The Granada War, conducted by the union of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon against the Emirate of Granada, was the last conflict between the Christian kingdoms and the Moors of Iberia. It saw the end of the centuries long period of Spanish history known as the Reconquista, as the Christians extinguished the last of the Muslim states in the peninsula in the hopes of unifying it under their religion.
Crippled by internecine conflicts, the Emirate of Granada rapidly collapsed under the advancing Christian forces, such that by 1491, its territory was reduced to only its capital city of Granada. Defeat by that point seemed inevitable, yet Emir Muhammad XII refused to surrender thanks to the machinations of one of his advisors, secretly a Templar spy.
The Templars dreamed of laying claim to the Americas long before its existence became known to the powers of the Old World. To this end, they aspired to prolong the war indefinitely as a means of exhausting the treasury of Castile and depriving the explorer Christopher Columbus his much needed funds for his own voyage across the Atlantic.
As a result, the Siege of Granada raged for eight months until the intervention of the Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze, who rescued the emir from the trappings of the Templars and persuaded him to at last concede defeat.
By the late 15th century, the Emirate of Granada had been the last Moorish state in Iberia for more than two centuries. The Christian kingdoms of the region, legacies of the former Kingdom of Asturias that had survived the conquest of Iberia by the Umayyad Caliphate, had in the preceding time not been unified. Much like the myriad of Muslim states that preceded the emirate, these Christian kingdoms were prone to infighting, vying for domination over one another for control of the peninsula.
As such, there was a lack of a unified front against the Moors, and the concept of a consolidated campaign to expunge their people from Iberia did not always prevail. This all changed with the ascendancy of Isabella of Trastámara to the throne of Castile in the aftermath of the War of Castilian Succession in 1479. With Isabella as Queen of Castile, the Crown of Castile was then unified with the Crown of Aragon through Isabella's marriage to King Ferdinand II of Aragon. The de facto reunification of the Christian kingdoms in Iberia heralded the national identity that would become Spain and provided them with the power to at last turn their attention onto the Moors.
Led by Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada, the Spanish Inquisition seized upon this political development to press its dream of unifying all of Iberia under the Catholic religion. The religiously devout monarchs of Spain were easily swayed, and preparations were made for a dedicated campaign to expel the last vestiges of Muslim elements from the peninsula.
Until 1482, the political relation between Castile and the Emirate of Granada could be described as a low-state of constant warfare. Raids between the two countries across the frontier were frequent though it had hitherto never escalated into full-scale war. In December 1481, a raid conducted by the Christians provoked a Muslim assault on the town of Zahara in retaliation.
With Spain now looking to start a true war against the Moors, this attack provided just the pretext they desired for their invasion. The Spanish mobilized their forces and swiftly captured Alhama, an act that served as a formal declaration of war.
Granadan Civil War
While Emir Abu l-Hasan Ali of Granada fought back to stall the Spanish advance, his son, the Assassin ally Abu 'Abdallah, revolted against him and declared himself the new emir in 1482, styling himself Muhammad XII. The Granadan civil war that ensued accelerated the state's destruction, as it failed to lead a unified defense against the invading Christians. When Abu 'Abdallah, known to the Spanish as Boabdil, was captured by the Christians in 1483, his father was able to seize back the kingship. The Spanish, hoping to perpetuate the discord in the enemy ranks, then released Boabdil to serve as their contender to the Granadan throne.
As expected, Boabdil continued to vie for the emirate, but he was ousted from the capital city of Granada by his uncle Abū 'Abd Allāh Muhammad az-Zaghall in 1485, supposedly on behalf of Abu l-Hasan Ali. With his forces in command of the capital, however, az-Zaghall decided to usurp the throne for himself, leading to his brother's death soon afterwards.
