[Transcriber's Note: Original spellings have been retained, including those that are inconsistent within the document. An error in the Table of Contents has been corrected from page 154 to page 156.]
A SHORT HISTORY OF SPAIN
MARY PLATT PARMELE
NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 1906
COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY MARY PLATT PARMELE
COPYRIGHT, 1898, 1906, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
In presenting this book to the public the author can only reiterate what she has already said in works of a similar kind: that she has tried to exclude the mass of confusing details which often make the reading of history a dreary task; and to keep closely to those facts which are vital to the unfolding of the narrative. This is done under a strong conviction that the essential facts in history are those which reveal and explain the development of a nation, rather than the incidents, more or less entertaining, which have attended such development. And also under another conviction: that a little, thoroughly comprehended, is better than much imperfectly remembered and understood.
NEW YORK. June 15, 1898.
CHAPTER I. Ancient Iberia—The Basques—The Keltberians—The Phenicians—Cadiz Founded, 1
CHAPTER II. Struggle between Phenicians and Assyrians—Founding of Carthage—Decline of Phenicia—Rise of Roman Power—First Punic War, 9
CHAPTER III. Hamilcar—Hannibal—Siege and Fall of Saguntum—Rome Invades Spain—Scipio's Policy—Cadiz, (Gades) Surrendered to the Romans—By What Steps IBERIA Became SPAIN—Fall of Carthaginian Power—How Spain Became a Roman Province, 15
CHAPTER IV. Sertorius—Story of the White Hind—Rome Fights Her Own Battles on Spanish Soil—Battle of Munda—Caesar Declared Dictator—The Ides of March—Octavius Augustus—Spain Latinized—Four Hundred Years of Peace, 24
CHAPTER V. Northern Races in the History of Civilization—Roman Empire Expiring—Ataulfus—Attila and the Huns—Theodoric—Evaric Completes Conquest of Spanish Peninsula—Europe Teutonized—Difference between Anglo-Saxon and Latin Races, 30
CHAPTER VI. Ulfilas—Arianism—The Spanish Language—Brunhilde—Leovigild—His Son's Apostasy—Arianism Ceases to be the Established Religion of Spain, 39
CHAPTER VII. Toledo—Church of Santa Maria—Wamba, 45
CHAPTER VIII. Decline of Visigoths—Roderick—Count Julian's Treachery—Mahommedanism—Tarif—Prophecy Found in the Enchanted Tower—Tarik—Roderick's Defeat and Death—Moslem Empire Established in Spain, 50
CHAPTER IX. Musa's Dream of European Conquest—Charles Martel—Characteristics of Mahommedan Rule—Mission of the Saracen in Europe—The Germ of a Christian Kingdom in the North of Spain, 58
CHAPTER X. Pelayo and the Cave of Covadonga—Alfonso I.—Berbers and Arabs at War on African Coast—War Extends to Spain—The Omeyyad Khalifs Superseded by the Abbasides—Abd-er-Rahman—Omeyyad Dynasty Established at Cordova—Ineffectual Attempt of the Abbasides to Overthrow Abd-er-Rahman—Character of This Conqueror, 64
CHAPTER XI. Charlemagne—Battle of Roncesvalles, 69
CHAPTER XII. Conditions after Death of Abd-er-Rahman—Abd-er-Rahman II.—Arab Refinements—Eulogius and the Christian Martyrs—Abd-er-Rahman III.—A Khalifate at Cordova—The Great Mosque—The City of "The Fairest"—Death of Abd-er-Rahman III., 72
CHAPTER XIII. Rough Cradle of a Spanish Nationality in the Asturias—Alfonso III. and His Hidalgos and Dons—Guerrilla Warfare with Moors—Jealousies and Strife between Christian Kingdoms—Civil War—Almanzor—Ruin of Christian State Seemed Imminent—Death of Almanzor—Berber Revolt—Anarchy in Moorish State—A Khalif Begging a Crust of Bread—Berbers Destroy Cordova—Library Burned—City of "The Fairest" a Ruin—Asturias—Leon and Castile United—Alfonso VI.—The Cid—Triumph of Christians—Moors Ask Aid of the Almoravides—Christians Driven Back—Death of the Cid—A Dynasty of the Almoravides—The Alhomades—The Great Mahdi—Moorish People Become Subject to Emperor of Morocco—His Designs upon Europe—The Pope Proclaims a Crusade—Alhomades Driven Out of Spain by Christians—Moorish Kingdom Reduced to Province of Granada, 78
CHAPTER XIV. European Conditions in Thirteenth Century—Visigoth Kings Recover Their Land—Its Changed Conditions—Effect of Arab Civilization upon Spanish Nation—Fernando III.—Spain Draws into Closer Companionship with European States—Alfonso X.—Spain Becoming Picturesque—The Bull-Fight—Beautiful Granada—The Alhambra, 87
CHAPTER XV. Perpetual Civil War between Spanish States—Castile and Aragon Absorb the Others and in Conflict for Supremacy—Pedro the Cruel—The "Black Prince" His Champion against Aragon—John of Gaunt—His Claim upon the Throne of Castile—His Final Compromise—Political Conditions Contrasted with Those of Other States, 94
CHAPTER XVI. Death of Juan II.—Enrique IV.—Isabella—Her Marriage with Ferdinand of Aragon—Isabella Crowned Queen of Castile—Ferdinand, King of Aragon—The Two Crowns United—Characteristics of the Two Sovereigns—The Inquisition Created—Jews Driven out of the Kingdom—Abdul-Hassan's Defiance—Zahara—Family Troubles at the Alhambra—Ayesha and Boabdil—Alhama Captured by Ferdinand—Boabdil Supplants His Father—Massacre of the Abencerrages—Granada Besieged—Its Capitulation—Moorish Rule Ended in Spain, 100
CHAPTER XVII. Columbus and Isabella—Isabella's Private Griefs—Her Death—Charles, King under a Regency—Charles Elected Emperor of Germany—Spain during His Reign—Cruelties in the East and in the West—Vain Struggle with Protestantism—Abdication and Death of Charles, 108
CHAPTER XVIII. Philip II.—Union of Spain and Portugal—The Duke of Alva in the Netherlands—War with England—Spanish Armada Destroyed—Death of Philip II.—Spain's Decline—Glory of the Name "Castilian," 117
CHAPTER XIX. Philip III.—Rebellion of the Moriscos—Last of the Moors Conveyed to African Coast—Don Quixote—Philip IV.—Louis XIV. Marries Spanish Infanta—A Diminishing Kingdom—Carlos II.—First Collision between Anglo-Saxon and Spaniard in America—Close of Hapsburg Dynasty in Spain, 125
CHAPTER XX. New European Conditions—Louis XIV.—War of the "Spanish Succession"—Marlborough Checks Louis at Blenheim—Archduke Abandons Sovereignty in Spain—Peace of Utrecht—Further Dismemberment of Spain—Gibraltar Passes to England—Bourbon Dynasty—Commences with Philip V.—Ferdinand VI.—Carlos III.—Expulsion of the Jesuits, 131
CHAPTER XXI. A Dismantled Kingdom—Spanish-American Colonies—England and France at War over American Boundaries—Spain the Ally of France—Loss of Some of Her West India Islands, and Capture of Havana and Manila by British—Florida Given in Exchange for Return of Conquered Territory—Growing Irritation against England—France Aids American Colonies in War with England—Spain's Satisfaction at Their Success—Its Effect in Peru—Revolution in France—Rapid Rise of Napoleon—Carlos IV. Removed and Joseph Bonaparte King—Spain Joins Napoleon in War against England—Trafalgar—Arthur Wellesley—Joseph Flees from His Kingdom, 137
CHAPTER XXII. Liberal Sentiment Developing—Constitution of 1812—Ferdinand VI. and Reactionary Measures—Revolt of all the Spanish-American Colonies—The Holy Alliance—The Monroe Doctrine—Revolution in Spain—Spain under the Protectorate of the Holy Alliance—Ferdinand Reinstated—Two Political Parties—Six Spanish-American Colonies Freed, 144
CHAPTER XXIII. The Salic Law and the Princess Isabella—The Carlists—Regency of Christine—Isabella II.—Her Expulsion from Spain—Amadeo—An Era of Republicanism—Castelar—Alfonso XII. Recalled—His Brief Reign and Death—Alfonso XIII., 150
CHAPTER XXIV. Birth of an Insurgent Party in Cuba—Ten Years' War—Impossible Reforms Promised—Revolution Started by Jose Marti, 1895—Attitude of the American Government—General Weyler's Methods—Effect upon Sentiment in America—Destruction of the Battle-Ship Maine—Verdict of Court of Inquiry—War Declared between Spain and America—Victories of Manila and in Cuba—Terms of Peace—Marriage of Alfonso XIII. and the Princess Ena, 154
Charles V. Frontispiece
Columbus at the Court of Ferdinand and Isabella 108
The Surrender of Breda 118
Philip IV. of Spain 126
Heroic Combat in the Pulpit of the Church of St. Augustine, Saragossa, 1809 144
The Duke de la Torre sworn in as Regent before the Cortes of 1869 152
A SHORT HISTORY OF SPAIN.
No name is more fraught with picturesque and romantic interest than that of the "Spanish Peninsula."
