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Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada by Washington Irving

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fortunes withered under it. He was looked upon as the enemy of
his faith and of his country. The cities shut their gates against him;
the people cursed him; even the scanty band of cavaliers who had
hitherto followed his ill-starred banner began to desert him, for he
had not wherewithal to reward nor even to support them. His spirits
sank with his fortune, and he feared that in a little time he should
not have a spot of earth whereon to plant his standard nor an
adherent to rally under it.

In the midst of his despondency he received a message from his
lion-hearted mother, the sultana Ayxa la Horra. It was brought by
the steadfast adherent to their fortunes, Aben Comixa. "For shame,''
said she, "to linger timorously about the borders of your kingdom
when a usurper is seated in your capital! Why look abroad for
perfidious aid when you have loyal hearts beating true to you in
Granada? The Albaycin is ready to throw open its gates to receive
you. Strike home vigorously--a sudden blow may mend all or make an
end. A throne or a grave!--for a king there is no honorable medium."

Boabdil was of an undecided character, but there are circumstances
which bring the most wavering to a decision, and when once resolved
they are apt to act with a daring impulse unknown to steadier
judgments. The message of the sultana roused him from a dream.
Granada, beautiful Granada, with its stately Alhambra, its delicious
gardens, its gushing and limpid fountains sparkling among groves
of orange, citron, and myrtle, rose before him. "What have I done,"
exclaimed he, "that I should be an exile from this paradise of my
forefathers--a wanderer and fugitive in my own kingdom, while a
murderous usurper sits proudly upon my throne? Surely Allah will
befriend the righteous cause; one blow, and all may be my own."

He summoned his scanty band of cavaliers. "Who is ready to follow
his monarch unto the death?" said he; and every one laid his hand
upon his scimetar. "Enough!" said he; "let each man arm himself
and prepare his steed in secret for an enterprise of toil and peril;
if we succeed, our reward is empire."



"In the hand of God," exclaimed an old Arabian chronicler, "is the
destiny of princes; he alone giveth empire. A Moorish horseman,
mounted on a fleet Arabian steed, was one day traversing the
mountains which extended between Granada and the frontier of Murcia.
He galloped swiftly through the valleys, but paused and looked out
cautiously from the summit of every height. A squadron of cavaliers
followed warily at a distance. There were fifty lances. The richness
of their armor and attire showed them to be warriors of noble rank,
and their leader had a lofty and prince-like demeanor.'' The
squadron thus described by the Arabian chronicler was the Moorish
king Boabdil and his devoted followers.

For two nights and a day they pursued their adventurous journey,
avoiding all populous parts of the country and choosing the most
solitary passes of the mountains. They suffered severe hardships and
fatigues, but suffered without a murmur: they were accustomed to
rugged campaigning, and their steeds were of generous and unyielding
spirit. It was midnight, and all was dark and silent as they descended
from the mountains and approached the city of Granada. They passed
along quietly under the shadow of its walls, until they arrived near the
gate of the Albaycin. Here Boabdil ordered his followers to halt and
remain concealed. Taking but four or five with him, he advanced
resolutely to the gate and knocked with the hilt of his scimetar. The
guards demanded who sought to enter at that unseasonable hour.
"Your king!" exclaimed Boabdil; "open the gate and admit him!"

The guards held forth a light and recognized the person of the
youthful monarch. They were struck with sudden awe and threw
open the gates, and Boabdil and his followers entered unmolested.
They galloped to the dwellings of the principal inhabitants of the
Albaycin, thundering at their portals and summoning them to arise
and take arms for their rightful sovereign. The summons was
instantly obeyed: trumpets resounded throughout the streets--the
gleam of torches and the flash of arms showed the Moors hurrying to
their gathering-places; by daybreak the whole force of the Albaycin
was rallied under the standard of Boabdil, and Aben Comixa was
made alcayde of the fortress. Such was the success of this sudden
and desperate act of the young monarch, for we are assured by
contemporary historians that there had been no previous concert or
arrangement. "As the guards opened the gates of the city to admit
him," observes a pious chronicler, "so God opened the hearts of the
Moors to receive him as their king."*


In the morning early the tidings of this event roused El Zagal from
his slumbers in the Alhambra. The fiery old warrior assembled his
guard in haste and made his way, sword in hand, to the Albaycin,
hoping to come upon his nephew by surprise. He was vigorously
met by Boabdil and his adherents, and driven back into the quarter
of the Alhambra. An encounter took place between the two kings
in the square before the principal mosque; here they fought hand
to hand with implacable fury, as though it had been agreed to decide
their competition for the crown by single combat. In the tumult of
this chance-medley affray, however, they were separated, and the
party of El Zagal was ultimately driven from the square.

The battle raged for some time in the streets and places of the
city, but, finding their powers of mischief cramped within such
narrow limits, both parties sallied forth into the fields and fought
beneath the walls until evening. Many fell on both sides, and at
night each party withdrew into its quarter until the morning gave
them light to renew the unnatural conflict. For several days the
two grand divisions of the city remained like hostile powers arrayed
against each other. The party of the Alhambra was more numerous
than that of the Albaycin, and contained most of the nobility and
chivalry; but the adherents of Boabdil were men hardened and
strengthened by labor and habitually skilled in the exercise of arms.

The Albaycin underwent a kind of siege by the forces of El Zagal;
they effected breaches in the walls, and made repeated attempts
to carry it sword in hand, but were as often repulsed. The troops
of Boabdil, on the other hand, made frequent sallies, and in the
conflicts which took place the hatred of the combatants arose to
such a pitch of fury that no quarter was given on either side.

Boabdil perceived the inferiority of his force; he dreaded also that
his adherents, being for the most part tradesmen and artisans, would
become impatient of this interruption of their gainful occupations
and disheartened by these continual scenes of carnage. He sent
missives, therefore, in all haste to Don Fadrique de Toledo, who
commanded the Christian forces on the frontier, entreating his

Don Fadrique had received instructions from the politic Ferdinand
to aid the youthful monarch in all his contests with his uncle. He
advanced with a body of troops near to Granada. The moment Boabdil
discerned, from the towers of the Albaycin, the Christian banners
and lances winding round the base of the mountain of Elvira, he
sallied forth to meet them, escorted by a squadron of Abencerrages
under Aben Comixa. El Zagal, who was equally on the alert, and
apprised that the Christian troops came in aid of his nephew,
likewise sallied forth and drew up his troops in battle array. Don
Fadrique, wary lest some treachery should be intended, halted
among some plantations of olives, retained Boabdil by his side, and
signified his wish that Aben Comixa would advance with his squadron
and offer battle to the old king. The provocation was given, but El
Zagal maintained his position. He threw out some light parties,
however, which skirmished with the Abencerrages of Aben Comixa,
after which he caused his trumpets to sound a recall, and retired
into the city, mortified, it is said, that the Christian cavaliers
should witness these fratricidal discords between true believers.

Don Fadrique, still distrustful, drew off to a distance, and encamped
for the night near the bridge of Cabillas.

Early in the morning a Moorish cavalier with an escort approached
the advance guard, and his trumpets sounded a parley. He craved an
audience as an envoy from El Zagal, and was admitted to the tent of
Don Fadrique. El Zagal had learnt that the Christian troops had come
to aid his nephew, and now offered to enter into an alliance with
them on terms still more advantageous than those of Boabdil. The
wary Don Fadrique listened to the Moor with apparent complacency,
but determined to send one of his most intrepid and discreet
cavaliers, under the protection of a flag, to hold a conference with
the old king within the very walls of the Alhambra. The officer
chosen for this important mission was Don Juan de Vera, the same
stanch and devout cavalier who in times preceding the war had
borne the message from the Castilian sovereigns to old Muley Abul
Hassan demanding arrears of tribute. Don Juan was received with
great ceremony by the king. No records remain of his diplomatic
negotiations, but they extended into the night, and, it being too
late to return to camp, he was sumptuously lodged in an apartment of
the Alhambra. In the morning one of the courtiers about the palace,
somewhat given to jest and raillery, invited Don Juan to a ceremony
which some of the alfaquis were about to celebrate in the mosque
of the palace. The religious punctilio of this most discreet cavalier
immediately took umbrage at what he conceived a banter. "The
servants of Queen Isabella of Castile," replied he, stiffly and sternly,
"who bear on their armor the cross of St. Jago, never enter the
temples of Mahomet but to level them to the earth and trample
on them.''

The Moslem courtier retired somewhat disconcerted by this Catholic
but not very courteous reply, and reported it to a renegado of
Antiquera. The latter, eager, like all renegados, to show devotion
to his newly-adopted creed, volunteered to return with the courtier
and have a tilt of words with the testy diplomatist. They found Don
Juan playing a game of chess with the alcayde of the Alhambra, and
took occasion to indulge in sportive comments on some of the
mysteries of the Christian religion. The ire of this devout knight and
discreet ambassador began to kindle, but he restrained it within
the limits of lofty gravity. "You would do well," said he, "to cease
talking about what you do not understand." This only provoked light
attacks of the witlings, until one of them dared to make some
degrading and obscene comparison between the Blessed Virgin
and Amina, the mother of Mahomet. In an instant Don Juan sprang
to his feet, dashed chess-board and chess-men aside, and, drawing
his sword, dealt, says the curate of los Palacios, such a "fermosa
cuchillada" (such a handsome slash) across the head of the
blaspheming Moor as felled him to the earth. The renegado, seeing
his comrade fall, fled for his life, making the halls and galleries ring
with his outcries. Guards, pages, and attendants rushed in, but
Don Juan kept them at bay until the appearance of the king restored
order. On inquiring into the cause of the affray he acted with proper
discrimination. Don Juan was held sacred as an ambassador, and
the renegado was severely punished for having compromised the
hospitality of the royal palace.

The tumult in the Alhambra, however, soon caused a more
dangerous tumult in the city. It was rumored that Christians had
been introduced into the palace with some treasonable design. The
populace caught up arms and ascended in throngs to the Gate of
Justice, demanding the death of all Christian spies and those who
had introduced them. This was no time to reason with an infuriate
mob, when the noise of their clamors might bring the garrison of the
Albaycin to back them. Nothing was left for El Zagal but to furnish
Don Juan with a disguise, a swift horse, and an escort, and to let
him out of the Alhambra by a private gate. It was a sore grievance
to the stately cavalier to have to submit to these expedients, but
there was no alternative. In Moorish disguise he passed through
crowds that were clamoring for his head, and, once out of the gate
of the city, gave reins to his horse, nor ceased spurring until he
found himself safe under the banners of Don Fadrique.

Thus ended the second embassy of Don Juan de Vera, less stately
but more perilous than the first. Don Fadrique extolled his prowess,
whatever he may have thought of his discretion, and rewarded him
with a superb horse, while at the same time he wrote a letter to El
Zagal thanking him for the courtesy and protection he had observed
to his ambassador. Queen Isabella also was particularly delighted
with the piety of Don Juan and his promptness in vindicating the
immaculate character of the Blessed Virgin, and, besides conferring
on him various honorable distinctions, made him a royal present of
three hundred thousand maravedis.*

*Alcantara, Hist. Granad., vol. 3, c. 17, apud De Harro, Nobiliario
Genealogico, lib. 5, cap. 15.

