Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada/Chapter IX
EVENTS AT GRANADA, AND RISE OF THE MOORISH KING, BOABDIL EL CHICO.
The Moorish king, Abul Hassan, returned, baffled and disappointed, from before the walls of Alhama, and was received with groans and smothered execrations by the people of Granada. The prediction of the santon was in every mouth, and appeared to be rapidly fulfilling, for the enemy was already strongly fortified in Alhama, in the very heart of the kingdom. At the same time, the nobles who had secretly conspired to depose the old king and elevate his son Boabdil to the throne had matured their plans in concert with the prince, who had been joined in Guadix by hosts of adherents. An opportunity soon presented to carry their plans into operation.
Muley Abul Hassan had a royal country palace, with gardens and fountains, called the Alixares, situated on the Cerro del Sol, or Mountain of the Sun, a height the ascent to which leads up from the Alhambra, but which towers far above that fortress, and looks down as from the clouds upon it and upon the subjacent city of Granada. It was a favorite retreat of the Moorish kings to inhale the pure mountain-breezes and leave far below the din and turmoil of the city; Muley Abul Hassan had passed a day among its bowers, in company with his favorite wife Zoraya, when toward evening he heard a strange sound rising from the city, like the gathering of a storm or the sullen roar of the ocean. Apprehensive of evil, he ordered the officers of his guard to descend with all speed to the city and reconnoitre. The intelligence brought back was astounding. A civil war was raging in the city. Boabdil had been brought from Guadix by the conspirators, the foremost of whom were the gallant race of the Abencerrages. He had entered the Albaycin in triumph, and been hailed with rapture and proclaimed king in that populous quarter of the city. Abul Cacim Vanegas, the vizier, at the head of the royal guards had attacked the rebels, and the noise which had alarmed the king was the din of fighting in the streets and squares.
Muley Abul Hassan hastened to descend to the Alhambra, confident that, ensconced in that formidable fortress, he could soon put an end to the rash commotion. To his surprise and dismay, he found the battlements lined with hostile troops: Aben Comixa, the alcayde, had declared in favor of Boabdil and elevated his standard on the towers: thus cut off from his stronghold, the old monarch was fain to return to the Alixares.
The conflict lasted throughout the night with carnage on both sides. In the morning Abul Cacim, driven out of the city, appeared before the old king with his broken squadrons, and told him there was no safety but in flight. "Allah Akbar!" (God is great!) exclaimed old Muley; "it is in vain to contend against what is written in the book of fate. It was predestined that my son should sit upon the throne --Allah forfend the rest of the prediction." So saying, he made a hasty retreat, escorted by Abul Cacim Vanegas and his troops, who conducted him to the castle of Mondujar in the valley of Locrin. Here he was joined by many powerful cavaliers, relatives of Abul Cacim and partisans of Zoraya, among whom were Cid Hiaya, Aben Jamy, and Reduan Vanegas, men who had alcaydes, vassals, at their command, and possessed great influence in Almeria and Baza. He was joined also by his brother Abdallah, commonly called El Zagal, or the Valiant, who was popular in many parts of the kingdom. All these offered to aid him with their swords in suppressing the rebellion.
Thus reinforced, Muley Abul Hassan determined on a sudden blow for the recovery of his throne and the punishment of the rebels. He took his measures with that combination of dexterity and daring which formed his character, and arrived one night under the walls of Granada with five hundred chosen followers. Scaling the walls of the Alhambra, he threw himself with sanguinary fury into its silent courts. The sleeping inmates were roused from their repose only to fall by the exterminating scimetar. The rage of Abul Hassan spared neither age nor rank nor sex; the halls resounded with shrieks and yells, and the fountains ran red with blood. The alcayde, Aben Comixa, retreated to a strong tower with a few of the garrison and inhabitants. The furious Abul Hassan did not lose time in pursuing him; he was anxious to secure the city and to wreak his vengeance on its rebellious inhabitants. Descending with his bloody band into the streets, he cut down the defenceless inhabitants as, startled from their sleep, they rushed forth to learn the cause of the alarm. The city was soon completely roused; the people flew to arms; lights blazed in every street, revealing the scanty number of this band that had been dealing such fatal vengeance in the dark. Muley Abul Hassan had been mistaken in his conjectures: the great mass of the people, incensed by his tyranny, were zealous in favor of his son. A violent but transient conflict took place in the streets and squares: many of the followers of Abul Hassan were slain, the rest driven out of the city, and the old monarch, with the remnant of his band, retreated to his loyal city of Malaga.
Such was the commencement of those great internal feuds and divisions which hastened the downfall of Granada. The Moors became separated into two hostile factions, headed by the father and the son, the latter of whom was called by the Spaniards "El Rey Chico," or the Young King; but, though bloody encounters took place between them, they never failed to act with all their separate force against the Christians as a common enemy whenever an opportunity occurred.