After finishing this rare bit of handiwork nature seems to have thrown up a great ragged wall, stretching from sea to sea, to protect it; and the Pyrenees have stood for ages a frowning barrier, descending toward France on the northern side from gradually decreasing heights—but on the Spanish side in wild disorder, plunging down through steep chasms, ravines, and precipices—with sharp cliffs towering thousands of feet skyward, which better than standing armies protect the sunny plains below.
But the "Spanish Peninsula," at the time we are about to consider, was neither "Spanish" nor was it a "peninsula." At the dawn of history this sunny corner of Europe was known as Iberia, and its people as Iberians.
Time has effaced all positive knowledge of this aboriginal race; but they are believed to have come from the south, and to have been allied to the Libyans, who inhabited the northern coast of Africa. In fact, Iberi in the Libyan tongue meant freeman; and Berber, apparently derived from that word, was the term by which all of these western peoples were known to the Ancient Egyptians.
But it is suspected that the Iberians found it an easy matter to flow into the land south of the Pyrenees, and that they needed no boats for the transit. There has always existed a tradition of the joining of the two continents, and now it is believed by geologists that an isthmus once really stretched across to the African coast at the narrowest point of the Straits, at a time when the waters of a Mediterranean gulf, and the waters flowing over the sands of Sahara, together found their outlet in the Indian Ocean.
There is also a tradition that the adventurous Phenicians, who are known to have been in Iberia as early as 1300 B.C., cut a canal through the narrow strip of land, and then built a bridge across the canal. But a bridge was a frail link by which to hold the mighty continents together. The Atlantic, glad of such an entrance to the great gulf beyond, must have rushed impetuously through, gradually widening the opening, and (may have) thus permanently severed Europe and Africa; drained the Sahara dry; transformed the Mediterranean gulf into a Mediterranean Sea; and created a "Spanish Peninsula."
How long this fair Peninsula was the undisturbed home of the Iberians no one knows. Behind the rocky ramparts of the Pyrenees they may have remained for centuries unconscious of the Aryan torrent which was flooding Western Europe as far as the British Isles. Nothing has been discovered by which we may reconstruct this prehistoric people and (perhaps) civilization. But their physical characteristics we are enabled to guess; for just as we find in Cornwall, England, lingering traces of the ancient Britons, so in the mountain fastnesses of northern Spain linger the Basques, who are by many supposed to be the last survivors of that mysterious primitive race.
The language of the Basques bears no resemblance to any of the Indo-European, nor indeed to any known tongue. It is so difficult, so intricate in construction, that only those who learn it in infancy can ever master it. It is said that, in Basque, "you spell Solomon, and pronounce it Nebuchadnezzar." Its antiquity is so great that one legend calls it the "language of the angels," and another says that Tubal brought it to Spain before the lingual disaster at Babel! And still another relates that the devil once tried to learn it, but that, after studying it for seven years and learning only three words, he gave it up in despair.
A language which, without literature, can so resist change, can so persist unmodified by another tongue spoken all around and about it, must have great antiquity; and there is every reason to believe that the Basque is a survival of the tongue spoken by the primitive Iberians, before the Kelts began to flow over and around the Pyrennees; and also that the physical characteristics of this people are the same as those of their ancient progenitors; small-framed, dark, with a faint suggestion of the Semitic in their swarthy faces.
We cannot say when it occurred, but at last the powerful, warlike Kelts had surmounted the barrier and were mingled with this non-Aryan people, and the resulting race thus formed was known to antiquity as the Keltiberians.
It is probable that the rugged Kelt easily absorbed the race of more delicate type, and made it, in religion and customs, not unlike the Keltic Aryan in Gaul. But the physical characteristics of the other and primitive race are indelibly stamped upon the Spanish people; and it is probably to the Iberian strain in the blood that may be traced the small, dark type of men which largely prevails in Spain, and to some extent also in central and southern France.
But the Keltiberians were Keltic in their religion. There are now in Spain the usual monuments found wherever Druid worship prevailed. Huge blocks of stone, especially in Cantabria and Lusitania (Portugal), standing alone or in circles, tell the story of Druidical rites, and of the worship of the ocean, the wind, and the thunder, and of the placating of the powers of nature by human sacrifices.
The mingling of the Kelts and the Iberians in varying proportions in different parts of Spain, and in some places (as among the Basques) their mingling not at all, produced that diversity of traits which distinguished the Asturians in the mountain gorges from their neighbors the Cantabrians, and both these from the Catalonians in the northeast and the Gallicians on the northwest coast, and from the Lusitanians, where now is Portugal; and still more distinguished the Basques, in the rocky ravines of the Pyrenees, from each and all of the others. And yet these unlike members of one family were collectively known as Keltiberians.
While this race—hardy, temperate, brave, and superstitious—was leading its primitive life upon the Iberian peninsula, while they were shooting arrows at the sky to threaten the thunder, drawing their swords against the rising tide, and prizing iron more dearly than their abundant gold and silver, because they could hammer it into hooks, and swords, and spears—there had long existed in the East a group of wonderful civilizations: the Egyptian, hoary with age and steeped in wisdom and in wickedness; the Chaldeans, who, with "looks commercing with the skies," were the fathers of astronomy; the Assyrians and Babylonians, with their wonderful cities of Nineveh and Babylon, and the Phenicians, with their no less famous cities of Sidon and Tyre. Sidon, which was the more ancient of these two, is said to have been founded by Sidon, the son of Canaan, who was the great-grandson of Noah.
Of all these nations it was the Phenicians who were the most adventurous. They were a Semitic people, Syrian in blood, and their home was a narrow strip of coast on the east of the Mediterranean, where a group of free cities was joined into a confederacy held together by a strong national spirit.
Of these cities Sidon was once the head, but in time Tyre eclipsed it in splendor, and writers, sacred and profane, have sung her glories.
These Phenicians had a genius for commerce and trade. They scented a bargain from afar, and knew how to exchange "their broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate" (I Kings xxvii. 16), their glassware and their wonderful cloths dyed in Tyrian scarlet and purple, for the spices and jewels of the East, and for the gold and silver and the ivory and the ebony of the south and west.
Their ships were coursing the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf and bringing back treasures from India and searching every inlet in the Mediterranean, and finally, either through the canal they are said to have cut, or the straits it had made, they sailed as far as the British Isles and brought back tin.
But the gold and silver of the Iberian Peninsula were more alluring than the spices of India or the tin of Britain. So upon the Spanish coast they made permanent settlements and built cities. As early as 1100 B.C. they had founded beyond the "Pillars of Hercules," the City of Gades (Cadiz), a walled and fortified town, and had taught the Keltiberians how to open and work their gold and silver mines systematically; and in exchange they brought an old civilization, with new luxuries, new ideas and customs into the lives of the simple people.
But they bestowed something far beyond this—something more enriching than silver and gold,—an alphabet,—and it is to the Phenicians that we are indebted for the alphabet now in use throughout the civilized world.
Such an extension of power, and the acquisition of sources of wealth so boundless, excited the envy of other nations.
The Greeks are said to have been in the Iberian peninsula long before the fall of Troy, where they came with a fleet from Zante, in the Ionian Sea, and in memory of that place, called the city they founded Zacynthus, which name in time became Saguntum. Now they sent more expeditions and founded more cities on the Spanish coast; and the Babylonians, and the Assyrians, and, at a later time, the Persians and the Greeks, all took up arms against these insatiate traders.
Phenician supremacy was not easily maintained with so many jealous rivals in the field, and it was rudely shaken in 850 B.C., when
"The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold."
and the Phenician power was partially broken at its source in the East.
It is with thrilling interest that we read Isaiah's prophecy of the destruction of Tyre, which was written at this very time. For the Phenicians were the Canaanites of Bible history, and "Hiram King of Tyre" was their king; and his "navy," which, together with Solomon's "came once in three years from Tarshish," was their navy; and Tarshish was none other than Tartessus, their own province, just beyond Gibraltar on the Spanish coast. Nor is it at all improbable that Spanish gold was used to adorn the temple which the great Solomon was building. (I Kings ix., x.) Shakspere, who says all things better than anyone else, makes Othello find in the fatal handkerchief "confirmation strong as proofs from holy writ." Where can be found "confirmation" stronger than these "proofs from holy writ"? And where a more magnificent picture of the luxury, the sumptuous Oriental splendor of this nation at that period, than in Ezekiel, chapters xxvii., xxviii.? What an eloquent apostrophe to Tyre—"thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, a merchant of the people, for many isles."—"With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches," and, "by thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased, and thine heart is lifted up." And then follows the terrible arraignment—"because of the iniquity of thy traffick." And then the final prediction of ruin—"I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth"; "thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more." Where in any literature can we find such lurid splendor of description, and such a powerful appeal to the imagination of the reader! And where could the student of history find a more graphic and accurate picture of a vanished civilization!
In 850 B.C., the same year in which the Assyrians partly subjugated the Phenicians in the East, the city of Carthage was founded upon the north coast of Africa, and there commenced a movement, with that city as its center, which drew together all their scattered possessions into a Punic confederacy. This was composed of the islands of Sardinia, Corsica, part of Sicily, the Balearic Isles, and the cities and colonies upon the Spanish Peninsula and African coast. As the power of this confederacy expands, the name Phenician passes away and that of Carthaginian takes its place in history.
Carthage became a mighty city, and controlled with a strong hand the scattered empire which had been planted by the Syrian tradesmen. Carthaginian merchants and miners were in Tartessus, and were planting cities and colonies throughout the peninsula, and a torrent of Carthaginian life was thus pouring into Spain for many hundred years, and the blood of the two races must have freely mingled.
