A Brief History of
[Excerpted from Archibald Wilberforce, Spain and Her Colonies (New York: Peter Fenelon Collier, 1898), pp. 28-57]
Moslem rule in Spain may be conveniently summarized as consisting, first, in the Caliphs of Cordova; second, in the dynasty of the Almoravides; third, in that of the Almohades; and, finally, the kings of Granada.
Concerning the first it may be noted that in the long reign of the last Abdur Rahman were the seeds of its dissolution. Brooking no rival during his lifetime, at his death he found no successor. Then upon the ruins of the great Caliphate twenty independent and hostile dynasties surged. Meanwhile Alfonso was eying them from his citadel. At the gates of Valencia was the Cid. For common safety the Moslem rivals looked for a common defender. In Africa that defender was found in Yusuf, the Berber chief of a tribe of religious soldiers known as the Almoravides.
Invited to Spain he crossed over, and, meeting Alfonso at Zalaca, near Bajadoz, on the 23d of October, 1086, he routed him with great and historic slaughter.
Yusuf [says Burke] had come as a Moslem defender, but he remained as a Moslem master. And once more in Spanish history, the over-powerful ally turned his victorious arms against those who had welcomed him to their shores. Yet Yusuf was no vulgar traitor. He had sworn to the envoys of the Spanish Moslems that he would return to Africa, in the event of victory, without the annexation to his African empire of a field or a city to the north of the Straits. And his vow was religiously kept. Retiring empty-handed to Mauritania, after the great battle at Zalaca, he returned once more to Spain, unfettered on this new expedition by any vow, and set to work with his usual vigor to make himself master of the Peninsula. Tarifa fell in December. The next year saw the capture of Seville, and of all of the principal cities of Andalusia. An army sent by Alfonso VI., under his famous captain, Alvar Fanez, was completely defeated, and all Southern Spain lay at the feet of the Berber, save only Valencia, which remained impregnable so long as the Cid lived to direct the defense. In 1102, after the hero's death, Valencia succumbed, and all Spain to the south of the Tagus became a province of the great African empire of the Almoravides.
The rule of these hardy bigots was entirely unlike that of the Ommeyad Caliphs of the West. Moslem Spain had no longer even an independent existence. The sovereign resided not at Cordova, but at Morocco. The poets and musicians were banished from court. The beauties of Az Zahra were forgotten. Jews and Christians were alike persecuted. The kingdom was governed with an iron hand. But if the rule of the stranger was not generous, it was just, and for the moment it possessed the crowning merit that it was efficient. The laws were once more respected. The people once more dreamed of wealth and happiness. But it was little more than a dream.
On the death of Yusuf in 1107 the scepter passed into the hands of his son Ali, a more sympathetic but a far less powerful ruler. In 1118 the great city of Saragossa, the last bulwark of Islam in the north of the Peninsula, was taken by Alfonso I. of Aragon, who carried his victorious arms into Southern Spain, and fulfilled a rash vow by eating a dinner of fresh fish on the coast of Granada.
Yet it was by no Christian hand that the empire of the Almoravides was to be overthrown.
Mohammed Ibn Abdullah, a lamplighter in the Mosque at Cordova, had made his way to remote Bagdad to study at the feet of Abu Hamid Algazali, a celebrated doctor of Moslem law. The strange adventures, so characteristic of his age and nation, by which the lowly student became a religious reformer, a Mahdi, and a conqueror in Africa, and at length overthrew the Almoravides, both to the north and the south of the Straits of Glibraltar, forms a most curious chapter in the history of Islam; but in a brief sketch of the fortunes of medieval Spain, it must suffice to say that having established his religious and military power among the Berber tribes of Africa, Ibn Abdullah, the Mahdi, landed at Algeciras in 114S, and possessed himself in less than four years of Malaga, Seville, Granada, and Cordova. The empire of the Almoravides was completely destroyed; and, before the close of the year 1149, all Moslem Spain acknowledged the supremacy of the Almohades.
