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History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella V1 by William H. Prescott

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courtesy relieve in some measure the ruder features of an almost
uninterrupted warfare, that was necessarily kept up between the rival
nations. [28]

The Moorish and Christian knights were also in the habit of exchanging
visits at the courts of their respective masters. The latter were wont to
repair to Granada to settle their affairs of honor, by personal
rencounter, in the presence of its sovereign. The disaffected nobles of
Castile, among whom Mariana especially notices the Velas and the Castros,
often sought an asylum there, and served under the Moslem banner. With
this interchange of social courtesy between the two nations, it could not
but happen that each should contract somewhat of the peculiarities natural
to the other. The Spaniard acquired something of the gravity and
magnificence of demeanor proper to the Arabian; and the latter relaxed his
habitual reserve, and, above all, the jealousy and gross sensuality, which
characterize the nations of the east. [29]

Indeed, if we were to rely on the pictures presented to us in the Spanish
ballads or _romances_, we should admit as unreserved an intercourse
between the sexes to have existed among the Spanish Arabs, as with any
other people of Europe. The Moorish lady is represented there as an
undisguised spectator of the public festivals; while her knight, bearing
an embroidered mantle or scarf, or some other token of her favor, contends
openly in her presence for the prize of valor, mingles with her in the
graceful dance of the Zambra, or sighs away his soul in moonlight
serenades under her balcony. [30]

Other circumstances, especially the frescoes still extant on the walls of
the Alhambra, may be cited as corroborative of the conclusions afforded by
the _romances_, implying a latitude in the privileges accorded to the
sex, similar to that in Christian countries, and altogether alien from the
genius of Mahometanism. [31] The chivalrous character ascribed to the
Spanish Moslems appears, moreover, in perfect conformity to this. Thus
some of their sovereigns, we are told, after the fatigues of the
tournament, were wont to recreate their spirits with "elegant poetry, and
florid discourses of amorous and knightly history." The ten qualities,
enumerated as essential to a true knight, were "piety, valor, courtesy,
prowess, the gifts of poetry and eloquence, and dexterity in the
management of the horse, the sword, lance, and bow." [32] The history of
the Spanish Arabs, especially in the latter wars of Granada, furnishes
repeated examples not merely of the heroism, which distinguished the
European chivalry of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but
occasionally of a polished courtesy, that might have graced a Bayard or a
Sidney. This combination of Oriental magnificence and knightly prowess
shed a ray of glory over the closing days of the Arabian empire in Spain,
and served to conceal, though it could not correct, the vices which it
possessed in common with all Mahometan institutions.

The government of Granada was not administered with the same tranquillity
as that of Cordova. Revolutions were perpetually occurring, which may be
traced sometimes to the tyranny of the prince, but more frequently to the
factions of the seraglio, the soldiery, or the licentious populace of the
capital. The latter, indeed, more volatile than the sands of the deserts
from which they originally sprung, were driven by every gust of passion
into the most frightful excesses, deposing and even assassinating their
monarchs, violating their palaces, and scattering abroad their beautiful
collections and libraries; while the kingdom, unlike that of Cordova, was
so contracted in its extent, that every convulsion of the capital was felt
to its farthest extremities. Still, however, it held out, almost
miraculously, against the Christian arms, and the storms that beat upon it
incessantly, for more than two centuries, scarcely wore away anything from
its original limits.

Several circumstances may be pointed out as enabling Granada to maintain
this protracted resistance. Its concentrated population furnished such
abundant supplies of soldiers, that its sovereigns could bring into the
field an army of a hundred thousand men. [33] Many of these were drawn
from the regions of the Alpuxarras, whose rugged inhabitants had not been
corrupted by the soft effeminacy of the plains. The ranks were
occasionally recruited, moreover, from the warlike tribes of Africa. The
Moors of Granada are praised by their enemies for their skill with the
cross-bow, to the use of which they were trained from childhood. [34] But
their strength lay chiefly in their cavalry. Their spacious vegas afforded
an ample field for the display of their matchless horsemanship; while the
face of the country, intersected by mountains and intricate defiles, gave
a manifest advantage to the Arabian light-horse over the steel-clad
cavalry of the Christians, and was particularly suited to the wild
_guerilla_ warfare, in which the Moors so much excelled. During the
long hostilities of the country, almost every city had been converted into
a fortress. The number of these fortified places in the territory of
Granada was ten times as great as is now to be found throughout the whole
Peninsula. [35] Lastly, in addition to these means of defence, may be
mentioned their early acquaintance with gunpowder, which, like the Greek
fire of Constantinople, contributed perhaps in some degree to prolong
their precarious existence beyond its natural term.

But, after all, the strength of Granada, like that of Constantinople, lay
less in its own resources than in the weakness of its enemies, who,
distracted by the feuds of a turbulent aristocracy, especially during the
long minorities with which Castile was afflicted, perhaps, more than any
other nation in Europe, seemed to be more remote from the conquest of
Granada at the death of Henry the Fourth, than at that of St. Ferdinand in
the thirteenth century. Before entering on the achievement of this
conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella, it may not be amiss to notice the
probable influence exerted by the Spanish Arabs on European civilization.

Notwithstanding the high advances made by the Arabians in almost every
branch of learning, and the liberal import of certain sayings ascribed to
Mahomet, the spirit of his religion was eminently unfavorable to letters.
The Koran, whatever be the merit of its literary execution, does not, we
believe, contain a single precept in favor of general science. [36]
Indeed, during the first century after its promulgation, almost as little
attention was bestowed upon this by the Saracens, as in their "days of
ignorance," as the period is stigmatized which preceded the advent of
their apostle. [37] But, after the nation had reposed from its tumultuous
military career, the taste for elegant pleasures, which naturally results
from opulence and leisure, began to flow in upon it. It entered upon this
new field with all its characteristic enthusiasm, and seemed ambitious of
attaining the same pre-eminence in science, that it had already reached in

It was at the commencement of this period of intellectual fermentation,
that the last of the Omeyades, escaping into Spain, established there the
kingdom of Cordova, and imported along with him the fondness for luxury
and letters that had begun to display itself in the capitals of the east.
His munificent spirit descended upon his successors; and, on the breaking
up of the empire, the various capitals, Seville, Murcia, Malaga, Granada,
and others, which rose upon its ruins, became the centres of so many
intellectual systems, that continued to emit a steady lustre through the
clouds and darkness of succeeding centuries. The period of this literary
civilization reached far into the fourteenth century, and thus, embracing
an interval of six hundred years, may be said to have exceeded in duration
that of any other literature, ancient or modern.

There were several auspicious circumstances in the condition of the
Spanish Arabs, which distinguished them from their Mahometan brethren. The
temperate climate of Spain was far more propitious to robustness and
elasticity of intellect than the sultry regions of Arabia and Africa. Its
long line of coast and convenient havens opened to it an enlarged
commerce. Its number of rival states encouraged a generous emulation, like
that which glowed in ancient Greece and modern Italy; and was infinitely
more favorable to the development of the mental powers than the far-
extended and sluggish empires of Asia. Lastly, a familiar intercourse with
the Europeans served to mitigate in the Spanish Arabs some of the more
degrading superstitions incident to their religion, and to impart to them
nobler ideas of the independence and moral dignity of man, than are to be
found in the slaves of eastern despotism.

Under these favorable circumstances, provisions for education were
liberally multiplied, colleges, academies, and gymnasiums springing up
spontaneously, as it were, not merely in the principal cities, but in the
most obscure villages of the country. No less than fifty of these colleges
or schools could be discerned scattered over the suburbs and populous
plain of Granada. Seventy public libraries, if we may credit the report,
were counted within the narrow limits of the Moslem territory. Every place
of note seems to have furnished materials for a literary history. The
copious catalogues of writers, still extant in the Escurial, show how
extensively the cultivation of science was pursued, even through its
minutest subdivisions; while a biographical notice of blind men, eminent
for their scholarship in Spain, proves how far the general avidity for
knowledge triumphed over the most discouraging obstacles of nature. [38]

The Spanish Arabs emulated their countrymen of the east in their devotion
to natural and mathematical science. They penetrated into the remotest
regions of Africa and Asia, transmitting an exact account of their
proceedings to the national academies. They contributed to astronomical
knowledge by the number and accuracy of their observations, and by the
improvement of instruments and the erection of observatories, of which the
noble tower of Seville is one of the earliest examples. They furnished
their full proportion in the department of history, which, according to an
Arabian author cited by D'Herbelot, could boast of thirteen hundred
writers. The treatises on logic and metaphysics amount to one-ninth of the
surviving treasures of the Escurial; and, to conclude this summary of
naked details, some of their scholars appear to have entered upon as
various a field of philosophical inquiry, as would be crowded into a
modern encyclopaedia. [39]

The results, it must be confessed, do not appear to have corresponded with
this magnificent apparatus and unrivalled activity of research. The mind
of the Arabians was distinguished by the most opposite characteristics,
which sometimes, indeed, served to neutralize each other. An acute and
subtile perception was often clouded by mysticism and abstraction. They
combined a habit of classification and generalization, with a marvellous
fondness for detail; a vivacious fancy with a patience of application,
that a German of our day might envy; and, while in fiction they launched
boldly into originality, indeed extravagance, they were content in
philosophy to tread servilely in the track of their ancient masters. They
derived their science from versions of the Greek philosophers; but, as
their previous discipline had not prepared them for its reception, they
were oppressed rather than stimulated by the weight of the inheritance.
They possessed an indefinite power of accumulation, but they rarely
ascended to general principles, or struck out new and important truths; at
least, this is certain in regard to their metaphysical labors.

Hence Aristotle, who taught them to arrange what they had already
acquired, rather than to advance to new discoveries, became the god of
their idolatry. They piled commentary on commentary, and, in their blind
admiration of his system, may be almost said to have been more of
Peripatetics than the Stagirite himself. The Cordovan Averroes was the
most eminent of his Arabian commentators, and undoubtedly contributed more
than any other individual to establish the authority of Aristotle over the
reason of mankind for so many ages. Yet his various illustrations have
served, in the opinion of European critics, to darken rather than
dissipate the ambiguities of his original, and have even led to the
confident assertion that he was wholly unacquainted with the Greek
language. [40]

The Saracens gave an entirely new face to pharmacy and chemistry. They
introduced a great variety of salutary medicaments into Europe. The
Spanish Arabs, in particular, are commended by Sprengel above their
brethren for their observations on the practice of medicine. [41] But
whatever real knowledge they possessed was corrupted by their inveterate
propensity for mystical and occult science. They too often exhausted both
health and fortune in fruitless researches after the elixir of life and
the philosopher's stone. Their medical prescriptions were regulated by the
aspect of the stars. Their physics were debased by magic, their chemistry
degenerated into alchemy, their astronomy into astrology.

In the fruitful field of history, their success was even more equivocal.
They seem to have been wholly destitute of the philosophical spirit, which
gives life to this kind of composition. They were the disciples of
fatalism and the subjects of a despotic government. Man appeared to them
only in the contrasted aspects of slave and master. What could they know
of the finer moral relations, or of the higher energies of the soul, which
are developed only under free and beneficent institutions? Even could they
have formed conceptions of these, how would they have dared to express
them? Hence their histories are too often mere barren chronological
details, or fulsome panegyrics on their princes, unenlivened by a single
spark of philosophy or criticism.

Although the Spanish Arabs are not entitled to the credit of having
wrought any important revolution in intellectual or moral science, they
are commended by a severe critic, as exhibiting in their writings "the
germs of many theories, which have been reproduced as discoveries in later
ages," [42] and they silently perfected several of those useful arts,
which have had a sensible influence on the happiness and improvement of
mankind. Algebra and the higher mathematics were taught in their schools,
and thence diffused over Europe. The manufacture of paper, which, since
the invention of printing, has contributed so essentially to the rapid
circulation of knowledge, was derived through them. Casiri has discovered
several manuscripts of cotton paper in the Escurial as early as 1009, and
of linen paper of the date of 1106; [43] the origin of which latter fabric
Tiraboschi has ascribed to an Italian of Trevigi, in the middle of the
fourteenth century. [44] Lastly, the application of gunpowder to military
science, which has wrought an equally important revolution, though of a
more doubtful complexion, in the condition of society, was derived through
the same channel. [45]

The influence of the Spanish Arabs, however, is discernible not so much in
the amount of knowledge, as in the impulse, which they communicated to the
long-dormant energies of Europe. Their invasion was coeval with the
commencement of that night of darkness, which divides the modern from the
ancient world. The soil had been impoverished by long, assiduous
cultivation. The Arabians came like a torrent, sweeping down and
obliterating even the land-marks of former civilization, but bringing with
it a fertilizing principle, which, as the waters receded, gave new life
and loveliness to the landscape. The writings of the Saracens were
translated and diffused throughout Europe. Their schools were visited by
disciples, who, roused from their lethargy, caught somewhat of the
generous enthusiasm of their masters; and a healthful action was given to
the European intellect, which, however ill-directed at first, was thus
prepared for the more judicious and successful efforts of later times.

