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1451 - 1504


CHAPTER I. Birth of Isabella — Her early years — The Court and Government of King Henry IV. of Castile — Pacheco, Marquis of Villena — Second marriage of the King.

Isabella was born at Madrigal, a small town in the province of Avila, on April 27, 1451. She was the daughter of John II, King of Castile, of the house of Trastamara. He had married, firstly, the Princess Mary of Arragon, by whom he had a son who became King of Castile by the name of Henry IV, and was destined to play so trying and shameful a part in the history of Isabella. After the death of Mary, John had married, secondly, the Princess Isabella of Portugal, by whom he had Prince Alphonso, and eventually her of whom we write the history — Isabella, called ‘The Catholic'

At the time of King John's death, July 20, 1454, Isabella was not yet four years old. In his last moments John earnestly confided his little daughter to King Henry IV., her brother, and Isabella and her mother the Queen Dowager were conveyed to the Castle of Arevalo, near Segovia, where she passed all her childhood.

Isabella, contrarily to what has been stated by some historians, found at this castle a position worthy of her rank. By his will the King her father had left to her as a portion the town of Cuellar together with its important revenues, to which he added a considerable sum of money, which was punctually paid to her. The Queen Dowager her mother had also a considerable share in the will of her consort, to whom had been assigned the towns of Soria, Madrigal, and Arevalo, with their rich dependencies, for her dowry. The King left her a private gift in addition for the maintenance of her establishment. The mother of Isabella, heart-stricken as she then was by the death of her consort, whom she tenderly loved, was as yet far from showing symptoms of the cruel disease which some years before her death (which did not occur till the year 1496) deprived her of her reason ; a disease which, sparing one generation, was destined so cruelly to affect Queen Isabella's daughter, of whom we shall have so much to speak by-and-by. The Queen Dowager, at this time very sad, but clear-headed and pure of heart, gave herself up wholly to the solid and pious education of the young child confided to her care. Isabella passed her childhood at Arevalo, and it was there that under the maternal eye the mind and heart were shaped of her whom God reserved for so high a destiny.

The relations of the Queen Dowager with Henry IV., her stepson, the new King of Castile, were from the outset far from good. Henry was a luxurious prince, given up to pleasures, and of a liberality without limit. This contrast with the strict parsimony of his father had at first acquired for him the surname of the Generous ; another less flattering, hat of the Impotent, was substituted; we shall see the reason why. With these tendencies, such disinclination for all serious business, Henry could not otherwise than transfer the weight of it upon another. Two personages took upon themselves this charge : Pacheco, Marquis of Villena; and Carrillo, Archbishop of Toledo. It was between these two illustrious personages that the royal sceptre fell literally in partition from the commencement of the reign.

The manners of the new Court of King Henry would naturally take their colour from the tastes and vices of one who, abandoning to his favourites the conduct of affairs, occupied himself alone in the pursuit of his pleasures; in jousts, the chase, tournaments, and in all those incessant bodily exercises so necessary for those who are wanting in the qualities of the mind. A great event soon arose to furnish this dissolute Court with a new source of gaiety, an event which carried with it the germ of those grave disorders which were to darken hereafter the reign of Isabella.

Henry had married, September 25, 1440, a Princess of Arragon, the unfortunate Blanche of Viana; he had lived more than twelve years with his young and interesting consort without a child having resulted from the union. People were at first surprised at this state of things; some ridiculous rumours had got about. Henry had at last resolved on soliciting from the Pope the nullity of this marriage, in alleging the sterility of his wife, the result, he said, of some malign influence. The unhappy Blanche had thereupon accepted in silence the part thus forced upon her, and modestly retired to her own people in Navarre, where her days were cut short so tragically in 1462 through poison administered by order of the King of Arragon, her pitiless competitor to the crown of Navarre. The marriage thus dissolved, Henry conceived the idea of contracting a second. Since he had become King he had entertained the ambition of having an heir to the crown of Castile, and, looking at the sort of determination with which he pursued his design, one would think that he was possessed of the means of realising it. Pacheco, his favourite, had shown himself in this matter the most ardent promoter of the project, and it was he who, the confidant of his master, sent to the Court of Portugal to demand the hand of the young Princess on whom the King had fixed his choice. The Princess Jane was the sister of Alphonso V, the reigning King of Portugal. She could not but feel more than flattered in thus becoming Queen of Castile, and, without taking account of the motives which had caused the rupture of the King’s first marriage—motives, besides, of which she was kept in ignorance—she accepted. Leaving Lisbon immediately, accompanied by a brilliant throng of young ladies, Jane arrived at Cordova in the midst of f6tes and warlike pomp which belonged to chivalrous times, especially in Spain. Henry awaited her there, and at the aspect of this young person, in all the freshness of youth and radiant with charm and grace, he was struck with admiration. The marriage took place March 21, 1466, and was celebrated in the old mosque of the Abderrahmans with a luxury and pomp proper to those times. The nuptial benediction was pronounced over the royal couple by the Archbishop of Tours, French Ambassador at the Court of Castile, on whom it was desired to confer this special honour. All Castile participated in the joy of the occasion, the towns had their rejoicings and acts of grace; everywhere, indeed, the union was celebrated as a national event.

As for the Princess, the new Queen, her gentle manners, her spirit, her gaiety and quickness of happy repartee, made from the beginning a very lively impression on the King, who showed himself the most devoted of men. We shall not follow him in the first and sterile ardours of his passion for his young wife ; that unhappy and humiliating page of his life will soon be laid bare, and after what a manner !


The Prince of Viana is affianced to Isabella — His strange death — War between Castile and Arragon — Intervention of France — Louis XI. and Henry IV. on the Bidassoa — Decision of Louis XI.

The Princess Isabella and her mother the Queen Dowager had not been invited to the marriage of the King ; Henry and Pacheco considering that so riotous a court, and one so full of pomp, display, and gallantry, could afford no pleasure to a widow or to a young child, and they were right. Isabella and her mother remained therefore in close retirement at the castle of Arevalo, where both devoted themselves, even the little Princess, to the succour of the poor and sick ; they were the providence of the country around.

Isabella had thus attained the age of nine years when the first offer for her hand was made by a prince renowned for his courage and by his tragical death — the Prince of Viana. Prince Charles of Viana was the son of the King of Navarre, afterwards King of Arragon, by the name of John II. After considerable disputes with his father, he had acquired both at Naples and in Sicily such popularity that the sovereignty of that island, it was said, had been offered to him. Charles, far from allowing himself to be carried away by a rash ambition, had, on the contrary, hastened to reply to this flattering appeal by a modest and formal refusal. Desirous of reconciling himself with his unfeeling father, he had preferred coming in person to solicit a reconciliation, and suddenly leaving Sicily landed at Igualada, where he found the King and Queen of Arragon, with whom he effected a complete reconciliation, in appearance at least. On the news of the arrival of the Prince of Viana, the King of Castile, who had never forgotten his profound hatred for the King of Arragon, hastened to propose to the Prince the hand of his sister the little Princess Isabella, then only nine years of age, as we have already said. It was the first proposal amongst all those which, as we shall see, were subsequently addressed to her. The hand of a Princess of Castile, daughter of a king, was for Charles of Viana an illustrious alliance, besides of very material support. He had therefore accepted the offer ; but the negotiations, which it was supposed had been kept secret, soon got abroad, and the Queen of Arragon had learnt all ; and as the marriage would directly clash with the most secret and liveliest aspirations of both the King and Queen of Arragon, whose ambition it was to marry their young son Ferdinand (the same, in fact, who did eventually marry her) to Isabella of Castile, the fittest means of putting an end to the projects of Charles for the hand of Isabella were soon found.

Arrested at Lerida in the King’s apartment itself, the unfortunate Prince was thrown into prison. Soon after released, he was appointed Lieutenant-General of Catalonia, where he was beloved by all his people : when of a sudden he was, while in good health, seized with an illness, of which no one knew the nature, that carried him off. If the King of Arragon was not the murderer of his own son, it was thought he was at least not incapable of it, and this odious charge remained attached to his memory as also to that of the Queen.

The Prince of Viana, endowed with all the qualities which distinguish great men, would certainly have approved himself a husband worthy of Isabella, in spite of the difference of age of thirty years between them, but Providence willed otherwise ; it was a direct heir of the King of Arragon who was destined to unite the two crowns.

Whilst the above events were taking place, many other troubles had already marked the early part of the reign of Henry IV. Castile and Arragon were at war with one another. Catalonia had been triumphantly invaded by Henry, by whom important conquests had been effected, and it was in the general confusion, which even threatened the throne of Arragon itself, that an intervention became necessary. Louis XI, King of France, offered his, which was accepted. It was on the banks of the Bidassoa, which separates the two States, and on the French side, that the conferences were to take place.

Henry of Castile on his part prepared, not without a certain misgiving, for this journey, from which he hoped much. He had besides a great desire to know the King of France. The wealthiest and most illustrious nobles had been selected to accompany the King of Castile. The Archbishop of Toledo, the Bishops of Burgos, Leon, Segovia and Calatrava, the Grand Prior of St. John, Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, and the new favourite of the Queen, Bertrand de la Cueva, of whom we shall soon have so much to say, composed the royal train. The Queen of Arragon had on her part also arrived, but almost alone and without state.

The King of France brought in his train the two Gastons, Counts of Foix, the Due de Bourbon, the Archbishop of Tours, the Admiral of France, and many other lords.

On the appointed day, the two sovereigns set themselves in motion. Henry was escorted by his Moorish guard, numbering 300 horse ; others, knights in his train, emulated one another in the splendour of their attire. Bertrand de la Cueva made himself particularly remarked by the jewels that decked his arms and apparel. Altogether, the gaily harnessed horses, the great number of pages and esquires with banners fluttering to the breeze offered a splendid spectacle.

The river was crossed on boats, amongst which, following that of the King, was again noticed the boat of Bertrand de la Cueva, all resplendent with its sails of cloth of gold. On the opposite bank and in readiness to receive the King stood Louis XI. His dress as contrasted with the Castilian magnificence is worthy of being recorded. It is Commines who describes it. Louis wore a coat of coarse woollen stuff, cut short (a style not suitable to persons of his rank), with a doublet of fustian ; his hat, much worn about the brim, was surmounted with a little leaden image of the Virgin. His train had adopted a costume pretty similar. The representatives of the two nations were equally shocked by the singular contrast this affectation presented. The French scoffed at the ostentation of the Spaniards, and these in return ridiculed the sordid avarice of their neighbours. Thus under this apparently frivolous pretext were sown the seeds of that aversion which was to last throughout the reign of Isabella, and beyond.

After these preliminaries, which wore the aspect of so little good will, the conference was opened; it was of short duration, and Louis there pronounced publicly his decision, which he had determined beforehand, and was as follows : The Castilian troops were to evacuate Catalonia, and the rebels left to the mercy of their Sovereign. The King of Castile would have to give up all the places taken by conquest. The town of Estella alone, in Navarre, was to be retained by him in compensation for the expenses of the war ; finally the Queen of Arragon and her daughter were to be remitted into the hands of the Arch- bishop of Toledo as hostages in guarantee of the treaty.

Such was the decision of the arbiter chosen by the two parties. Each of them broke out in bitter complaints, but there was no getting over a judgment to which each had been pledged in advance. Thus ended the conference, and the two monarchs returned to their several dominions. The decision of Louis had dissatisfied everyone, whence we may conclude that it was equitable. Once rendered, it was for him to reflect who should not submit to it.

The Catalonians, irritated at seeing themselves thus sacrificed to the caprice of a foreign king, proceeded to offer their principality to one of the descendants of the old house of Barcelona, Don Pedro, Constable of Portugal.

Thus betrayed, the Castilians complained loudly that the King's favourites, Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, and the Archbishop of Toledo, had compromised the honour of their country; they were accused of having been paid by Louis to yield up the territory conquered in Arragon by the national armies  in fine, they succeeded so well that soon King Henry himself, yielding to the popular clamour, relieved the two ministers of their charges and dismissed them.

This act was to become the cause, direct and indirect, of all the evils, all the dissensions, all the wars that were to beset the reign of Henry IV and the commencement of that of Isabella during so many years. We shall proceed with this sad narrative, which is connected so closely with the history itself of the future Queen of Castile and Spain.


Rising of the confederates — The Queen and Bertrand de la Cueva — Birth of the Princess Jane — Doubts as to the paternity of the King — Drama of Avila — Deposition of the King.

When Pacheco and the Archbishop of Toledo beheld themselves thus ignominiously driven from the councils of the Crown, their anger was extreme. Both possessed a haughtiness of character that nothing could subdue. Giving themselves up, then, to all the fury of their resentment, they organised from the morrow of their removal one of those formidable leagues which in those times so frequently made kings tremble on their throne — they confederated. This league was confirmed by all the religious solemnities observed on such occasions, solemnities in which they took oath to abandon the King's service, and to accept nothing of the Crown until reparation should have been obtained. However, since there must be some reason for the most iniquitous deeds, they reassembled at Burgos in order to find one, and they found it. It would have been more than easy for them to impute to so frivolous and prodigal a King legitimate grievances against his deplorable administration; they preferred accusing him of something more direct, affecting him personally; and then, involving in the same stigma both the Queen and himself, they called in question the legitimacy of the Princess Jane, their daughter, to whom the Queen had just given birth, and protested against her recognition as heiress to the throne of Castile. The dart was poisoned ; it reached : the honour of the King was wounded ; it was the greatest injury that a monarch had had hitherto to bear.

In order to well understand all the bearing of this accusation, and how it came to be connected with Queen Isabella herself, we must go back to the marriage of Henry and follow him for a moment down to the present day.

The Queen, in whom the mind and the graces shone conspicuously, had passed the early days of her union with Henry IV. in a gentle intimacy; however, it soon became apparent that the severe etiquette of the Castilian Court had disappeared, and that diversions, gaieties, gallant tournaments, and passages of arms had succeeded uninterruptedly. Seven years had thus elapsed without children to the Queen, when suddenly, and to the surprise of all, her pregnancy was announced. Clear-sighted people, those, indeed, who had some reason for doubting the ability of the King, Pacheco amongst others, could not help remarking that this condition of the Queen coincided singularly with the period at which a new personage had made his appearance at the Court. About the month of April of the preceding year the King had, in fact, presented to his wife a young nobleman whom he had, he said, taken in great affection. This page (for he was at first only a page of the royal equipages) was tall and of a remarkably fine figure, his complexion dark, his eye bright, a mustachio black and turned up at the points, as it was then the fashion to wear it; there prevailed in all his bearing and manners something of gallantry and distinction which impressed one agreeably at first sight. Bertrand de la Cueva was the name of this personage.

From an early day his humble service as a page had been exchanged for the office of chamberlain to the King; it was an unprecedented favour, and it was, no doubt, in virtue of this title that henceforth he remained always about the Queen, and even travelled in her own coach and by her side. This sudden favour, this sudden affection of the King, this intimacy with the Queen, her beauty, her known inclination to gallantry, the levity of her manners — all these circumstances appeared suspicious to those who had an interest in penetrating this strange mystery; and when they are considered in connection with the marked absence from the Court of Prince Alphonso, the King's brother, and Princess Isabella, his sister, always remaining consigned to her castle of Arevalo, one may conjecture without too great improbability that in order to exclude them from the throne, and in default of the physical powers of the King, supposed wanting, issue had been required through another.

It was in these circumstances that the Queen, while being carried on a litter from Aranda de Duero to Madrid, was, in fact, delivered of a daughter, at the commencement of the year 1462, seven years after her marriage. This princess was named Jane, but in history is known by the name of La Bertraneja, so named after her reputed father, Bertran de la Cueva. It is she, we repeat, who is to become the cause and support of all the wars which were to break out, and so seriously embarrass the Government of Isabella during the first years of her reign, when the War of Succession came to dispute, in the cause of Jane, her title to the throne.

Immediately after Jane's birth. King Henry, proud of his offspring, hastened to exact that the oath of fidelity to his daughter as heiress to the crown should be taken by the Cortes, which was done accordingly, but not unanimously. From the first many had protested against this illegitimacy, and it was precisely this protest that the confederates, Pacheco as their leader, now came to renew in requiring Henry to give up to them his brother Alphonso in order to his being recognised as the only legitimate heir. To this embarrassing summons Henry seemed to show a persistence in the belief of his paternity, and by an aberration of his diseased mind he even offered to prove it. Pacheco, the enemy of Bertrand de la Cueva, fomented by his intrigues this ridiculous resolution; when Henry gravely nominated a commission whose duty it was to render a summary report upon the state of his physical powers. Everything, even to the selection of the members of this commission, attested to the insanity of the King: two bishops, they of Carthagena and of Astorga, were charged with it.

They began by referring back to the King’s first marriage with the Princess of Navarre, and it was easily demonstrated that at that time no serious relation could have existed between him and the Queen for the reason that with her he was impotent. This impotence was explained at length by the act itself of repudiation of the unhappy Blanche; impotence, it was there said, resulting from some malign influence. With this precedent established they arrived at the second marriage.

Interrogated as to her relations with her husband, the Queen, in her hatred of Isabella and her brother Alphonso, by the direct interest she had in excluding them from the throne in favour of Jane her own daughter, then again, by a studied show of modesty (a virtue, however, in which she was totally deficient) — the Queen declared only that which she might declare, and whilst affirming nothing as to Henry's habitual condition she appeared dis- posed to leave it to be understood by her judges (the two bishops) that chance might have its vagaries; she affirmed at last that Jane was in reality the King’s daughter. Further testimony deposed by the known mistresses of the King furnished, however, proof that his debaucheries, and the shameless- ness of an habitual libertinism, had considerably enfeebled him. It happened also that a certain Catherine Sandoval and a Dona Guismar related that the commerce they had kept up with him was limited solely to certain privacies, and it was impossible he could ever have thought of leaving offspring. In fact, there was known no natural child of his.

With this contradictory evidence, this generative faculty so strangely lost and re-found, the judges could hardly feel enlightened; they therefore counselled the King, in order to put an end to this ridiculous discussion, to come to an accommodation with the confederates. Henry, naturally averse to any violent measure, shared this opinion, and consented to an interview with them. These, now in imposing number, presented to Henry a sort of ultimatum in which two definitive conditions were laid down : recognition of Alphonso as sole heir to the throne ; deprivation of Bertran de la Cueva as Grand-master of the Order of St. James, which had lately been conferred upon him.

On the reading of this unheard-of document the Bishop of Cuenca, the former tutor of Henry, who now accompanied him, seized with a noble indignation, exclaimed,  “If you sign such an act you betray your own honour and will become the most degraded monarch in Spain”.  touched by this severe remonstrance, Henry nevertheless persisted in his first ideas of reconciliation, and overcome by the arguments of Pacheco he agreed to all.

 La Cueva was immediately deprived of his Grand-mastership, but was at once compensated by the Duchy of Albuquerqu6 ; and the Infante Don Alphonso, remitted into the hands of the confederates, was acknowledged legal heir to the crown of Castile ; on the condition, so easy to evade, that later on he should marry this same Jane at present in her cradle.

Thus settled, the dispute ought to have disappeared entirely, but the confederates had not yet spoken their last word they wanted more. They soon resumed their arms. Henry, amazed, and repenting then of not having followed the counsel of the Bishop of Cuenca, flew to arms also on his side. He reckoned on the aid of the Grand-master of Calatrava, of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia, and of the Count of Medellin; but these lords, as also the Regents of Seville and Cordova, declared for the cause of the confederates and set themselves up against him.

Henry in his perplexity hurried to Madrid; he there convoked the States, but they remained dumb. Feeling spring up in him, then, some gleam of that decision he should have displayed in the beginning, he collected together those who remained faithful to him and proceeded to sit down before Arevalo, hoping to get hold of the Princess Isabella, whom for more than one reason he mistrusted already; when the news of the incredible and energetic event of Avila reached him. It was the last and most cruel injury which was so ignominiously to abase the royal power.

In an open plain not far from the little town of Avila, near Madrid, the confederates, assembled in arms, decided that Henry had ceased to reign, and that he was deposed. Accordingly, on June 6, 1466, a scaffold sufficiently high to be visible at a distance was erected. On this scaffold the effigy of Henry IV, King of Castile, attired in a black costume and bedecked with all the insignia of royalty, was seated. The crown, the sceptre, the sword of justice, nothing had been omitted. As soon as all the confederates, mounted, and wearing their cuirasses, with sword in hand, had taken their station in front of the throne, a herald advanced and read in a loud voice before an attentive crowd a manifesto in which the King's conduct was set forth in the darkest terms. Thereupon followed the sentence of his deposition : loud and unanimous applause responded to it.

Then Carrillo, the Archbishop of Toledo, advancing gravely, tore the crown from the royal head, the Viscount Placenzia took the sword, the Count of Benavente the sceptre, the Grand-master of Alcantara and the Marquis of Paredes the other insignia of royalty ; then, when the effigy had been thus despoiled, Don Diego de Zuñiga gave it a kick and rolled it in the dust amid the angry cries of the multitude.

All this passed in presence of the young Prince Alphonso, who had been led to the foot of the scaffold ; he was then but eleven years old. He was now placed on the vacant throne, and they put on his head the crown which just before had been so easily broken ; next, the grandees proceeded to kiss his hand in token of fealty and honour, and the trumpets sounded in honour of the new King of Castile.

Civil war now broke out on all sides at once, and it had already lasted a considerable time before Henry resolved by an amicable arrangement to put an end to this deplorable conflict. This arrangement, which directly concerns the history of Isabella herself, brings into view that young Princess, living always in retirement with her mother at the castle of Arevalo, and who had now attained the age of sixteen years.

It was proposed to Henry to detach Pacheco, who was the soul and chief of the party of the confederates, by marrying his brother, Don Pedro Giron, Grand-master of the Order of Calatrava, to his sister, the Princess Isabella. Without Pacheco the league ceased to be. Henry therefore, instead of regarding such a proposal as an offence towards the royal family, appeared happy to obtain repose at the price of this humiliation. He accepted it then, and solicited immediately of the Pope a dispensation in order that the Grand-master might be released from his vow of celibacy and free to espouse the Princess Isabella.


Isabella at Arevalo — Her education — Her occupations — Her character — The Grand-master of Calatrava is proposed to her for a husband — Her refusal — Beatrice de Bovadilla — Offer of the throne to Isabella — Her refusal — Pretenders for the hand of Isabella — England — France — Arragon — Prince Ferdinand of Arragon is accepted — Special conditions of the marriage.

Isabella, whom we as yet scarcely know, had, as will be remembered, since the death of her father. King John II, retired with the Queen Dowager to the castle of Arevalo. It was there that, under the maternal eye, she had passed her infancy and completed her education; she had just attained her sixteenth year. Nature seemed to have endowed her with all its gifts. Early accustomed even from her childhood to an earnest and busy life, she had thus acquired, in silence, study, and the exercise of a simple piety, all the virtues which already distinguished her.

When but a child in her solitude of Arevalo she made companions all the young girls with whom she went to prayer, and very frequently also brought aid to the poor of the country around. Later on her mind became formed, her character developed, and it was remarked there was a will in all that she undertook, which when on the throne was one of the most distinctive features of her energetic nature.

Isabella had acquired of herself numerous talents always of value to a woman. At this period the art of printing had only lately been discovered; manuscripts were the only books in use; they were illuminated in delicate and harmonious colours; there exist prayer-books of Princess Isabella on the margins of which she has depicted scriptural subjects; she excelled in this kind of painting. Her hands were employed also in the embroidery of gold and silver on precious stuffs, which have come down to our time, and were ordinarily used at religious ceremonies. Her mind was at the same time not neglected; she had done alone all that she had been able to do for its development. Thus she had applied herself in earnest to Latin, which she both read and spoke as if it were her maternal tongue. She also wrote and spoke Castilian with admirable purity.

Isabella was equally skilful in bodily exercises, of which she was one day to make so remarkable a use. She rode well on horse-back, enjoyed passages of arms, jousts — in a word, all that represented to her the feats of war, in which she was to take so large a part against the enemies of her faith, the Moors of Granada.

Such was Isabella; already a pious, well-informed, intellectual person, adorned with all the graces of youth; when there came to her the proposal of her marriage with the Grand-master of Calatrava. Isabella, notwithstanding the solitude to which she was condemned, was not, however, in ignorance of the scandals of the Court of the King, her brother; she knew also the sort of person that was this Grand-master of Calatrava whom they dared to offer her as a husband.

Against this dishonouring proposal she summoned up accordingly all her energy. Confining herself to her room, she remained for a day and a night without food, imploring God to spare her by her death from this dishonour. We have on this subject her confidential relations with her faithful friend, Beatrice de Bobadilla, to whom she said:

“See how great is my misfortune! I am the daughter and granddaughter of kings, royal blood flows in my veins; I have been brought up in that state, and yet, I blush to think and say it, I see myself destined to marry a mere private gentleman; can I tolerate a marriage so unworthy and so unsuitable? Grief and anger forbid that I should say anymore!” God will not permit this alliance,'

Beatrice replied: “and I swear by all that is most sacred, that before that takes place I will myself go and plunge this dagger into the heart of the Grand-master!”

God did not permit, fortunately, that the loyalty of Beatrice should be put to so severe a trial. So soon as the Grand-master had obtained his dispensation of the Pope, he resigned the dignities of his Order and set out for Madrid, followed by a brilliant train of friends. But he had scarcely left Almansa and arrived at Villarubia, when he was seized with a sudden fit, of which he died, says Palencia, with imprecations in his mouth that his life had not been prolonged enough for his enjoyment of his charming victim. Thus was removed by the inter position of God, who reserved for her other destinies, this dishonouring offer for the hand of Isabella.

The death of the Grand-master having thus put an end to the arrangement which was to pacify both parties, the confederates on the one part, and the King on the other, again took up arms. The battle of Olmedo was fought. It was indecisive, and troubles continued, when the death of the young Alphonso came of a sudden to upset the plan of the confederates. He died at the age of barely fifteen years, without it ever having been known exactly of what. In this conjuncture, the confederates, far from dissolving themselves, determined on electing another chief. They turned their looks towards Isabella; her character, lofty and worthy of respect, might outweigh the supposed weak- ness of her sex in so perilous an enterprise, and justify their choice in the eyes of the people: they offered to her the crown.

Isabella was at Arevalo; they went there to fetch her and they brought her to Avila. Then the Archbishop of Toledo, with the authority that belonged to him by right both of his sacred office and his eminent position in the kingdom, explained to her the dangers to which the country was exposed by the disorders of a vicious court, the weakness and incapacity of the King, the debauchery of the Queen his consort, the notorious adulterous acts of this princess, the natural children she had borne; in fine, by the infamy that would attach to Castile to see the crown devolve upon these dishonoured and illegitimate heads, and reminding her of her birth, he added that God Himself had visibly destined her to save the honour of Castile in placing in her hand its glorious crown.

Isabella, so young still though so profoundly upright and circumspect, listened with attention to this address of the Archbishop, and replied to him in the words we here quote textually in order to show how great was her sagacity, though scarcely yet sixteen years of age : “I am very sensible to the marks of affection you have given me. I would wish someday to recompense them, but although your intentions be good, nevertheless the sudden and premature death of my brother, the Infante don Alphonso, is a sufficiently evident proof that Heaven approves not of the resolutions you have adopted. What else do they seek, those who run after novelties, who delight only in the revolutions of States, but to excite the passions, to sow discord, to kindle civil war and set everything in a flame ? In order to prevent and to avert so many evils, would it not be much more advantageous to tolerate in the State some abuses which should have less serious consequences ?

“The throne is too narrow to afford room for two kings, and the royal authority cannot admit of division. A precocious fruit which ripens before its time does not keep long. Ambition and the desire of reigning make but little impression on my heart. I wish that the crown of Castile may not too soon descend on my head, that the life of the King my brother be prolonged, and that his reign may not end but with his life. Whatever the arguments you may urge, nothing will be capable of inducing me to assume the title of Queen before death should have closed the eyes of the King my brother. Restore to him the crown, and you will put a stop to the evils that have so long oppressed Castile. I shall consider your submission as the most signal service you could render me. It will be the most agreeable fruit I could taste, and the most sensible mark of your affection.”

After these words, so wise and so dignified, the confederates perceived that nothing was to be hoped for on this side. The moderation and delicacy of Isabella had closed all outlet for them; there remained to them no other alternative than to negotiate an accommodation with Henry, whose character lent every facility to any sort of reconciliation. Henry, moreover, in spite of the overthrow at Avila, had not ceased in the eyes of a very large part of the nation to be the sole legitimate king ; all that had been done against his authority was only the work of a faction, no act of the Cortes had confirmed his deposition. The confederates, therefore, after the formal refusal of the youthful Isabella, concluded with the King de jure, Henry IV, the agreement as follows :

The Infanta Isabella is recognised and declared Princess of Castile, and heiress presumptive to the kingdom. She is to have for her appanage, and for the maintenance of her establishment, the towns of Ubeda, Avila, Medina-del-Campo, Olmedo, and Escalona, with their dependencies. She is not to marry without the consent of her brother.

As for the Queen, Henry’s consort, she was repudiated by reason of her irregularities, and sent back to Portugal with her daughter Jane; the same who, the presumptive issue of her adulterous connection with Bertrand de la Cueva, was subsequently to play so ill a part in the history of Isabella. A general amnesty was granted to all who had taken up arms against the King.

As the result of this arrangement concluded between the two parties, a solemn interview took place at Toros-de-Guisando in Old Castile between the King and his sister Isabella, the future Queen of Castile, when all the nobility took the oath of allegiance to the Princess, and soon after the Cortes assembled at Ocaña acknowledged Isabella as the sole heiress to the throne.

The new foundations on which the rights of Isabella to the throne of Castile were now solemnly laid soon affected her personal position, and attracted to her the attention of a number of princes who sought the honour of her hand. The crown of Castile was already at this epoch one of the most considerable of the time. Amongst these powers there were in particular three which appeared to have in the competition the best founded chances of success : England and France and Arragon.

England offered Richard Duke of Gloucester, brother of Edward IV, of the house of York, and afterwards King of England by the name of Richard III. This Prince promised at the same time if he were accepted by Isabella, to quit England for Castile, where his appeased ambition would have spared him the crimes which have soiled his memory. This Prince was dismissed, his character not inspiring sufficient confidence ; besides, politically speaking, the alliances of Spain did not lie in this quarter.

France offered the Duc de Guienne, brother of Louis XI, at this time heir presumptive to the French crown (Charles VIII not being born till 1470). In spite of the ancient alliances which existed between the royal families of France and Castile, particularly since the accession of the Trastamaras, the inconveniences of this union were, looking to the future, too obvious to escape attention. Firstly, besides that the two countries were too far apart the one from the other to be governed by one and the same sovereign, the character and institutions of the two peoples were, as they are at the present day, too different to allow of the hope of uniting them under one sceptre. Later on the same attempt fell through. Further, if the Duc de Guienne failed to inherit of his brother (as was the case), it would be a match beneath Castile. If, on the other hand, he became King of France, it was to be feared that Castile as the smaller kingdom would be sacrificed to the larger and treated as a colony, which could not be. This second candidate was therefore dismissed like the first.

A third offer was presented, one on behalf of a Prince of Arragon. Here was renewed the idea that had already more than once tempted the sovereigns of Castile and Arragon, of the reunion of the two crowns; attempts which until now had been fruitless either through the mutual jealousies of the sovereigns or by other motives. The idea, however, remained, and the superior advantage of an alliance which should make of the two peoples of Castile and of Arragon one sole and the same nation — the Spanish nation — was manifest.

Both these peoples in fact, descended from a common race, spoke the same language, and lived under the influence of political and religious institutions which had given to them a certain analogy of character and custom. Moreover, they by their geographical position seemed destined to form but one. United, they might elevate themselves to the first rank of the monarchies of Europe; whilst separated, they remained confined to a rank relatively inferior. All the preferences, therefore, went in favour of Arragon.

Arragon offered to Isabella Prince Ferdinand, son by a second marriage of King John II of Arragon with the Princess Henriquez, of royal blood. Prince Ferdinand was born on March 10, 1452; he was now seventeen years of age, one year less than hers whose hand he aspired to.

Ambassadors were therefore sent to Isabella to ask her acceptance; they returned with a favourable reply — Prince Ferdinand was accepted. This reply was received with as much joy by the King of Arragon as by his son. This monarch, one of the most distinguished princes of the age, felt more than anyone else the importance of uniting the two monarchies under one rule. In order to give his son a higher position in the eyes of Isabella, he conferred upon him the title of King of Sicily; and he had already so far associated the Prince with himself in the government of the kingdom of Arragon that, even during his lifetime, the young Prince might seem in the eyes of all the real head of the monarchy.

