Ferdinand the Catholic conquers the impregnable Ronda from the Moslems

June 10, 2013

The culminating moment of the campaign was the capture of Ronda in May, 1485. This town, believed by its defenders impregnable, stood on the summit of a precipice six hundred feet high….

City of Ronda in the province of Málaga, Spain. Photo by Tyk

To this stronghold Hamet “El Zegri” had retired after his crushing defeat at Lopera; but, being informed that the Christians were meditating a second attack on Loja, he hastily sent part of his garrison to assist “El Zagal” in its defense. This did not, however, satisfy his own desire for vengeance, and believing that his enemies were occupied elsewhere he sallied out with a contingent of his fiercest troops to lay waste the Duchy of Medina Sidonia. His immediate mission was successful; but Hamet “El Zegri” soon found his joy turned to ashes. His cunning had been overreached.

Don Roderigo Ponce de Leon, Marques of Cadiz

Don Roderigo Ponce de Leon, Marques of Cadiz

A portion of the Christian army had in truth set out in the direction of Loja; but the main body, under the command of Ferdinand himself, the Marquis-Duke of Cadiz, and other great Castilian generals, only waited till this subterfuge should take effect to march on Ronda. With them went their deadly train of artillery; and soon the walls and towers were battered from three sides, without those within being able to retaliate. Breaches were made, and through these the Castilian chivalry rushed to the assault, driving before them up the streets the diminished garrison. At length a knight, more intrepid than the rest, leaping from roof to roof along the low white houses, planted his banner on the principal mosque. His action completed the enemy’s despair; and on Ferdinand’s offer of generous terms the inhabitants surrendered.

Photo of The City of Ronda by Tsui

Had they known it, even while they bargained, help was on the way; for Hamet “El Zegri,” driving before him the herds of Medina-Sidonia, was returning across the mountains, when the sound of distant cannon and falling masonry caused him and his men to put spurs to their horses. It was nightfall when they arrived in the neighborhood of Ronda, and descending from the mountains, sword in hand, attacked the sleeping camp. Up and down the precipitous slopes the battle raged, but, fierce as each onslaught proved, the Castilians beat it back; and “El Zegri,” at length acknowledging his defeat, withdrew in sullen fury. Ronda had fallen, and the western frontier of the Moorish kingdom was in Christian hands.


Ierne L. Plunket, Isabel of Castile and the Making of the Spanish Nation: 1451-1504 (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1915), 200-2.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 289



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