It is comparatively easy to determine the value of the scientific labors
of a people, for truth is the same in all languages; but the laws of taste
differ so widely in different nations, that it requires a nicer
discrimination to pronounce fairly upon such works as are regulated by
them. Nothing is more common than to see the poetry of the east condemned
as tumid, over-refined, infected with meretricious ornament and conceits,
and, in short, as every way contravening the principles of good taste. Few
of the critics, who thus peremptorily condemn, are capable of reading a
line of the original. The merit of poetry, however, consists so much in
its literary execution, that a person, to pronounce upon it, should be
intimately acquainted with the whole import of the idiom in which it is
written. The style of poetry, indeed of all ornamental writing, whether
prose or verse, in order to produce a proper effect, must be raised or
relieved, as it were, upon the prevailing style of social intercourse.
Even where this is highly figurative and impassioned, as with the
Arabians, whose ordinary language is made up of metaphor, that of the poet
must be still more so. Hence the tone of elegant literature varies so
widely in different countries, even in those of Europe, which approach the
nearest to each other in their principles of taste, that it would be found
extremely difficult to effect a close translation of the most admired
specimens of eloquence from the language of one nation into that of any
other. A page of Boccaccio or Bembo, for instance, done into literal
English, would have an air of intolerable artifice and verbiage. The
choicest morsels of Massillon, Bossuet, or the rhetorical Thomas, would
savor marvellously of bombast; and how could we in any degree keep pace
with the magnificent march of the Castilian! Yet surely we are not to
impugn the taste of all these nations, who attach much more importance,
and have paid (at least this is true of the French and Italian) much
greater attention to the mere beauties of literary finish, than English

Whatever may be the sins of the Arabians on this head, they are certainly
not those of negligence. The Spanish Arabs, in particular, were noted for
the purity and elegance of their idiom; insomuch that Casiri affects to
determine the locality of an author by the superior refinement of his
style. Their copious philological and rhetorical treatises, their arts of
poetry, grammars, and rhyming dictionaries, show to what an excessive
refinement they elaborated the art of composition. Academies, far more
numerous than those of Italy, to which they subsequently served for a
model, invited by their premiums frequent competitions in poetry and
eloquence. To poetry, indeed, especially of the tender kind, the Spanish
Arabs seem to have been as indiscriminately addicted as the Italians in
the time of Petrarch; and there was scarcely a doctor in church or state,
but at some time or other offered up his amorous incense on the altar of
the muse. [46]

With all this poetic feeling, however, the Arabs never availed themselves
of the treasures of Grecian eloquence, which lay open before them. Not a
poet or orator of any eminence in that language seems to have been
translated by them. [47] The temperate tone of Attic composition appeared
tame to the fervid conceptions of the east. Neither did they venture upon
what in Europe are considered the higher walks of the art, the drama and
the epic. [48] None of their writers in prose or verse show much attention
to the development or dissection of character. Their inspiration exhaled
in lyrical effusions, in elegies, epigrams, and idyls. They sometimes,
moreover, like the Italians, employed verse as the vehicle of instruction
in the grave and recondite sciences. The general character of their poetry
is bold, florid, impassioned, richly colored with imagery, sparkling with
conceits and metaphors, and occasionally breathing a deep tone of moral
sensibility, as in some of the plaintive effusions ascribed by Conde to
the royal poets of Cordova. The compositions of the golden age of the
Abassides, and of the preceding period, do not seem to have been infected
with the taint of exaggeration, so offensive to a European, which
distinguishes the later productions in the decay of the empire.

Whatever be thought of the influence of the Arabic on European literature
in general, there can be no reasonable doubt that it has been considerable
on the Provençal and the Castilian. In the latter especially, so far from
being confined to the vocabulary, or to external forms of composition, it
seems to have penetrated deep into its spirit, and is plainly discernible
in that affectation of stateliness and Oriental hyberbole, which
characterizes Spanish writers even at the present day; in the subtilties
and conceits with which the ancient Castilian verse is so liberally
bespangled; and in the relish for proverbs and prudential maxims, which is
so general that it may be considered national. [49]

A decided effect has been produced on the romantic literature of Europe by
those tales of fairy enchantment, so characteristic of Oriental genius,
and in which it seems to have revelled with uncontrolled delight. These
tales, which furnished the principal diversion of the East, were imported
by the Saracens into Spain; and we find the monarchs of Cordova solacing
their leisure hours with listening to their _rawis_, or novelists, who
sang to them.

"Of ladye-love and war, romance, and knightly worth." [50]

The same spirit, penetrating into France, stimulated the more sluggish
inventions of the _trouvère_, and, at a later and more polished period,
called forth the imperishable creations of the Italian muse. [51]

It is unfortunate for the Arabians, that their literature should be locked
up in a character and idiom so difficult of access to European scholars.
Their wild, imaginative poetry, scarcely capable of transfusion into a
foreign tongue, is made known to us only through the medium of bald prose
translation, while their scientific treatises have been done into Latin
with an inaccuracy, which, to make use of a pun of Casiri's, merits the
name of perversions rather than versions of the originals. [52] How
obviously inadequate, then, are our means of forming any just estimate of
their literary merits! It is unfortunate for them, moreover, that the
Turks, the only nation, which, from an identity of religion and government
with the Arabs, as well as from its political consequence, would seem to
represent them on the theatre of modern Europe, should be a race so
degraded; one which, during the five centuries that it has been in
possession of the finest climate and monuments of antiquity, has so seldom
been quickened into a display of genius, or added so little of positive
value to the literary treasures descended from its ancient masters. Yet
this people, so sensual and sluggish, we are apt to confound in
imagination with the sprightly, intellectual Arab. Both indeed have been
subjected to the influence of the same degrading political and religious
institutions, which on the Turks have produced the results naturally to
have been expected; while the Arabians, on the other hand, exhibit the
extraordinary phenomenon of a nation, under all these embarrassments,
rising to a high degree of elegance and intellectual culture.

The empire, which once embraced more than half of the ancient world, has
now shrunk within its original limits; and the Bedouin wanders over his
native desert as free, and almost as uncivilized, as before the coming of
his apostle. The language, which was once spoken along the southern shores
of the Mediterranean and the whole extent of the Indian Ocean, is broken
up into a variety of discordant dialects. Darkness has again settled over
those regions of Africa, which were illumined by the light of learning.
The elegant dialect of the Koran is studied as a dead language, even in
the birth-place of the prophet. Not a printing-press at this day is to be
found throughout the whole Arabian Peninsula. Even in Spain, in Christian
Spain, alas! the contrast is scarcely less degrading. A death-like torpor
has succeeded to her former intellectual activity. Her cities are emptied
of the population with which they teemed in the days of the Saracens. Her
climate is as fair, but her fields no longer bloom with the same rich and
variegated husbandry. Her most interesting monuments are those constructed
by the Arabs; and the traveller, as he wanders amid their desolate, but
beautiful ruins, ponders on the destinies of a people, whose very
existence seems now to have been almost as fanciful as the magical
creations in one of their own fairy tales.

* * * *

Notwithstanding the history of the Arabs is so intimately connected with
that of the Spaniards, that it may be justly said to form the reverse side
of it, and notwithstanding the amplitude of authentic documents in the
Arabic tongue to be found in the public libraries, the Castilian writers,
even the most eminent, until the latter half of the last century, with an
insensibility which can be imputed to nothing else but a spirit of
religious bigotry, have been content to derive their narratives
exclusively from national authorities. A fire, which, occurred in the
Escurial in 1671, having consumed more than three-quarters of the
magnificent collection of eastern manuscripts which it contained, the
Spanish government, taking some shame to itself, as it would appear, for
its past supineness, caused a copious catalogue of the surviving volumes,
to the number of 1850, to be compiled by the learned Casiri; and the
result was his celebrated work, "Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana
Escurialensis," which appeared in the years 1760-70, and which would
reflect credit from the splendor of its typographical execution on any
press of the present day. This work, although censured by some later
Orientalists as hasty and superficial, must ever be highly valued as
affording the only complete index to the rich repertory of Arabian
manuscripts in the Escurial, and for the ample evidence which it exhibits
of the science and mental culture of the Spanish Arabs. Several other
native scholars, among whom Andres and Masdeu may be particularly noticed,
have made extensive researches into the literary history of this people.
Still, their political history, so essential to a correct knowledge of the
Spanish, was comparatively neglected, until Senor Conde, the late learned
librarian of the Academy, who had given ample evidence of his Oriental
learning in his version and illustrations of the Nubian Geographer, and a
Dissertation on Arabic Coins published in the fifth volume of the Memoirs
of the Royal Academy of History, compiled his work entitled "Historia de
la Dominacion de los Arabes en España." The first volume appeared in 1820.
Bat unhappily the death of its author, occurring in the autumn of the same
year, prevented the completion of his design. The two remaining volumes,
however, were printed in the course of that and the following year from
his own manuscripts; and although their comparative meagreness and
confused chronology betray the want of the same paternal hand, they
contain much interesting information. The relation of the conquest of
Granada, especially, with which the work concludes, exhibits some
important particulars in a totally different point of view from that in
which they had been presented by the principal Spanish historians.

The first volume, which may be considered as having received the last
touches of its author, embraces a circumstantial narrative of the great
Saracen invasion, of the subsequent condition of Spain under the viceroys,
and of the empire of the Omeyades; undoubtedly the most splendid portion
of Arabian annals, but the one, unluckily, which has been most copiously
illustrated in the popular work compiled by Cardonne from the Oriental
manuscripts in the Royal Library at Paris. But as this author has followed
the Spanish and the Oriental authorities, indiscriminately, no part of his
book can be cited as a genuine Arabic version, except indeed the last
sixty pages, comprising the conquest of Granada, which Cardonne professes
in his Preface to have drawn exclusively from an Arabian manuscript.
Conde, on the other hand, professes to have adhered to his originals with
such scrupulous fidelity, that "the European reader may feel that he is
perusing an Arabian author;" and certainly very strong internal evidence
is afforded of the truth of this assertion, in the peculiar national and
religious spirit which pervades the work, and in a certain florid
gasconade of style, common with the Oriental writers. It is this fidelity
that constitutes the peculiar value of Conde's narrative. It is the first
time that the Arabians, at least those of Spain, the part of the nation
which reached the highest degree of refinement, have been allowed to speak
for themselves. The history, or rather tissue of histories, embodied in
the translation, is certainly conceived in no very philosophical spirit,
and contains, as might be expected from an Asiatic pen, little for the
edification of a European reader on subjects of policy and government. The
narrative is, moreover, encumbered with frivolous details and a barren
muster-roll of names and titles, which would better become a genealogical
table than a history. But, with every deduction, it must be allowed to
exhibit a sufficiently clear view of the intricate conflicting relations
of the petty principalities, which swarmed over the Peninsula; and to
furnish abundant evidence of a wide-spread intellectual improvement amid
all the horrors of anarchy and a ferocious despotism. The work has already
been translated, or rather paraphrased, into French. The necessity of an
English version will doubtless be in a great degree superseded by the
History of the Spanish Arabs, preparing for the Cabinet Cyclopaedia, by
Mr. Southey,--a writer, with whom few Castilian scholars will be willing
to compete, even on their own ground; and who is, happily, not exposed to
the national or religious prejudices, which can interfere with his
rendering perfect justice to his subject.


[1] See Introduction, Section I. Note 2, of this History.

[2] The Koran, in addition to the repeated assurances of Paradise to the
martyr who falls in battle, contains the regulations of a precise military
code. Military service in some shape or other is exacted from all. The
terms to be prescribed to the enemy and the vanquished, the division of
the spoil, the seasons of lawful truce, the conditions on which the
comparatively small number of exempts are permitted to remain at home, are
accurately defined. (Sale's Koran, chap. 2, 8, 9, et alibi.) When the
_algihed_, or Mahometan crusade, which, in its general design and
immunities, bore a close resemblance to the Christian, was preached in the
mosque, every true believer was bound to repair to the standard of his
chief. "The holy war," says one of the early Saracen generals, "is the
ladder of Paradise. The Apostle of God styled himself the son of the
sword. He loved to repose in the shadow of banners and on the field of

[3] The successors, caliphs or vicars, as they were styled, of Mahomet,
represented both his spiritual and temporal authority. Their office
involved almost equally ecclesiastical and military functions. It was
their duty to lead the army in battle, and on the pilgrimage to Mecca.
They were to preach a sermon, and offer up public prayers in the mosques
every Friday. Many of their prerogatives resemble those assumed anciently
by the popes. They conferred investitures on the Moslem princes by the
symbol of a ring, a sword, or a standard. They complimented them with the
titles of "defender of the faith," "column of religion," and the like. The
proudest potentate held the bridle of their mules, and paid his homage by
touching their threshold with his forehead. The authority of the caliphs
was in this manner founded on opinion no less than on power; and their
ordinances, however frivolous or iniquitous in themselves, being enforced,
as it were, by a divine sanction, became laws which it was sacrilege to
disobey. See D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, (La Haye, 1777-9,) voce

[4] The character of the Arabs before the introduction of Islam, like that
of most rude nations, is to be gathered from their national songs and
romances. The poems suspended at Mecca, familiar to us in the elegant
version of Sir William Jones, and still more, the recent translation of
"Antar," a composition indeed of the age of Al Raschid, but wholly devoted
to the primitive Bedouins, present us with a lively picture of their
peculiar habits, which, notwithstanding the influence of a temporary
civilization, may be thought to bear great resemblance to those of their
descendants at the present day.

