at a fixed price, which was never either raised or lowered.
Incredible were the expenses incurred in these supplies, but the queen had ghostly advisers thoroughly versed in the art of getting at the resources of the country. Many worthy prelates opened the deep purses of the Church, and furnished loans from the revenues of their dioceses and convents, and their pious contributions were eventually rewarded by Providence a hundred-fold. Merchants and other wealthy individuals, confident of the punctual faith of the queen, advanced large sums on the security of her word; many noble families lent their plate without waiting to be asked. The queen also sold certain annual rents in inheritance at great sacrifices, assigning the revenues of towns and cities for the payment. Finding all this insufficient to satisfy the enormous expenditure, she sent her gold and plate and all her jewels to the cities of Valencia and Barcelona, where they were pledged for a great amount of money, which was immediately appropriated to keep up the supplies of the army.
Thus through the wonderful activity, judgment, and enterprise of this heroic and magnanimous woman a great host, encamped in the heart of the warlike country accessible only over mountain-roads, was maintained in continual abundance. Nor was it supplied merely with the necessaries and comforts of life. The powerful escorts drew merchants and artificers from all parts to repair, as if in caravans, to this great military market. In a little while the camp abounded with tradesmen and artists of all kinds to administer to the luxury and ostentation of the youthful chivalry. Here might be seen cunning artificers in steel and accomplished armorers achieving those rare and sumptuous helmets and cuirasses, richly gilt, inlaid, and embossed, in which the Spanish cavaliers delighted. Saddlers and harness-makers and horse-milliners also were there, whose tents glittered with gorgeous housings and caparisons. The merchants spread forth their sumptuous silks, cloths, brocades, fine linen, and tapestry. The tents of the nobility were prodigally decorated with all kinds of the richest stuffs and dazzled the eye with their magnificence, nor could the grave looks and grave speeches of King Ferdinand prevent his youthful cavaliers from vying with each other in the splendor of their dresses and caparisons on all occasions of parade and ceremony.
OF THE DISASTERS WHICH BEFELL THE CAMP.
While the Christian camp, thus gay and gorgeous, spread itself out like a holiday pageant before the walls of Baza, while a long line of beasts of burden laden with provisions and luxuries were seen descending the valley from morning till night, and pouring into the camp a continued stream of abundance, the unfortunate garrison found their resources rapidly wasting away, and famine already began to pinch the peaceful part of the community.
Cid Hiaya had acted with great spirit and valor as long as there was any prospect of success; but he began to lose his usual fire and animation, and was observed to pace the walls of Baza with a pensive air, casting many a wistful look toward the Christian camp, and sinking into profound reveries and cogitations. The veteran alcayde, Mohammed Ibn Hassan, noticed these desponding moods, and endeavored to rally the spirits of the prince. "The rainy season is at hand," would he cry; "the floods will soon pour down from the mountains; the rivers will overflow their banks and inundate the valleys. The Christian king already begins to waver; he dare not linger and encounter such a season in a plain cut up by canals and rivulets. A single wintry storm from our mountains would wash away his canvas city and sweep off those gay pavilions like wreaths of snow before the blast."
The prince Cid Hiaya took heart at these words, and counted the days as they passed until the stormy season should commence. As he watched the Christian camp he beheld it one morning in universal commotion: there was an unusual sound of hammers in every part, as if some new engines of war were constructing. At length, to his astonishment, the walls and roofs of houses began to appear above the bulwarks. In a little while there were above a thousand edifices of wood and plaster erected, covered with tiles taken from the demolished towers of the orchards and bearing the pennons of various commanders and cavaliers, while the common soldiery constructed huts of clay and branches of trees thatched with straw. Thus, to the dismay of the Moors, within four days the light tents and gay pavilions which had whitened their hills and plains passed away like summer clouds, and the unsubstantial camp assumed the solid appearance of a city laid out into streets and squares. In the centre rose a large edifice which overlooked the whole, and the royal standard of Aragon and Castile, proudly floating above it, showed it to be the palace of the king.*
* Cura de los Palacios, Pulgar, etc.
