The day when Granada was handed over to the christians
The painting shows a scene from the day when the Granada and the Alhambra was finally handed over to the christians after centuries of moorish rule.
Upon the second day of January, 1492, the plain before Granada was covered with a Spanish army, impatient to advance and take possession of the Moorish palace. For the long and memorable war had ended with the surrender of Granada. It was a perfect morning. The old vermilion towers of the Alhambra gleamed beneath a cloudless sky. Among the Moors a melancholy silence prevailed, but on the plain below the air was rent with shouts of victory and hymns of praise. The Spanish army was drawn up in line, their banners fluttering, their swords and armor glittering in the sun. Meanwhile, from a humble gate beneath the Tower of Justice, a mournful cavalcade came sorrowfully forth. It was composed of the family of Boabdil, last of the sovereigns of Granada, and had been thus sent off privately in advance, that they might not behold the exultation, possibly the insults, of the enemy. They were to proceed to a lonely spot and wait there until he should overtake them. His mother, it is said, rode on in silence, pale as death, yet able to control her feelings; but his young wife gave way to bitter lamentation, and had to be supported by her faithful guards, who walked beside her horse, themselves quite overcome with grief.
Meantime, from another part of the Alhambra walls emerged Boab-dil, with some fifty cavaliers, and rode sadly downward toward the plain. In his hand he held the keys of the Alhambra, and as he approached King Ferdinand he gave them to his conqueror, exclaiming: "These keys are thine, O King, since Allah has decreed it." Then with the melancholy of a broken heart, he made this one request, that the gate through which he had just come to yield his palace and his kingdom should be walled up, never again to be repassed by mortal foot. The Spaniard granted his entreaty; and, in fact, the portal was closed up with masonry and has remained so ever since.
One of the mountains near Granada is still called "The Last Sigh of the Moor," because upon its crest the retreating monarch gazed for the last time on the Alhambra. This last Moorish gem had been transferred to the Spanish crown, the banner of the Christians floated over the vermilion towers, and all was lost. Behind him lay the most exquisite situation on earth; before him lay the desert of Africa, as cheerless as the prospects of a dethroned fugitive. What wonder that he wept in anguish, exclaiming: "God is great, but when did ever misfortune equal mine?" Yet his mother embittered his grief by exclaiming, "You weep now like a woman over what you could not defend as a man."