The Beginning of the Granada Rebellion

October 18, 2018

But the impetuous Farax was not of this mind, and thinking, on the contrary, that everything would be lost if the events were not pushed forward, decided to enter the Albaicin that same night and either rouse the Moors or compromise them. He then recruited as best he could 180 men from the nearest villages, and with them went round Granada, defying the cold and the snow which fell that night, the 25th of December, a Saturday, the first day of Christmas.

Punctually at twelve o’clock he reached the gate of Guadix, which was in the wall of the Albaicin; breaking down a mud wall, closed by a small door, with pikes and implements that they had taken by force from some mills on the Darro, they entered the town and went straight to his house, joining the parish church of St. Elizabeth, leaving his people to guard the door, wearing coloured Turkish caps and over them white gauze head-dresses, so that they might appear to be Turks. Farax summoned the principal leaders of the rebellion there and tried to persuade them of the necessity of rising as one man that same night; but they of the Albaicin, false and disloyal even to their own brothers, thinking that enough had already been done to frighten the Christians without further exposing their lives or properties, excused themselves on the score of lack of time and of men, as of the 8000 men who were to accompany him he had only brought 180.

Farax Aben Farax, who was famous for his cruelty in battles. He attacked the town of Lanjarón and burned the church with many of its inhabitants inside.

Then Farax, in a fury and mad with rage, insulted them, and, two hours before dawn, assembled his people and with horns, drums and “dulzainos,” went through all the streets of the Albaicin, giving mournful cries. They carried two unfurled flags, between which went Farax Aben farax, a lighted candle in his hand, the white Turkish head-dress stained and the thick, unkempt beard covered with fresh gore. He was small, fat, with an enormous stomach and such long, powerful arms that they seemed deformed. The sight of him certainly inspired terror in the flickering light of the candle; when he stopped from time to time he threw back his enormous head, turned up his bloodshot eyes and cried in Arabic, in a hoarse and mournful voice, “There is no God but the one God, and Mahomet is his prophet. All Moors who wish to revenge the injuries which Christians have done to their law and persons will be revenged by joining this banner, because the King of Algiers and the Cherif, whom God exalt, favour us and have sent all these people and those who are waiting for us up there.” And all the rest answered in a chorus, “Well! Well! Come! Come! as our hour has arrived and all the land of the Moors has risen.” Nobody, however, responded to the call, nor did a single door or window open, nor was any noise heard, as if the quarter was a real city of the dead. Only, they say, an old man shouted to them from a housetop, “Brothers! Go with God, you are few and come out of season.”

Íñigo López de Mendoza and Mendoza, III Marqués de Mondéjar

They reached the square of Bib-el-Bonut, where was the house of the Jesuits, brought there by the Archbishop D. Pedro Guerrero, and called by name for the famous Padre Albotodo, who was of Moorish origin, insulting him and calling him a renegade dog, who, being the son of Moors, had made himself the alfaqui of the Christians, and as they could not break the door, which was strong and well barred, they contented themselves with destroying a wooden cross which was placed over it. Now the bells of Salvador began to sound the alarm, because the Canon Horozo, who lived at the back of the sacristy, had got in by a hidden door and was ringing them. Farax then returned to the slope by which the tower of the Aceituno is reached, and from there made another proclamation; and as nobody flocked here either, he began to insult those of the Albaicin, crying, “Dogs! Cowards! You have deceived the people and do not wish to fulfill your promise.” And with this outburst he left, as dawn had come, and was lost in the distance amid the tempest, like the coming and going of the threatening storm which discharges itself elsewhere.

The Martyrs of Otranto, who were murdered by the Muslims on July 28, 1480, were collectively canonized as Saints on May 12, 2013. The remains of the 12,000 people are displayed in the three glass reliquaries in the Otranto Cathedral and in the church of Santa Caterina a Formiello in Naples.

Next day the hypocritical Moors of the Albaicin descended to the Alhambra and begged the Marqués de Mondejar to help and protect them against the “monfies” who the night before had come to their quarter inciting them to rebel, and putting to the test their loyalty to religion and the King, endangering their lives and property. The Marqués gave more credit to their words than they deserved, and these bad men remained satisfied that they had unchained the storm without risk to themselves. In truth the storm was afterwards let loose, fierce and terrible, as few other in history.

In less than a fortnight the Moors of Farax had burned more than 300 churches, destroying their images, profaning the Blessed Sacrament, and killing more than 4000 Christians, men, women and children, putting them to such dreadful deaths and refined tortures that they find no parallels in the annals of the martyrs. And it was a great marvel and glory that not one of these victims apostatised, but all died with the name of our Lord and His Holy Mother on their lips; which so exasperated these true Mahomedans that to avoid these saintly cries, which sounded as blasphemies to their impious ears, they filled the victims’ mouths with gunpowder and lighted it. The renegade Farax Abenfarax ordered these cruelties, and the new King Aben-Humeya took such advantage of them, that in a short time he found himself master of more than 300 villages in which he proclaimed Mahomedanism; the leader of more than 20,000 men who acclaimed him King, and having within his reach the port of Almeira, which, as in other times Gibraltar, could well be the key of all Spain.

Then Philip II really grasped the situation, and to stifle the rebellion and do away with the rivalry between the Marquéses de Mondejar and de los Vélez, so dangerous before such formidable enemies, he sent his brother D. John of Austria to Granada.

Rev. Fr. Luis Coloma, The Story of Don John of Austria, trans. Lady Moreton, (New York: John Lane Company, 1912), Book II, Chapter XIII, pp. 175-178.

Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 648



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