There are memorials of this time now existing, not only in Phenician coins, medals, and ruins, but in the names of the cities. Barcelona, named after the powerful family of Barca in Carthage, to which Hannibal belonged. Carthagena, a memorial of Carthage, which meant "the city"; and even Cordova is traced to its primitive form,—Kartah-duba,—meaning "an important city." While Isabella, the name most famous in Spanish annals, has a still greater antiquity; and was none other than Jezebel—after the beautiful daughter of the King of Sidon (the "Zidoneans"), who married Ahab, and lured him to his downfall. And we are told that this wicked siren whose dreadful fate Elijah foretold, was cousin to Dido, she who Virgil tells us "wept in silence" for the faithless AEneas. With what a strange thrill do we find these threads of association between history sacred and profane, and both mingled with the modern history of Spain.
But Phenicia, for the "iniquity of her traffick," was doomed. The roots of this old Asiatic tree had been slowly and surely perishing, while her branches in the West were expanding. In the year 332 B.C. the siege and destruction of Tyre, predicted five hundred years before by Isaiah, was accomplished by Alexander the Great, and the words of the prophet found their complete fulfillment—that the people of Tarshish should find no city, no port, no welcome, when they came back to Syria!
But on the northern coast of the Mediterranean there was another power which was waxing, while the Carthaginian was waning. The occupation of the young Roman Republic was not trade, but conquest. A bitter enmity existed between the two nations. Rome was determined to break this grasping old Asiatic confederacy and to drive it out of Europe. The Spanish Peninsula she knew little about, but the rich islands near her own coast—they must be hers.
When, after the first Punic war (264-241 B.C.), the Carthaginians saw Sardinia and Sicily torn from them, Hamilcar, their great general, determined upon a plan of vengeance which should make of Italy a Punic province. His people were strong upon the sea, but for this war of invasion they must have an army, too. So he conceived the idea of making Spain the basis of his military operations, and recruiting an immense army from the Iberian Peninsula.
The Carthaginian occupation of Spain had not extended much beyond the coast, and had been rather in the nature of a commercial alliance with a few cities. Now Hamilcar determined, by placating, and by bribes, and if necessary by force, to take possession of the Peninsula for his own purposes, and to make of the people a Punic nation under the complete dominion of Carthage. So his first task was to win, or to subdue, the Keltiberians. He built the city of New Carthage (now Carthagena), he showed the people how to develop their immense resources, and by promises of increased prosperity won the confidence and sympathy of the nation, and soon had a population of millions from which to recruit its army.
When his son Hannibal was nine years old, at his father's bidding he placed his hand upon the altar and swore eternal enmity to Rome. The fidelity of the boy to his oath made a great deal of history. He took up the task when his father laid it down, inaugurated the second Punic war (218-201 B.C.); and for forty years carried on one of the most desperate struggles the world has ever seen; the hoary East in struggle with the young West.
Saguntum was that ancient city in Valencia which was said to have been founded by the Greeks long before Homer sang of Troy, or, indeed, before Helen brought ruin upon that city. At all events its antiquity was greater even than that of the Phenician cities in Spain, and after being long forgotten by the Greeks it had drifted under Roman protection. It was the only spot in Spain which acknowledged allegiance to Rome; and for that reason was marked for destruction as an act of defiance.
The Saguntines sent an embassy to Rome. These men made a pitiful and passionate appeal in the Senate Chamber: "Romans, allies, friends! help! help! Hannibal is at the gates of our city. Hannibal, the sworn enemy of Rome. Hannibal the terrible. Hannibal who fears not the gods, neither keeps faith with men. ["Punic faith" was a byword.] O Romans, fathers, friends! help while there is yet time."
But they found they had a "protector" who did not protect. The senators sent an embassy to treat with Hannibal, but no soldiers. So, with desperate courage, the Saguntines defended their beleaguered city for weeks, hurling javelins, thrusting their lances, and beating down the besiegers from the walls. They had no repeating rifles nor dynamite guns, but they had the terrible falaric, a shaft of fir with an iron head a yard long, at the point of which was a mass of burning tow, which had been dipped in pitch. When a breach was made in the walls, the inflowing army would be met by a rain of this deadly falaric, which was hurled with telling power and precision. Then, in the short interval of rest this gave them, men, women, and children swiftly repaired the broken walls before the next assault.
But at last the resourceful Hannibal abandoned his battering rams, and with pickaxes undermined the wall, which fell with a crash. When asked to surrender, the chief men of the city kindled a great fire in the market-place, into which they then threw all the silver and gold in the treasury, their own gold and silver and garments and furniture, and then cast themselves headlong into the flames. This was their answer.
Saguntum, which for more than a thousand years had looked from its elevation out upon the sea, was no more, and its destruction was one of the thrilling tragedies of ancient history. On its site there exists to-day a town called Mur Viedro (old walls), and these old walls are the last vestige of ancient Saguntum.
In order to understand the indifference of Rome to the Spanish Peninsula at this time, it must be remembered that Spain was then the uttermost verge of the known world, beyond which was only a dread waste of waters and of mystery. To the people of Tyre and of Greece, the twin "Pillars of Hercules" had marked the limit beyond which there was nothing; and those two columns, Gibraltar and Ceuta, with the legend ne plus ultra entwined about them, still survive, as a symbol, in the arms of Spain and upon the Spanish coins; and what is still more interesting to Americans, in the familiar mark ($) which represents a dollar. (The English name for the Spanish peso is pillar-dollar.)
Now Rome was aroused from its apathy. It sent an army into Spain, led by Scipio the Elder, known as Scipio Africanus. When he fell, his son, only twenty-four years old, stood up in the Roman Forum and offered to fill the undesired post; and, in 210 B.C., Scipio "the Younger"—and the greater—took the command—as Livy eloquently says—"between the tombs of his father and his uncle", who had both perished in Spain within a month.
The chief feature of Scipio's policy was, while he was defeating Hannibal in battles, to be undermining him with his native allies; and to make that people realize to what hard taskmasters they had bound themselves; and by his own manliness and courtesy and justice to win them to his side.
He marched his army swiftly and unexpectedly upon New Carthage, the capital and center of the whole Carthaginian movement, sent his fleet to blockade the city, and planned his moves with such precision that the fleet for the blockade and the army for the siege arrived before the city on the same day.
Taken entirely by surprise. New Carthage was captured without a siege. Not one of the inhabitants was spared, and spoil of fabulous amounts fell to the victors.
It seems like a fairy tale—or like the story of Mexico and Peru 1800 years later—to read of 276 golden bowls which were brought to Scipio's tent, countless vessels of silver, and 18 tons of coined and wrought silver.
But the richest part of the prize was the 750 Spanish hostages—high in rank of course—whom the various tribes had given in pledge of their fidelity to Carthage. Now Scipio held these pledges, and they were a menace and a promise. They were Roman slaves, but he could by kindness, and by holding out the hope of emancipation, placate and further bind to him the native people.
By an exercise of tact and clemency Scipio gained such an ascendancy over the inhabitants, and so moved were they by this unexpected generosity and kindness, that many would gladly have made him their king.
But he seems to have been the "noblest Roman of them all," and when saluted as king on one occasion he said: "Never call me king. Other nations may revere that name, but no Roman can endure it. My soldiers have given me a more honorable title—that of general."
Such nobility, such a display of Roman virtue, was a revelation to these barbarians; and they felt the grandeur of the words, though they could not quite understand them. They were won to the cause of Rome, and formed loyal alliances with Scipio which they never broke.
In the year 206 B.C. Gades (Cadiz), the last stronghold, was surrendered to the Romans, and the entire Spanish Peninsula had been wrenched from the Carthaginians.
Iberia was changed to Hispania, and fifteen years later the whole of the Peninsula was organized into a Roman province, thenceforth known in history, not as Iberia, nor yet Hispania; but Spain, and its people as Spaniards.
At the end of the third Punic war (149-146 B.C.), the ruin of the Carthaginians was complete. Hannibal had died a fugitive and a suicide. His nation had not a single ship upon the seas, nor a foot of territory upon the earth, and the great city of Carthage was plowed and sowed with salt. Rome had been used by Fate to fulfill her stern decree—"Delenda est Carthago."
It was really only a limited portion of the Peninsula; a fringe of provinces upon the south and east coast, which had been under Carthaginian and now acknowledged Roman dominion. Beyond these the Keltiberian tribes in the center formed a sort of confederation, and consented to certain alliances with the Romans; while beyond them, intrenched in their own impregnable mountain fastnesses, were brave, warlike, independent tribes, which had never known anything but freedom, whose names even, Rome had not yet heard. The stern virtue and nobility of Scipio proved a delusive promise. Rome had not an easy task, and other and brutal methods were to be employed in subduing stubborn tribes and making of the whole a Latin nation. In one of the defiles of the Pyrenees there may now be seen the ruins of fortifications built by Cato the Elder, not long after Scipio, which show how early those free people in the north were made to feel the iron heel of the master and to learn their lesson of submission.
The century which followed Scipio's conquest was one of dire experience for Spain. A Roman army was trampling out every vestige of freedom in provinces which had known nothing else; and more than that, Roman diplomacy was making of their new possession a fighting ground for the civil war which was then raging at Rome; and partisans of Marius and of Sylla were using and slaughtering the native tribes in their own desperate struggle. Roman rule was arrogant and oppressive, Roman governors cruel, arbitrary, and rapacious, and the boasted "Roman virtue" seemed to have been left in Rome, when treaties were made only to be violated at pleasure.