The report brought by this cavalier of affairs in Granada, together
with the preceding skirmishings between the Moorish factions before
the walls, convinced Don Fadrique that there was no collusion
between the monarchs: on returning to his frontier post, therefore,
he sent Boabdil a reinforcement of Christian foot-soldiers and
arquebusiers, under Fernan Alvarez de Sotomayor, alcayde of
Colomera. This was as a firebrand thrown in to light up anew
the flames of war in the city, which remained raging between
the Moorish inhabitants for the space of fifty days.



Hitherto the events of this renowned war have been little else than
a succession of brilliant but brief exploits, such as sudden forays,
wild skirmishes among the mountains, and the surprisals of castles,
fortresses, and frontier towns. We approach now to more important
and prolonged operations, in which ancient and mighty cities, the
bulwarks of Granada, were invested by powerful armies, subdued by
slow and regular sieges, and thus the capital left naked and alone.

The glorious triumphs of the Christian sovereigns (says Fray Antonio
Agapida) had resounded throughout the East and filled all
heathenesse with alarm. The Grand Turk, Bajazet II., and his deadly
foe, the grand soldan of Egypt, suspending for a time their bloody
feuds, entered into a league to protect the religion of Mahomet and
the kingdom of Granada from the hostilities of the Christians. It
was concerted between them that Bajazet should send a powerful
armada against the island of Sicily, then appertaining to the
Spanish Crown, for the purpose of distracting the attention of the
Castilian sovereigns, while at the same time great bodies of troops
should be poured into Granada from the opposite coast of Africa.

Ferdinand and Isabella received timely intelligence of these
designs. They resolved at once to carry the war into the sea-
board of Granada, to possess themselves of its ports, and thus,
as it were, to bar the gates of the kingdom against all external aid.
Malaga was to be the main object of attack: it was the principal
seaport of the kingdom, and almost necessary to its existence. It
had long been the seat of opulent commerce, sending many ships
to the coasts of Syria and Egypt. It was also the great channel of
communication with Africa, through which were introduced supplies
of money, troops, arms, and steeds from Tunis, Tripoli, Fez, Tremezan,
and other Barbary powers. It was emphatically called, therefore,
"the hand and mouth of Granada." Before laying siege to this
redoubtable city, however, it was deemed necessary to secure the
neighboring city of Velez Malaga and its dependent places, which
might otherwise harass the besieging army.

For this important campaign the nobles of the kingdom were again
summoned to take the field with their forces in the spring of 1487.
The menaced invasion of the infidel powers of the East had awakened
new ardor in the bosoms of all true Christian knights, and so zealously
did they respond to the summons of the sovereigns that an army of
twenty thousand cavalry and fifty thousand foot, the flower of Spanish
warriors, led by the bravest of Spanish cavaliers, thronged the
renowned city of Cordova at the appointed time.

On the night before this mighty host set forth upon its march an
earthquake shook the city. The inhabitants, awakened by the shaking
of the walls and rocking of the towers, fled to the courts and
squares, fearing to be overwhelmed by the ruins of their dwellings.
The earthquake was most violent in the quarter of the royal residence,
the site of the ancient palace of the Moorish kings. Many looked upon
this as an omen of some impending evil; but Fray Antonio Agapida, in
that infallible spirit of divination which succeeds an event, plainly
reads in it a presage that the empire of the Moors was about to be
shaken to its centre.

It was on Saturday, the eve of the Sunday of Palms (says a worthy
and loyal chronicler of the time), that the most Catholic monarch
departed with his army to render service to Heaven and make war
upon the Moors.* Heavy rains had swelled all the streams and
rendered the roads deep and difficult. The king, therefore, divided
his host into two bodies. In one he put all the artillery, guarded
by a strong body of horse, and commanded by the master of Alcantara
and Martin Alonso, senior of Montemayor. This division was to proceed
by the road through the valleys, where pasturage abounded for the
oxen which drew the ordnance.

*Pulgar, Cronica de los Reyes Catholicos.

The main body of the army was led by the king in person. It was
divided into numerous battalions, each commanded by some
distinguished cavalier. The king took the rough and perilous road of
the mountains, and few mountains are more rugged and difficult than
those of Andalusia. The roads are mere mule-paths straggling amidst
rocks and along the verge of precipices, clambering vast craggy
heights, or descending into frightful chasms and ravines, with scanty
and uncertain foothold for either man or steed. Four thousand
pioneers were sent in advance, under the alcayde de los Donceles, to
conquer in some degree the asperities of the road. Some had pickaxes
and crowbars to break the rocks, others had implements to construct
bridges over the mountain-torrents, while it was the duty of others
to lay stepping-stones in the smaller streams. As the country was
inhabited by fierce Moorish mountaineers, Don Diego de Castrillo was
despatched with a body of horse and foot to take possession of the
heights and passes. Notwithstanding every precaution, the royal army
suffered excessively on its march. At one time there was no place to
encamp for five leagues of the most toilsome and mountainous country,
and many of the beasts of burden sank down and perished on the road.

It was with the greatest joy, therefore, that the royal army emerged
from these stern and frightful defiles, and came to where they looked
down upon the vega of Velez Malaga. The region before them was
one of the most delectable to the eye that ever was ravaged by an
army. Sheltered from every rude blast by a screen of mountains, and
sloping and expanding to the south, this lovely valley was quickened
by the most generous sunshine, watered by the silver meanderings
of the Velez, and refreshed by cooling breezes from the Mediterranean.
The sloping hills were covered with vineyards and olive trees; the
distant fields waved with grain or were verdant with pasturage; while
round the city were delightful gardens, the favorite retreats of the
Moors, where their white pavilions gleamed among groves of oranges,
citrons, and pomegranates, and were surrounded by stately palms--
those plants of southern growth bespeaking a generous climate and
a cloudless sky.

In the upper part of this delightful valley the city of Velez Malaga
reared its warrior battlements in stern contrast to the landscape.
It was built on the declivity of a steep and insulated hill, and
strongly fortified by walls and towers. The crest of the hill rose
high above the town into a mere crag, inaccessible on every other
side, and crowned by a powerful castle, which domineered over
the surrounding country. Two suburbs swept down into the valley
from the skirts of the town, and were defended by bulwarks and
deep ditches. The vast ranges of gray mountains, often capped with
clouds, which rose to the north, were inhabited by a hardy and warlike
race, whose strong fortresses of Comares, Canillas, Competa, and
Benamargosa frowned down from cragged heights.

When the Christian host arrived in sight of this valley, a squadron
was hovering on the smooth sea before it displaying the banner of
Castile. This was commanded by the count of Trevento, and consisted
of four armed galleys, convoying a number of caravels laden with
supplies for the army.

After surveying the ground, King Ferdinand encamped on the side of
a mountain which advanced close to the city, and was the last of a
rugged sierra, or chain of heights, that extended quite to Granada.
On the summit of this mountain, and overlooking the camp, was a
Moorish town, powerfully fortified, called Bentomiz, considered capable
of yielding great assistance to Velez Malaga. Several of the generals
remonstrated with the king for choosing a post so exposed to assaults
from the mountaineers, but he replied that he should thus cut off all
communication between Bentomiz and the city, and that, as to the
danger, his soldiers must keep the more vigilant guard against surprise.

King Ferdinand rode about, attended by several cavaliers and a small
number of cuirassiers, appointing the various stations of the camp.
Having directed a body of foot-soldiers to possess themselves, as
an advanced guard, of an important height which overlooked the
city, he retired to a tent to take refreshment. While at table he was
startled by a sudden uproar, and, looking forth, beheld his soldiers
flying before a superior force of the enemy. The king had on no
other armor but a cuirass: seizing a lance, however, he sprang upon
his horse and galloped to protect the fugitives, followed by his
handful of knights and cuirassiers. When the soldiers saw the king
hastening to their aid, they turned upon their pursuers. Ferdinand
in his eagerness threw himself into the midst of the foe. One of his
grooms was killed beside him, but before the Moor who slew him
could escape the king transfixed him with his lance. He then sought
to draw his sword, which hung at his saddle-bow, but in vain. Never
had he been exposed to such peril; he was surrounded by the enemy
without a weapon wherewith to defend himself.

In this moment of awful jeopardy the marques of Cadiz, the count
de Cabra, the adelantado of Murcia, with two other cavaliers, named
Garcilasso de la Vega and Diego de Atayde, came galloping to the
scene of action, and, surrounding the king, made a rampart of their
bodies against the assaults of the Moors. The horse of the marques
was pierced by an arrow, and that worthy cavalier exposed to
imminent danger; but with the aid of his valorous companions he
quickly put the enemy to flight, and pursued them with slaughter
to the very gates of the city.

When those loyal warriors returned from the pursuit they
remonstrated with the king for exposing his life in personal conflict,
seeing that he had so many valiant captains whose business it was
to fight. They reminded him that the life of a prince was the life of
his people, and that many a brave army was lost by the loss of its
commander. They entreated him, therefore, in future to protect
them with the force of his mind in the cabinet, rather than of his
arm in the field.

Ferdinand acknowledged the wisdom of their advice, but declared
that he could not see his people in peril without venturing his
person to assist them--a reply (say the old chroniclers) which
delighted the whole army, inasmuch as they saw that he not only
governed them as a good king, but protected them as a valiant
captain. He, however, was conscious of the extreme peril to which
he had been exposed, and made a vow never again to venture into
battle without having his sword girt to his side.*

*Illescas, Hist. Pontif., lib. 6, c. 20; Vedmar, Hist. Velez Malaga.

When this achievement of the king was related to Isabella, she
trembled amidst her joy at his safety, and afterward, in memorial
of the event, granted to Velez Malaga, as the arms of the city, the
figure of the king on horseback, with a groom lying dead at his feet
and the Moors flying.*


The camp was formed, but the artillery was yet on the road,
advancing with infinite labor at the rate of merely a league a day,
for heavy rains had converted the streams of the valleys into raging
torrents and completely broken up the roads. In the mean time, King
Ferdinand ordered an assault on the suburbs of the city. They were
carried after a sanguinary conflict of six hours, in which many
Christian cavaliers were killed and wounded, and among the latter
Don Alvaro of Portugal, son of the duke of Braganza. The suburbs
were then fortified toward the city with trenches and palisades, and
garrisoned by a chosen force under Don Fadrique de Toledo. Other
trenches were digged round the city and from the suburbs to the
royal camp, so as to cut off all communication with the surrounding

Bodies of troops were also sent to take possession of the mountain-
passes by which the supplies for the army had to be brought. The
mountains, however, were so steep and rugged, and so full of defiles
and lurking-places, that the Moors could sally forth and retreat in
perfect security, frequently swooping down upon Christian convoys
and bearing off both booty and prisoners to their strongholds.
Sometimes the Moors would light fires at night on the sides of the
mountains, which would be answered by fires from the watch-towers
and fortresses. By these signals they would concert assaults upon
the Christian camp, which in consequence was obliged to be continually
on the alert.

King Ferdinand flattered himself that the manifestation of his force
had struck sufficient terror into the city, and that by offers of
clemency it might be induced to capitulate. He wrote a letter,
therefore, to the commanders, promising, in case of immediate
surrender, that all the inhabitants should be permitted to depart
with their effects, but threatening them with fire and sword if they
persisted in defence. This letter was despatched by a cavalier named
Carvajal, who, putting it on the end of a lance, reached it to the
Moors on the walls of the city. Abul Cacim Vanegas, son of Reduan,
and alcayde of the fortress, replied that the king was too noble and
magnanimous to put such a threat in execution, and that he should
not surrender, as he knew the artillery could not be brought to the
camp, and he was promised succor by the king of Granada.

