Alfonso V de León wished to marry his sister to the Muslim King of the city of El Tajo. Great festivities and an important reason of state drove this wedding, one of the most remembered in the city of Tulaytulah.
We recover this beautiful legend of Toledo…
Dressed the Arab knights of Toledo with their best clothes, and their women with the best jewels, on March 29, 1008 celebrated a great party. It was normal, because their young king, Abdallah-ben-Abdellazzis, was getting married. At last his marriage was to take place, having been planned some time ago, and the Toledans, who saw him cheerful, wished that such good news would come soon.
In addition to being a good occasion for the festivities, this link also included important state reasons for its realization, since it brought as a dowry the friendship of the king of León, and with it the payment of old services made by the Muslims of Toledo to the Christians of León.
However, the few Christians who lived in “Tolaitola”, thanks to the benevolence of their rulers, felt the greatest of sorrows, as this link meant something that went against all nature and broke the deepest tradition among the Castilian monarchs.
While the Muslim people ran towards the old door of Bisagra to wait for the great procession that accompanied the young bride, the Christian priests, in the few churches that had remained faithful to Christian worship in Toledo, prayed to their God asking for the terrible sacrilege that was going to be carried out.
The young princess promised to Abdallah was not unfaithful like him and his people did not worship Allah as the author of all creation and Muhammad as their prophet. But Don [[Alfonso V of Leon]] had little regard for the deep-rooted Christian beliefs of Doña Teresa, who was so called, and wished to make the most of her sister’s beauty. For him, this union was not sacrilege, but an opportunity to seal an alliance with Muslims that would facilitate their domination in the infighting that undermined their Christian territories. It was the price to pay to buy Abdallah’s help.
It was the Muslim king himself who fixed the price for this alliance, in a trip he made through Castilian lands, and Alfonso had granted it to him.
Upon learning of the covenant for liaison, Doña Teresa had made known her opposition and great sorrow, but her opinion was of little use, for the reasons of state and the will of her brother came before her own life.
Thus, a few days before the fateful date, he had departed from León carrying numerous gifts for the King of Toledo and a large entourage that was slowly approaching the city.
That morning Abdallah had left the walls of his city to meet his fiancée, near Olías, two leagues from Toledo.
The afternoon fell on Toledo.
It was the afternoon scheduled for Abdallah’s wedding with Infanta Teresa, and the entire Muslim court, with the guests accompanying the Christian Infanta as a cortege admired in ecstasy the incredible sunset from the valley of Avalen, today the Angel, located near the Solanilla, on the left bank of the Tagus. This was the place chosen to celebrate a sumptuous banquet for the achievement of the most ardent desire of the Muslim monarch.
The banquet lasted many hours and there was no sign that it was going to end. The spirit of the Leonese walked from surprise to surprise. Simple men, who spent their lives warring from one place to another in the Castilian geography, with lance in hand and on horseback, alien to the refined and luxurious life of the Toledo court, considered the banquet with which Abdallah celebrated them as a continuous series of wonders. The profusion of very delicate delicacies, the richness of the dishes, the luxury that overflowed everywhere, dazzled them, even in certain moments they were believed in the power of the gnomes, those mysterious beings of the popular legends that some say inhabit the banks of the Tagus, and that invite the chosen men to admire the incredible wonders that they hide in their caves.
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Each new delicacy was served in a different set of dishes, always richer: the first of silver and gold as the hours passed. No two were alike in rich adornments and form, and as they were withdrawn from the table by the servants of the palace, they were cast one after another into the quiet waters of the Tagus as a despicable thing, and the river devoured that abundant rain of wealth, losing itself in its dark bottom.
While everyone toasted for the fate of the bride and groom, musicians hidden in the poplar trees of the river played all sorts of instruments, and beautiful women danced around those present.
And when the feast was ended, the king arose, and going to a prepared pavilion, he spoke to all those present: “I will offer you a spectacle worthy of your Infanta and of you: the fishing for gold.
At a sign from the monarch, several illuminated and richly adorned boats cleaved the waters of the gorge, and to the beat of the music they pulled out of the bottom of the river a wide net that they had previously placed so that the expensive crockery thrown by their servants was not lost as soon as it was removed from the table. Great cheers arose among those present, and to correspond to them politely, the same king ordered that these pieces be distributed among his guests.
