When Ferdinand arrived at Guadix, he found the unhappy Moors in their cabins among the orchards. They complained bitterly of the deception practised upon them, and implored permission to return into the city and live peaceably in their dwellings, as had been promised them in their articles of capitulation.
King Ferdinand listened graciously to their complaints. "My friends," said he in reply, "I have been informed that there has been a conspiracy among you to kill my alcayde and garrison and to take part with my enemy, the king of Granada. I shall make a thorough investigation of this conspiracy. Those among you who shall be proved innocent shall be restored to their dwellings, but the guilty shall incur the penalty of their offences. As I wish, however, to proceed with mercy as well as justice, I now give you your choice--either to depart at once without further question, going wherever you please, and taking with you your families and effects under an assurance of safety, or to deliver up those who are guilty, not one of whom, I give you my royal word, shall escape punishment."
When the people of Guadix heard these words they communed among themselves; and, as most of them (says the worthy Agapida) were either culpable or feared to be considered so, they accepted the alternative and departed sorrowfully, they and their wives and their little ones. "Thus," in the words of that excellent and contemporary historian Andres Bernaldez, commonly called the curate of Los Palacios,--"thus did the king deliver Guadix from the hands of the enemies of our holy faith after seven hundred and seventy years that it had been in their possession, ever since the time of Roderick the Goth; and this was one of the mysteries of our Lord, who would not consent that the city should remain longer in the power of the Moors"--a pious and sage remark which is quoted with peculiar approbation by the worthy Agapida.
King Ferdinand offered similar alternatives to the Moors of Baza, Almeria, and other cities accused of participation in this conspiracy, who generally preferred to abandon their homes rather than incur the risk of an investigation. Most of them relinquished Spain as a country where they could no longer live in security and independence, and departed with their families for Africa; such as remained were suffered to live in villages and hamlets and other unwalled places.*
*Garibay, lib. 13, cap. 39; Pulgar, part 3, cap. 132.
While Ferdinand was thus occupied at Guadix, dispensing justice and mercy and receiving cities in exchange, the old monarch, Muley Abdallah, surnamed El Zagal, appeared before him. He was haggard with care and almost crazed with passion. He had found his little territory of Andarax and his two thousand subjects as difficult to govern as had been the distracted kingdom of Granada. The charm which had bound the Moors to him was broken when he appeared in arms under the banner of Ferdinand. He had returned from his inglorious campaign with his petty army of two hundred men, followed by the execrations of the people of Granada and the secret repining of those he had led into the field. No sooner had his subjects heard of the successes of Boabdil el Chico than they had seized their arms, assembled tumultuously, declared for the young monarch, and threatened the life of El Zagal.* The unfortunate old king had with difficulty evaded their fury; and this last lesson seemed entirely to have cured him of his passion for sovereignty. He now entreated Ferdinand to purchase the towns and castles and other possessions which had been granted to him, offering them at a low rate, and begging safe passage for himself and his followers to Africa. King Ferdinand graciously complied with his wishes. He purchased of him three-and-twenty towns and villages in the valleys of Andarax and Alhaurin, for which he gave him five millions of maravedis. El Zagal relinquished his right to one-half of the salinas or salt-pits of Malaha in favor of his brother-in-law, Cid Hiaya. Having thus disposed of his petty empire and possessions, he packed up all his treasure, of which he had a great amount, and, followed by many Moorish families, passed over to Africa.**
*Cura de los Palacios, cap. 97.
And here let us cast an eye beyond the present period of our chronicle, and trace the remaining career of El Zagal. His short and turbulent reign and disastrous end would afford a wholesome lesson to unprincipled ambition, were not all ambition of the kind fated to be blind to precept and example. When he arrived in Africa, instead of meeting with kindness and sympathy, he was seized and thrown into prison by the caliph of Fez, Benimerin, as though he had been his vassal. He was accused of being the cause of the dissensions and downfall of the kingdom of Granada, and, the accusation being proved to the satisfaction of the king of Fez, he condemned the unhappy El Zagal to perpetual darkness. A basin of glowing copper was passed before his eyes, which effectually destroyed his sight. His wealth, which had probably been the secret cause of these cruel measures, was confiscated and seized upon by his oppressor, and El Zagal was thrust forth, blind, helpless, and destitute, upon the world. In this wretched condition the late Moorish monarch groped his way through the regions of Tingitania until he reached the city of Velez de la Gomera. The emir of Velez had formerly been his ally, and felt some movement of compassion at his present altered and abject state. He gave him food and raiment and suffered him to remain unmolested in his dominions. Death, which so often hurries off the prosperous and happy from the midst of untasted pleasures, spares, on the other hand, the miserable to drain the last drop of his cup of bitterness. El Zagal dragged out a wretched existence of many years in the city of Velez. He wandered about blind and disconsolate, an object of mingled scorn and pity, and bearing above his raiment a parchment on which was written in Arabic, "This is the unfortunate king of Andalusia."*