At the same time that he received this reply the king learnt that
at the strong town of Comares, upon a height about two leagues
distant from the camp, a large number of warriors had assembled
from the Axarquia, the same mountains in which the Christian
cavaliers had been massacred in the beginning of the war, and
that others were daily expected, for this rugged sierra was capable
of furnishing fifteen thousand fighting-men.

King Ferdinand felt that his army, thus disjoined and enclosed in an
enemy's country, was in a perilous situation, and that the utmost
discipline and vigilance were necessary. He put the camp under the
strictest regulations, forbidding all gaming, blasphemy, or brawl,
and expelling all loose women and their attendant bully ruffians,
the usual fomenters of riot and contention among soldiery. He
ordered that none should sally forth to skirmish without permission
from their commanders; that none should set fire to the woods on
the neighboring mountains; and that all word of security given to
Moorish places or individuals should be inviolably observed. These
regulations were enforced by severe penalties, and had such salutary
effect that, though a vast host of various people was collected
together, not an opprobrious epithet was heard nor a weapon
drawn in quarrel.

In the mean time the cloud of war continued to gather about the
summits of the mountains, and multitudes of the fierce warriors of
the sierra descended to the lower heights of Bentomiz, which
overhung the camp, intending to force their way to the city. A
detachment was sent against them, which, after sharp fighting,
drove them to the higher cliffs, where it was impossible to pursue

Ten days had elapsed since the encampment of the army, yet still the
artillery had not arrived. The lombards and other heavy ordnance
were left in despair at Antiquera; the rest came groaning slowly
through the narrow valleys, which were filled with long trains of
artillery and cars laden with munitions. At length part of the smaller
ordnance arrived within half a league of the camp, and the Christians
were animated with the hopes of soon being able to make a regular
attack upon the fortifications of the city.



While the standard of the cross waved on the hills before Velez
Malaga, and every height and cliff bristled with hostile arms, the
civil war between the factions of the Alhambra and the Albaycin, or
rather between El Zagal and El Chico, continued to convulse the city
of Granada. The tidings of the investment of Velez Malaga at length
roused the attention of the old men and the alfaquis, whose heads
were not heated by the daily broils, and they endeavored to arouse
the people to a sense of their common danger.

"Why," said they, "continue these brawls between brethren and
kindred? What battles are these where even triumph is ignominious,
and the victor blushes and conceals his scars? Behold the Christians
ravaging the land won by the valor and blood of your forefathers,
dwelling in the houses they built, sitting under the trees they planted,
while your brethren wander about houseless and desolate. Do you
wish to seek your real foe?--he is encamped on the mountain of
Bentomiz. Do you want a field for the display of your valor?--you
will find it before the walls of Velez Malaga."

When they had roused the spirit of the people they made their way to
the rival kings, and addressed them with like remonstrances. Hamet
Aben Zarraz, the inspired santon, reproached El Zagal with his blind
and senseless ambition. "You are striving to be king," said he,
bitterly, "yet suffer the kingdom to be lost!"

El Zagal found himself in a perplexing dilemma. He had a double
war to wage--with the enemy without and the enemy within. Should
the Christians gain possession of the sea-coast, it would be ruinous
to the kingdom; should he leave Granada to oppose them, his vacant
throne might be seized on by his nephew. He made a merit of
necessity, and, pretending to yield to the remonstrances of the
alfaquis, endeavored to compromise with Boabdil. He expressed deep
concern at the daily losses of the country caused by the dissensions
of the capital: an opportunity now presented to retrieve all by a
blow. The Christians had in a manner put themselves in a tomb
between the mountains--nothing remained but to throw the earth
upon them. He offered to resign the title of king, to submit to the
government of his nephew, and fight under his standard; all he
desired was to hasten to the relief of Velez Malaga and to take full
vengeance on the Christians.

Boabdil spurned his proposition as the artifice of a hypocrite and a
traitor. "How shall I trust a man," said he, "who has murdered my
father and my kindred by treachery, and has repeatedly sought my
own life both by violence and stratagem?"

El Zagal boiled with rage and vexation, but there was no time to be
lost. He was beset by the alfaquis and the nobles of his count; the
youthful cavaliers were hot for action, the common people loud in
their complaints that the richest cities were abandoned to the mercy
of the enemy. The old warrior was naturally fond of fighting; he saw
also that to remain inactive would endanger both crown and kingdom,
whereas a successful blow might secure his popularity in Granada.
He had a much more powerful force than his nephew, having lately
received reinforcements from Baza, Guadix, and Almeria; he could
march with a large force, therefore, to the relief of Velez Malaga,
and yet leave a strong garrison in the Alhambra. He took his
measures accordingly, and departed suddenly in the night at the
head of one thousand horse and twenty thousand foot, and urged
his way rapidly by the most unfrequented roads along the chain of
mountains extending from Granada to the heights above Velez Malaga.

The Christians were alarmed one evening by the sudden blazing
of great fires on the mountains about the fortress of Bentomiz. By
the ruddy light they beheld the flash of weapons and the array of
troops, and they heard the distant sound of Moorish drums and
trumpets. The fires of Bentomiz were answered by fires on the towers
of Velez Malaga. The shouts of "El Zagal! El Zagal!" echoed along the
cliffs and resounded from the city, and the Christians found that the
old warrior-king of Granada was on the mountain above the camp.

The spirits of the Moors were suddenly raised to a pitch of the
greatest exultation, while the Christians were astonished to see the
storm of war ready to burst upon their heads. The count de Cabra,
with his accustomed eagerness when there was a king in the field,
would fain have scaled the heights and attacked El Zagal before
he had time to form his camp; but Ferdinand, more cool and wary,
restrained him. To attack the height would be to abandon the siege.
He ordered every one, therefore, to keep a vigilant watch at his
post and stand ready to defend it to the utmost, but on no account
to sally forth and attack the enemy.

All night the signal-fires kept blazing along the mountains, rousing
and animating the whole country. The morning sun rose over the
lofty summit of Bentomiz on a scene of martial splendor. As its rays
glanced down the mountain they lighted up the white tents of the
Christian cavaliers cresting its lower prominences, their pennons
and ensigns fluttering in the morning breeze. The sumptuous
pavilions of the king, with the holy standard of the cross and the
royal banners of Castile and Aragon, dominated the encampment.
Beyond lay the city, its lofty castle and numerous towers glistening
with arms, while above all, and just on the profile of the height,
in the full blaze of the rising sun, were descried the tents of the
Moor, his troops clustering about them and his infidel banners
floating against the sky. Columns of smoke rose where the night-
fires had blazed, and the clash of the Moorish cymbal, the bray of
trumpet, and the neigh of steed were faintly heard from the airy
heights. So pure and transparent is the atmosphere in this region
that every object can be distinctly seen at a great distance, and
the Christians were able to behold the formidable hosts of fires
gathering on the summits of the surrounding mountains.

One of the first measures of the Moorish king was to detach a large
force, under Reduan de Vanegas, alcayde of Granada, to fall upon the
convoy of ordnance, which stretched for a great distance through the
mountain-defiles. Ferdinand had anticipated this attempt, and sent
the commander of Leon with a body of horse and foot to reinforce the
master of Alcantara. El Zagal from his mountain-height beheld the
detachment issue from the camp, and immediately recalled Reduan.
The armies now remained quiet for a time, the Moor looking grimly
down upon the Christian camp, like a tiger meditating a bound upon
his prey. The Christians were in fearful jeopardy--a hostile city below
them, a powerful army above them, and on every side mountains filled
with implacable foes.

After El Zagal had maturely considered the situation of the Christian
camp, and informed himself of all the passes of the mountain, he
conceived a plan to surprise the enemy which he flattered himself
would ensure their ruin and perhaps the capture of King Ferdinand.
He wrote a letter to the alcayde of the city, commanding him in the
dead of the night, on a signal-fire being made from the mountain,
to sally forth with all his troops and fall furiously upon the Christian
camp. The king would, at the same time, rush down with his army from
the mountain, and assail it on the opposite side, thus overwhelming
it at the hour of deep repose. This letter he despatched by a renegado
Christian, who knew all the secret roads of the country, and if taken
could pass himself for a Christian who had escaped from captivity.

El Zagal, confident in his stratagem, looked down upon the Christians
as his devoted victims. As the sun went down and the long shadows
of the mountains stretched across the vega, he pointed with exultation
to the camp below, apparently unconscious of the impending danger.
"Behold," said he, "the unbelievers are delivered into our hands; their
king and choicest chivalry will soon be at our mercy. Now is the time
to show the courage of men, and by one glorious victory retrieve all
that we have lost. Happy he who falls fighting in the cause of the
Prophet! he will at once be transported to the paradise of the faithful
and surrounded by immortal houris. Happy he who shall survive
victorious! he will behold Granada--an earthly paradise!--once more
delivered from its foes and restored to all its glory." The words of El
Zagal were received with acclamations by his troops, who waited
impatiently for the appointed hour to pour down from their mountain-
hold upon the Christians.



Queen Isabella and her court had remained at Cordova in great
anxiety for the result of the royal expedition. Every day brought
tidings of the difficulties which attended the transportation of the
ordnance and munitions and of the critical state of the army.

While in this state of anxious suspense couriers arrived with all
speed from the frontiers, bringing tidings of the sudden sally of El
Zagal from Granada to surprise the camp. All Cordova was in
consternation. The destruction of the Andalusian chivalry among
the mountains of this very neighborhood was called to mind; it
was feared that similar ruin was about to burst forth from rocks
and precipices upon Ferdinand and his army.

Queen Isabella shared in the public alarm, but it served to rouse
all the energies of her heroic mind. Instead of uttering idle
apprehensions, she sought only how to avert the danger. She called
upon all the men of Andalusia under the age of seventy to arm and
hasten to the relief of their sovereign, and she prepared to set out
with the first levies. The grand cardinal of Spain, old Pedro Gonzalez
de Mendoza, in whom the piety of the saint and the wisdom of the
counsellor were mingled with the fire of the cavalier, offered high
pay to all horsemen who would follow him to aid their king and the
Christian cause, and, buckling on armor, prepared to lead them
to the scene of danger.

The summons of the queen roused the quick Andalusian spirit.
Warriors who had long since given up fighting and had sent their
sons to battle now seized the sword and lance rusting on the
wall, and marshalled forth their gray-headed domestics and their
grandchildren for the field. The great dread was, that all aid
would arrive too late; El Zagal and his host had passed like a
storm through the mountains, and it was feared the tempest
had already burst upon the Christian camp.

In the mean time, the night had closed which had been appointed
by El Zagal for the execution of his plan. He had watched the last
light of day expire, and all the Spanish camp remained tranquil. As
the hours wore away the camp-fires were gradually extinguished.
No drum nor trumpet sounded from below. Nothing was heard but
now and then the dull heavy tread of troops or the echoing tramp
of horses--the usual patrols of the camp--and the changes of the
guards. El Zagal restrained his own impatience and that of his
troops until the night should be advanced and the camp sunk in
that heavy sleep from which men are with difficulty awakened, and
when awakened prone to be bewildered and dismayed.