These more sturdy fanatics were still African rather than Spanish sovereigns. Moslem Spain was administered by a Vali deputed from Morocco; and Cordova, shorn of much of its former splendor, was the occasional abode of a royal visitor from Barbary. For seventy years the Almohades retained their position in Spain. But their rule was not of glory but of decay. One high feat of arms indeed shed a dying luster on the name of the Berber prince who reigned for fifteen years (118S99) under the auspicious title of Almanzor, and his great Moslem victory over Alfonso II. at Alarcon in 1195 revived for the time the drooping fortunes of the Almohades. But their empire was already doomed, decaying, disintegrated, wasting away. And at length the terrible defeat of the Moslem forces by the united armies of the three Christian kings at the Navas de Tolosa in 1212, at once the most crushing and the most authentic of all the Christian victories of medieval Spain, gave a final and deadly blow to the Moslem dominion of the Peninsula. Within a few years of that celebrated battle, Granada alone was subject to the rule of Islam.
It was in the year 1228 that a descendant of the old Moorish kings of Saragossa rebelled against the Almohades and succeeded in making himself master not merely of Gfranada, but of Cordova, Seville, Algeciras, and even of Ceuta, and, obtaildng a confirmation of his rights from Bagdad, assumed the title of Amir ul Moslemin, Commander of the Moslems, and A1 Mutawakal, the Protected of God.
But a rival was not slow to appear. Mohammed A1 Ahmar, the Fair or the Ruddy, defeated, dethroned, and slew Al Mutawakal, and reigned in his stead in Andalusia. Despoiled in his turn of most of his possessions by St. Ferdinand of Castile, Al Ahmar was fain at length to content himself with the rich districts in the extreme south of the Peninsula, which are known to fame, wherever the Spanish or the English language is spoken, as the Kingdom of Granada. And thus it came to pass that the city on the banks of the Darro, the home of the proud and highly cultivated Syrians of Damascus, the flower of the early Arab invaders of Spain, became also the abiding place of the later Arab civilization, overmastered year after year, and destroyed, by the Christian armies ever pressing on to the southern sea. Yet, in the middle of the thirteenth century, the flood tide of reconquest had for the moment fairly spent itself. The Christians were not strong enough to conquer, and above all they were not numerous enough to occupy, the districts that were still peopled by the Moor; and for once a wise and highly cultivated Christian shared the supreme power in the Peninsula with a generous and honorable Moslem. Alfonso X. sought not to extend his frontiers, but to educate his people, not to slaughter his neighbors, but to give laws to his subjects, not to plunder frontier cities, but to make Castile into a kingdom, with a history, a civilization, and a language of her own. If the reputation of Alfonso is by no means commensurate with his true greatness, the statesmanship of Mohammed Al Ahmar, the founder of the ever famous Kingdom of Granada, is overshadowed by his undying fame as an architect. Yet is Al Ahmar worthy of remembrance as a king and the parent of kings in Spain. The loyal friend and ally of his Christian neighbor, the prudent administrator of his own dominions, he collected at his Arab court a great part of the wealth, the science, and the intelligence of Spain. His empire has long ago been broken up; the Moslem has been driven out; there is no king nor kingdom of Granada. But their memory lives in the great palace fortress whose red towers still rise over the sparkling Darro, and whose fairy chambers are still to be seen in what is, perhaps, the most celebrated of the wonder works of the master builders of the world.
After his long and glorious reign of forty-two years, Mohammed the Fair was killed by a fall from his horse near Granada, and was succeeded by his son, Mohammed II., in the last days of the year 1272. Al Ahmar had ever remained at peace with Alfonso :K., but his son, taking advantage of the king's absence in quest of an empire in Germany, sought the assistance of Yusuf, the sovereign or emperor of Morocco, and invaded the Christian frontiers.
Victory was for some time on the side of the Moors. The Castilians were defeated at Ecija in 1278, and their leader, the Viceroy Don Nunez de Lara, was killed in bate tle, as was also Don Sancho, Infante of Aragon and Archbishop of Toledo, after the rout of his army at Martos, near Jaen, on the 21st of October, 1278; and the victorious Yusuf ravaged Christian Spain to the very gates of Seville.
In the nest year, 1276, the Castilian armies were again twice defeated, in February at Alcoy and in the following July at Lucena. To add to their troubles, King James of Aragon died at Valencia in 1276. Sancho of Castile sought to depose his father Alfonso, at Valladolid. All was in confusion among the Christians; and had it not been for the defection of Yusuf of Morocco, the tide of fortune might have turned in favor of Islam. As it was, the African monarch not only abandoned his cousin of Granada, but he was actually persuaded to send one hundred thousand ducats to his Christian rival at Seville in 1280.
