Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada/Chapter XCVIII
COMMOTIONS IN GRANADA.
The capitulation for the surrender of Granada was signed on the 25th of November, 1481, 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 Xenil 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 roused to the defence if within the allotted term of sixty 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 soldan 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 term 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 the sixth of January. He accordingly sent his grand vizier, Yusef Aben Comixa, to King Ferdinand to make known his intention, bearing him, at the same time, a present of a magnificent scimetar 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 dervise, Hamet Aben Zarrax, the same 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 Alpuxarras 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.*
Boabdil now issued from the Alhambra, attended by his principal nobles, and harangued the populace. He set forth the necessity of complying with the capitulation, from the famine that reigned in the city, the futility of defence, and from the hostages having already been delivered into the hands of the besiegers.
In the dejection of his spirits the unfortunate Boabdil attributed to himself the miseries of the country. "It was my crime in ascending the throne in rebellion against my father," said he, mournfully, "which has brought these woes upon the kingdom; but Allah has grievously visited my sins upon my head. For your sake, my people, I have now made this treaty, to protect you from the sword, your little ones from famine, your wives and daughters from outrage, and to secure you in the enjoyment of your properties, your liberties, your laws, and your religion under a sovereign of happier destinies than the ill-starred Boabdil."
The versatile population were touched by the humility of their sovereign: they agreed to adhere to the capitulation, and there was even a faint shout of "Long live Boabdil the Unfortunate!" and they all returned to their homes in perfect tranquillity.
Boabdil immediately sent missives to King Ferdinand apprising him of these events, and of his fears lest further delay should produce new tumults. The vizier, Yusef Aben Comixa, was again the agent between the monarchs. He was received with unusual courtesy and attention by Ferdinand and Isabella, and it was arranged between them that the surrender should take place on the second day of January, instead of the sixth. A new difficulty now arose in regard to the ceremonial of surrender. The haughty Ayxa la Horra, whose pride rose with the decline of her fortunes, declared that as sultana-mother she would never consent that her son should stoop to the humiliation of kissing the hand of his conquerors, and unless this part of the ceremonial were modified she would find means to resist a surrender accompanied by such indignities.
Aben Comixa was sorely troubled by this opposition. He knew the high spirit of the indomitable Ayxa and her influence over her less heroic son, and wrote an urgent letter on the subject to his friend, the count de Tendilla. The latter imparted the circumstance to the Christian sovereigns; a council was called on the matter. Spanish pride and etiquette were obliged to bend in some degree to the haughty spirit of a woman. It was agreed that Boabdil should sally forth on horseback--that on approaching the Spanish sovereigns he should make a slight movement, as if about to draw his foot from the stirrup and dismount, but would be prevented from doing so by Ferdinand, who should treat him with a respect due to his dignity and elevated birth. The count de Tendilla despatched a messenger with this arrangement, and the haughty scruples of Ayxa la Horra were satisfied.*
*Salazar de Mendoza, Chron. del Gran Cardinal, lib. 1, c. 69, p. 1;
Mondajar, His. MS., as cited by Alcantara, t. 4, c. 18.