At length the appointed hour arrived. By order of the Moorish king
a bright flame sprang up from the height of Bentomiz, but El Zagal
looked in vain for the responding light from the city. His impatience
would brook no longer delay; he ordered the advance of the army
to descend the mountain-defile and attack the camp. The defile was
narrow and overhung by rocks; as the troops proceeded they came
suddenly, in a shadowy hollow, upon a dark mass of warriors who,
with a loud shout, rushed to assail them. Surprised and disconcerted,
they retreated in confusion to the height. When El Zagal heard of a
Christian force in the defile, he doubted some counter-plan of the
enemy, and gave orders to light the mountain-fires. On a signal given
bright flames sprang up on every height from pyres of wood prepared
for the purpose: cliff blazed out after cliff until the whole atmosphere
was in a glow of furnace light.

The ruddy glare lit up the glens and passes, and fell strongly upon
the Christian camp, revealing all its tents and every post and
bulwark. Wherever El Zagal turned his eyes he beheld the light of
his fires flashed back from cuirass and helm and sparkling lance; he
beheld a grove of spears planted in every pass, every assailable
point bristling with arms, and squadrons of horse and foot in battle
array awaiting his attack.

In fact, his letter to the alcayde of Velez Malaga had been
intercepted by the vigilant Ferdinand, the renegado messenger
hanged, and secret measures taken after nightfall to give the
Moors a warm reception. El Zagal saw that his plan of surprise was
discovered and foiled; furious with disappointment, he ordered his
troops forward to the attack. They rushed down the defile, but
were again encountered by the mass of Christian warriors, being the
advance guard of the army commanded by Don Hurtado de Mendoza,
brother of the grand cardinal. The Moors were again repulsed, and
retreated up the height. Don Hurtado would have followed them, but
the ascent was steep and rugged and easily defended. A sharp action
was kept up through the night with crossbows, darts, and arquebuses.
The cliffs echoed with deafening uproar, while the fires blazing upon
the mountains threw a lurid and uncertain light upon the scene.

When the day dawned and the Moors saw that there was no co-
operation from the city, they slackened in their ardor: they beheld
also every pass of the mountain filled with Christian troops, and
began to apprehend an assault in return. Just then King Ferdinand
sent the marques of Cadiz with horse and foot to seize upon a height
occupied by a battalion of the enemy. The marques assailed the Moors
with his usual intrepidity, and soon put them to flight. The others, who
were above, seeing their comrades fly, threw down their arms and
retreated. One of those unaccountable panics which now and then
seize upon great bodies of people, and to which the light-spirited
Moors were prone, now spread throughout the camp. They were
terrified, they knew not why nor at what, and, throwing away swords,
lances, breast-plates, crossbows, everything that could impede their
motions, scattered themselves wildly in every direction. They fled
without pursuers--from the glimpse of each other's arms, from the
sound of each other's footsteps. Reduan de Vanegas, the brave
alcayde of Granada, alone succeeded in collecting a body of the
fugitives; he made a circuit with them through the passes of the
mountain, and, forcing his way across a weak part of the Christian
lines, galloped toward Velez Malaga. The rest of the Moorish host
was completely scattered. In vain did El Zagal and his knights attempt
to rally them; they were left almost alone, and had to consult their
own security by flight.

The marques of Cadiz, finding no opposition, ascended from height
to height, cautiously reconnoitring and fearful of some stratagem or
ambush. All, however, was quiet. He reached with his men the place
which the Moorish army had occupied: the heights were abandoned
and strewed with cuirasses, scimetars, crossbows, and other weapons.
His force was too small to pursue the enemy, but returned to the royal
camp laden with spoils.

Ferdinand at first could not credit so signal and miraculous a defeat,
but suspected some lurking stratagem. He ordered, therefore, that
a strict watch should be maintained throughout the camp and every
one be ready for instant action. The following night a thousand
cavaliers and hidalgos kept guard about the royal tent, as they
had done for several preceding nights; nor did the king relax this
vigilance until he received certain intelligence that the enemy was
completely scattered and El Zagal flying in confusion.

The tidings of this rout and of the safety of the Christian army
arrived at Cordova just as reinforcements were on the point of
setting out. The anxiety and alarm of the queen and the public
were turned to transports of joy and gratitude. The forces were
disbanded, solemn processions were made, and "Te Deums"
chanted in the churches for so signal a victory.



The daring spirit of Muley Abdallah el Zagal in sallying forth to
defend his territories while he left an armed rival in his capital
struck the people of Granada with admiration. They recalled his
former exploits, and again anticipated some hardy achievement from
his valor. Couriers from the army reported its formidable position
on the height of Bentomiz. For a time there was a pause in the
bloody commotions of the city; all attention was turned to the blow
about to be struck at the Christian camp. The same considerations
which diffused anxiety and terror through Cordova swelled every
bosom with exulting confidence in Granada. The Moors expected to
hear of another massacre like that in the mountains of Malaga. "El
Zagal has again entrapped the enemy!" was the cry. "The power of
the unbelievers is about to be struck to the heart. We shall soon
see the Christian king led captive to the capital." Thus was the name
of El Zagal on every tongue. He was extolled as the savior of the
country, the only one worthy of wearing the Moorish crown. Boabdil
was reviled as basely remaining passive while his country was invaded
and so violent became the clamor of the populace that his adherents
trembled for his safety.

While the people of Granada were impatiently looking out for tidings
of the anticipated victory scattered horsemen came spurring across
the Vega. They were fugitives from the Moorish army, and brought
the first incoherent account of its defeat. Every one who attempted
to tell the tale of this unaccountable panic and dispersion was as if
bewildered by the broken recollection of some frightful dream. He
knew not how or why it came to pass. He talked of a battle in the
night, among rocks and precipices, by the glare of bale-fires; of
multitudes of armed foes in every pass, seen by gleams and flashes;
of the sudden horror that seized upon the army at daybreak, its
headlong flight, and total dispersion. Hour after hour the arrival
of other fugitives confirmed the story of ruin and disgrace.

In proportion to their recent vaunting was the humiliation that now
fell upon the people of Granada. There was a universal burst, not of
grief, but indignation. They confounded the leader with the army--
the deserted with those who had abandoned him, and El Zagal, from
being their idol, became suddenly the object of their execration. He
had sacrificed the army; he had disgraced the nation; he had betrayed
the country. He was a dastard, a traitor; he was unworthy to reign.

On a sudden one among the multitude shouted, "Long live Boabdil
el Chico!" The cry was echoed on all sides, and every one shouted,
"Long live Boabdil el Chico! long live the legitimate king of Granada!
and death to all usurpers!" In the excitement of the moment they
thronged to the Albaycin, and those who had lately besieged Boabdil
with arms now surrounded his palace with acclamations. The keys of
the city and of all the fortresses were laid at his feet; he was borne in
state to the Alhambra, and once more seated with all due ceremony on
the throne of his ancestors.

Boabdil had by this time become so accustomed to be crowned and
uncrowned by the multitude that he put no great faith in the duration
of their loyalty. He knew that he was surrounded by hollow hearts,
and that most of the courtiers of the Alhambra were secretly devoted
to his uncle. He ascended the throne as the rightful sovereign who
had been dispossessed of it by usurpation, and he ordered the heads
of four of the principal nobles to be struck off who had been most
zealous in support of the[9]usurper. Executions of the kind were
matters of course on any change in Moorish government, and Boabdil
was lauded for his moderation and humanity in being content with so
small a sacrifice. The factions were awed into obedience; the populace,
delighted with any change, extolled Boabdil to the skies; and the name
of Muley Abdallah el Zagal was for a time a by-word of scorn and
opprobrium throughout the city.

Never was any commander more astonished and confounded by a
sudden reverse of fortune than El Zagal. The evening had seen him
with a powerful army at his command, his enemy within his grasp,
and victory about to cover him with glory and to consolidate his
power: the morning beheld him a fugitive among the mountains, his
army, his prosperity, his power, all dispelled, he knew not how--gone
like a dream of the night. In vain had he tried to stem the headlong
flight of the army. He saw his squadrons breaking and dispersing
among the cliffs of the mountains, until of all his host only a handful
of cavaliers remained faithful. With these he made a gloomy retreat
toward Granada, but with a heart full of foreboding. As he drew near
to the city he paused on the banks of the Xenil and sent forth scouts
to collect intelligence. They returned with dejected countenances.
"The gates of Granada," said they, "are closed against you. The
banner of Boabdil floats on the tower of the Alhambra."

El Zagal turned his steed and departed in silence. He retreated
to the town of Almunecar, and thence to Almeria, which places still
remained faithful to him. Restless and uneasy at being so distant
from the capital, he again changed his abode, and repaired to the
city of Guadix, within a few leagues of Granada. Here he remained,
endeavoring to rally his forces and preparing to avail himself of
any sudden change in the fluctuating politics of the metropolis.



The people of Velez Malaga had beheld the camp of Muley Abdallah
covering the summit of Bentomiz and glittering in the last rays of
the setting sun. During the night they had been alarmed and
perplexed by signal-fires on the mountain and by the sound of distant
battle. When the morning broke the Moorish army had vanished
as if by enchantment. While the inhabitants were lost in wonder and
conjecture, a body of cavalry, the fragment of the army saved by
Reduan de Vanegas, the brave alcayde of Granada, came galloping
to the gates. The tidings of the strange discomfiture of the host
filled the city with consternation, but Reduan exhorted the people
to continue their resistance. He was devoted to El Zagal and
confident in his skill and prowess, and felt assured that he would
soon collect his scattered forces and return with fresh troops from
Granada. The people were comforted by the words and encouraged
by the presence of Reduan, and they had still a lingering hope that the
heavy artillery of the Christians might be locked up in the impassable
defiles of the mountains. This hope was soon at an end. The very
next day they beheld long laborious lines of ordnance slowly moving
into the Spanish camp--lombards, ribadoquines, catapults, and cars
laden with munitions--while the escort, under the brave master of
Alcantara, wheeled in great battalions into the camp to augment the
force of the besiegers.

The intelligence that Granada had shut its gates against El Zagal,
and that no reinforcements were to be expected, completed the
despair of the inhabitants; even Reduan himself lost confidence
and advised capitulation.

Ferdinand granted favorable conditions, for he was eager to proceed
against Malaga. The inhabitants were permitted to depart with their
effects except their arms, and to reside, if they chose it, in Spain in
any place distant from the sea. One hundred and twenty Christians
of both sexes were rescued from captivity by the surrender, and were
sent to Cordova, where they were received with great tenderness by
the queen and her daughter the infanta Isabella in the famous
cathedral in the midst of public rejoicings for the victory.

The capture of Velez Malaga was followed by the surrender of
Bentomiz, Comares, and all the towns and fortresses of the Axarquia,
which were strongly garrisoned, and discreet and valiant cavaliers
appointed as their alcaydes. The inhabitants of nearly forty towns
of the Alpuxarras mountains also sent deputations to the Castilian
sovereigns, taking the oath of allegiance as mudexares or Moslem

About the same time came letters from Boabdil el Chico announcing
to the sovereigns the revolution of Granada in his favor. He solicited
kindness and protection for the inhabitants who had returned to
their allegiance, and for those of all other places which should
renounce adherence to his uncle. By this means (he observed) the
whole kingdom of Granada would soon be induced to acknowledge
his sway, and would be held by him in faithful vassalage to the
Castilian Crown.