The value of this assistance was soon felt. Tarifa was taken in 1292, and the progress of the Moor was checked forever in Southern Spain. Mohammed II. died in 1332, and was succeeded by his son, Mohammed III., who was usually considered by the Moslem historians to have been the ablest monarch of his house. But he reigned for only seven years, and he was unable to defend Gibraltar from the assaults of his Christian rivals.
From this time the court of Granada became a sort of city of refuge for the disaffected lords and princes of Castile, who sometimes, but rarely, prevailed upon their Moslem hosts to assist them in expeditions into Christian Spain, but who were always welcomed with true Arab hospitality at the Moslem capital. To record their various intrigues would be a vain and unpleasing task. The general course of history was hardly affected by passing alliances. The Christian pressed on, with ever increasing territory behind him, on his road to the southern sea.
In 1319, Abdul Walid or Ismail I. of Granada defeated and slew Don Pedro and Don Juan, Infantes of Castile, at a place near Granada, still known as the Sierra de los Infantes. But no important consequences followed the victory.
In the reign of Yusuf (1333-54) was fought the great battle of the Salado (1340), when the Christians, under Alfonso XI., were completely successful; and the capitulation of Algeciras three years later deprived the Moslems of an important harbor and seaport. Day by day, almost hour by hour, the Christians encroached upon Granada, even while cultivating the political friendship and accepting the private hospitality of the Moslem. Their treacherous intervention reached its climax in 1362, when Peter the Cruel decoyed the King Abu Said, under his royal safe-conduct, to the palace at Seville, and slew him with his own hand.
With Mohammed or Maulai al Aisar, or the Left-handed, the affairs of Granada became more intimately connected with the serious history of Spain. Al Hayzari, proclaimed king in 1423, and dethroned soon after by his cousin, another Mohammed, in 1427, sought and found refuge at the court of John II., by whose instrumentality he was restored to his throne at the Alhambra in 1429. Yet within four years a rival sovereign, Yusuf, had secured the support of the fickle Christian, and Muley the Left-handed was forced a second time to fly from his capital. Once again, by the sudden death of the new usurper, he returned to reign at Granada, and once again for the third time he was supplanted by a more fortunate rival, who reigned as Mohammed IX. for nearly ten years (1445-54). At the end of this period, however, another pretender was dispatched from the Christian court, and after much fighting and intrigue, Mohammed ibn Ismail, a nephew of Maulai or Muley the Left-handed, drove out the reigning sovereign and succeeded him as Mohammed X.
Yet were the dominions of this Christian ally unceasingly ravaged by his Christian neighbors. Gibraltar, Archidona, and much surrounding territory were taken by the forces of Henry IV. and his nobles; and a treaty was at length concluded in 1464, in which it was agreed that Mohammed of Granada should hold his kingdom under the protection of Castile, and should pay an annual subsidy or tribute of twelve thousand gold ducats. It was thus, on the death, in 1466, of this Mohammed Ismail of Granada, that a vexed and harassed throne was inherited by his son Muley Abul Eassan, ever famous in history and romance as "The old king", the last independent sovereign of Granada.
Meanwhile, Henry's only daughter Joanna being regarded as the fruit of the queen's adultery, he was deposed, but restored after acknowledging as his heiress his sister Isabella, who subsequently, through her marriage with Ferdinand of Aragon, joined the two most powerful of Spanish kingdoms into one yet more powerful State.
To return now to Muley Abul Hassan.[ Muley is an Arabic word meaning "my lord."] For man y years after his accession he observed with his Christian neighbors the treaties that had been made, nor did he take advantage of the civil war which arose by reason of Joanna's pretensions to add to the difficulties already existing, and in the spring of 1476 sought a formal renewal of the old Treaty of Peace.
Ferdinand, however, made his acceptance of the king's proposal contingent upon the grant of an annual tribute; and he sent an envoy to the Moslem court to negotiate the terms of payment. But the reply of Abul Hassan was decisive. "Steel," said he, "not gold, was what Ferdinand should have from G#ranada!" Disappointed of their subsidy, and unprepared for war, the Christian sovereigns were content to renew the treaty, with a mental reservation that as soon as a favorable opportunity should present itself they would drive every Moslem not only out of Granada, but out of Spain.
