January 02: the last sigh of the Moor
2012/01/02 § Leave a comment
On this day in 1492, Boabdil (ca. 1460-ca. 1533) surrendered Granada to Los Reyes Católicos, quite literally handing over the Alhambra’s keys to Isabella and Ferdinand.
Boabdil was the twenty-second Nasrid ruler of Granada, and his departure from the Alhambra marked the end of Muslim rule in Europe. Not only is Boabdil the sad punctuation to the end of the golden age of the Nasrids, but as he left, and gave his famous sigh, his mother is reported to have scolded him thusly: “do not weep like a woman for what you could not defend as a man.” The Catholic Monarchs had made a point of concluding the Reconquista that had been started centuries before them, to “reconquer” the Iberian peninsula for Christianity. (Clio wonders what the Romans of Hispania, the Phoenicians who founded the beach town of Cadiz, the Iron Age Celtiberians, or Neolithic Iberians would think about that.) After making many promises about sustaining religious toleration that had been prevalent throughout al-Andalus, they soon reneged, demanding conversions and/or forcing Muslims and Jews out of Spain.
Five centuries later, the Alhambra is the most-visited site in Spain. Even in its reduced state (somewhat the worse for wear, shorn of its gardens) it is the glorious monument to Nasrid design. In 1527 Charles V directed the construction of a ponderous palazzo in the center of the complex. Today, when the Alhambra is brilliantly illuminated at night, the Catholic monarch’s pile is left in shadow.
Image: interior, the Alhambra (by Clio)