[5] Startling as it may be, there is scarcely a vestige of any of the
particulars, circumstantially narrated by the national historians
(Mariana, Zurita, Abarca, Moret, etc.) as the immediate causes of the
subversion of Spain, to be found in the chronicles of the period. No
intimation of the persecution, or of the treason, of the two sons of
Witiza is to be met with in any Spanish writer, as far as I know, until
nearly two centuries after the conquest; none earlier than this, of the
defection of Archbishop Oppas, during the fatal conflict near Xerez; and
none of the tragical amours of Roderic and the revenge of count Julian,
before the writers of the thirteenth century. Nothing indeed can be more
jejune than the original narratives of the invasion. The continuation of
the Chronicon del Biclarense, and the Chronicon de Isidoro Pacense or de
Beja, which are contained in the voluminous collection of Florez, (España
Sagrada, tom. vi. and viii.) afford the only histories contemporary with
the event. Conde is mistaken in his assertion (Dominacion de los Arabes,
Pról. p. vii.), that the work of Isidoro de Beja was the only narrative
written during that period. Spain had not the pen of a Bede or an Eginhart
to describe the memorable catastrophe. But the few and meagre touches of
the contemporary chroniclers have left ample scope for conjectural
history, which has been most industriously improved.

The reports, according to Conde, (Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. i. p.
36,) greedily circulated among the Saracens, of the magnificence and
general prosperity of the Gothic monarchy, may sufficiently account for
its invasion by an enemy flushed with uninterrupted conquests, and whose
fanatical ambition was well illustrated by one of their own generals, who,
on reaching the western extremity of Africa, plunged his horse into the
Atlantic, and sighed for other shores on which to plant the banners of
Islam. See Cardonne, Histoire de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne sous la
Domination des Arabes, (Paris, 1765,) tom. i. p. 37.

[6] The laborious diligence of Masdeu may be thought to have settled the
epoch, about which so much learned dust has been raised. The fourteenth
volume of his Historia Crítica de España y de la Cultura Española (Madrid,
1783-1805) contains an accurate table, by which the minutest dates of the
Mahometan lunar year are adjusted by those of the Christian era. The fall
of Roderic on the field of battle is attested by both the domestic
chroniclers of that period, as well as by the Saracens. (Incerti Auctoris
Additio ad Joannem Biclarensem, apud Florez, España Sagrada, tom. vi. p.
430.--Isidori Pacensis Episcopi Chronicon, apud Florez, España Sagrada,
tom. viii. p. 290.) The tales of the ivory and marble chariot, of the
gallant steed Orelia and magnificent vestments of Roderic, discovered
after the fight on the banks of the Guadalete, of his probable escape and
subsequent seclusion among the mountains of Portugal, which have been
thought worthy of Spanish history, have found a much more appropriate
place in their romantic national ballads, as well as in the more elaborate
productions of Scott and Southey.

[7] "Whatever curses," says an eye-witness, whose meagre diction is
quickened on this occasion into something like sublimity, "whatever curses
were denounced by the prophets of old against Jerusalem, whatever fell
upon ancient Babylon, whatever miseries Rome inflicted upon the glorious
company of the martyrs, all these were visited upon the once happy and
prosperous, but now desolated Spain." Pacensis Chronicon, apud Florez,
España Sagrada, tom. viii. p. 292.

[8] The frequency of this alliance may be inferred from an extraordinary,
though, doubtless, extravagant statement cited by Zurita. The ambassadors
of James II., of Aragon, in 1311, represented to the sovereign pontiff,
Clement V., that, of the 200,000 souls, which then composed the population
of Granada, there were not more than 500 of pure Moorish descent. Anales,
tom. iv. fol. 314.

[9] The famous persecutions of Cordova under the reigns of Abderrahman II.
and his son, which, to judge from the tone of Castilian writers, might vie
with those of Nero and Diocletian, are admitted by Morales (Obras, tom. x.
p. 74) to have occasioned the destruction of only forty individuals. Most
of these unhappy fanatics solicited the crown of martyrdom by an open
violation of the Mahometan laws and usages. The details are given by
Florez, in the tenth volume of his collection.

[10] Bleda, Corónica de los Moros de España, (Valencia, 1618,) lib. 2,
cap. 16, 17.--Cardonne, Hist. d'Afrique et d'Espagne, tom. i. pp. 83 et
seq. 179.--Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, Pról., p. vii. and tom. i. pp.
29-54, 75, 87.--Morales, Obras, tom. vi. pp. 407-417; tom. vii. pp. 262-
264.--Florez, España Sagrada, tom. x. pp. 237-270.--Fuero Juzgo, Int. p.

[11] Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, part. 2, cap. 1-46.

[12] Ibid., ubi supra.--Masdeu, Historia Crítica, tom. xiii. pp. 178, 187.

[13] The same taste is noticed at the present day, by a traveller, whose
pictures glow with the warm colors of the east. "Aussi dès que vous
approchez, en Europe ou en Asie, d'une terre possédée par les Musulmans,
vous la reconnaissez de loin au riche et sombre voile de verdure qui
flotte gracieusement sur elle:--des arbres pour s'asseoir à leur ombre,
des fontaines jaillissantes pour rêver à leur bruit, du silence et des
mosquées aux légers minarets, s'élevant à chaque pas du sein d'une terre
pieuse." Lamartine, Voyage en Orient, tome i. p. 172.

[14] Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. i. pp. 199, 265, 284, 285, 417,
446, 447, et alibi.--Cardonne, Hist. d'Afrique et d'Espagne, tom. i. pp.
227-230 et seq.

[15] Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. i. pp. 211, 212, 226.--
Swinburne, Travels through Spain, (London, 1787,) let. 35.--Xerif Aledris,
conocido por El Nubiense, Descripcion de España, con Traduccion y Notas de
Conde, (Madrid, 1799,) pp. 161, 162.--Morales, Obras, tom. x. p. 61.--
Chénier, Recherches Historiques sur les Maures, et Histoire de l'Empire de
Maroc, (Paris, 1787,) tom. ii. p. 312.--Laborde, Itinéraire, tome iii. p.

[16] Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. i. pp 214, 228, 270, 611.--
Masdeu, Historia Crítica, tom. xiii. p. 118.--Cardonne, Hist. d'Afrique et
d'Espagne, tom. i. pp. 338-343.--Casiri quotes from an Arabic historian
the conditions on which Abderrahman I. proffered his alliance to the
Christian princes of Spain, viz. the annual tribute of 10,000 ounces of
gold, 10,000 pounds of silver, 10,000 horses, etc., etc. The absurdity of
this story, inconsiderately repeated by historians, if any argument were
necessary to prove it, becomes sufficiently manifest from the fact, that
the instrument is dated in the 142d year of the Hegira, being a little
more than fifty years after the conquest. See Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana
Escurialensis, (Matriti, 1760,) tom. ii. p. 104.

[17] Hist. Naturalis, lib. 33, cap. 4.

[18] Introduction à l'Histoire Naturelle de l'Espagne, traduite par
Flavigny, (Paris, 1776,) p. 411.

[19] See a sensible essay by the Abbé Correa da Serra on the husbandry of
the Spanish Arabs, contained in tom. i. of Archives Littéraires de
l'Europe, (Paris, 1804.)--Masdeu, Historia Crítica, tom. xiii. pp. 115,
117, 127, 131.--Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. i. cap. 44.--Casiri,
Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. i. p. 338.

An absurd story has been transcribed from Cardonne, with little
hesitation, by almost every succeeding writer upon this subject. According
to him, (Hist. d'Afrique et d'Espagne, tom. i. p. 338,) "the banks of the
Guadalquivir were lined with no less than twelve thousand villages and
hamlets." The length of the river, not exceeding three hundred miles,
would scarcely afford room for the same number of farm-houses. Conde's
version of the Arabic passage represents twelve thousand hamlets, farms,
and castles, to have "been scattered over the regions watered by the
Gaudalquivir;" indicating by this indefinite statement nothing more than
the extreme populousness of the province of Andalusia.

[20] Casiri, Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. ii. pp. 38, 202.--Conde,
Dominacion de los Arabes, part. 2, cap. 88.

[21] Storia della Letteratura Italiana, (Roma, 1782-97,) tom. iii. p.
231.--Turner, History of the Anglo-Saxons, (London, 1820,) vol. iii. p.
137.--Andres, Dell' Origine, de' Progressi e dello Stato Attuale d'Ogni
Letteratura, (Venezia, 1783,) part. 1, cap. 8, 9.--Casiri, Bibliotheca
Escurialensis, tom. ii. p. 149.--Masdeu, Historia Critica, tom. xiii. pp.
165, 171.--Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, part. 2, cap. 93.--Among the
accomplished women of this period, Valadata, the daughter of the caliph
Mahomet, is celebrated as having frequently carried away the palm of
eloquence in her discussions with the most learned academicians. Others
again, with an intrepidity that might shame the degeneracy of a modern
_blue_, plunged boldly into the studies of philosophy, history, and

[22] Garibay, Compendio, lib. 39, cap. 3.

[23] Zurita, Anales, lib. 20, cap. 42.

[24] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 169.

[25] Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. ii. p. 147.--Casiri,
Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. ii. pp. 248 et seq.--Pedraza, Antiguedad y
Excelencias de Granada, (Madrid, 1608,) lib. 1.--Pedraza has collected the
various etymologies of the term _Granada_, which some writers have
traced to the fact of the city having been the spot where the
_pomegranate_ was first introduced from Africa; others to the large
quantity of _grain_ in which its vega abounded; others again to the
resemblance which the city, divided into two hills thickly sprinkled with
houses, bore to a half-opened pomegranate. (Lib. 2, cap. 17.) The arms of
the city, which were in part composed of a pomegranate, would seem to
favor the derivation of its name from that of the fruit.

[26] Pedraza, Antiguedad de Granada, fol. 101.--Denina, Delle Rivoluzioni
d'Italia, (Venezia, 1816,) Capmany y Montpalau, Memorias Históricas sobre
la Marina, Comercio, y Artes de Barcelona, (Madrid, 1779-92,) tom. iii. p.
218; tom. iv. pp. 67 et seq.--Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. iii.
cap. 26.--The ambassador of the emperor Frederic III., on his passage to
the court of Lisbon in the middle of the fifteenth century, contrasts the
superior cultivation, as well as general civilization, of Granada at this
period with that of the other countries of Europe through which he had
travelled. Sismondi, Histoire des Républiques Italiennes du Moyen-Age,
(Paris, 1818,) tom. ix. p. 405.

[27] Casiri, Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. ii. pp. 250-258.--The fifth
volume of the royal Spanish Academy of History contains an erudite essay
by Conde on Arabic money, principally with reference to that coined in
Spain, pp. 225-315.

[28] A specification of a royal donative in that day may serve to show the
martial spirit of the age. In one of these, made by the king of Granada to
the Castilian sovereign, we find twenty noble steeds of the royal stud,
reared on the banks of the Xenil, with superb caparisons, and the same
number of scimitars richly garnished with gold and jewels; and, in
another, mixed up with perfumes and cloth of gold, we meet with a litter
of tame lions. (Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. iii. pp. 163, 183.)
This latter symbol of royalty appears to have been deemed peculiarly
appropriate to the kings of Leon. Ferreras informs us that the ambassadors
from France at the Castilian court, in 1434, were received by John II.
with a full-grown domesticated lion crouching at his feet. (Hist.
d'Espagne, tom. vi. p. 401.) The same taste appears still to exist in
Turkey. Dr. Clarke, in his visit to Constantinople, met with one of these
terrific pets, who used to follow his master, Hassan Pacha, about like a

[29] Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. iii. cap. 28.--Henriquez del
Castillo (Crónica, cap. 138,) gives an account of an intended duel between
two Castilian nobles, in the presence of the king of Granada, as late as
1470. One of the parties, Don Alfonso de Aguilar, failing to keep his
engagement, the other rode round the lists in triumph, with his
adversary's portrait contemptuously fastened to the tail of his horse.

[30] It must be admitted, that these ballads, as far as facts are
concerned, are too inexact to furnish other than a very slippery
foundation for history. The most beautiful portion perhaps of the Moorish
ballads, for example, is taken up with the feuds of the Abencerrages in
the latter days of Granada. Yet this family, whose romantic story is still
repeated to the traveller amid the ruins of the Alhambra, is scarcely
noticed, as far as I am aware, by contemporary writers, foreign or
domestic, and would seem to owe its chief celebrity to the apocryphal
version of Cinés Perez de Hyta, whose "Milesian tales," according to the
severe sentence of Nic. Antonio, "are fit only to amuse the lazy and the
listless." (Bibliotheca Nova, tom. i. p. 536.)