But there was one drawback to this somewhat precipitate marriage. Isabella had engaged herself not to choose a husband without the consent of the King her brother. Henry, having since this engagement all of a sudden forgotten his promise, had recommenced, in concert with Pacheco, his intrigues in favour of Jane; more than this, he tried to encourage the old King of Portugal to apply for the hand of Isabella; still more, he had endeavoured to obtain by force the consent of Isabella to the marriage by the threat of confinement in the fortress of Madrid.

But all was useless, nothing could overcome the resolution of Isabella. The people themselves openly encouraged her in her preference. Children trooped in the streets carrying banners of the arms of Arragon and singing prophetic verses to the glory of this union. Isabella, fortified by these evidences, strong under the persecution of her brother, no less than by his want of faith, resolved, then, to dispense with the royal command, and agreed to sign preliminarily the articles that were to define the positions respectively of the married couple. These articles, very remarkable in respect that they reserved to Isabella in the government of Castile the supreme and personal direction of all acts independently of her consort, are as follows : “So long as King Henry lives he shall retain the crown with all its rights. After the death of this Prince the Infanta Isabella shall have rule in Castile ; all affairs shall be regulated in her own name without the concurrence of Don Ferdinand her consort, who shall not confer any favour of his own authority, nor dispose of the smallest office in favour of any foreigner, nor violate in any manner the rights, franchises, liberties or privileges of the kingdom; he shall not interfere in the government of the kingdom but with the assent of the Queen”. Ferdinand was at the same time to engage himself to carry on the war with the infidels. Finally, the treaty concluded with the stipulation that a much more considerable provision than was at that period usual was reserved to Isabella.

One perceives clearly by the terms of this contract, with how much jealous care and forethought the personal action of the Princess and future Queen Isabella in the government of Castile was provided for; and how is here explained the independent and direct part this Princess retained throughout her reign in the government of her kingdom of Castile, outside the sphere of the King her consort.

Prince Ferdinand made no objection to the acceptance of this treaty. On January 7, 1469, being at Cervera he there affixed to it his seal. There remained the completion, that is to say the marriage that was to make Spain one nation and a great monarchy.


Romantic journey of Ferdinand — Marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella — Ceremonies at Valladolid — Dangers incurred by Isabella — Scandals of the Court of Henry IV. — Deplorable condition of Castile — Death of Henry IV. — Isabella Queen of Castile.

There was more than one difficulty in the way. Henry and Pacheco, determined on seizing hold of Isabella, watched her every movement. Isabella had at that time left Ocaña, where she was not in safety, and reached Madrigal. From this place, overtaken by a small body of cavalry brought to her by the Archbishop of Toledo, she gained Valladolid, where she was received with enthusiasm by her partisans; this town had declared for her. Whilst this was passing. Prince Ferdinand left Saragossa and took the direction of Castile, where he was to meet his bride. Ferdinand, on his part also, had everything to fear from Henry and Pacheco, interested as they both of them were in getting hold of his person if they could, and also of putting a stop to the marriage. With this object troops were despatched from all sides to endeavour to cut off his route, and all the country around was scoured by bodies of cavalry under the orders of the Mendozas, from the borders of Arragon as far as Guadalajara. The greatest precautions, then, had to be taken by Ferdinand if he hoped to arrive in safety at Valladolid; he devised accordingly the following stratagem in order to baffle the designs of his enemies: He disguised himself as a trader, as did also his seven companions. They were all mounted on mules; other mules followed laden with stuffs and other merchandise. They travelled chiefly by night, and at morning when they arrived at an inn, where they spent the day in sleeping, it was the Prince who, wearing the dress and acting in quality of servant to the party, looked after the animals and gave them their food and water. The meals of the seven companions were always taken apart, far out of sight of other travellers, and of the inhabitants of the village where they put up. In this fashion, and with no other accident than that of forgetting at the inn the purse that contained the funds of the expedition (of which they sent immediately in search), the pretended traders arrived one night at a small place named El Burgo. One of Isabella's partisans, the Count of Trevino, occupied it with a considerable body of troops. Exhausted with fatigue, the Prince knocked at the door. A huge stone flung by the sentinel from the top of the battlement was the reply; it fell so near to the Prince's head that he narrowly escaped being killed ; he then called out, and his voice being recognised by his friends inside who were expecting him, the gates were opened, and our seven traders, introduced into the place, were received with inexpressible joy. The remainder of the journey was accomplished under the protection of the Count of Treviño’s troops, and on October 9 Ferdinand reached Dueñas, where the Castilian lords who were expecting him hastened to pay him their respects.

The news of the romantic arrival of Ferdinand at Dueñas caused great joy in the little court of Isabella at Valladolid, and a first interview was arranged for the future married couple; it took place on October 15. Ferdinand, leaving Dueñas, had arrived the same morning at Valladolid. Received by the Archbishop of Toledo, he was immediately introduced into the presence of Isabella; this interview lasted two hours, after which the marriage was fixed for October 18, 1469.

Isabella, nevertheless, thought it right to apprise first the King her brother of it, and wrote him a respectful letter, in which, announcing to him this great event, she dwelt at length on the advantages of this union for the welfare of both countries; she concluded by assuring him of her profound submission as of that of her prospective consort. To this letter Henry made.no reply. The preparations completed, the marriage ceremony took place on October 18. It was performed with little pomp (there was not much money) in the palace of Juan de Bivero, the temporary residence of the Princess, since become the Chancery of Valladolid. On that day the chapel of the Palace Bivero sparkled with lights; the assembly comprised nearly two thousand persons. All the nobility of the country around were there in arms, followed by their retainers. By Isabella’s side were seen the Archbishop of Toledo, the Admiral of Castile, the Count of Trevino, the Count of Buendia; beside Ferdinand, all those who had accompanied him on his romantic journey. Isabella was the first to arrive; she was accompanied by her mother, the Queen Dowager, and by her friend Beatrice de Bovadilla.

Isabella had at this time reached her eighteenth year, her height was now above the average, her complexion fair, her skin delicate and transparent, her hair of a brilliant chestnut inclining to a somewhat brighter tint, her eyes were of a soft blue expressive of intelligence and sensibility; all her features indicated a great serenity of character; one read in them the pleasing harmony of the qualities which distinguished her, of the sentiments that animated her. That day more than perhaps on any other she appeared happy and proud of the part she had taken of herself alone; and everything in her air, her step, and her aspect when she entered the church and went to kneel before the altar denoted her happiness.

Ferdinand her consort arrived after the Princess. In age he was one year younger than his bride. His complexion was fair, though somewhat browned by the sun; his eyes were deep-set, his forehead broad and open bespoke energy; his muscular and shapely figure had from early age been invigorated by the exercises and toils of chivalry. He was one of the best cavaliers of the age. His voice, however, was rough, and there was to be observed in his manner, in his gait, a certain harshness indicative of a self-willed, unyielding nature. For the rest, his education had been much neglected; and of literature he was totally ignorant, all his masculine faculties had been absorbed in the organisation of armies.

All being ready, it was the Archbishop of Toledo himself who administered the sacrament to the couple, and who indissolubly united those who subsequently were to unite upon the same heads the two crowns of Castile and Arragon, too long separated one from the other. The married pair then proceeded, in accordance with custom, to hear mass at the collegiate church of Santa Maria. Thus was accomplished this great marriage. The event was, as may be supposed, a most severe check to the designs of the enemies of Isabella, who thereupon resolved on taking a signal revenge.

Henry, so little sure of himself, allowed himself to be easily led by Pacheco, his master. His tenderness towards his presumptive daughter Jane again moved his heart, and he proceeded to offer her in marriage to the Duke de Guienne, brother of Louis XI, King of France (the same who had been already dismissed by Isabella). France was offered as the conditions: proof of the legitimacy of the Princess; next, her recognition as sole heiress to the throne of Castile. On the news of this intrigue Isabella felt a shock, and with good reason, for, after some hesitation, the King of France consented to the marriage, and at a convent named Paular, situate in the valley of Loyola, Henry and the French ambassadors declared Isabella forfeited of her pretensions, and the Princess Jane sole legitimate heiress to the throne. The consort of Henry herself, who knew better than anyone else how much of truth there was in it, affirmed this legitimacy.

Isabella and her consort, in retirement at their little court at Dueñas, took but small account of this decision which affected a Princess scarcely nine years old. The provinces of Biscay, Guipuscoa, and Andalusia, the family of Medina-Sidonia, the Archbishop of Toledo, and a number of other grandees attached to the cause of Isabella, looked upon this recognition of the Princess Jane as a vain comedy, and they continued to pursue the wise and cautious policy which was soon to triumph over so many intrigues. The disorders which at this period troubled the court of Henry were indeed soon to alienate all minds from him, and rally to the cause of Isabella the poor down-trodden people. The court was the scene of all sorts of pleasure and debauchery. The royal domains were almost entirely dissipated amongst favourites. Pacheco was made Grand-master of Santiago with the town of Alcarrás; to the Count of Arcos the town of Cadiz, to Cabrera a whole province. The Queen, licentious woman, on her part lost no time. Escaped from her castle of Alohejos where she had been shut up, she left behind there three children whom she had had by the most contemptible of men. In her, libertinism had fallen to the lowest grade it is possible to conceive; she was indeed the guilty mother of the illegitimate Jane and concubine of Bertrand de la Cueva.

In addition to these examples, unfortunate Castile had fallen into the most deplorable disorder. Justice existed no longer. Crimes were committed with an audacity that menaced even the very foundations of society. The grandees had backed their grievances with forces that might have withstood the most powerful princes. The Duke of Infantado could alone raise one thousand lances and ten thousand foot soldiers. Andalusia principally was the theatre of these savage exploits. This extensive country was divided by two factions, the Guzman’s and the Ponce de Leon’s. All through the country districts were to be seen bands of soldiers prowling about, burning the houses and devastating the fields. The terror was become so great that field labour was no longer possible excepting under the walls of the towns ; and there resulted so great a famine that the necessaries of life were hardly to be procured but by the wealthy. In the towns there was the same disorder. Robbery and murder had so greatly alarmed the inhabitants that no one ventured to quit his house, even during daytime. This terror lasted until the public safety had found a remedy; to this effect, a sort of municipal guard was instituted; every town had its own, with its organisation and distinctive functions. It was the fraternal association of the well-disposed against the evil doers. Such was the state of that part of Castile subjected to the rule of Henry’s ministers; but we omit the disgusting details of the crimes and misery resulting from such a rule. The chronicles of the time narrate them with horrible truth.

By the peace and well-being that prevailed everywhere in that part of the country submitting voluntarily to the rule of Isabella, one may judge of the attachment which this Princess had already inspired in her happy subjects; thus from all parts already arose a general movement of sympathy and adhesion; when the death of Pacheco, the worthless favourite of the King, came to restore some calm in the situation, as well as to modify the intentions of Henry in regard to his sister Isabella. Pacheco had attempted to arrest Isabella by inviting her to a friendly interview with the King her brother, and was proceeding towards the castle of Truxillo, which he hoped to capture from her, when he was seized with a sudden fit. Throwing up blood by the mouth, the ears, and the nostrils, he died in the course of a few hours. By his death an agreement between Isabella and the King was facilitated; and, in fact, projects for an accommodation had been renewed by the intervention of Cabrera, and they were in a fair way of success; when Providence, which watched over Castile, interposed to bring to an end all this hostility, anguish, and misery by the death of the King himself.

On December 12, 1474, died Henry IV worn out by infirmities, chagrin, and remorse, without uttering a word and almost unattended. He was forty-five years of age, though he appeared sixty.

Henry died intestate, and without by word of mouth designating his successor; a remarkable circumstance, not only because contrary to custom, but that it occurred at a moment when the succession to the throne was so hotly disputed. Some people regarded this as the proof of the illegitimacy of his pretended daughter Princess Jane, and proof also of the remorse he would have felt in his last moments in bequeathing the great crown of Castile to a bastard, to the detriment of Princess Isabella. The death of King Henry opened up, however, to Isabella, along with the succession to the throne, this War of Succession, which was to last no less than four years.

Part II. 1474 — 1481 63


Accession of Isabella to the throne of Castile — Her solemn recognition by the States — Disputes — Supremacy of Castile.

Isabella, afterwards surnamed The Catlolic, ascended the throne of Castile on the death of her brother King Henry IV. She was twenty-three years old. Her consort, Prince Ferdinand, was at that time in Arragon, and was unable to attend at the ceremony of her recognition as the sole legitimate heiress to the throne of Castile.

King Henry died on December 12, 1474. On the day following, Isabella arrived at Segovia and desired to be solemnly acknowledged and proclaimed. On December 13, accordingly, an assembly comprising magistrates, members of the clergy, and such of the nobility as were then in Segovia, proceeded to wait upon her at her palace, and thence a her to the great square of the town, where a high platform had been erected. Isabella arrived on horseback attired in royal robes ; her horse was led by two of the town magistrates ; before her walked the Count of Benavente bearing the sword, emblem of s0vereignty. Arrived before the platform, Isabella alighted from her horse, ascended majestically the steps, and seated herself on that throne which was at no distant day to become so glorious for all Spain. A herald at arms then cried aloud, “Castile, Castile for King Ferdinand and his consort Dona Isabella, Sovereign Queen of Castile!”. Repeated acclamations burst forth from the whole assemblage in response; the trumpets sounded, the standards of Castile were displayed, and to the peal of church bells and the discharges of artillery Queen Isabella received the oath of allegiance of her subjects. On her side, and with her hand on the Gospels laid before her by the Cardinal of Spain, Isabella took oath to respect and to maintain the laws and liberties of the kingdom. Descending from the platform, she was now escorted to the cathedral to return thanks to God, and hear the Te Deum sung on the occasion. In the February following, the States, assembled at Segovia, gave a sanction to this first recognition by solemnly proclaiming Isabella the one and only Sovereign Queen of Castile.

This title of Sovereign Queen possessed for Castile a meaning altogether personal and individual. It indicated that the possession of the crown belonged of right to the Queen herself, or resided in her as a Castilian, and not to the husband who might have conferred it upon her by marriage. Thus it was that those foreign princesses who had married a king of Castile were queens though not sovereign queens, because they were not of Castilian blood. In the eyes of the Castilians this difference had much significance, and this title became a great bond of popularity and nationalism. As soon as Ferdinand was apprised of the recognition of Queen Isabella he hastened to quit Arragon, where he was busily engaged in his Roussillon war, and arrived without loss of time at Segovia, in order to his becoming, as he expected, acknowledged also as King of Castile in his quality, he said, of a prince nearest in blood to the house of Trastamara. Here arose a serious dispute, a dispute which at the commencement of a reign, and that reign contested by the partisans of the Princess Jane, might have resulted in the most dangerous consequences. The Arragonese and the Castilians had never been able to agree with one another in whatever it might be; they were two peoples in manners, customs, and of rival ambitions ; as difficult to govern themselves — as had been observed by a king — as to be governed; much more difficult still to get them to agree. Arragon pretended, accordingly, that Ferdinand as consort of the Queen was in that capacity alone King of Castile, and urged more than earnestly, even imperiously, the States of Segovia to recognise him in this sovereign quality.

But Queen Isabella in all gentleness, yet at the same time with all the firmness which gave her the consciousness of her rights — with the wisdom which already at her early age she displayed on all occasions, reminded her husband of the danger of disunion at a moment when the partisans of Princess Jane disputed the legitimacy of her title ; and, on the other hand, what an accession of strength would be gained to their cause, legitimate enough already, by the union of all their forces. Ferdinand should also be aware what the laws of Castile provided under similar circumstances; and that in his contract of marriage, as signed by him, the full independence and sovereignty of the Queen were therein expressly stipulated and in the most formal terms; he had nothing, then, but to submit, and abandon, perhaps with regret, the pretensions suggested to him by the States and legal authorities of Arragon. The form of the government of Castile was then determined by common accord; it is remarkably explicit, and confirms in the clearest and most precise manner the rights and independent powers of the Queen. They are as follows :

1. In the royal arms those of Castile should be on the right hand, those of Arragon on the left.

2. In all public acts, decrees, laws, and the coinage, the names of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were to be united.

3. All the governors of the provinces and towns of Castile were to be nominated by Queen Isabella. The castles and other strong places belonged to her alone. The ministers of finance took oath under her hand to administer the revenues of the Crown in her name alone.

4. Appointments to the episcopacy, and other Church benefices, were made in the joint name of the royal couple, but to the Queen alone belonged the right of conferring them as she pleased.

5. Justice was to be administered in accordance with the laws of their subjects in common; but when apart either of them could administer it, independently, on the spot.

6. Finally, the title of Sovereign Queen of Castile conferred upon her those special rights over the kingdom inherent in it.

In this union of husband and wife, as later on in the union of the two crowns (Prince Ferdinand not acceding to the throne of Arragon until the death of his father five years after), it will be seen that all the privileges, all the rights, all the powers were scrupulously assigned to Castile; and of these two sovereigns united by the same interests Isabella, apart from her consort, remained the only true queen, as eventually she became Queen of all Spain.

Castile had long enjoyed this pre-eminence. From the earliest period it had, so to say, represented in Spain and throughout Europe the only great power in the Peninsula. It was the first Counts of Castile who, taking up the cry of independence of the Christians from the mountains of the Asturias, were the first to take up arms on the invasion of the infidels, at that time dominant throughout Spain. It was these noble Castilians who, each in his province, had successively and little by little freed, sword in hand, the soil of their country. Later on, it was the Kings of Castile who, calling to their aid the Kings of Navarre, Portugal, and Arragon, had fought and won over the infidels the great battles of Calatañazor and Las Navas. It was the Kings of Castile who, in the great achievement of the conquest (la Reconquista), had successively recaptured Toledo, Cordova, Seville, and fixed their standards over the Arab mosques. It was the three great military Orders of Castile, of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara, which, always in the front rank of battle, had everywhere shed their blood for the enfranchisement of their country. Castile was to be found wherever fighting was going on ; the Cid was a Castilian. The Castilian language was common to all Spain. The ballads, romances, songs, tales of chivalry, chronicles, were all written in Castilian; it passed as a tradition from age to age; the mother taught them while singing to her children on her knee, and whether true or fabulous they were received as history, as one readily believes what has been attuned to song. All the literature of the ages anterior to the accession of Isabella was Castilian ; the Castilian nobility claimed it as their patrimony. Villena, Santillana, Meña were Castilians. Under these illustrious friends of the Muses the Castilian tongue had acquired a loftiness, elegance, and refinement, impressed with those majestic figures of speech which yet survive wherever it is written and spoken in its noble purity. Such was the famous part Castile had played in Spain from the earliest times, such is the part it will continue to play during the reign we are now describing.

Arragon had on her side also assuredly her history and its successive development. Her valiant kings, jealous though they had always shown themselves of the supremacy of Cas- tile, had acquired both conquest and glory. Catalonia, Majorca, Murcia, Valencia were important acquisitions on Spanish territory; but their chief action had always been more particularly directed to without, and both Italy and Sicily attracted their ambition, aided by their powerful fleets. Unlike Castile, whose crusades and conquests were confined to Spain herself, the action of Arragon had been directed abroad ; by which it will be understood how much more there was of patriotic and national sympathy among the people for Castile than there was for Arragon; the latter a stranger in more than one respect to the interests, as to the glory, of the mother country.

The real and personal position of Queen Isabella thus defined, and the superiority of her genius in shaping the course of her destinies, and the future of her country, acknowledged, the events which succeed will mark this pre-eminence the more.


Commencement of the War of Succession — Isabella and Jane the Bertraneja — Attack on the town of Toro — Alphonso V., King of Portugal, surnamed the African — Proposals for an accommodation — Noble refusal of Isabella — Decisive battle of Toro — France recognises the sovereignty of Isabella — Death of John II King of Arragon — Definitive union of the crowns of Castile and Arragon — The Bertraneja takes the veil at Coimbra — Situation of Castile at the accession of Isabella — Its history from the earliest times — What is called the Reconquista.

Once acknowledged and proclaimed Queen, Isabella very wisely considered that her first care was to combat and put an end to the pretensions of her rival the Princess Jane. The party attached to the Princess was of a certain importance. The Mendozas, Zuñigas, Velascos, Pimentels were powerful lords ; the Marquis of Villena, the Duke of Arevalo, the Grand-master of Calatrava disposed of considerable forces; these formed themselves into a confederacy, and by a common accord they offered to the King of Portugal the hand of the Princess Jane if he would aid them. The King (Alphonso V) was ambitious : to unite his kingdom with Castile was to make of Portugal a great State. He accepted, therefore, the offer of the confederates, and betrothed himself to the youthful Princess, who was then but thirteen years of age. On this news, and of the formidable preparations set on foot both in Portugal and Castile by the before- named lords, Isabella felt all the gravity of the danger. She called to her side Ferdinand her consort, and commenced taking all necessary steps to defeat this formidable league. All the Castilian lords were immediately called to arms, and a considerable army was in a short time raised under the orders of Ferdinand, who thereupon assumed the command. The War of Succession commenced.

The King of Portugal, surnamed the African because of his victories over the Moors in Africa, made his entry into Castile early in May (1475). He had with him his son Prince John, a brave, daring, impetuous young man, full of sympathy with his soldiers ; and a numerous army comprising 20,000 men, of which 14,000 foot and 6,000 horse. After issuing a proclamation in which he affirmed the rights of Jane to the crown of Castile, he passed into Extremadura, where he joined the main body of the Castilian confederates. On their side, Isabella and Ferdinand had also advanced to the encounter. Their army numbered about 30,000 men, of which 8,000 horse ; it was composed of militia raised principally in the mountains, and in the northern provinces, who were the first to show to Isabella their ardour and devotion, as in the early days of struggle. In the haste with which this army had been raised, the activity, the vigour, the cares displayed by the young Queen were conspicuous. Day and night unceasingly occupied in the organisation of the different corps, she dictated despatches, rode on horseback over plain or mountain to visit or receive the contingents on their arrival; already she was the life and soul of the army. These exertions brought on her a miscarriage at Toledo, from which, however, she quickly recovered.

Ferdinand arrived with his army in the plains of Estremadura about the middle of July. The two important towns of Toro and Zamora had already fallen into the hands of the Portuguese on his arrival; they had been handed over to King Alphonso by the Castilian lords belonging to Jane’s party. Ferdinand immediately invested Toro; he had but little artillery, and his militia was badly disciplined. Some weeks after, the convoys of supplies which provisioned his army having been cut off in all directions, his retreat became a matter of necessity. This retreat soon became converted into a rout, and the first onset of the arms of Isabella turned into a real defeat. It was a grave disaster for her cause. Fortunately, Portugal did not know how to profit by it. Its army shut itself up in Toro; and meanwhile numerous bodies of Castilian horse, arriving from the neighbouring provinces of Andalusia, spread themselves all along the Portuguese frontier, entered that country and committed such ravages that the King of Portugal, finding himself cut off in his rear, and about to recapitulate in Toro, was the first to open negotiations with Castile. His terms were no less than these : “Renunciation of his rights to the crown of Castile by right of his bride the Princess Jane, in return for the cession to Portugal of the whole of Galicia, the towns of Toro and Zamora, now in his possession; and further a considerable sum of money in payment of the expenses of the war”. It is said, Ferdinand and his ministers were not opposed to these conditions, but they reckoned without Queen Isabella. For her, the Sovereign Queen of Castile, she who held it in her own right, as a possession of her own, to yield, at the first reverse in the first action of war of her reign, a part of that territory which was hers, a part of her dear and proud Castile! They did not know her. At the first words, she interrupted the envoy who delivered them, haughtily dismissed him, and taking upon herself the sole direction of this war, too heavy a charge, it would seem, for others, she proceeded immediately to Medina del Campo, assembled the States, and laid before them the position of affairs. It was deplorable : an exhausted treasury, due to the fatal prodigalities of the late King, now reduced by the cost of the recent armaments to the last farthing. At the words of their young Sovereign, the members, seized with a patriotic ardour which they never belied, adopted a resolution worthy of themselves. They proposed to deliver into the treasury all the Church plate in the kingdom, conditionally on restitution being made in more prosperous times. Isabella, whose religious principles perhaps were opposed to such a course, accepted it in view of the necessity of the case ; and, provided with the funds, the produce of this rich plate (more than thirty millions of maravedis, according to a chronicle), she returned immediately with a fresh army to the plains of Toro and Zamora, which were still occupied by the Portuguese, though suffering greatly. Zamora was the first object of attack on the part of the Castilians ; it succeeded, and after some days the Queen’s troops entered the place. Between Zamora and Toro there is but a step; proud and animated with its first success, Isabella’s army under the command of Ferdinand arrived before Toro almost in an instant.

In the plain which stretches to the walls of the fortress the Portuguese army was seen already drawn up in order of battle. The brave Prince John, the King's son, with the Archbishop of Toledo, the potent enemy of Isabella, were by the side of King Alphonso. Ferdinand took up at once a position, and the action commenced. It was short and decisive; the Castilians everywhere broke into the Portuguese ranks, pierced them through and through and routed them completely. The royal standard of Portugal, borne by the brave d'Almeyda, fell into the possession of the Castilians only through the loss of his arm by the intrepid knight ; and that evening the plain of Toro covered with dead, and the waters of the Duero rolling down corpses, attested the complete and definitive victory of Queen Isabella’s army. The King of Portugal was seen no more after the early part of the battle; followed by some of his officers, he owed his escape, it was said, to the speed of his horse. Isabella, who was at Tordesillas, on being apprised of the joyful news, repaired immediately to the cathedral to return thanks to God for the victory — barefoot, it is said.

After this reverse to the partisans of Jane, one, the most powerful of them, the Archbishop of Toledo, was the first to make his submission and return to the mild rule of the Queen. To her this was a great and valuable support. Zamora surrendered shortly after. The great battle of Toro, which was nearly decisive of the fortunes of Isabella, was fought in the year 1476. It was at this time that the King of Portugal thought of passing with his bride, the Princess Jane, into France in order to obtain the aid of Louis XI against Isabella.

Arragon at this period was engaged in an unsuccessful war with France, the Roussillon war. The Arragonese forces, by turns victorious or defeated, had at last been compelled to submit. The most important places in the county of Roussillon were ceded to France; and Ferdinand had been the first to counsel his valiant father, who resisted to the last, to come to terms with the French monarch. At length, on October 9, 1478, a definitive treaty of peace was signed at St. Jean de Luz between France and Arragon; and as a compensation, King Louis, desirous of giving Ferdinand a proof of his high esteem, recognised Isabella as the legitimate and sole Queen of Castile. This recognition of Isabella on the part of France was a matter of much import; it established the crown on the head of this young Princess. There occurred another event to establish it still more firmly.

On January 19 of the year following (1479) the old Zing of Arragon, father of Ferdinand, died from fatigue and old age at Barcelona, leaving the crown of Arragon to his son. Before giving up his soul to God, the King, surrounded by his children and those with whom he had accomplished such great things, looked with pride on his son Ferdinand, four years already the consort of the Queen of Castile, about to reunite in his person the two great kingdoms which for so long a period had been in conflict. In the contemplation of this great event, awaited during nearly eight centuries past, John passed away in honour and without regret. It is from this epoch only that the two crowns were reunited, and that the royal escutcheon of Spain bore the lions of Castile and the towers of Arragon combined in the same emblazonment. The pomegranate displayed on the lower part of the shield was added later, as will be seen.

Isabella was in Extremadura in the midst of her victorious troops when she learnt of the death of the King her father-in-law, and of her own recognition by the French King. This recognition brought about at the same time on the part of the King of Portugal, who died shortly afterwards in the convent of Cintra, a treaty, according to which he renounced the hand of the Princess Jane, together with his pretensions to the crown of Castile. The Princess was, on her side, after the same treaty, either to quit Portugal for ever, or to marry the son of Ferdinand and Isabella, now only an infant, when of age to marry, or, lastly, to retire into a convent and there take the veil ; a period of six months to be allowed for the choice. Jane determined for the last course ; she took the veil and retired into the convent of Santa Clara at Coimbra. No further mention is made of her name until long after in this history ; and — must it be said ? — after the death of Isabella it was Ferdinand, her own consort, who was not ashamed to ask the hand of this same Princess, against whom he had formerly commanded armies and won victories under the eyes of Isabella herself. This feature in the character of Ferdinand expresses better than any commentary the opinion we should entertain of this Prince, who so soon forgot his virtuous consort, and did not fear thus to sully her grand memory in his heart ! All the historians of the time agree on this pitiful matter. Later on, Ferdinand acted pretty much after the same manner in his dealings with Navarre. On pretexts as frivolous as they were unjust, and by base treachery, as Robertson informs us, he expelled from the throne of Navarre its legitimate sovereign Jean d'Albret, and united this little kingdom to the Spanish monarchy.

With the defeat of Toro, and the treaty of 1478, concluded between Castile and Portugal, ended the war which was called the War of Succession. Henceforth Queen Isabella was acknowledged as the only Sovereign and legitimate Queen in all her dominions. All disaffection having ceased, Ferdinand, now King of Arragon, her consort, united his crown with that of Castile, and from the morrow of this happy event, the Queen, emerging triumphantly from her dynastic war, takes the initiative in all the reforms introduced in her extensive kingdom, and begins her true reign.

We have seen what was the condition of Castile at the death of Henry IV. Royalty, abased, despoiled, expiring, existed no longer; the royal mantle had fallen from the King's shoulders and been rent in pieces by all those who contended for its shreds. Isabella will restore everything to its place. It is from her accession only that one may consider the Spanish monarchy as definitively founded. It was equally so by the providential reunion of two peoples, who, occupying the same soil, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, inspired by the same liberties, had, in default of political unity, realised in some sort the great natural aspiration, in mingling their blood during centuries past for the enfranchisement of their common country from the dominion of the infidel. The part which either of the two sovereigns brought to the other was besides of a nature to confer on Spain a degree of power and unity such as few States in Europe enjoyed at this period. A retrospect may be of interest. Castile at the moment when Isabella ascended the throne was composed of the ancient kingdoms of Leon, Galicia, the Asturias, the provinces of Biscay, Estremadura, and the plains of Andalusia, through the kingdom of Murcia, as far as the shores of the Mediterranean. Granada alone still remained in the possession of the Moors, and it was the only Mussulman State that remained to be conquered to complete the final enfranchisement of Spanish territory. This enfranchisement was reserved for Isabella, and gained for her the surname of 'The Catholic' Castile was thus the most ex- tensive State in the Peninsula, as it was also the most important in power, in the renown of its warriors, the industry of its people, and the traditions of its glorious history. Arragon had done homage to Castile for the part of her territory situate on the west bank of the Ebro since the thirteenth century. Navarre and Portugal had long rendered her the same homage. The Moorish kingdom of Granada continued still to pay tribute to Castile at the time of the accession of Isabella. Finally, the capital of Castile became that of the whole kingdom; it was there to which all the courts of Europe sent their embassies. The Castilian tongue was that of all Spain, of literature and of the arts.

This preponderance of Castile over all the States of the Peninsula had subsisted from the earliest times. Under the Gothic monarchy it was chiefly in Castile that occurred the most important events in connection with the history of those prelates and kings who, at the close of three centuries, fell into the same contempt as those of the Lower Roman Empire who preceded them.

In the early days of the Arab dominion, that of the new conquerors of Spain, it was the Kings of the Asturias united with the Counts of Castile who had raised the cry of independence, and who, issuing from the inaccessible caves of their mountains, in which themselves and their bishops had taken refuge, commenced this reconquista, this reconquest, which eventually was to lead them under the conduct of Isabella as far as the walls of Granada. It was the Kings of Castile who, successively possessing themselves of all capital towns of the Caliphate, overcame the glorious dynasty of the Abderrahmans, and quit- ting their cold northern climate had descended to the enchanting banks of the Guadalquivir, where they found sunshine and flowers which were wanting elsewhere. By these memorable conquests it was again Castile which, having assimilated with herself the happy dwellers of Andalucia, became the inheritor of all the marvels, all the treasures of science, art, and industry introduced there by their ingenious and famous inventors. The cry of Castile was the national cry ; it was to this cry of the people and of the army that the kings were anointed and that battles were won; it was the glorious watchword of victory. It must be admitted, then, if any State ever had right to a legitimate supremacy over neighbouring States, it was Castile.


Internal government of Castile — Towns and commune's — Nobility — Clergy — Royalty — Continued decline of the royal authority down to the time of Isabella — Arragon — Its conquests — Catalonia — Town of Barcelona — Its importance — Popular constitution of royalty in Arragon — Reforms and plans of Isabella.