Ferdinand had taken the sudden resolution thus to turn his camp into a city, partly to provide against the approaching season, and partly to convince the Moors of his fixed determination to continue the siege. In their haste to erect their dwellings, however, the Spanish cavaliers had not properly considered the nature of the climate. For the greater part of the year there scarcely falls a drop of rain on the thirsty soil of Andalusia. The ramblas, or dry channels of the torrents, remain deep and arid gashes and clefts in the sides of the mountains; the perennial streams shrink up to mere threads of water, which, trickling down the bottoms of the deep barrancas, or ravines, scarce feed and keep alive the rivers of the valleys. The rivers, almost lost in their wide and naked beds, seem like thirsty rills winding in serpentine mazes through deserts of sand and stones, and so shallow and tranquil in their course as to be forded in safety in almost every part. One autumnal tempest, however, changes the whole face of nature: the clouds break in deluges among the vast congregation of mountains; the ramblas are suddenly filled with raging floods; the tinkling rivulets swell to thundering torrents that come roaring down from the mountains, tumbling great masses of rocks in their career. The late meandering river spreads over its once-naked bed, lashes its surges against the banks, and rushes like a wide and foaming inundation through the valley.
Scarcely had the Christians finished their slightly built edifices when an autumnal tempest of the kind came scouring from the mountains. The camp was immediately overflowed. Many of the houses, undermined by the floods or beaten by the rain, crumbled away and fell to the earth, burying man and beast beneath their ruins. Several valuable lives were lost, and great numbers of horses and other animals perished. To add to the distress and confusion of the camp, the daily supply of provisions suddenly ceased, for the rain had broken up the roads and rendered the rivers impassable. A panic seized upon the army, for the cessation of a single day's supply produced a scarcity of bread and provender. Fortunately, the rain was but transient: the torrents rushed by and ceased; the rivers shrank back again to their narrow channels, and the convoys which had been detained upon their banks arrived safely in the camp.
No sooner did Queen Isabella hear of this interruption of her supplies than, with her usual vigilance and activity, she provided against its recurrence. She despatched six thousand foot-soldiers, under the command of experienced officers, to repair the roads and to make causeways and bridges for the distance of seven Spanish leagues. The troops also who had been stationed in the mountains by the king to guard the defiles made two paths, one for the convoys going to the camp, and the other for those returning, that they might not meet and impede each other. The edifices which had been demolished by the late floods were rebuilt in a firmer manner, and precautions were taken to protect the camp from future inundations.
ENCOUNTERS BETWEEN THE CHRISTIANS AND MOORS BEFORE BAZA, AND THE DEVOTION OF THE INHABITANTS TO THE DEFENCE OF THEIR CITY.
When King Ferdinand beheld the ravage and confusion produced by a single autumnal storm, and bethought him of all the maladies to which a besieging camp is exposed in inclement seasons, he began to feel his compassion kindling for the suffering people of Baza, and an inclination to grant them more favorable terms. He sent, therefore, several messages to the alcayde Mohammed Ibn Hassan offering liberty of person and security of property for the inhabitants and large rewards for himself if he would surrender the city.
The veteran was not to be dazzled by the splendid offers of the monarch: he had received exaggerated accounts of the damage done to the Christian camp by the late storm, and of the sufferings and discontents of the army in consequence of the transient interruption of supplies: he considered the overtures of Ferdinand as proofs of the desperate state of his affairs. "A little more patience, a little more patience," said the shrewd old warrior, "and we shall see this cloud of Christian locusts driven away before the winter storms. When they once turn their backs, it will be our turn to strike; and, with the help of Allah, the blow shall be decisive." He sent a firm though courteous refusal to the Castilian monarch, and in the mean time animated his companions to sally forth with more spirit than ever to attack the Spanish outposts and those laboring in the trenches. The consequence was a daily occurrence of daring and bloody skirmishes that cost the lives of many of the bravest and most adventurous cavaliers of either army.
In one of these sallies nearly three hundred horse and two thousand foot mounted the heights behind the city to capture the Christians who were employed upon the works. They came by surprise upon a body of guards, esquires of the count de Urena, killed some, put the rest to flight, and pursued them down the mountain until they came in sight of a small force under the count de Tendilla and Gonsalvo of Cordova. The Moors came rushing down with such fury that many of the men of the count de Tendilla took to flight. The count braced his buckler, grasped his trusty weapon, and stood his ground with his accustomed prowess. Gonsalvo of Cordova ranged himself by his side, and, marshalling the troops which remained with them, they made a valiant front to the Moors.