As nature delights in adorning the crevices of crumbling ruins with mosses and graceful lichens, so literature has busied itself with these historic ruins; and Cervantes has made the siege of Numantia (134 B.C.)—more terrible even than that of Saguntum—the subject of a poem, in which he depicts the horrors of the famine.
Lira, the heroine, answers her ardent lover Mirando in high-flown Spanish phrase, which, when summed up in plain English prose, means that she cannot listen to his wooing, because she is so hungry—which, in view of the fact that she has not tasted food for weeks, seems to us not surprising!
Sertorius, whose story is told by Plutarch, affords another picturesque subject for Corneille in one of his most famous tragedies. This Roman was an adherent of Marius in the long struggle with Sylla, and while upholding his cause in Spain he won to his side the people of Lusitania (Portugal), who made him their ruler, and helped him to fight the great army of the opposing Roman faction, part of which was led by Pompey.
Mithridates, in Asia Minor, was also in conflict with Sylla, and sent an embassy to Sertorius which led to a league between the two for mutual aid, and for the defense of the cause of Marius. But senators of his own party became jealous of the great elevation of Sertorius, and conspired to assassinate him at a feast to which he was invited. So ended (72 B.C.) one of the most picturesque characters and interesting episodes in the difficult march of barbarous Spain toward enlightenment and civilization.
Sertorius seems to have been a great administrator as well as fighter, and must also be counted one of the civilizers of Spain. He founded a school at Osca,—now Huesca,—where he had Roman and Greek masters for the Spanish youth. And it is interesting to learn that there is to-day at that city a university which bears the title "University of Sertorius."
But it is not the valor nor the sagacity of Sertorius which made him the favorite of poets; but the story of the White Hind, which he made to serve him so ingeniously in establishing his authority with the Lusitanians.
A milk-white fawn, on account of its rarity, was given him by a peasant. He tamed her, and she became his constant companion, unaffrighted even in the tumult of battle. He saw that the people began to invest the little animal with supernatural qualities; so, finally, he confided to them that she was sent to him by the Goddess Diana, who spoke to him through her, and revealed important secrets.
Such is the story which Corneille and writers in other lands have found so fascinating, and which an English author has made the subject of his poem "The White Hind of Sertorius."
Another Roman civil war, more pregnant of great results, was to be fought out in Spain. Julius Caesar's conspiracy against the Roman Republic, and his desperate fight with Pompey for the dictatorship, long drenched Spanish soil with blood, and had its final culmination (after Pompey's tragic death in Egypt) in Caesar's victory over Pompey's sons at Munda, in Spain, 45 B.C.
With this event, the military triumphs and the intrigues of Caesar had accomplished his purpose. He was declared Imperator, perpetual Dictator of Rome, and religious sacrifices were decreed to him as if he were a god. Unconscious of the chasm which was yawning at his feet he haughtily accepted the honors and adulation of men who were at that very moment conspiring for his death. On the fatal "Ides of March" (44 B.C.) he was stricken in the Senate Chamber by the hands of his friends, and the great Caesar lay dead at the feet of Pompey's statue.
The world had reached a supreme crisis in its existence. Two events—the most momentous it has ever known—were at hand: the birth of a Roman Empire, which was to perish in a few centuries, after a life of amazing splendor; and the birth of a spiritual kingdom, which would never die!
Caesar's nephew, Octavius Augustus, by gradual approaches reached the goal toward which no doubt his greater uncle was moving. After defeating Brutus and Cassius at Philippi (42 B.C.) and then after destroying his only competitor, Antony, at Actium (31 B.C.) he assumed the imperial purple under the name of Augustus. The title sounded harmless, but its wearer had founded the "Roman Empire."
At last there was peace. Spain was pacified, and only here and there did she struggle in the grasp of the Romans. Augustus, to make sure of the permanence of this pacification, himself went to the Peninsula. He built cities in the plains, where he compelled the stubborn mountaineers to reside, and established military colonies in the places they had occupied.
Saragossa was one of these cities in the plains, and its name was "Caesar Augusta," and many others have wandered quite as far from their original names, which may, however, still be traced.
It is said that "the annals of the happy are brief." Let us hope that poor Spain, so long harried by fate, was happy in the next four hundred years, for her story can be briefly told. She seemed to have settled into a state of eternal peace. It was a period not of external events, but of a process—an internal process of assimilation. Spain, in every department of its life, was becoming Latinized.
A people of rare intellectual activity had been united to the life of Rome at the moment of her greatest intellectual elevation. Was it strange that no Roman province ever produced so long a list of historians, poets, philosophers, as did Southern Spain after the Augustan conquest? When we read the list of great Roman authors who were born in Spain—the three Senecas, one of whom, the author and wit, opened his veins at the command of Nero (65 A.D.), and another, the Gallio of the book of Acts; also Lucan, Martial, and Quintilian, when we read these names native to Spain, it seems as if the source of inspiration had removed from the banks of the Tiber to the banks of the Guadalquivir.
Nowhere can the student of Roman antiquities find a richer field than in Spain. And not only that, there is to-day in the manners and customs, and in the habits of the peasantry, a pervading atmosphere of the classic land which adopted them, which all that has occurred since has been powerless to efface, while the language of Spain is Latin to its core. Nor is this strange when we reflect that they were under this powerful influence for a period as long as from Christopher Columbus to the Spanish-American War!
In the history of nations there is one fact which again and again with startling uniformity repeats itself. The rough, strong races from the north menace, and at last rudely dominate more highly civilized but less hardy races at the South, to the ultimate benefit of both, although with much present discomfort to the conquered race!
In Greece it was first the rude Hellenes who overran the Pelasgians. And again, long after that, there was another descent of fierce northern barbarians,—the Dorians from Epirus,—who, when they took possession of the Peloponnesus and became the Spartans, infused that vigorous strain without which the history of Greece might have been a very tame affair. In the British Isles it was the Picts and Scots, who would have done the same thing with England, perhaps, if the Angles and Saxons had not come to the rescue, while Spain had her own Picts and Scots in the mountain tribes of the Pyrenees. But in the fifth century there was the most stupendous illustration of this tendency, when all of Southern Europe was at last inundated by that northern deluge, and the effete Roman Empire was effaced.
The process had been a gradual one; had commenced, in fact, two centuries before the overthrow of the Roman Republic. But not until the fourth century, after the wicked old empire had espoused Christianity, did it become obvious that its foundations were undermined by this flood of barbarians. In 410 A.D., when the West-Goths, under Alaric, entered and sacked Rome, her power was broken. The roots no longer nourished the distant extremities in Britain and Gaul, and it was only a question of time when these, too, should succumb to the inflowing tide.
The Ostro-Goths—or East-Goths—in Northern Italy, and the Visigoths—or West-Goths—in Gaul, were setting up kingdoms of their own, under a Roman protectorate. The long period of peace in Spain was broken. The Pyrenees, with their warlike tribes, defended her for a time; but the Suevi and the Vandals—the latter a companion tribe of the Goths—had found an easier entrance by the sea on the east. They flowed down toward the south, and from thence across to the northern coast of Africa, which they colonized, leaving a memorial in Spain, in the lovely province of Andalusia, which was named after them—Vandalusia. But before the sacking of Rome a wave of the Gothic invasion had overflowed the Pyrenees, and Northern Spain had become a part of the Gothic kingdom in Gaul, with the city of Toulouse as its head.
A century of contact with Roman civilization had wrought great changes in this conquering race. They were untamed in strength, but realized the value of the civilities of life, and of intellectual superiority; and even strove to acquire some of the arts and accomplishments of the race they were invading. They were not yet acknowledged entire masters of Gaul and northern Spain. On condition of military service they had undisputed possession of their territory, with their own king, laws, and customs, but were nominally subjects of the Roman Emperor, Honorius.
Their attitude toward the Romans at this period cannot better be told than in the words of Ataulf himself (or Ataulfus, or Adolphus), whose interesting story will be briefly related. He says:
"It was my first wish to destroy the Roman name and erect in its place a Gothic Empire, taking to myself the place and the powers of Caesar Augustus. But when experience taught me that the untamable barbarism of the Goths would not suffer them to live under the sway of law, and that the abolition of the institutions on which the state rested would involve the ruin of the state itself, I chose instead the glory of renewing and maintaining by Gothic strength the fame of Rome; preferring to go down to posterity as the restorer of that Roman power which it was beyond my power to replace."
These are not the words of a barbarian; although by the corrupt and courtly nobles in Rome he was considered one; but no doubt he towered far above the barbarous host whom he helped to lead into Rome in the year 410 A.D.
Ataulf was the brother-in-law of Alaric, and succeeded that great leader in authority after his death (410 A.D.).
At the time of the sacking of Rome this Gothic prince fell in love with Placidia, the sister of the Emperor Honorius; and after the fashion of his people, carried her away as his captive; not an unwilling one, we suspect, for we learn of her great devotion to her brave, strong wooer, with blond hair and blue eyes. Ataulf took his fair prize to the city of Narbonne in southern France, and made her his Queen. But when Constantius, a disappointed Roman lover of Placidia's, instigated Honorius to send an army against him and his Goths, he withdrew into Spain, and established his court with its rude splendor in the ancient city of Barcelona.
