Muhammad XII of Granada

Muhammad XII of Granada
Muhammad XII of Granada
Sultan of Granada
Reign 1482–1483; 1487 – January 2, 1492
Predecessor Abu l-Hasan Ali, Sultan of Granada
Successor none; royal throne ceded to Spain
Consort Morayma
Aixa (Sor Isabel of Granada)
Full name
Abu `Abdallah Muhammad XII (Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد الثاني عشر)
House Nasrid dynasty
Father Abu l-Hasan Ali, Sultan of Granada
Mother Aixa
Born 1460?
Alhambra, Granada
Died 1533[1]
Fes, Morocco[1]
Religion Islam

Abu `Abdallah Muhammad XII (Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد الثاني عشرAbū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad al-thānī ‘ashar) (c. 1460 – c. 1533), known as Boabdil (a Spanish interpretation of the name Abu Abdullah), was the twenty-second and last Nasrid ruler of Granada in Iberia. He was also called el chico, the little, or el zogoybi, the unfortunate. Son of Abu l-Hasan Ali, sultan of the Emirate of Granada, he was proclaimed sultan in 1482 in place of his father, who was driven from the land.

Muhammad XII soon after sought to gain prestige by invading Castile. He was taken prisoner at Lucena in 1484. Between 1484 and 1487, he was held prisoner. Power returned to his father and then in 1485 to his uncle Muhammed XIII, also known as Abdullah ez Zagal.

He only obtained his freedom and support to recover his throne in 1487 by consenting to hold Granada as a tributary kingdom under Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Castile and Aragon, and not to intervene to prevent the conquest of Málaga.

1487 saw the fall of Baeza, Málaga and Almería. 1489 saw the fall of Almuñécar and Salobreña. By the beginning of 1491, Granada was the only muslim-governed city in Spain.


Surrender of Granada

In 1491, Muhammad XII was summoned by Ferdinand and Isabella to surrender the city of Granada, and on his refusal it was besieged by the Castilians. Eventually, on 2 January 1492, Granada was surrendered. In most sumptuous attire the royal procession moved from Santa Fe to a place a little more than a mile from Granada, where Ferdinand took up his position by the banks of the Genil. A private letter written by an eyewitness to the bishop of León only six days after the event recorded the scene.

The Capitulation of Granada by F. Pradille y Ortiz, 1882: Muhammad XII confronts Ferdinand and Isabella

With the royal banners and the cross of Christ plainly visible on the red walls of the Alhambra: …the Moorish sultan with about eighty or a hundred on horseback very well dressed went forth to kiss the hand of their Highnesses. According to the final capitulation agreement both Isabel and Ferdinand will decline the offer and the key to Granada will pass into Spanish hands without Muhammad XII having to kiss the hands of Los Royes, as the Spanish royal couple became known. Muhammad XII indomitable mother insisted on sparing his son this final humiliation. The Moorish sultan was received with much love and courtesy and there they handed over to him his son, who had been a hostage from the time of his capture, and as they stood there, there came about four hundred captives, of this who were in the enclosure, with the cross and a solemn procession singing the Te Deum Laudamus, and their highnesses dismounted to adore the Cross to the accompaniment of the tears and reverential devotion of the crowd, not least of the Cardinal and Master of Santiago and the Duke of Cadiz and all the other grandees and gentlemen and people who stood there, and there was no one who did not weep abundantly with pleasure giving thanks to Our Lord for what they saw, for they could not keep back the tears; and the Moorish sultan and the Moors who were with him for their part could not disguise the sadness and pain they felt for the joy of the Christians, and certainly with much reason on account of their loss, for Granada is the most distinguished and chief thing in the world…

Christopher Columbus seems to have been present; he refers to the surrender on the first page of his Diario de las Derrotas y Caminos:

After your Highnesses ended the war of the Moors who reigned in Europe, and finished the war of the great city of Granada, where this present year [1492] on the 2nd January I saw the royal banners of Your Highnesses planted by force of arms on the towers of the Alhambra, which is the fortress of the said city, I saw the Moorish sultan issue from the gates of the said city, and kiss the royal hands of Your Highnesses…


The farewells of King Boabdil at Granada (Les Adieux du roi Boabdil à Grenade), Alfred Dehodencq (1822-1882).