The Catholic sovereigns complied with his request. Protection was
immediately extended to the inhabitants of Granada, permitting
them to cultivate their fields in peace and to trade with the Christian
territories in all articles excepting arms, being provided with letters
of surety from some Christian captain or alcayde. The same favor
was promised to all other places which within six months should
renounce El Zagal and come under allegiance to the younger king.
Should they not do so within that time, the sovereigns threatened
to make war upon them and conquer them for themselves. This
measure had a great effect in inducing many to return to the
standard of Boabdil.

Having made every necessary arrangement for the government
and security of the newly-conquered territory, Ferdinand turned
his attention to the great object of his campaign, the reduction
of Malaga.



The city of Malaga lies in the lap of a fertile valley, surrounded by
mountains, excepting on the part which lies open to the sea. As
it was one of the most important, so it was one of the strongest,
cities of the Moorish kingdom. It was fortified by walls of prodigious
strength studded with a great number of huge towers. On the land
side it was protected by a natural barrier of mountains, and on the
other the waves of the Mediterranean beat against the foundations
of its massive bulwarks.

At one end of the city, near the sea, on a high mound, stood the
Alcazaba, or citadel, a fortress of great strength. Immediately
above this rose a steep and rocky mount, on the top of which in old
times had been a pharos or lighthouse, from which the height derived
its name of Gibralfaro.* It was at present crowned by an immense
castle, which, from its lofty and cragged situation, its vast walls,
and mighty towers, was deemed impregnable. It communicated
with the Alcazaba by a covered way six paces broad, leading down
between two walls along the profile or ridge of the rock. The castle
of Gibralfaro commanded both citadel and city, and was capable, if
both were taken, of maintaining a siege. Two large suburbs adjoined
the city: in the one toward the sea were the dwelling-houses of the
most opulent inhabitants, adorned with hanging gardens; the other,
on the land side, was thickly peopled and surrounded by strong walls
and towers.

*A corruption of "Gibel-faro," the hill of the lighthouse.

Malaga possessed a brave and numerous garrison, and the common
people were active, hardy, and resolute; but the city was rich and
commercial, and under the habitual control of numerous opulent
merchants, who dreaded the ruinous consequences of a siege. They
were little zealous for the warlike renown of their city, and longed
rather to participate in the enviable security of property and the
lucrative privileges of safe traffic with the Christian territories
granted to all places which declared for Boabdil. At the head of
these gainful citizens was Ali Dordux, a mighty merchant of
uncounted wealth, connected, it is said, with the royal family of
Granada, whose ships traded to every part of the Levant and whose
word was as a law in Malaga. Ali Dordux assembled the most opulent
and important of his commercial brethren, and they repaired in a body
to the Alcazaba, where they were received by the alcayde, Aben
Comixa, with that deference generally shown to men of their great
local dignity and power of purse. Ali Dordux was ample and stately
in his form and fluent and emphatic in his discourse; his eloquence
had an effect, therefore, upon the alcayde as he represented the
hopelessness of a defence of Malaga, the misery that must attend a
siege, and the ruin that must follow a capture by force of arms. On
the other hand, he set forth the grace that might be obtained from
the Castilian sovereigns by an early and voluntary acknowledgment
of Boabdil as king, the peaceful possession of their property, and the
profitable commerce with the Christian ports that would be allowed
them. He was seconded by his weighty and important coadjutors;
and the alcadye, accustomed to regard them as the arbiters of the
affairs of the place, yielded to their united counsels. He departed,
therefore, with all speed to the Christian camp, empowered to
arrange a capitulation with the Castilian monarch, and in the mean
time his brother remained in command of the Alcazaba.

There was at this time as alcayde in the old crag-built castle of
Gibralfaro a warlike and fiery Moor, an implacable enemy of the
Christians. This was no other than Hamet Zeli, surnamed El Zegri,
the once-formidable alcayde of Ronda and the terror of its mountains.
He had never forgiven the capture of his favorite fortress, and panted
for vengeance on the Christians. Notwithstanding his reverses, he
had retained the favor of El Zagal, who knew how to appreciate a bold
warrior of the kind, and had placed him in command of this important
fortress of Gibralfaro.

Hamet el Zegri had gathered round him the remnant of his band
of Gomeres, with others of the same tribe recently arrived from
Morocco. These fierce warriors were nestled like so many war-hawks
about their lofty cliff. They looked down with martial contempt upon
the commercial city of Malaga, which they were placed to protect;
or, rather, they esteemed it only for its military importance and its
capability of defence. They held no communion with its trading,
gainful inhabitants, and even considered the garrison of the Alcazaba
as their inferiors. War was their pursuit and passion; they rejoiced
in its turbulent and perilous scenes; and, confident in the strength
of the city, and, above all, of their castle, they set at defiance the
menace of Christian invasion. There were among them also many
apostate Moors, who had once embraced Christianity, but had since
recanted and fled from the vengeance of the Inquisition.* These were
desperadoes who had no mercy to expect should they again fall into
the hands of the enemy.

*Zurita, lib. 30, cap. 71.

Such were the fierce elements of the garrison of Gibralfaro, and its
rage may easily be conceived at hearing that Malaga was to be given
up without a blow; that they were to sink into Christian vassals under
the intermediate sway of Boabdil el Chico; and that the alcayde of the
Alcazaba had departed to arrange the terms of capitulation.

Hamet determined to avert by desperate means the threatened
degradation. He knew that there was a large party in the city
faithful to El Zagal, being composed of warlike men who had taken
refuge from the various mountain-towns which had been captured;
their feelings were desperate as their fortunes, and, like Hamet,
they panted for revenge upon the Christians. With these he had a
secret conference, and received assurances of their adherence to
him in any measures of defence. As to the counsel of the peaceful
inhabitants, he considered it unworthy the consideration of a soldier,
and he spurned at the interference of the wealthy merchant Ali
Dordux in matters of warfare.

"Still," said Hamet el Zegri, "let us proceed regularly." So he
descended with his Gomeres to the citadel, entered it suddenly, put
to death the brother of the alcayde and such of the garrison as made
any demur, and then summoned the principal inhabitants of Malaga
to deliberate on measures for the welfare of the city.* The wealthy
merchants again mounted to the citadel, excepting Ali Dordux, who
refused to obey the summons. They entered with hearts filled with
awe, for they found Hamet surrounded by his grim African guard and
all the stern array of military power, and they beheld the bloody
traces of the recent massacre.

*Cura de los Palacios, c. 82.

Hamet rolled a dark and searching eye upon the assembly. "Who,"
said he, "is loyal and devoted to Muley Abdallah el Zagal?" Every
one present asserted his loyalty. "Good!" said Hamet; "and who is
ready to prove his devotion to his sovereign by defending this his
important city to the last extremity?" Every one present declared
his readiness. "Enough!" observed Hamet. "The alcayde Aben
Comixa has proved himself a traitor to his sovereign and to you
all, for he has conspired to deliver the place to the Christians. It
behooves you to choose some other commander capable of defending
your city against the approaching enemy." The assembly declared
unanimously that no one was so worthy of the command as himself.
So Hamet was appointed alcayde of Malaga, and immediately proceeded
to man the forts and towers with his partisans and to make every
preparation for a desperate resistance.

Intelligence of these occurrences put an end to the negotiations
between King Ferdinand and the superseded alcayde Aben Comixa,
and it was supposed there was no alternative but to lay siege to
the place. The marques of Cadiz, however, found at Velez a Moorish
cavalier of some note, a native of Malaga, who offered to tamper
with Hamet el Zegri for the surrender of the city, or at least of the
castle of Gibralfaro. The marques communicated this to the king.
"I put this business and the key of my treasury into your hands,"
said Ferdinand; "act, stipulate, and disburse in my name as you
think proper."

The marques armed the Moor with his own lance, cuirass, and
target and mounted him on one of his own horses. He equipped in
similar style also another Moor, his companion and relative. They
bore secret letters to Hamet from the marques offering him the town
of Coin in perpetual inheritance and four thousand doblas in gold if
he would deliver up Gibralfaro, together with a farm and two thousand
doblas for his lieutenant, Ibrahim Zenete, and large sums to be
distributed among his officers and soldiers; and he offered unlimited
rewards for the surrender of the city.

Hamet had a warrior's admiration of the marques of Cadiz, and
received his messengers with courtesy in his fortress of Gibralfaro.
He even listened to their propositions with patience, and dismissed
them in safety, though with an absolute refusal. The marques thought
his reply was not so peremptory as to discourage another effort. The
emissaries were despatched, therefore, a second time, with further
propositions. They approached Malaga in the night, but found the
guards doubled, patrols abroad, and the whole place on the alert.
They were discovered, pursued, and only saved themselves by the
fleetness of their steeds and their knowledge of the passes of
the mountains.*

*Cura de los Palacios, MS., c. 82.

Finding all attempts to tamper with the faith of Hamet utterly futile,
King Ferdinand publicly summoned the city to surrender, offering
the most favorable terms in case of immediate compliance, but
threatening captivity to all the inhabitants in case of resistance.

It required a man of nerve to undertake the delivery of such a
summons in the present heated and turbulent state of the Moorish
community. Such a one stepped forward in the person of a cavalier of
the royal guards, Hernan Perez del Pulgar by name, a youth of noble
descent, who had already signalized himself by his romantic valor
and daring enterprise. Furnished with official papers for Hamet el
Zegri and a private letter from the king to Ali Dordux, he entered
the gates of Malaga under the protection of a flag, and boldly
delivered his summons in presence of the principal inhabitants.
The language of the summons or the tone in which it was delivered
exasperated the fiery spirit of the Moors, and it required all the
energy of Hamet and the influence of several of the alfaquis to
prevent an outrage to the person of the ambassador. The reply
of Hamet was haughty and decided. "The city of Malaga has been
confided to me," said he--"not to be surrendered, but defended, and
the king shall witness how I acquit myself of my charge."*

*Pulgar, part 3, cap. 74.

His mission at an end, Hernan del Pulgar rode slowly and deliberately
through the city, utterly regardless of the scowls and menaces and
scarcely restrained turbulence of the multitude, and bore to Ferdinand
at Velez the haughty answer of the Moor, but at the same time gave
him a formidable account of the force of the garrison, the strength of
the fortifications, and the determined spirit of the commander and his
men. The king immediately sent orders to have the heavy artillery
forwarded from Antiquera, and on the 7th of May marched with his
army toward Malaga.



The army of Ferdinand advanced in lengthened line, glittering along
the foot of the mountains which border the Mediterranean, while a
fleet of vessels, freighted with heavy artillery and warlike munitions,
kept pace with it at a short distance from the land, covering the sea
with a thousand gleaming sails. When Hamet el Zegri saw this force
approaching, he set fire to the houses of the suburbs which adjoined
the walls and sent forth three battalions to encounter the advance
guard of the enemy.

The Christian army drew near to the city at that end where the
castle and rocky height of Gibralfaro defended the seaboard.
Immediately opposite, at about two bow-shots' distance, stood
the castle, and between it and the high chain of mountains was
a steep and rocky hill, at present called the hill of St. Christobal,
commanding a pass through which the Christians must march to
penetrate to the vega and surround the city. Hamet ordered the
three battalions to take their stations--one on this hill, another in
the pass near the castle, and a third on the side of the mountain
near the sea.