Its scheme of constitutional government was from the first of the most liberal kind, and the Cortes played a part in it almost superior to that of royalty itself. The Castilian Cortes was almost the government itself; it discussed and determined the taxes and subsidies; took cognisance of public affairs of every description, of diplomatic treaties, and regulated the expenses of the royal house. On the other hand, the towns and communes had, independently of the King, the exclusive right to the nomination of their magistrates, settled their own expenses, saw to their collection, and made what use they pleased of their individual gains. The bodies of handicrafts were ruled also by laws and regulations made by themselves; thus, artisans lived under a free protection scarcely known elsewhere at this epoch, and many of the more intelligent amongst them were raised to the rank of knight. The nobility filled the leading position in the State from the commence- ment of the wars against the infidels. It was through its arms that the soil was gradually regained; but the compensation was more than harshly insisted on by them and obtained. A portion of the land and of the towns thus regained was returned to them ; it was they, in truth, who fixed the amount of their share, and one may suppose it was not small. Hence all its influence, all its territorial power; hence also its oppression of the people and its independence of the Crown. In Castile, this rivalry between the nobility and the Crown was incessant, and in spite of the efforts of certain of their kings more haughty and intolerant than others, Peter the Cruel for example, this nobility retained almost always the upper hand and counterbalanced the royal authority chiefly by means of its wealth. The possessions which it had wrested from its kings either through conquest of territory from the Moors, or from concessions and royal lavishness, exceeded all bounds. The nobles were, together with the clergy, almost the owners of the soil.

The clergy, which from the earliest periods of the reconquista had always been at the head of the combatants sword or crucifix in hand, had also had their share in the partition of the land. The possessions they enjoyed were immense, and the troops they could levy were as numerous as those of the nobility. It was thus that under the iron yoke of the nobility and the clergy the royal authority decreased more and more in Castile.

If we would reflect on this miserable position of royalty from the period only of the accession to the throne of the house of Trastamara, of which Queen Isabella will be the last descendant, it would be easy to determine what were, far more, the causes of this abasement of royalty as concerns the Castilian nobility. We know by what means Henry II of Trastamara ascended the throne of Castile. In arms against his brother, Peter the Cruel, we know through what troubles, what trials, he obtained the countenance and assistance of France, and of the brave Duguesclin with his grand companies ; by what changes of success and of reverse he was to pass before finally surprising his brother in the castle of Montiel, where he killed him with his dagger. All these facts are known to history, and Castile, which set much more store on having a good king, rather than a merely legitimate one, as observes a modern historian, acknowledged Henry of Trastamara without hesitation; who was moreover by his bravery and the frankness of his character the most sympathetic and engaging cavalier of his day.

But all these levies, these successive enlistments, the enormous sum paid to Duguesclin for the services of his French companies which came to aid Trastamara in obtaining his throne, the amount which had to be paid for the ransom of Duguesclin, made prisoner at the battle of Navarete, had exhausted the treasury to the extent that not a farthing remained. If to the payment of these charges is added all that Henry of Trastamara had been compelled to concede to the nobles who had aided in placing the crown upon his head, out of the domains of the royal patrimony, it will readily be perceived to what a point the ruin of the monarchy had arrived at the time of the accession of the house of Trastamara. Henry was so well aware of the weakness he had displayed in his dealings with these insatiable nobles, that at his death, and by his will (he would not have dared do it in his lifetime), he declared that all the lands of the royal domain which he had alienated in favour of certain nobles should not be allowed to pass to the successors of these out of the direct line. This reign of the founder of the dynasty of Trastamara was then but a first step towards the ruin of the kingdom. The reigns of two 94 of his successors presented only a temporary pause in the same course.

John I after his disputes and his wars with Portugal attempted and indeed succeeded in introducing improvements of all kinds in the government of his kingdom. Of an easy-going character, such as befits a successor of those who found dynasties by violent means, John did his best to recover the possessions which the nobles had extorted from his father; he only partially succeeded, and if after a short reign of ten years he had not effected much towards the re-establishment of the royal authority, it may be allowed that he did what he could. Henry III, whose minority had been troubled by all the ambitions of a con- tested regency in arms, had, however, succeeded by the end of but too short a reign in bringing back some order in his kingdom, which before his reign had become, through the feebleness of the founder of his dynasty, the prey of nobles and favourites. At his death, by favour of a peace which, in those times of almost incessant warfare, was comparatively long, and of an economical rule, not only had all the debts of the Crown been discharged, but the treasury was reorganised, and the royal authority had recovered some of its power. Alas ! under his successors, to what abasement was this royalty not reduced !

Under King John II. and his proud and unworthy favourite Alvaro de Luna, the spoliation of the Crown reached its climax; and it was not till the end of the reign of this weak prince that, under pressure both of the Queen and the grandees, John at length signed the warrant for the execution of the favourite by the loss of his head. Some days after this event John himself expired, overcome with sorrow and remorse; leaving a dishonoured kingdom to Henry his successor. Isabella the daughter of John II.was only four years old at the time of her father's death, and could therefore take no account of all these humiliations. The reign of her brother was soon to bring before her eyes many other disasters.

Henry IV, without giving a thought to the past, gave himself up entirely from the beginning of his reign to another favourite, Pacheco, a worthy successor of Alvaro, who, like his predecessor, drained to the bottom what remained of the royal treasure, counter- balanced the royal authority, strove at one moment in favour of the King, at another, while at the head of the confederates, dictating laws to the Crown; until at length, tumultuously met together at Avila (as we have recounted already), these same confederates proceeded to set up an effigy arrayed in royal apparel with the crown and sceptre, flung it into the dust, declared its deposition amid the acclamations of the revolted crowd, and proclaimed young Alphonso, who, however, never came to the throne. It was shortly after this revolt that Henry's death brought to an end a shameful and deplorable reign, and left to his daughter Isabella the throne of Castile, for a moment disputed by the Princess Jane, illegitimate daughter of the favourite Bertrand de la Cueva.

Since the accession of this dynasty of Trastamara we have seen how many evils there were to be cured, in what calamities unhappy Castile had been plunged, to what poverty the Crown had been reduced, to what impotence the royal authority had been condemned. It was reserved for Isabella, we repeat, to restore everyone and everything to its place. At the sight of the vessel of State aground on the shore, and by the generous and united efforts of her people, she brought it off, and, led by her star alone, seized proudly the rudder.

At the period of the union of the crown of Arragon with that of Castile by the accession of Ferdinand to the throne of Arragon, the position of this latter kingdom presented no less of interest, whether as regards its past or present history, or even its future. Arragon, at the period of its foundation in the eleventh century, was only a barren country confined within very narrow limits. For many years it had scarcely passed beyond the banks of the Ebro, and it was only towards the thirteenth century that one of its most illustrious sovereigns, James the Conqueror, jealous of the continual efforts of the Castilians to free their native soil in the crusade against the infidels, ventured in his turn to cross the Ebro, and descending into the rich plains of the kingdom of Valencia, ended by conquering almost the whole of it. In thus extending itself along the shores of the Mediterranean, Arragon acquired a fertile territory, industrious inhabitants, and, what chiefly concerned her, safe and commodious harbours all along the coast of Valencia; but what was in every respect the most advantageous acquisition for Arragon was that of the county of Barcelona.

Catalonia was Arragon’s nearest neighbour, its junction happily provided for it all in which it was deficient — populous and busy towns, a hardy and enterprising people, good seamen, magnificent harbours. It was for Arragon an acquisition which, whether regarded from the point of view of its territorial aggrandisement, or the development of its commerce, of its industries both at home and abroad, had already by the thirteenth century given it a high place amongst the powers of that age. The Arragonese navy, indeed, had formed relations with all their neighbours, and soon competed successfully with the navies of the republics of Venice and Genoa, and it was this seeming superiority, haughtily paraded in the Mediterranean, which had prompted the ambition of the Kings of Arragon to extend their dominions and empire beyond the Peninsula. It was thus that the predecessors of Ferdinand had successively seized upon Sardinia, Sicily, and the Balearic Islands. Later on, Ferdinand himself overthrew the kingdom of Naples by the sword of a Castilian, Gonzalvo de Cordova, the Great Captain. Navarre, the near neighbour of Arragon, was also to be annexed : Ferdinand got possession of it by usurpation. The hardy character of the Arragonese, and the relations they established abroad, soon enabled them to develop those privileges in all the towns along the coast through which they attained to the highest degree of freedom.

The city of Barcelona, amongst others, the rival of Saragossa, already at the date of its union with Arragon enjoyed a degree of prosperity unknown to most European cities still bent under the yoke of the feudal system. Here liberty reigned paramount in the municipal councils, in political institutions, in the conditions even of subjection to the royal authority. Wealth, which was the natural result of this commercial intercourse with all the Italian republics, made this great city the marvel of its age. Its port, filled with ships from all parts, was the chief emporium of trade of the whole Mediterranean; all flowed into it, all left, and the first known bank of exchange was founded there in 1401. Barcelona possessed an arsenal, an exchange, a university, a public library, all of them remarkable in their way. Its administration, entrusted to magistrates of its own selection, was freely elected from among all the citizens, since all from the highest to the lowest could compete for this honour. All the trades were governed by a syndicate freely elected ; consuls (or delegates) represented the great city of Barcelona in all the established places of commerce ; indeed, its prosperity and authority were such as not only to far surpass, not perhaps the towns of Castile, but certainly those of Arragon. One may understand, then, with what just pride the kings of Arragon saw its union effected with their kingdom in the year 1162. It must be observed, however, that in the democratic and almost republican institutions of Catalonia, in the daring and independence of its people, the sovereign power had more than one trial to undergo. The Arragonese supremacy had never in fact been accepted by the Catalans as other than titular, as a kind of authority wholly subordinated to the institutions emanating from the people themselves. At first, this sovereignty was elective, and about the middle of the thirteenth century thirteen peers determined it by vote, and recognised the king elected as only the thirteenth peer. This kind of election went so far, according to the document from which we quote, as to qualify, if necessary, a heathen, which with the religious beliefs of the Spanish people was more than a heresy.

In Arragon, by the constitution imposed on their kings, these also had to strive against forces at least equal, if not superior, to the authority which conferred on them the crown. The nobility, the clergy, the towns and communes were as hostile to them as was the case in Castile, and even more so. None of the judicial, administrative, or parochial powers was placed under the protecting aegis of the royal authority. Far from it, the powers entrusted by the people to the magistrates were without appeal, the public taxes were fixed and voted by the Cortes, their collection entrusted to receivers nominated by the latter; the mode of application of the subsidies which were granted was even rigidly overlooked ; in one word, the government properly so called slipped out of the control of the monarch. The kings of Arragon, no doubt, felt the inconvenience of such a state of things, but they submitted to it nevertheless.

From this sort of absolute independence of all the bodies of the State there naturally resulted frequent revolts against the Crown. First, the nobility, already free of taxation, were incessantly in conflict with the royal authority; at the slightest refusal of their kings to yield to their demands, they con- federated, and formed what was termed the Union, and by either deceptive promises or constraint induced towns and people to join in their revolt. Next, by the instrumentality of the first and supreme magistrate, called the justizia, the Union dictated its laws not only to the King but to the country. Peter II, and James the Conqueror himself in vain attempted to get the better of the Union ; one alone, Peter IV., bolder and more fortunate, was successful against the army of the confederates, and cut them to pieces at the battle of Epila ; the same who at Saragossa, in the presence of the Cortes, tore with his dagger the deed setting forth their privileges ; but having in his anger wounded himself in the hand he allowed the blood to run over the parchment, exclaiming that these privileges had proved so injurious to royalty that they could be effaced only by the blood of a king !

From that time the power of the nobility diminished, without, however, having lost its influence, and at the moment when Ferdinand acceded to the throne of Arragon and united his crown to that of Castile, this nobility still retained something of its power ; a circumstance which occasioned Ferdinand to say that it was as difficult to disunite the nobility of Arragon as it was to unite the nobility of Castile. With all these particulars relating to the kingdom of Arragon, and in spite of the numerous obstacles which its constitution presented to the exercise of the power of the Crown, still its union with Castile brought with it a considerable accession of strength ; in this sense especially, that Arragon, however independent it had always shown itself of the royal authority, had not brought itself to ruin as Castile had done, but had retained intact the wealth it had long amassed. If Arragon confederated, it was also as prudent and calculating as a genuine trader. It valued its money fully as much as its liberty, and was equally economical of both.

As for the kings of Arragon, their revenue was so slender that they never had the means, even had they wished it, of gratifying their favourites as the kings of Castile had done. At the time of its union with Castile the position of Arragon was thus : At home, a great territory extending from the Pyrenees to beyond Valencia, safe and roomy harbours on the Mediterranean, busy towns carrying on a lucrative and widely extended commerce, a proud and independent peasantry inured to all the labours of peace and war; abroad, conquests such as those of Sardinia, Sicily, and the Balearic Islands ; such was the rich jewel that Ferdinand brought to the Crown of Castile. Isabella appreciated all its importance, but at the same time, with the intelligence and profound good sense that- marked her character, she perceived at once by the condition of the kingdom, as it had been left by her brother Henry IV., what reforms it was necessary everywhere to introduce in order to put an end to the misery which oppressed her unhappy people. Isabella had then determined, after the end of the War of Succession, to devote herself to the accomplishment of these great reforms: law, the royal authority, the nobility, clergy — everything called for redress; it was necessary, then, and immediately, to re-establish authority, to restore to the law its true attributes, to curb the nobility, to correct the failings as well as the ambition of the clergy. All this .Queen Isabella alone undertook and carried out with perseverance, wisdom, and fortitude.


Reforms — Creation of the Santa Hermandad, its rules, its action — Courts of justice — Reform of the laws — Isabella holds her court of justice at Seville — Re-establishment of the royal authority — Particulars of the resumptions — Re-sistance of the nobility — The three military Orders of Calatrava, Alcantara, and Santiago — Their statutes, their power — Isabella assumes the nomination to the Grand-mastership of all the three Orders.

Justice and order are the foundation and safeguard of all society. Justice had disappeared in the anarchy which overwhelmed the weak Henry; it was asked for, invoked everywhere, but was nowhere to be found, or rather only in the harsh and lawless will of an insatiable nobility, overbearing towards its dependants; for all persons had ceased to be subjects of the Crown to become the subjects of the petty nobility. As a consequence of such violent proceedings, of such general com- motion, anarchy supervened and exercised a merciless sway at the time when, as we have already said, Isabella acceded to a tottering and discredited throne. No order, no law, no judge to administer it; licence, the terrible licence of anarchy, reigned everywhere unrestrained. Hence, half-cultivated fields, towns given up to the stronger, the streets deserted, and infested at night by thieves and prowling vagabonds; hence, outrages on the person, houses broken into; and in Spain, in Catholic Castile too, places the most revered, the churches, profaned.

Anything served for a stronghold, and in the districts there were to be found as many as there were lords or partisans; there too were caves serving as places of refuge for thieves, who robbed both rich and poor alike, and where they quietly shared their booty. To travel, or go away from home, or look after the most necessary affairs, was therefore become almost an impossibility. At this lamentable and shameful scene Isabella from the first comprehended that force alone, united with a pitiless justice, could cut at the root of an evil so deeply implanted ; she was satisfied of it, and determined on putting it immediately into execution.

There had formerly existed in Castile a confraternity called the Santa Hermandad, or Holy Brotherhood. This institution, which formerly had only served as a weapon in the hands of the nobles in revolt against the Crown, Isabella now diverted from its original purpose and remodelled it. At a meeting that took place at Madrigal composed of deputies from various towns of the kingdom, this new and salutary institution was declared an establishment of the State. Its statutes, powers, composition of its members, the laws from which it emanated, and to the conservation of which it tended, its material resources and means of self-support, the military force it could set on foot, and of which it had the absolute disposal : all these attributes were comprised in the act passed at this meeting at Madrigal, which became a famous and popular measure. The Hermandad was instituted for the maintenance of public orders The offences that came under its jurisdiction included robbery, outrages on the person and on property, violation of places consecrated to holy religion, rape, resistance to the officers of justice in the execution of their duty. For the maintenance of this public force, of these men-at-arms, an annual contribution was levied. Each group comprising one hundred heads of families had to pay yearly a sum of eighteen thousand maravedis for the keep, equipment, and arms of a horse soldier. If a crime was committed — a murder, robbery, rape, abduction — the alarm bell was immediately rung from all the churches of the neighbourhood; the troop took to its arms and set off in pursuit of the culprit ; a reward was also adjudged to the one who effected the capture. In every district, in every canton comprising more than thirty families, or about one hundred and fifty individuals, was established a tribunal consisting of two alcaldes (magistrates), which gave judgment on all the crimes committed within its jurisdiction.

At a fixed period every year a general junta of deputies assembled from all the towns in the kingdom, discussed the affairs of the day, came to a decision upon them, and relegated them to the parish juntas, which had to see to their fulfilment. The general junta of Tordesillas which assembled in 1485 reports in great detail all the penalties, including that of death, undergone in accordance with the gravity of the crime and the circumstances in which it was perpetrated. One may under- stand then how with such an instrument of power the Queen's Government soon acquired the absolute control in the administration of the law of the country. Indeed, in the course of a few years robbery had disappeared, tranquillity was restored, and the Castilians, under the protection of this watchful guardianship, were able to cultivate their fields un- disturbed, and worship God in their venerated churches. This power of the Hermandad was such that in Galicia alone three hundred strong places were razed, and as many as fifteen thousand convicts compelled to leave the kingdom, to the great joy of the poor dwellers in the mountains, who regarded them as so many wild beasts.

Isabella, in pursuance of her plans of reform and of the restoration of order by the agency of the law, determined by her presence in person to solemnise its judgments. At Seville in the year 1485 she herself ad- ministered that justice so long banished from its seat. Solemnly enthroned in the great hall of the Alcazar, the palace formerly of the Abderrahmans, she took her seat every Friday surrounded by her council, with all the pomp and parade of a court of justice. Her judgments were received as definitive and never gave rise to the slightest demur, so much were they impressed with goodness and equity. The habit with Castilian sovereigns of meting out justice themselves in person was no new thing in that ancient monarchy, the kings of the Gothic race having been, the first to introduce this patriarchal custom; the early Catholic kings had long continued the same practice in the Asturias, and history records that St. Louis, King of France, did the like when he dispensed justice under the legendary oak tree. In Spain it comported well with the royal authority represented in a woman to be thus the mouthpiece of the law to her subjects. The result of a residence of the Queen of two months at Seville was manifested by the settlement of a great number of civil and criminal cases adjudicated upon by her; by the restoration to the true owners of property wrongfully acquired, and by the deportation of criminals, who fled abroad from the justice of their country. The institution of the courts and tribunals underwent also under the auspices of the Queen a thorough reorganisation. The form of procedure of the high criminal court was not modified, but the court of appeal in civil actions was entirely reconstituted ; it was the same in respect of the statutes relative to the administration proper of justice, to the nomination of the judges, the condition of the prisons, the number of prisoners, the salaries of the judges, and those of the advocates who enriched themselves by the poor. A free advocate for the poor was appointed in every court of law. The Castilian codes of very ancient origin were likewise subjected to a thorough reform at the same time.

Alfonso X, King of Castile, in his code of the seven parts (siete partidas), so called because the number seven corresponded with the number of letters of his name, had restored purely and simply both in the text and spirit the principles of Roman law; these principles, modified and made applicable by Isabella to a new era, were in less than four years published and came into force. This code, under the name of royal ordinances, was brought out at Huete in the year 1495. It was one of the first documents printed in Spain on the linen paper invented by the Arabs, with which at that time Castile sup- plied all Europe. The nobility, however, always so jealous of its privileges, refused from the first to submit to a jurisdiction which deprived it of much of its power.

The nobility had their seignorial rights, and exercised them without regard for authority, and they had no idea of being dispossessed of them. Isabella, in spite of their determined resistance, succeeded at length in bringing them to almost entire submission, without the exercise at the same time of over much rigour. The grandees observing moreover that since the accession of Isabella rank and birth possessed no longer the same privileges as before to attract their ambition, seeing also persons of inferior rank, but recommended by their talents or their services, attaining like themselves, or even more so, to the highest positions, the grandees, we say, struck and uneasy at these liberal tendencies of the new reign, reflected upon it and submitted. Such were the first and salutary results of the reorganisation of justice in Castile under Isabella.

Next to the above reforms, the authority of the Crown had the most need of a complete restoration. Since the accession of the line of Trastamara we know through what trials, what humiliations it had successively passed, down to the scene of Avila, where King Henry, the brother of Isabella, was exposed in effigy, stripped, spurned by the confederates, and flung into the dust. After such a scandal, after others no less affecting a licentious and dissolute court, an immodest queen, the ignominious birth of the Princess Jane, the declared bastard of a low favourite, it became incumbent on a sovereign entertaining a self- respect to bring back to the throne the honour which had been lost in these royal saturnalia. Isabella, courageous and upright as she was, undertook this difficult transformation. Henry's court was licentious — hers was strict; the Queen was profligate — Isabella was pure ; the clergy was ostentatious — it ought to be unpretending ; the nobility had monopolised all the property of the communes, of the towns, and of the Crown itself — the nobility would have to make restitution. The Cortes in the year 1480 at Toledo effected in part this restitution.

The wasted revenue of the Crown at the period of the Queen's accession amounted to less than forty thousand ducats per annum only, a sum hardly sufficient to exist upon. This revenue was increased by the recall of grants foolishly lavished by Henry IV. and his predecessors upon an insatiable nobility. Pensions were revised, and all favours granted without claim or title were withdrawn. The Crown recovered by these means thirty mil- lion maravedis, out of which sum the Queen immediately distributed twenty millions among the widows and orphans of the soldiers who perished in the War of Succession. This act gained for her the possession of all hearts. The communes imitated these examples of resumption. They annulled all the concessions affecting their private property extorted by the nobility during the reign of Henry IV. The nobles, indignant, as we may well believe, at these proceedings, threatened to quit the Court, and again take up their arms ; Isabella replied to them in words which deserve to be recorded to her honour : “You may follow the Court, or you may retire to your estates if you prefer to do so; but so long as God shall allow us to retain the position to which He has called us, we shall take care to avoid the example of Henry IV of becoming a puppet in the hands of our nobility”. The grandees understood, and recalled to mind the words that Alfonso X. had formerly said in his curious chronicle concerning them : “All these lords”, he said, “are not leagued against me in defence of their privileges, nor for any wrong I have done them; for I have never in my life deprived them of any liberty. Neither have they acted so out of regard for the good of the country, for this country is my heritage ; now no one wishes them well more than myself, and all they possess there are the favours I bestow on them ; but their real motive is to be continually harassing their kings in order to deprive them of their honour and their heritage. The more power the King gives them, the more they endeavour to wrest from him". The same thing would have occurred during the reign of Isabella if she had permitted it : it is precisely what she did not.

The great establishments of the military-religious Orders, and especially the immense advantages attached to them, were of a nature to occupy likewise the attention of the Queen, whose authority might be seriously impugned by these formidable powers. The military- religious Orders were of Castilian origin. Whilst other peoples inflamed with a holy love of God went on crusade to Palestine and hurried away to its deliverance, Castile had its own crusade at home ; and coming down in arms from the sterile mountains of Asturias drove the infidels step by step before them, halting only before the ramparts of Granada, against which it will be Isabella's destiny to lead them. These great achievements had not been accomplished solely by Castilian armies; the whole body of the clergy, the bishops at their head, had appeared in the midst of the combatants, and more than one instance is recorded, in the course of this famous and patriotic struggle, of bishops standing at the side of the sovereigns, the sword in one hand and the crucifix in the other. Nor were the monastic orders the last to offer their services in the prosecution of this holy war. Thus took their rise the three religio-military Orders of Calatrava, Alcantara, and Santiago. The Order of Calatrava sprang from that of the Knights Templars. At the first they were entrusted by the kings of Castile with the charge of the town of Calatrava, whence their name ; and having valiantly defended it against the infidels, they received considerable lands from King Sancho III. in the year 1157. This example of the establishment of military orders in Castile fulfilled its purpose, and gave rise to two others equally famous, those of Alcantara and Santiago. The Order of Santiago was instituted for the purpose of protecting the pilgrims who came to fulfil their vows at the tomb of St. James at Compostella. Harassed incessantly by the Moors, and even by Christians, who robbed them on their way, it became necessary to provide for their safety. This was all the more urgent because this pilgrimage was become for Spain one of the most important and lucrative branches of its commerce.

At first the canons of St. Eloi had thought to remedy this evil by erecting inns and hospitals along the entire route between Prance and Compostella in which pilgrims could be received nightly, but it was a vain precaution; between each station the same evils recurred, and the country traversed was so mountainous that robbers escaped with absolute impunity ; it was necessary, therefore, to devise some other means.

Alfonso VIII set himself to the work with ardour and intelligence. In concert with the King of Leon, his neighbour, he projected the creation of a permanent force which constantly patrolling the road would insure a safe passage. Some Castilian gentlemen having offered themselves to render this service, the King referred the matter to the Pope Alexander : a bull was in consequence granted, and a new Order, that of the Knights of Santiago, was instituted. Its rule differed from that of Calatrava; they might marry under certain conditions. Don Pedro Martines was the first Grand-master of the Order; their distinctive dress was a white cloak, on which was attached a cross of red cloth.

These three Orders were from their foundation everywhere to be seen in front of battle, and at the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa they were the first to break the Mussulman squares. From the commencement their military reputation and power were assured by the signal services they rendered to their sovereigns. Hence their importance and their wealth. They inherited immense possessions ; the Order of Santiago, for instance, possessed eighty-four commanderies and two hundred benefices, and could bring a considerable force into the field. In the reign of Isabella the Order of Santiago was in the enjoyment of a revenue of six hundred thousand ducats annually, that of Calatrava of four hundred thousand, and that of Alcantara four hundred and fifty thousand ducats. In every province in the Peninsula the Orders possessed castles and convents, and their wealth equalled that of the Crown itself. One may then understand of what importance it was at this period to the royal authority that the nomination to the offices of Grand-masters of these Orders should be vested in no other hands than those of the Queen herself. At the earliest period of her reign, the death of the Grand-master of Santiago in 1476 indicated the policy she intended to adopt in this respect.

Isabella was at that moment at Valladolid; she mounted directly on horseback (it was her usual mode of travelling) and arrived unexpectedly at the town of Huete, where a chapter of the Order was being held, and already deliberating on the nomination to the vacancy in the Grand-mastership. The Queen entered, and energetically demonstrating the danger there would be in entrusting to an ordinary subject so important an office, pro- posed frankly to the council to elect the King her consort. This proposal met with at first but little success ; Ferdinand was an Arragonese, and how much soever the interests of both peoples were become blended since the union of the two crowns, the same antipathy still continued to exist. It was at last agreed that the King, nominated by the Order, should immediately resign possession in favour of a Castilian, and by this compromise, and by the nomination to the Grand-mastership of Alonzo de Cardenas, one of the most faithful servants of the Crown, all was concluded to the satisfaction of the Queen. Thus was established the right of the kings of Castile to the nomination henceforward of the Grand-masters of the Orders ; and the popes themselves, who had at first claimed this prerogative, now lost it.


Power of the Crown — The great ecclesiastical offices and benefices — Isabella demands of the Papacy the nomination to these offices — The Jews — Their position in Castile — Their wealth; their alliances; enmities that they excite — Institution of the Inquisition in Castile — Opposition of Isabella — First bull of Pope Sixtus IV. — False conversions — The Inquisition in Arragon — Opposition to it — Conspiracy against the Grand Inquisitor Arbues — He is assassinated — General state of Castile after the reforms of Isabella.

From this assumption of the right of the Crown to the nomination to the Grand-masterships, to that concerning the ecclesiastical rights of the Crown, and to the resistance to papal usurpations, was but a step. This Isabella undertook.

Although brought up from her earliest years in the respect of the ministers of God, and especially of the head of Christendom on earth, there was yet within her so much of patriotic sensitiveness when the independence or rights of the Crown was in question, that when either one or the other was threatened or attacked she displayed the utmost firmness in their defence. The papal yoke had from the time of the Gothic monarchy fallen upon Spain with all its weight ; the popes, encroaching upon all authority, looked even into the most minute details affecting the economy of the Church ; and they not only sovereignly disposed of benefices of all kinds, but they arrogated the right to determine alone, and ratify alone, those who should be elected to bishoprics and other high ecclesiastical dignities. Such were the relations between the Church and the Papacy that Isabella found established. There was thus a great danger for Castile, especially with regard to order and to the national defence.

In Castile the episcopal domains (in Andalucia, for instance) frequently extended as far as the Moorish frontier, and formed a line of national and military defence which it was important to secure. If the keeping of these domains was confided to foreign bishops or to absentees, the danger became immediately apparent. In referring this matter to the Pope, the Queen claimed the formal and absolute right (a right moreover already confirmed by the Cortes) of herself alone nominating to the vacant benefices. An event occurred, that of a vacancy in the episcopal see of Cuenca, which brought about a solution of this burning question. In 1482, Pope Sixtus IV had conferred this see on a foreigner, a Genoese, the Cardinal San Giorgio ; the Queen protested, and claimed that the Bishop of Cordova should be named instead to the vacancy. The Pope replied that he was the head of the Church, that his power was absolute, that he alone possessed the right of nominating to the sees and other Church benefices, and that “he was not made to consult the preferences of earthly sovereigns”. The reply was harsh, especially for the pious Queen ; however, endeavours were made to arrive at an understanding ; a legate from Rome was charged with the negotiation of the affair; and after a good deal of trouble Pope Sixtus IV himself issued a bull according to which his Holiness engaged to ratify henceforth to the vacancies those only whom the Queen herself had appointed. It was this that Isabella had asked for. The bishop already nominated by her was appointed to Cuenca, and from that time the Queen disposed of all vacancies in favour of such persons as by their virtues were worthy of filling these eminent offices.

This faculty of exercising full control over the largest as well as the smaller benefices, of appointing directly to all the sees and all other benefices, gave great authority to the Crown, and lessened proportionately that of the clergy. Isabella could not but recall, indeed, the part the clergy had taken at all times in the affairs of Castile, and what had been the power, the influence, the wealth it possessed in its contests with the royal authority. Only lately, at the scene of Avila, it was the Archbishop of Toledo himself who had torn the royal crown from the head of King Henry's image, and in the name of the confederates flung it into the dust to the acclamations of a furious populace. Later still, it was the same Archbishop, now rallied to the cause of Isabella, who so insolently remarked of her : “I have placed the sceptre in her hand : I am well able if I pleased to make her resume the distaff”. He again, in common with others, his colleagues, in the enjoyment of immense revenues, could raise numerous forces, possessed many towns, and was thus enabled to counterbalance the royal authority itself.

Having the right of nomination the Queen was careful to select to these dignities learned and moderate men sincerely attached to her crown ; she thus cut at the root of the evil of this anomalous power. We have already noted one particular feature in the character of Isabella, namely her extreme solicitude to maintain the prerogatives of the Crown, in order to show all the importance she attached to their strict preservation. She alone was Sovereign Queen of Castile ; and as such all the prerogatives belonging to her crown were to be held as sacred, to the maintenance of which she had more than any other to devote all her care : this was a distinctive feature in her character — above all she was a Castilian.

The royal power thus reconstituted in all essential respects, there yet long since existed in Castile a numerous, rich, and powerful class, which gave the Crown incessant trouble; we speak of the converted Moors and the Jews. Although the Moors had been vanquished and driven away by the Christian kings from their possessions, all had not expatriated themselves ; a large number indeed, in order to save their property, which was considerable, were become, they declared, converted to the Christian faith. For the most part this conversion was only feigned, and all these, in secret understanding with another race — the Jews — who were very numerous, especially in Castile, combined to form a nucleus of resistance, which it was politic at first to take note of, and subsequently to crush. These Moors, besides, were in secret correspondence with their countrymen in Granada, a kingdom still very powerful ; and in concert with them might have succeeded at a given moment in causing to the kings of Castile the most serious embarrassment.

The Jews, on their side, were by their real power become equally a danger to the State. Since the accession of the kings of the Gothic line they had invaded almost the entire kingdom, and acquired, relatively to the times, great wealth. The Gothic) kings persecuted them in every way, but without attaining completely their object. After the Moors had succeeded the Gothic kings, the Jews continued their extensive commerce and stealthy encroachments; they were the enemies of the Gothic kings because these last were Christians; they were the friends of the caliphs because these were not so ; they were besides connected with the new conquerors from the East by a sort of relationship attaching to a common Oriental origin, as well as by their traditional hatred to the followers of Christ. The Jews, therefore, from the earliest days of the Arab dominion made common cause with the invaders; and rivalled them, skilful as these were, by their aptitude in the knowledge of commerce, the progress of industry, and acquaintance with letters and the arts.