For five years there was peace between Abut Hassan and the Catholic sovereigns. The commencement of hostilities was the capture of Zahara by the Moslems at the close of the year 1481; which was followed early in next year, 1482, by the conquest of the far more important Moorish stronghold of Alhama, not by the troops of Ferdinand and Isabella, but by the followers of Ponce de Leon, the celebrated Marquis of Cadiz. Alhama was not merely a fortress. It was a treasure-house and a magazine; and it was but five or six leagues from Granada. The town was sacked with the usual horrors. The Marquis of Cadiz, having made good his position within the walls, defied all the attacks of Abul Hassan, and at the same time sent messengers to every Christian lord in Andalusia to come to his assistance, to all save one, his hereditary enemy, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, chief of the great family of the Gluzmans. Yet it was this generous rival, who, assembling all his chivalry and retainers, was the first to appear before the walls of Alhama, and relieve the Christians from the threatened assault of the Moslem. The days of civil discord had passed away in Castile; and against united Chlistendom, Islam could not long exist in Spain.
Meanwhile, Ferdinand, seeing that war had finally broken out, started from Medina del Campo, and marched with all speed to Cordova, where he was joined by Isabella early in April, 1482. The Inquisition had now been for over a year in full blast at Seville. The fires of persecution had been fairly lighted. The reign of bigotr~had begun, and the king and queen were encouraged to proceed from the plunder of the Jews or New Christians to the plunder of the Moslems. Ferdinand accordingly repaired in person to Alhama, with a large train of prelates and ecclesiastics of lower degree. The eity was solemnly purified. Three mosques were consecrated by the Cardinal of Spain for Christian worship. Bells, crosses, plate, altar cloths were furnished without stint; and Alhama having been thus restored to civilization, Ferdinand descended upon the fruitful valley or Vega of 'Granada, destroyed the crops, cut down the fruit trees, uprooted the vines, and, without having encountered a single armed enemy in the course of his crusade, returned in triumph to Cordova. A more arduous enterprise in the following July was not attended with the same success, when Ferdinand attacked the important town of Loja, and was repulsed with great loss of Christian life. An expedition against Malaga, later in the year, undertaken by Alfonso de Cardenas, 'Grand Master of Santiago, and the Marquis of Cadiz, was even more disastrous, for a small body of Moors in the mountain defiles of the Axarquia fell upon the Christian marauders, and no less than four hundred "persons of quality" are said to have perished in the retreat, including thirty commanders of the great military order of Santiago. The Grand Master, the Marquis of 'Cadiz, and Don Alfonso de Aguilar escaped as by a miracle, and the survivors straggled into Loja and Antequera and Ma]aga, leaving Abul Hassan and his brother Al Zagal, or the Valiant, with all the honors of war.
But the successes of the Moor in the field was more than counterbalanced by treason in the palace. By Zoraya, a lady of Christian ancestry, Muley Abul Hassan had a son, Abu Abdallah, who has earned a sad notoriety under the more familiar name of Boabdil. Jealous of some rival, or ambitious of greater power, the Sultana and her son intrigued against their sovereign, and having escaped from the State prison, in which they were at first prudently confined, raised the standard of revolt, and compelled Abut Hassan, who was thenceforth more usually spoken of as the Old King, to seek refuge on the seacoast at Malaga.
Boabdil, jealous of the success of his father and his uncle at Loja and in the Asarquia, and anxious to confirm his power by some striking victory over the Christians, took the field and confronted the forces of the Count of Cabra, near Lucena. The battle was hotly contested, but victory remained with the Christians. Ali Atar, the bravest of the Moorish generals, was slain by the hand of Alfonso de Aguilar, and Boabdil himself was taken prisoner by a common soldier, Hurtado by name, and fell into the hands of the victorious Count of Cabra. The captivity of Boabdil, the Little King, el Rey Chico, as he was called by the Castilians, was the turning point in the history of the Moorish dominion in Spain. Released on payment of a magnificent ransom provided by his mother Zoraya, and bound to his Christian captors by a humiliating treaty, he returned to Granada, disgraced and dishonored, as the ally of the enemies of his country. Driven out of the capital by the forces of his father, who had returned to occupy the great palace-fortress of Alhambra, Boabdil and his mother retired to Almeria, the second eity in the kingdom; and the whole eountry was distracted by civil war.
