But the most important, interesting, and beautiful specimens of Spanish-Moorish arms preserved to-day are those which were captured from Boabdil at the battle of Lucena (1482), when the monarch was made prisoner by the young Alcaide de los Donceles, Don Diego Fernandez de Cordova. A manuscript History of the House of Cordova, quoted by Eguilaz Yanguas,1 says that upon the day in question, irretrievably disastrous to the Moorish cause in Spain, Boabdil carried "a short, silver-handled sword, a damascened dagger, and a lance and buckler of great strength" (Plates xlv. and xlvi.). These arms, together with another and a larger sword (montante or estoque real) for wielding with both hands, and certain articles of Boabdil's clothing, continued in the captor's family for centuries, and were, some years ago, presented by the Marquises of Villaseca, his direct descendants, to the National Museum of Artillery.
1 In the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, this characteristically eastern downward curve of the crossbars grew to be popular even with the Christian Spaniards, as we observe from the swords of Ferdinand himself, preserved in the Royal Armoury at Madrid, and the Chapel Royal of the cathedral of Granada.
The smaller or gineta sword 2 is handsomer and more important than the large estoque. The crossbars, as we find so often in weapons of this character and date, are bent abruptly down, and then curve up in a design of dragons' heads - the well-known emblem of the Nasrite sultans of Granada. Part of the handle is of solid gold adorned with crimson, white, and blue enamel distributed about the top and bottom of the hilt, the pommel, and the arriaces or crossbars. The centre of the hilt consists of ivory, richly carved. On either side of it are two octagonal intersecting figures, bearing upon one side, in semi-Cufic characters, the words, "Achieve thy aim" and on the other, "in preserving his (i.e. the owner's) life." Round the upper border of the ivory is carved the sentence; "In the name of God; the power belongs to Him, and there is no Divinity but He. Happiness proceeds from God alone "; and round the lower border, "The marvellous belongs to God. Assuredly at the outset the ignorant do not know their God; seeing that error is their custom"
1 Las Pinturas de la Alhambra, p. 15.
2 The Count of Valencia de Don Juan states that seven Hispano-Moresque gineta swords are known to exist to-day: the one which is here described, and those belonging to the Marquises of Viana and Pallavicino, Baron de Sangarren, the Duke of Dino, Senor Sanchez Toscano, the archaeological museum at Madrid, the museum of Cassel in Germany, and the national library at Paris.
Moorish Sword (Hilt and upper part of sheath)
Other inscriptions of a sacred character, combined with delicate ataujia-work, are on the pommel and the upper portion of the hilt; but it has been remarked that, although the entire decoration is amazingly elaborate and rich, these inscriptions nowhere indicate that the weapon belonged to a personage of royal blood.
A gineta sword in the Madrid Armoury popularly attributed to Boabdil can never have belonged to him. The hilt is modern, and the blade proceeds from Barbary.
The sheath of this most sumptuous arm is also lavishly adorned with silver and enamel on a purple leather ground. The blade is of a later date than either sheath or hilt, and bears the letter S, believed to be the mark of Alonso Sahagun the elder, of Toledo. The total length of this weapon is thirty-nine inches; and Gayangos declares that it was worn suspended by a belt between the shoulders.1
1 A number of Moorish swords are mentioned in the inventory, compiled in 1560, of the Dukes of Alburquerque. One is particularly interesting. It is described as "a Moorish gineta sword which belongs to the Count of Monteagudo, and is pawned for six thousand maravedis. The sheath is of bay leather, worked in gold thread. The chape and fittings are of silver, decorated with green, blue, purple, and white enamel. There are two serpents' heads upon the fitting, together with the figure of a monster worked in gold thread on a little plate, and two large scarlet tassels: the little plate has three ends of the same enamel and a silver-gilt buckle." A note at the margin adds; "The chape is wanting, and is owed us by the Marquis of Comares, who lost it at the cane-play at Madrid."
The two serpents' heads formed part of the arms of the Alahmar black and gill upon the face; and hanging from the hilt is a gold and purpule cord with a button and a black. tassel.
The large montante which belonged to the same ill-fated monarch has a cylindrical hilt, narrower in the centre of the handle than at either end. This hilt is made of steel inlaid with laceria or network ornament in ivory. In a small shield within the decoration of the pommel, appear the words "To God"; and in the centre of the handle, the familiar motto of the Nasrite sultans of Granada; "The only Conqueror is God."
Part of the blade is broken off. That which is left is broad and straight, with two grooves (one of which extends about three inches only) on each side, and bears an oriental mark consisting of five half-moons. The sheath is of brown Morocco decorated with a small gilt pattern forming shells and flowers. The mouth and chape are silvergilt.
In beautiful and skilful craftsmanship Boabdil's dagger or gumia matches with his swords. The handle is of steel inlaid in ivory with floral sultans of Granada; so that from this and from the richness of this weapon we may infer that it had once belonged to Mussulman royalty. The same inventory describes "a Moorish scimitar with gilded hilt; the cross and pommel, and a great part of the scimitar itself, being of gilded ataujia work. The sheath is green inside, and patterns, and terminates in a large sphere, similarly decorated. The blade has a single edge, and is exquisitely damascened in gold designs which cover more than half of all its surface. Along one side we read the inscription; "Health, permanent glory, lasting felicity, permanent glory, lasting felicity, and lasting and permanent glory belong to God"; and on the other side, "It was made by Reduan."