He seems to have had not an easy task between the desire to please his haughty Roman bride and, at the same time, to repel the charge of his people that he was becoming effeminate and Romanized; and, finally, so jealous did they become of her influence that Ataulf was assassinated in the presence of his wife, all his children butchered, and the proud Placidia compelled to walk barefoot through the streets of Barcelona.
Constantius, the faithful Roman lover, came with an army and carried back to Rome the royal widow, who married him and became the mother of Valentinian III., who succeeded his uncle Honorius as Emperor of Rome in 425 A.D., under the regency of Placidia during his infancy.
This romance, lying at the very root of a Gothic dynasty in Spain, marks the earliest beginnings of a line of Visigoth kings. Ataulf's successor removed his court to Toulouse in France, and Spain for many years remained only an outlying province of the Gothic kingdom; her turbulent northern tribes refusing to accept or to mingle with the strange intruders. When driven by the Romans from their mountain fastnesses the Basques, many of them, were at that time dispersed through southern and central France; which accounts for the presence of that race in France, before alluded to.
In the second half of the fifth century Attila, "the Scourge of God," swept down upon Europe with his Huns,—mysterious, terrible, as a fire out of heaven, and more like an army of demons than men,—destroying city after city, and driving the people before them, until they came to Orleans. There they met the combined Roman and Gothic armies. Theodoric, the Visigoth king, was killed on the battlefield. But to him, and to the Roman general AEtius, belongs the glory of the defeat of the Huns (451 A.D.).
It was Evaric, the son of this Theodoric, who finally completed the conquest of the Spanish Peninsula, and with him really commences the line of Visigoth kings in Spain, and the conversion of that country into a Gothic empire,[A] entirely independent of Rome.
The German Franks, under Clovis, established their kingdom in Gaul 481 A.D. The Angles and Saxons in 446 A.D. did the same in Britain. The Ostrogoths had their own kingdom in northern Italy and southern Gaul (Burgundy). So, with the Visigoths ruling in Spain, the "northern deluge" had in the fifth century practically submerged the whole of Europe, and above its dark waters showed only the somber wreck of a Roman empire.
From this fusing of Roman and Teutonic races there were to arise two types of civilization, utterly different in kind, the Anglo-Saxon and the Latin. In one the prevailing element, after the fusing was complete, was to be the Teutonic; in the other, the Roman. Herein lies the difference between these two great divisions of the human family, and this is the germinal fact in the war raging to-day between Spain and the United States. It is a difference created not by the mastery of arms, but by the more efficient mastery of ideas.
When the Angles and Saxons conquered Britain, after a Roman occupation of over three hundred years, they swept it clean of Roman laws, literature, and civilization. Untamed pagan barbarians though they were, they had fine instincts and simple ideals of society and government, and they cast out the corrupt old empire, root and branch.
The Visigoths in Spain, more enlightened than they, already Christianized, and, perhaps, even superior in intelligence, were content in the words of Ataulf—"to renew and maintain by Gothic strength the fame of Rome." So they built upon the ruins of decaying institutions of a corrupt civilization, a kingdom which flourished with the enormous vitality drawn from the conquering race, which race was in turn conquered by Roman ideals.
So, in the conflict now existing between Spain and the United States, we see the Spaniard, the child of the Romans; valorous, picturesque, cruel, versed in strategic arts, and with a savor of archaic wickedness which belongs to a corrupt old age. In the American we see the child of the simple Angles and Saxons, no less brave, but just, and with an enthusiasm and confiding integrity which seems to endow him with an imperishable youth.
[Footnote A: The famous Gothic code established by him still linger in much of Spanish jurisprudence.]
The story of Ulfilas, who Christianized the pagan Goths in the last half of the fourth century, is really the first chapter not alone in the history of Gothic civilization but in that of the German and English literatures; which, with their vast riches, had their origin in the strange achievement of Ulfilas. He had, while a boy, been captured by some Goths off the coast of Asia Minor, and was called by them "Wulf-ilas" (little wolf). In his desire to translate the Bible to his captors Wulf-ilas reduced the Gothic language to writing. He had first to create an alphabet; taking twenty-two Roman letters, and inventing two more: the letter w, and still another for th. So while, after Constantine, the Christian religion was being adopted by the Roman Empire, and while its simple dogmas were being discussed and refined into a complicated and intricate system by men versed in Greek philosophy, and then formulated by minds trained in logic and rhetoric, the same religion was being spelled out in simple fashion by the Goths in central Europe from the book translated for them by Ulfilas.
All they found was that Jesus Christ was the beloved son of God and the Saviour of the world; that he was the long-promised Messiah, and to believe in him and to follow his teachings was salvation. They knew nothing of the Trinity nor of any theologic subtleties, and this was the simple faith which the Goths carried with them into the lands they conquered.
The Romans, who had spent three centuries in burning Christians and trying to obliterate the religion of Christ, were now its jealous guardians. They considered this "Arianism," as it was called, a blasphemous heresy, so shocking that they refused to call it Christianity at all. The history of the first century of the Gothic kingdom in Spain was therefore mainly that of the deadly strife between Arianism and Catholicism, or orthodoxy. The Goths could not discuss, for they were utterly unable to understand even the terms under discussion; but they could fight and lay down their lives for the faith which had done so much for them; and this they did freely and fiercely.
So the simple Gothic people were bewildered by finding themselves in the presence of a Christianity incomprehensible to them; a complicated, highly organized social order, equally incomprehensible; and a science and a literature of which they knew nothing. They might struggle for a while against this tide of superiority, but one by one they entered the fascinating portals of learning and of art, accepted the dogmas of learned prelates, and a few generations were sufficient to make them meek disciples of the older civilization.
The Spanish language fairly illustrates the result from this incongruous mingling of Roman and Gothic. It is said to be a language of Latin roots with a Teutonic grammar.
The Goths laid rough hands on the speech they consented to use, and the smooth, sonorous Latin was strangely broken and mixed with Gothic words and idioms; yet it became one of the most copious, flexible, and picturesque of languages, with a literature marvelously rich and beautiful.
In precisely the same way was the classic old ruin of a Roman state re-enforced with a rough Gothic framework, and after centuries have hidden the joints and the scars with mosses and verdure, we have a picturesque and beautiful Spain!
But barbarous kings were fighting other things besides heresy. There were rebellions to put down; there were remnants of Sueves and of Roman power to drive out, and there were always the fierce mountain tribes who never mingled with any conquerors, nor had ever surrendered to anything but the Catholic faith.
There were intermarriages between the three Gothic kingdoms, in Burgundy, Gaul, and Spain, and the history of some of these royal families shows what wild passions still raged among the Goths, and what atrocities were strangely mingled with ambitious projects and religion.
Athanagild, one of the Visigoth kings, gave his daughter Brunhilde in marriage to the King of the Franks in Gaul. The story of this terrible Queen, stained with every crime, and accused of the death of no less than ten kings, comes to a fitting end when, we are told, that in her wicked old age she was tied to the tail of an unbroken horse and dragged over the stones of Paris (600 A.D.).
At this time Leovigild (570-587), the Visigoth King, was ruling Spain with a strong hand. He had assumed more splendor than any of his predecessors. He had erected a magnificent throne in his palace at Toledo, and his head, wearing the royal diadem, was placed on Spanish coins, which may still be seen. A daughter of the terrible Brunhilde, the Princess Ingunda, came over from France to become the wife of Ermingild, the son of the great King Leovigild, and heir to his throne.
All went smoothly until it was discovered that this fair Princess was a Catholic, and was artfully plotting to win her husband over to her faith from the faith of his fathers—Arianism.
Although Catholicism had made great inroads among their people, never before had it invaded the royal household. And when his son declared his intention to desert their ancient creed there commenced a terrible conflict between father and son, which finally led to Ermingild's open rebellion, and at last to his being beheaded by his father's order. But this crime against nature was in vain. Arianism had reached the limit of its life in Spain. Upon the death of Leovigild, his second son, Recared (587-601), succeeded to the throne, and one of his first acts was to abjure the old faith of the Gothic people, and Catholicism became the established religion of Spain.
Toledo, the capital of the Visigoth Kings, is the city about which cluster the richest memories of Spain in her heroic age. When Leovigild removed his capital there from Seville in the sixth century, it was already an ancient Jewish city, about which tradition had long busied itself. To-day, as it sits on the summit of a barren hill, one looks in vain for traces of its ancient Gothic splendor. But the spot where now stands a beautiful cathedral is hallowed by a wonderful legend, which Murillo made the subject of one of his great paintings. It is said that the Apostle St. James founded on that very spot the Church of Santa Maria; and that the Virgin, in recognition of the dedication to her, descended from heaven to present its Bishop, Ildofonso, with a marvelous chasuble. In proof of this miracle, doubting visitors are still shown the marks of Mary's footprint upon a stair in the chapel! However this may be, it is on this very spot that King Recared formally abjured Arianism; and preserved in a cloister of the cathedral may still be seen the "Consecration Stone" which reads: that the Church of Santa Maria,—built probably on the foundation of the older church,—was consecrated under "King Recared the Catholic, 587 A.D." It also tells of the councils of the Spanish Church held there—at one of which councils was the famous canon which decreed that all future Kings must swear they would show no mercy to "that accursed people"—meaning the Jews. It was these very Jews who had brought commercial success and created the enormous wealth of the city, from which it was now the duty of the pious Visigoth Kings to harry and hunt them as if they were frightened deer.