Yet for four years the Castilians refrained from any important expedition against Granada. Their tactics were rather those of Scipio at Numantia. For Delay was all in favor of Disintegration.
Yet the merciless devastation of fields and crops was carried on with systematic and dreadful completeness. Thirty thousand destroyers of peaceful homesteads, granaries, farmhouses, and mills, were constantly at work, and ere long there was scarce a vineyard or an oliveyard, scarce an orchard or an orange-grove existing within reach of the Christian borders. Under cover of the treaty with Boabdil, this devilish enginery of destruction was steadily pushed forward, while the old king and his more vigorous brother El Zagal were prevented by domestic treason from making any effectual defense of their fatherland. Some of the border towns, moreover, fell into the hands of the Christians, and many forays were undertaken which produced rich booty for the marauders. Ferdinand in the meantime occupied himself rather with the affairs of the Inquisition and of foreign policy, while Isabella was personally superintending the enormous preparations for a final attack on Granada. Artillery was cast in large quantities, and artificers imported from France and Italy; large stores of ammunition were procured from Flanders. Nothing was hurried; nothing was spared; nothing was forgotten by Isabella. A camp hospital, the first, it is said, in the history of warfare, was instituted by the queen, whose energy was indefatigable, whose powers of organization were boundless, and whose determination was inflexible. To represent her as a tender and timid princess is to turn her true greatness into ridicule. But her vigor, her prudence, and iler perseverance are beyond the vulgar praise of history.
Meanwhile, Granada was gradually withering away. The "pomegranate," as Ferdinand had foreseen and foretold, was losing one by one the seeds of which the rich and lovely fruit had once been all compact. The old king, defeated but not disgraced, blind, infirm, and unfortunate, was succeeded too late by his more capable brother, El Zagal, a gallant warrior, a skillful commander, and a resolute ruler. But if "the valiant one" might hardly have held his own against the enormous resources of the Christians in Europe, he was powerless against the combination of foreign vigor and domestic treachery. The true conqueror of Granada is Boabdil, the rebel and the traitor,- who has been euphemistically surnamed the Unlucky (El Zogoibi). Innocent, perchance, of the massacre of the brave Abencerrages, he is guilty of the blood of his country.
The capture of Velez Malaga by Ferdinand, already w ell supplied with a powerful train of artillery, in April, 148; while El Zagal was fighting for his life against Boabdil in Granada, was soon followed by the reduction, after a most heroic defense, of the far more important city of Malaga in August, l 487. But the heroism of the Moslem woke no generous echo in the hearts of either Ferdinand or Isabella. The entire population of the captured city, men, women, and children, some fifteen thousand souls, were reduced to slavery, and distributed not only over Spain, but over Europe.
A hundred choice warriors were sent as a gift to the Pope. Fifty of the most beautiful girls were presented to the Queen of Naples, thirty more to the Queen of Portugal, others to the ladies of her court, and the residue of both sexes were portioned off among the nobles, the knights, and the common soldiers of the army, according to their rank and influence.
For the Jews and renegades a more dreadful doom was reserved; and the fiames in which they perished were, in the words of a contemporary ecclesiastic, "the illuminations most grateful to the Catholic piety of Ferdinand and Isabella. " The town was repeopled by Christian immigrants, to whom the lands and houses of the Moslem owners were granted with royal liberality by the victors. The fall of Malaga, the second seaport and the third city of the kingdom of Granada, was a grievous loss to the Moors; and the Christian blockade was drawn closer both by land and by sea. Yet an invasion of the eastern provinces, undertaken by Ferdinand himself in 1488, was repulsed by El Zagal; and the Christian army was disbanded as usual at the close of the year, without having extended the Christian dominions.
But in the spring of 1489 greater efforts were made. The Castilians sat down before the town of Baza, not far from Jaen, and after a siege which lasted until the following December, the city surrendered, not, as in the case of Malaga, without conditions, but upon honorable terms of capitulation, which the assailants, who had only been prevented by the arrival of Isabella from raising the siege, were heartily glad to accept. The fall of Baza was of more than passing importance, for it was followed by the capitulation of Almeria, the second city in the kingdom, aRd by the submission of El Zagal, who renounced as hopeless the double task of fighting against his nephew at the Alhambra, and resisting the Christian sovereigns who had already overrun his borders. The fallen monarch passed over to Africa, where he died in indigence and misery, the last of the great Moslem rulers of Spain.