But, although the Spanish ballads are not entitled to the credit of strict
historical documents, they may yet perhaps be received in evidence of the
prevailing character of the social relations of the age; a remark indeed
predicable of most works of fiction, written by authors contemporary with
the events they describe, and more especially so of that popular
minstrelsy, which, emanating from a simple, uncorrupted class, is less
likely to swerve from truth, than more ostentatious works of art. The long
cohabitation of the Saracens with the Christians, (full evidence of which
is afforded by Capmany, (Mem. de Barcelona, tom. iv. Apend. no. 11,) who
quotes a document from the public archives of Catalonia, showing the great
number of Saracens residing in Aragon even in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, the most flourishing period of the Granadian
empire,) had enabled many of them confessedly to speak and write the
Spanish language with purity and elegance. Some of the graceful little
songs, which are still chanted by the peasantry of Spain in their dances,
to the accompaniment of the castanet, are referred by a competent critic
(Conde, De la Poesía Oriental, MS.) to an Arabian origin. There can be
little hazard, therefore, in imputing much of this peculiar minstrelsy to
the Arabians themselves, the contemporaries, and perhaps the eye-
witnesses, of the events they celebrate.

[31] Casiri (Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. ii. p. 259) has transcribed a
passage from an Arabian author of the fourteenth century, inveighing
bitterly against the luxury of the Moorish ladies, their gorgeous apparel
and habits of expense, "amounting almost to insanity," in a tone which may
remind one of the similar philippic by his contemporary Dante, against his
fair countrywomen of Florence.--Two ordinances of a king of Granada, cited
by Conde in his History, prescribed the separation of the women from the
men in the mosques; and prohibit their attendance on certain festivals,
without the protection of their husbands or some near relative.--Their
_femmes savantes_, as we have seen, were in the habit of conferring
freely with men of letters, and of assisting in person at the academical
_séances_.--And lastly, the frescoes alluded to in the text represent
the presence of females at the tournaments, and the fortunate knight
receiving the palm of victory from their hands.

[32] Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. i. p. 340; tom. iii. p. 119.

[33] Casiri, on Arabian authority, computes it at 200,000 men. Bibliotheca
Escurialensis, tom. i. p. 338.

[34] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, p. 250.

[35] Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. p. 169.--These ruined
fortifications still thickly stud the border territories of Granada; and
many an Andalusian mill, along the banks of the Guadayra and Guadalquivir,
retains its battlemented tower, which served for the defence of its
inmates against the forays of the enemy.

[36] D'Herbelot, (Bib. Orientale, tom. i. p. 630,) among other authentic
traditions of Mahomet, quotes one as indicating his encouragement of
letters, viz. "That the ink of the doctors and the blood of the martyrs
are of equal price." M. OElsner (Des Effets de la Religion de Mohammed,
Paris, 1810) has cited several others of the same liberal import. But such
traditions cannot be received in evidence of the original doctrine of the
prophet. They are rejected as apocryphal by the Persians and the whole
sect of the Shiites, and are entitled to little weight with a European.

[37] When the caliph Al Mamon encouraged, by his example as well as
patronage, a more enlightened policy, he was accused by the more orthodox
Mussulmans of attempting to subvert the principles of their religion. See
Pococke, Spec. Hist. Arabum, (Oxon. 1650,) p. 166.

[38] Andres, Letteratura, part. 1, cap. 8, 10.--Casiri, Bibliotheca
Escurialensis, tom. ii. pp. 71, 251, et passim.

[39] Casiri mentions one of these universal geniuses, who published no
less than a thousand and fifty treatises on the various topics of Ethics,
History, Law, Medicine, etc.! Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. ii. p. 107.
--See also tom. i. p. 370; tom. ii. p. 71 et alibi.--Zuñiga, Annales de
Sevilla, p. 22.--D'Herbelot, Bib. Orientale, voce _Tarikh_.--Masdeu,
Historia Crítica, tom. xiii. pp. 203, 205.--Andres, Letteratura, part. 1,
cap. 8.

[40] Consult the sensible, though perhaps severe, remarks of Degerando on
Arabian science. (Hist. de la Philosophie, tom. iv. cap. 24.)--The reader
may also peruse with advantage a disquisition on Arabian metaphysics in
Turner's History of England, (vol. iv. pp. 405-449.--Brucker, Hist.
Philosophiae, tom. in. p. 105.)--Ludovicus Vives seems to have been the
author of the imputation in the text. (Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus,
tom. ii. p. 394.) Averroes translated some of the philosophical works of
Aristotle from the Greek into Arabic; a Latin version of which translation
was afterwards made. Though D'Herbelot is mistaken (Bib. Orientale, art.
_Roschd_) in saying that Averroes was the first who translated Aristotle
into Arabic; as this had been done two centuries before, at least, by
Honain and others in the ninth century, (see Casiri, Bibliotheca
Escurialensis, tom. i. p. 304,) and Bayle has shown that a Latin version
of the Stagirite was used by the Europeans before the alleged period. See
art. _Averroes_.

[41] Sprengel, Histoire de la Médecine, traduite par Jourdan, (Paris,
1815,) tom. ii. pp. 263 et seq.

[42] Degerando, Hist. de la Philosophie, tom. iv. ubi supra.

[43] Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. ii. p. 9.--Andres, Letteratura, part.
1, cap. 10.

[44] Letteratura Italiana, tom. v. p. 87.

[45] The battle of Crécy furnishes the earliest instance on record of the
use of artillery by the European Christians; although Du Cange, among
several examples which he enumerates, has traced a distinct notice of its
existence as far back as 1338. (Glossarium ad Scriptores Mediae et Infimae
Latinitatis, (Paris, 1739,) and Supplément, (Paris, 1766,) voce
_Bombarda_.) The history of the Spanish Arabs carries it to a much
earlier period. It was employed by the Moorish king of Granada at the
siege of Baza, in 1312 and 1325. (Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom.
iii. cap. 18.--Casiri, Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. ii. p. 7.) It is
distinctly noticed in an Arabian treatise as ancient as 1249; and,
finally, Casiri quotes a passage from a Spanish author at the close of the
eleventh Century, (whose MS., according to Nic. Antonio, though familiar
to scholars, lies still entombed in the dust of libraries,) which
describes the use of artillery in a naval engagement of that period
between the Moors of Tunis and of Seville. Casiri, Bibliotheca
Escurialensis, tom. ii. p. 8.--Nic, Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii.
p. 12.

[46] Petrarch complains, in one of his letters from the country, that
"jurisconsults and divines, nay his own valet, had taken to rhyming; and
he was afraid the very cattle might begin to low in verse;" apud De Sade,
Mémoires pour la Vie de Pétrarque, tom. iii. p. 243.

[47] Andres, Letteratura, part. 1, cap. 11.--Yet this popular assertion is
contradicted by Reinesius, who states, that both Homer and Pindar were
translated into Arabic by the middle of the eighth century. See Fabricius,
Bibliotheca Graeca, (Hamb. 1712-38,) tom. xii. p. 753.

[48] Sir William Jones, Traité sur la Poésie Orientale, sec. 2.--Sismondi
says that Sir W. Jones is mistaken in citing the history of Timour by Ebn.
Arabschah, as an Arabic epic. (Littérature du Midi, tom. i. p. 57.) It is
Sismondi who is mistaken, since the English critic states that the Arabs
have no heroic poem, and that this poetical prose history is not accounted
such even by the Arabs themselves.

[49] It would require much more learning than I am fortified with, to
enter into the merits of the question, which has been raised respecting
the probable influence of the Arabian on the literature of Europe. A. V.
Schlegel, in a work of little bulk, but much value, in refuting with his
usual vivacity the extravagant theory of Andres, has been led to
conclusions of an opposite nature, which may be thought perhaps scarcely
less extravagant. (Observations sur la Langue et la Littérature
Provençales, p. 64.) It must indeed seem highly improbable that the
Saracens, who, during the Middle Ages, were so far superior in science and
literary culture to the Europeans, could have resided so long in immediate
contact with them, and in those very countries indeed which gave birth to
the most cultivated poetry of that period, without exerting some
perceptible influence upon it. Be this as it may, its influence on the
Castilian cannot reasonably be disputed. This has been briefly traced by
Conde in an "Essay on Oriental Poetry," _Poesia Oriental_, whose
publication he anticipates in the Preface to his "History of the Spanish
Arabs," but which still remains in manuscript. (The copy I have used is in
the library of Mr. George Ticknor.) He professes in this work to discern
in the earlier Castilian poetry, in the Cid, the Alexander, in Berceo's,
the arch-priest of Hita's, and others of similar antiquity, most of the
peculiarities and varieties of Arabian verse; the same cadences and number
of syllables, the same intermixture of assonances and consonances, the
double hemistich and prolonged repetition of the final rhyme. From the
same source he derives much of the earlier rural minstrelsy of Spain, as
well as the measures of its romances and seguidillas; and in the Preface
to his History, he has ventured on the bold assertion, that the Castilian
owes so much of its vocabulary to the Arabic, that it may be almost
accounted a dialect of the latter. Conde's criticisms, however, must be
quoted with reserve. His habitual studies had given him such a keen relish
for Oriental literature, that he was, in a manner, _denaturalized_ from
his own.

[50] Byron's beautiful line may seem almost a version of Conde's Spanish
text, "sucesos de armas y de amores con muy estraños lances y en elegante
estilo."--Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. i. p. 457.

[51] Sismondi, in his Littérature du Midi, (tom. i. pp. 267 et seq.), and
more fully in his Républiques Italiennes, (tom. xvi. pp. 448 et seq.),
derives the jealousy of the sex, the ideas of honor, and the deadly spirit
of revenge, which distinguished the southern nations of Europe in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, from the Arabians. Whatever be thought
of the jealousy of the sex, it might have been supposed that the
principles of honor and the spirit of revenge might, without seeking
further, find abundant precedent in the feudal habits and institutions of
our European ancestors.

[52] "Quas _perversivnes_ potius, quam _versiones_ meritó dixeris."
Bibliotheca Escurialensis, tom. i. p. 266.




Zahara Surprised by the Moors.--Marquis of Cadiz.--His Expedition against
Alhama.--Valor of the Citizens.--Desperate Struggle.--Fall of Alhama.--
Consternation of the Moors.--Vigorous Measures of the Queen.

No sooner had Ferdinand and Isabella restored internal tranquillity to
their dominions, and made the strength effective which had been acquired
by their union under one government, than they turned their eyes to those
fair regions of the Peninsula, over which the Moslem crescent had reigned
triumphant for nearly eight centuries. Fortunately, an act of aggression
on the part of the Moors furnished a pretext for entering on their plan of
conquest, at the moment when it was ripe for execution. Aben Ismael, who
had ruled in Granada during the latter part of John the Second's reign,
and the commencement of Henry the Fourth's, had been partly indebted for
his throne to the former monarch; and sentiments of gratitude, combined
with a naturally amiable disposition, had led him to foster as amicable
relations with the Christian princes, as the jealousy of two nations, that
might be considered the natural enemies of each other, would permit; so
that, notwithstanding an occasional border foray, or the capture of a
frontier fortress, such a correspondence was maintained between the two
kingdoms, that the nobles of Castile frequently resorted to the court of
Granada, where, forgetting their ancient feuds, they mingled with the
Moorish cavaliers in the generous pastimes of chivalry.

Muley Abul Hacen, who succeeded his father in 1466, was of a very
different temperament. His fiery character prompted him, when very young,
to violate the truce by an unprovoked inroad into Andalusia; and, although
after his accession domestic troubles occupied him too closely to allow
leisure for foreign war, he still cherished in secret the same feelings of
animosity against the Christians. When, in 1476, the Spanish sovereigns
required as the condition of a renewal of the truce, which he solicited,
the payment of the annual tribute imposed on his predecessors, he proudly
replied that "the mints of Granada coined no longer gold, but steel." His
subsequent conduct did not belie the spirit of this Spartan answer.

At length, towards the close of the year 1481, the storm which had been so
long gathering burst upon Zahara, a small fortified town on the frontier
of Andalusia, crowning a lofty eminence, washed at its base by the river
Guadalete, which from its position seemed almost inaccessible. The
garrison, trusting to these natural defences, suffered itself to be
surprised on the night of the 20th of December, by the Moorish monarch;
who, scaling the walls under favor of a furious tempest, which prevented
his approach from being readily heard, put to the sword such of the guard
as offered resistance, and swept away the whole population of the place,
men, women, and children, in slavery to Granada.

