Granada: the Story of Zoraya
My dear blog-readers, I prepared this story for you for this part of the trip: the story of Isabel de Solis. It is my favourite. I first learned about this amazing woman from the Spanish series Isabel, season 2.
Isabel de Solís was the slave concubine and later the beloved wife of Abu l-Hasan Ali, Sultan of Granada at the time when queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand were trying to conquer the last Muslim Kingdom in Spain. Originally a Christian from Castile, she converted to Islam under the name of Zoraya. She exerted a strong influence over her spouse.
De Solís was the daughter of Castilian nobleman Sancho Jiménez Solís. When Granada’s new king refused to continue paying tribute to the crown of Castile, Christian armies began raiding the Kingdom of Granada. In reprisal, Al-Zagal, the sultan’s brother, began conducting raids on Castile. On one such occasion, Isabel de Solís was captured while taking refuge in a church. At the time, it was common practice to ransom captured prisoners who came from noble families. However, even though de Solís was noble by birth, her family refused to pay the ransom because of her previous rebellious behavior toward her father, who had condemned her to live in a convent for the rest of her life.
For this reason, she was taken to the Alhambra palace in Granada and sold as a slave to Abu l-Hasan Ali, the sultan of Granada. De Solís was forced to become one of the sultan’s concubines, but Abu l-Hasan Ali fell in love and married her, exiling his first spouse Aixa from the palace. Upon de Solís’ conversion to Islam, she took the name Turai, Soraya or Zoraya.
She had two sons with the sultan, Nasr and Said. Because Aixa (known as Fatima) was a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, the people, especially the religious leaders, caused a civil war in Granada in 1482. Abu l-Hasan Ali was eventually deposed by his first wife Aixa, with the help of Aliatar, the warlord of Loja. De Solís was taken captive by the Aixa faction and allowed to live on condition that Abu l-Hasan Ali give up the throne to his son Boabdil. Later, Abu l-Hasan Ali dedicated his life to conducting many successful raids on Castile, which caused him to regain his popularity among the people of Granada. As a result, he ended up rescuing de Solís and recovering some of his lost power in Granada for a short while before dying.
After the death of her husband, de Solís and her sons converted to Catholicism and took the names Juan de Granada and Ferdinand de Granada.
Yesterday, we went to a place called Jardines de Zoraya, Zoraya’s Gardens, to see flamenco dancing and singing. Here are some pictures from that event.