In the spring of 1490, Ferdinand, already master of the greater part of the Moorish kingdom, sent a formal summons to his bondsman, Boabdil, to surrender to him the city of Granada; and that wretched and most foolish traitor, who had refrained from action when action might have saved his country, now defied the victorious Christians, when his defiance could only lead to further suffering and greater disaster.
Throughout the summer of 149(), Ferdinand, in person, devoted himself to the odious task of the devastation of the entire Vega of Granada, and the depopulation of the town of Guadix. But in the spring of the next year, Isabella, who was ever the life and soul of the war, took up her position within six miles of the city, and pitched her camp at Ojos de Huescar at the very gate of Granada.
And here was found assembled, not only all the best blood of Castile, but volunteers and mercenary troops from various countries in Europe. France, England, Italy, and even Germany, each provided their contingent; and a body of Swiss soldiers of fortune showed the gallant cavaliers of the Christian army the power and the value of a well disciplined infantry. Among the foreigners who had come over to Spain in 1486 was an English lord, the Earl of Rivers, known by the Spaniards as El Conde de Escalas, from his family name of Scales, whose magnificence attracted the admiration of all, even at the magnificent court of Isabella.
But the destruction of Granada was not brought al out by these gilded strangers, nor even by the brilliant knights and nobles of Spain. It was not due to skillful engineers nor to irresistible commanders. The gates were opened by no victory. The walls were scaled by no assault. The Christian success was due to the patient determination of Isabella, to the decay and disintegration of the Moorish Commonwealth, and, to some extent, to the skillful negotiation and diplomatic astuteness of a young soldier whose early influence upon the fortunes of Spain have been overshadowed by the greatness of his later achievements.
For among all the splendid knights and nobles who assembled in the camp of Isabella, the chroniclers wellnigh overlooked a gay cavalier of modest fortune, the younger brother of Alfonso de Aguilar, distinguished rather as a fop than a warrior, Gonsalvo Hernandez of Cordova, whose fame was destined to eelipse that of all his eompanions in arms, and who has earned an undying reputation in the history of three countries as "The Great Captain. "
The life of Gonsalvo de Cordova is interesting as being the history of a brave soldier and an accomplished general, who fiourished at a very important period of the history of Europe. But it is further and much more interesting as being the history of a man who united in himself many of the characteristics of ancient and of modern times. His bravery was the bravery of an old Castilian knight, and although he had many splendid rivals, he was pronounced by common consent to be their superior. Yet his individual courage was the least remarkable of his qualities.
He was a general, such as the Western world had not known for a thousand years, and he was the first diplomatist of modern Europe. In personal valor, in knightly courtesy, in brave display, he was of his own time. In astute generalship, and in still more astute diplomacy, he may be said to have inaugurated a new era; and although greater commanders have existed after him, as well as before him, he will always be known as "The Great Captain."
The conquest of Granada marks an epoeh, not only in the history of Spain, but in the history of Europe; and Gonsalvo was the hero of Granada. The expedition of Charles VIII. into Italy is a subject of almost romantic interest, very nearly preferred by Gibbon to his own immortal theme; and Gonsalvo in Italy was the admired of all French and Italian admirers. The succeeding expedition of Louis XII. was seareely less interesting, and the part played by Gonsalvo was even more remarkable. At his birth artillery was almost unknown. At his death it had become the most formidable arm of offense; it had revolutionized the rules and manner of warfare; and it was employed by The Great Captain in both his Italian campaigns with marked skill and sueeess.
Gotlsalvo Hernandez seas born at Montilla, near Cordova, in 14a3, of the noble and ancient family of the Aguilars. After a boyhood and youth devoted, not only to every manly sport and pursuit, and to the praetiee of arms, but to the study of letters, and more especially of the Arabie language, he made his first appearance in serious warfare on the field of Olmedo, fighting under the banner of the Marquis of Villena. On the death of Prince Adfonso, Gonsalvo returned to Cordova. His father had already died; and according to the Spanish law of primogeniture the whole of the rich estates of the family of Aguilar passed, on the death of Don Pedro, to his eldest son Alfonso, while nothing but a little personal property, a great name, a fine person, and "the hope of what he might gain by his good fortune or his valor" was inherited by his younger brother.
