On being met by the commander, Gutierrez de Cardenas, El Zagal saluted him courteously, as well as the cavaliers who accompanied him, and rode on, conversing with him through the medium of interpreters. Beholding King Ferdinand and his splendid train at a distance, he alighted and advanced toward him on foot. The punctilious Ferdinand, supposing this voluntary act of humiliation had been imposed by Don Gutierrez, told that cavalier, with some asperity, that it was an act of great discourtesy to cause a vanquished king to alight before another king who was victorious. At the same time he made him signs to remount his horse and place himself by his side. El Zagal, persisting in his act of homage, offered to kiss the king's hand, but, being prevented by that monarch, he kissed his own hand, as the Moorish cavaliers were accustomed to do in presence of their sovereigns, and accompanied the gesture by a few words expressive of obedience and fealty. Ferdinand replied in a gracious and amiable manner, and, causing him to remount and place himself on his left hand, they proceeded, followed by the whole train, to the royal pavilion pitched in the most conspicuous part of the camp.
There a banquet was served up to the two kings according to the rigorous style and etiquette of the Spanish court. They were seated in two chairs of state under the same canopy, El Zagal on the left hand of Ferdinand. The cavaliers and courtiers admitted to the royal pavilion remained standing. The count de Tendilla served the viands to King Ferdinand in golden dishes, and the count Cifuentes gave him to drink out of cups of the same precious metal; Don Alvaro Bazan and Garcilasso de la Vega performed the same offices, in similar style and with vessels of equal richness, to the Moorish monarch.
The banquet ended, El Zagal took courteous leave of Ferdinand, and sallied from the pavilion attended by the cavaliers who had been present. Each of these now made himself known to the old monarch by his name, title, or dignity, and each received an affable gesture in reply. They would all have escorted the old king back to the gates of Almeria, but he insisted on their remaining in the camp, and with difficulty could be persuaded upon to accept the honorable attendance of the marques of Villena, the commander, Don Gutierrez de Cardenas, the count de Cifuentes, and Don Luis Puerto Carrero.
On the following morning (22d December) the troops were all drawn out in splendid array in front of the camp, awaiting the signal of the formal surrender of the city. This was given at mid-day, when the gates were thrown open and a corps marched in, led by Don Gutierrez de Cardenas, who had been appointed governor. In a little while the gleam of Christian warriors was seen on the walls and bulwarks; the blessed cross was planted in place of the standard of Mahomet, and the banner of the sovereigns floated triumphantly above the Alcazar. At the same time a numerous deputation of alfaquis and the noblest and wealthiest inhabitants of the place sallied forth to pay homage to King Ferdinand.
On the 23d of December the king himself entered the city with grand military and religious pomp, and repaired to the mosque of the castle, which had previously been purified and sanctified and converted into a Christian temple: here grand mass was performed in solemn celebration of this great triumph of the faith.
These ceremonies were scarcely completed when joyful notice was given of the approach of the queen Isabella with the rear-guard of the army. She came accompanied by the princess Isabella, and attended by her ghostly counsellor the cardinal Mendoza and her confessor Talavera. The king sallied forth to meet her, accompanied by El Zagal, and it is said the reception of the latter by the queen was characterized by the deference and considerate delicacy which belonged to her magnanimous nature.
The surrender of Almeria was followed by that of Almunecar, Salobrena, and other fortified places of the coast and the interior, and detachments of Christian troops took quiet possession of the Alpuxarras mountains and their secluded and fertile valleys.*
*Cura de los Palacios, cap. 93, 94; Pulgar, Cron., part 3, cap. 124; Garibay, Comp. Hist., lib. 18, cap. 37, etc. etc.