Legend has it that as the royal party moved south toward exile, they reached a rocky prominence which gave a last view of the city. Muhammad XII reined in his horse and, surveying for the last time the Alhambra and the green valley that spread below, burst into tears. When his mother approached him she said :

"Thou dost weep like a woman for what thou couldst not defend as a man."
ابك اليوم بكاء النساء على ملك لم تحفظه حفظ الرجال
Ibki l-yawma bukā'a n-nisā'i ʿalā mulkin lam taḥfuẓhu ḥifẓa r-rijāl

The spot from which Muhammad XII looked for the last time on Granada is known as "the Moor's last sigh" (el último suspiro del Moro).

Muhammad XII was given an estate in Láujar de Andarax, Las Alpujarras, a mountainous area between the Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean Sea, but he soon crossed the Mediterranean to Fes, Morocco.

Letter to the Marinid Sultan of Morocco

Shortly After his surrender, Muhammad Boabdil sent a long letter to the Marinid rulers of Morocco asking for refuge. The letter is long, extremely well written and begins with a long poem praising the Marinids, followed by a prose where he laments his defeat and asks forgiveness for past wrongdoings of his forefathers against the Marinids. The entire text was reported by al-Maqqari:[2]

...The lord of Castile has proposed for us a respectable residence and has given us assurances of safety to which he pledged by his own handwriting, enough to convince the souls. But we, as descendents of Banu al-Ahmar, didn't settle for this and our faith in God does not permit us to reside under the protection of disbelief.
We also received from the east many letters full of goodwill, inviting us to come to their lands and offering the best of advantages. But we cannot choose other than our home and the home of our forefathers, we can only accept the protection of our relatives, not because of opportunism but to confirm the brotherhood relationship between us and to fulfill the testament of our forefathers, that tells us not to seek any help other that of the Marinids and not to let anything obstruct us from going to you. So we traversed the vast lands and sailed the tumultuous sea and we hope that we would not be returned and that our eyes will be satisfied and our hurt and grievous souls will be healed from this great pain...[2]
Muhamad Abu Abdallah

Original text in Arabic:

ولقد عرض علينا صاحب قشتالة مواضع معتبرة خير فيها، وأعطى من أمانه المؤكد فيه خطه بأيمانه ما يقنع النفوس ويكفيها، فلم نر

ونحن من سلالة الأحمر، مجاورة الصفر، ولا سوغ لنا الإيمان الإقامة بين ظهراني الكفر، ما وجدنا عن ذلك مندوحة ولو شاسعة، وأمنا من المطالب المشاغب حمة شرٍ لنا لاسعة، وادكرنا أي ادكار، قول الله تعالى المنكر لذلك غاية الإنكار "ألم تكن أرض الله واسعة" وقول الرسول، عليه الصلاة والسلام، المبالغ في ذلك بأبلغ الكلام "أنا بريء من مؤمن مع كافر لا تتراءى ناراهما" وقول الشاعر الحاث على حث المطية، المتثاقلة عن السير في طريق منجاا البطية:

وما أنا والتلدد نحو نجد وقد غصت تهامة بالرجال

ووصلت أيضاً من الشرق إلينا، كتب كريمة المقاصد لدينا، تستدعي الانحياز إلى تلك الجنبات، وتتضمن ما لا مزيد عليه من الرغبات، فلم نختر إلا دارنا التي كانت دار آبائنا من قبلنا، ولم نرتض الإنضواء إلا لمن بحبله وصل حبلنا، وبريش نبله ريش نبلنا، إدلالاً على محل إخاء متوارث لا عن كلالة، وامتثالاً لوصاة أجداد لأنظارهم وأقدارهم أصالة وجلالة، إذ قد روينا عمن سلف من أسلافنا، في الإيصاء لمن يخلف بعدهم من أخلافنا، أن لا يبتغوا إذا دهمهم داهم بالحضرة المرينية بدلاً، ولا يجدوا عن طريقها في التوجه إلى فريقها معدلاً، فاخترقنا إلى الرياض الأريضة الفجاج، وركبنا إلى البحر الفرات ظهر البحر الأجاج، فلا غرو أن نرد منه على ما يقر العين، ويشفي النفس الشاكية من ألم البين

17th-century Historian Al-Maqqari wrote that Muhammad XII crossed the Mediterranean to Melilla then went to Fes where he built a palace. He stayed there until his death in 1533/1534 (in 940 A.H.).[1][3] He was buried near the Musala (place of the special prayer during the Islamic festivals) located outside of "Bab Sheria" in Fes.[1] Muhammad XII was survived by two sons; Yusef and Ahmed.[1] Al-Maqqari met with his descendents in 1618 in Fes, they lived in a state of poverty and relied on the Zakat.[1]

Spanish chronicler Luis del Mármol Carvajal [4] wrote "Muhammad XII died near the Oued el Assouad (Black River) at ford told Waqûba during the war between the Marinids and the Saadians. This source is also taken by Louis de Chénier, a diplomat of the King of France Louis XVI, in his Historical research on the Moors and History of the Empire of Morocco published in Paris in 1787,[5].

Muhammad XII in popular culture

Sword of Boabdil, Musée de Cluny.
  • He was the subject of the three-act opera "Boabdil, der letzte Maurenkönig", Op. 49, written in 1892 by the German-Polish composer Moritz Moszkowski.
  • Spanish composer Gaspar Cassadó wrote the Lamento de Boabdil for cello and piano, in memory of the moor.
  • Spanish composer Antón García Abril wrote the 'Elegía a la pérdida de la Alhambra' from his song cycle Canciones del Jardin Secreto for voice and piano; it is set to text (in Andalusian Arabic) that is attributed to Boabdil, in which he laments the loss of the Alhambra.
  • Andalusian singer-songwriter and poet Carlos Cano dedicated a song to Muhammad XII in his album Crónicas Granadinas, entitled Caída del Rey Chico.
  • Salman Rushdie's book, The Moor's Last Sigh, also features consistent references to Muhammad XII.
  • Louis Aragon's book Le Fou d'Elsa renders a dramatized and poetic version of the story of Granada's capture, which includes Muhammad XII as one of the two main characters present in the novel, (Majnun being the other. Elsa, whom it could be argued is the second major character, is absent from the book.).
  • Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) produced a drama in 1980, based on the novel "Shaheen" by Nasim Hijazi. In this drama Abu Abdullah Mohammad was played by Shakeel Ahmed.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "نفح الطيب من غصن الاندلس الرطيب" pp1317. احمد المقري المغربي المالكي الاشعري
  2. ^ a b "نفح الطيب من غصن الاندلس الرطيب" pp1325. احمد المقري المغربي المالكي الاشعري
  3. ^ Harvey, Leonard Patrick (1992). Islamic Spain, 1250 to 1500. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226319628.  at Google Book Search
  4. ^ Shillington, Kevin (2005). Encyclopedia of African history. 1. CRC Press. ISBN 1579582451.  at Google Book Search
  5. ^ vol. 2 page 341 at Google Book Search and vol. 3 page 303 at Google Book Search

External links

Muhammad XII of Granada
Cadet branch of the Banu Khazraj
Born: 1460? Died: 1533?
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Abu l-Hasan Ali
Sultan of Granada
Succeeded by
Abu l-Hasan Ali
Preceded by
Muhammed XIII
Sultan of Granada
Granada captured by Spain

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