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The Last Sigh Of The Moor
by [?]

In 1492, nearly eight centuries after the conquest of Spain by the Arabs, their dominion ended in the surrender of the city of Granada by King Boabdil to the army of Ferdinand and Isabella. The empire of the Arab Moors had shrunk, year by year and century by century, before the steady advance of the Christians, until only the small kingdom of Granada remained. This, distracted by anarchy within and assailed by King Ferdinand with all the arts of statecraft and all the strength of arms, gradually decreased in dimensions, city after city, district after district, being lost, until only the single city of Granada remained.

This populous and powerful city would have proved very difficult to take by the ordinary methods of war, and could only have been subdued with great loss of life and expenditure of treasure. Ferdinand assailed it by a less costly and more exasperating method. Granada subsisted on the broad and fertile vega or plain surrounding it, a region marvellously productive in grain and fruits and rich in cattle and sheep. It was a cold-blooded and cruel system adopted by the Spanish monarch. He assailed the city through the vega. Disregarding the city, he marched his army into the plain at the time of harvest and so thoroughly destroyed its growing crops that the smiling and verdant expanse was left a scene of frightful desolation. This was not accomplished without sharp reprisals by the Moors, but the Spaniard persisted until he had converted the fruitful paradise into a hopeless desert, and then marched away, leaving the citizens to a winter of despair.

The next year he came again, encamped his army near the city, destroyed what little verdure remained near its walls, and waited calmly until famine and anarchy should force the citizens to yield. He attempted no siege. It was not necessary. He could safely trust to his terrible allies. The crowded city held out desperately while the summer passed and autumn moved on to winter’s verge, and then, with famine stalking through their streets and invading their homes, but one resource remained to the citizens,–surrender.

Ferdinand did not wish to distress too deeply the unhappy people. To obtain possession of the city on any terms was the one thought then in his mind. Harshness could come later, if necessary. Therefore, on the 25th of November, 1492, articles of capitulation were signed, under which the Moors of Granada were to retain all their possessions, be protected in their religious exercises, and governed by their own laws, which were to be administered by their own officials; the one unwelcome proviso being that they should become subjects of Spain. To Boabdil were secured all his rich estates and the patrimony of the crown, while he was to receive in addition thirty thousand castellanos in gold. Excellent terms, one would say, in view of the fact that Granada was at the mercy of Ferdinand, and might soon have been obliged to surrender unconditionally.

On the night preceding the surrender doleful lamentations filled the halls of the Alhambra, for the household of Boabdil were bidding a last farewell to that delightful abode. The most precious effects were hastily packed upon mules, and with tears and wailings the rich hangings and ornaments of the beautiful apartments were removed. Day had not yet dawned when a sorrowful cavalcade moved through an obscure postern gate of the palace and wound through a retired quarter of the city. It was the family of the deposed monarch, which he had sent off thus early to save them from possible scoffs and insults.

The sun had barely risen when three signal-guns boomed from the heights of the Alhambra, and the Christian army began its march across the vega. To spare the feelings of the citizens it was decided that the city should not be entered by its usual gates, and a special road had been opened leading to the Alhambra.