Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada

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Author: Washington Irving

Chapter XLII. Of the Arrival of Queen Isabella at the Camp Before Moclin, and of the Pleasant Sayings of the English Earl.

The war of Granada, however poets may embroider it with the flowers of their fancy, was certainly one of the sternest of those iron conflicts which have been celebrated under the name of "holy wars." The worthy Fray Antonio Agapida dwells with unsated delight upon the succession of rugged mountain-enterprises, bloody battles, and merciless sackings and ravages which characterized it; yet we find him on one occasion pausing in the full career of victory over the infidels to detail a stately pageant of the Catholic sovereigns.

Immediately on the capture of Loxa, Ferdinand had written to Isabella, soliciting her presence at the camp that he might consult with her as to the disposition of their newly-acquired territories.

It was in the early part of June that the queen departed from Codova with the princess Isabella and numerous ladies of her court. She had a glorious attendance of cavaliers and pages, with many guards and domestics. There were forty mules for the use of the queen, the princess, and their train.

As this courtly cavalcade approached the Rock of the Lovers on the banks of the river Yeguas, they beheld a splendid train of knights advancing to meet them. It was headed by that accomplished cavalier the marques-duke de Cadiz, accompanied by the adelantado of Andalusia. He had left the camp the day after the capture of Illora, and advanced thus far to receive the queen and escort her over the borders. The queen received the marques with distinguished honor, for he was esteemed the mirror of chivalry. His actions in this war had become the theme of every tongue, and many hesitated not to compare him in prowess with the immortal Cid.*

*Cura de los Palacios.

Thus gallantly attended, the queen entered the vanquished frontier of Granada, journeying securely along the pleasant banks of the Xenil, so lately subject to the scourings of the Moors. She stopped at Loxa, where she administered aid and consolation to the wounded, distributing money among them for their support according to their rank.

The king after the capture of Illora had removed his camp before the fortress of Moclin, with an intention of besieging it. Thither the queen proceeded, still escorted through the mountain-roads by the marques of Cadiz. As Isabella drew near to the camp the duke del Infantado issued forth a league and a half to receive her, magnificently arrayed and followed by all his chivalry in glorious attire. With him came the standard of Seville, borne by the menat-arms of that renowned city, and the prior of St. Juan with his followers. They ranged themselves in order of battle on the left of the road by which the queen was to pass.

The worthy Agapida is loyally minute in his description of the state and grandeur of the Catholic sovereigns. The queen rode a chestnut mule, seated in a magnificent saddle-chair decorated with silver gilt. The housings of the mule were of fine crimson cloth, the borders embroidered with gold, the reins and head-piece were of satin, curiously embossed with needlework of silk and wrought with golden letters. The queen wore a brial or regal skirt of velvet, under which were others of brocade; a scarlet mantle, ornamented in the Moresco fashion; and a black hat, embroidered round the crown and brim. The infanta was likewise mounted on a chestnut mule richly caparisoned: she wore a brial or skirt of black brocade and a black mantle ornamented like that of the queen.

When the royal cavalcade passed by the chivalry of the duke del Infantado, which was drawn out in battle array, the queen made a reverence to the standard of Seville and ordered it to pass to the right hand. When she approached the camp the multitude ran forth to meet her with great demonstrations of joy, for she was universally beloved by her subjects. All the battalions sallied forth in military array, bearing the various standards and banners of the camp, which were lowered in salutation as she passed.

The king now came forth in royal state, mounted on a superb chestnut horse and attended by many grandees of Castile. He wore a jubon or close vest of crimson cloth, with cuisses or short skirts of yellow satin, a loose cassock of brocade, a rich Moorish scimetar, and a hat with plumes. The grandees who attended him were arrayed with wonderful magnificence, each according to his taste and invention.

These high and mighty princes (says Antonio Agapida) regarded each other with great deference as allied sovereigns, rather than with connubial familiarity as mere husband and wife. When they approached each other, therefore, before embracing, they made three profound reverences, the queen taking off her hat and remaining in a silk net or caul, with her face uncovered. The king then approached and embraced her, and kissed her respectfully on the cheek. He also embraced his daughter the princess, and, making the sign of the cross, he blessed her and kissed her on the lips.*

*Cura de los Palacios.

The good Agapida seems scarcely to have been more struck with the appearance of the sovereigns than with that of the English earl. He followed (says he) immediately after the king, with great pomp and, in an extraordinary manner, taking precedence of all the rest. He was mounted "a la guisa," or with long stirrups, on a superb chestnut horse, with trappings of azure silk which reached to the ground. The housings were of mulberry powdered with stars of gold. He was armed in proof, and wore over his armor a short French mantle of black brocade; he had a white French hat with plumes, and carried on his left arm a small round buckler banded with gold. Five pages attended him, apparelled in silk and brocade and mounted on horses sumptuously caparisoned; he had also a train of followers bravely attired after the fashion of his country.

He advanced in a chivalrous and courteous manner, making his reverences first to the queen and infanta, and afterward to the king. Queen Isabella received him graciously, complimenting him on his courageous conduct at Loxa, and condoling with him on the loss of his teeth. The earl, however, made light of his disfiguring wound, saying that "our Blessed Lord, who had built all that house, had opened a window there, that he might see more readily what passed within;"* whereupon the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida is more than ever astonished at the pregnant wit of this island cavalier. The earl continued some little distance by the side of the royal family, complimenting them all with courteous speeches, his horse curveting and caracoling, but being managed with great grace and dexterity, leaving the grandees and the people at large not more filled with admiration at the strangeness and magnificence of his state than at the excellence of his horsemanship.**

*Pietro Martyr, Epist. 61.

**Cura de los Palacios.

To testify her sense of the gallantry and services of this noble English knight, who had come from so far to assist in their wars, the queen sent him the next day presents of twelve horses, with stately tents, fine linen, two beds with coverings of gold brocade, and many other articles of great value.

Having refreshed himself, as it were, with the description of this progress of Queen Isabella to the camp and the glorious pomp of the Catholic sovereigns, the worthy Antonio Agapida returns with renewed relish to his pious work of discomfiting the Moors.

The description of this royal pageant and the particulars concerning the English earl, thus given from the manuscript of Fray Antonio Agapida, agree precisely with the chronicle of Andres Bernaldez, the curate of Los Palacios. The English earl makes no further figure in this war. It appears from various histories that he returned in the course of the year to England. In the following year his passion for fighting took him to the Continent, at the head of four hundred adventurers, in aid of Francis, duke of Brittany, against Louis XI. of France. He was killed in the same year (1488) in the battle of St. Alban’s between the Bretons and the French.

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Chicago: Washington Irving, "Chapter XLII. Of the Arrival of Queen Isabella at the Camp Before Moclin, and of the Pleasant Sayings of the English Earl.," Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, ed. Iles, George, 1852-1942 and trans. Oliver Elton in Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed August 7, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=49R26NSNL3N6E28.

MLA: Irving, Washington. "Chapter XLII. Of the Arrival of Queen Isabella at the Camp Before Moclin, and of the Pleasant Sayings of the English Earl." Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, edited by Iles, George, 1852-1942, and translated by Oliver Elton, in Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, Vol. 36, New York, Doubleday, Page, 1909, Original Sources. 7 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=49R26NSNL3N6E28.

Harvard: Irving, W, 'Chapter XLII. Of the Arrival of Queen Isabella at the Camp Before Moclin, and of the Pleasant Sayings of the English Earl.' in Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 7 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=49R26NSNL3N6E28.