On 7 May 1487, the Spanish laid siege to Málaga, the primary seaport of the emirate, whose capture would deprive them of access to the Mediterranean Sea. Az-Zaghall, constantly assailed by the forces of his nephew Boabdil, was unable to come to the city's defense, which capitulated on 18 August 1487. Under the influence of Torquemada, Ferdinand II had the people of Málaga enslaved in retribution for their defense, massacring all who resisted, an atrocity that would drive one of its survivors, the Moorish pit fighter Tariq al-Nasr to join with the Assassins.
The loss of Málaga severely crippled the emirate, and Boabdil once again took control of Granada as Muhammad XII, vassal to the Spanish. Over the course of the next few years, the Moors continued to suffer defeat after defeat until finally, after the long siege of Baza, Az-Zaghall surrendered in 1490, and the war seemed to be at an end.
Siege of Granada
This was not to be, however, for Muhammad XII, no longer content with his vassalage to the Spanish, rebelled the next year in 1491. As the Spanish by this point had conquered all of the Emirate of Granada, Muhammad was left with only his capital city as his territory. In spite of this, he refused to submit to the Christian forces, who laid siege to Granada starting from April 1491.
In the face of such odds, total and utter defeat seemed inevitable, yet Muhammad XII was unyielding, thanks to the false counsel of a Templar spy among his circle of advisors. It was at this stage in the war that the Templars dragged the conflict into their schemes. Having learned of a great landmass west of the Atlantic Ocean then unknown to all of Europe, they aspired to take possession of it before any of the world's empires could. However, the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus unknowingly threatened this ambition by seeking to sail across the Atlantic himself—a trip that would expose the continent to the European powers. After failing to assassinate him in Venice, the Templars sought to forestall his voyage by prolonging the Granada War as long as possible, in the hopes that this would deplete the Castilian treasury, thus denying him the funds he desperately needed from Queen Isabella.
For eight months, the Siege of Granada dragged on, and all the while no chance of victory lay in sight for the last Moorish stronghold. The Templars were determined for Muhammad XII not to surrender until the Castilian investment either drove their government to bankruptcy or reduced the city to ashes and rubble.
In late November, however, after the Assassins Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Raphael Sánchez had rescued the Assassins of Aragon from the Inquisition, they proceeded to Granada to investigate reports of Templar activity there. It was at a Spanish camp dug deep into the hills on the outskirts of the city that Ezio discovered the Templar spy and overheard his plot to deceive the emir into prolonging the war. He assassinated the spy before sneaking back to his companions, who deduced the Templars' motivations for their scheme and instructed Ezio to convince Muhammad to finally surrender.
To infiltrate Alhambra palace to meet with the emir, Ezio used the secret route through the catacombs favored by the spy. In the meantime, the death of their spy had led to the Templars to seize Muhammad XII altogether. By the time Ezio was nearing the exit into Alhambra's courtyard, night had fallen, and the Spanish had recommenced their assault on Granada. In the midst of this battle, Ezio successfully sneaked into Muhammad XII's throne room, where he found him tied up to the mockery of his Templar captor. None of his guards were even aware he had been taken hostage. Acting hastily, the Assassin killed the Templar and freed Muhammad, who acknowledged that as much as it would wound his pride, it was time for him to capitulate.
Anxious to end the battle as soon as possible and save the most lives, Ezio did not linger a second further, hurrying to the gates to deliver news of Muhammad's abdication. Though he had to neutralize several Granadan soldiers to do so, he managed to open the gates to the Spanish and alert the armies of the emir's surrender.
The triumphant Spanish army marched into the city in orderly fashion but soon devolved into rampant mobs eager to raze the city to the ground, even as Queen Isabella was meeting with Muhammad XII to discuss terms. Raphael concluded that the decay in discipline owed to Templar influence, and Ezio raced to eliminate the soldiers perpetrating the atrocities, killing the guard captain most complicit. Through his efforts, the Assassin saved the city from total destruction.