Seeing the end of the feast, the infanta wished to say goodbye to the knights and bishops who had accompanied her, and in tears she asked them:
– Advise me, my fathers; tell me what I must do to break this odious yoke which is a sacrilegious challenge to God. Shall I be joined to an enemy of my religion to be his for all eternity?
– Calm down, daughter. One of the elders replied. For God, in His wisdom, will be able to read in your heart and will calm your conscience. What is your fault for your brother’s delusions?
The Infanta, fearful of her destiny, asked the knights to gather the horses and flee all in haste from the place.
– Escape is impossible. We are surrounded and guarded without ceasing. We could wage a war that is not convenient for our lord…
The oldest repeated again:
– Who knows, my daughter, if Providence reserves for you a high role in the world? You, by your love, obtain for the Christians of this kingdom some concessions that will make their life less hard. Who knows! Perhaps with your faith you can teach your spouse the true path and initiate him into Christianity.
The Infanta, seeing herself with no way out, asked for the blessing and murmured a prayer.
A few moments later, in richly decorated boats and to the beat of the music, the royal procession returned to Toledo and entered the city amidst the cheers of the crowd, which accompanied it to Abdallah’s palace, located in the houses where the College of Santa Catalina was built centuries later.
When Doña Teresa arrived there, she said goodbye affectionately to the Leonese knights who were placed in the same Alcazar, the multitude was dissolved and the music and songs ceased, and the two husbands withdrew to their chambers.
Late in the evening, the new husbands moved into their quarters. When the sturdy door of the room was closed, the infanta knelt at Abdallah’s feet, and embracing her knees, said with a weeping voice:
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– Lord, the command of my brother, King of Lion, throws me into your arms. United before men, we shall never be united before God. Break this infamy! Let me return to my land!
The King of Toledo tries in vain to entertain the infanta with sweet words and promises of life unmatched in his kingdom, but does not succeed.
– There’s only one way for me to love you,” said the infanta.
Abdallah, seeing a light behind these words, opened his eyes immensely, saying
– Tell me what it is, and I swear to you to overcome all obstacles, however great they may be, that oppose this end. The life of my soldiers, the gold of my people, everything is mine, and I sacrifice everything to conquer a single look from those eyes, a single smile from those lips.
– Well,” replied the princess, “let our religion be one. Become a Christian.
Abdallah took several steps back when he heard such an unexpected proposition, but recovering immediately he exclaimed in a deep voice:
– What you ask is an impossible, and if I were able to harbor such a thought, I would sink this steel into my chest to punish myself for my cowardice.
After several vain attempts to subdue the strong opposition of the young woman, Abdallah became impatient, and visibly angry, took a further step forward, trying to hold on tightly to the princess, who not in vain, resisted and shouted:
– God of my parents, protect me!
At that moment the candle that dimly illuminated the room was extinguished and a frightening noise was heard in the palace, at the same time as all the walls trembled as if shaken by an invisible hand.
The swift palace guard went to the King’s private rooms, which they could hear shouting terrible cries. When they arrived, the room was illuminated by a glow that caused them to retreat and cover their eyes.
In one corner, the kneeling infanta seemed to be praying following with her eyes the light coming from the ceiling. On the other side of the room, Abdallah, his eyes about to come out of the orbits, lying on the floor, pointed with his finger to a point in space and now only murmured in deep terror:
– There, there… They’ve gone out there… I can still feel the sound of their wings!
The next day, the Christian retinue left for their lands. To the astonishment of the whole town, Doña Teresa marched with them.
In a handwritten letter by Abdallah himself to the King of León, he stated that he understood, albeit belatedly, that his union with a Christian princess was impossible, and therefore he returned her to her brother, reiterating his friendship and offering him his alliance.
The King accompanied the Christians to Smell. He waited until the procession was lost in the horizon, on the way to the north. After this, he ran to hide in his fortress in Toledo.
The chronicles say that a week later he had died, due to an unknown disease, that the wisest Arab and Jewish doctors did not know how to define.
When Doña Teresa arrived in Oviedo, she professed in a convent, and died there as abbess years later, according to the inscription of her tomb, which is still preserved:
” This sepulchre covers the sacred body of Teresa, daughter of King Bermuda and Queen Elvira, born of clear lineage, and most illustrious for her holy life, which she had according to her Rule. Imitate her, if you wish to be good. She died to the seven days of the calends of May in the quarta fair at the midnight hour. He was M.LXXVII in the sixth age of the world. Grant, O Christ, forgiveness. Amen.