It thus happened that the Jews found in Castile and other parts of the Peninsula, into which they penetrated from all sides, their place marked out for them as it were, and even an important one. By degrees they became also esteemed as professors in the great schools of Cordova, Toledo and Granada, drawing around them numerous disciples, and practising with equal skill the sciences of medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and literature. In financial affairs they were particularly well versed ; they possessed, as they do in our day, a marvellous aptitude and keenness. Such was their position under the caliphs. When the conquest of the Peninsula was achieved by the Christian armies, the Jews continued to reside in the conquered towns as before, and very soon regained their position. Thus, under the reigns of Alfonso X, Peter the Cruel, Henry II, and even Henry IV, we find Jews directing the studies of Christian princes, administering their finances, and serving them as trusted physicians. There was yet more; the dilapidated fortunes of the Castilian nobility had not always been able to resist the need of reconstruction, and more than one grandee was known, especially in Castile, to have sought the hand of a Jewess without fear of the discredit attaching to such an act; this was termed a regilding of his coat, as it is now in our day.

 Some of them, desirous of ingratiating themselves in the families with whom they resided, had even apostatised, but in such a manner as to become on the part of the populace objects of the most cruel acts of violence. They were accused of profaning the sacred symbols of worship, and of endless horrors, such as the sacrifice of Christian children on the occasion of their Easter celebrations; of monopolising all property, of usury, of ruining the poor; so much so, that in the year previous to the accession of Isabella the inhabitants of the town of Jaen  had violently risen against them in the name of a desecrated religion, and massacred the Constable of Castile himself, who strove to put a stop to this regrettable outbreak. Since then, and during the earlier years of the War of Succession, the apprehensions and incitements against the unconverted Jews and Moors incessantly assailed the throne. The Pope himself was first urgently entreated, and the first also to be resolved to put an end to this heresy, which he regarded as not only a spiritual crime but as a direct personal attack. Hence the institution, or rather the reappearance, of the Inquisition in Spain.

The Inquisition was introduced for the first time into Arragon in 1242 by the Council of Tarragona. It was confined to this small kingdom, where at that time it made but few victims, all the energies of the Arragonese princes being directed abroad, in France, where Peter II, the brave King of Arragon, lost his life at the battle of Muret, in the great crusade against the Albigenses. In Castile, properly speaking, the Inquisition had not appeared; and until the reign of Isabella persecution was limited to certain cruel proceedings, to which we have already referred, against a race an object of hate and chiefly of jealousy to all. From this time all accusations, all complaints took consistence ; the clamour against the Jews, against their abominations, their ill-acquired wealth, their luxury, became general; and two Dominicans, Diego Merlo and Alphonso de Ojeda, made themselves the spokesmen of this outcry with the Sovereigns, while urging them to extirpate it at its source. Nicolo Franco, the papal nuncio accredited to the Sovereigns, urged with a particular vehemence that they should solicit of the Holy Father the re-establishment of this tribunal, with all the advantages it offered in the cause of religion.

Queen Isabella, whose goodness and patriotism were well known, was at first far from consenting to such a project. Her judgment pointed out to her two great perils. First, the Pope would assume over her subjects and her kingdom, of which she alone was the mistress, an authority she could hardly bring herself to admit ; next, her goodness of heart shrank at the thought of the evils which thus, and in spite of her, would be inflicted on her people; she accordingly hesitated. King Ferdinand, her consort, actuated by another motive, explained to her in detail and with conviction how enormous a source of revenue would be acquired to the country by the crushing confiscations of the property of the Jews and Moors. To this proposal the Queen, whose sense of justice was well known, objected still more strongly; and it was only after much objection, much uncertainty, and much perplexity, that, overcome by entreaties and the exhortations of Torquemada, her confessor, her consent to this great and terrible measure was at last extorted from her.

Sixtus IV occupied at this time the Papal See. On November 1, 1478, he despatched a first bull authorising three inquisitors to proceed to the suppression of heresy in Spain. Already alarmed on the reception of this bull at the extent of the powers conferred on the inquisitors, Isabella suspended the action of these severe measures, and ordered Cardinal Mendoza, the Archbishop of Seville, to suppress, first, all their rigours, and next, in order to avoid them, to compose a sort of catechism, which, while enlightening the Israelites on the first principles of Christianity, could protect them from persecution. Thus it was that, owing to the interposition of the Queen, the Inquisition operated at first only nominally in Castile. But the persistent and severe remonstrances of the Pope on the one hand, and the obstinate and selfish arguments of King Ferdinand on the other, ended in overcoming the opposition of the Queen to these severities, which were as repugnant to the magnanimity as to the firmness of her character. She had then to yield, but in yielding she closed not the door upon herself by the complaints and unceasing prayers she addressed to the Holy Father ; so that at last Sixtus himself, struck by the inconsiderate zeal of the inquisitors, threatened to deprive them of their office if. they continued to act in this manner.

The work went on nevertheless; when large numbers of the oppressed Jews succeeded in escaping, some to Granada, where they were protected, others to Germany and Italy, whence they vainly appealed against the decree of the Holy Office. As for the Moors, they, for the most part, preferred conversion, at least ostensibly so; thus reserving all their action and their hopes to the day when their brothers in Granada should have occasion to require their services in arms against the Christians. On this subject, and in reference to the Moors, this system of the Inquisition was never better defined than it was by one of our most talented men, M. Guizot, who remarked: “The Inquisition in its inception was rather an instrument of order than an instrument of religion”. Indeed, as regarded the Moors, it was essentially a political measure ; while in the case of the Jews the Inquisition was fully as much a religious as it was a political instrument, because in those times religion identified itself with policy. This notion, so difficult of appreciation now-adays, was, however, a truth in the fifteenth century.

In Arragon, the Inquisition, under the auspices of King Ferdinand, its interested partisan, worked, unlike in Castile, with an energy one may imagine. This tribunal, however, so opposed to the free and independent character of the Arragonese, lent itself at last to such atrocious acts, that in despair of obtaining justice they plotted a conspiracy against Arbues, inquisitor of the diocese of Saragossa, and condemned him to death. Arbues, who knew his life was threatened, wore a cuirass under his monk's gown. One evening, as he was kneeling in prayer in the cathedral in Saragossa, one of the conspirators towards midnight plunged a dagger into his back : he expired in the church itself. The murder of Arbues only served to increase the rigours of the Holy Office in Arragon; and filled with grief the heart of Isabella, who, in profound dissent on this subject from the King her consort, saw that thus the papal yoke would fall far .heavier still on unhappy Castile. But decided as she always was in her religious independence, she was no less animated by a tender interest she never ceased to feel for her dear Castilians, nor ceased an instant throughout her reign to appease, to disarm, or to intercede with this terrible power of the Holy Office ; nor from her endeavours to quench the fires which, lit at first for the Jews and the Moors, ended at last in enveloping the Christians themselves. In the incessant resistance to these lamentable acts may be seen her nature — merciful, firm, and essentially national.

Isabella had thus in the course of barely six years by wise and efficacious measures succeeded in restoring and resuscitating in her government of Castile justice, order, and safety by the institution of the Hermandad ; the royal authority by the force she had restored to it; morality and purity of manners by her own example. The nobility, justly deprived of all the unlawful concessions granted during the reigns of the weak dynasty of the Trastamara, had been relegated to its proper place, and the towns as well as communes had recovered all the property of which they had been iniquitously deprived by a crowd of favourites. The clergy had also, on their part, to restore to the Crown much of the power they had usurped ; all the appointments to episcopal offices and to benefices now came into the proper domain of the royal authority; and thus Isabella consolidated still further her rightful power. Such was in all respects and in all its branches the situation of the government of the Queen about the year 1481, or seven years after her accession. Her kingdom thus tranquillised, the Queen felt that there still remained a duty to be accomplished towards the Crown if she would leave it great and glorious after her. The kings of Castile her predecessors had all, with the exception of the Trastamara, placed their swords in the service of the deliverance. All of them had driven the infidels in succession from their kingdoms. Toledo, Seville, Cordova, had successively opened their gates, and the standard of Castile waved over the Arab mosques ; when Isabella, in her turn also taking up the grand idea of the reconquest, cast her eyes upon the last kingdom in all Spain left to the infidels, and aspired to be the one who should crown the great enterprise by the conquest of Granada.

Powerful and warlike, this kingdom was covered with formidable fortresses held by a brave soldiery : its conquest became all the more glorious. Isabella resolved upon it.

Part III. 1481 — 1487

CHAPTER I The kingdom of Granada — Its foundation — The city of Granada — Its walls and fortresses — Its Vega — The Alhambra —  Revenue of the kingdom Its population Commerce Army Preparations for the campaign by Isabella First attack of Alhama The assault — Alhama besieged by the King of Granada — Believed by King Ferdinand — Energy of Isabella.

The kingdom of Granada was founded in the year 1228. The vigorous efforts of the Christian kings having, little by little, compelled the Mussulmans to retire towards the provinces of Lower Andalucia, the circle formed by the Castilian armies contracted, and had left only the province of Granada under the dominion of the infidels. This province became soon a kingdom, and had an extent of one hundred and eighty leagues in circumference, and twenty-five leagues in its greatest width. To the east was the kingdom of Murcia, conquered by Arragon to the west Gibraltar and Cadiz, conquered by Castile; to the north, the great snow- covered mountains that separated it from Christian Andalucia; to the south, the Medi- terranean Sea : such was its position. At the time when the conquest of this important kingdom was determined on, it contained fourteen large towns and ninety-seven less considerable. Among the great towns were Granada, Almeria, Malaga, and Velez-Malaga. A multitude of fortresses and small forts crowned all the summits of the mountains; in these mountains were famous mines, in the deep valleys rich pasturages and limpid streams; on the sea shores commodious ports, such as Almeria and Malaga, which enabled them to carry on a commerce with all Europe, with their co-religionists in Africa in particular. On this fertile and cultivated soil dwelt a hardy, laborious, industrious population, the remnant of all those who had been driven away from Seville and Cordova, and who had brought with them there their skill and industry. Such was the state of the kingdom of Granada at the time Isabella was about to invade it. The reigning sovereign was Abdallah el Zaquin, who was of a mild disposition and beloved by his people.

Situate in the centre of the kingdom, the town of Granada, from its elevated position, appeared, like a crown, to dominate all. It possessed all that was requisite to render it the capital of a great empire. It was built at the foot of the Sierra Nevada upon two hills, below which flowed two small rivers, the Xenil and the Darro. On the summits of these hills rose two fortresses, the Albaycin and the Alhambra, each of which could contain forty thousand men. The houses occupying the hill sides and the hollow of a small valley gave to the town the resemblance of a half- open pomegranate, whence, according to M. de Chateaubriand, it derived its name. The pomegranate, grown in the country and figuring on its armorial bearings, is much more likely to be the symbol and derivation. The town was at that time encompassed by a brick wall, flanked with one thousand and thirty towers, to which seven gates gave entrance. Its population in the year 1480 amounted to two hundred thousand souls; contemporary chronicles relate that the city itself could furnish fifty thousand combatants.

The Alhambra, the fortress which crowned the summit of one of the two hills mentioned, was the royal fortress and the residence of the Sovereign. The description of this palace is to be found everywhere; its galleries, porticoes, colonnades, the tocador, the famous dressing room of the Queen, the great Hall of the Ambassadors, the Court of Lions, the Hall of the Abencerrages with its fountains, its domes, its walls sparkling with ever fresh-looking mosaics — all these marvels were, as they remain still, the most perfect and interesting models of the light and elegant architecture of the Arabs ; all attested to the taste and opulence of the luxurious owners.

At the foot of the Alhambra, and below the last houses of the town, extended an immense plain, the celebrated Vega, which was to become the battle field of the two armies. This plain, of more than thirty leagues in extent, was a marvel of Arab culture; in the deep soil the vine, the pomegranate, and the mulberry rivalled one another in verdure and luxuriance. Here the harvests always ripened, all kinds of fruits and flowers displayed their delicate colours; here the water of the Xenil, distributed to each one by an ingenious method practised still at the present day, spread life and abundance around. The mountains and snows of the Sierra Nevada stood out above this horizon.

The revenue of the kingdom was considerable, amounting to more than 1,200,000 ducats. The royal domains comprised mines which yielded the precious metals in abundance; the coinage of the caliphs was esteemed for its purity. The commerce of Granada with the coast towns along the Mediterranean sea- board was considerable and lucrative. All Italy derived from Granada her silks and raw stuffs. The Arabs were most skilful in the fabrication of gold-embroidered silks, then so much the fashion at most of the European courts. This extensive commerce was carried on from the ports of Malaga and Almeria, and extended as far as the Levant; and in this connection it may be mentioned that the probity of the Arabs in affairs of commerce was become proverbial; in dealing with them no written agreement was required, their word of mouth was enough; which gave occasion to a certain bishop, according to one historian, to remark “that the probity of a Moor and the faith of a Spaniard sufficed to make a good Christian!”

The Moors of Granada were also reputed for bravery and hardihood in warlike operations. Sober, indefatigable on the march, they made light of distance, and excelled in those attacks and surprises of guerilla warfare which seemed to be natural to them. The Moors were besides excellent horsemen, and, like the Arabs, loved their horse and their weapons as much as, and perhaps more than, themselves. They were acquainted also with the use of gunpowder, of which they were almost the first to make use ; though they held it in less esteem than their good swords and lances, which they fearlessly handled. Such was the powerful nation which the Christian arms were about to enter into conflict with.

Before engaging in so formidable an enterprise, a war which was to last nearly eleven years, Isabella had necessarily to prepare for it; and as she had carefully proceeded to effect the civil reorganisation of her kingdom, so she had not omitted to introduce a military organisation fit to cope with the very great difficulties she would have to confront. The Castilian army until Isabella's time was formed of militia commanded by captains who were chosen by their equals in rank, an election which always resulted in conferring the sword of command on him who was the bravest and the most approved. These militia, dependants on their lord, assembled at his order at the spot appointed by the Sovereign, and there awaited instructions. Discipline as well as cohesion was usually wanting, yet in all their great battles, as at Calatañasor and Las Navas, the Christian squadrons had always triumphed.

Ferdinand and Isabella lately in the War of Succession had not been unobservant of all the defects of such a military organisation, and they had profited by this experience, and time, to remedy them. The Queen felt also that the success of this great undertaking of the deliverance of the country, and the total expulsion of the infidels, depended on her taking upon herself the command of the army. The artillery, of recent invention, was the first subject of deliberation with her grand council. In order to reduce all the Moorish fortresses — and in the kingdom of Granada the whole country literally swarmed with them — a numerous and well-organised artillery was indispensable. The most skilful engineers and artisans were brought from France, Italy, and Germany ; furnaces and forges for bullets and all necessary implements were constructed ; next, enormous quantities of gunpowder were imported from Sicily and Portugal, and thus a considerable force of artillery was shortly obtained. The first pieces constructed were clumsy enough, being formed of iron blades joined together and encircled by rings of the same metal; their fire was indeed a little uncertain, but when they did go off they killed, and lit up conflagrations destructive to the enemy. The arming of the infantry was also carefully considered. Lances, cross-bows, and swords received new models. As for the sick and wounded, they were taken under the especial care of the Queen, who founded on their behalf what were called the Queen's hospitals ; these were great movable tents, which were carried in the rear of the army, and were provided with all the necessary appliances and service; physicians, surgeons, medicines, everything was to be found there, as well as chaplains, whose duty was to administer spiritual comfort to the wounded. All these arrangements being completed, an unexpected event occurred which had the effect of hastening the outbreak of this great war.

It was in the year 1481 that the town of Zahara, in the possession of the Christians under the command of Hernandez de Saavedra, was surprised one night by the King of Granada at the head of his troops, who drove out the Castilian garrison. Ferdinand and Isabella, who were at that time at Medina del Campo, received the account of this unfortunate defeat with the utmost concern; they at once raised their standard. Thus commenced the war, of which the issue so fatal to the Mussulmans had been foretold by one of their aged men, who on the news of the capture of Zahara had cried on one of the public places of Granada : “Soon shall fall on our heads the ruins of Alhama and crush us. May my prediction prove false! but I feel within me a certain secret presentiment that the end of our dominion in Spain is near”. The old man predicted truly : the end of the Mussulman dominion in Spain was the result of the war of Granada.

Isabella,, moreover, had long since had a most serious cause of complaint against the sovereigns of that kingdom. Those sovereigns owed her tribute, and when in accordance with treaties Ferdinand in 1476 had claimed this tribute of the King of Grranada, the latter presumed to reply to the ambassador: “Tell your master that those who paid the tribute are dead, and that Granada now fabricates for ' the Christians only heads of lances and blades for scimetars”. It was to this taunt that Ferdinand and Isabella on their part replied by at last entering on the campaign with all their forces.

The general plan of the war seemed to be thus : To first of all make an attack on the capital with its formidable defences was not to be thought of. It was necessary to commence by battering down, and taking possession of, one by one all the important places ; this done, to seize the ports and thus cut off all communication, all supplies from Africa, which was able to furnish considerable reinforcements ; then, after having thus laid waste the country, thinned the enemies’ forces, made some advantageous terms, expelled all those who refused submission, to advance on Granada and take it. It was like cutting off: all the members of a body before arriving at the head. The town of Alhama was the first point to be attacked. It was a town famed for its baths, renowned throughout the Peninsula ; it was also one of the wealthiest in the kingdom, partly from the proceeds of the baths, which were frequented by the great people of the country, partly because it was the general depot of all the public taxes of the province collected there ; it was therefore an important prize. Alhama was situate at equal distance between Granada and Malaga, or about eight leagues from either. Its citadel was strong, as was also its garrison.

The Christian army which marched to the attack of Alhama was commanded by the Marquis of Guadix and the Duke of Medina- Sidonia. who had made up their old quarrels under the banner of the Queen. They had about six thousand men under their command. With these they presented themselves before the enemy, and arrived at night at the foot of the rocky heights at top of which stood the citadel. Ladders were immediately placed in position, and thirty men scaling the ramparts slew the sentinels, and breaking open the gates penetrated into the fort. All the sleeping garrison were put to the sword, and in the morning, when the inhabitants of the town beheld the Castilian flag hoisted on the ramparts of the fortress, they were seized with stupor. Soon, however, recovering from their first surprise, they prepared themselves for a desperate defence. All of them, women, old men, children, took up arms, and when the Christian troops attempted to penetrate into the streets, already barricaded everywhere, they encountered death under showers of stones, projectiles of all kinds, boiling water or oil or pitch flung by the women from the roofs and balconies. Victory, however, at length declared itself in favour of the Castilians; a terrible massacre took place, and the town was pillaged by the soldiers. In sign of victory and as a mark of vengeance, the Marquis of Guadix caused to be hanged on the rampart opposite to the town a Christian renegade discovered in a mosque. This first success of the Chris- tian arms was of good augury for the future. Isabella, who was at the time at Medina del Campo, received the news of it with great joy, and in celebration of it repaired barefooted, it is said, to the Cathedral of Santiago, where a Te Deum  was chanted on the occasion.

The capture of Alhama by the Christians was a serious loss for the King of Granada ; it was at the same time a sort of disgrace for his cause, however good its defence might have been. He determined, therefore, on immediately taking signal revenge ; and sometime after he appeared before Alhama with a great army of more than fifty thousand men ; but so hurried had been his departure from Granada that he had neglected to bring with him his artillery. Already, on the appearance of the King before the place, its works had been repaired, and the town put into an excellent state of defence. Abdallah made an immediate and determined attack, but without effect. He then devised a stratagem : the town was supplied with water only from a well, and to provide for its wants it had to send to fetch it from the river which ran at the foot of the ramparts below, by means of a large sub- terraneous passage that communicated with the river. This passage Abdallah obstructed in such a manner that at every sally the Christians fell by hundreds at its outlet ; every drop of water cost a drop of blood ; famine besides began to be felt, and already there was talk among the Christians of abandoning Alhama, when a favourable and unexpected event occurred to relieve them from the threatened disaster, by the arrival, with a considerable reinforcement, of Don Alonzo Aguilar, brother of the great Gonzalvo of Cordova, who will shortly appear on this scene.

At the approach of this force, the Moorish King, finding himself about to be placed between two enemies, thought it best to retire; and after a fruitless siege of three weeks he returned to Granada. On their part, the Christians, unable to remain longer at Alhama, resolved also on retiring, after dividing their booty; and a small garrison formed of soldiers of the Hermandad was left behind. But the King of Granada, well informed as to the enemy's doings, and of the small importance of the garrison left at Alhama under the command of Diego Merlo, came again for a second time; and this time with a considerable force of artillery he sat down before the place. The Queen, who was then at Seville, received the news with astonishment. A council was immediately assembled, with the result that by a majority of opinions it was concluded that it would be more prudent, in view of the force of the Moorish King, to abandon Alhama. At these words, with the energy that was natural to her, and that was wanting in her counsellors, the Queen explained the absolute necessity of victory, the honour which would result to their arms, to their policy, and to Castile. The firm and inspired words of a young woman, a young queen, electrified the waverers, and the return to Alhama was resolved upon. The Queen herself worked day and night at all the preparations for the expedition, inspected the troops, harangued them, and confided to them the honour of the flag, which she desired, she said, whatever the price, should be hoisted by them over the great tower of Alhama.

That which was said was done, but with- out much bloodshed. At the approach of the army under the command of Ferdinand (the Queen, being confined, had been unable to accompany it), the King of Granada raised his camp and retired. Ferdinand made his entry into Alhama in triumph, attired in his richest robes and escorted by all the grandees and prelates who accompanied the expedition. The mosques were consecrated to Christian worship ; Isabella presented them with very costly ornaments, and the first service held in the new cathedral by the Cardinal of Spain demonstrated to the inhabitants the object of the conquest — the triumph of the Christian faith. M


Campaign of Loja — Troubles at Granada — Civil war — Deposition of the King — The Moors in the Axarquia — Description of the mountains there — Terrible defeat of the Christians — Particulars — Campaign of Velez-Malaga — Capitulation of the forts — Campaign of Malaga — Its situation — Its port and forts — Arrival of Isabella — Siege operations.

Alhama now captured, Queen Isabella did not allow her valiant army one day's repose. It was a question of capturing, one after another, all the strong places that swarmed about the neighbourhood of Granada. Loja was the first spoil marked out to the victorious soldiers ; it was distant but a few leagues from Alhama, and was perched on the top of a mountain that overlooked a broad, fertile, cultivated valley, watered by the Xenil, a river which issued from the suburbs of Granada. The fortress of Loja was well supplied, and particularly well provided with defenders ; the King of Granada, too, mindful of the disaster of Alhama, had sent hither- three thousand men commanded by his best lieutenant. King Ferdinand arrived before Loja about the middle of July 1482. He brought with him four thousand horse and twelve thousand foot soldiers. This army, altogether out of proportion with the force of the enemy, commenced from the first to show symptoms of discouragement which in the end proved fatal. The first attacks, indeed, were unsuccessful owing to their faulty disposition : the Moors by means of bold ambuscades, by artillery skilfully disposed on the several heights commanding the plain below, had soon the better of the numerous Christian detachments scattered over the field. Further, famine began soon to make itself felt in the Christian army. Hemmed in on all sides, and all the ways closed, the poor famished soldiers began to despair and even to mutiny. Alarmed by these ominous signs of the condition of his army, the King gave the order for retreat, and sent word to the troops of the advance guard, which had already penetrated as far as the foot of the ramparts of the fortress, to descend and rejoin the headquarters. They descended accordingly, but at the sight of their retreating comrades the soldiers in camp, thinking it was a rout, were seized with fear, a mad panic took possession of the whole army, and a general rout ensued. At this sight the Moors, sallying from the fortress, fell with all their cavalry on the Christians, drove them on before them, cut them down on all sides, and pursued them for a distance of more than six leagues from Loja, massacring all that fell under their scimetars.

Ferdinand, thus hard pressed, only succeeded with very great difficulty in bringing what remained of his army to a mountain called the ' Mount of the Lovers,' nearly eight leagues distant from Loja. It was only there he could make a halt. Then, on contemplating all that remained of his little army but the other day so full of life, now nearly melted away, what must not have been his grief and confusion! The loss had indeed been very heavy. Most of the knights, the captains and commanders of the troops were among the wounded, the Grand-master of Calatrava had been killed; and in this first campaign Alhama alone remained in possession of the Christians.

Queen Isabella, who, as we have already said, had been prevented by her state of health taking personally a part in this campaign, received with great emotion the account brought to her by her consort. Her army, her soldiers were dearer to her than anything else in the world; the cause they defended was also that of their country and their faith; she would not cease, then, till she had re- formed, organised new forces designed to recommence and resume the work of the conquest. An unforeseen event, a revolution in the country of her enemy, came to aid her in this work. The revolution had broken out in Granada, in the interior of the palace itself of the sovereign.

The old King Abdallah had been suddenly smitten with the charms of a beautiful slave. Zoraya, the favourite sultana, fearing lest the children of her rival might come to dispute the throne with her own children, organised thereupon a conspiracy against her consort. The King on this discovery caused the sultana to be shut up ; but shortly afterwards escaping from her prison in the fortress of the Alhambra, and appealing to her friends the conspirators, she had raised the flag of revolt in Granada itself. This revolt increased in dimensions, and conflicts had broken out in the streets of the capital, so that at length, after several bloody engagements, the old King had been compelled to quit Granada and take refuge in the province of Malaga, where his authority had not ceased to be recognised. The King’s eldest son, Abdallah-el-Zagal, now assumed in concert with Zoraya the supreme authority, and after some difficulties, which however were soon smoothed down, he entered the palace of the Alhambra, where he ruled in sovereign state. This intestine strife between father and son, each of them proclaimed by a rival party, could not be otherwise than advantageous to the Christians ; it paralysed the unity of action and of authority over the Mussulman forces, and already Isabella had thought of turning these circumstances to profit, when news arrived of a kind still more fatal than the disaster of Loja to impress on her mind and heart profound grief. The Christians had just suffered a fresh defeat in Axarquia.

This is the name of a small territory extending from the mountain chain of Antequera as far as the gates of Malaga, to the west of that town. The country is mountainous, woody, with much bush and scrub, and intersected by hedges. The pasturage in the little valleys was in great repute and fed large flocks of sheep. These hills and valleys were dotted with numerous houses and villages ; here were to be seen, in particular, great manufactories of the silk which the Moors exported to all parts of Europe from the neighbouring port of Malaga, where it was stored. This rich, well-inhabited country, yet by its situation somewhat isolated from Malaga, which lay at some distance off, offered to the Christians a prize the importance of which they were not unaware of. To get hold of this little province, to extract from it a rich booty, and by this means to prepare a way to arrive later on before the gates of Malaga — such was their plan.

The Governor of Andalucia, Don Pedro Henriquez, had accordingly sent forward his scouts, or adalides, with orders to find out the best road for the expedition to follow. These scouts, who were very daring fellows and very well informed as to the doings and even the plans of the Moors (they were themselves for the most part renegade Moors), easily ascertained by what paths an inroad into Axarquia could be best effected. In their opinion, the safest course to pursue was to descend by the mountain defiles, and after victory regain Christian territory by way of the seashore to the west of Malaga ; this plan also presented the least of danger to the transport of the booty to Ecija, which they counted on making. Thus informed, and deceived, it was said, by these renegade scouts, the Governor dis- closed his plan to two of his neighbours, Don Alphonso de Aguilar and Don Juan de Sylva, and it was agreed that on a certain day each of the lords should join with his force at the appointed spot. These small combined forces set out accordingly on the given day, and after a trying march penetrated into Axarquia, where they gave themselves up to all those excesses still in practice at that period, and in spite of the determined resistance of the population, made a rich and enormous booty.

The old King of Granada, aided by his valiant nephew Abdallah, had also on his part advanced into the valleys of Axarquia, and pursuing the Christian army, came up with it. It was laden with booty, hampered in its march, and in ignorance of the paths and mountain passes. The King, profiting by its embarrassments, threw himself on the first bodies that came in his way, cut them to pieces, and compelled them to throw them- selves into the mountains and defiles, already guarded by his own people. At every pass were armed Moors awaiting the enemy. From the mountains' sides around also a furious and continuous cross-fire of artillery was kept up, and when night came, from every peak blazed fiery beacons revealing to the unfortunate Christians the numbers of their formidable enemies. In vain the Andalucian horse strove to descend into the narrow valleys, where it was impossible to maintain themselves, for immediately from all these sharp peaks loosened masses of rock were hurled down by the Moors upon the unhappy horsemen, over- whelming together both man and horse. Resistance was in vain — impossible ; and the Christian army, thus broken up, deprived of its chiefs, and only heeding the voice of despair, dispersed itself all over the country, that country so lately laid waste by them, only to find death in detail in all its most terrible forms. The Marquis of Guadix himself, followed by only about sixty guides, escaped as by a miracle, and arriving at the foot of a steep mountain he found himself compelled to fasten himself to the tail of his horse to enable him to reach a cavern in a rock above, where he took refuge during two days and nights.

Such was the end of this fatal expedition to Axarquia in 1483. Of this Christian force, which but a few weeks before had sallied forth from Ecija, Antequera, and Alhama, barely one half returned, and in what a plight! The best and noblest blood of Castile had been shed in this short campaign; four hundred captains had there perished, as also thirty commanders of the Order of Santiago. It was afterwards proved that the scouts employed to feel the way had betrayed the Christians, and maintained a secret understanding with the enemy. It was a severe lesson for the future ; and no less true was it that the disastrous news reaching Cordova, where the Queen was then staying, so soon after the disaster of Loja, filled her heart with grief, but at the same time suggested thoughts of a prompt and signal revenge.

Whilst the above events were passing, the position of the new King of Granada, Abdallah-el-Zagal, put, as already mentioned, in the place of his father, who had fled into the province of Malaga, had changed considerably for the worse. This sovereign had been unsuccessful in more than one encounter with the Christians. At Loja, for instance, he had not only been forced to surrender the town, which he had not known how to defend, but shamelessly left it to repair to the camp of Ferdinand, at whose aspect he dismounted from his horse and bent his knee before him. A humiliating treaty was the result of this check. The Moorish King thus lost all credit with his subjects, who deposed him, and by a unanimous voice proclaimed as his successor to the throne the old King's nephew, the same who, as we have seen, so valiantly conducted the campaign of Axarquia against the Christians.

Amid all these vicissitudes Queen Isabella was always foremost for prosecuting the war. During the three years that elapsed between 1483 and 1487, not a day passed that her army was not engaged in the siege of some place ; thus the towns of Cartama, Ronda, Zagra, Baños had fallen into the power of the Chris-tians; Modin, the shield of Granada, and Ilora, its right eye, had also succumbed. The custody of Ilora had been entrusted to one who was hereafter to become Spain's greatest captain, Gonzalvo of Cordova. It was the first time he made his appearance on a scene he did so much to give lustre to.

The line of conquest of the Castilians had thus been advanced a space of more than twenty leagues on Moorish territory; all these towns had been occupied by Christians, and the approaches to Granada thus cleared, the Queen, before bringing up all her troops, thought it advisable to seize upon the ports by which arrived daily from Africa reinforcements to the enemy; Velez-Malaga and Malaga were especially designated in accordance with her design. It was the year 1487, and Isabella, after obtaining from the Pope considerable funds upon the ecclesiastical revenues of Castile and Arragon, opened the campaign in person.

Velez-Malaga is a small town situate to the east of Malaga, its capital, from whence it is five leagues distant. It had a strong fortress which could hold a considerable force always prepared to come to the defence of the capital if it was attacked, or to harass an enemy attempting to approach its vicinity. According to the plan of the Christians, it was necessary, therefore, first to reduce Velez-Malaga, and afterwards to fall upon Malaga itself. King Ferdinand commanded on this occasion the expedition in person. The army he brought up from Cordova before Velez might number fifty thousand men, of which twelve thousand horse, and was composed chiefly of the contingents of Andalucia and Estremadura; there was also a considerable force of artillery in prevision of the siege of Malaga after the fall of Velez. A great number of knights, hastening from all parts of Castile, enrolled themselves under the royal banner. Arragon participated little in these (for her) distant enterprises.

On April 7, 1487, the campaign opened. The weather was dreadful ; torrents of rain inundated the country about Velez, all the rivers and streams had overflowed, and the ways by which men and artillery had to pass were like so many rivers. In spite of these great difficulties, the army continued its march and arrived before Velez, when in rain it commenced siege operations, which were soon succeeded by a bombardment. The forts of Velez, strong though they may have been, were unable to make a long resistance, and the inhabitants, believing that a blockade would infallibly lead to a capitulation, were the first to propose it. On April 27, that is to say, ten days after the investment, the offer was made. The terms were lenient. Their lives and their property were guaranteed to all, and shortly afterwards some twenty small towns situate on the neighbouring shore of the Mediterranean offered their submission. This submission, mostly personal, had a great effect upon the towns still unsubdued in the province of Malaga ; and Ferdinand lost no time in presenting himself with his victorious troops before Malaga itself, which was distant only five leagues from Velez.