A body of Spanish foot-soldiers of the advance guard, sturdy
mountaineers of Galicia, sprang forward to climb the side of the
height next the sea, at the same time a number of cavaliers and
hidalgos of the royal household attacked the Moors who guarded
the pass below. The Moors defended their posts with obstinate
valor. The Galicians were repeatedly overpowered and driven
down the hill, but as often rallied, and, being reinforced by the
hidalgos and cavaliers, returned to the assault. This obstinate
struggle lasted for six hours: the strife was of a deadly kind, not
merely with crossbows and arquebuses, but hand to hand with
swords and daggers; no quarter was claimed or given on either
side--they fought not to make captives, but to slay. It was but the
advance of the Christian army that was engaged; so narrow was
the pass along the coast that the army could proceed only in file:
horse and foot and beasts of burden were crowded one upon
another, impeding each other and blocking up the narrow and
rugged defile. The soldiers heard the uproar of the battle, the
sound of trumpets, and the war-cries of the Moors, but tried in
vain to press forward to the assistance of their companions.

At length a body of foot-soldiers of the Holy Brotherhood climbed
with great difficulty the steep side of the mountain which overhung
the pass, and advanced with seven banners displayed. The Moors,
seeing this force above them, abandoned the pass in despair. The
battle was still raging on the height; the Galicians, though supported
by Castilian troops under Don Hurtado de Mendoza and Garcilasso
de la Vega, were severely pressed and roughly handled by the Moors:
at length a brave standard-bearer, Luys Mazeda by name, threw
himself into the midst of the enemy and planted his banner on the
summit. The Galicians and Castilians, stimulated by this noble self-
devotion, followed him, fighting desperately, and the Moors were at
length driven to their castle of Gibralfaro.*

*Pulgar, Cronica.

This important height being taken, the pass lay open to the army,
but by this time evening was advancing, and the host was too weary
and exhausted to seek proper situations for the encampment. The king,
attended by several grandees and cavaliers, went the rounds at night,
stationing outposts toward the city and guards and patrols to give the
alarm on the least movement of the enemy. All night the Christians
lay upon their arms, lest there should be some attempt to sally forth
and attack them.

When the morning dawned the king gazed with admiration at this
city which he hoped soon to add to his dominions. It was surrounded
on one side by vineyards, gardens, and orchards, which covered the
hills with verdure; on the other side its walls were bathed by the
smooth and tranquil sea. Its vast and lofty towers and prodigious
castles, hoary with age, yet unimpaired in strength, showed the
labors of magnanimous men in former times to protect their favorite
abode. Hanging gardens, groves of oranges, citrons, and pomegranates,
with tall cedars and stately palms, were mingled with the stern
battlements and towers, bespeaking the opulence and luxury that
reigned within.

In the mean time, the Christian army poured through the pass, and,
throwing out its columns and extending its lines, took possession of
every vantage-ground around the city. King Ferdinand surveyed the
ground and appointed the stations of the different commanders.

The important mount of St. Christobal, which had cost so violent a
struggle and faced the powerful fortress of Gibralfaro, was given in
charge to Roderigo Ponce de Leon, marques of Cadiz, who in all
sieges claimed the post of danger. He had several noble cavaliers
with their retainers in his encampment, which consisted of fifteen
hundred horse and fourteen thousand foot, and extended from the
summit of the mount to the margin of the sea, completely blocking
up the approach to the city on that side. From this post a line of
encampments extended quite round the city to the seaboard, fortified
by bulwarks and deep ditches, while a fleet of armed ships and
galleys stretched before the harbor, so that the place was
completely invested by sea and land. The various parts of the valley
now resounded with the din of preparation, and was filled with
artificers preparing warlike engines and munitions; armorers and
smiths with glowing forges and deafening hammers; carpenters and
engineers constructing machines wherewith to assail the walls;
stone-cutters shaping stone balls for the ordnance; and burners
of charcoal preparing fuel for the furnaces and forges.

When the encampment was formed the heavy ordnance was landed
from the ships and mounted in various parts of the camp. Five huge
lombards were placed on the mount commanded by the marques of
Cadiz, so as to bear upon the castle of Gibralfaro.

The Moors made strenuous efforts to impede these preparations.
They kept up a heavy fire from their ordnance upon the men employed
in digging trenches or constructing batteries, so that the latter had
to work principally in the night. The royal tents had been stationed
conspicuously and within reach of the Moorish batteries, but were so
warmly assailed that they had to be removed behind a hill.

When the works were completed the Christian batteries opened
in return, and kept up a tremendous cannonade, while the fleet,
approaching the land, assailed the city vigorously on the opposite

"It was a glorious and delectable sight," observes Fray Antonio
Agapida, "to behold this infidel city thus surrounded by sea and
land by a mighty Christian force. Every mound in its circuit was, as
it were, a little city of tents bearing the standard of some renowned
Catholic warrior. Besides the warlike ships and galleys which lay
before the place, the sea was covered with innumerable sails,
passing and repassing, appearing and disappearing, being engaged
in bringing supplies for the subsistence of the army. It seemed a
vast spectacle contrived to recreate the eye, did not the volleying
bursts of flame and smoke from the ships, which seemed to lie asleep
on the quiet sea, and the thunder of ordnance from camp and city,
from tower and battlement, tell the deadly warfare that was waging.

"At night the scene was far more direful than in the day. The
cheerful light of the sun was gone; there was nothing but the
flashes of artillery or the baleful gleams of combustibles thrown
into the city, and the conflagration of the houses. The fire kept up
from the Christian batteries was incessant: there were seven great
lombards in particular, called the Seven Sisters of Ximenes, which
did tremendous execution. The Moorish ordnance replied in thunder
from the walls; Gibralfaro was wrapped in volumes of smoke rolling
about its base; and Hamet and his Gomeres looked out with triumph
upon the tempest of war they had awaked. Truly they were so many
demons incarnate," concludes the pious Fray Antonio Agapida, "who
were permitted by Heaven to enter into and possess this infidel city
for its perdition."



The attack on Malaga by sea and land was kept up for several
days with tremendous violence, but without producing any great
impression, so strong were the ancient bulwarks of the city. The
count de Cifuentes was the first to signalize himself by any noted
achievement. A main tower, protecting what is at present called the
suburb of Santa Ana, had been shattered by the ordnance and the
battlements demolished, so as to yield no shelter to its defenders.
Seeing this, the count assembled a gallant band of cavaliers of the
royal household and advanced to take it by storm. They applied
scaling-ladders and mounted sword in hand. The Moors, having no
longer battlements to protect them, descended to a lower floor, and
made furious resistance from the windows and loopholes. They poured
down boiling pitch and rosin, and hurled stones and darts and arrows
on the assailants. Many of the Christians were slain, their ladders
were destroyed by flaming combustibles, and the count was obliged
to retreat from before the tower. On the following day he renewed
the attack with superior force, and after a severe combat succeeded
in planting his victorious banner on the tower.

The Moors now assailed the tower in their turn. They undermined the
part toward the city, placed props of wood under the foundation, and,
setting fire to them, drew off to a distance. In a little while the props
gave way, the foundation sunk, and the tower was rent; part of its
wall fell with a tremendous noise; many of the Christians were thrown
out headlong, and the rest were laid open to the missiles of the enemy.

By this time, however, a breach had been made in the wall of the
suburb adjoining the tower, and troops poured in to the assistance
of their comrades. A continued battle was kept up for two days and
a night by reinforcements from camp and city. The parties fought
backward and forward through the breach of the wall and in the
narrow and winding streets adjacent with alternate success, and
the vicinity of the tower was strewn with the dead and wounded.
At length the Moors gradually gave way, disputing every inch of
ground, until they were driven into the city, and the Christians
remained masters of the greater part of the suburb.

This partial success, though gained with great toil and bloodshed,
gave temporary animation to the Christians; they soon found,
however, that the attack on the main works of the city was a much
more arduous task. The garrison contained veterans who had served
in many of the towns captured by the Christians. They were no longer
confounded and dismayed by the battering ordnance and other strange
engines of foreign invention, and had become expert in parrying their
effects, in repairing breaches, and erecting counter-works.

The Christians, accustomed of late to speedy conquests of Moorish
fortresses, became impatient of the slow progress of the siege. Many
were apprehensive of a scarcity of provisions from the difficulty of
subsisting so numerous a host in the heart of the enemy's country,
where it was necessary to transport supplies across rugged and
hostile mountains or subjected to the uncertainties of the sea. Many
also were alarmed at a pestilence which broke out in the neighboring
villages, and some were so overcome by these apprehensions as to
abandon the camp and return to their homes.

Several of the loose and worthless hangers-on that infest all great
armies, hearing these murmurs, thought that the siege would soon
be raised, and deserted to the enemy, hoping to make their fortunes.
They gave exaggerated accounts of the alarms and discontents of
the army, and represented the troops as daily returning home in
bands. Above all, they declared that the gunpowder was nearly
exhausted, so that the artillery would soon be useless. They
assured the Moors, therefore, that if they persisted a little longer
in their defence, the king would be obliged to draw off his forces
and abandon the siege.

The reports of these renegados gave fresh courage to the garrison;
they made vigorous sallies upon the camp, harassing it by night and
day, and obliging every part to be guarded with the most painful
vigilance. They fortified the weak parts of their walls with ditches
and palisadoes, and gave every manifestation of a determined and
unyielding spirit.

Ferdinand soon received intelligence of the reports which had been
carried to the Moors: he understood that they had been informed,
likewise, that the queen was alarmed for the safety of the camp, and
had written repeatedly urging him to abandon the siege. As the best
means of disproving all these falsehoods and destroying the vain
hopes of the enemy, he wrote to the queen entreating her to come
and take up her residence in the camp.



Great was the enthusiasm of the army when they beheld their
patriot queen advancing in state to share the toils and dangers
of her people. Isabella entered the camp attended by the
dignitaries and the whole retinue of her court to manifest that this
was no temporary visit. On one side of her was her daughter, the
infanta; on the other, the grand cardinal of Spain: Hernando de
Talavera, the prior of Prado, confessor to the queen, followed,
with a great train of prelates, courtiers, cavaliers, and ladies of
distinction. The cavalcade moved in calm and stately order through
the camp, softening the iron aspect of war by this array of courtly
grace and female beauty.

Isabella had commanded that on her coming to the camp the horrors
of war should be suspended and fresh offers of peace made to the
enemy. On her arrival, therefore, there had been a general cessation
of firing throughout the camp. A messenger was at the same time
despatched to the besieged, informing them of her being in the camp,
and of the determination of the sovereigns to make it their settled
residence until the city should be taken. The same terms were
offered in case of immediate surrender that had been granted to
Velez Malaga, but the inhabitants were threatened with captivity
and the sword should they persist in their defence.

Hamet el Zegri received this message with haughty contempt, and
dismissed the messenger without deigning a reply, and accompanied
by an escort to prevent his holding any communication with the
inhabitants in the streets. "The Christian sovereigns," said Hamet
to those about him, "have made this offer in consequence of their
despair. The silence of their batteries proves the truth of what has
been told us, that their powder is exhausted. They have no longer
the means of demolishing our walls, and if they remain much longer
the autumnal rains will interrupt their convoys and fill their camp with
famine and disease. The first storm will disperse their fleet, which
has no neighboring port of shelter: Africa will then be open to us to
procure reinforcements and supplies."

The words of Hamet el Zegri were hailed as oracular by his
adherents. Many of the peaceful part of the community, however,
ventured to remonstrate, and to implore him to accept the proffered
mercy. The stern Hamet silenced them with a terrific threat: he
declared that whoever should talk of capitulating or should hold any
communication with the Christians should be put to death. The
Gomeres, like true men of the sword, acted upon the menace of their
chieftain as upon a written law, and, having detected several of the
inhabitants in secret correspondence with the enemy, set upon and
slew them and confiscated their effects. This struck such terror
into the citizens that those who had been loudest in their murmurs
became suddenly mute, and were remarked as evincing the greatest
bustle and alacrity in the defence of the city.

