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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Fall of Granada – Granada War

The capture of Malaga

Malaga, the main seaport of the Granada Emirate, in 1487 became the main target of the Castilian forces. Emir az-Zagall was moving too slowly to prevent the siege of the city and was unable to pursue the Christian army because of the ongoing civil war. Even after he left Granada to come to the aid of Malaga, he was forced to leave the troops in the Alhambra in order to defend himself against Boabdil and his supporters.

On April 27, 1487, Velez-Málaga fell, capitulated under the influence of local supporters of Boabdil. The siege of Malaga began on May 7, 1487 and lasted until August 18, 1487. The local garrison commander Hamad al-Tagri preferred death to surrender, while the African garrison and the Christian renegades fought stubbornly for fear of the consequences of defeat. Toward the end of the siege, the noblemen of Malaga offered to surrender, but Ferdinand refused, expecting more generous concessions. When the city finally fell, Ferdinand punished almost all the inhabitants for their stubborn resistance to their slavery, while the renegades were burned alive. The Jews of Malaga, however, were freed from punishment – the Castilian Jews redeemed them from slavery.

Historian William Prescott considers the fall of Malaga the most important part of the war. Malaga was the main port of Granada, and Granada could not continue its independent existence without it.

Taking the Bass

Al-Zagalla’s prestige suffered greatly from the fall of Malaga, and Boabdil occupied all the cities of Granada in 1487. He also controlled the northeast of the emirate (the cities of Velez-Rubio, Velez-Blanco and Vera). Az-Zagall still controlled Basu, Guadix and Almeria. Boabdil took no action while the Christian troops occupied some of his lands, perhaps assuming that they would be returned to him soon.

In 1489, Christian troops began a painfully long siege of Basa, the most important stronghold of al-Zaglah. The siege was delayed: the artillery was ineffective, and the supply of the army caused a huge budget deficit of the Castilians. Isabella personally came to the siege camp to help keep the fighting spirit of the nobles and soldiers. After a six month siege, az-Zagall surrendered, despite the integrity of most of his garrison. He made sure that the Christians were seriously going to complete the siege, and considered that there was no chance of salvation. Basse was given generous terms of surrender, in contrast to Malaga.

The Fall of Granada

With the fall of Bass and the capture of az-Zaglala in 1490, the war seemed to be over. Ferdinand and Isabella were counting on it. However, Boabdil was unhappy with his benefits from the union with Ferdinand and Isabella, perhaps because the lands that were promised were still under the rule of Castile. He withdrew his vassal oath and rebelled against the Catholic monarchs, despite the fact that he controlled only the city of Granada and the mountains of Alpuharra. It was clear that such a position was untenable in the long term, so Boabdil sent desperate requests for external assistance. Egypt’s Sultan an-Nasir Muhammad gently reproached Ferdinand for the Granada War, but the Mamluks, who ruled Egypt, were in anticipation of a war with the Turks. Castile and Aragon were enemies of the Turks, so the Sultan had no desire to provoke their transfer to the side of Istanbul. Boabdil also asked for help from the kingdom of Fez, but received no reply. North Africa continued to sell Castile wheat and therefore appreciated maintaining good trade relations with it. In any case, Granada no longer controlled the coastline, so it was not able to accept external assistance.

The siege of Granada began in April 1491 and lasted for eight months. The situation for the defenders was getting harder: their ranks were reduced, and local dignitaries intrigued against each other. The corruption of officials had a negative effect on defense: at least one of Boabdil’s chief advisers worked for Castile. November 25, 1491 a peace treaty was signed, the implementation of which began only two months later. The reason for the long delay was not so much the intransigence of the defenders of the city, but rather the inability of the government of Granada to coordinate their actions in the midst of the unrest and unrest that swept the city. After accepting the terms of surrender, on January 2, 1492, the city ​​surrendered, and Christian troops entered the Alhambra Palace. Granada Emirate – the last stronghold of Muslims in the Pyrenees – ceased to exist.

Tactics and technology of war

The most notable aspect of the Granada War was the active use of powerful bombardments and cannons, which significantly reduced the time of the siege of cities. The Castilians and Aragonans began the war with only a few artillery pieces, but Ferdinand had connections with French and Burgundian artillery experts, and the Christians quickly built up their artillery. Muslims, by contrast, were left far behind in the use of artillery and, as a rule, used only captured guns. Historian Weston F. Cook, Jr. wrote: “Gunpowder and artillery won the Granada War, other factors were in fact secondary and derivative.” By 1495, Castile and Aragon had a total of 179 artillery pieces.

Primitive arquebuses also played a role in the war, but less significant. The heavy cavalry of the knights also had no significant effect on the outcome of the battles. The light cavalry turned out to be more significant – hineto.


The fall of Granada was seen as a serious blow to Islam and the triumph of Christianity. Other Christian states sent their sincere congratulations to Ferdinand and Isabella. Celebrations and bullfights were held in Castile and Aragon.

The terms of the surrender agreement of Granada were quite mild for Muslims. Within three years, Muslims could emigrate and freely return to the city. They were allowed to have a weapon, although not a firearm – this condition was canceled a month after the surrender. No one was obliged to change religion, even Christians who forcibly converted to Islam. Boabdil was offered money and a small principality in the Alpujarra mountains.

Boabdil soon considered his position intolerable and left for Morocco in October 1493, where he died almost 40 years later. In the end, Castilla began alternately withdrawing some of the most tolerant terms of the treaty. This process was initiated by Archbishop Cisneros, who ordered the burning of valuable Arabic manuscripts and implemented a number of other measures detrimental to Muslims and Jews.

These actions triggered the Alpukhar uprising of the Moriscos, who were faced with the choice between baptism, exile or execution. From this point on, Castilla began to support significant military force in Granada to prevent future uprisings. Isabella also strengthened the Spanish Inquisition, and Ferdinand organized the Inquisition in Aragon.

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