The intelligence of this disaster caused deep mortification to the Spanish
sovereigns, especially to Ferdinand, by whose grandfather Zahara had been
recovered from the Moors. Measures were accordingly taken for
strengthening the whole line of frontier, and the utmost vigilance was
exerted to detect some vulnerable point of the enemy, on which retaliation
might be successfully inflicted. Neither were the tidings of their own
successes welcomed, with the joy that might have been expected, by the
people of Granada. The prognostics, it was said, afforded by the
appearance of the heavens, boded no good. More sure prognostics were
afforded in the judgments of thinking men, who deprecated the temerity of
awakening the wrath of a vindictive and powerful enemy, "Woe is me!"
exclaimed an ancient Alfaki, on quitting the hall of audience, "the ruins
of Zahara will fall on our own heads; the days of the Moslem empire in
Spain are now numbered!" [2]

It was not long before the desired opportunity for retaliation presented
itself to the Spaniards. One Juan de Ortega, a captain of
_escaladores_, or sealers, so denominated from the peculiar service
in which they were employed in besieging cities, who had acquired some
reputation under John the Second, in the wars of Roussillon, reported to
Diego de Merlo, assistant of Seville, that the fortress of Albania,
situated in the heart of the Moorish territories, was so negligently
guarded, that it might be easily carried by an enemy, who had skill enough
to approach it. The fortress, as well as the city of the same name, which
it commanded, was built, like many others in that turbulent period, along
the crest of a rocky eminence, encompassed by a river at its base, and,
from its natural advantages, might be deemed impregnable. This strength of
position, by rendering all other precautions apparently superfluous,
lulled its defenders into a security like that which had proved so fatal
to Zahara. Alhama, as this Arabic name implies, was famous for its baths,
whose annual rents are said to have amounted to five hundred thousand
ducats. The monarchs of Granada, indulging the taste common to the people
of the east, used to frequent this place, with their court, to refresh
themselves with its delicious waters, so that Alhama became embellished
with all the magnificence of a royal residence. The place was still
further enriched by its being the _dépôt_ of the public taxes on land,
which constituted a principal branch of the revenue, and by its various
manufactures of cloth, for which its inhabitants were celebrated
throughout the kingdom of Granada. [3]

Diego de Merlo, although struck with the advantages of this conquest, was
not insensible to the difficulties with which it would be attended; since
Alhama was sheltered under the very wings of Granada, from which it lay
scarcely eight leagues distant, and could be reached only by traversing
the most populous portion of the Moorish territory, or by surmounting a
precipitous sierra, or chain of mountains, which screened it on the north.
Without delay, however, he communicated the information which he had
received to Don Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, marquis of Cadiz, as the person
best fitted by his capacity and courage for such an enterprise. This
nobleman, who had succeeded his father, the count of Arcos, in 1469, as
head of the great house of Ponce de Leon, was at this period about thirty-
nine years of age. Although a younger and illegitimate son, he had been
preferred to the succession in consequence of the extraordinary promise
which his early youth exhibited. When scarcely seventeen years old, he
achieved a victory over the Moors, accompanied with a signal display of
personal prowess. [4] Later in life, he formed a connection with the
daughter of the marquis of Villena, the factious minister of Henry the
Fourth, through whose influence he was raised to the dignity of marquis of
Cadiz. This alliance attached him to the fortunes of Henry, in his
disputes with his brother Alfonso, and subsequently with Isabella, on
whose accession, of course, Don Rodrigo looked with no friendly eye. He
did not, however, engage in any overt act of resistance, but occupied
himself with prosecuting an hereditary feud which he had revived with the
duke of Medina Sidonia, the head of the Guzmans; a family, which from
ancient times had divided with his own the great interests of Andalusia.
The pertinacity with which this feud was conducted, and the desolation
which it carried not only into Seville, but into every quarter of the
province, have been noticed in the preceding pages. The vigorous
administration of Isabella repressed these disorders, and after abridging
the overgrown power of the two nobles, effected an apparent (it was only
apparent) reconciliation between them. The fiery spirit of the marquis of
Cadiz, no longer allowed to escape in domestic broil, urged him to seek
distinction in more honorable warfare; and at this moment he lay in his
castle at Arcos, looking with a watchful eye over the borders, and
waiting, like a lion in ambush, the moment when he could spring upon his

Without hesitation, therefore, he assumed the enterprise proposed by Diego
de Merlo, imparting his purpose to Don Pedro Henriquez, _adelantado_
of Andalusia, a relative of Ferdinand, and to the alcaydes of two or three
neighboring fortresses. With the assistance of these friends he assembled
a force which, including those who marched under the banner of Seville,
amounted to two thousand five hundred horse and three thousand foot. His
own town of Marchena was appointed as the place of rendezvous. The
proposed route lay by the way of Antequera, across the wild sierras of
Alzerifa. The mountain passes, sufficiently difficult at a season when
their numerous ravines were choked up by the winter torrents, were
rendered still more formidable by being traversed in the darkness of
night; for the party, in order to conceal their movements, lay by during
the day. Leaving their baggage on the banks of the Yeguas, that they might
move forward with greater celerity, the whole body at length arrived,
after a rapid and most painful inarch, on the third night from their
departure, in a deep valley about half a league from Alhama. Here the
marquis first revealed the real object of the expedition to his soldiers,
who, little dreaming of anything beyond a mere border inroad, were
transported with joy at the prospect of the rich booty so nearly within
their grasp. [5]

The next morning, being the 28th of February, a small party was detached,
about two hours before dawn, under the command of John de Ortega, for the
purpose of scaling the citadel, while the main body moved forward more
leisurely under the marquis of Cadiz, in order to support them. The night
was dark and tempestuous, circumstances which favored their approach in
the same manner as with the Moors at Zahara. After ascending the rocky
heights which were crowned by the citadel, the ladders were silently
placed against the walls, and Ortega, followed by about thirty others,
succeeded in gaining the battlements unobserved. A sentinel, who was found
sleeping on his post, they at once despatched, and, proceeding cautiously
forward to the guard-room, put the whole of the little garrison to the
sword, after the short and ineffectual resistance that could be opposed by
men suddenly roused from slumber. The city in the mean time was alarmed,
but it was too late; the citadel was taken; and the outer gates, which
opened into the country, being thrown open, the marquis of Cadiz entered
with trumpet sounding and banner flying, at the head of his army, and took
possession of the fortress. [6]

After allowing the refreshment necessary to the exhausted spirits of his
soldiers, the marquis resolved to sally forth at once upon the town,
before its inhabitants cpuld muster in sufficient force to oppose him. But
the citizens of Alhama, showing a resolution rather to have been expected
from men trained in a camp, than from peaceful burghers of a manufacturing
town, had sprung to arms at the first alarm, and, gathering in the narrow
street on which the portal of the castle opened, so completely commanded
it with their arquebuses and crossbows, that the Spaniards, after an
ineffectual attempt to force a passage, were compelled to recoil upon
their defences, amid showers of bolts and balls which occasioned the loss,
among others, of two of their principal alcaydes.

A council of war was then called, in which it was even advised by some,
that the fortress, after having been dismantled, should be abandoned as
incapable of defence against the citizens on the one hand, and the succors
which might be expected speedily to arrive from Granada, on the other. But
this counsel was rejected with indignation by the marquis of Cadiz, whose
fiery spirit rose with the occasion; indeed, it was not very palatable to
most of his followers, whose cupidity was more than ever inflamed by the
sight of the rich spoil, which, after so many fatigues, now lay at their
feet. It was accordingly resolved to demolish part of the fortifications
which looked towards the town, and at all hazards to force a passage into
it. This resolution was at once put into execution; and the marquis,
throwing himself into the breach thus made, at the head of his men-at-
arms, and shouting his war-cry of "St. James and the Virgin," precipitated
himself into the thickest of the enemy. Others of the Spaniards, running
along the out-works contiguous to the buildings of the city, leaped into
the street, and joined their companions there, while others again sallied
from the gates, now opened for the second time. [7]

The Moors, unshaken by the fury of this assault, received the assailants
with brisk and well-directed volleys of shot and arrows; while the women
and children, thronging the roofs and balconies of the houses, discharged
on their heads boiling oil, pitch, and missiles of every description. But
the weapons of the Moors glanced comparatively harmless from the mailed
armor of the Spaniards, while their own bodies, loosely arrayed in such
habiliments as they could throw over them in the confusion of the night,
presented a fatal mark to their enemies. Still they continued to maintain
a stout resistance, checking the progress of the Spaniards by barricades
of timber hastily thrown across the streets; and, as their intrenchments
were forced one after another, they disputed every inch of ground with the
desperation of men who fought for life, fortune, liberty, all that was
most dear to them. The contest hardly slackened till the close of day,
while the kennels literally ran with blood, and every avenue was choked up
with the bodies of the slain. At length, however, Spanish valor proved
triumphant in every quarter, except where a small and desperate remnant of
the Moors, having gathered their wives and children around them, retreated
as a last resort into a large mosque near the walls of the city, from
which they kept up a galling fire on the close ranks of the Christians.
The latter, after enduring some loss, succeeded in sheltering themselves
so effectually under a roof or canopy constructed of their own shields, in
the manner practised in war previous to the exclusive use of fire-arms,
that they were enabled to approach so near the mosque, as to set fire to
its doors; when its tenants, menaced with suffocation, made a desperate
sally, in which many perished, and the remainder surrendered at
discretion. The prisoners thus made were all massacred on the spot,
without distinction, of sex or age, according to the Saracen accounts. But
the Castilian writers make no mention of this; and, as the appetites of
the Spaniards were not yet stimulated by that love of carnage, which they
afterwards displayed in their American wars, and which was repugnant to
the chivalrous spirit with which their contests with the Moslems were
usually conducted, we may be justified in regarding it as an invention of
the enemy. [8]

Alhama was now delivered up to the sack of the soldiery, and rich indeed
was the booty which fell into their hands,--gold and silver plate, pearls,
jewels, fine silks and cloths, curious and costly furniture, and all the
various appurtenances of a thriving, luxurious city. In addition to which,
the magazines were found well stored with the more substantial and, at the
present juncture, more serviceable supplies of grain, oil, and other
provisions. Nearly a quarter of the population is said to have perished in
the various conflicts of the day, and the remainder, according to the
usage of the time, became the prize of the victors. A considerable number
of Christian captives, who were found immured in the public prisons, were
restored to freedom, and swelled the general jubilee with their grateful
acclamations. The contemporary Castilian chroniclers record also, with no
less satisfaction, the detection of a Christian renegade, notorious for
his depredations on his countrymen, whose misdeeds the marquis of Cadiz
requited by causing him to be hung up over the battlements of the castle,
in the face of the whole city. Thus fell the ancient city of Alhama, the
first conquest, and achieved with a gallantry and daring unsurpassed by
any other during this memorable war. [9]

The report of this disaster fell like the knell of their own doom on the
ears of the inhabitants of Granada. It seemed as if the hand of Providence
itself must have been stretched forth to smite the stately city, which,
reposing as it were under the shadow of their own walls, and in the bosom
of a peaceful and populous country, was thus suddenly laid low in blood
and ashes. Men now read the fulfilment of the disastrous omens and
predictions which ushered in the capture of Zahara. The melancholy
_romance_ or ballad, with the burden of _Ay de mi Alhama_, "Woe is me,
Alhama," composed probably by some one of the nation not long after this
event, shows how deep was the dejection which settled on the spirits
of the people. The old king, Abul Hacen, however, far from resigning
himself to useless lamentation, sought to retrieve his loss by the most
vigorous measures. A body of a thousand horse was sent forward to
reconnoitre the city, while he prepared to follow with as powerful levies,
as he could enforce, of the militia of Granada. [10]

The intelligence of the conquest of Alhama diffused general satisfaction
throughout Castile, and was especially grateful to the sovereigns, who
welcomed it as an auspicious omen of the ultimate success of their designs
upon the Moors. They were attending mass in their royal palace of Medina
del Campo, when they received despatches from the marquis of Cadiz,
informing them of the issue of his enterprise. "During all the while he
sat at dinner," says a precise chronicler of the period, "the prudent
Ferdinand was revolving in his mind the course best to be adopted." He
reflected that the Castilians would soon be beleaguered by an overwhelming
force from Granada, and he determined at all hazards to support them. He
accordingly gave orders to make instant preparation for departure; but,
first, accompanied the queen, attended by a solemn procession of the court
and clergy, to the cathedral church of St. James; where Te Deum was
chanted, and a humble thanksgiving offered up to the Lord of hosts for the
success with which he had crowned their arms. Towards evening, the king
set forward on his journey to the south, escorted by such nobles and
cavaliers as were in attendance on his person, leaving the queen to follow
more leisurely, after having provided reinforcements and supplies
requisite for the prosecution of the war. [11]

On the 5th of March, the king of Granada appeared before the walls of
Alhama, with an army which amounted to three thousand horse and fifty
thousand foot. The first object which encountered his eyes was the mangled
remains of his unfortunate subjects, which the Christians, who would have
been scandalized by an attempt to give them the rites of sepulture, had
from dread of infection thrown over the walls, where they now lay half
devoured by birds of prey and the ravenous dogs of the city. The Moslem
troops, transported with horror and indignation at this hideous spectacle,
called loudly to be led to the attack. They had marched from Granada with
so much precipitation, that they were wholly unprovided with artillery, in
the use of which they were expert for that period; and which was now the
more necessary, as the Spaniards had diligently employed the few days
which intervened since their occupation of the place, in repairing the
breaches in the fortifications, and in putting them in a posture of
defence. But the Moorish ranks were filled with the flower of their
chivalry; and their immense superiority of numbers enabled them to make
their attacks simultaneously on the most distant quarters of the town,
with such unintermitted vivacity, that the little garrison, scarcely
allowed a moment for repose, was wellnigh exhausted with fatigue. [12]

