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Tema: Muley Abul Hassan’s last desperate effort to recapture Alhama.

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    Muley Abul Hassan’s last desperate effort to recapture Alhama.

    An except from Washington Irving's Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada.

    When Muley Abul Hassan heard of the vast force that was approaching under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, and that Ferdinand was coming in person with additional troops, he perceived that no time was to be lost: Alhama must be carried by one powerful attack, or abandoned entirely to the Christians.

    A number of Moorish cavaliers, some of the bravest youth of Granada, knowing the wishes of the King, proposed to undertake a desperate enterprise, which, if successful, must put Alhama in his power. Early one morning, when it was scarcely the gray of dawn, about the time of changing the watch, these cavaliers approached the town, at a place considered inaccessible, from the steepness of the rocks on which the wall was founded; which it was supposed, elevated the battlements beyond the reach of the longest scaling-ladder. The Moorish knights, aided by a number of the strongest and the most active escaladores mounted these rocks, and applied the ladders without being discovered; for, to divert attention from them, Muley Abul Hassan made a false attack upon the town in another quarter.
    The scaling party mounted with difficulty, and in small numbers; the sentinel was killed at his post, and seventy of the Moors made their way into the streets before an alarm was given. The guards rushed to the walls to stop the hostile throng that was still pouring in. A sharp conflict, hand to hand and man to man, took place on the battlements, and many on both sides fell. The Moors, whether wounded or slain, were thrown headlong without the walls; the scaling-ladders were overturned, and those who were mounting were dashed upon the rocks, and from thence tumbled upon the plain. Thus, in a little while the ramparts were cleared by Christian prowess, led on by that valiant knight Don Alonzo Ponce, the uncle, and that brave esquire Pedro de Pineda, nephew of the Marquess of Cadiz.
    The walls being cleared, these two kindred cavaliers now hastened with their forces in pursuit of the seventy Moors, who had gained an entrance into the town. The main party of the garrison being engaged at a distance resisting the feigned attack of the Moorish king, this fierce band of infidels had ranged the streets almost without opposition, and were making their way to the gates to throw them open to the army. They were chosen men from among the Moorish forces, several of them gallant knights, of the proudest families of Granada. Their footsteps through the city were in a manner printed in blood, and they were tracked by the bodies of those they had killed and wounded. They had attained the gate; most of the guard had fallen beneath their scimitars; a moment more, and Alhama would have been thrown open to the enemy.
    Battle painting by Jan Matejko

    Just at this juncture, Don Alonzo Ponce and Pedro de Pineda reached the spot with their forces. The Moors had the enemy in front and rear; they placed themselves back to back, with their banner in the center. In this way they fought with desperate and deadly determination, making a rampart around them with the slain. More Christian troops arrived, and hemmed them in; but still they fought, without asking for quarter. As their numbers decreased, they serried their circle still closer, defending their banner from assault; and the last Moor died at his post, grasping the standard of the prophet. This standard was displayed from the walls, and the turbaned heads of the Moors were thrown down to the besiegers.
    Muley Abul Hassan tore his beard with rage at the failure of this attempt, and at the death of so many of his chosen cavaliers. He saw that all further effort was in vain; his scouts brought word that they had seen from the heights the long columns and flaunting banners of the Christian army approaching through the mountains. To linger, would be to place himself between two bodies of the enemy. Breaking up his camp, therefore, in all haste, he gave up the siege of Alhama, and hastened back to Granada; and the last clash of his cymbals scarce died upon the ear from the distant hills, before the standard of the Duke of Medina Sidonia was seen emerging in another direction from the defiles of the mountains.
    When the Christians in Alhama beheld their enemies retreating on one side, and their friends advancing on the other, they uttered shouts of joy and hymns of thanksgiving, for it was a sudden relief from present death. Harassed by several weeks of incessant vigil and fighting, suffering from scarcity of provisions and almost continual thirst, they resembled skeletons rather than living men. It was a noble and gracious spectacle—the meeting of those hitherto inveterate foes, the Duke of Medina Sidonia and the Marquess of Cadiz. At the sight of his magnanimous deliverer the Marquess melted into tears; all past animosities only gave the greater poignancy to present feelings of gratitude and admiration. The late deadly rivals clasped each other in their arms and from that time forward were true and cordial friends.

    Muley Abul Hassan
    "And, as we Catholics know, Western Civilization is Roman Civilization, first classical Roman Civilization, then Roman Catholic Civilization, as the Christians preserved and carried classical Roman Civilization to the world in a Christianized form. That is, after all, why we are described as Roman Catholics."

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    Re: Muley Abul Hassan’s last desperate effort to recapture Alhama.

    Libros antiguos y de colección en IberLibro


    Muley Abul Hassan is foiled in his attempt to recapture Alhama


    September 6, 2012
    Abu l-Hasan Ali, also called Muley Hacén, father of Boabdil.