The infidels pressed them hard, and were gaining the advantage when Alonso de Aguilar, hearing of the danger of his brother Gonsalvo, flew to his assistance, accompanied by the count of Urena and a body of their troops. A fight ensued from cliff to cliff and glen to glen. The Moors were fewer in number, but excelled in the dexterity and lightness requisite for scrambling skirmishes. They were at length driven from their vantage-ground, and pursued by Alonso de Aguilar and his brother Gonsalvo to the very suburbs of the city, leaving many of their bravest men upon the field.
Such was one of innumerable rough encounters daily taking place, in which many brave cavaliers were slain without apparent benefit to either party. The Moors, notwithstanding repeated defeats and losses, continued to sally forth daily with astonishing spirit and vigor, and the obstinacy of their defence seemed to increase with their sufferings.
The prince Cid Hiaya was ever foremost in these sallies, but grew daily more despairing of success. All the money in the military chest was expended, and there was no longer wherewithal to pay the hired troops. Still, the veteran Mohammed undertook to provide for this emergency. Summoning the principal inhabitants, he represented the necessity of some exertion and sacrifice on their part to maintain the defence of the city. "The enemy," said he, "dreads the approach of winter, and our perseverance drives him to despair. A little longer, and he will leave you in quiet enjoyment of your homes and families. But our troops must be paid to keep them in good heart. Our money is exhausted and all our supplies are cut off. It is impossible to continue our defence without your aid."
Upon this the citizens consulted together, and collected all their vessels of gold and silver and brought them to Mohammed. "Take these," said they, "and coin or sell or pledge them for money wherewith to pay the troops." The women of Baza also were seized with generous emulation. "Shall we deck ourselves with gorgeous apparel," said they, "when our country is desolate and its defenders in want of bread?" So they took their collars and bracelets and anklets and other ornaments of gold, and all their jewels, and put them in the hands of the veteran alcayde. "Take these spoils of our vanity," said they, "and let them contribute to the defence of our homes and families. If Baza be delivered, we need no jewels to grace our rejoicing; and if Baza fall, of what avail are ornaments to the captive?"
By these contributions was Mohammed enabled to pay the soldiery and carry on the defence of the city with unabated spirit.
Tidings were speedily conveyed to King Ferdinand of this generous devotion on the part of the people of Baza, and the hopes which the Moorish commanders gave them that the Christian army would soon abandon the siege in despair. "They shall have a convincing proof of the fallacy of such hopes," said the politic monarch: so he wrote forthwith to Queen Isabella praying her to come to the camp in state, with all her train and retinue, and publicly to take up her residence there for the winter. By this means the Moors would be convinced of the settled determination of the sovereigns to persist in the siege until the city should surrender, and he trusted they would be brought to speedy capitulation.
HOW QUEEN ISABELLA ARRIVED AT THE CAMP, AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF HER ARRIVAL.
Mohammed Ibn Hassan still encouraged his companions with hopes that the royal army would soon relinquish the siege, when they heard one day shouts of joy from the Christian camp and thundering salvos of artillery. Word was brought at the same time, from the sentinels on the watch-towers, that a Christian army was approaching down the valley. Mohammed and his fellow-commanders ascended one of the highest towers of the walls, and beheld in truth a numerous force in shining array descending the hills, and heard the distant clangor of the trumpet and the faint swell of triumphant music.
As the host drew nearer they descried a stately dame magnificently attired, whom they soon discovered to be the queen. She was riding on a mule the sumptuous trappings of which were resplendent with gold and reached to the ground. On her right hand rode her daughter, the princess Isabella, equally splendid in her array, and on her left the venerable grand cardinal of Spain. A noble train of ladies and cavaliers followed, together with pages and esquires, and a numerous guard of hidalgos of high rank arrayed in superb armor. When the veteran Mohammed beheld the queen thus arriving in state to take up her residence in the camp, he shook his head mournfully, and, turning to his captains, "Cavaliers," said he, "the fate of Baza is decided."
The Moorish commanders remained gazing with a mingled feeling of grief and admiration at this magnificent pageant, which foreboded the fall of their city. Some of the troops would have sallied forth on one of their desperate skirmishes to attack the royal guard, but the prince Cid Hiaya forbade them; nor would he allow any artillery to be discharged or any molestation or insult offered; for the character of Isabella was venerated even by the Moors, and most of the commanders possessed that high and chivalrous courtesy which belongs to heroic spirits, for they were among the noblest and bravest of the Moorish cavaliers.