At length, however, Abul Hacen, after the loss of more than two thousand
of his bravest troops in these precipitate assaults, became convinced of
the impracticability of forcing a position, whose natural strength was so
ably seconded by the valor of its defenders, and he determined to reduce
the place by the more tardy but certain method of blockade. In this he was
favored by one or two circumstances. The town, having but a single well
within its walls, was almost wholly indebted for its supplies of water to
the river which flowed at its base. The Moors, by dint of great labor,
succeeded in diverting the stream so effectually, that the only
communication with it, which remained open to the besieged, was by a
subterraneous gallery or mine, that had probably been contrived with
reference to some such emergency by the original inhabitants. The mouth of
this passage was commanded in such a manner by the Moorish archers, that
no egress could be obtained without a regular skirmish, so that every drop
of water might be said to be purchased with the blood of Christians; who,
"if they had not possessed the courage of Spaniards," says a Castilian
writer, "would have been reduced to the last extremity." In addition to
this calamity, the garrison began to be menaced with scarcity of
provisions, owing to the improvident waste of the soldiers, who supposed
that the city, after being plundered, was to be razed to the ground and
abandoned. [13]

At this crisis they received the unwelcome tidings of the failure of an
expedition destined for their relief by Alonso de Aguilar. This cavalier,
the chief of an illustrious house since rendered immortal by the renown of
his younger brother, Gonsalvo de Cordova, had assembled a considerable
body of troops, on learning the capture of Alhama, for the purpose of
supporting his friend and companion in arms, the marquis of Cadiz. On
reaching the shores of the Yeguas, he received, for the first time,
advices of the formidable host which lay between him and the city,
rendering hopeless any attempt to penetrate into the latter with his
inadequate force. Contenting himself, therefore, with recovering the
baggage, which the marquis's army in its rapid march, as has been already
noticed, had left on the banks of the river, he returned to Antequera.

Under these depressing circumstances, the indomitable spirit of the
marquis of Cadiz seemed to infuse itself into the hearts of his soldiers.
He was ever in the front of danger, and shared the privations of the
meanest of his followers; encouraging them to rely with undoubting
confidence on the sympathies which their cause must awaken in the breasts
of their countrymen. The event proved that he did not miscalculate. Soon
after the occupation of Alhama, the marquis, foreseeing the difficulties
of his situation, had despatched missives, requesting the support of the
principal lords and cities of Andalusia. In this summons he had omitted
the duke of Medina Sidonia, as one who had good reason to take umbrage at
being excluded from a share in the original enterprise. Henrique de
Guzman, duke of Medina Sidonia, possessed a degree of power more
considerable than any other chieftain in the south. His yearly rents
amounted to nearly sixty thousand ducats, and he could bring into the
field, it was said, from his own resources an army little inferior to what
might be raised by a sovereign prince. He had succeeded to his inheritance
in 1468, and had very early given his support to the pretensions of
Isabella. Notwithstanding his deadly feud with the marquis of Cadiz, he
had the generosity, on the breaking out of the present war, to march to
the relief of the marchioness when beleaguered, during her husband's
absence, by a party of Moors from Ronda, in her own castle of Arcos. He
now showed a similar alacrity in sacrificing all personal jealousy at the
call of patriotism. [15]

No sooner did he learn the perilous condition of his countrymen in Alhama,
than he mustered the whole array of his household troops and retainers,
which, when combined with those of the marquis de Villena, of the count de
Cabra, and those from Seville, in which city the family of the Guzmans had
long exercised a sort of hereditary influence, swelled to the number of
five thousand horse and forty thousand foot. The duke of Medina Sidonia,
putting himself at the head of this powerful body, set forward without
delay on his expedition.

When King Ferdinand in his progress to the south had reached the little
town of Adamuz, about five leagues from Cordova, he was informed of the
advance of the Andalusian chivalry, and instantly sent instructions to the
duke to delay his march, as he intended to come in person and assume the
command. But the latter, returning a respectful apology for his
disobedience, represented to his master the extremities to which the
besieged were already reduced, and without waiting for a reply pushed on
with the utmost vigor for Alhama. The Moorish monarch, alarmed at the
approach of so powerful a reinforcement, saw himself in danger of being
hemmed in between the garrison on the one side, and these new enemies on
the other. Without waiting their appearance on the crest of the eminence
which separated him from them, he hastily broke up his encampment, on the
29th of March, after a siege of more than three weeks, and retreated on
his capital. [16]

The garrison of Alhama viewed with astonishment the sudden departure of
their enemies; but their wonder was converted into joy, when they beheld
the bright arms and banners of their countrymen, gleaming along the
declivities of the mountains. They rushed out with tumultuous transport to
receive them and pour forth their grateful acknowledgments, while the two
commanders, embracing each other in the presence of their united armies,
pledged themselves to a mutual oblivion of all past grievances; thus
affording to the nation the best possible earnest of future successes, in
the voluntary extinction of a feud, which had desolated it for so many

Notwithstanding the kindly feelings excited between the two armies, a
dispute had wellnigh arisen respecting the division of the spoil, in which
the duke's army claimed a share, as having contributed to secure the
conquest which their more fortunate countrymen had effected. But these
discontents were appeased, though with some difficulty, by their noble
leader, who besought his men not to tarnish the laurels already won, by
mingling a sordid avarice with the generous motives which had promoted
them to the expedition. After the necessary time devoted to repose and
refreshment, the combined armies proceeded to evacuate Alhama, and having
left in garrison Don Diego Merlo, with a corps of troops of the hermandad,
returned into their own territories. [17]

King Ferdinand, after receiving the reply of the duke of Medina Sidonia,
had pressed forward his march by the way of Cordova, as far as Lucena,
with the intention of throwing himself at all hazards into Alhama. He was
not without much difficulty dissuaded from this by his nobles, who
represented the temerity of the enterprise, and its incompetency to any
good result, even should he succeed, with the small force of which he was
master. On receiving intelligence that the siege was raised, he returned
to Cordova, where he was joined by the queen towards the latter part of
April. Isabella had been employed in making vigorous preparation for
carrying on the war, by enforcing the requisite supplies, and summoning
the crown vassals, and the principal nobility of the north, to hold
themselves in readiness to join the royal standard in Andalusia. After
this, she proceeded by rapid stages to Cordova, notwithstanding the state
of pregnancy, in which she was then far advanced.

Here the sovereigns received the unwelcome information, that the king of
Granada, on the retreat of the Spaniards, had again sat down before
Alhama; having brought with him artillery, from the want of which he had
suffered so much in the preceding siege. This news struck a damp into the
hearts of the Castilians, many of whom recommended the total evacuation of
a place, "which" they said, "was so near the capital that it must be
perpetually exposed to sudden and dangerous assaults; while, from the
difficulty of reaching it, it would cost the Castilians an incalculable
waste of blood and treasure in its defence. It was experience of these
evils, which had led to its abandonment in former days, when it had been
recovered by the Spanish arms from the Saracens."

Isabella was far from being shaken by these arguments. "Glory," she said,
"was not to be won without danger. The present war was one of peculiar
difficulties and danger, and these had been well calculated before
entering upon it. The strong and central position of Alhama made it of the
last importance, since it might be regarded as the key of the enemy's
country. This was the first blow struck during the war, and honor and
policy alike forbade them to adopt a measure, which could not fail to damp
the ardor of the nation." This opinion of the queen, thus decisively
expressed, determined the question, and kindled a spark of her own
enthusiasm in the breasts of the most desponding. [18]

It was settled that the king should march to the relief of the besieged,
taking with him the most ample supplies of forage and provisions, at the
head of a force strong enough to compel the retreat of the Moorish
monarch. This was effected without delay; and, Abul Hacen once more
breaking up his camp on the rumor of Ferdinand's approach, the latter took
possession of the city without opposition, on the 14th of May. The king
was attended by a splendid train of his prelates and principal nobility;
and he prepared with their aid to dedicate his new conquest to the service
of the cross, with all the formalities of the Romish church. After the
ceremony of purification, the three principal mosques of the city were
consecrated by the cardinal of Spain, as temples of Christian worship.
Bells, crosses, a sumptuous service of plate, and other sacred utensils,
were liberally furnished by the queen; and the principal church of Santa
Maria de la Encarnacion long exhibited a covering of the altar, richly
embroidered by her own hands. Isabella lost no opportunity of manifesting,
that she had entered into the war, less from motives of ambition, than of
zeal for the exaltation of the true faith. After the completion of these
ceremonies, Ferdinand, having strengthened the garrison with new recruits
under the command of Portocarrero, lord of Palma, and victualled it with
three months' provisions, prepared for a foray into the vega of Granada.
This he executed in the true spirit of that merciless warfare, so
repugnant to the more civilized usage of later times, not only by sweeping
away the green, unripened crops, but by cutting down the trees, and
eradicating the vines; and then, without so much as having broken a lance
in the expedition, returned in triumph to Cordova. [19]

Isabella in the mean while was engaged in active measures for prosecuting
the war. She issued orders to the various cities of Castile and Leon, as
far as the borders of Biscay and Guipuscoa, prescribing the
_repartimiento_, or subsidy of provisions, and the quota of troops,
to be furnished by each district respectively, together with an adequate
supply of ammunition and artillery. The whole were to be in readiness
before Loja, by the 1st of July; when Ferdinand was to take the field in
person at the head of his chivalry, and besiege that strong post. As
advices were received, that the Moors of Granada were making efforts to
obtain the co-operation of their African brethren in support of the
Mahometan empire in Spain, the queen caused a fleet to be manned under the
command of her two best admirals, with instructions to sweep the
Mediterranean as far as the Straits of Gibraltar, and thus effectually cut
off all communication with the Barbary coast. [20]


[1] Cardonne, Hist. d'Afrique et d'Espagne, tom. iii. pp. 467-469.--Conde,
Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. iii. cap. 32, 34.

[2] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 51.--Conde, Dominacion de los
Arabes, tom. iii. cap. 34.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, p. 180.--L. Marineo,
Cosas Memorables, fol. 171.--Marmol, Historia del Rebelion y Castigo de
los Moriscos, (Madrid, 1797,) lib. 1, cap. 12.

Lebrija states, that the revenues of Granada, at the commencement of this
war, amounted to a million of gold ducats, and that it kept in pay 7000
horsemen on its peace establishment, and could send forth 21,000 warriors
from its gates. The last of these estimates would not seem to be
exaggerated. Rerum Gestarum Decades, ii. lib. 1, cap. 1.

[3] Estrada, Poblacion de España, tom. ii. pp. 247, 248.--El Nubiense,
Descripcion de España, p. 222, nota.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, p. 181.--
Marmol, Rebelion de Moriscos, lib. 1, cap. 12.

[4] Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, pp. 349, 362. This occurred in the fight
of Madroño, when Don Rodrigo, stooping to adjust his buckler, which had
been unlaced, was suddenly surrounded by a party of Moors. He snatched a
sling from one of them, and made such brisk use of it, that, after
disabling several, he succeeded in putting them to flight; for which feat,
says Zuñiga, the king complimented him with the title of "the youthful

Don Juan, count of Arcos, had no children born in wedlock, but a numerous
progeny by his concubines. Among these latter, was Doña Leonora Nuñez de
Prado, the mother of Don Rodrigo. The brilliant and attractive qualities
of this youth so far won the affections of his father, that the latter
obtained the royal sanction (a circumstance not infrequent in an age when
the laws of descent were very unsettled) to bequeath him his titles and
estates, to the prejudice of more legitimate heirs.

[5] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 52.--L. Marineo, Cosas
Memorables, fol. 171.--Pulgar computes the marquis's army at 3000 horse
and 4000 foot.--Reyes Católicos, p. 181.--Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes,
tom. iii. cap. 34.

[6] Lebrija, Rerum Gestarum Decades, ii. lib. 1, cap. 2.--Carbajal,
Anales, MS., año 1482.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 52.--Zurita,
Anales, tom. iv. fol. 315.--Cardonne, Hist. d'Afrique et d'Espagne, tom.
iii. pp. 252, 253.

[7] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., ubi supra.--Conde, Dominacion de los
Arabes, cap. 34.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 172.

[8] Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, ubi supra.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
pp. 182, 183.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. pp. 545, 546.

[9] Bernaldez, Reyes. Católicos, MS., cap. 52.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
ubi supra.--Cardonne, Hist. d'Afrique et d'Espagne, tom. iii. p. 254.

"Passeavase el Key Moro
For la ciudad de Granada,
Desde las puertas de Elvira
Hasta las de Bivarambla.
Ay de mi Alhama!

"Cartas le fueron venidas
Que Alhama era ganada.
Las cartas echó en el fuego,
Y al mensagero matava.
Ay de mi Alhama!

