Her first thought, on being extricated from her tent, was for the safety of the King.
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
Isabella had barely time to save herself by instant flight. Her first thought, on being extricated from her tent, was for the safety of the King. She rushed to his tent, but the vigilant Ferdinand was already at the entrance of it. Starting from bed at the first alarm, and fancying it an assault of the enemy, he had seized his sword and buckler, and sallied forth undressed, with his cuirass upon his arm. The late gorgeous camp was now a scene of wild confusion. The flames kept spreading from one pavilion to another, glaring upon the rich armor and golden and silver vessels, which seemed melting in the fervent heat. The ladies of the court fled, shrieking and half dressed, from their tents. There was an alarm of drum and trumpet, and a distracted hurry about the camp of men half armed.
The idea that this was a stratagem of the Moors soon subsided; but it was feared they might take advantage of it to assault the camp. The Marquis of Cadiz, therefore, sallied forth with three thousand horse to check any advance from the city. When they emerged from the camp they found the whole firmament illuminated. The flames whirled up in long light spires, and the air was filled with sparks and cinders. A bright glare was thrown upon the city, revealing every battlement and tower. Turbaned heads were seen gazing from every roof, and armor gleamed along the walls; yet not a single warrior sallied from the gates. The Moors suspected some stratagem on the part of the Christians, and kept quietly within their walls. By degrees the flames expired; the city faded from sight; all again became dark and quiet, and the Marquis of Cadiz returned with his cavalry to the camp. When the day dawned on the Christian camp nothing remained of that beautiful assemblage of stately pavilions but heaps of smoldering rubbish. The fire at first had been attributed to treachery, but on investigation it proved to be entirely accidental.
The wary Ferdinand knew the sanguine temperament of the Moors, and hastened to prevent their deriving confidence from the night’s disaster. At break of day the drums and trumpets sounded to arms, and the Christian army issued from among the smoking ruins of their camp, in shining squadrons, with flaunting banners and bursts of martial melody, as though the preceding night had been a time of high festivity instead of terror.
The Moors had beheld the conflagration with wonder and perplexity. When the day broke and they looked toward the Christian camp, they saw nothing but a dark smoking mass. Their scouts came in with the joyful intelligence that the whole camp was a scene of ruin. Scarce had the tidings spread throughout the city when they beheld the Christian army advancing toward their walls. They considered it a feint to cover their desperate situation and prepare for a retreat. Boabdil had one of his impulses of valor — he determined to take the field in person, and to follow up this signal blow which Allah had inflicted on the enemy. The Christian army approached close to the city, and were laying waste the gardens and orchards, when Boabdil sallied forth, surrounded by all that was left of the flower and chivalry of Granada. There was not so much one battle as a variety of battles; every garden and orchard became a scene of deadly contest; every inch of ground was disputed, with an agony of grief and valor, by the Moors; every inch of ground that the Christians advanced they valiantly maintained; but never did they advance with severer fighting or greater loss of blood.
The cavalry of Musa was in every part of the field; wherever it came it gave fresh ardor to the fight. The Moorish soldier, fainting with heat, fatigue, and wounds, was roused to new life at the approach of Musa; and even he who lay gasping in the agonies of death, turned his face toward him, and faintly uttered cheers and blessings as he passed. The Christians had by this time gained possession of various towers near the city, from whence they had been annoyed by cross-bows and arquebuses. The Moors, scattered in various actions, were severely pressed. Boabdil, at the head of the cavaliers of his guard, displayed the utmost valor, mingling in the fight in various parts of the field, and endeavoring to inspirit the foot soldiers in the combat. But the Moorish infantry was never to be depended upon. In the heat of the action a panic seized upon them; they fled, leaving their sovereign exposed with his handful of cavaliers to an overwhelming force. Boabdil was on the point of falling into the hands of the Christians, when, wheeling round, with his followers, they threw the reins on the necks of their fleet steeds and took refuge by dint of hoof within the walls of the city.
Musa endeavored to retrieve the fortune of the field. He threw himself before the retreating infantry, calling upon them to turn and fight for their homes, their families, for everything that was sacred and dear to them. It was all in vain — they were totally broken and dismayed, and fled tumultuously for the gates. Slowly and reluctantly Musa retreated to the city, and he vowed nevermore to sally forth with foot soldiers to the field. In the mean time the artillery thundered from the walls and checked all further advances of the Christians. King Ferdinand, therefore, called off his troops, and returned in triumph to the ruins of his camp, leaving the beautiful city of Granada wrapped in the smoke of her fields and gardens and surrounded by the bodies of her slaughtered children. Such was the last sally made by the Moors in defence of their favorite city.
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