The inhabitants of Baza eagerly sought every eminence that could command a view of the plain, and every battlement and tower and mosque was covered with turbaned heads gazing at the glorious spectacle. They beheld King Ferdinand issue forth in royal state, attended by the marques of Cadiz, the master of Santiago, the duke of Alva, the admiral of Castile, and many other nobles of renown, while the whole chivalry of the camp, sumptuously arrayed, followed in his train, and the populace rent the air with acclamations at the sight of the patriotic queen.
When the sovereigns had met and embraced, the two hosts mingled together and entered the camp in martial pomp, and the eyes of the infidel beholders were dazzled by the flash of armor, the splendor of golden caparisons, the gorgeous display of silks, brocades, and velvets, of tossing plumes and fluttering banners. There was at the same time a triumphant sound of drums and trumpets, clarions and sackbuts, mingled with the sweet melody of the dulcimer, which came swelling in bursts of harmony that seemed to rise up to the heavens.*
* Cura de los Palacios, c. 92.
On the arrival of the queen (says the historian Hernando del Pulgar, who was present at the time) it was marvellous to behold how all at once the rigor and turbulence of war were softened and the storm of passion sank into a calm. The sword was sheathed, the crossbow no longer launched its deadly shafts, and the artillery, which had hitherto kept up an incessant uproar, now ceased its thundering. On both sides there was still a vigilant guard kept up; the sentinels bristled the walls of Baza with their lances, and the guards patrolled the Christian camp, but there was no sallying forth to skirmish nor any wanton violence or carnage.*
* Many particulars of the scenes and occurrences at the siege of Baza are also furnished in the letters of the learned Peter Martyr, who was present and an admiring eye-witness.
Prince Cid Hiaya saw by the arrival of the queen that the Christians were determined to continue the siege, and he knew that the city would have to capitulate. He had been prodigal of the lives of his soldiers as long as he thought a military good was to be gained by the sacrifice; but he was sparing of their blood in a hopeless cause, and weary of exasperating the enemy by an obstinate yet hopeless defence.
At the request of the prince a parley was granted, and the master commander of Leon, Don Gutierrez de Cardenas, was appointed to confer with the veteran alcayde Mohammed. They met at an appointed place, within view of both camp and city, attended by cavaliers of either army. Their meeting was highly courteous, for they had learnt, from rough encounters in the field, to admire each other's prowess. The commander of Leon in an earnest speech pointed out the hopelessness of any further defence, and warned Mohammed of the ills which Malaga had incurred by its obstinacy. "I promise in the name of my sovereigns," said he, "that if you surrender immediately the inhabitants shall be treated as subjects and protected in property, liberty, and religion. If you refuse, you, who are now renowned as an able and judicious commander, will be chargeable with the confiscations, captivities, and deaths which may be suffered by the people of Baza."
The commander ceased, and Mohammed returned to the city to consult with his companions. It was evident that all further resistance was hopeless, but the Moorish commanders felt that a cloud might rest upon their names should they, of their own discretion, surrender so important a place without its having sustained an assault. Prince Cid Hiaya requested permission, therefore, to send an envoy to Guadix, with a letter to the old monarch, El Zagal, treating of the surrender: the request was granted, a safe conduct assured to the envoy, and Mohammed Ibn Hassan departed upon this momentous mission.
THE SURRENDER OF BAZA.
The old warrior-king was seated in an inner chamber of the castle of Guadix, much cast down in spirit and ruminating on his gloomy fortunes, when an envoy from Baza was announced, and the veteran alcayde Mohammed stood before him. El Zagal saw disastrous tidings written in his countenance. "How fares it with Baza," said he, summoning up his spirits to the question. "Let this inform thee," replied Mohammed, and he delivered into his hands the letter from the prince Cid Hiaya.