The Visigoth monarchy, although in many cases hereditary, was in fact elective. And the student of Spanish history will not find an orderly royal succession as in England and France. Disputes regarding the succession were not infrequent, and sometimes there will occur an interval with apparently no king at all, followed by another period when there are two—one ruling in the north and another in the south. "The King is dead—long live the King!" might do for France, but not for Spain.
During one of these periods of uncertainty, in the latter half of the seventh century, it is said that Leo, a holy man (afterward Pope), was told in a dream that the man who must wear the crown was then a laborer, living in the west, and that his name was Wamba. They traveled in search of this man almost to the borders of Portugal, and there they found the future candidate for the throne plowing in the field. The messengers, bowing before the plowman, informed him that he had been selected as King of Spain.
Wamba laughed, and said, "Yes, I shall be King of Spain when my pole puts forth leaves."
Instantly the bare pole began to bud, and in a few moments was covered with verdure!
In vain did Wamba protest. What could a poor man do in the face of such a miracle, and with a Spanish Duke pressing a poniard against his breast, and telling him to choose on the instant between a throne and a tomb!
The unhappy Wamba suffered himself to be borne in triumph to Toledo, and there to be crowned. And a very wise and excellent King did he make. He seemed fully equal to the difficult demands of his new position. A rebellion, fomented by an ambitious Duke Paul, who gathered about his standard all the banished Jews, was a very formidable affair. But Wamba put it down with a firm hand, and then, when it was over, treated the conspirators and rebels with marvelous clemency. When his reign was concluded he left a record of wisdom and sagacity rare in those days, in any land.
His taking off the stage was as remarkable as his coming on. He fell into a trance (October 14, 680), and after long insensibility it was concluded that the King was dying. According to a custom of the period Wamba's head was shaved, and he was clothed in the habit of a monk. The meaning of this was that if he died, he would, as was fitting, pass into the Divine presence in penitential garb. But if, peradventure, the patient survived, he was pledged to spend the rest of his life in that holy vocation, renouncing every worldly advantage.
So when, after a few hours, Wamba, in perfect health, opened his eyes, he found that instead of a King he was transformed into a Monk!
Whether this was a cunning device of this philosophic King to lay down the burdens which wearied him, and spend the rest of his days in tranquility; or whether it was the work of the Royal Prince, who joyfully assumed the diadem which he had so unwillingly worn, nobody knows. But Wamba passed the remainder of his days in a monastery near Burgos, and the ambitious Ervigius reigned as his successor.
The Visigoth kingdom, which had stood for three centuries, had passed its meridian. It had created a magnificent background for historic Spain, and a heritage which would be the pride and glory of the proudest nation in Europe. The Goths had come as only rude intruders into that country; but to be descended from the Visigoth Kings was hereafter to be the proudest boast of the Spaniard. And the man who could make good such claim to distinction was a Hidalgo; or in its original form, hijo-de-algo—son of somebody.
But many generations of peace had impaired the rugged strength and softened the sinews of the nation. It was the beginning of the end when, at the close of the seventh century, there were two rival claimants to the throne; and while the vicious and cruel Witiza reigned at Toledo, Roderick, the son of Theodofred, also reigned in Andalusia. There had been a long struggle, during which it is said that Theodofred's eyes had been put out by his victorious rival, and his son Roderick had obtained assistance from the Greek Emperor at Byzantium in asserting his own claims. He succeeded in driving Witiza out of the country; and in 709,—"the last of the Goths,"—was crowned at Toledo, King of all Spain.
But the struggle was not over; and it was about to lead to a result which is one of the most momentous in the history, not alone of Spain,—nor yet of Europe,—but of Christendom. Witiza was dead, but his two sons, with a formidable following, were still trying to work the ruin of Roderick. A certain Count Julian, who, on account of his daughter Florinda, had his own wrongs to avenge, accepted the leadership of these rebels. The power of the Visigoths had extended across the narrow strait (cut by the Phenicians) over to the opposite shore, where Morocco seems to be reaching out in vain endeavor to touch the land from which she was long ago severed; and there, at Tangiers, this arch-traitor laid his plans and matured the scheme of revenge and treachery which had such tremendous results for Europe. With an appearance of perfect loyalty he parted from Roderick, who unsuspectingly asked him to bring him some hawks from Africa when he returned. Bowing, he said: "Sire, I will bring you such hawks as never were seen in Spain before."
For one hundred years an unprecedented wave of conquest had been moving from Asia toward the west. Mahommedanism, which was destined to become the scourge of Christendom, had subjected Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and northern Africa, until it reached Ceuta—the companion Pillar to Gibraltar on the African coast.
At this point the Goths had stood, as a protecting wall beyond which the Asiatic deluge could not flow.
Count Julian was the trusted military commander of the Gothic garrisons in Morocco, as Musa, the oft-defeated Saracen leader, knew to his cost. As this Musa was one day looking with covetous eyes across at the Spanish Peninsula, he was suddenly surprised by a visit from Count Julian; and still more astonished when that commander offered to surrender to him the Gothic strongholds Tangier, Arsilla, and Ceuta in return for the assistance of the Saracen army in the cause of Witiza's sons against Roderick.
Amazed at such colossal treason, Musa referred Count Julian to his master the Khalif, at Damascus, who at once accepted his infamous proposition. In Spanish legend and history this man is always designated as The Traitor, as if standing alone and on a pinnacle among the men who have betrayed their countries.
Musa, half doubting, sent a preliminary force of about five hundred Moors under a chief named Tarif, to the opposite coast; and the Moors found, as was promised, that they might range at their own will and pleasure in that earthly paradise of Andalusia. The name of this Mussulman chief, Tarif, was given to the spot first touched by the feet of the Mahommedan, which was called Tarifa; and as Tarifa was afterward the place where customs were collected, the word tariff is an imperishable memorial of that event. In like manner Gibraltar was named Gebel-al-Tarik, (Mountain of Tarik) after the leader bearing that name, who was sent later by Musa with a larger force; which name has been gradually changed to its present form—Gibraltar.
Poor King Roderick, while still fighting to maintain his own right to the crown he wore, learned with dismay that his country was invaded by a horde of people from the African coast. Theodemir wrote to him: "So strange is their appearance that we might take them for inhabitants of the sky. Send me all the troops you can collect, without delay." The hawks promised by Count Julian had arrived!
The hour of doom had sounded for the last King of the Visigoths, and for his kingdom. There is a legend that a mysterious tower existed near Toledo, which was built by Hercules, soon after Adam, with the command that no king or lord of Spain should ever seek to know what it contained; instead of that it was the duty of each King to put a new lock upon its mysterious portal.
It is said that Roderick, perhaps in his extremity, resolved to disobey the command, and to discover the secret hidden in the Enchanted Tower. In a jeweled shrine in the very heart of the structure he came at last to a coffer of silver, "right subtly wrought," and far inside of that he reached the final mystery,—only this,—a white cloth folded between two pieces of copper. With trembling eagerness Roderick opened and found painted thereon men with turbans, carrying banners, with swords strung around their necks, and bows behind them, slung at the saddle-bow. Over these figures was written: "When this cloth shall be opened, men appareled like these shall conquer Spain, and be the lords thereof."
Such is the picturesque legend. Men with "turbans and banners and swords slung about their necks," were assuredly now in Andalusia, led by Tarik, who had literally burned his ships behind him, and then told his followers to choose between victory or death.
The two armies faced each other at a spot near Cadiz. It is said that Roderick, the degenerate successor of Alaric, went into battle in a robe of white silk embroidered with gold, sitting on a car of ivory, drawn by white mules. Tarik's men, who were fighting for victory or Paradise, overwhelmed the Goths; Roderick, in his flight, was drowned in the Guadalquivir, and his diadem of pearls and his embroidered robe were sent to Damascus as trophies.
Count Julian urged that the victory be immediately followed up by Musa before there was time for the Spaniards to rally. One after another the cities of Toledo, Cordova, and Granada capitulated, the persecuted Jews flocking to the new standard and aiding in the conquest of their oppressors.
As well might one have held back the Atlantic from rushing through that canal upon the isthmus, as to have stayed the inflowing of the Saracens through the breach made by "the Traitor," Count Julian! In less than two years Spain was a conquered province, rendering allegiance to the Khalif at Damascus, and the Moor,—as the followers of the Prophet in Morocco were called,—reigned in Toledo.
It was in the year 412 that Ataulfus, with his haughty bride Placidia, had established his Court at Barcelona, and Romanized Spain became Gothic Spain. In 711—just three centuries later—the Visigoth kingdom had disappeared as utterly beneath the Saracen flood as had its ill-fated King Roderick under the waters of the Guadalquivir; and fastened upon Christian Europe was a Mahommedan empire; an empire which all the combined powers of that continent have never since been able entirely to dislodge. From that ill-omened day in 709, when Tarif set foot on the Spanish coast, to this June of 1898, the Mahommedan has been in Europe; and remains to-day, a scourge and a blight in the territory upon which his cruel grasp still lingers.