On 25 November 1491, Muhammad XII ratified the Treaty of Granada with Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II. In contrast to the religious persecution the Catholic Monarchs dealt against their Jewish population, the treaty guaranteed many rights to the Muslims, stipulating religious tolerance and fair treatment, but served only as a temporary truce, allowing two months for Granada to prepare for the relinquishment of control to Castile.
Abduction of Prince Ahmed
Despite the truce, peace did not find Emir Muhammad XII, for in his possession was an Apple of Eden, an ancient Isu artifact coveted by the Templars, of whom among them was the Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada. Without the means to acquire it directly, Torquemada plotted to kidnap Muhammad's son Ahmed and use him as ransom for the Apple.
When Prince Ahmed sought refuge among a small village in Andalusia, an army of Templars under the command of Ojeda tracked him there and captured him. Just as they prepared to transport the prince away on their carriage, they were ambushed by a group of Spanish Assassins led by the Mentor Benedicto. The Assassins battled for control of the carriage to free the prince, but at the end of a furious pursuit, the Templars were able to not only retain Ahmed but capture all the Assassins along with him.
On 2 January 1492, the date of the formal capitulation of Granada, Torquemada brought Ahmed to the palace vault room of the Alhambra to conduct the ransom. Fearful for his son's life, Muhammad XII was entirely compliant, handing the chest with the Apple of Eden over to Torquemada. Honoring the deal, the Templars passed Ahmed back to his father while the elated Torquemada held up the Apple of Eden and basked in his victory for the Templars.
It was just then that Aguilar de Nerha and María, the two captured Assassins that managed to escape their group's auto-da-fé in Seville, ambushed the Templars. In the ensuing fight, María sacrificed her life when she was taken hostage by Ojeda to prevent Aguilar from compromising their mission to save her. Ultimately, Aguilar managed to kill Ojeda and retrieve the Apple, but Torquemada narrowly escaped with his life when he opened the doors that had prevented Spanish reinforcements from intervening. Nevertheless, the soldiers could not prevent the Assassin from escaping with the Piece of Eden.
By the end of the day, Emir Muhammad XII had lost not just his throne but his prized artifact. He formally transferred the last Moorish city in Iberia to the Crown of Castile, and the Granada War, as well as the Reconquista of approximately 770 years, came to a close.
In direct violation of the Treaty of Granada, the Inquisition immediately carried out an operation on Granada as soon as Castilian soldiers took control of the city. Angered by the generous terms Queen Isabella had offered to Muslims, not least of all that she had spared the emir's life, Torquemada took matters into his own hands by secretly ordering Inquisitor Juan de Marillo to have his soldiers expel all civilians who did not pledge allegiance to the Pope, and to use whatever means necessary to punish those who resisted. Once again, Ezio responded swiftly, hunting the Inquisition soldiers throughout Granada that threatened the lives of civilians before killing Juan himself in the city catacombs.
On the night of Muhammad XII's abdication ceremony, the Templars staged an assassination attempt on the life of Queen Isabella. Alerted to this plot beforehand, the freelance mercenary and former Assassin Helene Dufranc requested the aid of Ezio, and the two raced to the ceremony just in time to kill the assassins outside.
Despite the immense influence the Inquisition wielded on the Castilian government, for several years the Muslims of the city were free from persecution. The provisions of the Treaty of Granada were respectful to their religious rights, prohibiting their abuse by Christians, preserving their mosques, and exempting them from taxation for a number of years. Furthermore, all Granadans were accorded immunity from forced conversions, even former Christians that converted to Islam. In contrast to the massacre committed at Málaga, all Moorish prisoners-of-war were released, and for three years, Muslims were allowed freedom of emigration.
Thus, for seven years after the fall of Granada, the city would remain politically stable, as its citizens were grateful for the religious tolerance, and it would not be until the new Archbishop of Granada in 1499, Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, reneged on the treaty and went on a crusade of forced conversions that the peace would be broken.
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- Muhammad XII was a contender to the Granada throne from 1483 to 1487. From 1485 to 1490, he fought as a vassal for Castile and Aragon.
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