This letter spoke of the desperate situation of Baza, the impossibility of holding out longer without assistance from El Zagal, and the favorable terms held out by the Castilian sovereigns. Had it been written by any other person, El Zagal might have received it with distrust and indignation; but he confided in Cid Hiaya as in a second self, and the words of his letter sank deep in his heart. When he had finished reading it, he sighed deeply, and remained for some time lost in thought, with his head drooping upon his bosom. Recovering himself at length, he called together the alfaquis and the old men of Guadix and solicited their advice. It was sign of sore trouble of mind and dejection of heart when El Zagal sought the advice of others, but his fierce courage was tamed, for he saw the end of his power approaching. The alfaquis and the old men did but increase the distraction of his mind by a variety of counsel, none of which appeared of any avail, for unless Baza were succored it was impossible that it should hold out; and every attempt to succor it had proved ineffectual. El Zagal dismissed his council in despair, and summoned the veteran Mohammed before him. "God is great," exclaimed he; "there is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet! Return to my cousin, Cid Hiaya; tell him it is out of my power to aid him; he must do as seems to him for the best. The people of Baza have performed deeds worthy of immortal fame; I cannot ask them to encounter further ills and perils in maintaining a hopeless defence."
The reply of El Zagal determined the fate of the city. Cid Hiaya and his fellow-commanders capitulated, and were granted the most favorable terms. The cavaliers and soldiers who had come from other parts to the defence of the place were permitted to depart with their arms, horses, and effects. The inhabitants had their choice either to depart with their property or dwell in the suburbs in the enjoyment of their religion and laws, taking an oath of fealty to the sovereigns and paying the same tribute they had paid to the Moorish kings. The city and citadel were to be delivered up in six days, within which period the inhabitants were to remove all their effects; and in the mean time they were to place as hostages fifteen Moorish youths, sons of the principal inhabitants, in the hands of the commander of Leon. When Cid Hiaya and the alcayde Mohammed came to deliver up the hostages, among whom were the sons of the latter, they paid homage to the king and queen, who received them with the utmost courtesy and kindness, and ordered magnificent presents to be given to them, and likewise to the other Moorish cavaliers, consisting of money, robes, horses, and other things of great value.
The prince Cid Hiaya was so captivated by the grace, the dignity, and generosity of Isabella and the princely courtesy of Ferdinand that he vowed never again to draw his sword against such magnanimous sovereigns. The queen, charmed with his gallant bearing and his animated professions of devotion, assured him that, having him on her side, she already considered the war terminated which had desolated the kingdom of Granada.
Mighty and irresistible are words of praise from the lips of sovereigns. Cid Hiaya was entirely subdued by this fair speech from the illustrious Isabella. His heart burned with a sudden flame of loyalty toward the sovereigns. He begged to be enrolled amongst the most devoted of their subjects, and in the fervor of his sudden zeal engaged not merely to dedicate his sword to their service, but to exert all his influence, which was great, in persuading his cousin, Muley Abdallah el Zagal, to surrender the cities of Guadix and Almeria and to give up all further hostilities. Nay, so powerful was the effect produced upon his mind by his conversation with the sovereigns that it extended even to his religion; for he became immediately enlightened as to the heathenish abominations of the vile sect of Mahomet, and struck with the truths of Christianity as illustrated by such powerful monarchs. He consented, therefore, to be baptized and to be gathered into the fold of the Church. The pious Agapida indulges in a triumphant strain of exultation on the sudden and surprising conversion of this princely infidel: he considers it one of the greatest achievements of the Catholic sovereigns, and indeed one of the marvellous occurrences of this holy war. "But it is given to saints and pious monarchs," says he, "to work miracles in the cause of the faith; and such did the most Catholic Ferdinand in the conversion of the prince Cid Hiaya."
Some of the Arabian writers have sought to lessen the wonder of this miracle by alluding to great revenues granted to the prince and his heirs by the Castilian monarchs, together with a territory in Marchena, with towns, lands, and vassals; but in this (says Agapida) we only see a wise precaution of King Ferdinand to clinch and secure the conversion of his proselyte. The policy of the Catholic monarch was at all times equal to his piety. Instead also of vaunting of this great conversion and making a public parade of the entry of the prince into the Church, King Ferdinand ordered that the baptism should be performed in private and kept a profound secret. He feared that Cid Hiaya might otherwise be denounced as an apostate and abhorred and abandoned by the Moors, and thus his influence destroyed in bringing the war to a speedy termination.*
* Conde, tom. 3, cap. 40.