Tarik and his twelve thousand Berbers,[A] or Moors, had at one stroke won the Spanish Peninsula. The banner of the Prophet waved over every one of the ancient and famous cities in Andalusia, and the turbaned army had marched through the stubborn north as far as the Spanish border. As Musa, intoxicated with success, stood at last upon the Pyrenees, he saw before him a vision of a subjugated Europe. The banner of the Prophet should wave from the Pyrenees to the Baltic! A mosque should stand where St. Peter's now stands in Rome! So, step by step, the Moslems pressed up into Gaul, and in 732 their army had reached Tours.
It was a moment of supreme peril for Christendom. But, happily, the Franks had what the Goths had not—a great leader. Charles Martel,—then Maire du Palais, and virtually King of France, instead of the feeble Lothair,—led his Franks into what was to be one of the most decisive of the world's battles; a battle which would determine whether Europe should be Christian or Mahommedan.
The tide of infidel invasion had reached its limits. The strong right arm of Charles dealt such ponderous blows that the Moslems broke in confusion, and this savior of Christendom was thenceforth known as Charles Martel: "Karl of the Hammer."
After this crushing disaster at Tours the Moors realized that they were not invincible. Their vaulting ambition did not again try to overleap the Pyrenees; and they addressed themselves to settling affairs in their new territory.
It has been wisely said that if the Mahommedan state had been confined within the borders of Arabia, it would speedily have collapsed. Islam became a world-wide religion when it clothed itself with armor, and became a church militant. It was conquest which saved the faith of the Prophet. In its home in Asia the Empire of Mahommed was composed of hostile tribes and clans, and as it moved westward it gathered up Syrians, Egyptians, and the Berbers on the African coast, who, when Morocco was reached, were known as Moors. This strange, heterogeneous mass of humanity, all nourished from Arabia, was held together by two things: the Koran and the sword.
When conquest was exchanged for peaceful possession, all the internecine jealousies, the tribal feuds, and old hatreds burst forth, and the first fifty years of Moorish rule in Spain was a period of internal strife and disorder—Arabs and Moors were jealously trying to undermine each other; while the Arabs themselves were torn by factions representing rival clans in Damascus.
But a singular clemency was shown toward the conquered Spaniards. They were permitted to retain their own law and judges, and their own governors administered the affairs of the districts and collected the taxes. The rule of the conquering race bore upon the people actually less heavily than had the old Gothic rule. Jews and Christians alike were free to worship whom or what they pleased; but, at the same time, great benefits were bestowed upon those who would accept the religion of the Prophet. The slave class, which was very large and had suffered terrible cruelties under its old masters, was treated with especial mildness and humanity. There was a simple road to freedom opened to every man. He had only to say, "There is one God, and Mahommed is his Prophet," and on the instant he became a freeman!
Such gentle proselytizing as this speedily won converts, not alone among slaves but from all classes. The pacification of Spain by the Romans had required centuries; while only a few years sufficed to make of the vanquished in the southern provinces, a contented and almost happy people; not only reconciled, but even glad of the change of masters. Never was Andalusia so mildly, justly, and wisely governed as by her Arab conquerors.
The most delicate of all problems is that of dealing with a conquered race in its own land. That this should have been so wisely and so skillfully handled would be incomprehensible if this had been really, what it is always called, a Moorish conquest. But to be accurate, it was a Moorish invasion and a Saracen conquest!
The fierce Berber Moor contributed the brute force, which was wielded by Saracen intelligence.
The Saracens were the leaven which penetrated the whole sodden mass of Mahommedanism. With a civilization which had been ripening for centuries under Oriental skies,—rich in wisdom, learning, culture, science, and in art,—they had come into Europe, infidels though they were, to build up and not to destroy.
The Roman conquest of Spain had civilized a barbarous race. The Gothic conquest of Romanized Spain had converted an effete civilization into a strong semi-barbarism. Now again the Saracen had come from the East to convert a semi-barbarism into a civilization richer than any Spain had yet known, and, more than that, to hold up a torch of learning and enlightenment which should illumine Europe in the days of darkness which were at hand. Although this difference between Arab and Moor primarily existed, they became fused, and we shall speak of them only as Moors. But we should not lose sight of the fact that the superior intelligence which made the Moorish kingdom magnificent was from the land of the Prophet.
The Saracen dealt gently with the conquered Spaniard, not because his heart was tender and kind, but because he was crafty and wise, and knew when not to use force, in order to accomplish his ends. For the same reason he refrained from trying to break the spirit of the independent northern provinces, where the descendants of the old Visigoths—the Hidalgos ("sons-of-somebody")—proudly intrenched themselves in an attitude of defiance, making in time a clearly defined Christian north and Moslem south, with a mountain range (the Sierra Guadarrama) and a river (the Ebro) as the natural boundary line of the two territories. The Moor was a child of the sun. If the stubborn Goth chose to sulk, up among the chilly heights and on the bleak plains of the north, he might do so, and it was little matter if one Alfonso called himself "King of the Asturians," in that mountain-defended and sea-girt province. The fertile plains of Andalusia, and the banks of the Tagus and Guadalquivir, were all of Spain the Moor wanted for the wonderful kingdom which was to be the marvel of the Middle Ages.
[Footnote A: The old Phenician name for the North African tribes, derived from the word Iberi.]
But, at the early period we are considering, the "Christian kingdom" was composed of a handful of men and women who had fled from the Moslems to the mountains of the Asturias. Its one stronghold was the cave of Covadonga, where Pelagius, or Pelayo, had gathered thirty men and ten women. Here, in the dark recesses of this cave,—which was approached through a long and narrow mountain pass, and entered by a ladder of ninety steps,—was the germ of the future kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, and also of the downfall of the Moor. An Arab historian said later: "Would to God the Moslems had extinguished that spark which was destined to consume the dominion of Islam in the north" and, he might have added, "in Spain."
When Alfonso of Cantabria married the daughter of Pelayo in 751, the cave of Covadonga no longer held the insurgent band. He roused all the northern provinces against the Moors and gathered an army which drove them step by step further south, until he had pushed the Christian frontier as far as the great Sierra, so that the one-time Visigoth capital of Toledo marked the line of the Moslem border fortresses. Too scanty in numbers and too poor in purse to occupy the territory, Alfonso and his army then retreated to their mountains, there to enjoy the empty satisfaction of their conquest.
But the Moors in Andalusia had too many troubles of their own at that time to give much heed to Alfonso I. and his rebellious band hiding in the mountains. The Berbers and the Arabs on the African coast were jealous and antagonistic; the one was devout, credulous, and emotional; the other cool, crafty, and diplomatic. Suddenly the long-slumbering hatred burst into open revolt, and the Khalif sent thirty thousand Syrians to put down a formidable revolution in his African dominions.
In full sympathy with their kinsmen across the sea, the Moors in Spain began to realize that while that land had been won by twelve thousand Berbers, led by one Berber general, that the lion's share of the spoils had gone to the Arabs, who were carrying things with a high hand! There were signs of a general uprising, in concert with the revolution in Africa; and it looked as if the new territory was to be given up to anarchy; when suddenly all was changed.
The Khalif, who was the head of all the Mahommedan empire, was supposed to be the supreme ruler in spiritual and temporal affairs. But as his empire extended to such vast dimensions, he was obliged to delegate much of his temporal authority to others; so gradually it had become somewhat like that of the Pope. He was the supreme spiritual head, and only nominally supreme in affairs of state.
The family of Omeyyad had given fourteen Khalifs to the Mahommedan empire from 661 to 750; at which time the then reigning Omeyyad was deposed, and the second dynasty of Khalifs commenced, called Abbaside, after Abbas, an uncle of the Prophet.
Abd-er-Rahman was a Prince belonging to the deposed family of the Omeyyads. He was the only one of his family who escaped the exterminating fury of the Abbasides. There was no future for him in the east, so the thoughts of the ambitious youth turned to the west—to the newly won territory of Spain.
The coming of this last survivor of the Omeyyads to Andalusia is one of the romances of history, and was not unlike the coming of another young Pretender to Scotland, one thousand years later. It aroused the same wild enthusiasm, and as if by magic an army gathered about him, to meet the army of the Governor, Yusuf, which would resist him. Victory declared itself for the Prince, and he entered Cordova in triumph. Before the year had expired the dynasty of the Omeyyads—which was to stand for three centuries—was finally established, and its first king—Abd-er-Rahman—reigned at Cordova.
His hereditary enemies the Abbasides followed him to Spain, and found supporters among the disaffected. But it was in vain. The Abbaside army of invasion was utterly annihilated; and the qualities slumbering in this son of the Khalifs may be judged when we relate that the heads of the Abbaside leaders were put into a bag with descriptive labels attached to their ears, and sent to the reigning Khalif as a present.
This little incident does not seem to have injured him in the estimation of Mansur, the new Khalif, who said of him: "Wonderful is this man! Such daring, wisdom, prudence! To throw himself into a distant land; to profit by the jealousies of the people; to turn their arms against one another instead of against himself; to win homage and obedience through such difficulties; and to rule supreme—lord of all! Of a truth there is not such another man!" Abd-er-Rahman (the Sultan, as he was called) merited this praise. He knew when to be cruel and when to show mercy; and how to hold scheming Arab chiefs, fierce, jealous Berbers, and vanquished Christians, and could placate or crucify as the conditions required.
Charlemagne was at this time building up his colossal empire. His Christian soul was mightily stirred by seeing an infidel kingdom set up in Andalusia; and when, in 777, the Saracen governor and two other Arab chiefs appealed to him for aid against the Omeyyad usurper, Abd-er-Rahman, he eagerly responded. His grandfather Charles Martel had driven these infidels back over the Pyrenees; now he would drive them out of Spain, and reclaim that land for Christianity!
