*It is proper to mention the result of this mission of the two friars, and which the worthy Agapida has neglected to record. At a subsequent period the Catholic sovereigns sent the distinguished historian, Pietro Martyr of Angleria, as ambassador to the grand soldan. That able man made such representations as were perfectly satisfactory to the Oriental potentate. He also obtained from him the remission of many exactions and extortions heretofore practised upon Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Sepulchre; which, it is presumed, had been gently but cogently detailed to the monarch by the lowly friar. Pietro Martyr wrote an account of his embassy to the grand soldan--a work greatly esteemed by the learned and containing much curious information. It is entitled "De Legatione Babylonica."
HOW QUEEN ISABELLA DEVISED MEANS TO SUPPLY THE ARMY WITH PROVISIONS.
It has been the custom to laud the conduct and address of King Ferdinand in this most arduous and protracted war, but the sage Agapida is more disposed to give credit to the counsels and measures of the queen, who, he observes, though less ostensible in action, was in truth the very soul, the vital principle, of this great enterprise. While King Ferdinand was bustling in his camp and making a glittering display with his gallant chivalry, she, surrounded by her saintly counsellors in the episcopal palace of Jaen, was devising ways and means to keep the king and his army in existence. She had pledged herself to keep up a supply of men and money and provisions until the city should be taken. The hardships of the siege caused a fearful waste of life, but the supply of men was the least difficult part of her undertaking. So beloved was the queen by the chivalry of Spain that on her calling on them for assistance not a grandee or cavalier that yet lingered at home but either repaired in person or sent forces to the camp; the ancient and warlike families vied with each other in marshalling forth their vassals, and thus the besieged Moors beheld each day fresh troops arriving before their city, and new ensigns and pennons displayed emblazoned with arms well known to the veteran warriors.
But the most arduous task was to keep up a regular supply of provisions. It was not the army alone that had to be supported, but also the captured towns and their garrisons; for the whole country around them had been ravaged, and the conquerors were in danger of starving in the midst of the land they had desolated. To transport the daily supplies for such immense numbers was a gigantic undertaking in a country where there was neither water conveyance nor roads for carriages. Everything had to be borne by beasts of burden over rugged and broken paths of mountains and through dangerous defiles exposed to the attacks and plunderings of the Moors.
The wary and calculating merchants accustomed to supply the army shrank from engaging at their own risk in so hazardous an undertaking. The queen therefore hired fourteen thousand beasts of burden, and ordered all the wheat and barley to be brought up in Andalusia and in the domains of the knights of Santiago and Calatrava. She entrusted the administration of these supplies to able and confidential persons. Some were employed to collect the grain; others to take it to the mills; others to superintend the grinding and delivery; and others to convey it to the camp. To every two hundred animals a muleteer was allotted to take charge of them on the route. Thus great lines of convoys were in constant movement, traversing to and fro, guarded by large bodies of troops to defend them from hovering parties of the Moors. Not a single day's intermission was allowed, for the army depended upon the constant arrival of the supplies for daily food. The grain when brought into the camp was deposited in an immense granary, and sold to the army at a fixed price, which was never either raised or lowered.
Incredible were the expenses incurred in these supplies, but the queen had ghostly advisers thoroughly versed in the art of getting at the resources of the country. Many worthy prelates opened the deep purses of the Church, and furnished loans from the revenues of their dioceses and convents, and their pious contributions were eventually rewarded by Providence a hundred-fold. Merchants and other wealthy individuals, confident of the punctual faith of the queen, advanced large sums on the security of her word; many noble families lent their plate without waiting to be asked. The queen also sold certain annual rents in inheritance at great sacrifices, assigning the revenues of towns and cities for the payment. Finding all this insufficient to satisfy the enormous expenditure, she sent her gold and plate and all her jewels to the cities of Valencia and Barcelona, where they were pledged for a great amount of money, which was immediately appropriated to keep up the supplies of the army.
Thus through the wonderful activity, judgment, and enterprise of this heroic and magnanimous woman a great host, encamped in the heart of the warlike country accessible only over mountain-roads, was maintained in continual abundance. Nor was it supplied merely with the necessaries and comforts of life. The powerful escorts drew merchants and artificers from all parts to repair, as if in caravans, to this great military market. In a little while the camp abounded with tradesmen and artists of all kinds to administer to the luxury and ostentation of the youthful chivalry. Here might be seen cunning artificers in steel and accomplished armorers achieving those rare and sumptuous helmets and cuirasses, richly gilt, inlaid, and embossed, in which the Spanish cavaliers delighted. Saddlers and harness-makers and horse-milliners also were there, whose tents glittered with gorgeous housings and caparisons. The merchants spread forth their sumptuous silks, cloths, brocades, fine linen, and tapestry. The tents of the nobility were prodigally decorated with all kinds of the richest stuffs and dazzled the eye with their magnificence, nor could the grave looks and grave speeches of King Ferdinand prevent his youthful cavaliers from vying with each other in the splendor of their dresses and caparisons on all occasions of parade and ceremony.
OF THE DISASTERS WHICH BEFELL THE CAMP.