The veteran Mohammed Ibn Hassan was likewise won by the magnanimity and munificence of the Castilian sovereigns, and entreated to be received into their service; and his example was followed by many other Moorish cavaliers, whose services were generously accepted and magnificently rewarded.
Thus; after a siege of six months and twenty days, the city of Baza surrendered on the 4th of December, 1489, the festival of the glorious Santa Barbara, who is said in the Catholic calendar to preside over thunder and lightning, fire and gunpowder, and all kinds of combustious explosions. The king and queen made their solemn and triumphant entry on the following day, and the public joy was heightened by the sight of upward of five hundred Christian captives, men, women, and children, delivered from the Moorish dungeons.
The loss of the Christians in this siege amounted to twenty thousand men, of whom seventeen thousand died of disease, and not a few of mere cold—a kind of death (says the historian Mariana) peculiarly uncomfortable; but (adds the venerable Jesuit) as these latter were chiefly people of ignoble rank, baggage-carriers and such-like, the loss was not of great importance.
The surrender of Baza was followed by that of Almunecar, Tavernas, and most of the fortresses of the Alpuxarras mountains; the inhabitants hoped by prompt and voluntary submission to secure equally favorable terms with those granted to the captured city, and the alcaydes to receive similar rewards to those lavished on its commanders; nor were either of them disappointed. The inhabitants were permitted to remain as mudexares in the quiet enjoyment of their property and religion; and as to the alcaydes, when they came to the camp to render up their charges they were received by Ferdinand with distinguished favor, and rewarded with presents of money in proportion to the importance of the places they had commanded. Care was taken by the politic monarch, however, not to wound their pride nor shock their delicacy; so these sums were paid under color of arrears due to them for their services to the former government. Ferdinand had conquered by dint of sword in the earlier part of the war, but he found gold as potent as steel in this campaign of Baza.
With several of these mercenary chieftains came one named Ali Aben Fahar, a seasoned warrior who had held many important commands. He was a Moor of a lofty, stern, and melancholy aspect, and stood silent and apart while his companions surrendered their several fortresses and retired laden with treasure. When it came to his turn to speak, he addressed the sovereigns with the frankness of a soldier, but with the tone of dejection and despair.
"I am a Moor," said he, "and of Moorish lineage, and am alcayde of the fair towns and castles of Purchena and Paterna. These were entrusted to me to defend, but those who should have stood by me have lost all strength and courage and seek only for security. These fortresses, therefore, most potent sovereigns, are yours whenever you will send to take possession of them."
Large sums of gold were immediately ordered by Ferdinand to be delivered to the alcayde as a recompense for so important a surrender. The Moor, however, put back the gift with a firm and dignified demeanor. "I came not," said he, "to sell what is not mine, but to yield what fortune has made yours; and Your Majesties may rest assured that had I been properly seconded death would have been the price at which I would have sold my fortresses, and not the gold you offer me."
The Castilian monarchs were struck with the lofty and loyal spirit of the Moor, and desired to engage a man of such fidelity in their service; but the proud Moslem could not be induced to serve the enemies of his nation and his faith.
"Is there nothing, then," said Queen Isabella, "that we can do to gratify thee, and to prove to thee our regard?"—"Yes," replied the Moor; "I have left behind me, in the towns and valleys which I have surrendered, many of my unhappy countrymen, with their wives and children, who cannot tear themselves from their native abodes. Give me your royal word that they shall be protected in the peaceable enjoyment of their religion and their homes."—"We promise it," said Isabella; "they shall dwell in peace and security. But for thyself—what dost thou ask for thyself?"—"Nothing," replied Ali, "but permission to pass unmolested with my horses and effects into Africa."
The Castilian monarchs would fain have forced upon him gold and silver and superb horses richly caparisoned, not as rewards, but as marks of personal esteem; but Ali Aben Fahar declined all presents and distinctions, as if he thought it criminal to flourish individually during a time of public distress, and disdained all prosperity that seemed to grow out of the ruins of his country.
Having received a royal passport, he gathered together his horses and servants, his armor and weapons, and all his warlike effects, bade adieu to his weeping countrymen with a brow stamped with anguish, but without shedding a tear, and, mounting his Barbary steed, turned his back upon the delightful valleys of his conquered country, departing on his lonely way to seek a soldier's fortune amidst the burning sands of Africa.*
* Pulgar, part 3, cap. 124; Garibay, lib. 40, cap. 40; Cura de los Palacios.
