Boabdil: The Unfortunate: El Zogoybi

Boabdil is a Spanish corruption of the name Abu Abduallah. He was the last king of Nasrid rulers of Granada. He was also called El Chico, meaning the little, or El Zogoybi, the unfortunate. Zogoybi is the name of the protagonist of the book “The Moors Last Sigh” written by Salman Rushdie.

The Moors are Muslims belonging to Spain. Complete name of Boabdil was Abu ‘abd-Allah Muhammad XII. He tried to gain prestige by invading Castile but was defeated and taken prisoner and was freed only in lieu of surrendering Granada to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Castile.

The legend is that Boabdil broke down and burst into tears when he along with his royal party moved towards south for exile, and reached a rocky eminence which gave a last view of the Alhambra, meaning literally “The Red One”; or the “The Red Fortress” the beautiful palace of Granada. His mother made a sarcastic remark and said “don’t weep like a woman for what you could not defend as a man”. This spot from which the king viewed the palace is still a tourist attraction and known as “Moors Last Sigh” which is the title of Rushdie’s novel.

His daughter Axia was taken by the Spanish and baptised Isabel. King Ferdinand celebrated the conquest of Granada by taking her as one of his mistresses, and she became the mother of one of his illegitimate sons, Miguel Fernández, the Knight of Granada (1495-1575). Later, she was cast aside by the King and became a nun as Sister Isabel of Granada.

The palace is a UNESCO World heritage site.

The book recounts the journey of lives of a Moor’s family from Kerala. The daughter of the effluent family marries a Jew who is many years senior to her in age and is their employee. The family is famous for spice trade and moves to Bombay.