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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

El Zagal was similarly deceived


[Sidenote:

Overthrow of seigniorial anarchy.]

The real weakness of the seigniorial class is well illustrated by the case of Galicia. The lawless conduct of the nobility and even of the high functionaries of the church was traditional, besides which Juana la Beltraneja had counted with many partisans there. Petty war, the oppression of individuals and towns (through the medium of illegal tributes or the collection of those belonging to the kings), and an almost complete disobedience of royal authority were the rule. Resolved to do away with such an evil state of affairs the Catholic Kings sent two delegates there in 1480, the one a soldier, Fernando de Acu?a, and the other a lawyer and member of the _Consejo Real_, Garc? L?pez de Chinchilla, accompanied by three hundred picked horsemen. Without loss of time and with praiseworthy energy they proceeded to carry out the royal will. Forty-six castles were demolished, the tributes which the nobles had been diverting from the king were collected once more for the royal treasury, many individuals of greater or less degree (both nobles and ordinary bandits) were put to death, and others were dominated or compelled to flee the country. Similar action was taken in Andalusia and Castile proper, wherefore within a few years the pacification of the kingdom was achieved; the seemingly hopeless anarchy of the period of Henry IV had been overcome.

[Sidenote: The conquest of Granada.]

style="text-align: justify;">At the same time that the Catholic Kings were engaged in the establishment of good order in the realm of Castile, they were giving their attention to another problem which may well be considered as of domestic import,--the long delayed conquest of Granada. The last years of the Moslem kingdom epitomized the history of that government during its more than two centuries of existence, with the important difference that it was no longer to escape the bitter pill of conquest which its own weakness and decadent life had long rendered inevitable once a determined effort should be made. There appeared the figure of the emir, Abul Hassan, dominated by the passion which his slave girl, Zoraya, had inspired in him. Other members of his family, notably his brother, El Zagal (or Al Zagal), and his son, Abu Abdullah, best known as Boabdil, headed factions which warred with Abul Hassan or with each other. Meanwhile, the war with Castile, which had broken forth anew in 1481, was going on, and to the credit of the Moslem warrior as a fighting man was being sustained, if not with success, at least without great loss of territory. Ferdinand, to whom treachery was only a fine art of kingship, availed himself of the internal disorder of Granada to gain advantages to which his military victories in open combat did not entitle him. Twice he had Boabdil in his power as a prisoner, and on each occasion let him go, so that he might cause trouble for El Zagal, who had become emir, at the same time making promises of peace and of abstention from conquest which he disloyally failed to observe. Another time, El Zagal was similarly deceived. By these means, after ten years of war, Ferdinand was able to enter the Granadine plain and besiege the Moslem capital, courageously defended by Boabdil and his followers. The military camp of Santa Fe was founded, and for months the siege went on, signalized by deeds of valor on both sides. Overcome by hunger the defenders were at length obliged to capitulate, and on January 2, 1492, the Castilian troops occupied the Alhambra. Some time later Boabdil and his household departed for Africa. It is fitting to observe that many of the legends concerning this prince, notably those which reflect on his courage and manliness, are without foundation in fact.


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