SUBMISSION OF EL ZAGAL TO THE CASTILIAN SOVEREIGNS.
Evil tidings never fail by the way through lack of messengers: they are wafted on the wings of the wind, and it is as if the very birds of the air would bear them to the ear of the unfortunate. The old king El Zagal buried himself in the recesses of his castle to hide himself from the light of day, which no longer shone prosperously upon him, but every hour brought missives thundering at the gate with the tale of some new disaster. Fortress after fortress had laid its keys at the feet of the Christian sovereigns: strip after strip of warrior mountain and green fruitful valleys was torn from his domains and added to the territories of the conquerors. Scarcely a remnant remained to him, except a tract of the Alpuxarras and the noble cities of Guadix and Almeria. No one any longer stood in awe of the fierce old monarch; the terror of his frown had declined with his power. He had arrived at that state of adversity when a man's friends feel emboldened to tell him hard truths and to give him unpalatable advice, and when his spirit is bowed down to listen quietly if not meekly.
El Zagal was seated on his divan, his whole spirit absorbed in rumination on the transitory nature of human glory, when his kinsman and brother-in-law, the prince Cid Hiaya, was announced. That illustrious convert to the true faith and the interests of the conquerors of his country had hastened to Guadix with all the fervor of a new proselyte, eager to prove his zeal in the service of Heaven and the Castilian sovereigns by persuading the old monarch to abjure his faith and surrender his possessions.
Cid Hiaya still bore the guise of a Moslem, for his conversion was as yet a secret. The stern heart of El Zagal softened at beholding the face of a kinsman in this hour of adversity. He folded his cousin to his bosom, and gave thanks to Allah that amidst all his troubles he had still a friend and counsellor on whom he might rely.
Cid Hiaya soon entered upon the real purpose of his mission. He represented to El Zagal the desperate state of affairs and the irretrievable decline of Moorish power in the kingdom of Granada. "Fate," said he, "is against our arms; our ruin is written in the heavens. Remember the prediction of the astrologers at the birth of your nephew Boabdil. We hoped that their prediction was accomplished by his capture at Lucena; but it is now evident that the stars portended not a temporary and passing reverse of the kingdom, but a final overthrow. The constant succession of disasters which have attended our efforts show that the sceptre of Granada is doomed to pass into the hands of the Christian monarchs. Such," concluded the prince emphatically, and with a profound and pious reverence,—"such is the almighty will of God."
El Zagal listened to these words in mute attention, without so much as moving a muscle of his face or winking an eyelid. When the prince had concluded he remained for a long time silent and pensive; at length, heaving a profound sigh from the very bottom of his heart, "Alahuma subahana hu!" exclaimed he—"the will of God be done! Yes, my cousin, it is but too evident that such is the will of Allah; and what he wills he fails not to accomplish. Had not he decreed the fall of Granada, this arm and this scimetar would have maintained it."*
* Conde, tom. 3, c. 40.
"What then remains," said Cid Hiaya, "but to draw the most advantage from the wreck of empire left to you? To persist in a war is to bring complete desolation upon the land and ruin and death upon its faithful inhabitants. Are you disposed to yield up your remaining towns to your nephew El Chico, that they may augment his power and derive protection from his alliance with the Christian sovereigns?"
The eye of El Zagal flashed fire at this suggestion. He grasped the hilt of his scimetar and gnashed his teeth in fury. "Never," cried he, "will I make terms with that recreant and slave. Sooner would I see the banners of the Christian monarchs floating above my walls than they should add to the possessions of the vassal Boabdil!"
Cid Hiaya immediately seized upon this idea, and urged El Zagal to make a frank and entire surrender. "Trust," said he, "to the magnanimity of the Castilian sovereigns; they will doubtless grant you high and honorable terms. It is better to yield to them as friends what they must infallibly and before long wrest from you as enemies; for such, my cousin, is the almighty will of God."
"Alahuma subahana hu!" repeated El Zagal—"the will of God be done!" So the old monarch bowed his haughty neck and agreed to surrender his territories to the enemies of his faith, rather than suffer them to augment the Moslem power under the sway of his nephew.
