Muley Abul Hacen refuses tribute to the Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabel

June 3, 2013

Coins with the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs, 1492.

In 1476,Aben Ismail died; and his successor, Muley Abul Hacen, a chieftain already famous in his own land for various daring raids into Christian territory, ceased to send the required tribute to Castile. When the ambassadors of Ferdinand and Isabel came before him to remonstrate, he replied haughtily:

“Go, tell your sovereigns that the kings of Granada, who were wont to pay tribute, are dead. In my kingdom there is no coin minted save scimitars and iron-tipped lances.”

Abu l-Hasan Ali, also called Muley Hacén, father of Boabdil.

Abu l-Hasan Ali, also called Muley Hacén, father of Boabdil.

The sovereigns, who were in Seville at the time delivering justice, received his message with indignation. “I will tear the seeds from this pomegranate one by one,” exclaimed Ferdinand punning on the meaning of the word “Granada.” But he and Isabel were still busy with the Portuguese war and the task of restoring order in Andalusia. They therefore dissembled their real feelings, and consented to a temporary treaty, in which there was no mention of the disputed tribute; but they did not cease from this time to redouble their preparations for the inevitable crusade. In the end it was Muley Hacen who to set the spark to the mine.

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Ierne L. Plunket, Isabel of Castile and the Making of the Spanish Nation: 1451-1504 (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1915), 162-63.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 287

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