This town possessed a very considerable importance of its own in its port, which was the medium of communication of the kingdom with all parts of the Mediterranean. It was by the port of Malaga that Granada received all its reinforcements of men and supplies of corn arriving from Africa ; and by which also it exported all its productions — wines, silks, fruits, minerals &c. From all points of view the capture of Malaga would perhaps prove a mortal blow to the King of Granada. The town of Malaga stretched by a gentle slope down to the shore. It was commanded by two citadels ; that named Gibralfaro, the more considerable of the two, stood on one of the last ridges of the Sierra of Axarquia, which recalled such painful memories to the Christians. Both these citadels were well provided with artillery, which was very well served, the Moors proving skilful gunners ; and the command of the place was entrusted to a captain of high repute for the military qualities displayed by him in the last war.

Ferdinand pitched his camp before Malaga amidst the orange groves and vineyards that encompassed the town. He had around him the Grand-master of Santiago, the Admiral of Castile, the Marquis of Villena, the Duke of Benavente, the Grand-master of Alcantara, and the Marquis de Moya. He was awaiting the Queen. Isabella in fact arrived a few days subsequently with her faithful friend Beatrice de Bovadilla, Father Talavera, her confessor, and Cardinal Mendoza, Archbishop of Toledo, the successor to the factious Carrillo, who had been dead some years. The Queen was desirous of viewing the operations of the siege with her own eyes ; she hoped that her presence would bring at last good fortune to her arms, and in this hope she was not disappointed. The operations for establishing the investment of the town were now commenced, and parallel lines with redoubts were constructed at regular distances, in such a manner as to form a semi-circle around the town, which starting from the seashore at one extremity should terminate at the other opposite. These redoubts, well furnished with troops and artillery, were important works.

Thus shut up, the Moors attempted by several sorties to cut off the workmen and break the circle formed around them ; but these attempts failed, though made in considerable force. The sortie which took place on May 29 against the camp of the Marquis of Cadiz was six thousand men strong, on which day the Moors broke into the Christian camp and made a great slaughter, but were at last driven off, leaving a banner behind with many prisoners. In this affair the Marquis of Cadiz was dangerously wounded.

The first attack on the part of the Spaniards was directed against one of the suburbs of the town, the one on the inland side. The Count of Cifuentes was in command of this attack. A breach was soon rendered practicable by his artillery, and his men mounted the walls ; the assailants were received at once by a storm of fire, but they held fast, and cut down all those who opposed their way, and, notwithstanding the mines that were exploding on all sides, maintained their position on the walls in triumph. It was a good beginning; and on the other hand there arrived by sea from Barcelona a fleet of caravels and armed galleys, which blockaded the port and cut off all external communication. Thus surrounded on all sides and clasped in a circle of fire both by sea and land, the besieged began to reflect ; the fate of Velez came to their minds, and to the minds of some the idea of an accommodation occurred.


Attempted assassination of King Ferdinand — Assault on the fortress — Proposals for capitulation — Ferdinand's refusal — Surrender of Malaga — Entry of Isabella — Terms of the capitulation — Attack on Baza — Difficulties of the under, taking — Ideas of retreat.

The siege continued nevertheless, and the besieged, changing their tactics, made numerous sorties nightly upon various points at once of the Christian lines. These nightly sorties, always so dangerous, succeeded more than once. The Marquis of Guadix himself was near being captured by a body of two thousand men from the fortress of Gibralfaro, who, breaking into his camp in the middle of the night, surprised the soldiers asleep and massacred the greater number of them. In this surprise the Marquis received a shot from an arquebuss, which happily failed to penetrate his armour of fine-tempered steel. But outside the lines were hastening to the aid of their brethren, chiefly from Guadix and its vicinity, and strove to harass the Christians in the rear of their lines. These attacks had even acquired a certain importance, and many of the bands had been cut to pieces; when one day a more considerable affair took place, some prisoners were made and brought into the King’s camp. As it was of advantage to learn what was passing in the enemy's camp, these Moors were treated with a certain indulgence, and one of them in particular, having been brought into the presence of the Marquis of Guadix, offered to make important revelations to the Sovereigns. The Moor was thereupon conducted to the royal tent. It was midday, the heat was stifling, and the King, fatigued, had retired to take repose. Isabella had given orders that, meanwhile, during the absence of the King, the Moor should be taken to the tent of the Marquis de Moya; which was done accordingly. Being in the tent, the Moor, deceived by the magnificence of all around, thought it must be that of the King, and seeing there a richly dressed grandee, Don Alvar de Portugal, whom he took to be the King, he threw himself upon him and with his scimetar struck him a furious blow whilst talking with Beatrice de Bovadilla. The madman was seized at once and cut to pieces ; thus the King escaped with his life. This audacious attempt threw the army into consternation ; and Isabella herself commanded that thenceforth royal personages should be guarded by a special body which was to be held responsible for their safety. This special body, composed of the young and noblest lords of Castile and Arragon, was the origin of the institution on which was founded subsequently the body-guard of the Kings of Spain.

Whilst these events were taking place, the siege continued, and it must be allowed the courage and tenacity of the besieged fully equalled those of the besiegers; on both sides the same fury, the same attacks, the same resistance. But with the Christians ammunition was running short, and it was thought already expedient to curtail further its expenditure; when the appearance off the port of two large flotillas bearing the flag of the German Emperor was signalled. It brought a supply of ammunition and provisions to Ferdinand on the part of the Emperor, who was desirous of participating in this crusade against the infidels. One may imagine with what welcome these supplies were received. There arrived also at the same time the Duke of Medina-Sidonia, with one hundred galleys full of troops from the ports of Andalucia, together with an amount of twenty thousand gold doblas which he brought to the Sovereigns in testimony of his faith and homage.

The siege now assumed a more determined character. The Christian army was resupplied; nothing was wanting, neither provisions, nor ammunition, nor ardour, courage or example. The Queen saw it at all times of the day. The storm was then resolved upon. To render this more effective, great towers provided with ladders and drawbridges were first constructed; next, the town walls were mined, and on the wall side the Spanish squadron succeeded in placing itself in such a position inside the harbour as that the shots from the forts should pass over their heads. This being completed, the signal for the assault was made.

It was terrible, but yet not decisive. The Moors held firm, and they would have held out still longer if famine had not already made such frightful ravages amongst them. After more than three months that the siege had lasted the provisions were exhausted, bread failed, and for many weeks past the inhabitants and soldiery had subsisted on dogs, cats, and horseflesh, and latterly they had found themselves compelled to prepare a sort of mess of palm and vine leaves cooked with oil: they were literally starving of hunger. Then, for the first time, terms of capitulation were proposed. They were despatched to the camp of the Sovereigns with a deputation of the principal inhabitants ; they comprised safety of life for themselves and the maintenance of their property, as was the case at Velez-Malaga, and that of their mosques. The reply of the King was terrible. He consented to no other condition than that which might be obtained from his vengeance. A second deputation then presented itself at the camp, with a mission to represent to the Sovereigns that the people of Malaga were resolved on burying themselves all together beneath the ruins of their city, which previously they would have set on fire, if the rights of humanity which they appealed to were refused; but that in the first instance the Christian prisoners confined in the town prisons would be hanged on the ramparts, to the glory of the unfortunate soldiers of the Crescent. Ferdinand was not to be intimidated by these threats ; he refused, and then for the third time a deputation of the chief inhabitants, aware of their powerlessness, came to offer an unconditional submission to the conquerors. They were bearers of a letter in which the Sovereigns were reminded with what generosity the Kings their predecessors had granted honourable terms to the Mussulmans of Cordova and Antequera in former days : to this letter Ferdinand did not deign to reply.

The surrender of Malaga was therefore fixed for August 18. On the evening before, all its forts were occupied by the Christians, and the standard of Castile waved from all the towers and mosques. Ferdinand and Isabella made their entry the day following in great state. The Queen, usually so unostentatious, made a point of appearing on the present occasion with all the attributes of sovereignty about her; she was attended by all the grandees and valiant captains of her army attired in armour, followed by their ensign-bearers with brilliant devices. In this manner she repaired to the great mosque, which the evening before had been consecrated by Cardinal Mendoza, where was performed a Te Deum, for actions of grace, in gratitude to God for this signal conquest.

It remains to speak of the terms of the capitulation imposed by Ferdinand ; they were of the harshest : One-third of the whole population was to be transported to Africa to make room for the Christians who should come to establish themselves in Malaga, and in exchange for the Christians held in captivity by the Moors in Africa. Another third was to remain in guarantee of the payment of the indemnity imposed for the expenses of the war. The ransom imposed was at the rate of thirty doblas a head. Out of the fifteen thousand inhabitants which the population of Malaga comprised prior to the siege, one may calculate how many remained, and the condition they were in. In the capitulation, and the terms laid down, the Queen was again the Providence of the vanquished, and opposed with all her force the vindictive counsels of an implacable conqueror. It was suggested putting the garrison to the sword; at these words the Queen rose, and in a few authoritative words claimed that the honour due to those who by misfortune had been vanquished, should be recognised : it had effect. This new characteristic marks once more the essential difference in all respects between the nature of Isabella and that of Ferdinand. Happily, by her wisdom and goodness she always succeeded in getting the better.

The capture of Malaga brought about the submission of all the neighbouring towns; and one may from this moment consider that the great enterprise of the conquest had made a decisive advance. Granada would be deprived henceforth almost entirely of communication with Africa, and with the sea; one port only, Almeria, still remained to her ; but though of no great importance in itself, it was necessary first to get possession of it before thinking of the grand attack on Granada.

The Queen, who had spent the winter at Medina del Campo in company of the King her consort, who arrived there from Arragon, made a journey to Andalucia, and arrived at the town of Jaen in March 1489. It was at Jaen that was fixed the general rendezvous of the expedition for the campaign of Almeria. The forces composing it amounted to 15,000 horse and 80,000 foot, well commanded, well armed, and well provided with artillery. The army directed its march first from Jaen on Baza, the only town, with the exception of Guadix, in the north of the kingdom of Granada, which remained still in the possession of the Moors. Situate not far from Guadix on the side of the Sierra, at the foot of which flowed a small stream, Baza held a numerous garrison of 20,000 men despatched there in all haste from Granada : it resolved on an obstinate defence. The town was surrounded by walls, in which gates were planted at intervals: Below, an extensive valley stretched out, garden like, shady, and intersected by innumerable water-courses and canals; a multitude of villas owned by its rich inhabitants were everywhere dotted about. The only entrance to this valley was by narrow and difficult passes, which served as a protection to those who passed a happy and almost independent life in the little city; for Baza had always been held to constitute within itself a kind of small neutral kingdom, having its own government, and very backward in its payment of the taxes due to the caliphs. It 190 was a republic, resembling in its manners, independence, and energy its famous neighbours of the Alpuxarras, the absolute masters of those mountains which concealed them from all eyes.

The first operation of King Ferdinand was to get possession of the gardens surrounding the town; then, as the nature of the ground, intersected everywhere by canals and water-courses, rendered impossible the action of cavalry, these were dismounted and put to use as foot soldiers. The first attack was favourable at the beginning, but Ferdinand soon perceived that to advance to the foot of the walls was an operation as dangerous as it was impracticable. Every inch of ground won was retaken the next moment ; much loss of life also occurred in skirmishes, the Moors, sheltered by a wall or a tree, taking deadly aim at their enemy, not one of whom was missed. In one of these skirmishes the distinguished Lord of Huesca, Don Juan de Luna, one of the foremost captains of the army, was killed. Ferdinand at last decided on shifting Isabella the catholic ]9i his camp to another position, if possible. With this view he assembled a council of war; but he found so much discouragement and apprehension among his officers (natural, perhaps, in the circumstances) at the thought of being placed between two fires by the arrival of an enemy's force from Guadix, that he felt greatly perplexed. “When the advantages of victory”, remarked to him the Marquis of Guadix, “fully counterbalance the dangers, where one is successful he is compensated by the fruit he gathers from it ; and if he is unsuccessful, it is at least some sort of consolation to feel that the affair was worth the trouble bestowed on it. If the siege should last till the winter, and the rivers happen to overflow, how shall we be able to retire ? We should necessarily perish if we had not taken precautions in proper time. I shudder when I think of the disaster that threatens us, and really, sire, your Majesty is too prodigal of a life on which hang our lives and our victories”.

 This speech much disturbed the King : he resolved to refer the matter to the Queen, who was at the time at Jaen. A line of couriers carried the King's despatches from Baza to Jaen in two hours.


Energetic refusal of the Queen — Her sacrifices — Her care of the soldiers — Establishment of hospital ambulances — Isabella hastens to the camp — Capitulation of Baza — Capture of Almeria — Campaign of Granada — Granada — Its government — Situation of the city — The two fortresses, the Alhambra and the Albaycin — The Vega — Army of Isabella — Her camp — Her tent destroyed by fire — Conflagration of the camp — Founding of the town of Santa Fe.

The Queen, who was always consulted in everything because her prudence as well as her energy were well known, replied by a formal refusal to consent to the retreat of the army; and, on the contrary, with an order to press the siege with vigour. With this purpose, she sent forward all her reserves, all the money she could collect, and left in the hands of God and in the valour of her people the issue of this arduous enterprise. The energy of the Queen communicated itself to the army, and all means were taken to protect the camp against the enemy's attacks, as well as the mischief that might be caused by the autumnal rains. To this end, the Christians erected nearly nine hundred huts of earth roofed with tiles or branches of trees, and this new town, raised in less than a week, soon became the resort of all those who have business transactions ordinarily in a camp. The Queen sent at once corn and flour from Jaen; then, on learning that epidemic diseases were carrying off numbers of her poor soldiers owing to the humidity of the camp, she despatched all the requisite medicines. But, unfortunately, Isabella had not reckoned with the elements; frightful storms of rain took place, deluging the camp; tents, houses, all were carried away. This news awakened her ardour; as the roads were broken up she sent off six thousand pioneers to repair and pave them; she had bridges constructed for crossing the rivers; opened up shorter and safer paths across the mountains; and shortly by means of all these labours the camp found itself completely supplied: fourteen thousand mules were continuously on the road, occupied with this work. Considerable reinforcements of troops were likewise directed upon the camp to repair losses; and as money was wanting, she had recourse to all those who were in possession of it. Private persons, religious communities, all were solicited, and with good results. She alienated some of the private domains of the Crown ; and as a last resource she engaged the Crown jewels to merchants of Barcelona in return for money they advanced. By such means, and impelled to such sacrifices, the Queen felt she could count upon the appreciation of her army; that army called for her, and her presence, she thought, would be as a symbol of victory; so well understood this heroic woman how to instil confidence and devotion in her dear soldiers. The Queen arrived at the camp before Baza on November 7, attended by all the ladies of her Court. All this escort of ladies on horseback, preceded by the young Queen, with banners and to the sound of trumpets, struck with so much astonishment the Moors themselves, that they all of them assembled on the ramparts to gaze upon this strange and magnificent spectacle. On the part of the Christians, the King with all his knights proceeded to meet the Queen, before whom all inclined, bidding her welcome. On the following day the Queen passed her army in review; she was mounted on a spirited Andalucian horse with flowing mane and fiery nostril, proud of the burden he bore. The Queen, received with joy by all her people, had a word, a smile for all and every one, and acknowledged by a gesture of sympathy the repeated cries, ' Castile, Castile for our King Isabella! She had the army in her hand. Happily there was no occasion for it. The defenders of Baza, at the sight of the Queen, taking into account on the one hand the enthusiasm of her army, on the other hand the losses they had sustained, expressed a desire to capitulate, but a capitulation on honourable terms. Ferdinand, always so harsh towards an enemy with whom he had been in conflict, did not on this occasion venture even to ask that he should be treated with that rigour which was customary with him; he left, then, to the Queen the care of drawing up the terms of the capitulation. These were of the mildest character : the garrison was to retire with the honours of war; the inhabitants could go where they pleased, taking with them their household effects; those who preferred to remain would have to pay to the Crown of Castile the same dues they paid to the King of Granada; and their property, their religion, and their mosques would be respected.

These easy and generous terms were followed by good effects. Conscious that henceforth all the country extending between Baza and the sea, as far as Almeria, was incapable of offering further resistance, the brave alcalde on whom these domains were dependent was the first to enter into negotiation with the Queen ; and at a short interview it was agreed that the towns of Guadix and Almeria, with the districts belonging thereto, should be handed over to the Christians. In exchange for this surrender he was invested with a kind of sovereignty in the secluded district of Andorra, together with a large sum of money. He did not long remain in possession. Consumed with grief, and probably with remorse, he shortly after passed over to Africa, where he ended his days in obscurity and indigence.

The Sovereigns now lost no time in proceeding to Almeria, the gates of which were opened to them without hindrance; afterwards, making the ascent to Guadix—of which they also took possession—they returned pleased and triumphant to Jaen. The campaign was ended. There remained Granada; Granada the capital, and the only town in that kingdom where still waved the standard of Islamism. It was the last stage to be overcome prior to the deliverance of the country from the domination of those who had held it for more than seven hundred years. At this thought, Isabella felt spring up within her that ardent glow of patriotism, of honour, and of faith which had never ceased to guide her in all her expeditions; and she prepared, with the care that she gave to everything, for this crowning conquest.

The whole of the year 1490 was employed in preparations. Some Moors at Guadix having risen in rebellion, they were expelled and took refuge in Granada. In April 1491 all was ready; the Queen remained at Seville, and the King arrived with the whole army before Granada on April 26. This army numbered 80,000 men, and was the finest that had yet been assembled. All the lords and knights in the kingdom had volunteered to take part; the lords of Cadiz, Villena, Tendilla, Cabra, and Trena were present with their respective contingents. The army having arrived at the great plain which extends before Granada, halted when within a few leagues of its ramparts in order to make a survey of them. It was the last conquest reserved for their arms, the crowning of the great patriotic and Christian edifice bequeathed to their honour and their valour.

Granada was, as we have remarked already, a large city surrounded by a wall; this was strengthened by the addition of 1,030 towers, and it had seven gates. When the Spaniards presented themselves before it, its population amounted to 200,000 persons; this number had been gradually attained by the addition of all the unconverted Moors, refugees from the towns captured by the Christian armies. It had a numerous garrison. The population had been long since split up into a number of parties, and a new revolution had taken place. The King’s nephew, the brave defender of the mountains of Axarquia, had been deposed in his turn, and Abdallah-el-Zagal (Boabdil), the son of the old King, restored to the throne. In the midst of the struggles which daily stained with blood the streets of the capital, Boabdil had neither power nor sympathy; despondent, predestined to the fate that awaited him, enfeebled by debauch, he was the first perhaps disposed to make overtures to an enemy he knew he was unable to withstand. Such was the monarch with whom Isabella was to come into conflict.

The city of Granada was, as we have said, defended by two important fortresses, constructed on the top of two abrupt hills; these fortresses were the Albaycin and the Alhambra. This last was the palace and residence of the Sovereign; the Albaycin, the fortress occupied by the army. In the space between the two hills stood the town, with its squares, public walks, and mosques; and at the mouth of the valley below the ramparts flowed the two little rivers the Xenil and Darro, which united ran on to irrigate and fertilise the great plain or Vega of Granada. This plain, like a garden—such was its productiveness—had an extent of thirty leagues in circumference. It was on this scene the Christian army arrived and encamped on April 26. At the sight of it, established almost under their very walls, the Moors were seized with anger rather than with fear, and sorties were made directly from all the gates. This species of warfare and light skirmishing could make but little impression on a regularly organised army, and the Spanish knights accordingly so regarded it; most commonly, this skirmishing ended in a display of individual valour on the part of the knights of both armies. At these tournaments and passages of arms the Moors were skilful, the Christians were no less so, and all the chronicles of the period dilate upon the exploits of these knights, who in view of both camps came forth to dispute the prize of valour. But these diversions were of no consequence, and the arrival of the Queen at the camp brought about a renewal of hostilities in earnest.

Isabella arrived surrounded, as always, by all the ladies of her Court, like herself mounted on horseback, and installed herself in the tent which had been prepared for her in the midst of those of her troops. This tent was fitted up with a degree of luxury of which in the present day we have no idea. The most costly stuffs were used in its adornment, finely sculptured furniture overlaid with gilt Cordovan leather ; the service of the table was of silver engraved with the royal arms, and in fine the number of Court officials, of ladies and dependants, was such as befitted one of the greatest sovereigns of the age. The King had his separate tent; all the grandees, the cardinals and bishops, the Grand-masters of the military orders, had each of them one surmounted with his banner and armorial bearings. In the centre of the camp stood the altar, where mass was celebrated every morning before the whole army. The ceremony was usually performed by a cardinal, or an archbishop, attired in full vestments. The chapel royal had provided the altar plate, the great silver crucifixes, incense vessels, and huge candlesticks. The Queen, the King, and all the Court were, as well as the army, present every morning at this mass; and all kneeling implored God to grant success in their undertaking, and glory to their arms.

During the first days hostilities were sharp on both sides; many prisoners were made by the Christians, and it was learnt from them what was going on in the place, the strength of the enemy's force, for how long provisions would hold out, what resources they had at disposal; and from all these disclosures it was surmised that the siege would not be of so long duration, or as sanguinary, as was feared. Thus the days went on, when a disastrous occurrence took place, which threw the whole camp into consternation. The Queen had retired for the night and was fast asleep, when towards two o'clock a lamp which had been set down by a servant too near a curtain set fire to it. The whole tent was speedily in a blaze, and the Queen, but partially dressed, only just succeeded in effecting her escape, when the fire, having spread to the adjoining tents, soon enveloped the whole camp in one general conflagration; but the alarm having been given by the sentinels, as well as by sound of trumpet, the whole army succeeded by its exertions in finally extinguishing the flames.

The tumult which this catastrophe occasioned, and the immense glare of the conflagration that lit up the entire Vega, brought the Moors out on their ramparts, who con- templated in wonder and with satisfaction a disaster which might be perhaps for their deliverance. But it was not to be. On the contrary, with the object of preventing the recurrence of a similar misfortune, the Queen resolved on the construction of a town on the same site. The army was withdrawn meanwhile to some neighbouring villages; workmen to the number of 12,000 (as many as were wanted) were brought from all the towns of Andalucia, and in less than three months the Moors beheld a real town sprung up in the midst of the Vega, to which the Queen gave the name of Santa Fe, in commemoration of the faith displayed by her army and her people in the war. If the Moors had been well advised, and if they had really willed it, they could evidently have easily obstructed the building of this town ; but already they were conscious of their powerlessness, and a fakir predicted to them every morning that the last days were at hand.


Offers of capitulation — First negotiations — Gonzalvo of Cordova appointed to negotiate — Sedition in Granada — Terms of the capitulation agreed to — Isabella and Ferdinand proceed to the fortress of the Alhambra — The King of Granada delivers up the keys of the city — The Sovereigns return to Santa Fe — Solemn entry of the Sovereigns into Granada — The royal standards over the ninth tower of the Alhambra — The King of Granada retires into the mountains — Words of the Sultana Zoraya.

These days indeed were at hand. About the beginning of October, King Boabdil's principal counsellors represented to him the gravity of the situation. The blockade established around Granada was complete, nothing could enter; all reinforcements of every kind, whether of men or of provisions, from Africa, were cut off, Malaga and Almeria being in possession of the Christians. To force a way through the enemy by means of a general sortie was possible, but whither could it lead in a country entirely in the power of the enemy? All these considerations, which were true enough, gave Boabdil much cause for reflection, and they were but the echo of public opinion; it was then decided to make the first overtures for a capitulation. But to capitulate without the public knowing any-thing about it was a difficult matter; consequently the negotiations were carried on with the utmost secrecy. In accepting the first proposals, the Queen had to select from among her own people someone worthy of receiving so high a mark of her confidence. Her eye lit upon a personage who until now has appeared but once in the course of these wars, the same who at a subsequent period was destined to bear so important a part in others. This personage was Gonzalvo of Cordova ; he was known to the Queen as a very keen, clever man, he spoke Arabic to perfection, and had long been acquainted with the character of the Moors, and could even interpret their thoughts. Summoned into the presence of the Queen, he received from her the delicate mission of concluding a treaty with Granada.

Negotiations commenced; but in spite of the endeavours to maintain secrecy, it was impossible to conceal from the notice of the sentinels posted at the gates of the town the continual arrivals and departures of certain of the inhabitants. Suspicion was soon awakened, and one morning a sedition broke out in the city. A Moor, in the belief that he had discovered all that it was of so much interest to conceal, called on the people to revolt, and 20,000 men responding to the call went in arms to King Boabdil to demand the reason of these proceedings for a capitulation which had been so carefully with- held from them. Boabdil, who was living retired in the Alhambra, sent word to them that he would see some of the more moderate- minded among them, to whom he addressed the following discourse, which we produce in full, as being among the last words addressed to his subjects by the last of the Moorish kings: “If I believe it is my duty to inform you as to what is to your advantage, it is because I feel urged thereto by a consideration for your welfare alone, and not for my own individual interest, as people have had the audacity and have done me the injustice to suspect. Nothing would have been easier for me than to admit the enemy, and deliver over to him the keys of the Alhambra; your proceedings and the attitude you have borne towards me till now were sufficient motives to determine me to take such a course, in order to be avenged of the outrages I have been subjected to. Still, as long as you were in a condition to defend yourselves, that the city was in no want of provisions—in a word, that we were sustained by the hope of defeating the plans of the enemy—I had no thought of making a peace. I admit I was guilty of the inexcusable fault of putting too much trust in the enemy, and of having risen against the King my father, for which I have suffered punishment enough. But, since we are now come to the end of our resources, I have judged it right to conclude a treaty with the enemy, which if not an advantageous one, is at least in conformity with present circumstances and the unhappy necessity we are in. I am at a loss to understand the motives that impel the rebels to set themselves against a peace so judiciously concluded. If you on your side are able to discover some remedy for our misfortunes, if there still remains any resource, I shall be the first to destroy my own work and to break the engagement; but if everything is lost to us, if we have neither troops, nor food, nor succour to hope for, what madness seizes us and blinds us! By what infatuation would we run to our own ruin! Of two evils, where one cannot avoid both, wise people, such as I take you to be, advise avoiding the greater. All that you have belongs to the conqueror, you are reduced to the last extremity, and what is left to you must be regarded as a favour due alone to the generosity of our enemies. I do not ask myself whether they keep their word; I own that they have but too often broken faith with us, but perhaps we ourselves have given them cause. The most powerful inducement to men to observe treaties in good faith, is to show a confidence in them. Besides, what is there to prevent us from taking precautions ; have we not the right to demand guarantees and the delivery of some strong places and hostages of importance? The eagerness and haste they are in to put an end to this war at the earliest moment will urge them no doubt to overlook all difficulties”.

This discourse, though so little patriotic, relieved their minds; it made manifest to all that the existence of the city itself was come to an end, and consequently that of the kingdom of Granada and of the Mussulman dominion in Spain. All awaited it with resignation. From this to capitulation there was only a step.

The capitulation was drawn up at Churriana, a small village at about a league from Granada. Its terms were very long and minutely discussed; for they involved not only the surrender of a town, of a capital city, but of an entire dynasty also, which, vanquished in arms, had after seven hundred years to depart their country, to die in another land, to cross the sea and be forgotten in the wastes of Africa. At length, on November 28, 1491, an understanding was come to, and Gonzalvo was enabled to draw up this great deed of the conquest. The conditions of the surrender of Granada could not be other than mild, for Queen Isabella would not have sanctioned otherwise ; besides that in the case of an enemy voluntarily opening his gates there was no pretext for rigour. The terms of the capitulation were as follows: “The inhabitants were to retain their mosques, and the exercise of their worship allowed to them. Their laws would be likewise respected, but that their magistrates would be amenable to Castilian authority. Their language and costume to be preserved. The absolute possession of their property was guaranteed to them, and they might dispose of it at pleasure as the real owners. They could remain where they were or emigrate, as they might prefer; if they desired to emigrate and cross over to Africa, they would be provided with a passage gratuitously in vessels placed at their disposition for this purpose. The taxes they would have to pay to the Crown would remain the same that they paid to their former sovereigns; and they would be exempt from all taxes for the space of three years. Hostages would be required.”

As for King Boabdil, he was granted a small territory in the Alpuxarras, to be governed by him as an independent sovereign, and he was formally acknowledged as such. The garrison of the city to be allowed the honours of war (they were afterwards disarmed). The fortresses and artillery were to be delivered over in sixty days after the signing of the capitulation. Such were the terms of the treaty. In presence, however, of the agitation prevalent in the town, the threats of the populace, the discords that might arise to violently put an end to the treaty, Boabdil himself was the first to propose that the date fixed for the surrender of the city should be anticipated; it was fixed accordingly for January 2, 1492. On that day, then, all was concluded for the taking possession of the Alhambra. This fortress, situate on the top of a hill overlooking the Vega, is only to be approached by a narrow, steep and rough way. Up this way the King, Queen, and all their suite passed at daybreak of January 2nd, escorted by all the grandees of the kingdom, the principal officers of the army, and a considerable body of troops. As they approached the gate of the fortress, they encountered King Boabdil himself on horseback, attended by fifty Moors, who came to present to the Sovereigns the keys of the fortress. At the approach of the Queen, Boabdil dismounting went forward to kiss her hand in sign of homage to the Sovereign, but she withdrew it, making a sign that she would dispense with it. Boabdil then delivered over the keys to the King, with these words : “We deliver to you, both the city and the kingdom; they both of them are yours; treat them with clemency and equity!” Thereupon the King took the keys, and handing them to the Count of Tendilla, already appointed Governor of the Alhambra, rode forward through the courts of the fortress. The Castilian standard was immediately hoisted over the great tower amid the enthusiastic shouts of the army in the plain below of “Castile, Castile for our Queen!”. After this, the King descended by the same road to the camp, and prepared to make his triumphal entry with the army into the city. This took place on January 6th by the Gate of Triumph—the same gate through which the writer of these lines passed with his regiment of cavalry in 1827, three hundred and thirty-five years after these events occurred.

The King and Queen made their entry into Granada at the head of the whole army. They were invested with all the marks of royalty, and followed by all the nobility of the kingdom and by that valiant army which since the accession of Isabella had never been found wanting in battle — all brave old soldiers, now intoxicated with joy, proud of their Queen and of themselves. It was a magnificent sight ; but the town was almost deserted, for the inhabitants from a sense of decency had shut themselves up in their houses, where they hid their shame and grief. The Sovereigns thus proceeded in great state to the cathedral (mosque), which had been previously purified. There on arrival the King and Queen dis- mounting went to kneel before the high altar, a solemn Te Deum  was chanted, and the Archbishop of Toledo gave the benediction to all present in memory of this great event.

On the occasion of the taking of Granada the Pope conferred on the Sovereigns the title of ‘The Catholic Kings’, and it is from this period that Queen Isabella assumed in all public acts the name of Isabella the Catholic. It was at this time also that on the escutcheon of the arms of Spain was affixed a pomegranate, shown there in remembrance of the conquest. One of the grandees of the Court had remarked: “One ought to eat the pomegranate grain by grain”. Thenceforward, the whole of it was eaten, and the liberation of Christian territory was completed. In remembrance also of this great event the subjoined inscription was out under the roof of one of the gates of the Alhambra : “The most high, most Catholic, and most puissant lords Don Fernando and Doña Isabel, our King and Queen, sovereign lieges, have conquered by their arms this kingdom and this city of Granada, which, after having been long besieged by their Highnesses, was surrendered to them by the Moorish king, as was likewise the Alhambra, and other fortresses, on the second day of January of the year 1492. On the same day their Highnesses appointed Don Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, Count of Tendilla, their vassal, governor (alcayde), and captain of the place, who at the moment of their departure was left in the Alhambra with 600 horsemen and 1,000 foot soldiers ; and their Highnesses commanded that the Moors should remain in the city and in their villages. The said Count, Commander-in-Chief, has caused this cistern to be constructed by command of their Highnesses”. This inscription was originally placed above the cistern. On the great tower of the Vela a similar inscription records the occasion of the hoisting there of the standards of the city: “On the second day of January 1492 of the Christian era, after seven hundred and seventy-seven years of the Arab dominion, victory being declared, and this city being delivered over to the Holy Catholic Kings, these three standards, emblems of the Castilian army, were raised upon this, one of the loftiest towers of the fortress; and the holy banners having been hoisted by Cardinal Gonzalez de Mendoza and Gutierrez de Cardenas, the Count of Tendilla unfurled the royal standard, whilst the heralds at arms proclaimed aloud: Granada, Granada, for the illustrious Kings of Castile.