"Hombres, niños y mugeres,
Lloran tan grande perdida.
Lloravan todas las damas
Quantas en Granada avia.
Ay de mi Alhama!

"Por las calles y ventanas
Mucho luto parecia;
Llora el Rey como fembra,
Qu' es mucho lo que perdia.
Ay de mi Alhama!"

The _romance_, according to Hyta, (not the best voucher for a fact,)
caused such general lamentation, that it was not allowed to be sung by the
Moors after the conquest. (Guerras Civiles de Granada, tom. i. p. 350.)
Lord Byron, as the reader recollects, has done this ballad into English.
The version has the merit of fidelity. It is not his fault if his Muse
appears to little advantage in the plebeian dress of the Moorish

[11] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 172.--Conde, Dominacion de los
Arabes, tom. iii. cap. 34.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 1482.--Mariana,
Hist. de España, tom. ii. pp. 545, 546.

[12] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 52.--Bernaldez swells the
Moslem army to 5500 horse, and 80,000 foot, but I have preferred the more
moderate and probable estimate of the Arabian authors. Conde, Dominacion
de los Arabes, tom. iii. cap. 34.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, loc. cit.

[13] Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 18, cap. 23.--Pulgar, Reyes
Católicos, pp. 183, 184.

[14] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 52.

[15] Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 360.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables,
fol. 24, 172.--Lebrija, Rerum Gestarum Decades, lib. 1, cap. 3.

[16] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 183, 184. Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos,
MS., cap. 53.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. vii. p. 572.--Zuñiga,
Annales de Sevilla, pp. 392, 393.--Cardonne, Hist. d'Afrique et d'Espagne,
tom. iii. p. 257.

[17] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 183-186.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS.,
bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 28.

[18] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 53, 54.--Pulgar states that
Ferdinand took the more southern route of Antequera, where he received the
tidings of the Moorish king's retreat. The discrepancy is of no great
consequence; but as Bernaldez, whom I have followed, lived in Andalusia,
the theatre of action, he may be supposed to have had more accurate means
of information.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 187, 188.

[19] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 28.--Bernaldez,
Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 54, 55.--Lebrija, Rerum Gestarum Decades, lib.
1, cap. 6.--Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, cap. 34.--Salazar de Mendoza,
Crón. del Gran Cardenal, pp. 180, 181.--Marmol, Rebelion de Moriscos, lib.
1, cap. 12.

During this second siege, a body of Moorish knights to the number of forty
succeeded in scaling the walls of the city in the night, and had nearly
reached the gates, with the intention of throwing them open to their
countrymen, when they were overpowered, after a desperate resistance, by
the Christians, who acquired a rich booty, as many of them were persons of
rank. There is considerable variation in the authorities, in regard to the
date of Ferdinand's occupation of Alhama. I have been guided, as before,
by Bernaldez.

[20] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 188, 189.




Unsuccessful Attempt on Loja.--Revolution in Granada.--Expedition to the
Axarquia.--Military Array.--Moorish Preparations.--Bloody Conflict among
the Mountains.--The Spaniards force a Passage.--The Marquis of Cadiz

Loja stands not many leagues from Albania, on the banks of the Xenil,
which rolls its clear current through a valley luxuriant with vineyards
and olive-gardens; but the city is deeply intrenched among hills of so
rugged an aspect, that it has been led not inappropriately to assume as
the motto on its arms, "A flower among thorns." Under the Moors, it was
defended by a strong fortress, while the Xenil, circumscribing it like a
deep moat upon the south, formed an excellent protection against the
approaches of a besieging army; since the river was fordable only in one
place, and traversed by a single bridge, which might be easily commanded
by the city. In addition to these advantages, the king of Granada, taking
warning from the fate of Alhama, had strengthened its garrison with three
thousand of his choicest troops, under the command of a skilful and
experienced warrior, named Ali Atar. [1]

In the mean while, the efforts of the Spanish sovereigns to procure
supplies adequate to the undertaking against Loja had not been crowned
with success. The cities and districts, of which the requisitions had been
made, had discovered the tardiness usual in such unwieldy bodies, and
their interest, moreover, was considerably impaired by their distance from
the theatre of action. Ferdinand on mustering his army, towards the latter
part of June, found that it did not exceed four thousand horse and twelve
thousand, or indeed, according to some accounts, eight thousand foot; most
of them raw militia, who, poorly provided with military stores and
artillery, formed a force obviously inadequate to the magnitude of his
enterprise. Some of his counsellors would have persuaded him, from these
considerations, to turn his arms against some weaker and more assailable
point than Loja. But Ferdinand burned with a desire for distinction in the
new war, and suffered his ardor for once to get the better of his
prudence. The distrust felt by the leaders seems to have infected the
lower ranks, who drew the most unfavorable prognostics from the dejected
mien of those who bore the royal standard to the cathedral of Cordova, in
order to receive the benediction of the church before entering on the
expedition. [2]

Ferdinand, crossing the Xenil at Ecija, arrived again on its banks before
Loja, on the 1st of July. The army encamped among the hills, whose deep
ravines obstructed communication between its different quarters; while the
level plains below were intersected by numerous canals, equally
unfavorable to the manoeuvres of the men-at-arms. The duke of Villa
Hermosa, the king's brother, and captain-general of the hermandad, an
officer of large experience, would have persuaded Ferdinand to attempt, by
throwing bridges across the river lower down the stream, to approach the
city on the other side. But his counsel was overruled by the Castilian
officers, to whom the location of the camp had been intrusted, and who
neglected, according to Zurita, to advise with the Andalusian chiefs,
although far better instructed than themselves in Moorish warfare. [3]

A large detachment of the army was ordered to occupy a lofty eminence, at
some distance, called the Heights of Albohacen, and to fortify it with
such few pieces of ordnance as they had, with the view of annoying the
city. This commission was intrusted to the marquises of Cadiz and Villena,
and the grand-master of Calatrava; which last nobleman had brought to the
field about four hundred horse and a large body of infantry from the
places belonging to his order in Andalusia. Before the intrenchment could
be fully completed, Ali Atar, discerning the importance of this commanding
station, made a sortie from the town, for the purpose of dislodging his
enemies. The latter poured out from their works to encounter him; but the
Moslem general, scarcely waiting to receive the shock, wheeled his
squadrons round, and began a precipitate retreat. The Spaniards eagerly
pursued; but, when they had been drawn to a sufficient distance from the
redoubt, a party of Moorish _ginetes_, or light cavalry, who had crossed
the river unobserved during the night and lain in ambush, after the wily
fashion of Arabian tactics, darted from their place of concealment, and,
galloping into the deserted camp, plundered it of its contents, including
the lombards, or small pieces of artillery, with which it was garnished.
The Castilians, too late perceiving their error, halted from the pursuit,
and returned with as much speed as possible to the defence of their camp.
Ali Atar, turning also, hung close on their rear, so that, when the
Christians arrived at the summit of the hill, they found themselves hemmed
in between the two divisions of the Moorish army. A brisk action now
ensued, and lasted nearly an hour; when the advance of reinforcements from
the main body of the Spanish army, which had been delayed by distance and
impediments on the road, compelled the Moors to a prompt but orderly
retreat into their own city. The Christians sustained a heavy loss,
particularly in the death of Rodrigo Tellez Giron, grand-master of
Calatrava. He was hit by two arrows, the last of which, penetrating the
joints of his harness beneath his sword-arm, as he was in the act of
raising it, inflicted on him a mortal wound, of which he expired in a few
hours, says an old cronicler, after having confessed, and performed the
last duties of a good and faithful Christian. Although scarcely twenty-
four years of age, this cavalier had given proofs of such signal prowess,
that he was esteemed one of the best knights of Castile; and his death
threw a general gloom over the army. [4]

Ferdinand now became convinced of the unsuitableness of a position, which
neither admitted of easy communication between the different quarters of
his own camp, nor enabled him to intercept the supplies daily passing into
that of his enemy. Other inconveniences also pressed on him. His men were
so badly provided with the necessary utensils for dressing their food,
that they were obliged either to devour it raw, or only half cooked. Most
of them being new recruits, unaccustomed to the privations of war, and
many exhausted by a wearisome length of march before joining the army,
they began openly to murmur, and even to desert in great numbers.
Ferdinand therefore resolved to fall back as far as Rio Frio, and await
there patiently the arrival of such fresh reinforcements as might put him
in condition to enforce a more rigorous blockade.

Orders were accordingly issued to the cavaliers occupying the Heights of
Albohacen to break up their camp, and fall back on the main body of the
army. This was executed on the following morning before dawn, being the
4th of July. No sooner did the Moors of Loja perceive their enemy
abandoning his strong position, than they sallied forth in considerable
force to take possession of it. Ferdinand's men, who had not been advised
of the proposed manoeuvre, no sooner beheld the Moorish array brightening
the crest of the mountain, and their own countrymen rapidly descending,
than they imagined that these latter had been surprised in their
intrenchments during the night, and were now flying before the enemy. An
alarm instantly spread through the whole camp. Instead of standing to
their defence, each one thought only of saving himself by as speedy a
flight as possible. In vain did Ferdinand, riding along their broken
files, endeavor to reanimate their spirits and restore order. He might as
easily have calmed the winds, as the disorder of a panic-struck mob,
unschooled by discipline or experience. Ali Atar's practised eye speedily
discerned the confusion which prevailed through the Christian camp.
Without delay, he rushed forth impetuously at the head of his whole array
from the gates of Loja, and converted into a real danger what had before
been only an imaginary one. [5]

At this perilous moment, nothing but Ferdinand's coolness could have saved
the army from total destruction. Putting himself at the head of the royal
guard, and accompanied by a gallant band of cavaliers, who held honor
dearer than life, he made such a determined stand against the Moorish
advance, that Ali Atar was compelled to pause in his career. A furious
struggle ensued betwixt this devoted little band and the whole strength of
the Moslem army. Ferdinand was repeatedly exposed to imminent peril. On
one occasion he was indebted for his safety to the marquis of Cadiz, who,
charging at the head of about sixty lances, broke the deep ranks of the
Moorish column, and, compelling it to recoil, succeeded in rescuing his
sovereign. In this adventure, he narrowly escaped with his own life, his
horse being shot under him, at the very moment when he had lost his lance
in the body of a Moor. Never did the Spanish chivalry shed its blood more
freely. The constable, count de Haro, received three wounds in the face.
The duke of Medina Celi was unhorsed and brought to the ground, and saved
with difficulty by his own men; and the count of Tendilla, whose
encampment lay nearest the city, received several severe blows, and would
have fallen into the hands of the enemy, had it not been for the timely
aid of his friend, the young count of Zuñiga.

The Moors, finding it so difficult to make an impression on this iron band
of warriors, began at length to slacken their efforts, and finally allowed
Ferdinand to draw off the remnant of his forces without further
opposition. The king continued his retreat without halting, as far as the
romantic site of the Peña de los Enamorados, about seven leagues distant
from Loja; and, abandoning all thoughts of offensive operations for the
present, soon after returned to Cordova. Muley Abul Hacen arrived the
following day with a powerful reinforcement from Granada, and swept the
country as far as Rio Frio. Had he come but a few hours sooner, there
would have been few Spaniards left to tell the tale of the rout of Loja.

The loss of the Christians must have been very considerable, including the
greater part of the baggage and the artillery. It occasioned deep
mortification to the queen; but, though a severe, it proved a salutary
lesson. It showed the importance of more extensive preparations for a war,
which must of necessity be a war of posts; and it taught the nation to
entertain greater respect for an enemy, who, whatever might be his natural
strength, must become formidable when armed with the energy of despair.

At this juncture, a division among the Moors themselves did more for the
Christians, than any successes of their own. This division grew out of the
vicious system of polygamy, which sows the seeds of discord among those,
whom nature and our own happier institutions unite most closely. The old
king of Granada had become so deeply enamored of a Greek slave, that the
Sultana Zoraya, jealous lest the offspring of her rival should supplant
her own in the succession, secretly contrived to stir up a spirit of
discontent with her husband's government. The king, becoming acquainted
with her intrigues, caused her to be imprisoned in the fortress of the
Alhambra. But the sultana, binding together the scarfs and veils belonging
to herself and attendants, succeeded, by means of this perilous
conveyance, in making her escape, together with her children, from the
upper apartments of the tower in which she was lodged. She was received
with joy by her own faction. The insurrection soon spread among the
populace, who, yielding to the impulses of nature, are readily roused by a
tale of oppression; and the number was still further swelled by many of
higher rank, who had various causes of disgust with the oppressive
government of Abul Hacen. [7] The strong fortress of the Alhambra,
however, remained faithful to him. A war now burst forth in the capital
which deluged its streets with the blood of its citizens. At length the
sultana triumphed; Abul Hacen was expelled from Granada, and sought a
refuge in Malaga, which, with Baza, Guadix, and some other places of
importance, still adhered to him; while Granada, and by far the larger
portion of the kingdom, proclaimed the authority of his elder son, Abu
Abdallah, or Boabdil, as he is usually called by the Castilian writers.
The Spanish sovereigns viewed with no small interest these proceedings of
the Moors, who were thus wantonly fighting the battles of their enemies.
All proffers of assistance on their part, however, being warily rejected
by both factions, notwithstanding the mutual hatred of each other, they
could only await with patience the termination of a struggle, which,
whatever might be its results in other respects, could not fail to open
the way for the success of their own arms. [8]

No military operations worthy of notice occurred during the remainder of
the campaign, except occasional _cavalgadas_ or inroads, on both
sides, which, after the usual unsparing devastation, swept away whole
herds of cattle, and human beings, the wretched cultivators of the soil.
The quantity of booty frequently carried off on such occasions, amounting,
according to the testimony of both Christian and Moorish writers, to
twenty, thirty, and even fifty thousand head of cattle, shows the
fruitfulness and abundant pasturage in the southern regions of the
Peninsula. The loss inflicted by these terrible forays fell, eventually,
most heavily on Granada, in consequence of her scanty territory and
insulated position, which cut her off from all foreign resources.

