The laws of chivalry were observed throughout the combat — no one interfered on either side.
Continuing Spain Conquers Grenada,
our selection from Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada by Washington Irving published in 1829. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in eight easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Spain Conquers Grenada.
Place: Grenada, Spain
A combat took place in view of the two armies and of the Castilian court. The Moor was powerful in wielding his weapons and dexterous in managing his steed. He was of larger frame than Garcilasso and more completely armed; and the Christians trembled for their champion. The shock of their encounter was dreadful; their lances were shivered and sent up splinters in the air. Garcilasso was thrown back in the saddle — his horse made a wild career before he could recover, gather up the reins, and return to the conflict. They now encountered each other with swords. The Moor circled round his opponent as hawk circles whereabout to make a swoop; his Arabian steed obeyed his rider with matchless quickness; at every attack of the infidel it seemed as if the Christian knight must sink beneath his flashing scimitar. But if Garcilasso were inferior to him in power, he was superior in agility; many of his blows he parried; others he received upon his Flemish shield, which was proof against the Damascus blade. The blood streamed from numerous wounds received by either warrior.
The Moor, seeing his antagonist exhausted, availed himself of his superior force, and, grappling, endeavored to wrest him from his saddle. They both fell to earth; the Moor placed his knee upon the breast of his victim, and, brandishing his dagger, aimed a blow at his throat. A cry of despair was uttered by the Christian warriors, when suddenly they beheld the Moor rolling lifeless in the dust. Garcilasso had shortened his sword, and, as his adversary raised his arm to strike, had pierced him to the heart.
The laws of chivalry were observed throughout the combat — no one interfered on either side. Garcilasso now despoiled his adversary; then, rescuing the holy inscription of “Ave Maria” from its degrading situation, he elevated it on the point of his sword, and bore it off as a signal of triumph amid the rapturous shouts of the Christian army.
The sun had now reached the meridian, and the hot blood of the Moors was inflamed by its rays and by the sight of the defeat of their champion. Musa ordered two pieces of ordnance to open a fire upon the Christians. A confusion was produced in one part of their ranks. Musa called to the chiefs of the army: “Let us waste no more time in empty challenges; let us charge upon the enemy; he who assaults has always an advantage in the combat.” So saying, he rushed forward, followed by a large body of horse and foot, and charged so furiously upon the advance guard of the Christians that he drove it in upon the battalion of the Marquis of Cadiz.
The gallant Marquis now gave the signal to attack. “Santiago!” was shouted along the line; and he pressed forward to the encounter, with his battalion of twelve hundred lances. The other cavaliers followed his example, and the battle instantly became general.
When the King and Queen beheld the armies thus rushing to the combat, they threw themselves on their knees and implored the holy Virgin to protect her faithful warriors. The Prince and Princess, the ladies of the court, and the prelates and friars who were present did the same; and the effect of the prayers of these illustrious and saintly persons was immediately apparent. The fierceness with which the Moors had rushed to the attack had suddenly cooled; they were bold and adroit for a skirmish, but unequal to the veteran Spaniards in the open field. A panic seized upon the foot-soldiers — they turned and took to flight. Musa and his cavaliers in vain endeavored to rally them. Some took refuge in the mountains; but the greater part fled to the city in such confusion that they overturned and trampled upon each other. The Christians pursued them to the very gates. Upward of two thousand were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, and the two pieces of ordnance brought off as trophies of the victory. Not a Christian lance but was bathed that day in the blood of an infidel. Such was the brief but bloody action, which was known among the Christian warriors by the name of the “Queen’s skirmish”; for when the Marquis of Cadiz waited upon her majesty he attributed the victory entirely to her presence. The Queen, however, insisted that it was all owing to her troops being led on by so valiant a commander. Her majesty had not yet recovered from her agitation at beholding so terrible a scene of bloodshed; though certain veterans present pronounced it as gay and gentle a skirmish as they had ever witnessed.
The ravages of war had as yet spared a little portion of the vega of Granada. A green belt of gardens and orchards still flourished around the city, extending along the banks of the Xenel and the Darro. They had been the solace and delight of the inhabitants in their happier days, and contributed to their sustenance in this time of scarcity. Ferdinand determined to make a final and exterminating ravage to the very walls of the city, so that there should not remain a single green thing for the sustenance of man or beast.
As the evening advanced the bustle in the camp subsided. Everyone sought repose, preparatory to the next day’s trial. The King retired early, that he might be up with the crowing of the cock to head the destroying army in person. The Queen had retired to the innermost part of her pavilion, where she was performing her orisons before a private altar. While thus at her prayers she was suddenly aroused by a glare of light and wreaths of suffocating smoke. In an instant the whole tent was in a blaze; there was a high gusty wind, which whirled the light flames from tent to tent, and wrapped the whole in one conflagration.
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history