As for the Moorish King, the unfortunate Boabdil, after the delivery over of the keys of the Alhambra to his conquerors, made no delay in retiring from a city no longer his. Accompanied by the Sultana Zoraya and some unhappy friends, he took his way over the mountains, and on reaching La Palud, since called the ‘Last Sigh of the Moor’ (El ultimo suspiro del Moro), he turned round and in bitter tears beheld for the last time his beloved Granada. “Weep for it like a woman”, exclaimed to him the Sultana Zoraya, “since you have failed to defend it like a man”. Boabdil withdrew to the domain which had been assigned to him by the Sovereigns in the Alpuxarras—but he could not stop there; tormented with remorse, devoured with grief, in the midst of Christians by whom he was surrounded on all sides, he sold his property to the Queen of Castile for the sum of 80,000 golden ducats, and retired to the Court of Fez, where he soon after died.

At the moment when passes away for ever from the soil of the Peninsula the intelligent, valiant, splendid Arab race, so fatally fallen, and degenerate as it had become, one yet cannot part with it without remembering what it was during the period of its long dominion. Patrons of art, the sciences, and literature, brave in war, charitable to the poor, they had an innate perception of all great and enterprising actions. Their mosques, palaces, schools, and hospitals were as many marvels left of their rule, as they were of the admiration of their conquerors.

Dynasties are like families. Posterity preserves the names of those only who have conferred a lustre upon them, it forgets the others. Posterity accordingly, forgetful of the degenerate descendants of the caliphs, will retain a remembrance only of the Abderrahmans, who have left behind so many evidences of their magnificence and enlightenment. They were the Medici of the age.


Consequences of the conquest of Granada — Survey of the pros-perity of Castile since the accession of Isabella — Population — Revenue — Agriculture — Industries, gold and silver work, &c. — Navy — Army — Artillery.

The conquest of the kingdom of Granada gave to Castile and to all Spain an importance which it had never enjoyed before. This Castile, what has it not accomplished indeed during the seven centuries that it has never ceased fighting! In 1037 an old ditty said of it:

Harto era Castilla,

Pequeño rincón ;

Amaya era su cabeza

Y Fitero el mojón.

At that time Castile was only a little corner; Amaya was her head and Fitero her limit. Now all is hers.

From the rugged mountains of the Asturias to the enchanting shores of the Mediterranean Sea, from the banks of the Ebro to the frontiers of Portugal—all this has been won, foot by foot, at the point of the sword. All her kings, one after another, have been ambitious of adding an emblazonment to their escutcheon; thus successively were captured Toledo, the ancient capital of the Goths; Cordova, Seville, and Valencia. For Isabella was reserved the conquest at last of the only remaining kingdom over which still waved the standard of Mahomet. By this great conquest the country was freed, all accepted the same law, all acknowledged the same Queen, all invoked the same God. One country, one faith, one monarchy— such were the three great conquests Isabella had succeeded in achieving since her accession.

Eighteen years have scarcely elapsed since Queen Isabella assumed the supreme direction of affairs. In this short period it is interesting to note all the progress, the wonderful progress, accomplished already in Castile under an intelligent and invigorating government. Isabella, indefatigable in the labours of peace as she was in those of war, took all Castile under her tutelary care. Through her counsels and her patriotic initiative an impulse was given to all that concerned the interests of her beloved people, to all that was connected with art and science, with trade and commerce, and with great enterprises. She stimulated competition, she rewarded merit, she liked to look into everything, to learn everything ; in a word, under her auspices population, revenue, agriculture, commerce, exports, trade, had all flourished together. The population of Castile alone, which, by the incessant wars carried on either by the kings themselves against each other or against the Mussulmans, had considerably diminished, had during the reign of Isabella much increased, notwithstanding the compulsory emigration of the unconverted Moors and Jews. The peace and security which the institution of the Hermandad afforded, induced a great number of families to return who had emigrated to France and Portugal ; and at the time of the conquest of Granada the population of Castile alone comprised eight millions ; to this number the kingdom of Granada added near upon two millions, so that at this period (1492) the settled, peaceful populations of the Castiles might be estimated at nearly ten millions.

Arragon, on her side, had prospered no less. Her commerce and internal trade, her numerous outlets along the coasts, and intercourse with all the ports of the Mediterranean, had attracted a considerable number of foreigners who came to settle there. The kingdoms of Valencia and Murcia, and the Balearic Islands, had added a numerous and well-to-do population; and by the end of the fifteenth century the combined populations of Castile and Arragon might amount to near upon twenty millions; united, if not by character and temperament, at least by identical interests and by a common rule. With such a population and by the action of all, prosperity was sure to follow; and in point of fact, at this period the ordinary revenue of the Crown of Castile had already increased to a considerable extent. At the time Isabella came to the throne in 1474 the revenue did not exceed 885,000 reals; in 1482, after the resumption of the concessions usurped by the nobles, it rose to 13,000,000 reals; in 1504, the year of Isabella’s death, it attained the sum of 26,000,000 reals. It was the same with the incomes of the towns and adjoining districts, which had increased correspondingly with the good administration by which they were ruled.

Agriculture would naturally have its share in this kind of revival of an entire people. Spain, the kingdom of Castile in particular, has always been considered as one of the most naturally fertile countries. Under the Moorish kings, that industrious people made use of a number of ingenious and productive methods. By means of planting, a skilful system of irrigation, and crops of all kinds, the land throughout the kingdoms of Murcia, Valencia, and Andalucia more nearly resembled a garden. The provinces of Castile, properly so called; were at that time, as they are now, the granary of Spain; it was there was produced the corn which supplied nearly the whole country. The trade in Spanish wool, already famous in the time of the Moors, had acquired in the reign of Isabella such importance that Spain exported to all Europe its cloths woven with the fine silky wool which was the mono- poly of the Castilian manufacturers.

The Spanish horses, particularly those raised in the rich pastures of Andalucia, enjoyed already at this period a merited reputation. The Arabs had very skilfully brought the breed to perfection; the Castilians had followed their methods, and in Isabella’s time all the most distinguished grandees and knights procured their horses from these choice studs. For the Spanish cavalry too it was of great importance, and in his Italian campaigns Gonzalvo of Cordova owed in part his success to the speed as well as to the power and endurance of the horses he brought with him from Spain. The rich and well-furnished pastures of Andalucia, chiefly, contributed much to the proper training of these horses. Irrigation was a tradition, as well as a heritage of the Arabs, who so thoroughly understood it; and everyone knows that immense plain which stretches from the foot of Granada, the Vega, a plain of thirty leagues in extent, irrigated, to the sound of the bell at the Alhambra, by the united waters of the Xenil and Darro, which brought successively to everyone, in turn the, blessing of their fertilising powers.

The rich productions common to Spain were many and various. There were manufactories of silks, of arms, of velvets, of gold and silver plate, of mirrors, of enamels, of porcelain; all of them brought to a degree of perfection during the reign of Isabella. The Spanish silks, at the close of the fifteenth century, were in use and the fashion at all the courts in Europe. The delicacy of the tissue, the original and charming designs which Spanish artisans alone understood the art of embroidering, made of this business a monopoly. Cloth of gold and silver issued also from these famed establishments, where there were employed, at Seville for instance, as many as 130,000 workmen. Spanish weapons have always been esteemed amongst the best. The Arabs, who valued their arms as much as themselves, had brought the art of welding and damascening steel to a degree of perfection. Toledo swords are of European repute. The Moors damascened their swords and daggers in designs of gold and silver thread; the Christians, who inherited the art, wore no other armour than that which was richly ornamented. Gold, silver, ivory, enamel were employed tastefully in the fabrication ; and the swords and helmets preserved in the armoury at Madrid exhibit some very curious types. There was not a knight who would be without a Toledo blade or a Segovia breastplate. There was also a considerable trade in these arms abroad. Granada was famed for its velvets, which constituted its chief business. These velvets of various hues were in use in the palaces, for furniture and for dress; their substance and fine quality had given them a monopoly, and these velvets were everywhere in request. Cordova had its fabrics of gilt and chased leathers; all kinds of saddlery, of shoes, and gloves were made of this leather, and the manner in which the designs in gold or silver were worked into the various coloured leather rendered it a general object of attraction. The leather trade of Cordova, which employed a considerable part of its population, had acquired for it no small importance. The art of weaving had from the ninth century been brought by the Arabs to a high degree of perfection. Murcia had a monopoly in carpets; Toledo, Valencia, and Seville fabricated those which were most in fashion; it was also in these towns that were worked those church embroideries, so valuable and so much esteemed, in which the Castilian artists combined pearls and coral with so much skill. The altar and the chapel appointments used by the Queen at the camp of Santa Fe, before Granada, came out of the royal manufactory at Burgos, the most famous of them all. There was at this time a large traffic in these embroidered church vestments at the Court of Rome, where they were purchased at their weight in gold. They also commonly served as gifts offered by the Queen, whether to foreign queens or to her bishops. Barcelona had a manufactory of glass works which rivalled those of Venice both in purity and graceful form. Some of these mirrors are still to be found in Spain, where they fetch a high price. The working in the precious metals was in Spain in the fifteenth century an hereditary art; an art which already existed under the Visigoths in the seventh and eighth centuries, and practised with wonderful skill and delicacy. The golden crowns of Guarazar, preserved in the museum of Cluny at Paris, are among the most remarkable specimens of this handiwork. Similar specimens may be found in many of the cathedrals in Spain — at Gerona, Toledo, Barcelona, and Seville. Under the Catholic kings the use of ornaments in the precious metals became a fashion ; all wore these trinkets, worked, damascened and enamelled, which were the rage of the fashionable society of the day. The Arragonese enamels were the most sought after. The art of inlaying on silver, known to the Arabs, found also clever imitators amongst the Spaniards, and there were to be seen at the time numbers of small articles of furniture in ivory set in this manner. The manufacture of ironwork had at the close of the fifteenth century attained in Spain to its highest perfection. In all the churches and palaces of the time iron fretwork modelled with the utmost skill was to be seen. The gilt lattice work that incloses the chapel royal at Granada and the tomb of Isabella is one of the finest specimens of the kind. It dates from 1506. The fabrication also of porcelain held a distinguished place amongst the arts and industries of that day. The Arabs employed it with success both inside and outside their houses. The custom continued amongst the Spaniards, and everywhere were to be found specimens of the Hispano-Moresco ware from the manufactories of Malaga, Valencia, and Murcia. Such was at the period we are describing the prosperous condition of the Spanish peoples. New regulations had given a fresh direction to a commerce which extended to all parts of Europe. The merchant ships employed in carrying on this rich trade numbered more than one thousand.

The army had also undergone great changes of late. Under the direction of the Great Captain, Gonzalvo of Cordova, it had become entirely metamorphosed. Before his time the army, brave though it may have been, was wanting mostly in matters of discipline and unity.

It might succeed in capturing a fort or a town, but made up as it was of different elements, brought together by its chiefs from various points of the kingdom, it had neither in action nor in every-day military life the unity indispensable in the formation of powerful armed bodies. Gonzalvo, as we shall see by-and-by in his celebrated Italian campaigns, gave it this unity of power, of discipline and courage which produced such great results, and out of which he created that famous Spanish infantry the renown of which has come down to our day. The like progress was made in the efficiency of the artillery, which had now become no unworthy rival of the French This last was about to make proof of its qualities in the first campaign of Charles VIII in Italy. The navy had also, on its part, undergone the thorough reorganisation inherent in all that was accomplished during this enlightened and creative reign. The Spanish navy was at this time one of the first in Europe.

Arragon, a naval power of the first rank, maintained a considerable number of ships for the protection of its vast commerce extending over every part of the Mediterranean; its flag ruled the sea. It was in the port of Barcelona as also in the ports of Andalucia that the great expedition for the conquest of the kingdom of Naples was organised, as well as that for the discovery of America under Christopher Columbus. This re-establishment of the two forces—the army and the navy—which together constitute the power of a great nation, was one of the most memorable acts accomplished in the reign of Isabella. When it is considered, at the same time, that the impositions on the commons had diminished, that the prebends and other Church benefices were amended, that the clergy, the nobility, in fine all the constituted powers, brought to the Crown, each in his degree, his zealous support, one may imagine the prosperity which the enlightened and beneficent rule of Queen Isabella diffused throughout all parts of her extensive dominions —once so small, now become so great. This view of a complete regeneration was a good and curious spectacle to offer to the reader.


Edict of 1492 against the Jews— Revolt of the Alpuxarras anno 1500 — King Ferdinand subdues the insurgents.

Returning to the moment when Isabella had achieved the conquest of her new kingdom, it is of importance to consider a very grave and diversely judged act of policy which arose out of the discovery that had been made, much about the same time, of secret intrigues being carried on by the unconverted Jews and Moors.

Since the entry of the Spaniards into Granada it was easy to discover that all the Moors, converted or otherwise, were more or less in secret intelligence with the Jews all over the Peninsula, and were more disposed than ever to join with them in conspiring against the government of the Christians. At a time when religion was policy, the danger was serious. The Queen was, then, earnestly entreated by her ecclesiastical counsellors on the day after her entry into Granada, January 7, 1492, to issue a final edict of expulsion against the Jews.

In the eyes of the Spaniards the Jews were foreigners rather than citizens; national aversion to them united with religious aversion; further, they were wealthy, and their wealth created as many jealousies as enmities; there was, then, in their expulsion more than one object to serve.

Isabella, whose prudence and goodness directed all her actions, was at first far from consenting to such a proposal. It seemed to her that to banish from the kingdom so great a number of rich, industrious men, was a fault; the Inquisition, moreover, had adopted severe measures against them. She resisted, therefore; but overcome little by little, first by the persistent remonstrances of her consort, and next by those of the princes of the Church, she had finally to yield; resolving, however, to use her opportunities, as she had done before, of mitigating the harshness of the measure. The edict against the Jews was issued on March 30, 1492.

By this decree it was enacted that all unbaptised Jews, whatever their age, sex, or condition, had to leave the kingdom before the end of July following. They were not to return on any pretext whatever, under pain of confiscation of their property. It was forbidden to all Spaniards to harbour them after the expiration of the date fixed for the departure. The Jews were permitted to dispose of their property as they pleased, and to appropriate the price, but only in the shape of bills or merchandise, not in silver or gold. This edict fell like a thunderbolt on the Jews, who had not expected it. They were unable to negotiate the sale of their dwellings, or their furniture, except at a ruinous price; and owners of property had to give up their goods for whatever they would fetch. One would, for instance, barter away his dwelling for an ass, another his vineyard for a coat. In Arragon it was even worse; large estates of Jews, more or less encumbered with debt, were confiscated and placed at the disposal of the Crown. But few Jews resolved on remaining behind with the condition of baptism attached. This stubborn race, true to its belief, preferred exile, and all embraced it with but few exceptions.

When the last days came, endless parties of women, children, old people, young and able-bodied men, cumbered all the ways, and, some on horseback, but the greater number on foot, pursued their journey to the shores of the Mediterranean. Some embarked on board ships placed at their disposal by the Government, for the coast of Barbary, of whom some went to Fez; others embarked for Portugal ; some again (those from Arragon) to the South of France, where they had friends and those of their own faith; some also went to Italy, chiefly to Genoa, where, however, they were not permitted by law to remain longer than a few days.

Thus disappeared from Spain this ingenious people, driven away more by the antipathy and persecution of the Spanish people than by the will of the Sovereigns;—a people which in industry, their knowledge of the sciences and of commerce, displayed so much intelligence and fertility of invention. The number of Jews thus exiled was calculated to amount to 160,000; it was a heavy loss which Spain was soon sensible of, and which in this respect was no better inspired than France, England, and Portugal, which subsequently adopted the same course. Later on, likewise, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes produced in France similar fatal results; and Louis XIV in depriving himself of the industrious habits of the Protestants, deprived himself at the same time of the best artisans in the country.

There were, however, many Jews who, rather than undergo the pain of exile, or quit their property and the land of their birth, became readily converted to the Catholic faith. In Granada there were nearly four thousand of these. They were, though unintentionally so, certainly the cause of the great insurrection of the Moors, which broke out in the mountains of the Alpuxarras in 1500, who were furious at seeing their fellow-believers thus forsake their faith and accept baptism. But we shall here anticipate this period in order to bring to an end the account of the series of revolts against the Christian authority.

What is termed the Alpuxarras is a long chain of mountains which extends from Almeria to Alhama, of some twenty leagues in length from east to west, and twelve to fifteen in width from north to south, from the Sierra Nevada to the Mediterranean. It is a rugged, difficult country, covered with wood and precipitous rocks, and cut up by ravines and gorges, inhabited by mountaineers firmly attached to their faith, intolerant of Christian rule, and holding it in contempt. About the year 1500 these Moors, exasperated at the sight of their friends in Granada becoming converted to the Christian faith, descended into the plains, and arriving as far as the environs of Malaga, committed considerable ravages. They even seized some villages belonging to the Crown, and pitched their camp there, after exacting from the inhabitants a heavy ransom. The insurrection having assumed dangerous proportions, the Governor of Granada despatched a force without delay to put it down; but this not being of sufficient strength was repulsed, and had to retire. King Ferdinand, who was then at Seville, had thereupon determined on taking action in person, and marched with a force, accordingly, in the direction of Malaga. On his part, Gonzalvo of Cordova had also marched against the enemy, and coming up with them at the town of Huescar carried it by escalade, and put all those to the sword who fell into his power. Count Levin, one of his lieutenants, acted pretty much in the same manner; and some days after, having surprised a fortified place, he blew up the mosque in which the women and children had taken refuge. Nothing equalled the ferocity of the repression except the constancy of the insurgents ; when these, in the end wearied out by a contest of this character, at last consented to lay down their arms, and to pay a sum of fifty thousand ducats. If they became converts the tax would be remitted. These moderate measures gained over more converts, and towards the end of the year the towns of Baza, Guadix, and Almeria embraced the new faith. This was the cause soon after of a second insurrection that broke out at Konda, a district inhabited by the Gondules, a brave and fiery African tribe. Ronda is encompassed by rugged mountains difficult of access—the Sierra Vermeja and the Sierra Villa-Luenga.

A body of troops, led by the brother of Gonzalvo of Cordova, having attempted to penetrate into them, was routed and all perished. This disaster was of ill augury for the Christian arms. Ferdinand, desirous of avenging the death of the leader of the expedition, and of retrieving the honour of the Castilian flag, hastened thither with a large force, with the resolve of putting a final stop to these outbreaks. But at the sight of this army the insurgents, feeling that all was lost, offered to capitulate. This was granted, the terms being similar to those of the Alpuxarras treaty: a fine of ten golden doblas a head for all those who should remain in the country, with con- version to the Catholic faith. Almost all took to conversion, but a few went to the little port of Estepona and embarked for Africa. Thus were ended in 1501 the repeated insurrections of the Moors in the mountains of Ronda and the Alpuxarras, and thus from the same period has prevailed both religious and political peace throughout the Peninsula. But we now return to the Queen, called by an event of the utmost importance.

Part IV. 1492 — 1506  


Christopher Columbus — His first appearance at the camp of Santa Fe — Discoveries of the Portuguese — Jealousy of the Castilians — Proposals to the Archbishop of Granada — Failure — Interview of Columbus with Isabella — Opposition of King Ferdinand — Letters patent granted — First voyage of Columbus — His discoveries — His return — Second expedition — Discoveries — Return — Difficulties in the third expedition — Deplorable state of Hispaniola — Columbus denounced to the Queen — A royal commissioner sent out to the colonies — Arrest of Columbus— He is brought back to Spain — His vindication — Departure of Ovando’s expedition — Its almost total loss.

The famous edict of the year 1492 against the Jews was not the only considerable event that marked the early days of the conquest of Granada. Another event which was to change the face of the world, and of Spain in particular—an event suspected by no one, with a single exception—took place whilst Queen Isabella was in occupation of Santa Fe: Christopher Columbus made his appearance. Long since it had been conjectured that to the west of the known world there might exist other lands than those comprised in the old world. The Portuguese were the first, bold navigators as they were, to steer their vessels as far as the southernmost point of Africa, and discover the cape named by them the Cape of Good Hope, as expressive of their hope of further discoveries. Jealous of their neighbours, the Castilians had made some discoveries, also, on their side ; they had occupied the Canary Islands, explored all the African coast and established commercial relations with the barbarous inhabitants, returning with gold dust, which was eagerly sought after. But all these adventurous attempts in navigation did not go beyond certain limits — at least as respects the Castilians ; for, by a treaty concluded between Castile and Portugal in 1479, the whole extent of the seas was to be shared between the two Powers. To Portugal was assigned the trade of the west coast of Africa, to Castile that of the Canary Islands and dependencies. It was in these circumstances that about the year 1484 Columbus arrived in Spain. He was born at Genoa in 1440, of poor and respectable parents. From his early- years he had shown a particular liking and aptitude for mathematics and geographical acquirements ; he was of a solitary, thoughtful disposition, gloomy, unsympathetic, and as if ruled by some fixed idea, to the pursuit of which he was impelled by fate. When fourteen years old, weary of his studies at the University of Pavia, he enlisted on board of a merchant vessel as cabin boy, and continued to serve in various vessels till he reached the age of thirty. On board, his chief occupation was drawing and compiling charts.

The existence of a land, a continent, beyond the Atlantic did not seem to him to admit of a doubt, and he opened his mind on the subject to a celebrated Italian who shared his notions thereon, and from that moment the existence and discovery of a new world became the dream and the ambition of his whole life. Columbus now undertook a journey to Spain for the purpose of submitting his schemes to the notice of Don Ferdinand Talaveyra, Archbishop of Granada and confessor to the Queen. He was provided with a strong recommendation to this prelate on the part of the superior of the Convent of la Rabida, a friend of the Archbishop. The proposals and schemes of Columbus, laid before the Archbishop with the conviction and eagerness of one who believes in the truth of what he states, appeared at once strange enough. In those days to speak of the existence of any other world than the one known to us, was set down as the dream of a madman— besides that for such an expedition money, ships, and men would be required in abundance; and as at the present time Castile was engaged in a great war against the Moors, the treasury had none to spare. The Archbishop, therefore, could only reply at once with a formal refusal to entertain a project involving so distant and, above all, so hazardous an expedition. Columbus was accordingly thanked, and informed that after the war was over he would receive a reply to his proposals. Disheartened, Columbus proceeded to make his offers to Genoa, his native town, which also declined. Upon this, he had resolved on making his way to France with the same object, when a letter received from his friend and protector in Spain, the superior of the Convent of la Rabida, gave him once more hope. He was asked to come to Santa Fe, where the Queen was engaged in the siege of Granada, and he was told that more than one lord at the Court, among others Quintanilla, controller-general of the finances of Castile, San-Angel, fiscal of the Crown of Arragon, and the Marchioness of Maya, a private friend of the Queen, took a hearty interest in his project. It was in these circumstances, and under these auspices, that Columbus presented himself at the Court.

Received by the Queen, Columbus, besides expatiating on the material benefits which would accrue to Castile by the discovery of a new world, cleverly appealed to a principle and a feeling which in Spain was sure to triumph. To extend the empire of the Cross over heathen peoples, and devote the profits of this expedition to the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, was to appeal directly to the Queen’s heart. Isabella was deeply moved—tempted—at length yielded, and gave her consent. Notwithstanding, however, these promising indications, an unforeseen obstacle appeared of a sudden to break off all further negotiations. Columbus claimed for himself the title of vice-admiral of the flotilla of which he was put in command, also that of viceroy of all the countries he should discover, with a tenth part of the profits of the expedition. King Ferdinand, who was opposed to the project, and had always regarded it with a certain repugnance, made the strongest objection to these inadmissible pretensions, as he termed them, of an adventurer and a foreigner; thus all was broken off. The King of Arragon had, in fact, a particular interest in reserving for his own fleets all the resources of the treasury. His ships monopolised the trade of the Mediterranean; his seamen from Barcelona were known at all the ports of the old and wealthy Italian republics—they pushed as far as Constantinople and Egypt; so Ferdinand flatly refused to entertain the proposals of Columbus, and dismissed him. For the second time Columbus retired, but a second time also he was recalled, and this time by the Queen herself.

Penetrated always with the deeply religious feeling with which she regarded this enterprise, Isabella now spoke with sovereign authority. She said that since Arragon could not contribute, Castile would alone defray all the necessary costs of the expedition; and that if there were not enough to meet them she would even sacrifice her jewels. Columbus, summoned now into the presence of the Queen, received from her own hands the treaty by virtue of which he as admiral, viceroy, and governor-general of all the western continent, was empowered to make and conclude any transaction, or arrangement, which should come within the province of his admiralty jurisdiction; one-tenth of the revenues of all the lands discovered by him to be secured to him; his dignities to be hereditary. Finally, he was ennobled and permitted to affix to his name the particle don, but his plain name sufficed for him. These letters patent were dated April 17, 1492, and were signed by the Queen at Granada, where she was still staying.

Columbus lost no time in proceeding to Seville, where orders were despatched to the admiralty to make all preparations. The flotilla fitted out at Palos for the first expedition of Columbus was composed of three small vessels, the equipment of which he did not succeed in effecting without much trouble; for the Andalucian sailors regarded with a very jealous eye this foreigner, this Genoese, thus come to deprive them of the rights that properly belonged to them. The number of persons embarked on board the three vessels amounted to 120. The Crown—that is to say, the Queen—furnished in advance a sum of 70,000 florins; and at last, all being ready, on August 3, 1492, Columbus bade a farewell to Spain, and took his departure from Palos for a world which he might be said to have almost discovered already in the tenacity and definiteness of an exalted and stubborn imagination. At first he had to contend against the elements, still more afterwards against the insubordination and the fears of an ignorant crew; but he held on bravely, and on October 12, after sixty-nine days’ sailing, he sighted land, and touched at one of the Lucayas, which he named San Salvador. He continued on his way, and soon afterwards came in sight of an extensive country which he coasted round; this was the great island of Cuba, since called the Pearl of the Spanish Antilles. Subsequently he discovered in succession, to the astonishment of his ignorant companions, the island of Haiti, which he named Hispaniola, after the name of Spain, his second country; next, San Domingo, where his brother founded a town with that name. After these first discoveries Columbus resolved on returning to Spain. He took back with him specimens of the precious metals he had collected, and found on his arrival at the Court of Queen Isabella, henceforth his friend and patroness, a most flattering reception. This first return of Columbus took place in March 1493.

Astonished at these discoveries, Isabella was the first to encourage another departure; and with the purpose of stimulating a spirit of discovery and colonisation she raised an enthusiasm among the lukewarm, and in spite of the strong opposition prompted by jealousy, she succeeded in obtaining the further necessary funds towards a second expedition.

This set out in September 1493; it proved a more arduous affair than the previous. The sailors on board were for the most part adventurers and riff-raff, who as soon as out of sight of land observed neither discipline nor respect nor patience. Idle and insubordinate, they refused to do the most ordinary work, ridiculed their superiors and threatened them. These evils, which were serious, Columbus encountered with indomitable firmness. He touched at new lands, discovering on the present occasion Jamaica, Guadaloupe, Porto Rico, and Dominica. On his return from this second expedition in 1496 he again brought with him many curiosities, and in his following were four Indian chiefs decked out in collars and crowns of gold, and other barbarous trappings, which excited admiration in all the parts through which they passed before arriving at the seat of the Court.

Isabella, who at the time was at Burgos, received Columbus on this occasion with an attention and goodness even more marked than before; but the general state of affairs in Spain was such that the future would no longer present the same favourable prospects to the hardy navigator—far from it. First there came to the Queen malicious reports (to say no worse) in which the administration of Columbus was stigmatised in the bitterest and most indignant terms; a list was added of all the miseries to which he subjected the slaves; all his illicit profits were reckoned up, as well as the wealth he had amassed; in a word, he was held up both to the justice and to the severity of the Sovereigns. Isabella, who regarded herself as the soul of this enterprise, who had maintained it out of her own purse, by her whole influence and will, in despite of her Court, her counsellors, and of the King her consort himself, had been much distressed and troubled by the reception of these reports; discredited, notwithstanding, the accusations against him ; and hastened to learn from Columbus himself how much of truth there was in them. In explaining to her the true state of the case Columbus soon recognised again her whom he termed the Good Queen, such as she had been at his departure on his second expedition. He now solicited of her goodness the means of undertaking a third.

The condition of the finances was at this time (1498) far from favourable; the war in Italy, and the betrothal of the Queen’s daughter to the King of Portugal, had cost heavily, and the treasury was empty. In these circumstances it was more than difficult to find the necessary means for fitting out another expedition. This was, however, accomplished at last after some trouble, but with the condition attached that the flotilla should be as restricted as possible. The instructions received by Columbus from the Queen’s own mouth were precise. Isabella’s purpose was to convert these races of semi-barbarians to the Christian religion; to inculcate gentleness and the virtues that belong to Christianity, instead of inflicting slavery and oppression upon them. For this purpose, Columbus would be accompanied by priests charged with this holy mission. He now prepared for departure. This, alas! was even more trying than on either of the two previous occasions. The sailors who had returned with Columbus spoke in ill terms of these distant parts whence they returned poor and ill; no one, therefore, was disposed to leave in such circumstances. So great was the discredit attaching to it, that in order to complete the crews of the six vessels composing the flotilla, it became necessary to enroll the convicts for the purpose; who were discharged from prison and their penalties commuted to service in the expedition. Thus attended, Columbus left San Lucar on May 30, 1498, on his third expedition. He touched first at Hispaniola (Haiti), where he found prevailing the most deplorable disorder. The unhappy inhabitants were being oppressed most shamefully by the governor whom he had left in charge ; force alone prevailed ; the natives had revolted, work in the fields and in the mines was abandoned, and scattered bands wandered about the country dying of hunger and committing many ravages.

Columbus succeeded, not without difficulty, in restoring peace to the unfortunate colony, though he could not prevent further reports dictated by vengeance and hatred from reaching the Queen, even from those whose disgraceful conduct he had checked. On this occasion the Queen, while yet not believing all that was told her, began to suspect Columbus had not within him the talents and capacity requisite for a government of that nature; and her confidence in him was still more shaken by the arrival at Malaga of two vessels full of revolted slaves whom Columbus had found it necessary to banish from the colony. All his enemies now united in representing to Isabella the severities, the incapability of the man who thus treated her subjects ; and they succeeded so well that Isabella commanded that the slaves should be immediately set at liberty. The counsellors of the Queen persuaded her, at the same time, to send out at once to the colony someone on whom she could rely, charged to make the strictest inquiries in the matter. Francisco de Bovadilla, a knight of Calatrava, was charged with this mission. He was furnished with full powers from the Queen, and invested with complete civil and criminal jurisdiction; his decrees were to be absolute; he could dispose of all offices, could order the arrest of anyone, whatever his rank, and his deportation to Spain, where he would have to answer for his acts before the tribunals. This commission, so elastic in the wording, the form, and the application, had not long to wait—as am may easily be supposed — before being put into operation. Columbus was the first victim to it; he was arrested by order of Bovadilla and thrown into prison. No one, however, was found who would put irons upon him; and one of his own servants was compelled to perform the painful task. Some days afterwards Columbus was removed in order to his being put on board ship for transport to Spain; when, thinking how was being led to execution, how called out to Vallejo, '”Whither art thou taking me?” “On board my ship”, was the reply; and in fact, Columbus once embarked, the vessel put to sea. Leaving on Octobor 8, it reached Malaga on December 17 following.

The harsh measures of Bovadilla had brought about a revulsion of feeling in the Queen and at the Court. Those were known in Spain, and on arriving at Granada, where the Queen then was, Columbus already found all dispositions in his favour. He was immediately received by the Queen, who at the sight of this man so recently charged with irons, calumniated, outraged in his honour and integrity, could not conceal her emotion; and Columbus throwing himself at her feet bedewed them with his tears.

Though restored at once to the favour of the Sovereigns, they thought it would be wiser not to reinstate Columbus in the government of the colonies; and they sent out, in his place, Nicholas de Ovando, of the Order of Calatrava, a very capable and judicious man. He had orders to dismiss Bovadilla, and pacify the colony at any price. Ovando, who was a nobleman much in repute at the Court, took out with him a number of young lords who only asked to do good service, besides a great variety of objects which were to serve for food as well as for the trade and benefit of the colony. His fleet comprised thirty-two vessels carrying 2,000 persons. It was the first expedition of such importance despatched to the New World, as well as the best appointed; it sailed from San Lucar on February 15, 1502. Unhappily, it almost entirely perished; one vessel only escaping the disaster.