When the messenger returned to the camp and reported the
contemptuous reception of the royal message, King Ferdinand
was exceedingly indignant. Finding the cessation of firing on the
queen's arrival had encouraged a belief among the enemy that
there was a scarcity of powder in the camp, he ordered a general
discharge from all the batteries. The sudden burst of war from
every quarter soon convinced the Moors of their error and completed
the confusion of the citizens, who knew not which most to dread,
their assailants or their defenders, the Christians or the Gomeres.

That evening the sovereigns visited the encampment of the marques
of Cadiz, which commanded a view over a great part of the city, the
camp, and the sea with its flotillas. The tent of the marques was of
great magnitude, furnished with hangings of rich brocade and French
cloth of the rarest texture. It was in the Oriental style, and, as it
crowned the height, with the surrounding tents of other cavaliers,
all sumptuously furnished, presented a gay and silken contrast to the
opposite towers of Gibralfaro. Here a splendid collation was served
up to the sovereigns, and the courtly revel that prevailed in this
chivalrous encampment, the glitter of pageantry, and the bursts of
festive music made more striking the gloom and silence that reigned
over the Moorish castle.

The marques of Cadiz while it was yet light conducted his royal
visitors to every point that commanded a view of the warlike scene
below. He caused the heavy lombards also to be discharged, that
the queen and ladies of the court might witness the effect of those
tremendous engines. The fair dames were filled with awe and
admiration as the mountain shook beneath their feet with the
thunder of the artillery and they beheld great fragments of the
Moorish walls tumbling down the rocks and precipices.

While the good marques was displaying these things to his royal
guests he lifted up his eyes, and to his astonishment beheld his own
banner hanging out from the nearest tower of Gibralfaro. The blood
mantled in his cheek, for it was a banner which he had lost at the
time of the memorable massacre of the heights of Malaga.* To make
this taunt more evident, several of the Gomeres displayed themselves
upon the battlements arrayed in the helmets and cuirasses of some
of the cavaliers slain or captured on that occasion. The marques of
Cadiz restrained his indignation and held his peace, but several of,
his cavaliers vowed loudly to revenge this cruel bravado on the
ferocious garrison of Gibralfaro.

*Diego de Valera, Cronica, MS.



The marques of Cadiz was not a cavalier that readily forgave an
injury or an insult. On the morning after the royal banquet his
batteries opened a tremendous fire upon Gibralfaro. All day the
encampment was wrapped in wreaths of smoke, nor did the assault
cease with the day, but throughout the night there was an incessant
flashing and thundering of the lombards, and the following morning
the assault rather increased than slackened in fury. The Moorish
bulwarks were no proof against those formidable engines. In a few
days the lofty tower on which the taunting banner had been displayed
was shattered, a smaller tower in its vicinity reduced to ruins, and
a great breach made in the intervening walls.

Several of the hot-spirited cavaliers were eager for storming the
breach sword in hand; others, more cool and wary, pointed out the
rashness of such an attempt, for the Moors had worked indefatigably
in the night; they had digged a deep ditch within the breach, and
had fortified it with palisadoes and a high breastwork. All, however,
agreed that the camp might safely be advanced near to the ruined
walls, and that it ought to be done in return for the insolent defiance
of the enemy.

The marques of Cadiz felt the temerity of the measure, but was
unwilling to dampen the zeal of these high-spirited cavaliers, and,
having chosen the post of danger in the camp, it did not become him
to decline any service merely because it might appear perilous. He
ordered his outposts, therefore, to be advanced within a stone's-
throw of the breach, but exhorted the soldiers to maintain the
utmost vigilance.

The thunder of the batteries had ceased; the troops, exhausted by
two nights' fatigue and watchfulness, and apprehending no danger
from the dismantled walls, were half of them asleep; the rest were
scattered about in negligent security. On a sudden upward of two
thousand Moors sallied forth from the castle, led on by Ibrahim
Zenete, the principal captain under Hamet. They fell with fearful
havoc upon the advanced guard, slaying many of them in their
sleep and putting the rest to headlong flight.

The marques was in his tent, about a bow-shot distant, when he
heard the tumult of the onset and beheld his men dying in confusion.
He rushed forth, followed by his standard-bearer. "Turn again,
cavaliers!" exclaimed he; "I am here, Ponce de Leon! To the foe! to
the foe!" The flying troops stopped at hearing his well-known voice,
rallied under his banner, and turned upon the enemy. The encampment
by this time was roused; several cavaliers from the adjoining stations
had hastened to the scene of action, with a number of Galicians and
soldiers of the Holy Brotherhood. An obstinate and bloody contest
ensued; the ruggedness of the place, the rocks, chasms, and
declivities broke it into numerous combats: Christian and Moor fought
hand to hand with swords and daggers, and often, grappling and
struggling, rolled together down the precipices.

The banner of the marques was in danger of being taken: he hastened
to its rescue, followed by some of his bravest cavaliers. They were
surrounded by the enemy, and several of them cut down. Don Diego
Ponce de Leon, brother to the marques, was wounded by an arrow,
and his son-in-law, Luis Ponce, was likewise wounded: they succeeded,
however, in rescuing the banner and bearing it off in safety. The battle
lasted for an hour; the height was covered with killed and wounded and
the blood flowed in streams down the rocks; at length, Ibrahim Zenete
being disabled by the thrust of a lance, the Moors gave way and
retreated to the castle.

They now opened a galling fire from their battlements and towers,
approaching the breaches so as to discharge their crossbows and
arquebuses into the advanced guard of the encampment. The
marques was singled out: the shot fell thick about him, and one
passed through his buckler and struck upon his cuirass, but without
doing him any injury. Every one now saw the danger and inutility of
approaching the camp thus near to the castle, and those who had
counselled it were now urgent that it should be withdrawn. It was
accordingly removed back to its original ground, from which the
marques had most reluctantly advanced it. Nothing but his valor
and timely aid had prevented this attack on his outpost from ending
in a total rout of all that part of the army.

Many cavaliers of distinction fell in this contest, but the loss of
none was felt more deeply than that of Ortega del Prado, captain
of escaladors. He was one of the bravest men in the service, the same
who had devised the first successful blow of the war, the storming
of Alhama, where he was the first to plant and mount the scaling-
ladders. He had always been high in the favor and confidence of the
noble Ponce de Leon, who knew how to appreciate and avail himself
of the merits of all able and valiant men.*

*Zurita, Mariana, Abarca.



Great were the exertions now made, both by the besiegers and the
besieged, to carry on the contest with the utmost vigor. Hamet went
the rounds of the walls and towers, doubling the guards and putting
everything in the best posture of defence. The garrison was divided
into parties of a hundred, to each of which a captain was appointed.
Some were to patrol, others to sally forth and skirmish with the
enemy, and others to hold themselves armed and in reserve. Six
albatozas, or floating batteries, were manned and armed with
pieces of artillery to attack the fleet.

On the other hand, the Castilian sovereigns kept open a
communication by sea with various parts of Spain, from which they
received provisions of all kinds; they ordered supplies of powder
also from Valencia, Barcelona, Sicily, and Portugal. They made
great preparations also for storming the city. Towers of wood
were constructed to move on wheels, each capable of holding one
hundred men; they were furnished with ladders to be thrown from
their summits to the tops of the walls, and within those ladders
others were encased, to be let down for the descent of the troops
into the city. There were gallipagos, or tortoises, also being great
wooden shields, covered with hides, to protect the assailants and
those who undermined the walls.

Secret mines were commenced in various places: some were intended
to reach to the foundations of the walls, which were to be propped
up with wood, ready to be set on fire; others were to pass under the
walls, and remain ready to be broken open so as to give entrance to
the besiegers. At these mines the army worked day and night, and
during these secret preparations the ordnance kept up a fire upon
the city to divert the attention of the besieged.

In the mean time, Hamet displayed wonderful vigor and ingenuity
in defending the city and in repairing or fortifying by deep ditches
the breaches made by the enemy. He noted also every place where
the camp might be assailed with advantage, and gave the besieging
army no repose night or day. While his troops sallied on the land,
his floating batteries attacked the besiegers on the sea, so that there
was incessant skirmishing. The tents called the Queen's Hospital
were crowded with wounded, and the whole army suffered from
constant watchfulness and fatigue. To guard against the sudden
assaults of the Moors, the trenches were deepened and palisadoes
erected in front of the camp; and in that part facing Gibralfaro, where
the rocky heights did not admit of such defences, a high rampart of
earth was thrown up. The cavaliers Garcilasso de la Vega, Juan de
Zuniga, and Diego de Atayde were appointed to go the rounds and
keep vigilant watch that these fortifications were maintained in
good order.

In a little while Hamet discovered the mines secretly commenced by
the Christians: he immediately ordered counter-mines. The soldiers
mutually worked until they met and fought hand to hand in these
subterranean passages. The Christians were driven out of one of
their mines; fire was set to the wooden framework and the mine
destroyed. Encouraged by this success, the Moors attempted a
general attack upon the camp, the mines, and the besieging fleet.
The battle lasted for six hours on land and water, above and below
ground, on bulwark, and in trench and mine; the Moors displayed
wonderful intrepidity, but were finally repulsed at all points, and
obliged to retire into the city, where they were closely invested,
without the means of receiving any assistance from abroad.

The horrors of famine were now added to the other miseries of
Malaga. Hamet, with the spirit of a man bred up to war, considered
everything as subservient to the wants of the soldier, and ordered
all the grain in the city to be gathered and garnered up for the sole
use of those who fought. Even this was dealt out sparingly, and
each soldier received four ounces of bread in the morning and two
in the evening for his daily allowance.

The wealthy inhabitants and all those peacefully inclined mourned
over a resistance which brought destruction upon their houses,
death into their families, and which they saw must end in their
ruin and captivity; still, none of them dared to speak openly of
capitulation, or even to manifest their grief, lest they should
awaken the wrath of their fierce defenders. They surrounded their
civic champion, Ali Dordux, the great and opulent merchant, who
had buckled on shield and cuirass and taken spear in hand for
the defence of his native city, and with a large body of the braver
citizens had charge of one of the gates and a considerable portion
of the walls. Drawing Ali Dordux aside, they poured forth their
griefs to him in secret. "Why," said they, "should we suffer our
native city to be made a mere bulwark and fighting-place for foreign
barbarians and desperate men? They have no families to care for,
no property to lose, no love for the soil, and no value for their
lives. They fight to gratify a thirst for blood or a desire for
revenge, and will fight on until Malaga becomes a ruin and its
people slaves. Let us think and act for ourselves, our wives,
and our children. Let us make private terms with the Christians
before it is too late, and save ourselves from destruction."

The bowels of Ali Dordux yearned toward his fellow citizens; he
bethought him also of the sweet security of peace and the bloodless
yet gratifying triumphs of gainful traffic. The idea also of a secret
negotiation or bargain with the Castilian sovereigns for the
redemption of his native city was more conformable to his accustomed
habits than this violent appeal to arms, for, though he had for a
time assumed the warrior, he had not forgotten the merchant. Ali
Dordux communed, therefore, with the citizen-soldiers under his
command, and they readily conformed to his opinion. Concerting
together, they wrote a proposition to the Castilian sovereigns,
offering to admit the army into the part of the city entrusted to
their care on receiving assurance of protection for the lives and
properties of the inhabitants. This writing they delivered to a
trusty emissary to take to the Christian camp, appointing the
hour and place of his return that they might be ready to admit
him unperceived.

