Tales of the Alhambra

 

Tales of the Alhambra is a collection of essays, verbal sketches, and stories by Washington Irving. It was originally published in May 1832.

You can buy the book in most of the souvenir and bookshops in Granada.
You can read it for free here. We have added a lot of pictures.
http://granadablog.net/tales_of_the_alhambra/index.php?chapter=0

When was the Alhambra built?

The Alhambra

The Alhambra was first mentioned during the reign of Abdullah ibn Muhammad (888-912) when it was referred to as a primitive small  red castle where the Arabs sought refuge after being defeated in one of their battles with the Muladies. It was then largely abandoned until the 11th century when it was rebuilt in order to protect a Jewish settlement on the Sabika hill. Major reconstruction, however, was undertaken during the Nasrid dynasty (1212-1492) and it is this that we can see today.

Serious work on the Alhambra began in 1238 under the command of Sultan Muhammad I Ibn Nasr and in only one year, the ramparts had been completed, water had been brought from the river and a water channel built.

Carlos V

Juana la Loca

When Queen Isabel died in 1504, her will stated that her daughter Juana should succeed her on the throne. Unfortunately, Juana suffered from schizophrenia and this wasn’t helped by her husband Felipe’s frequent affairs. Following his death after short illness (though some believed that he had been poisoned by Juana’s father, Fernando), Juana went mad and her father Fernando acted as regent until his death in 1516.

Emperor Carlos V

After Fernando’s death, Carlos became King and he was to become one of the most powerful rulers in the world. In 1520, he was crowned Carlos V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, an empire on which “the sun never set”. When his father Felipe died in 1506 he became Duke of Burgundy and ruler of the Netherlands, and on the death of his grandfather Fernando, he became King of the Two Sicilies and of Spain. His plan was to establish his court and residence in Granada to commemorate the Catholic Monarchs conquest of the Moor’s last stronghold and with this aim, he commissioned the Carlos V Palace.

Having become a European leader after a power struggle with France, he decided to retire and split his empire between his brother Fernando and his son Felipe. In 1556, his son became King of Spain and Carlos retired to a Spanish monastery in Yuste where he died in 1558.

What happened in the years after the Moors surrendered?

King Fernando

Queen Isabel

Although the treaties signed by the Catholic Monarchs with Boabdil for the surrender of Granada stated that the different languages, religions and customs would be respected, after a few years it became clear that this was not happening in practice, and Cardinal Cisneros insisted that everyone, regardless of their religion, be baptised.

The inquisitors had never been happy with these treaties which they believed slowed down their attempts to reduce the Muslim population and the practice of Islam in Spain. They also thought a Muslim revolt was imminent and that it was useless to expect peaceful conversion to Christianity. Cardinal Jimenez de Cisneros therefore asked Isabel and Fernando for permission to continue his inquisition activities and they agreed. Consequently, on 18th December 1499, some three thousand Moors were baptised, a major mosque in Granada was converted to a church and the burning of supposed religious books and documents began.

This understandably led to revolts and protests with a lot of unrest among those who had been forced to convert to Christianity, and a series of mutinies followed, culminating in the 1680 revolt which was finally put down. The most determined rebels fled to the Alpujarras where there was a violent uprising several years later.

Cardenal Cisneros

Although promises were made that the treaties would be honoured, this did not happen and Cisneros announced that those Moors who refused to be baptised would be expelled. These baptisms were carried out en masse and at an incredible speed – so fast in fact that there was no time for religious instruction to be given to the new “converts”. It has been estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 Muslims were forcibly baptised in this way in Granada. The offer of emigration to Africa was really only a hollow promise and only available for those who were able to pay and who had not already been baptised.

Queen Juana ("La Loca")

After the Catholic Monarchs died, things got progressively worse: Queen Juana forbade the Moriscos to wear their national dress, and Carlos V introduced a theological council in 1526 which attempted to reform them. These rules were not rigidly imposed and people were able to avoid them by paying certain taxes.

King Felipe II

That all changed, however, with Felipe II who prohibited the use of Moorish dress, language and customs. As a result, there was a violent uprising on 24th December 1568. It began in the Albaicín and continued on into the Alpujarras with the Morisco Aben-Humeya being proclaimed king. Reinforcements were sent from Africa and the revolt extended to the rest of the province of Granada. Churches were burnt, villages ransacked and Christians were murdered. Following the death of Aben-Humeya, the uprising was eventually squashed in 1571. The rebels were then expelled from the kingdom and it was subsequently repopulated by Spaniards from other parts of the country.

What happened in the War of Granada?

boabdil.jpg">The War of Granada (1482-1492) was a series of military campaigns between the Catholic monarchs and the Nasrid dynasty with each side fighting to take control of the Emirate of Granada. These campaigns were not continual and would generally begin in the spring and die out with the arrival of the cold winter weather. The war began when Sultan Muley Hacén refused to pay the annual tax to the Catholic Monarchs in 1481 and seized the fortified town of Zahara, sparking hostilities and a civil war. Boabdil rebelled against his father and took control of Granada with the support of the Abencerrajes, a powerful Granada family. Muley Hacén then recaptured Granada but was successfully deposed by his brother, El Zagal. At this time, Muley Hacén still controlled the Alhambra.

On one of his military expeditions, Boabdil was captured by Christian troops. He was released in 1483 in exchange for the liberation of 400 Christian prisoners, the handing over of 12 thousand pieces of gold and the recognition of Fernando’s authority over Granada. Muley Hacén allied himself with his brother against Boabdil, who was forced to seek asylum with the Catholic Monarchs. Following his father’s death in 1485, Boabdil gained control of the Alhambra with the help of those living in the Albaicín. He was, however, unable to maintain control of the dynasty and Alhama, Ronda, Loja, Malaga, Baza and Almeria were taken by the Catholic monarchs. With the capture of al-Zagal in 1490, it looked like the war would soon be over but Boabdil was unhappy with the terms of his alliance with the Catholic monarchs: while he controlled Granada and the Alpujarras, he felt that the lands he had been promised were effectively being controlled by Castile. Boabdil desperately appealed for foreign aid but none came and the eight-month siege of Granada – the last stronghold of the Nasrid dynasty – began in April 1491. On 25th November 1491 Boabdil surrendered and signed the Treaty of Granada.

A brief history of the Nasrid Dynasty

The Nasrid dynasty (1232-1492) was established by Muhammad I Ibn Nasr who belonged to the the Arab family ruling Jaen. Extending its borders southwards, the dynasty stretched from Tarifa on the west coast to beyond Almeria on the east. However, it was sandwiched between Christian kingdoms in the north and African sultanates in the south and so its history was marked by alternate agreements with one side over the other in exchange for territorial concessions or heavy taxes. In 1236, Muhammad I joined forces with the Catholic monarch Fernando III to conquer Cordoba in exchange for the city of Granada, which was to rule over Almeria and Malaga. The marriage of the Catholic Monarchs Isabel and Fernando heralded the end of the Nasrid dynasty. The reign of the penultimate king Muley Hacén was marked by constant uprisings and major civil discontent. To complicate matters still further, there was infighting between his wife (Aixa) and his Christian favourite (Zoraya) as to which of their respective sons should be the future heir.