Cordova was obviously too small a field for Gonsalvo de Aguilar; and in the course of the eventful year 1474, having just arrived at man's estate, he proceeded to Segovia, and distinguished himself among the young nobles who crowded to the Court of Isabella, by his prowess at tournaments and all warlike games and exercises; and he soon became celebrated for his personal beauty as well as for his valor, distinguished for his fascinating manners, and, above all, by an eloquence rarely found in a young soldier of two and twenty. He was generally known as "the Prince of the Youth"; and he supported the character by an almost royal liberality and ostentatious expenditure entirely incompatible with his modest fortune.
In the war of succession between Isabella and her niece, Gonsalvo served under Alfonso de Cardenas, Grand Master of Santiago, in command of a troop of one hundred and twenty horsemen; and he particularly distinguished himself at the battle of Albuera.
And now, in the camp before Granada, he was well pleased once more to sun himself in the smiles of his queen and patroness, whose presence in the camp inspired every soldier with enthusiasm. Isabella appeared on the field superbly mounted and dressed in complete armor, and continually visited the different quarters, and held reviews of the troops. On one occasion she expressed a desire to have a nearer view of the city, and a picked body of men, among whom was Gl onsalvo de Cordova, commanded by the Marquis Duke of Cadiz, escorted her to the little village of Zubia, within a short distance of Granada. The citizens, indignant at the near approach of so small a force, sallied out and attacked them. The (::hristians, however, stood their ground so bravely, and performed such prodigies of valor under the very eyes of Isabella herself, that no less than two thousand Moslems are said to have fallen in that memorable affray.
It happened one night, about the middle of July, that the drapery of the tent or pavilion in which Isabella was lodged took fire, and the conflagration was not extinguished until several of the neighboring tents had been consumed. The queen and her attendants escaped unhurt, but a general consternation prevailed throughout the camp, until it was discovered that no more serious loss had been experienced than that of the queen's wardrobe.
Gonsalvo, however, who on more than one occasion showed himself at least as practical a courtier as Sir Walter Raleigh, immediately sent an express to Illora, and obtained such a supply of fine clothes from his wife, Dona Maria Manrique, that the queen herself was amazed, as much at their magnificence as at the rapidity with which they had been obtained.
But this incident led to even more important results than the amiable pillage of Dona Maria's wardrobe, for in order to guard against a similar disaster, as well as to provide comfortable winter quarters for the troops, Isabella determined to construct a sufficient number of houses of solid masonry to provide quarters for the besieging army, a design which was carried out in less than three months. This martial and Christian town, which received the appropriate name of Santa Fe, may be still seen by the traveler in the Vega of G ranada, and is pointed out by good Catholics as the only town in Andalusia that has never been contaminated by the Moslem.
But in spite of the attractions of all these feats of arms and exhibitions of magnificence, and of all the personal display and rash adventure which savors 80 much more of medieval chivalry than of modern warfare, Gonsalvo was more seriously engaged in the schemes and negotias tions which contributed almost as much as the prowess of the Christian arms to the fall of Granada. He had spies everywhere. He knew what was going on in Granada better than Boabdil. He knew what was going on in the camp better than Ferdinand. His familiarity with Arabic enabled him to maintain secret communications with recreant Moors, without the dangerous intervention of an interpreter. lie kept up constant communications with Illora, and having obtained the allegiance or friend8hip of the Moorish chief, Ali Atar, he gained possession of the neighboring fortress of Mondejar. IIe sent presents, in truly Oriental style, to many of the Moorish leaders in GUranada who favored the party of Boabdil, and he was at length chosen by Isabella as the most proper perSOIt to conduct the negotiations that led to the treaty of capitulation, which was signed on the 2bth of November, 1491.
The nature and the effect of this Convention are well known. The triumphal entry of the Christians into the old Moslem capital; "the last sigh of the Moor," and the setting up of the Cross in the palace-citadel of Alhambra, not only form one of the most glowing pages in the romance of history, but they mark an epoch in the annals of the world.