From the beginning of their father's reign, there is some evidence of closeness between the two eldest sons. In late summer 1455, both chased the Sultan's rival for the throne into the region of Las Alpujarras, where they captured him along with his betrothed bride and cousin to all of the men, Sultana Aisha, whom Abu'l-Hasan Ali would later marry. As for Muhammad al-Zaghal, he also married a kinswoman whose name has come down through Spanish history transcribed as Esquivilia - certainly a non-Moorish name. Readers of Sultana: The Pomegranate Tree will recall her as Ashiqa, who had her own impressive lineage with links to her husband's clan.
She was the daughter of Abu Salim Ibrahim al-Nayyar, the governor of Almeria and Maryam bint Bannigash, one of the daughters of Granada's famed minister Ridwan ibn Bannigash who was born and ended his life as a Christian named Pedro Venegas. He once served as a slave before he converted to Islam and married the daughter of his former master. Abu Salim Ibrahim al-Nayyar's mother Fatima claimed descent from the murdered Sultan Ismail II, a brother of Muhammad V, and a concubine who might have been called Cirila. Like many things about the Nasrids, the true connection of his mother is uncertain, but Abu Salim Ibrahim al-Nayyar's father was definitely Sultan Yusuf IV, another usurper whose claim to the throne derived from a more precise maternal connection to an unnamed daughter of Sultan Muhammad VI, who seized the throne of his brother-in-law Ismail II in 1361.
It's believed Muhammad al-Zaghal earned his appellation for bravery and valor because of events that took place after summer 1482 when the overthrow of his brother occurred because of a conspiracy between Sultana Aisha and her Abencerrage supporters. But I'll admit some of the actions the prince undertook were infamous and destabilized a fragile territory, which left it vulnerable to invasions by the armies of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Muhammad al-Zaghal hosted Abu'l-Hasan Ali in his short exile at Malaga and the Sultan's son Muhammad XI claimed the throne, from where the siblings fought off Christian invaders in the Ajarquía region of Malaga, taking thousands of heads as trophies and even more captives. But the pair's marauding ways also undermined the kingdom as they attacked the homes of Moorish people who supported the rebellion in Granada. After his brother reclaimed the throne, Muhammad al-Zaghal went to his wife's birthplace at Almeria and tried to take the city from his younger nephew, Abu'l-Hasan Ali and Aisha's second son, Yusuf.
As the united Catholic sovereigns forced the surrender of several Moorish cities, uncle and nephew for control of Granada. In spring 1487 when the Christians threatened to take Malaga, the Sultan rallied to its defense, but the area fell after a bitter siege of several months. Muhammad al-Zaghal accepted the loss of Granada, too, and maintained control of key areas at Guadix and Almeria until December of 1489, when his wife's brother Yahya surrendered the city of Baza and took a Christian name, Pedro de Granada. By the following year, Muhammad al-Zaghal departed the Iberian Peninsula for the kingdom of Tlemcen, based at Oran, in modern-day northern Algeria. The record indicates at least one daughter and her husband remained in Spain whereas her father presumably died in Tlemcen around 1494.
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