The Moor made his way in safety to the camp, and was admitted
to the presence of the sovereigns. Eager to gain the city without
further cost of blood or treasure, they gave a written promise to
grant the condition, and the Moor set out joyfully on his return.
As he approached the walls where Ali Dordux and his confederates
were waiting to receive him, he was descried by a patrolling band of
Gomeres, and considered a spy coming from the camp of the besiegers.
They issued forth and seized him in sight of his employers, who gave
themselves up for lost. The Gomeres had conducted him nearly to the
gate, when he escaped from their grasp and fled. They endeavored to
overtake him, but were encumbered with armor; he was lightly clad,
and he fled for his life. One of the Gomeres paused, and, levelling
his crossbow, let fly a bolt which pierced the fugitive between the
shoulders; he fell and was nearly within their grasp, but rose again
and with a desperate effort attained the Christian camp. The Gomeres
gave over the pursuit, and the citizens returned thanks to Allah for
their deliverance from this fearful peril. As to the faithful messenger,
he died of his wound shortly after reaching the camp, consoled with
the idea that he had preserved the secret and the lives of his employers.*

*Pulgar, Cronica, p. 3, c. 80.



The sufferings of Malaga spread sorrow and anxiety among the
Moors, and they dreaded lest this beautiful city, once the bulwark
of the kingdom, should fall into the hands of the unbelievers. The
old warrior-king, Abdallah el Zagal, was still sheltered in Guadix,
where he was slowly gathering together his shattered forces. When
the people of Guadix heard of the danger and distress of Malaga,
they urged to be led to its relief, and the alfaquis admonished El
Zagal not to desert so righteous and loyal a city in its extremity.
His own warlike nature made him feel a sympathy for a place that
made so gallant a resistance, and he despatched as powerful a
reinforcement as he could spare under conduct of a chosen captain,
with orders to throw themselves into the city.

Intelligence of this reinforcement reached Boabdil el Chico in his
royal palace of the Alhambra. Filled with hostility against his
uncle, and desirous of proving his loyalty to the Castilian sovereigns,
he immediately sent forth a superior force of horse and foot under
an able commander to intercept the detachment. A sharp conflict
ensued; the troops of El Zagal were routed with great loss and
fled back in confusion to Guadix.

Boabdil, not being accustomed to victories, was flushed with
this melancholy triumph. He sent tidings of it to the Castilian
sovereigns, accompanied with rich silks, boxes of Arabian perfume,
a cup of gold richly wrought, and a female captive of Ubeda as
presents to the queen, and four Arabian steeds magnificently
caparisoned, a sword and dagger richly mounted, and several
albornozes and other robes sumptuously embroidered for the
king. He entreated them at the same time always to look upon
him with favor as their devoted vassal.

Boabdil was fated to be unfortunate, even in his victories. His
defeat of the forces of his uncle destined to the relief of unhappy
Malaga shocked the feelings and cooled the loyalty of many of his
best adherents. The mere men of traffic might rejoice in their
golden interval of peace, but the chivalrous spirits of Granada
spurned a security purchased by such sacrifices of pride and
affection. The people at large, having gratified their love of
change, began to question whether they had acted generously
by their old fighting monarch. "El Zagal," said they, "was fierce
and bloody, but then he was faithful to his country; he was an
usurper, it is true, but then he maintained the glory of the crown
which he usurped. If his sceptre was a rod of iron to his subjects,
it was a sword of steel against their enemies. This Boabdil sacrifices
religion, friends, country, everything, to a mere shadow of royalty,
and is content to hold a rush for a sceptre."

These factious murmurs soon reached the ears of Boabdil, and he
apprehended another of his customary reverses. He sent in all haste
to the Castilian sovereigns beseeching military aid to keep him on
his throne. Ferdinand graciously complied with a request so much in
unison with his policy. A detachment of one thousand cavalry and two
thousand infantry was sent under the command of Don Fernandez
Gonsalvo of Cordova, subsequently renowned as the grand captain.
With this succor Boabdil expelled from the city all those who were
hostile to him and in favor of his uncle. He felt secure in these
troops, from their being distinct in manners, language, and religion
from his subjects, and compromised with his pride in thus exhibiting
that most unnatural and humiliating of all regal spectacles, a
monarch supported on his throne by foreign weapons and by soldiers
hostile to his people. Nor was Boabdil el Chico the only Moorish
sovereign that sought protection from Ferdinand and Isabella. A
splendid galley with latine sails and several banks of oars, displaying
the standard of the Crescent, but likewise a white flag in sign of
amity, came one day into the harbor. An ambassador landed from
it within the Christian lines. He came from the king of Tremezan, and
brought presents similar to those of Boabdil, consisting of Arabian
coursers, with bits, stirrups, and other furniture of gold, together
with costly Moorish mantles: for the queen there were sumptuous
shawls, robes, and silken stuffs, ornaments of gold, and exquisite
Oriental perfumes.

The king of Tremezan had been alarmed at the rapid conquests of
the Spanish arms, and startled by the descent of several Spanish
cruisers on the coast of Africa. He craved to be considered a vassal
to the Castilian sovereigns, and that they would extend such favor
and security to his ships and subjects as had been shown to other
Moors who had submitted to their sway. He requested a painting
of their arms, that he and his subjects might recognize and respect
their standard whenever they encountered it. At the same time he
implored their clemency toward unhappy Malaga, and that its
inhabitants might experience the same favor that had been shown
toward the Moors of other captured cities.

The embassy was graciously received by the Christian sovereigns.
They granted the protection required, ordering their commanders
to respect the flag of Tremezan unless it should be found rendering
assistance to the enemy. They sent also to the Barbary monarch their
royal arms moulded in escutcheons of gold, a hand's-breadth in size.*

*Cura de los Palacios, c. 84; Pulgar, part 3, c. 68.

While thus the chances of assistance from without daily decreased,
famine raged in the city. The inhabitants were compelled to eat the
flesh of horses, and many died of hunger. What made the sufferings
of the citizens the more intolerable was to behold the sea covered
with ships daily arriving with provisions for the besiegers. Day after
day also they saw herds of fat cattle and flocks of sheep driven into
the camp. Wheat and flour were piled in huge mounds in the centre
of the encampments, glaring in the sunshine, and tantalizing the
wretched citizens, who, while they and their children were perishing
with hunger, beheld prodigal abundance reigning within a bow-shot
of their walls.



There lived at this time in a hamlet in the neighborhood of Guadix
an ancient Moor of the name of Ibrahim el Guerbi. He was a native
of the island of Guerbes, in the kingdom of Tunis, and had for several
years led the life of a santon or hermit. The hot sun of Africa had
dried his blood, and rendered him of an exalted yet melancholy
temperament. He passed most of his time in caves of the mountains
in meditation, prayer, and rigorous abstinence, until his body was
wasted and his mind bewildered, and he fancied himself favored with
divine revelations and visited by angels sent by Mahomet. The Moors,
who had a great reverence for all enthusiasts of the kind, believed in
his being inspired, listened to all his ravings as veritable prophecies,
and denominated him "el santo," or the saint.

The woes of the kingdom of Granada had long exasperated the gloomy
spirit of this man, and he had beheld with indignation this beautiful
country wrested from the dominion of the faithful and becoming a
prey to the unbelievers. He had implored the blessings of Allah on
the troops which issued forth from Guadix for the relief of Malaga, but
when he saw them return routed and scattered by their own countrymen,
he retired to his cell, shut himself up from the world, and was plunged
for a time in the blackest melancholy.

On a sudden he made his appearance again in the streets of Guadix,
his face haggard, his form emaciated, but his eyes beaming with
fire. He said that Allah had sent an angel to him in the solitude of
his cell, revealing to him a mode of delivering Malaga from its perils
and striking horror and confusion into the camp of the unbelievers.
The Moors listened with eager credulity to his words: four hundred
of them offered to follow him even to the death and to obey implicitly
his commands. Of this number many were Gomeres, anxious to relieve
their countrymen who formed part of the garrison of Malaga.

They traversed the kingdom by the wild and lonely passes of the
mountains, concealing themselves in the day and travelling only in
the night to elude the Christian scouts. At length they arrived at
the mountains which tower above Malaga, and, looking down, beheld
the city completely invested, a chain of encampments extending
round it from shore to shore and a line of ships blockading it by sea,
while the continual thunder of artillery and the smoke rising in
various parts showed that the siege was pressed with great activity.
The hermit scanned the encampments warily from his lofty height. He
saw that the part of the encampment of the marques of Cadiz which
was at the foot of the height and on the margin of the sea was most
assailable, the rocky soil not admitting ditches or palisadoes.
Remaining concealed all day, he descended with his followers at
night to the sea-coast and approached silently to the outworks.
He had given them their instructions: they were to rush suddenly
upon the camp, fight their way through, and throw themselves into
the city.

It was just at the gray of the dawning, when objects are obscurely
visible, that they made this desperate attempt. Some sprang suddenly
upon the sentinels, others rushed into the sea and got round the
works, others clambered over the breastworks. There was sharp
skirmishing; a great part of the Moors were cut to pieces, but about
two hundred succeeded in getting into the gates of Malaga.

The santon took no part in the conflict, nor did he endeavor to
enter the city. His plans were of a different nature. Drawing
apart from the battle, he threw himself on his knees on a rising
ground, and, lifting his hands to heaven, appeared to be absorbed
in prayer. The Christians, as they were searching for fugitives in
the clefts of the rocks, found him at his devotions. He stirred not
at their approach, but remained fixed as a statue, without changing
color or moving a muscle. Filled with surprise, not unmingled with
awe, they took him to the marques of Cadiz. He was wrapped in a
coarse albornoz, or Moorish mantle, his beard was long and grizzled,
and there was something wild and melancholy in his look that
inspired curiosity. On being examined, he gave himself out as a
saint to whom Allah had revealed the events that were to take place
in that siege. The marques demanded when and how Malaga was to
be taken. He replied that he knew full well, but he was forbidden to
reveal those important secrets except to the king and queen. The
good marques was not more given to superstitious fancies than other
commanders of his time, yet there seemed something singular and
mysterious about this man; he might have some important intelligence
to communicate; so he was persuaded to send him to the king and
queen. He was conducted to the royal tent, surrounded by a curious
multitude exclaiming "El Moro Santo!" for the news had spread through
the camp that they had taken a Moorish prophet.

The king, having dined, was taking his siesta, or afternoon's sleep,
in his tent, and the queen, though curious to see this singular man,
yet from a natural delicacy and reserve delayed until the king should
be present. He was taken, therefore, to an adjoining tent, in which
were Dona Beatrix de Bovadilla, marchioness of Moya, and Don
Alvaro of Portugal, son of the duke of Braganza, with two or three
attendants. The Moor, ignorant of the Spanish tongue, had not
understood the conversation of the guards, and supposed, from
the magnificence of the furniture and the silken hangings, that this
was the royal tent. From the respect paid by the attendants to Don
Alvaro and the marchioness he concluded that they were the king
and queen.

He now asked for a draught of water: a jar was brought to him, and

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