HOW QUEEN ISABELLA ARRIVED AT THE CAMP, AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF HER ARRIVAL.
Mohammed Ibn Hassan still encouraged his companions with hopes that the royal army would soon relinquish the siege, when they heard one day shouts of joy from the Christian camp and thundering salvos of artillery. Word was brought at the same time, from the sentinels on the watch-towers, that a Christian army was approaching down the valley. Mohammed and his fellow-commanders ascended one of the highest towers of the walls, and beheld in truth a numerous force in shining array descending the hills, and heard the distant clangor of the trumpet and the faint swell of triumphant music.
As the host drew nearer they descried a stately dame magnificently attired, whom they soon discovered to be the queen. She was riding on a mule the sumptuous trappings of which were resplendent with gold and reached to the ground. On her right hand rode her daughter, the princess Isabella, equally splendid in her array, and on her left the venerable grand cardinal of Spain. A noble train of ladies and cavaliers followed, together with pages and esquires, and a numerous guard of hidalgos of high rank arrayed in superb armor. When the veteran Mohammed beheld the queen thus arriving in state to take up her residence in the camp, he shook his head mournfully, and, turning to his captains, "Cavaliers," said he, "the fate of Baza is decided."
The Moorish commanders remained gazing with a mingled feeling of grief and admiration at this magnificent pageant, which foreboded the fall of their city. Some of the troops would have sallied forth on one of their desperate skirmishes to attack the royal guard, but the prince Cid Hiaya forbade them; nor would he allow any artillery to be discharged or any molestation or insult offered; for the character of Isabella was venerated even by the Moors, and most of the commanders possessed that high and chivalrous courtesy which belongs to heroic spirits, for they were among the noblest and bravest of the Moorish cavaliers.
The inhabitants of Baza eagerly sought every eminence that could command a view of the plain, and every battlement and tower and mosque was covered with turbaned heads gazing at the glorious spectacle. They beheld King Ferdinand issue forth in royal state, attended by the marques of Cadiz, the master of Santiago, the duke of Alva, the admiral of Castile, and many other nobles of renown, while the whole chivalry of the camp, sumptuously arrayed, followed in his train, and the populace rent the air with acclamations at the sight of the patriotic queen.
When the sovereigns had met and embraced, the two hosts mingled together and entered the camp in martial pomp, and the eyes of the infidel beholders were dazzled by the flash of armor, the splendor of golden caparisons, the gorgeous display of silks, brocades, and velvets, of tossing plumes and fluttering banners. There was at the same time a triumphant sound of drums and trumpets, clarions and sackbuts, mingled with the sweet melody of the dulcimer, which came swelling in bursts of harmony that seemed to rise up to the heavens.*
On the arrival of the queen (says the historian Hernando del Pulgar, who was present at the time) it was marvellous to behold how all at once the rigor and turbulence of war were softened and the storm of passion sank into a calm. The sword was sheathed, the crossbow no longer launched its deadly shafts, and the artillery, which had hitherto kept up an incessant uproar, now ceased its thundering. On both sides there was still a vigilant guard kept up; the sentinels bristled the walls of Baza with their lances, and the guards patrolled the Christian camp, but there was no sallying forth to skirmish nor any wanton violence or carnage.*
*Many particulars of the scenes and occurrences at the siege of Baza are also furnished in the letters of the learned Peter Martyr, who was present and an admiring eye-witness.