Fourth expedition of Columbus — His discoveries — His return to Spain — Ingratitude of the King — His death — -His body conveyed to the Havannah — Tomb — Monument at Genoa — Inscription.

This same year 1502 Columbus asked to be enabled to undertake a fourth voyage ; his object was the discovery of a passage to the great Indian Ocean. This fourth and last expedition was not, as was the case with the previous, favoured with the Queen's patronage. The disaster which had befallen the Ovando fleet had much damped the ardour for maritime adventure. People began to discover that all these voyages and even discoveries cost more than they produced in return; on this occasion, therefore, Columbus had allowed him only four small caravels of barely sixty tons measurement. Already broken and feeble, and in presence of the popular disfavour, he was himself on the point of relinquishing it; but the devotion he felt for the Queen, for her who had never ceased to protect him against all the world, determined him, and on March 9, 1502, he departed. He had been forbidden to touch at Hispaniola, so as not to meet with Bovadilla, his enemy and accuser, who was to be brought back to Spain with all his ill-gotten treasure; but tempestuous weather and the want of repairs causing some delay, Columbus advised, in the state of the sea, that Bovadilla’s removal should be put off for a few days. Governor Ovando took no account of this prudent counsel; he put to sea, and two hours after the whole fleet was swallowed up with all the treasures it contained; 200,000 gold castilians, of which one half belonged to the State, were thus lost. Columbus pursued his voyage, and on this fourth expedition discovered Martinique, one of the Caribbean Islands; and ran down the coast from Cape Gracias a Dios, in Central America, as far as the haven of Puerto-Bello, in Columbia. After a succession of dreadful storms he landed at San Lucar in December 1504. Arrived in port, he learnt the terrible news which overwhelmed him with sorrow the Queen his protectress was dead. The Court was at this time in mourning at Segovia. Poor and suffering from gout, Columbus got on a mule and arrived thus by short stages, despair in his heart, at that Court where he would never henceforth meet with other than indifference, perhaps ingratitude. His reception by the King was neither good nor bad; he promised much and did nothing. The bare pension necessary to his existence was only paid with difficulty. As for the agreements concluded with the former admiral and former governor of all the colonies, and the emoluments derived therefrom, there was not a question ; the Crown retained them all.

Thus enlightened as to the good faith of the great ones of the earth, poor Columbus expired at Valladolid on May 19, 1506, Day of the Ascension, almost alone, and in the faith of a good Christian. His remains were first deposited in a convent in Valladolid, and—as if it were the destiny of this intrepid seaman to be ever moving, even after his death—were successively conveyed first to Seville, next to San Domingo, and lastly to Cuba, where they now repose in the Cathedral (Havana). An urn of gold contains his ashes, below which is the following inscription :



(To Castile and Leon, Columbus gave a New World.) On its part, the town of Genoa, the native place of Columbus, has erected to him on one of its principal squares, the Aqua-Verde, a commemorative monument: on a column decorated with the antique trireme the figure of Columbus, the left hand resting on an anchor, points to and supports with the right hand the slave of the New World freed through the Cross which it clasps in its hands. And on one of the sides of the monument is this inscription :




On the reverse is a second inscription, which reads as follows :




Which may thus be rendered: “By the discovery of a (New) World he conferred on the Old an everlasting benefit”.

Columbus had not even the glory of giving his name to the world with which he had endowed the Spain of Isabella. A Florentine, Amerigo Vespucci, who had visited the coast of Daria about 1499, arrogated the honour of the discovery of this continent, and gave it the name of America, a name which it has since retained. Columbus has not, however, the less remained in the judgment of posterity one of the most intrepid navigators and greatest geniuses that have ever existed. Spain may justly claim to call him her own.


Italian wars (1494) — Their cause — Preparations of Arragon — The French enter Rome — Departure of Gonzalvo of Cordova — Entry of the French into Naples — Gonzalvo arrives in Calabria — Siege of Atella — Complete defeat of the French, and their expulsion from Italy.

We left Queen Isabella at the moment when, in 1492, she granted to Christopher Columbus the necessary powers for undertaking his memorable discoveries. We now arrive at an epoch when interests fully as important for the new Crown of Spain required the attention of King Ferdinand in particular, now about to prosecute his great wars in Italy. This country came within the sphere of Arragon, rather than of Castile, which last had always confined its conquests to within, and we have just now seen how it succeeded in accomplishing its task, or crusade, by the conquest of Granada. Of a limited extent originally, Arragon had been able without difficulty to aggrandise itself by the successive acquisitions of Catalonia, of the kingdom of Valencia, of the Balearic Islands, and subsequently of Navarre; but its external tendencies, and particularly its ambition, carried it along towards more distant countries. After the conquest of Sicily the princes of Arragon waged against the house of Anjou those long and sanguinary wars of which the crown of Naples was the prize, and this crown had, after many trials and vicissitudes, in the end remained in the possession of the princes of Arragon. The pretensions of the house of Anjou, represented by the Kings of France, were notwithstanding maintained. It was the first to effect the conquest of Naples, and gave up possession only because the fortune of war was adverse to its arms ; and it was these pretensions and these disputed claims that gave rise to the war which King Ferdinand of Arragon, Isabella’s consort, now prepared to enter into with all his forces. Isabella, who as Queen of Castile occupied herself alone with the discovery of America and the expeditions of Columbus, would take no part in these wars. She was of opinion (to use her own words) that a possession so far removed from the heart of Europe would cost probably more to retain than it was worth. She was besides not altogether convinced of the rightfulness of this war, the conduct of which she left entirely to her consort, whom Naples interested more directly, both by the traditions connecting it with the Crown of Arragon, and the advantages he counted on deriving from its possession. Isabella, then, holding herself entirely aloof from this expedition, returned with renewed ardour to the reforms, the improvements, and the new plans of government which arose out of her recent conquest of Granada. Thus engaged we shall find her after the account we are about to give of this war, which will be as concise as possible.

The sovereign who ruled at Naples in 1494 was Ferdinand I, a prince of Arragon. He was false, cruel, and an oppressor of his subjects, more particularly of the nobles, who had more than once risen against him. Tired of this yoke, they appealed to the King of France, Charles VIII, as representative of the house of Anjou. It was in these circumstances that Ferdinand, King of Naples, died at the age of seventy, and left his crown to his son Alphonso, who was quite as cruel and tyrannical as his father. In the midst of these intestine divisions of the Neapolitans, Charles VIII commenced those Italian wars which were destined to endure so many years, and stain with blood that fair and unfortunate land.

As soon as the King of Spain learnt of the formidable preparations which were being made in France, he inquired as to the object of them. He was informed in reply that the intended expedition was directed against the infidels, and he was invited even to take part in it. Ferdinand, however, was not to be deceived by this subterfuge. He pressed the point; and it was then declared that before crossing over to Africa to combat .the infidels, the expedition would seize on Naples on its way; this expression was used jauntily and verbatim, like a postscript, at the end of the conference. Ferdinand now made up his mind. He summoned Charles, by his ambassador, to avoid in every possible way doing violence to the Pope or to the Papal States, of which he was the protector; he then proceeded, on his side, to complete his preparations for war. Charles was in no way intimidated by Ferdinand's attitude, and for all reply took no notice of the injunction. With the precipitation that marked all his acts Charles pressed the departure of his army, and in August 1494 departed from Vienne in Dauphiny, crossing the Alps some days afterwards. It numbered 31,000 men well-armed, with a good artillery and a remarkably fine cavalry. It reduced every- thing on its way, and arrived at Rome on December 31. Charles entered the capital of the Christian world with all the pomp of a conqueror, followed by his knights and free lances accoutred in all the trappings of war. Pope Alexander VI and the cardinals, indignant at this violation of territory, had retired into the castle of St. Angelo.

This rapid march of the French, and their victories, spread alarm and confusion among all the Italian States; they were all in fear, and the King of Spain the foremost, who perceived the danger there was for his Sicilian possessions and for the Neapolitan branch of his house of Arragon, in having so daring and lucky a neighbour. He therefore lost no time; immense preparations were made at all his great Mediterranean ports, and a considerable army was raised destined to cross over immediately to Sicily, prepared for any event. The difficulty now was to find the general to whom was to be entrusted so delicate and dangerous an enterprise— not that in Spain there were wanting experienced, daring, gallant captains who had all so approved themselves in the wars with the Moors which ended at Granada; but if, on the one hand, the enemy here was not the same, on the other hand to entrust to a general an army operating four hundred leagues from home was a still more delicate affair. The opinion of Isabella was decisive on the point of the nomination. There was a general who during the last war in the Alpuxarras had displayed a merciless rigour. Previously, in the war of Granada, the same general had on two occasions of sieges exhibited remarkable skill and capability; he was the first to mount the breach in person—was the pattern and friend to the soldier. On the capitulation of Granada, he it was who discussed and drew up the articles of the treaty. In point of ability, valour, sagacity and fertility of resource he was the first to be commended to the choice of the Queen. This general was Gonzalvo of Cordova. Ferdinand approved of this choice, though with reluctance; for already, as will be seen later on, he began to be jealous of the fame of Gonzalvo—jealous especially of the appointment to the command, not of an Arragonese, but of a Castilian; yet it was this Castilian who was to conquer for him the kingdom of Naples. The Spanish fleet left, accordingly, under the command of Gonzalvo and made sail for Sicily. In the interval, the French army evacuated Rome and pursued its march on Naples, from which Alphonso, the new King of Naples, incapable of organising the slightest resistance, fled, taking refuge in Sicily, where he abdicated, and was succeeded by his son Ferdinand II, who was only twenty-five years old. Like his father, he was soon left without any means of defence; his subjects, having no attachment for their sovereigns, and regarding a change of dynasty but as a change of masters, abandoned him, gave themselves up to fear, and at the approach of the French fled in all directions. Ferdinand retired first to Ischia, next to Sicily, and it was in this deplorable state that Charles found the town of Naples. He made his entry into it on February 25, 1495, habited in an imperial mantle, and wearing the quadruple crown of France, Naples, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Thus was accomplished the conquest of Naples without much trouble or loss of blood.

Charles employed his time at Naples in a most odious manner. He robbed it of all its works of art—precious sculptures, bronzen doors, architectural ornaments, costly weapons—all were embarked; but the vessels never reached Prance, being captured on the way by a Spanish fleet that came out of Pisa. Charles' proceedings towards the Neapolitans were not less rigorous than before. Everywhere people were molested, insulted, and persecuted; and in the course of a few days everyone detested the French. All these turmoils and dangers had the effect of soon opening the eyes of the adjoining States. The well-known ambition of Charles and the haughty menaces of the conquerors had spread alarm throughout Italy. Then in the distance arose a great coalition, of which Venice was the centre, and Ludovico Sforza—or Moro—of Milan, the head. This league raised at once an army, and proceeded to close against the French the passage of the Apennines. Charles, taken by surprise, had only just the time to leave. Arrived at Pornova, he found there assembled an army of 40,000 Venetians, ill provided and ill commanded; without artillery, and with the 8,000 men he was taking back to France he defeated them and returned to his own dominions. He left at Naples as his viceroy the Duc de Montpensier, and d'Aubigny as Commandant-General of the French forces. These proceeded forthwith to occupy the whole Neapolitan territory.

Whilst the French had thus without over much trouble effected the conquest of Naples, Gonzalvo disembarked in Sicily with his army on May 24, 1496. He there met Ferdinand II, the dethroned Neapolitan monarch. In concert with him, he crossed directly over to Calabria and opened the campaign against the French. From the very first a number of small places declared in favour of the Arragonese, and Gonzalvo, at the head of a force of 6,000 or 6,000 militia besides his own troops, marched soon after on Seminara, a small town situate in a plain, and eight leagues distant from Reggio. Here he encountered d'Aubigny with his little army; the French, with their artillery, and their cavalry cased in armour, withstood easily enough the attack of the light and ill-armed troops led by Gonzalvo, who, after performing prodigies of valour, was at length compelled to retire. If the French had chosen to profit by their victory, they could easily have thrown the Arragonese into the sea; but they did not venture on it, and the same evening they evacuated, in their turn, the field of battle. This action of Seminara was the only one in which Gonzalvo was ever defeated.

Warned by this check Gonzalvo summoned from Sicily his real troops, the same who since the wars of Granada had never laid aside their arms, and with them he continued the campaign. His system of tactics was one of surprise and stratagem, to which no country was better adapted than Calabria, with its rugged mountains and rocky fastnesses appearing on all sides. He overran thus all lower Calabria, and, extending his operations, took day after day a number of small fortified posts, which he occupied and furnished with provisions and necessaries. Indeed, he was so successful that by the end of that year he had gained possession of not only the whole of lower Calabria, but also of part of the upper, and had boldly laid siege to Atella, a town in the Apennines on the borders of the Basilicata.

In concert with the King of Naples, who rejoined him there, Gonzalvo established a close blockade of this place, one of the most important in the province and occupied by 6,000 French troops. As soon as the blockade was effected he proceeded to overrun the surrounding country, defeated all the troops despatched to succour the place, and by the end of two months had reduced it to such a degree of famine that a capitulation was proposed. Gonzalvo, in concert with Ferdinand, laid down the conditions, which were as follows : The garrison to surrender, with arms, ammunition, and baggage, if within one month it was not relieved; that, in addition, all the places in the kingdom occupied by the French should be evacuated, their artillery would be embarked and conveyed to France. A general amnesty was granted to the Neapolitans who had taken part with the French on their offering their submission.

This capitulation of July 21, 1496, took effect; Atella surrendered, and all the French troops marched out of the place. These poor soldiers, haggard and dying of hunger, scattered themselves all over the country, where they were cruelly treated by the peasantry. Out of 6,000 men who quitted Atella, barely 1,000 reached Baia, whence they were conveyed on board ship to France in a most miserable state. The Swiss took their course through Italy and reached home as best they could, having suffered from the like ill treatment. The treaty of Atella, the capture of that place, and the disbanding of the troops decided the issue of the campaign. DAubigny, the French general, being unable to resist longer, on his part abandoned Calabria; after which all the strong places surrendered; finally, by the end of the spring there remained no longer in the occupation of the French a single foot of all that territory in Italy conquered so rapidly by Charles VIII.

Thus terminated this first and successful campaign of Gonzalvo of Cordova. In addition to tact, skill, and address, he displayed in a high degree the art of discovering the weak points of his enemy. He had succeeded in the course of some months in expelling a brave and powerful prince from a large extent of country—it was a great piece of good fortune. Ferdinand II., the young King of Naples, did not long survive this great triumph of his rightful cause ; he shortly after died, leaving the crown to his uncle Frederic, an enlightened Prince and much beloved by his people. Gonzalvo thus delivered over to the young sovereign the kingdom he had liberated, and returned to Spain, after sending away the remainder of his army to Sicily.


Death of Charles VIII. — Louis XII passes into Italy— Gonzalvo returns to Italy — Treaty of partition between France and Spain — The Capitanata — Collision— Gonzalvo in Barletta — Defeat of Nemours — Marriage of the Infanta Jane with the Archduke Philip — Conditions of the marriage in regard to Italy — Second treaty — Gonzalvo refuses it — Battle of Seminara — Battle of Cerignolles— Defeat of the French — Gonzalvo enters Naples — His popularity — Siege of Gaeta — Its capitulation — Gonzalvo Viceroy of Naples — His return to Spain — Ingratitude of King Ferdinand — His disgrace — Death — Mausoleum — Epitaph.

While thus being deprived of his conquests Charles VIII was carried off by death, and was succeeded on the throne by Louis XII in 1498. Louis did not interpose much delay in determining to take up the projects of his predecessor. Italy affected him in two respects. In the Milanese, he intended to revive the claims he derived from Valentin Visconti, his ancestor. As for Naples, he meant to resume the expedition of Charles VIII in the name of the house of Anjou; and, so that no one should be in ignorance of his meaning, he assumed, at once, the titles of Duke of Milan and King of Naples. Such pretensions caused much alarm at the Court of Spain. In view of eventualities that might be foreseen, a fleet was immediately fitted out in the port of Malaga; it comprised sixty sail, and carried 600 horse and 6,000 foot soldiers, all picked troops, having served in the Moorish wars. This armament, which ostensibly was intended for the protection of the Venetian possessions in the Levant, had in reality no other object than to effect a junction with the Spanish army left in Sicily, and guard the coast against all attempts of the French in case Louis directed any hostilities in this quarter. Gonzalvo, the Great Captain (for already he was so named), returned to Sicily to take up the command of an army, almost certain of victory under such a chief. On this occasion he was joined by numerous volunteers from among the nobility, who regarded it an honour to take part in the new campaign. With this force and accompanied by such a train, Gonzalvo set sail from Malaga in May 1500, and soon after landed. at Messina.

He was no sooner arrived than he received from Granada the text of a treaty, a most singular one, that had just been concluded between France and Spain. In this extraordinary document it was stated that the two Powers, being desirous of putting an end to the evils which resulted from war, and considering that King Frederic of Naples had compromised all Christendom in drawing on Naples its most cruel foes, they had determined on the deposition of the said King. Henceforth the title of King of Naples would appertain to the Kings of France and Spain jointly, and to each of them would be assigned one half of the territory of the said kingdom. To the King of France would belong the Terra di Lavoro and the Abruzzi as the northern half, together with the title of King of Naples and of Jerusalem. The southern half, comprising Apulia and Calabria, would fall to the share of the King of Spain, with the title of duke of those provinces. The customs dues levied on wool in the Capitanata, and collected by the Spaniards, were to be equally shared with France—they were important. One may imagine the profound astonishment of Gonzalvo on becoming informed of such an arrangement. This treaty was the personal act of Ferdinand, for Queen Isabella would in no way interfere in this tortuous policy of her crafty and ambitious consort. The treaty moreover despoiled the new King Frederic in the most unlooked-for and iniquitous manner, who was far from expecting such a desertion of his cause. Gonzalvo, however, had to submit. He had always maintained the closest relations with Frederic, and certainly what pained him most now was to see this friendship dissolved by such a cause. Nevertheless, he proceeded to occupy in the name of his Sovereign that part of the kingdom which by this strange treaty was to be made over to him, and crossing the Straits, accordingly, advanced to take possession. Frederic, at the first movement of the Arragonese troops, retired first to Ischia and afterwards to France, where Louis XII detained him in a sumptuous captivity. Gonzalvo, appointed lieutenant-general of Apulia and Calabria, moved into that province, where he met with some resistance, which he easily overcame; laid siege to Taranto, which he captured from the duke of that name on March 1, 1502, and established himself in the possessions ceded to him definitively.

It was, however, easy to foresee that this partition between two powers, enemies only yesterday, would not be accomplished without the greatest difficulty. In point of fact, these provinces had no fixed boundaries, and it was not known to whom belonged the central portion of this country—Basilicata and Capitanata—the latter province particularly, which was the more important and the richer. Hence arose the collision. From the first, the French, taking the start, captured several places in the Basilicata, and, in spite of all remonstrances on the part of Gonzalvo, retained them. In his turn, Gonzalvo seized on the Capitanata adjoining, and the two parties were in this position, when of a sudden Louis XII, having crossed the Alps, arrived at Asti, whence he despatched formal orders to his generals to declare war on the Spaniards unless they gave up the Capitanata;—they were allowed twenty-four hours to evacuate that province. The Duke of Nemours was in command of the French forces designed to operate in this quarter. Gonzalvo was for a moment surprised on receiving such a summons; he was not in a position to engage so considerable a force as that of Nemours ; he was awaiting reinforcements from Sicily which did not come; so he replied that the Capitanata belonged to his master, and that with God’s help he would defend it against the King of France, or anyone else who should attempt to take it. After this lofty reply, he opened an active campaign captured several places, and not receiving his reinforcements from Sicily, retired to the town of Barletta, where he shut himself up with his army. Barletta is a small seaport town on the Adriatic coast and on the borders Apulia; its fortifications were in bad condition, its walls old and crumbling. Outside the place, in the little towns of Bari, Andria and Canosa, Gonzalvo quartered the remainder of his small army, and waited. He had not, however, long to wait ; the French laid siege immediately to Barletta, and closely confined Gonzalvo and his army. The siege was long and obstinate; Gonzalvo’s troops, though more and more exhausted through privation, fatigue, and the want of everything, held out nevertheless, and a considerable reinforcement from Spain under the orders of Manuel Benavides was announced, when came the fatal news that these troops, surprised by d’Aubigny in Calabria, had been totally defeated. Gonzalvo preserved in the midst of these mis- fortunes an unvarying calm which communicated itself to his brave followers. It was in such trials that he displayed all the energy, the prudence, the devotedness of his nature, and his unequalled fertility of resource ; thus he appealed to the fidelity, to the honour of his army, which he maintained, cherished, and sparingly used, ready to profit by the smallest error on the part of his formidable antagonist. The occasion at last presented itself. The French, determined on dislodging the Spaniards in Barletta from their stronghold, arrived one morning almost to the foot of the walls, hoping to draw out their enemy. Gonzalvo did not move; upon which the French retired, saluting the garrison with cries and jeers. Then, Gonzalvo, sallying from the place, fell like a thunderbolt on the enemy's rear, threw out his cavalry in all directions, cut down, pierced, broke through and through the French in their flight, and brought back to Barletta as prisoners many of the most distinction among them. Fortune had declared for the Great Captain. News arrived at the same time of the defeat of the French fleet by the Spanish admiral near Otranto; next, of the arrival of the expected reinforcements, and last, what was of most comfort to the starving troops, a convoy of seven vessels landed in the port of Barletta a few days after, cargoes of corn, meat, and other provisions.

Gonzalvo’s army, thus victorious and refreshed, did not rest on its arms. Under the command in person of its beloved general it commenced the campaign, and on the following day made an attack on the town of Ruvo, defended by the brave French general La Palisse. The siege was terrible, house after house had to be captured, the town was put to the sack, then burnt, and the French general carried off a prisoner to Barletta. In the booty found at Ruvo by the Spaniards there was a considerable number of horses; they had thus the means of remounting their cavalry, which during the blockade of Barletta had diminished in number, many of the horses having served for food; and thus refreshed, remounted, and, more than all, elated with continued success, they prepared on leaving Barletta to bring their enemy to a decisive engagement. During these proceedings a second treaty intervened to change completely the relations of the hostile camps towards each other. The Archduke Philip, son of Emperor Maximilian, had just married the daughter of Queen Isabella, the same who subsequently became mother of Charles V. After his marriage Philip journeyed through France, and, on behalf of King Ferdinand, his father-in-law, made overtures to the King of France for the definitive adjustment of this burning Italian question. The parties arrived at an agreement, and on April 5, 1503, a new treaty was signed, which brought to an end this difficult affair by the arrangement as follows: Claude, daughter of Louis XII, to marry Charles of Austria, and the future couple to assume immediately the titles of King and Queen of Naples, and Duke and Duchess of Calabria. Until the completion of the marriage the French army of occupation to be under the command of a personage of distinction appointed by Louis, and the Spanish army under that of Philip, or any other chief, on the nomination of Ferdinand. All places taken by either party to be restored. Lastly, it was agreed that the province of the Capitanata, in dispute, would be governed jointly by an agent of the King of France, and the Archduke on behalf of Ferdinand, his father-in-law.

On the arrival of this news of so impracticable and ignominious a partition, and at the moment when considerable reinforcements were arrived from Sicily, Gonzalvo, filled with a noble indignation, flatly refused to submit to such a treaty, iniquitous in substance, affronting as to form, and hazardous in execution; since the Prince and Princess engaged were but children. He therefore boldly continued the campaign. He first defeated d'Aubigny at Seminara, and then arrived at the plain of Cerignolles, determined on making a bid once more for fortune and victory. The two armies were of equal force, seven to eight thousand men on each side; Nemours was in command of the French. The attack was, like the defence, sharp and bloody; the Spanish infantry—which already had given indications of its future renown—was like a wall of iron when attacked, and like a thunderbolt when attacking. Gonzalvo with his eagle eye, confident in his troops, animated and led them in the thick of the combat, and towards evening, after a great carnage, victory and the field of battle remained with Gonzalvo. Nemours was killed, and the French army in disorder found difficulty in escaping the pursuit of the enemy.

From this moment Naples became the prize of the conqueror. Deputations shortly after arrived at the camp charged to present to him the keys of the town, whilst the standard of Arragon, so well-known to the Neapolitans, once more waved from the forts. Gonzalvo made his entry into Naples on May 14, 1503. The streets were all decked out with flowers, and gladness shone on every face; it was almost the triumph of a king. It was not long before he became the most popular of viceroys; his goodness, his sense of justice, and his pleasing manner gained for him at once all hearts; and it might be supposed the whole kingdom was now again restored to the dominion of Arragon but for the long and obstinate defence that the castle of Gaeta, held by the French in force, was to oppose to the Spanish arms. Gonzalvo engaged in the siege of this place with his characteristic vigour; he brought in front of it almost his whole army. The French forces were encamped before the place on the banks of the Garigliano; it was there that Gonzalvo met and attacked them. The action that ensued was of the most determined character; the Spanish infantry once broken soon reformed, the cavalry cut to pieces all that came in its way, drove them into the river, and at the close of the day the French army under the command of Lur-Saluces was defeated, as d’Aubigny had just been at Seminara; and the town of Gaeta, incapable of defence, offered to capitulate. This took place on January 3, 1504, on honourable terms for the garrison. Henceforth Italy was lost to France, and the treaty of Lyons, concluded in the following month, determined the future of the kingdom of Naples under the rule of Arragon. This treaty, so honourable for Spain, arrived at the Court of Isabella some time before the death of the Queen, who was then very ill. This lamentable event occurred on November 26 of the same year.

The death of Queen Isabella deprived Gonzalvo of his best and most powerful patron. He was entitled of himself alone and on his own merits to the consideration of King Ferdinand; unhappily it did not result so. King Ferdinand, who had never been able to get the better of the feeling of jealousy with which he regarded this Castilian, whom he detested, left immediately after for Naples, and without regard for his great services or the high position he filled as viceroy since the conquest, proceeded coldly to deprive him, and notify him of his loss of favour. Gonzalvo on this occasion showed himself a truly worthy and loyal subject; but such a reproof as this was a death stroke. Returning to Spain in ill health, he went first to Montilla, where he was born, and shut himself up; he desired, he said, to see his last day at the spot where he had seen his first. His health becoming worse, he journeyed to Granada, the scene of some of his triumphs at the surrender of that city, and in the negotiations with King Boabdil he had so skilfully conducted. The climate of Granada, however, and his residence there amid the respect and affection of all, failed to restore his health, and Gonzalvo expired, surrounded by his own people, on December 2, 1515.

Gonzalvo’s death was the occasion of a national mourning in Spain. King Ferdinand himself found it necessary to participate in it, in exterior at any rate. The highest honours were rendered to his memory, and his remains were laid in a magnificent tomb in the church of St. Jerome. Around the monument hang a number of old banners tattered in the wars, and on one of its sides is engraved the following inscription :











 (The remains of Gonzalvo Ferdinand of Cordova, who, by his own valour, made for himself the name of a Great Captain, are laid temporarily in this tomb, to his great glory, and to be at last restored to Light Eternal.)

The figure of Gonzalvo is recumbent on the marble. In Spain, Song confers immortality, as testify the Cid and his exploits. Gonzalvo was also sung everywhere by poets, and children may be heard even now-a-days singing these verses of Jorge Manrique in memory of the Great Captain :

Amigo de sus amigos

Que señor para criados

            Y parientes.

Que enemigo de enemigos,

Que maestro de esforzados

            Y valientes !

Que seso para discretes

Que gracia para donosos

             Que razón.

Muy benigno a los sujetos

Y a los bravos y dañosos

                  Un león

Of which the literal rendering is :

Friend of his friends ; what a gentleman for his servants and relatives ! What an enemy of enemies ! What a leader for the resolute and valiant ! What good sense for the wise ! What courtesy for knights ! What reason ! Most gentle with the humble ; and with the wicked and evil doers, a lion.

Gonzalvo is considered in the military annals of the time, as by posterity, one of the greatest captains that have existed. Full of energy, the soldier's friend, patient in adversity, self-denying, the first to mount the breach, he everywhere showed the example of the true soldier. Skilful in the conduct of the most difficult affairs, he was at all times actuated only by a consideration of what was for the honour and advantage of his country, towards which he entertained feelings of the utmost sympathy and devotion. Queen Isabella had given a great proof of her sagacity when, before all others, she selected for the command in the Italian war him who there acquired renown and the name of the Great Captain.

By one of those chances, as if indicated by the finger of God, it is at Granada, not far from the mausoleum which encloses the remains of Isabella, where also repose the remains of her greatest and most illustrious subject; and it is under the same sky they peacefully repose in their common glory.

Part V. 1494 — 1517


Ecclesiastical reforms introduced by Isabella — Death of Cardinal Mendoza — Ximenes — His rise — Is confessor to the Queen — Disorders of the Franciscans — Ximene’s Archbishop of Toledo — Reform of the clergy — Opposition — Concurrence of Isabella — Policy of Ximenes after the death of Isabella — Is regent of the kingdom after the death of Ferdinand — His expedition to Oran — -Founds the university of Alcala — The Polyglot Bible — He resigns the kingdom to Charles V. — His fall— Death.

Isabella, as we have already seen, would take no part in the Italian wars. She looked upon the expedition and conquest as coming within the province rather of her ambitious consort ; for the Princes of Arragon had long since regarded Naples as their own. But with whatever pride she may have viewed the marvellous success of the Great Captain she had singled out, her cares were devoted exclusively to the internal government of her beloved Castile, and especially to the reforms to be introduced into the religious Orders, a matter which singularly interested her. Cardinal Mendoza, Archbishop of Toledo, one of the Queen’s most influential counsellors, was just dead (1495). He had succeeded the fiery Archbishop Carrillo, who had taken so large a part in the ignominious downfall of Henry IV at the scene of Avila. Wiser and far more respectful than he of the royal authority, Mendoza devoted himself, his counsels, and his great influence to the service of the Queen. In those days the position of an Archbishop of Toledo, Primate of Spain, almost equalled that of the Sovereign, and thus he came to be termed the third King of Spain. The death of Cardinal Mendoza left a great void in the council of the Crown. The Queen, struck by this circumstance, asked Mendoza on his death-bed to designate to her his successor to the Arch- bishopric of Toledo. Mendoza replied by naming Ximenes, Provincial of the Order of the Franciscans, and already confessor to the Queen. Ximenes was at this time sixty-five years old and a self-made man. Born of poor but respectable parents, he had taken his degrees at the university of Salamanca, where he much distinguished himself. Destined to the ecclesiastical profession, he went to Rome, where he gained the first steps in the priesthood. Returning to Spain, he aspired to a benefice in the see of Toledo, when the fiery Carrillo, desirous of nominating another to that office, had him arrested and thrown into prison, where he remained for six years. This commencement in his career had not discouraged Ximenes. Mendoza, who had recommended him when dying, was at that time Bishop of Siguenza, and had engaged him as secretary. Struck with the eminent qualities of Ximenes, he began soon to repose full confidence in him, to the extent of making over to him the administration of the diocese. It was not long before Ximenes perceived that this kind of life, in which he was too much mixed up in worldly affairs, was not suitable to him, and decided accordingly on adopting the monastic life. The Order of the Franciscans was the one he selected as being the most rigid, and he had already passed several years wholly given up to the discipline of his Order, when in 1492 the appointment of Talaveyra as Bishop of Granada subsequently to the conquest, left vacant the important office of Queen’s confessor. For Ximenes such a position, so delicate and so full of difficulty, was out of the question for one so simple-minded, so retired, and above all so austere, to think of occupying beside the Queen. When, therefore, the Queen on the advice of Talaveyra sent for him, he hesitated at first, but afterwards appeared before the Sovereign, by whose persuasion he was induced to accept the office. In reality, Ximenes was less alarmed than he thought within himself. He knew as well as everyone the incident that had happened to his predecessor on the occasion of his first interview with Isabella, and he felt confident that the Queen would be as dutiful with him as she had shown herself with Talaveyra. The incident in question, indicative of the Queen’s true character, was this : On the occasion of his hearing for the first time Isabella in confession, Talaveyra remained seated after she had dropped on her knees. On the Queen then remarking that it was customary that both of them should kneel : “Pardon me”, replied the prelate, “this is the tribunal of God, I am acting as His minister, and it is proper that I should retain my seat whilst your Majesty kneels before me”. To which the Queen replied : “There spoke the confessor I desired to find”. Thus acquainted with the Queen’s inclinations, Ximenes devoted himself during three years to his sacred offices, after which he was appointed Provincial of his Order.

