Some of the Arabian writers have sought to lessen the wonder of this miracle by alluding to great revenues granted to the prince and his heirs by the Castilian monarchs, together with a territory in Marchena, with towns, lands, and vassals; but in this (says Agapida) we only see a wise precaution of King Ferdinand to clinch and secure the conversion of his proselyte. The policy of the Catholic monarch was at all times equal to his piety. Instead also of vaunting of this great conversion and making a public parade of the entry of the prince into the Church, King Ferdinand ordered that the baptism should be performed in private and kept a profound secret. He feared that Cid Hiaya might otherwise be denounced as an apostate and abhorred and abandoned by the Moors, and thus his influence destroyed in bringing the war to a speedy termination.
The veteran Mohammed Ibn Hassan was likewise won by the magnanimity and munificence of the Castilian sovereigns, and entreated to be received into their service; and his example was followed by many other Moorish cavaliers, whose services were generously accepted and magnificently rewarded.
Thus; after a siege of six months and twenty days, the city of Baza surrendered on the 4th of December, 1489, the festival of the glorious Santa Barbara, who is said in the Catholic calendar to preside over thunder and lightning, fire and gunpowder, and all kinds of combustious explosions. The king and queen made their solemn and triumphant entry on the following day, and the public joy was heightened by the sight of upward of five hundred Christian captives, men, women, and children, delivered from the Moorish dungeons.
The loss of the Christians in this siege amounted to twenty thousand men, of whom seventeen thousand died of disease, and not a few of mere cold--a kind of death (says the historian Mariana) peculiarly uncomfortable; but (adds the venerable Jesuit) as these latter were chiefly people of ignoble rank, baggage-carriers and such-like, the loss was not of great importance.
The surrender of Baza was followed by that of Almunecar, Tavernas, and most of the fortresses of the Alpuxarras mountains; the inhabitants hoped by prompt and voluntary submission to secure equally favorable terms with those granted to the captured city, and the alcaydes to receive similar rewards to those lavished on its commanders; nor were either of them disappointed. The inhabitants were permitted to remain as mudexares in the quiet enjoyment of their property and religion; and as to the alcaydes, when they came to the camp to render up their charges they were received by Ferdinand with distinguished favor, and rewarded with presents of money in proportion to the importance of the places they had commanded. Care was taken by the politic monarch, however, not to wound their pride nor shock their delicacy; so these sums were paid under color of arrears due to them for their services to the former government. Ferdinand had conquered by dint of sword in the earlier part of the war, but he found gold as potent as steel in this campaign of Baza.
With several of these mercenary chieftains came one named Ali Aben Fahar, a seasoned warrior who had held many important commands. He was a Moor of a lofty, stern, and melancholy aspect, and stood silent and apart while his companions surrendered their several fortresses and retired laden with treasure. When it came to his turn to speak, he addressed the sovereigns with the frankness of a soldier, but with the tone of dejection and despair.
"I am a Moor," said he, "and of Moorish lineage, and am alcayde of the fair towns and castles of Purchena and Paterna. These were entrusted to me to defend, but those who should have stood by me have lost all strength and courage and seek only for security. These fortresses, therefore, most potent sovereigns, are yours whenever you will send to take possession of them."
Large sums of gold were immediately ordered by Ferdinand to be delivered to the alcayde as a recompense for so important a surrender. The Moor, however, put back the gift with a firm and dignified demeanor. "I came not," said he, "to sell what is not mine, but to yield what fortune has made yours; and Your Majesties may rest assured that had I been properly seconded death would have been the price at which I would have sold my fortresses, and not the gold you offer me."