Abenamar

  • Private terrace and font.
  • Jacuzzi.

History

A short time before Alfonso VI of Castilla joined the kingdoms of León and Castilla, in 1068 Al-Mu’tamid was king of Seville, the most flourishing Taifa kingdom. Some time before, at the court of his father Al-Mu’tadid b. ‘Abbâd, a rough and cruel governor, appeared the adventurous Ibn Ammar, a poor poet. He gained the favour of the father and the admiration of the twelve years old boy Al-Mu’tamid; probably thanks to a poem he wrote celebrating the victory of the king over the berberiscos.

Ibn Ammar was conscious of his intellectual superiority, and the young Al-Mu’tamid worshipped him so that could not separate from his side. His father named him governor of Silves, where he gave Ibn Ammar a life of pleasures. Until the poet dreamed that his protector was going to kill him some day. Al-Mu’tadid separated them, but then the son came to be king and ordered Ibn Ammar to come back from distant lands. He was named prime minister of the court, where the ability of writing poetry was considered a government employee’s best virtue.

Although Al-Mutamid spread the kingdom of Seville, something was wrong in it. He did not have the favour of the people due to increasing taxes and that he did not care much about the defence of the city. So when Alfonso VI directed an army, about 1078, towards the conquest of Seville, the inhabitants felt they were lost.

Ibn Ammâr then saved the situation thanks to a sharp stratagem. He had designed with artistic perfection an incredible chessboard, made of ebony, aloe and sandalwood pieces, inlaid with gold. He was sent as an emissary to negotiate with the Christian king Alfonso VI. Due to his skill he managed to make the chessboard known to the king, as he knew he liked chess very much. So he showed it to Alfonso VI, who consented in playing under a condition: if Ibn Ammâr was defeated, the chessboard would be given to the king; if he was the winner Alfonso VI will have to accede to a request. The king did not want to risk so much, but some sirs of the king, conveniently bribed by Ibn Ammâr, encouraged the king by saying that he would win the most beautiful chessboard ever seen, and in case he would lost they could teach the moor a lesson if his demand were an insolence. So the king played, but Ibn Ammâr was a master in chess and put him in checkmate. Then he asked the king that he would have to give him two grains for the first square of the chessboard, four grains for the second, sixteen for the third square, and in this way multiplying for each square. The king acceded, but when he calculated the amount of wheat he had to gather, he guessed there was not enough in all Castilla. Ibn Ammâr told him that the debt would be paid off if Alfonso VI moved the army away from the frontiers of Sevilla. He had to accept though he didn’t like the idea, and the lands of Al-Mutamid were free.

ROMANCE de ABENAMAR

-¡Abenámar, Abenámar,

moro de la morería,

el día que tú naciste

grandes señales había!

Estaba la mar en calma,

la luna estaba crecida:

moro que en tal signo nace:

no debe decir mentira.

Allí respondiera el moro,

bien oiréis lo que decía:

-Yo te la diré, señor,

aunque me cueste la vida,

porque soy hijo de un moro

y una cristiana cautiva;

siendo yo niño y muchacho

mi madre me lo decía:

que mentira no dijese,

que era grande villanía;

por tanto pregunta, rey,

que la verdad te diría.

-Yo te agradezco, Abenámar,

aquesa tu cortesía.

¿Qué castillos son aquéllos?

¡Altos son y relucían!

-El Alhambra era, señor,

y la otra la mezquita,

los otros los Alixares,

labrados a maravilla.

El moro que los labraba

cien doblas ganaba al día,

y el día que no los labra,

otras tantas se perdía.

El otro es Generalife,

huerta que par no tenía.

El otro Torres Bermejas,

castillo de gran valía.

Allí habló el rey don Juan,

bien oiréis lo que decía:

-Si tú quisieses, Granada,

contigo me casaría;

darete en arras y dote

a Córdoba y a Sevilla.

-Casada soy, rey don Juan,

casada soy, que no viuda;

el moro que a mí me tiene

muy grande bien me quería.

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