Towards the latter end of October, the court passed from Cordova to
Madrid, with the intention of remaining there the ensuing winter. Madrid,
it may be observed, however, was so far from being recognized as the
capital of the monarchy at this time, that it was inferior to several
other cities in wealth and population, and was even less frequented than
some others, as Valladolid for example as a royal residence.

On the 1st of July, while the court was at Cordova, died Alfonso de
Carillo, the factious archbishop of Toledo, who contributed more than any
other to raise Isabella to the throne, and who, with the same arm, had
wellnigh hurled her from it. He passed the close of his life in retirement
and disgrace at his town of Alcalá de Henares, where he devoted himself to
science, especially to alchymy; in which illusory pursuit he is said to
have squandered his princely revenues with such prodigality, as to leave
them encumbered with a heavy debt. He was succeeded in the primacy by his
ancient rival, Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, cardinal of Spain; a prelate
whose enlarged and sagacious views gained him deserved ascendency in the
councils of his sovereigns. [9]

The importance of their domestic concerns did not prevent Ferdinand and
Isabella from giving a vigilant attention to what was passing abroad. The
conflicting relations growing out of the feudal system occupied most
princes, till the close of the fifteenth century, too closely at home to
allow them often to turn their eyes beyond the borders of their own
territories. This system was indeed now rapidly melting away. But Louis
the Eleventh may perhaps be regarded as the first monarch, who showed
anything like an extended interest in European politics. He informed
himself of the interior proceedings of most of the neighboring courts, by
means of secret agents whom he pensioned there. Ferdinand obtained a
similar result by the more honorable expedient of resident embassies, a
practice which he is said to have introduced, [10] and which, while it has
greatly facilitated commercial intercourse, has served to perpetuate
friendly relations between different countries, by accustoming them to
settle their differences by negotiation rather than the sword.

The position of the Italian states, at this period, whose petty feuds
seemed to blind them to the invasion which menaced them from the Ottoman
empire, was such as to excite a lively interest throughout Christendom,
and especially in Ferdinand, as sovereign of Sicily. He succeeded, by
means of his ambassadors at the papal court, in opening a negotiation
between the belligerents, and in finally adjusting the terms of a general
pacification, signed December 12th, 1482. The Spanish court, in
consequence of its friendly mediation on this occasion, received three
several embassies with suitable acknowledgments, on the part of the pope
Sixtus the Fourth, the college of cardinals, and the city of Rome; and
certain marks of distinction were conferred by his Holiness on the
Castilian envoys, not enjoyed by those of any other potentate. This event
is worthy of notice as the first instance of Ferdinand's interference in
the politics of Italy, in which at a later period he was destined to act
so prominent a part. [11]

The affairs of Navarre at this time were such as to engage still more
deeply the attention of the Spanish sovereigns. The crown of that kingdom
had devolved, on the death of Leonora, the guilty sister of Ferdinand, on
her grandchild, Francis Phoebus, whose mother, Magdeleine of France, held
the reins of government during her son's minority. [12] The near
relationship of this princess to Louis the Eleventh, gave that monarch an
absolute influence in the councils of Navarre. He made use of this to
bring about a marriage between the young king, Francis Phoebus, and Joanna
Beltraneja, Isabella's former competitor for the crown of Castile,
notwithstanding this princess had long since taken the veil in the convent
of Santa Clara at Coimbra. It is not easy to unravel the tortuous politics
of King Louis. The Spanish writers impute to him the design of enabling
Joanna by this alliance to establish her pretensions to the Castilian
throne, or at least to give such employment to its present proprietors, as
should effectually prevent them from disturbing him in the possession of
Roussillon. However this may be, his intrigues with Portugal were
disclosed to Ferdinand by certain nobles of that court, with whom he was
in secret correspondence. The Spanish sovereigns, in order to counteract
this scheme, offered the hand of their own daughter Joanna, afterwards
mother of Charles the Fifth, to the king of Navarre. But all negotiations
relative to this matter were eventually defeated by the sudden death of
this young prince, not without strong suspicions of poison. He was
succeeded on the throne by his sister Catharine. Propositions were then
made by Ferdinand and Isabella, for the marriage of this princess, then
thirteen years of age, with their infant son John, heir apparent of their
united monarchies. [13] Such an alliance, which would bring under one
government nations corresponding in origin, language, general habits, and
local interests, presented great and obvious advantages. It was however
evaded by the queen dowager, who still acted as regent, on the pretext of
disparity of age in the parties. Information being soon after received
that Louis the Eleventh was taking measures to make himself master of the
strong places in Navarre, Isabella transferred her residence to the
frontier town of Logroño, prepared to resist by arms, if necessary, the
occupation of that country by her insidious and powerful neighbor. The
death of the king of France, which occurred not long after, fortunately
relieved the sovereigns from apprehensions of any immediate annoyance on
that quarter. [14]

Amid their manifold concerns, Ferdinand and Isabella kept their thoughts
anxiously bent on their great enterprise, the conquest of Granada. At a
congress general of the deputies of the hermandad, held at Pinto, at the
commencement of the present year, 1483, with the view of reforming certain
abuses in that institution, a liberal grant was made of eight thousand
men, and sixteen thousand beasts of burden, for the purpose of conveying
supplies to the garrison in Alhama. But the sovereigns experienced great
embarrassment from the want of funds. There is probably no period in which
the princes of Europe felt so sensibly their own penury, as at the close
of the fifteenth century; when, the demesnes of the crown having been very
generally wasted by the lavishness or imbecility of its proprietors, no
substitute had as yet been found in that searching and well-arranged
system of taxation which prevails at the present day. The Spanish
sovereigns, notwithstanding the economy which they had introduced into the
finances, felt the pressure of these embarrassments, peculiarly, at the
present juncture. The maintenance of the royal guard and of the vast
national police of the hermandad, the incessant military operations of the
late campaign, together with the equipment of a navy, not merely for war,
but for maritime discovery, were so many copious drains of the exchequer.
[15] Under these circumstances, they obtained from the pope a grant of
one hundred thousand ducats, to be raised out of the ecclesiastical
revenues in Castile and Aragon. A bull of crusade was also published by
his Holiness, containing numerous indulgences for such as should bear arms
against the infidel, as well as those who should prefer to commute their
military service for the payment of a sum of money. In addition to these
resources, the government was enabled on its own credit, justified by the
punctuality with which it had redeemed its past engagements, to negotiate
considerable loans with several wealthy individuals. [16]

With these funds the sovereigns entered into extensive arrangements for
the ensuing campaign; causing cannon, after the rude construction of that
age, to be fabricated at Huesca, and a large quantity of stone balls, then
principally used, to be manufactured in the Sierra de Constantina; while
the magazines were carefully provided with ammunition and military stores.

An event not unworthy of notice is recorded by Pulgar, as happening about
this time. A common soldier, named John de Corral, contrived, under false
pretences, to obtain from the king of Granada a number of Christian
captives, together with a large sum of money, with which he escaped into
Andalusia. The man was apprehended by the warden of the frontier of Jaen;
and, the transaction being reported to the sovereigns, they compelled an
entire restitution of the money, and consented to such a ransom for the
liberated Christians as the king of Granada should demand. This act of
justice, it should be remembered, occurred in an age when the church
itself stood ready to sanction any breach of faith, however glaring,
towards heretics and infidels. [17]

While the court was detained in the north, tidings were received of a
reverse sustained by the Spanish arms, which plunged the nation in sorrow
far deeper than that occasioned by the rout at Loja. Don Alonso de
Cardenas, grand-master of St. James, an old and confidential servant of
the crown, had been intrusted with the defence of the frontier of Ecija.
While on this station, he was strongly urged to make a descent on the
environs of Malaga, by his _adalides_ or scouts, men who, being for
the most part Moorish deserters or renegadoes, were employed by the border
chiefs to reconnoitre the enemy's country, or to guide them in their
marauding expeditions. [18] The district around Malaga was famous under
the Saracens for its silk manufactures, of which it annually made large
exports to other parts of Europe. It was to be approached by traversing a
savage sierra, or chain of mountains, called the Axarquia, whose margin
occasionally afforded good pasturage, and was sprinkled over with Moorish
villages. After threading its defiles, it was proposed to return by an
open road that turned the southern extremity of the sierra along the sea-
shore. There was little to be apprehended, it was stated, from pursuit,
since Malaga was almost wholly unprovided with cavalry. [19]

The grand-master, falling in with the proposition, communicated it to the
principal chiefs on the borders; among others, to Don Pedro Henriquez,
adelantado of Andalusia, Don Juan de Silva, count of Cifuentes, Don Alonso
de Aguilar, and the marquis of Cadiz. These nobleman, collecting their
retainers, repaired to Antequera, where the ranks were quickly swelled by
recruits from Cordova, Seville, Xerez, and other cities of Andalusia,
whose chivalry always readily answered the summons to an expedition over
the border. [20]

In the mean while, however, the marquis of Cadiz had received such
intelligence from his own _adalides_, as led him to doubt the expediency
of a march through intricate defiles, inhabited by a poor and hardy
peasantry; and he strongly advised to direct the expedition against
the neighboring town of Almojia. But in this he was overruled by the
grand-master and the other partners of his enterprise; many of whom, with
the rash confidence of youth, were excited rather than intimidated by the
prospect of danger.

On Wednesday, the 19th of March, this gallant little army marched forth
from the gates of Antequera. The van was intrusted to the adelantado
Henriquez and Don Alonso de Aguilar. The centre divisions were led by the
marquis of Cadiz and the count of Cifuentes, and the rear-guard by the
grand-master of St. James. The number of foot, which is uncertain, appears
to have been considerably less than that of the horse, which amounted to
about three thousand, containing the flower of Andalusian knighthood,
together with the array of St. James, the most opulent and powerful of the
Spanish military orders. Never, says an Aragonese historian, had there
been seen in these times a more splendid body of chivalry; and such was
their confidence, he adds, that they deemed themselves invincible by any
force which the Moslems could bring against them. The leaders took care
not to encumber the movements of the army with artillery, camp equipage,
or even much forage and provisions, for which they trusted to the invaded
territory. A number of persons, however, followed in the train, who,
influenced by desire rather of gain than of glory, had come provided with
money, as well as commissions from their friends, for the purchase of rich
spoil, whether of slaves, stuffs, or jewels, which they expected would be
won by the good swords of their comrades, as in Alhama. [21]

After travelling with little intermission through the night, the army
entered the winding defiles of the Axarquia; where their progress was
necessarily so much impeded by the character of the ground, that most of
the inhabitants of the villages, through which they passed, had
opportunity to escape with the greater part of their effects to the
inaccessible fastnesses of the mountains. The Spaniards, after plundering
the deserted hamlets of whatever remained, as well as of the few
stragglers, whether men or cattle, found still lingering about them, set
them on fire. In this way they advanced, marking their line of march with
the usual devastation that accompanied these ferocious forays, until the
columns of smoke and fire, which rose above the hill-tops, announced to
the people of Malaga the near approach of an enemy.

The old king Muley Abul Hacen, who lay at this time in the city, with a
numerous and well-appointed body of horse, contrary to the reports of the
adalides, would have rushed forth at once at their head, had he not been
dissuaded from it by his younger brother Abdallah, who is better known in
history by the name of El Zagal, or "the Valiant;" an Arabic epithet,
given him by his countrymen to distinguish him from his nephew, the ruling
king of Granada. To this prince Abul Hacen intrusted the command of the
corps of picked cavalry, with instructions to penetrate at once into the
lower level of the sierra, and encounter the Christians entangled in its
passes; while another division, consisting chiefly of arquebusiers and
archers, should turn the enemy's flank by gaining the heights under which
he was defiling. This last corps was placed under the direction of Reduan
Benegas, a chief of Christian lineage, according to Bernaldez, and who may
perhaps be identified with the Reduan that, in the later Moorish ballads,
seems to be shadowed forth as the personification of love and heroism.

The Castilian army in the mean time went forward with a buoyant and
reckless confidence, and with very little subordination. The divisions
occupying the advance and centre, disappointed in their expectations of

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