It was at this juncture that the Queen, on the recommendation of Cardinal Mendoza on his death-bed, thought of conferring the Archbishopric of Toledo on Ximenes, worthy already of her entire confidence. She had the right, which she had always maintained, of nominating to vacancies, which the Pope was only empowered to confirm; it was the law, and however offensive it might be to the Papacy, the Queen never swerved from it. She accordingly presented Ximenes. The King, much vexed by her choice, wanted the appointment for Alphonso, his natural son, which Isabella rejected at once, and transmitted her nomination to the Holy Father for ratification. The Pope consented, and the Queen then at an interview with Ximenes gave him the intelligence. But he refused the proffered dignity as unworthy of the honour, and the Pope had to despatch a second bull in order to compel acceptance. The new Archbishop—occupying the highest position in the kingdom both in a religious and a political sense, the first counsellor of the State, the wealthiest and most powerful of all the prelates, who could bring into the field almost as numerous troops as a sovereign, who could traverse a great part of the kingdom without quitting his sphere of authority, who, lastly, absorbed, next to the Queen, almost the entire government—changed in no way his habits of simplicity and austerity. Under his robe of archbishop and that of cardinal, as he became shortly after, Ximenes wore only coarse linen, a plank was his bed, and he ate of the convent fare; a good example to all those Franciscan friars incessantly given up to convivialities and the society of courtiers where restraint was the rule least observed.

The high position which Ximenes now occupied as Archbishop of Toledo, with that of Provincial of Franciscans which he retained, imposed upon him great duties. The scandals of the Franciscans were publicly known, and he resolved on putting an end to them. In this Order there were those who were termed conventuals, and others who were termed observants. These last adhered most faithfully and closely to the rule of the Order; the conventuals, on the contrary, disregarded it as much as possible. It was these lapses, these disorders that Ximenes in concert with the Queen undertook to put down, and it was with this purpose that she obtained a special bull from the Pope. The task was the more arduous, inasmuch as it is always most difficult to extirpate abuses. The Franciscans in agreement with certain members of the nobility set themselves in opposition to the reformer; Ximenes held firm, and the brethren having quitted in a body their convent at Toledo, Ximenes compelled them to return. The Queen, on her side, acting towards them in a kindly spirit, discipline was restored to the convent as well as the good conduct that ought never to have departed from it. To all these reforms, to all this severe discipline, the regular clergy of his diocese made no less opposition than the monastic Orders. Ximenes constrained them likewise to return to obedience.

It was in these circumstances that Pope Alexander VI, beset by all those concerned in these disorders, as well as by the superior of the Franciscans at Rome, who had been gained over, fulminated a brief, by which it was forbidden to submit to the reforms of Ximenes before referring to the Pope. Isabella in agreement with Ximenes at once protested against this pretension, which was evidently in violation of the law under which the Orders were governed. She soon after obtained from the Court of Rome a full renunciation of this pretension. All the religious communities soon after began to follow this example, and order and discipline were restored throughout Spain.

At a period when the clergy and all the ecclesiastical Orders had so great influence over the people, it was right, necessary even, that the example inculcated in the best traditions should be followed by them. It was thus only that the masses would continue to render to the clergy the respect due to the ministers of God upon earth. To exile, on the one hand, the unconverted Jews and Moors, and, on the other hand, to tolerate the excesses of their persecutors, was an anomaly that could not commend itself either to the policy or to the sound good sense of the Queen; she therefore applied herself constantly and firmly to the work of this great reform, as did Ximenes himself, which has remained one of her titles to the respect of all.

The great work of Cardinal Ximenes was not confined to these reforms. At the period of Queen Isabella’s death he rendered very important services to Ferdinand by acting as mediator between him and Archduke Philip; afterwards, when Philip himself died, it was Ximenes again who secured for the crafty policy of Ferdinand the regency of Castile in the names of Jane the Mad and Charles V. At the death of Ferdinand, he succeeded by his skilful policy, for which he was not done justice, in procuring the accession of Charles V as King of Castile and Arragon; and in making his authority be respected by the firm exercise of his functions as regent of the kingdom, until the arrival of his young Sovereign. In deeds of war Ximenes was scarcely less illustrious than in those of peace. He united to the Crown of Castile, already so powerful, many places on the coasts of Barbary, Oran, and Tripoli; the expeditions to which he defrayed out of his own purse. And he commanded in person an army against the Moors with a courage extraordinary in a churchman.

The labours and achievements of the Cardinal did not end here; there were others which his great mind undertook and completed. Aware of the influence that the sciences and serious study exercise upon a nation, he founded the University of Alcalà de Henares. Eight years elapsed before this celebrated school opened its doors to students; this took place in 1508. Ximenes took, naturally, very much interest in its public examinations, and in the rivalries that arose among the scholars, which he encouraged, and of whom he formed some able and distinguished men. Grammar, rhetoric, philosophy, and the ancient classics constituted the usual studies; the subject given of the first study was the Ethics of Aristotle. All books and manuscripts of value existing in Spain were collected in the university library, and scientific men were sent to Rome, France, and all over Italy, who brought back precious collections purchased at their weight in gold; so that in a short time the Alcalá library became one of the most complete in Europe. Ximenes conceived at this time the vast project of raising up in the republic of letters the grandest monument which as yet had seen the light—we speak of his Polyglot Bible. To compose and publish a Bible which should comprise in various languages all the known texts of Holy Scripture was assuredly the most difficult, arduous, complicated undertaking that could be imagined. Ximenes engaged in his work the ablest and most erudite scholars in repute amongst the Castilian clergy; he obtained through the medium of Pope Leo X translations of all the manuscripts existing in the Vatican; he sent accredited translators to the libraries of all the convents and churches in Italy; and out of this mass of material, in which amongst other ancient languages Chaldean, Hebrew, and Latin were represented, was composed under his own eyes this famous Bible, to which he gave his name. The art of printing was then (1473) in its infancy; but, although some works on science and religion had already been printed at Saragossa, Valencia, and Madrid, the art of founding types was still so elementary that the greatest difficulties were experienced in casting the types for ancient or dead languages, such as Hebrew. It was at the foundry attached to the University of Alcalá, in particular, that these types were cast after a most arduous labour. The Bible of Ximenes was not completed until long years after it had been commenced; and it was but a few months before his death that the Cardinal had the gratification of receiving the presentation of it, magnificently bound, at the hands of all the learned men who had taken part in this great work. This was one of the greatest days in his life.

It was in the midst of cares of all kinds that the great Cardinal, in quality of Regent of Castile, presiding over all affairs, whether civil, ecclesiastical, or military, proceeded to meet his young Sovereign, to whom he was about to hand over a kingdom in a more flourishing state than it had ever been before ; when, suddenly, he received a letter from Charles ordering him to retire to his diocese. Ximenes, with the nobility of soul that belonged to his character, was wounded to the heart by such a requital of his services, and within an hour after receiving the letter he expired, November 8, 1517. He was the third, with Columbus and Gonzalvo of Cordova, to experience the ingratitude of kings by a similar return—that of oblivion.

The remains of Ximenes were laid in the chapel of St. Ildefonso, in Alcalá, which was erected by him; his monument is simple and severe in design. In spite of his fall, so great and so undeserved, Ximenes has retained the name of the greatest minister that Spain has produced. His firmness, sagacity, and political skill, his judgment and address in the midst of the turmoils and fatal rivalries which shook the country and the throne itself, have, more than the transitory favour of kings, preserved his memory in the hearts of Spaniards and of posterity.


Declining health of Isabella — Her sorrows — Death of her mother the Queen Dowager — Children of Isabella — Her eldest daughter widow of the heir to the throne of Portugal — Her return to Spain — Her second marriage with the King of Portugal — Marriage of Isabella's daughter Catherine to a prince of the royal house of England — The Prince of Asturias marries the daughter of the German Emperor — His death — Bights of the Queen of Portugal to the throne of Spain — The Cortes of Castile and of Arragon — Death of the Queen of Portugal — Her son acknowledged by the Cortes — His death — Infanta Jane heiress to the throne — Philip and Jane arrive in Spain — Are acknowledged by the Cortes — Departure of Philip.

Whilst, however, Queen Isabella, in concert with her great minister, was engaged in the work of the important reforms to be introduced into the government, her health, which until the year 1496 had been so good, began to decline; and it was remarked that at the death of her mother, which took place that very year, the decline increased with terrible rapidity. Her death caused indeed to Isabella one of those deep sorrows that soon dry up the springs of life. Her mother, who had brought her up so carefully at Arevalo, had protected her through all the trials that encompassed her youth— he enmity of the King her brother, the armed violence of Pacheco, the revolutionary scene at Avila—her mother, we say, had during the last years of her life given evidences of the cruel disease which had smitten her—she was become mad. One may comprehend the anguish of the unhappy daughter for her mother—for her own children—for herself. Was this terrible affliction only to fall on her mother ? Here was the cause, together with her present anxiety, of the anxiety in which the unhappy Queen continually lived from this moment. Her mother dead, Isabella cast sadly her looks around her, and with a maternal eye—that which is never deceived—she took in review all her children; they were numerous and their alliances were illustrious. Isabella had one son and four daughters. Princess Isabella, her eldest daughter, had married the Infante Alonzo, son of the King of Portugal, and heir to that crown; the marriage took place in the year 1490, its object being to unite eventually the crowns of Spain and Portugal, a project more than once indulged in but never realised. Unhappily, the Infante Alonzo died some months after his marriage, and his death broke up all the expectations that had been founded on that event. Inconsolable for her loss, and unable to remain in a place where everything reminded her of her former happiness, the Princess returned to her mother in the hope of finding some consolation.

It seems, however, as if it had been her destiny to marry a Portuguese prince. In fact, on the death of King John in 1495, the crown of Portugal devolved on Emmanuel, the same prince who, at the time Princess Isabella was at the Court of Lisbon after her marriage, paid his attentions to her, and who now hastened to send an embassy to the Queen of Spain to ask the hand of her daughter, to whom he was attached. Princess Isabella, so lately become a widow, refused at first, but yielding subsequently to the entreaties of the King of Portugal, she accepted him. The marriage was solemnised in the town of Alcantara, in presence of the King and Queen, but without pomp, in accordance with the wish of the Princess herself. Thus was renewed the idea of the union of the two crowns, which, however, this time again fell through. For the rest, the new Queen was as happy on her new throne as she could well be; though always, it was said, regretting her first husband and her first attachment. On this side, then, there existed no cause for anxiety for Isabella. The second daughter of the Queen, who, as Catherine of Arragon, became famous in the history of England by her virtues and her misfortunes, had married a prince of the Royal house of England. This marriage of a Castilian princess with an English prince was an event almost unprecedented in history; it was accordingly much commented on. The betrothal took place on October 1, 1496; but as the young couple were then scarcely eleven years of age, the marriage was deferred for some years. It was a marriage altogether of policy, the feelings of those most concerned not being consulted. The Queen’s son, John, Prince of Asturias and heir to the throne, had married Princess Margaret, daughter of the Emperor of Germany; he was considered at that time one of the most eligible princes in Europe, since Spain by her union with Arragon, by her conquest of Granada, by her discovery of America, and the importance of these new possessions, had now become one of the foremost existing States; the union of the houses of Austria and Spain would tend still further to increase this influence. The Spanish sovereigns accordingly gave at once their hands and consent to the union, one so advantageous for their policy. The event was celebrated with befitting pomp. A fleet comprising one hundred and thirty vessels, under the command of the Admiral of Castile, with a great number of the Castilian nobility on board, set sail from the ports of Biscay and Guipuzcoa to proceed to meet the Princess. After receiving the Princess and her train, and meeting with heavy weather, the fleet returned in safety to Santander. Here, King Ferdinand and the young Prince of Asturias awaited the imperial bride, and conducted her in state to Burgos, where she was received with open arms by Queen Isabella.

The marriage was celebrated in the famous cathedral of Burgos; the Archbishop of Toledo performed the ceremony in the presence of all the grandees, of deputations from all the towns and provincial districts, and of the Grand-masters of the several Orders. Tournaments, feasting and games of all sorts took place on the great square of Burgos, after which the young couple departed for Salamanca. The happiness of the royal family, as of the wedded pair, now seemed complete ; when a terrible piece of intelligence, of a sudden, reached the Court. The Prince of Asturias had just been seized with a malady of a most dangerous kind. On his arrival at Salamanca, at the rejoicings that had been held he had taken a chill which developed .into a virulent fever. The King hastened thither, but his son was already beyond recovery, and on October 4, 1497, he expired, in his twentieth year. Isabella received the lamentable account with the grief one may imagine; her mother's heart, now afflicted for the first time, was unhappily to experience other trials of a like nature. She mourned her son in common with all Spain, and a general mourning was observed by the country, which so lately only conceived hopes of this prince, founded on his good qualities.

The death of the heir to the throne opened out this great succession to a princess who was no stranger to Spain. Become by her recent marriage Queen of Portugal, as we have seen, she was by right entitled to the crown as eldest sister of the late Prince of Asturias, and invited accordingly by Ferdinand and Isabella to proceed to Castile immediately, for the purpose of having her legitimate rights acknowledged and sanctioned by the Cortes. The invitation being accepted, the Portuugese Sovereigns lost no time in leaving Lisbon and proceeding to Toledo. The Cortes assembled here hastened to acknowledge the Sovereigns legitimate heirs to the Crown, and these then repaired to Saragossa to receive the same recognition on the part of the Cortes of Arragon.

But the Cortes displayed from the first a jealousy of their authority which they had shown at all times, and were altogether averse to entrust it to anyone but a prince of their own choice. According to them, and especially having regard to the late King John's will, it was recognised in Arragon that the crown could devolve on heirs male solely, to the strict exclusion of females. There had occurred, nevertheless, in Arragon during the twelfth century an instance to the contrary; but the Cortes held firm, and the affair was come to a point which threatened the existence of the union, accomplished with so much difficulty, of Castile and Arragon, and the stirring up of civil war between the two peoples; when a very sad and unlooked-for event occurred to put an end to this unfortunate dispute. The Queen of Portugal was just dead. Of a weak constitution, she expired in the arms of her mother, on August 23, 1498, after giving birth to a son. This last sorrow seemed a mortal blow to the poor Queen. Within the last few months she had lost a son and a daughter; henceforth her life was to be but one long day of mourning. The infant thus born in the midst of these disputes, was destined however, apparently, to break down all opposition, and bring entire Spain to one mind. In reality, if doubts had arisen about the rights of the mother, as a woman, none could arise affecting the rights appertaining to heirs male; and the Arragonese Cortes at once adopted this rightful and legal conclusion. Accordingly, the four 'arms' of Arragon having met at Saragossa on September 28—Ferdinand and Isabella being present—declared Prince Miguel, son of the late Queen of Portugal, Infante of Spain, rightful heir to the crown of Arragon united with that of Castile. The guardianship of the young child was confided to the Sovereigns, and in accordance with the customary formalities the oath of allegiance was tendered to him. On their side, the Counts of Castile took a similar oath, and once more the three crowns of Castile, of Arragon, and of Portugal were suspended over the same head; and again once more, this prospect was not to be realised, for the young Prince before the close of the year had ceased to live; and the succession to this throne, left so painfully in doubt, now opened up new claims on the part, namely, of Princess Jane, a younger daughter of Isabella.

 Princess Jane had married in 1496 Philip, Archduke of Austria and son of Emperor Maximilian. A considerable fleet commanded by the Admiral of Castile, and having on board many of the first nobility in the kingdom, left the ports of Biscay in order to convey the Princess to Planders; and the marriage had been solemnised at Lille with all the pomp and circumstance befitting so illustrious an alliance. The premature death of the Prince of Portugal, and the rights to the Crown of Spain established thereby in favour of Jane, induced Ferdinand and Isabella to press their son-in-law to come to Spain; first, in order to receive the oath of allegiance of the Cortes; next, to make himself acquainted with the institutions of his future subjects, and adapt himself to their customs. Philip, who amused himself a good deal in Flanders, where there was a lively and brilliant Court, long resisted the invitation, but at length, and not till the year 1501, he decided on making the journey pressed upon him with so much persistence. Attended by a brilliant train of Flemish lords he departed in great state with his consort and his son Charles— afterwards Charles V, whom he was about to present to Queen Isabella. On their passage through France they met with a magnificent reception at the Court of Louis XII, and arrived in January 1502 at Fontarabia, in Spain. Here they were met by the Grand Constable of Castile and a deputation from all the provinces they were to pass through. Continuing their journey, they found the Court at Toledo, and Isabella hastened to clasp in her maternal arms those in whom now were centred all her hopes—Jane and her son.

That same month Philip and his consort received at Toledo the oath of allegiance of the Cortes, and took their departure for Saragossa, where, at the end of October, they received the like oath from the four 'arms' of Arragon—the Princess Jane as future Sovereign Queen of Castile, and both of them as successors to the crown, in the event of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella having no male children. Already so cruelly tried by the losses in succession of her son, her daughter, and her grandson, Isabella was unable to undertake this last journey, her strength failing her. These important formalities concluded, Philip manifested the singular desire to return to Flanders, and to return without his consort. The grave and strict etiquette of Isabella’s Court was hardly suited to the taste of a young and gay prince fond of society and pleasures not to be found in Spain. This disposition of his appeared very strange to both Ferdinand and Isabella, who made all endeavours to bring their son-in-law round to more reasonable sentiments; but they soon perceived the extreme indifference with which he regarded his wife, as well as the  excessive jealousy of her husband displayed by Jane; and they had to resign themselves to his departure, which was to be the cause of so great misfortunes. Philip went, and, passing through France on his way to the Low-Countries, had an interview with Louis XII, who had given him so good a reception on the occasion of his former journey; with whom he concluded a treaty, which was through a marriage to conciliate at last the interests of both parties now in conflict in Italy, where the great Captain Gonzalvo of Cordova was engaged. By this treaty, which was signed in April 1503, but never took effect, Claude, daughter of Louis XII, was to be united to Charles, infant son of Philip, on whom was to be conferred the crown of Naples. It was this treaty that Gonzalvo refused ever to recognise, and in defiance of which he marched immediately on Naples and took it. He thus retained this kingdom for the house of Arragon. The prospects of Charles were also improved; who, as Charles V, united eventually on his own head the crowns of the empire, Spain, Naples, and Sicily.


Symptoms of madness in Princess Jane — She goes to Flanders — Scandalous scene at Brussels — Her mad fits after Philip's death — Queen Isabella perceives her last days approaching — Her will — She binds Ferdinand on his oath — Her death — Her remains conveyed to Granada — Conduct of the King after Isabella's death — Judgment of history — Her character and acts.

The precipitate departure of Prince Philip produced an impression on Jane, his consort, no less painful. From this moment there was to be observed about her something in the nature of a disease incessantly preying upon her. But it should be remarked that from infancy her character had been singular. It was habitually gloomy, and she took no part in the amusements of children of her own age; she studied little and spoke even less, her education therefore was very backward. When grown up her habits remained unaltered; these she brought with her to her husband, together with features little calculated to please, a commonplace figure, and a mind disposed—must it be said?—to that most terrible of the passions— jealousy. Directly after the departure of her consort, Jane shut herself up in her room far away from her father and mother; and there she was to be seen all day seated, silent, her eyes fixed on the ground, occupying herself in nothing. At intervals, a sort of frenzy seized her, when she broke out into loud cries, opened all the doors, called for her husband, and ended by bursting out into a flood of tears. It was in these cruel circumstances that her second son, Ferdinand, came into the world in 1503. She was the only person in Spain who showed no interest in his birth; her mind was elsewhere. The Queen, her poor mother, now began to suspect the existence of the calamity overhanging her daughter; but, like all mothers, refusing to abandon hope, she summoned from all parts of Europe the most skilful physicians, took their opinions on the state of her daughter, made trial of all sorts of medicines, of cures, of evasions prompted by maternal love; but all to no purpose, and after some weeks the frightful reality appeared to her in all its horror, her daughter was mad—mad as her own mother had been; and this madness was to endure more than fifty years, which Isabella could not possibly foresee. The madness that now seized Jane was to rejoin her husband, whom she suspected of attachment to another. With this fixed idea she one evening left her residence all alone, scarcely dressed, and escaped. The Bishop of Burgos, being warned, attempted to bring her back, and did, in fact, succeed in doing so, as far as the park boundary; but there, Jane determinedly refused to proceed farther and remained there all the night exposed to the cold and damp.

The Queen was some leagues away; she was sent for; she returned to find her daughter in a deplorable state not to be described, and, overcome with emotion and fright, succeeded at last in bringing her back to the castle. One may imagine what was to be henceforth both mother and daughter's life: one of long and hopeless anguish. From this fatal moment Isabella’s health, already so impaired by the grievous losses she had sustained, gave rise to serious disquietude. Important State affairs which continued to trouble her Government and councils helped to aggravate her condition. It was necessary, at one and the same time, to oppose a wrongful attack on Roussillon on the part of France, and a descent of the French on the coast of Catalonia; to maintain the army under Gonzalvo in Italy, and to recruit it in men and money; to put down the revolt of the Alpuxarras, of which mention has been made already; to preserve the royal authority in the newly acquired kingdom of Granada, still in an unsettled state ; to watch over, as she was habituated to do, while in good health, the interest of her wide dominions — all this contributed to exhaust what remained of her strength; and — dreadful prospect for a mother — to witness day by day the fatal progress of the disease which had totally deprived her daughter of her reason.

It was at this juncture that Jane, having attained her object, received permission to journey to Flanders, where she promised, once more she was with her adored husband, to be more reasonable. The Queen believed her, and parted from her daughter, whom she was never to see again, hoping some good would result from the meeting. Alas! it only served to aggravate the evil, and to impel Jane to the commission of excesses and acts of violence which constitute raging madness. Scarcely arrived, Jane, suspecting her husband of infidelity, threw herself upon her rival at a ball, and, under the eyes of Philip, cut off her hair. Such an incident, however painful to Philip, was an unmistakable warning; he was thus convinced his wife was absolutely mad, and no other course remained than to confine her for the remainder of her days. Subsequently, her madness only increased, and after the death of her faithless husband, who died from excess of debauch, she was found mute and absorbed at the side of the dead body without a tear or a sigh. After she had consented that it should be buried, she had it removed from its grave and placed in her chamber, clothed in royal robes, on a great State bed with lighted candles around.

She had heard related, she said, the tale of a certain king who awoke fourteen years after his death ; and she kept her eyes continually fixed on the body before her, steadily awaiting the moment of its awakening. As she was jealous of her husband in his lifetime, she was no less so after his death, and she permitted none of her women to approach the bed on which was extended her beloved husband. Still more, she had taken her own sex in such horror that when about to be confined she refused the attendance of a mid-wife; and her delivery of Princess Catherine was accomplished by the aid alone of her men-servants. She died in 1555 in her seventy-fifth year after a seclusion of more than fifty years.

Returning to the scene of jealousy which took place in Brussels before all the Court during which Jane cut off the hair of the fancied mistress of her husband,—when the news of this reached Toledo, one may imagine the impression it produced upon Isabella and her consort. Ferdinand fell ill in consequence, which added to the existing troubles of the Queen. As for Isabella, heart-broken, exhausted, and in despair, it was the commencement of her last illness. She was seized with a violent fever which could not be reduced, all nourishment soon became repugnant to her, she was consumed with an insatiable thirst; at length, after some days, dropsy of the chest set in. Prom this moment Isabella felt that her last days were at hand, and before leaving the world where she had known so much happiness, glory, and affliction, she desired to put order into the affairs of the Government which God had entrusted to her charge. She collected, then, all her strength, and alone, on her bed, indited in a clear hand the will she left to her successors, which in substance is as follows: It commenced by fixing the order of succession to the crown, and invested there with her daughter Jane, Sovereign Queen of Castile, and Philip her consort. It recommended then to observe religiously the laws and institutions of the realm; adjured them to appoint no foreigner to office in the State ; to promulgate no law without the sanction of the Cortes; and never to quit the kingdom with- out its consent. It entreated them to observe towards Ferdinand, her consort, the respect he merited, as well as the most exact maintenance of the liberties of the people. Having regard to the opinion of the Cortes expressed in 1503, and in the case of her daughter Jane's incapacity, it appointed the King, her consort, sole regent of the kingdom, until her grandson Charles of Austria attained his majority. It next proceeded to fix the appanage of her consort; devising to him one-half of the revenue derived from the Indies, and in addition to the appointment as Grand-master of each of the three military Orders which she had united to the crown, it assigned to him the immense revenues attaching thereto, Coming to the mention of those she had 338 ISABELLA THE CATHOLIC regarded with an unvarying love, — her friends and domestics, — she recommended to her successor all the officers of her household ; and more than all others, her gentle and faithful friend Beatrice of Bovadilla, who had never quitted her since the time at Arevalo, nearly forty years before. The arrangements for her obsequies were also determined. She desired that her remains should be conveyed to Granada, and deposited in a tomb in the fortress of the Alhambra, with a simple in- scription. If the King her lord, it went on to say, desired to be interred elsewhere, then, in that case, she directed that her body should be transferred and laid by the side of his. It directed also that abundant alms should be distributed to the poor on the day of her death; and it concluded as follows: “I entreat the King my lord to accept all my jewels, or as many as he may desire to keep, in testimony of the love I have always borne for him in life, and to remind him that I now await him in a better world ; these remembrances will encourage him to lead a more devout life in this one!”

After these affecting declarations, in which no one had been forgotten, Isabella, inspired by a right judgment, and an ardent love of her country, desired to make one last request to the King her consort. On his appearance at her bedside, she made him take oath that he would not seek, either by a second marriage or by any other means, to deprive Jane their daughter, or her posterity, of the right of succession to any one of the kingdoms, now so gloriously united. Ferdinand swore to that which the Queen demanded of him. This last duty accomplished, Isabella had scarcely time to append her seal to the will, when, exhausted by suffering and her eyes full of tears, she sank into a long swoon. It was supposed she was dead; but it was not yet the end. Some days after, having regained a little strength, she desired to add a codicil to her will. In this codicil, which still exists in the Royal Library in Madrid, Isabella recommended a careful revision of all the laws and conflicting decrees issued during her reign. She earnestly enjoined a continuance of the endeavours to civilise and convert the poor Indians her subjects in the New World. She urged a revision of the laws affecting the revenue of the Crown, considering the imposts too heavy to be borne by her good and faithful people. Having with a trembling hand finished writing this codicil, Isabella consigned it to Cardinal Ximenes, charging him in especial with its execution; then, conscious by her failing sight and the increasing diminution of her strength that her last day was come, she prepared to die, as she had lived, in holiness and simpleness of heart. This day was November 26, 1504.

That same day, Isabella had recovered all the sereneness of youth in her countenance. Surrounded by her friends all in tears : “Weep not for me”, she said to them with a tender look, “but pray that my soul may be saved”. Then, as if crowned with a divine halo, the hands clasped together, she saw approach the minister of God with the feeling of bliss and internal calm reserved for the just; humbly received the last sacraments and expired, her eyes directed upwards towards heaven, where awaited her the great reward. Queen Isabella was fifty-four years of age, of which she had reigned thirty.

From the moment Queen Isabella ceased to live, King Ferdinand, who so soon forgot her, showed no disposition to carry out in good faith the promises he had made and sworn to keep at her death-bed. First, in order to maintain himself in the regency so warmly disputed, Ferdinand tried all the devices prompted by an ambitious and disloyal policy. He did more, and worse. He had sworn never to seek by a second marriage to deprive his daughter Jane of her succession to the united crowns of Castile and of Arragon. In disregard of natural feeling and of the laws of decency, he resolved, on the contrary, on depriving Jane of the crown of Castile; and forgot himself so far as even to ask in marriage, as has been already related, that supposititious daughter of Henry IV, La Berrandeja, living in retirement in Portugal; the same against whom, in unison with Isabella, he had taken up arms in the War of Succession ; the same, therefore, whose illegitimate rights he would revive to the detriment of his own daughter! Happily, the Princess refused his hand. Turning now his interested views in another direction, Ferdinand obtained the hand of Germaine de Foix, sister of Louis XII King of France, a young and handsome princess, eighteen years of age, while he was fifty-four. In the hope of having an heir male of this marriage whose rights would in accordance with the Arragonese constitution take precedence over those of his daughter, and would exclude from the thrones of Arragon, Naples, Sardinia, and Sicily, Philip, his own son-in-law, Ferdinand had entertained the criminal thought of wresting these four crowns from Castile, and thus again dismembering this Spanish monarchy which Isabella had founded with so much labour and glory. With this object in view, Ferdinand, who had lost a first child and was then more than sixty years old, whose constitution moreover was sapped by continual debauchery,—had taken at the instance of his physicians one of those potions supposed able to restore to old age a factitious force; from the effects of which he shortly after died (1516) without children, leaving behind him an odious memory, especially in Castile.

To resume—at the death-bed of his virtuous consort, Ferdinand made oath, neither by remarrying, nor by any other means, never to deprive their daughter of her rights, or to imperil the united crowns; the Queen was scarcely buried, when all his endeavours were directed towards concluding another alliance, and destroying also the great achievement of Isabella's reign, the union of the monarchy and of the country. History has passed its judgment upon it.

The wishes expressed by Queen Isabella in regard to her obsequies were, on the other hand, carried out with the most religious observance. The ceremonies took place at the church of Medina-del-Campo. All Spain was present at it in heart, and all united in the same tears. These tears and prayers immortalised her illustrious memory, ever cherished and venerated by Spaniards. The remains of the Queen were conveyed to Granada in accordance with her desire. A great body of the clergy and a countless number of knights, citizens, and soldiers formed the procession, which, starts from Medina-del-Campo on November 27, took twenty-one days to accomplish the distance to Granada, in dreadfully wet and stormy weather. Along its passage all the country people nocked to meet it, in homage to her whom they called the Good Queen. Each night, on the arrival of the procession at the place appointed for its stay, the body was deposited in the principal church, brilliantly lit up, and watched by all the faithful followers of the Good Queen. At last, the funeral procession reached Granada, and entered it by the same gate through which Isabella had passed twelve years previously at the head of her victorious troops.

The remains of Isabella were temporarily laid in the Franciscans convent in the Alhambra; subsequently, after the death of the King-consort they were transferred to the chapel royal in the cathedral of Granada, and laid side by side with those of Ferdinand in a mausoleum near the tomb of Philip the Handsome, their son-in-law, and Jane the Mad, their unfortunate daughter. On the monument are represented the recumbent figures of the King and Queen, holding conjoined the sceptre and sword. At the four corners are seated the doctors of the Church, and on the sides are displayed the figures of the twelve Apostles. The head of Queen Isabella expresses an incomparable majesty. The following inscription recalls the great deeds of this illustrious reign :






(Ferdinand of Arragon and Isabella of Castile, husband and wife, called the Catholic, having overthrown the followers of Mahomet and extirpated heresy, are enclosed in this tomb.)

Such is the simple and happily worded inscription which recalls to the minds of all, in few words, the reign so glorious and so famous of Queen Isabella the Catholic.

If we would portray by a few rapid touches (such as remain impressed on the mind) the character and the acts of Isabella, we would observe that she was by nature gentle, pure, and full of feeling. In mind upright, earnest, cultivated, she was imbued with a spirit of great enterprise, with which were associated an energy of action and a kind of national warmth. Nothing of what was fitted to aggrandise, to honour her people or her country, escaped her mind. Her heart was generous, open to all misfortunes, as to all the affections—alas! to all afflictions also. She was the best of mothers, the most faithful of wives, a true friend to all those who served her in the cause of her beloved Castile. Such was her character; the acts of her reign must now be summarised.

In uniting the crowns of Castile and Arragon, Isabella founded definitively the Spanish monarchy. By the protective institution of the Santa Hermandad she established peace and safety throughout the land. By the assumption of the right of nomination to the office of Grand-master of the military Orders, as well as of that relative to the restitution of the great domains usurped by the nobility, she restored to the Crown its authority, and to the provincial districts their rights and immunities. By the resumption of church offices and livings Isabella asserted her independence of the Papacy; by the reform of the clergy she moralised it. By the impetus she gave to trade and industry she increased in a remarkable degree the national wealth and prosperity. In war, her courage was well known; she was the idol of the soldiers, who called her their King. Furthermore—by the invariable protection extended to Columbus in the discovery of the New World, Isabella aggrandised Spain; as the illustrious Gonzalvo of Cordova aggrandised it by the conquest of Naples. Lastly, and to crown her work, Isabella, by the final expulsion of the Mussulmans of the kingdom of Granada, effected the unity of the country, as she had no long time since effected that of the monarchy.

In a word: None ever rendered Spain more glorious, none loved it more, nor served it better than she. Thus has she remained to posterity a great Queen and a great Woman.