The Moor's Last Stand: How Seven Centuries of Muslim Rule in Spain Came to an End
By Elizabeth Drayson
2017, Interlink Books, 978-1-56656-004-7, $20 pb.
Reviewed by Tom Verde on November 15, 2017
The author takes a fresh look at the life of Boabdil (known as the “Unlucky”), the last Moorish sultan of Granada, who lost his kingdom to the Christian armies of Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. The defeat was immortalized in song and legend as the “Moor’s Last Sigh,” when the humiliated, retreating ruler took a final look at the city from a hillside and wept. Yet that famous story, which “may be truth or invention,” shortchanges our understanding of the man, writes Drayson, who describes Boabdil as the inevitable victim of family betrayal and factional infighting, not his own weak character. In fact, he emerges as a deeply moral figure. Reading at times more like a novel than a biography, this reconsideration of Boabdil’s life convincingly distinguishes the man from the legend.