Cid Hiaya now returned to Baza, empowered by El Zagal to treat on his behalf with the Christian sovereigns. The prince felt a species of exultation as he expatiated on the rich relics of empire which he was authorized to cede. There was a great part of that line of mountains extending from the metropolis to the Mediterranean Sea, with their series of beautiful green valleys like precious emeralds set in a golden chain. Above all, there were Guadix and Almeria, two of the most inestimable jewels in the crown of Granada.
In return for these possessions and for the claim of El Zagal to the rest of the kingdom the sovereigns received him into their friendship and alliance, and gave him in perpetual inheritance the territory of Andarax and the valley of Alhaurin in the Alpuxarras, with the fourth part of the salinas or salt-pits of Malaha. He was to enjoy the title of king of Andarax, with two thousand mudexares, or conquered Moors, for subjects, and his revenues were to be made up to the sum of four millions of maravedis. All these he was to hold as a vassal of the Castilian Crown.
These arrangements being made, Cid Hiaya returned with them to Muley Abdallah, and it was concerted that the ceremony of surrender and homage should take place at the city of Almeria.
On the 17th of December, King Ferdinand departed for that city. Cid Hiaya and his principal officers, incorporated with a division commanded by the count de Tendilla, marched in the van-guard. The king was with the centre of the army, and the queen with the rear-guard. In this martial state Ferdinand passed by several of the newly-acquired towns, exulting in these trophies of his policy rather than his valor. In traversing the mountainous region which extends toward the Mediterranean the army suffered exceedingly from raging vandavales, or south-west gales, accompanied by snow-storms. Several of the soldiers and many horses and beasts perished with the cold. One of the divisions under the marques of Cadiz found it impossible to traverse in one day the frozen summits of Filabres, and had to pass the night in those inclement regions. The marques caused two immense fires to be kindled in the vicinity of his encampment to guide and enlighten those lost and wandering among the defiles, and to warm those who were benumbed and almost frozen.
The king halted at Tavernas, to collect his scattered troops and give them time to breathe after the hardships of the mountains. The queen was travelling a day's march in the rear.
On the 21st of December the king arrived and encamped in the vicinity of Almeria. Understanding that El Zagal was sallying forth to pay him homage according to appointment, he mounted on horseback and rode forth to receive him, attended by Don Alonso de Cardenas, master of Santiago, on his right hand, and the marques of Cadiz on his left, and despatched in the advance Don Gutierrez de Cardenas, commander of Leon, and other cavaliers to meet and form an honorable escort to the Moorish monarch. With this escort went that curious eye-witness, Peter Martyr, from whom we have many of these particulars.
El Zagal was accompanied by twelve cavaliers on horseback, among whom was his cousin, the prince Cid Hiaya (who had no doubt joined him from the Spanish camp), and the brave Reduan Vanegas. Peter Martyr declares that the appearance of El Zagal touched him with compassion, for, though a "lawless barbarian, he was a king and had given signal proofs of heroism." The historian Palencia gives us a particular description of his appearance. He was, says he, of elevated stature and well proportioned, neither robust nor meagre; the natural fairness of his countenance was increased by an extreme paleness which gave it a melancholy expression. His aspect was grave; his movements were quiet, noble, and dignified. He was modestly attired in a garb of mourning—a sayo, or loose surcoat, of dark cloth, a simple albornoz or Moorish mantle, and a turban of dazzling whiteness.
On being met by the commander, Gutierrez de Cardenas, El Zagal saluted him courteously, as well as the cavaliers who accompanied him, and rode on, conversing with him through the medium of interpreters. Beholding King Ferdinand and his splendid train at a distance, he alighted and advanced toward him on foot. The punctilious Ferdinand, supposing this voluntary act of humiliation had been imposed by Don Gutierrez, told that cavalier, with some asperity, that it was an act of great discourtesy to cause a vanquished king to alight before another king who was victorious. At the same time he made him signs to remount his horse and place himself by his side. El Zagal, persisting in his act of homage, offered to kiss the king's hand, but, being prevented by that monarch, he kissed his own hand, as the Moorish cavaliers were accustomed to do in presence of their sovereigns, and accompanied the gesture by a few words expressive of obedience and fealty. Ferdinand replied in a gracious and amiable manner, and, causing him to remount and place himself on his left hand, they proceeded, followed by the whole train, to the royal pavilion pitched in the most conspicuous part of the camp.