    [Muley Abul Hassan] had ascertained that the captors of Alhama were but a handful: they were in the center of his dominions, within a short distance of his capital. They were deficient in munitions of war and provisions for sustaining a siege. By a rapid movement he might surround them with a powerful army, cut off all aid from their countrymen, and entrap them in the fortress they had taken.
    To think was to act, with Muley Abul Hassan; but he was prone to act with too much precipitation. He immediately set forth in person, with three thousand horse and fifty thousand foot, and, in his eagerness to arrive at the scene of action, would not wait to provide artillery and the various engines required in a siege. “The multitude of my forces,” said he, confidently, “will be sufficient to overwhelm the enemy….”
    Painting by Heinrich Hansen

    As the army approached the town, they beheld the fields strewn with the dead bodies of their countrymen, who had fallen in defense of the place, and had been cast forth and left unburied by the Christians. There they lay, mangled and exposed to every indignity; while droves of half-famished dogs were preying upon them, and fighting and howling over their hideous repast. Furious at the sight, the Moors, in the first transports of their rage, attacked those ravenous animals; their next measure was to vent their fury upon the Christians. They rushed like madmen to the walls, applied scaling-ladders in all parts, without waiting for the necessary mantelets and other protections,—thinking, by attacking suddenly and at various points, to distract the enemy, and overcome them by the force of numbers.
    The Marques of Cadiz, with his confederate commanders, distributed themselves along the walls, to direct and animate their men in the defense. The Moors, in their blind fury, often assailed the most difficult and dangerous places. Darts, stones, and all kinds of missiles, were hurled down upon their defenseless heads. As fast as they mounted, they were cut down or dashed from the battlements, their ladders overturned, and all who were on them precipitated headlong below.
    Don Roderigo Ponce de Leon, Marques of Cadiz

    Muley Abul Hassan stormed with passion at the sight; he sent detachment after detachment to scale the walls—but in vain; they were like waves rushing upon a rock, only to dash themselves to pieces. The Moors lay in heaps beneath the wall, and among them many of the bravest cavaliers of Granada. The Christians, also, sallied frequently from the gates, and made great havoc in the irregular multitude of assailants.
    Muley Abul Hassan now became sensible of his error in hurrying from Granada without the proper engines for a siege. Destitute of all means to batter the fortifications, the town remained uninjured, defying the mighty army which raged and roamed before it. Incensed at thus being foiled, Muley Abul Hassan gave orders to undermine the walls. The Moors advanced with shouts to the attempt. They were received with a deadly fire from the ramparts, which drove them from their works. Repeatedly were they repulsed, and repeatedly did they return to the charge. The Christians not merely galled them from the battlements, but issued forth and cut them down in the excavations they were attempting to form. The contest lasted throughout a whole day, and by evening two thousand Moors were either killed or wounded.
    Painting by Théodore Chassériau

    Muley Abul Hassan now abandoned all hope of carrying the place by assault, and attempted to distress it into terms by turning the channel of the river which runs by its walls. On this stream the inhabitants depended for their fountains and cisterns, from which circumstances it is called Alhama la seca, or “the dry.”
    A desperate conflict ensued on the banks of the river, the Moors endeavoring to plant palisades in its bed to divert the stream, and the Christians striving to prevent them. The Spanish commanders exposed themselves to the utmost danger to animate their men, who were repeatedly driven back into the town. The Marques of Cadiz was often up to his knees in the stream, fighting hand to hand with the Moors. The water ran red with blood, and was encumbered with dead bodies. At length, the overwhelming numbers of the Moors gave them the advantage, and they succeeded in diverting the greater part of the water. The Christians had to struggle severely, to supply themselves from the feeble rill which remained. They sallied to the river by a subterraneous passage; but the Moorish crossbowmen stationed themselves on the opposite bank, keeping up a heavy fire upon the Christians, whenever they attempted to fill their vessels from the scanty and turbid stream. One party of the Christians had, therefore, to fight, while another drew water. At all hours of the day and night, this deadly strife was maintained until it seemed as if every drop of water were purchased with a drop of blood.


    In the meantime the sufferings of the town became intense. None but the soldiery and their horses were allowed the precious beverage so dearly earned, and even that in quantities that only tantalized their wants. The wounded, who could not sally to procure it, were almost destitute; while the unhappy prisoners, shut up in the mosques, were reduced to frightful extremities. Many perished raving mad, fancying themselves swimming in boundless seas, yet unable to assuage their thirst. Many of the soldiers lay parched and panting along the battlements, no longer able to draw a bowstring or hurl a stone; while above five thousand Moors, stationed upon a rocky height which overlooked part of the town, kept up a galling fire into it with slings and crossbows so that the Marques of Cadiz was obliged to heighten the battlements, by using the doors from the private dwellings.
    Painting by Miguel Navarro Cañizares

    The Christian cavaliers, exposed to this extreme peril, and in imminent danger of falling into the hands of the enemy, dispatched fleet messengers to Seville and Cordoba, entreating the chivalry of Andalusia to hasten to their aid. They sent likewise, imploring assistance from the king and queen, who at that time held their court in Medina del Campo. In the midst of their distress, a tank or cistern of water was fortunately discovered in the city, which gave temporary relief to their sufferings.
    Washington Irving, The Conquest of Granada (Agapida edition), (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1893), pp. 48-49, 51-55.



    To read the prequel—Muley Abul Hassan, king of Granada, attacks the Christian stronghold of Zahara, slaying and reducing its inhabitants to captivity and slavery— please click here.
    To read the sequel—King Ferdinand and the nobility of Andalucia rush to the aid of Don Roderigo Ponce de Leon in Alhama—please click here.
    To read how the anguished Marchioness sought help from her husband’s mortal enemy—Christianity quells the fires of revenge and elicits heroic acts of valor and nobility—please click here.



    Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites




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