His army never reached farther than Saragossa. He was recalled to France by a revolt of the recently conquered Saxons, and the "Battle of Roncesvalles" is the historic monument of the ill-starred attempt. The battle in itself was insignificant. No action of such small importance has ever been invested with such a glamour of romance, nor the theme of so much legend and poetry. It has been called the Thermopylae of the Pyrenees, because of the personal valor displayed, and the tragic death of the two great Paladins (as the twelve Peers of Charlemagne were called) Roland and Olivier. The Chanson de Roland was one of the famous ballads in the early literature of Europe, and Roland and Olivier were to French and Spanish minstrelsy what the knights of King Arthur were to the English.
The simple story about which so much has been written and sung is this: As the retreating army of Charlemagne was crossing the Pyrenees, the rear of the army under Roland and Olivier was ambuscaded in the narrow pass of Roncesvalles by the Basques and exterminated to a man.
These Basques were the unconquerable mountain tribe of which we heard so much in the early history of Spain. They had been on guard for centuries, keeping the Franks back from the Pyrenees. They may have been acting under Saracenic influence when they exterminated the rear-guard of Charlemagne's army. But it was done, not because they loved the Saracen, but because they had a hereditary hatred for the Franks.
Mediaeval Europe never tired of hearing of the Great Charles' lament over his Roland: "O thou right arm of my kingdom,—defender of the Christians,—scourge of the Saracens! How can I behold thee dead, and not die myself! Thou art exalted to the heavenly kingdom,—and I am left alone, a poor miserable King!"
The tide which had flowed over southern Spain was a singular mixture of religious fervor, of brutish humanity, and refinements of wisdom and wickedness. No stranger and more composite elements were ever thrown together. Permanence and peace were impossible. Nothing but force could hold together elements so incongruous and antagonistic. As soon as the hand of Abd-er-Rahman I. was removed disintegration began. Clashing races, clans, and political parties had in a few years made such havoc that it seemed as if the Omeyyad dynasty was crumbling.
It might have been an Arab who said "he cared not who made the laws of his country, so he could write its songs." Learning, literature, refinements of luxury and of art had taken possession of the land, which seemed given up to the muses. When in 822 Abd-er-Rahman II. reigned, he did not trouble himself about the laws of his crumbling empire. The one man in whom he delighted was Ziryab. What Petronius was to Nero,[A] and Beau Brummel to George IV., that was Ziryab to the Sultan Abd-er-Rahman II., the elegant arbiter in matters of taste. From the dishes which should be eaten to the clothes which should be worn, he was the supreme judge; while at the same time he knew by heart and could "like an angel sing" one thousand songs to his adoring Sultan.
Even the Gothic Christians were seduced by these alluring refinements. They felt contempt for their old Latin speech and for their literature, with the tiresome asceticism it eternally preached. The Christian ideal had grown to be one of penance and mortification of the flesh, and to a few ardent souls these sensuous delights were an open highway to death eternal. Eulogius became the leader of this band of zealots. In lamenting the decadence of his people, he wrote, "hardly one in a thousand can write a decent Latin letter, and yet they indite excellent Arabic verse!" Filled with despairing ardor this man aroused a few kindred spirits to join him in a desperate attempt to awaken the benumbed conscience of the Christians. They could not get the Moslems to persecute them, but they might attain martyrdom by cursing the Prophet; then the infidels, however reluctant, would be compelled to behead them. This they did, and one by one perished, to no purpose. The Gothic Christians were not conscience-stricken as Eulogius supposed they would be, and there was no general uprising for the Christian faith.
In 912 the threatened ruin of the dynasty was arrested by the coming of another Abd-er-Rahman, third Sultan of that name. Rebellion was put down, and fifty years of wise and just administration gave solidity to the kingdom, which also then became a Khalifate.
The Abbaside Khalifs, after the deposition of the Omeyyads, had removed the Khalifate from Damascus to Baghdad. But the empire had extended too far west to revolve about that distant pivot. Abd-er-Rahman—perhaps remembering the old feud between his family and the Abbasides—determined to assume the spiritual headship of the western part of the empire. And thereafter, the Mahommedan empire—like the Roman—had two heads, an Eastern Khalif at Baghdad, and a Western Khalif at Cordova.
While thus extending his own power the Khalif was extinguishing every spark of rebellion in the south and driving the rebellious Christians back in the north, and at the same time he was clothing Cordova with a splendor which amazed and dazzled even the Eastern Princes who came to pay court to the great Khalif. His emissaries were everywhere collecting books for his library and treasure for his palaces. Cordova became the abode of learning, and the nursery for science, philosophy, and art, transplanted from Asia. The imagination and the pen of an arab poet could not have overdrawn this wonderful city on the Guadalquivir,—with its palaces, its gardens, and fountains,—its 50,000 houses of the aristocracy,—its 700 mosques,—and 900 public baths,—all adorned with color and carvings and tracery beautiful as a dream of Paradise. One hears with amazement of the great mosque, with its 19 arcades, its pavings of silver and rich mosaics, its 1293 clustered columns, inlaid with gold and lapis-lazuli, the clusters reaching up to the slender arches which supported the roof; the whole of this marvelous scene lighted by countless brazen lamps made from Christian bells, while hundreds of attendants swung censers, filling the air with perfume.
After the ravages of a thousand years travelers stand amazed to-day before the forest of columns which open out in endless vistas in the splendid ruin, calling up visions of the vanished glories of Cordova and the Great Khalif.
There is not time to tell of the city this Spanish Khalif built for his favorite wife, "The Fairest," and which he called "Hill of the Bride," upon which for fifteen years ten thousand men worked daily; nor of the four thousand columns which adorned its palaces, presents from emperors and potentates in Constantinople, Rome, and far-off Eastern states; nor of the ivory and ebony doors, studded with jewels, through which shone the sun, the light then falling on the lake of quick-silver, which sent back blinding, quivering flashes into dazzled eyes. And we are told of the thirteen thousand male servants who ministered in this palace of delight. All this, too, at a time when our Saxon ancestors were living in dwellings without chimneys, and casting the bones from the table at which they feasted into the foul straw which covered their floors; when a Gothic night had settled upon Europe, and blotted out civilization so completely that only in a part of Italy, and around Constantinople, did there remain a vestige of refinement!
It is said that when the embassy from Constantinople came bearing a letter to the Khalif, the courtier whose duty it was to read it was so awed by all this splendor that he fainted!
And yet the owner and creator of this fabulous luxury,—Sultan and Khalif of a dominion the greatest of his time, and with "The Fairest" for his adored wife,—when he came to die, left a paper upon which he had written that he could only recall fourteen days in which he had been happy.
[Footnote A: See "Quo Vadis?"]
In the north there was developing another and very different power. The descendants of the Visigoth Kings, making common cause with the rough mountaineers, had shared all their hardships and rigors in the mountains of the Asturias. Inured to privation and suffering, entirely unacquainted with luxury or even with the comforts of living, they had grown strong, and in a century after Alfonso I. had emerged from their mountain shelter and removed their court and capital from Oviedo to Leon, where Alfonso III. held sway over a group of barren kingdoms, poor, proud, but with Hidalgos and Dons, who were keeping alive the sacred fires of patriotism and of religion. This was the rough cradle of a Spanish nationality.
They had their own jealousies and fierce conflicts, but all united in a common hatred of the Moor. Though they did not yet dream of driving him out of their land, their brave leaders, Ramiro I. and Ordono I. had been for years steadily defying and tormenting him with the kind of warfare to which they gave its name—guerrilla—meaning "little wars."
While the Great Khalif was consolidating his Moorish kingdom and driving the Christians back into their mountains, the power of that people was being weakened by internal strifes existing between the three adjacent kingdoms—Leon, Castile, and Navarre. The headship of Leon was for years disputed by her ambitious neighbor Castile (so called because of the numerous fortified castles with which it was studded), under the leadership of one Fernando, Count of Castile.
There had been the usual lapse into anarchy and weakness after the Great Khalif's death. Andalusia always needed a master, and this she found in Almanzor, who was Prime Minister to one of the Khalif's feeble descendants. It was a sad day for the struggling kingdom in the north when this all-subduing man took the reins in his own hands, and left his young master to amuse himself in collecting rare manuscripts and making Cordova more beautiful.
This Almanzor, the mightiest of the soldiers of the Crescent since Tarik and Musa, proclaimed a war of faith against the Christians, who were obliged to forget their local dissensions and to try with their combined strength to save their kingdom from extermination. These were the darkest days to which they had yet been subjected. But for the death of Almanzor the ruin of the Christian state would have been complete. A monkish historian thus records this welcome event: "In 1002 died Almanzor, and was buried in hell."
The death of Almanzor was the turning point in the fortunes of the two kingdoms—that of the Moors and of the Christians.
The magnificence and the glory of the kingdom faded like the mist before the morning sun. Never again would Cordova be called the "Bride of Andalusia." Eight years after the death of Almanzor anarchy and ruin reigned in that city. The gentle, studious youth who was Khalif, was dragged with his only child to a dismal vault attached to the great mosque; and here, in darkness and cold and damp, sat the grandson of the first Great Khalif, his child clinging to his breast and begging in vain for food, his wretched father pathetically pleading with his jailers for just a crust of bread, and a candle to relieve the awful darkness.