The capitulation for the surrender of Granada was signed on November 25, 1491, and produced a sudden cessation of those hostilities which had raged for so many years.
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
For the fulfillment of these articles four hundred hostages from the principal families were required, previous to the surrender, to be subsequently restored. The son of the King of Granada, and all other hostages in possession of the Castilian sovereigns, were to be restored at the same time. Such were the conditions that the vizier Abul Kazim laid before the council of Granada as the best that could be obtained from the besieging foe. When the members of the council found that the awful moment had arrived when they were to sign and seal the perdition of their empire and blot themselves out as a nation, all firmness deserted them and many gave way to tears. Musa alone retained an unaltered mien. “Leave, seniors,” cried he, “this idle lamentation to helpless women and children: we are men — we have hearts, not to shed tender tears, but drops of blood. I see the spirit of the people so cast down that it is impossible to save the kingdom. Yet there still remains an alternative for noble minds — a glorious death! Let us die defending our liberty and avenging the woes of Granada. Our mother Earth will receive her children into her bosom, safe from the chains and oppressions of the conqueror; or, should any fail a sepulcher to hide his remains, he will not want a sky to cover him. Allah forbid it should be said the nobles of Granada feared to die in her defense!”
Musa ceased to speak, and a dead silence reigned in the assembly. Boabdil looked anxiously around and scanned every face; but he read in them all the anxiety of careworn men, in whose hearts enthusiasm was dead, and who had grown callous to every chivalrous appeal. “Allah Akbar! God is great!” exclaimed he; “there is no god but God, and Mahomet is his prophet! It is in vain to struggle against the will of heaven. Too surely was it written in the book of fate that I should be unfortunate and the kingdom expire under my rule.”
“Allah Akbar! God is great!” echoed the viziers and alfaquis; “the will of God be done!” So they all accorded with the King that these evils were preordained; that it was hopeless to contend with them; and that the terms offered by the Castilian monarchs were as favorable as could be expected.
When Musa saw that they were about to sign the treaty of surrender, he rose in violent indignation: “Do not deceive yourselves,” cried he, “nor think the Christians will be faithful to their promises, or their King as magnanimous in conquest as he has been victorious in war. Death is the least we have to fear. It is the plundering and sacking of our city, the profanation of our mosques, the ruin of our homes, the violation of our wives and daughters — cruel oppression, bigoted intolerance, whips and chains, the dungeon, the fagot, and the stake — such are the miseries and indignities we shall see and suffer; at least, those groveling souls will see them who now shrink from an honorable death. For my part, by Allah, I will never witness them!”
With these words he left the council chamber and strode gloomily through the Court of Lions and the outer halls of the Alhambra, without deigning to speak to the obsequious courtiers who attended in them. He repaired to his dwelling, armed himself at all points, mounted his favorite war-horse, and, issuing forth from the city by the gate of Elvira, was never seen or heard of more.*
[* So say Arabian historians. According to another account, Musa, meeting a party of Andalusian cavaliers, killed several of them, but, being disabled by wounds, threw himself into the Xenel and was drowned.]
The capitulation for the surrender of Granada was signed on November 25, 1491, and produced a sudden cessation of those hostilities which had raged for so many years. Christian and Moor might now be seen mingling courteously on the banks of the Xenel and the Darro, where to have met a few days previous would have produced a scene of sanguinary contest. Still, as the Moors might be suddenly aroused to defense, if, within the allotted term of seventy days, succors should arrive from abroad, and as they were at all times a rash, inflammable people, the wary Ferdinand maintained a vigilant watch upon the city, and permitted no supplies of any kind to enter. His garrisons in the seaports, and his cruisers in the Straits of Gibraltar, were ordered likewise to guard against any relief from the Grand Sultan of Egypt or the princes of Barbary. There was no need of such precautions. Those powers were either too much engrossed by their own wars or too much daunted by the success of the Spanish arms, to interfere in a desperate cause; and the unfortunate Moors of Granada were abandoned to their fate.
The month of December had nearly passed away; the famine became extreme, and there was no hope of any favorable event within the terms specified in the capitulation. Boabdil saw that to hold out to the end of the allotted time would but be to protract the miseries of his people. With the consent of his council, he determined to surrender the city on January 6th. On December 30th he sent his grand vizier Yusef Aben Comixa, with the four hundred hostages, to King Ferdinand, to make known his intention; bearing him, at the same time, a present of a magnificent scimitar, and two Arabian steeds superbly caparisoned.
The unfortunate Boabdil was doomed to meet with trouble to the end of his career. The very next day, the santon or dervis Hamet Aben Zarrax, who had uttered prophecies and excited commotions on former occasions, suddenly made his appearance. Whence he came no one knew; it was rumored that he had been in the mountains of the Alpujarras and on the coast of Barbary, endeavoring to rouse the Moslems to the relief of Granada. He was reduced to a skeleton; his eyes glowed like coals in their sockets, and his speech was little better than frantic raving. He harangued the populace in the streets and squares, inveighed against the capitulation, denounced the King and nobles as Moslems only in name, and called upon the people to sally forth against the unbelievers, for that Allah had decreed them a signal victory.
Upward of twenty thousand of the populace seized their arms and paraded the streets with shouts and outcries. The shops and houses were shut up; the King himself did not dare to venture forth, but remained a kind of prisoner in the Alhambra. The turbulent multitude continued roaming and shouting and howling about the city during the day and a part of the night. Hunger and a wintry tempest tamed their frenzy; and when morning came the enthusiast who had led them on had disappeared. Whether he had been disposed of by the emissaries of the King or by the leading men of the city is not known; his disappearance remains a mystery.
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