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History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella V1
by William H. Prescott
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HISTORY OF THE REIGN OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA, THE CATHOLIC.

BY WILLIAM H. PRESCOTT.

IN THREE VOLUMES. VOL. I.



TO THE HONORABLE WILLIAM PRESCOTT, LL.D., THE GUIDE OF MY YOUTH, MY BEST FRIEND IN RIPER YEARS, THESE VOLUMES, WITH THE WARMEST FEELINGS OF FILIAL AFFECTION, ARE RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED.



PREFACE

TO THE FIRST EDITION.

English writers have done more for the illustration of Spanish history, than for that of any other except their own. To say nothing of the recent general compendium, executed for the "Cabinet Cyclopaedia," a work of singular acuteness and information, we have particular narratives of the several reigns, in an unbroken series, from the emperor Charles the Fifth (the First of Spain) to Charles the Third, at the close of the last century, by authors whose names are a sufficient guaranty for the excellence of their productions. It is singular, that, with this attention to the modern history of the Peninsula, there should be no particular account of the period which may be considered as the proper basis of it,— the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella.

In this reign, the several States, into which the country had been broken up for ages, were brought under a common rule; the kingdom of Naples was conquered; America discovered and colonized; the ancient empire of the Spanish Arabs subverted; the dread tribunal of the Modern Inquisition established; the Jews, who contributed so sensibly to the wealth and civilization of the country, were banished; and, in fine, such changes were introduced into the interior administration of the monarchy, as have left a permanent impression on the character and condition of the nation.

The actors in these events were every way suited to their importance. Besides the reigning sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella, the latter certainly one of the most interesting personages in history, we have, in political affairs, that consummate statesman, Cardinal Ximenes, in military, the "Great Captain," Gonsalvo de Cordova, and in maritime, the most successful navigator of any age, Christopher Columbus; whose entire biographies fall within the limits of this period. Even such portions of it as have been incidentally touched by English writers, as the Italian wars, for example, have been drawn so exclusively from French and Italian sources, that they may be said to be untrodden ground for the historian of Spain. [1]

It must be admitted, however, that an account of this reign could not have been undertaken at any preceding period, with anything like the advantages at present afforded; owing to the light which recent researches of Spanish scholars, in the greater freedom of inquiry now enjoyed, have shed on some of its most interesting and least familiar features. The most important of the works to which I allude are, the History of the Inquisition, from official documents, by its secretary, Llorente; the analysis of the political institutions of the kingdom, by such writers as Marina, Sempere, and Capmany; the literal version, now made for the first time, of the Spanish-Arab chronicles, by Conde; the collection of original and unpublished documents, illustrating the history of Columbus and the early Castilian navigators, by Navarrete; and, lastly, the copious illustrations of Isabella's reign, by Clemencin, the late lamented secretary of the Royal Academy of History, forming the sixth volume of its valuable Memoirs.

It was the knowledge of these facilities for doing justice to this subject, as well as its intrinsic merits, which led me, ten years since, to select it; and surely no subject could be found more suitable for the pen of an American, than a history of that reign, under the auspices of which the existence of his own favored quarter of the globe was first revealed. As I was conscious that the value of the history must depend mainly on that of its materials, I have spared neither pains nor expense, from the first, in collecting the most authentic. In accomplishing this, I must acknowledge the services of my friends, Mr. Alexander H. Everett, then minister plenipotentiary from the United States to the court of Madrid, Mr. Arthur Middleton, secretary of the American legation, and, above all, Mr. O. Rich, now American consul for the Balearic Islands, a gentleman, whose extensive bibliographical knowledge, and unwearied researches, during a long residence in the Peninsula, have been liberally employed for the benefit both of his own country and of England. With such assistance, I flatter myself that I have been enabled to secure whatever can materially conduce to the illustration of the period in question, whether in the form of chronicle, memoir, private correspondence, legal codes, or official documents. Among these are various contemporary manuscripts, covering the whole ground of the narrative, none of which have been printed, and some of them but little known to Spanish scholars. In obtaining copies of these from the public libraries, I must add, that I have found facilities under the present liberal government, which were denied me under the preceding. In addition to these sources of information, I have availed myself, in the part of the work occupied with literary criticism and history, of the library of my friend, Mr. George Ticknor, who during a visit to Spain, some years since, collected whatever was rare and valuable in the literature of the Peninsula. I must further acknowledge my obligations to the library of Harvard University, in Cambridge, from whose rich repository of books relating to our own country I have derived material aid. And, lastly, I must not omit to notice the favors of another kind for which I am indebted to my friend, Mr. William H. Gardiner, whose judicious counsels have been of essential benefit to me in the revision of my labors.

In the plan of the work, I have not limited myself to a strict chronological narrative of passing events, but have occasionally paused, at the expense, perhaps, of some interest in the story, to seek such collateral information as might bring these events into a clearer view. I have devoted a liberal portion of the work to the literary progress of the nation, conceiving this quite as essential a part of its history as civil and military details. I have occasionally introduced, at the close of the chapters, a critical notice of the authorities used, that the reader may form some estimate of their comparative value and credibility. Finally, I have endeavored to present him with such an account of the state of affairs, both before the accession, and at the demise of the Catholic sovereigns, as might afford him the best points of view for surveying the entire results of their reign.

How far I have succeeded in the execution of this plan, must be left to the reader's candid judgment. Many errors he may be able to detect. Sure I am, there can be no one more sensible of my deficiencies than myself; although it was not till after practical experience, that I could fully estimate the difficulty of obtaining anything like a faithful portraiture of a distant age, amidst the shifting hues and perplexing cross lights of historic testimony. From one class of errors my subject necessarily exempts me; those founded on national or party feeling. I may have been more open to another fault; that of too strong a bias in favor of my principal actors; for characters, noble and interesting in themselves, naturally beget a sort of partiality akin to friendship, in the historian's mind, accustomed to the daily contemplation of them. Whatever defects may be charged on the work, I can at least assure myself, that it is an honest record of a reign important in itself, new to the reader in an English dress, and resting on a solid basis of authentic materials, such as probably could not be met with out of Spain, nor in it without much difficulty.

I hope I shall be acquitted of egotism, although I add a few words respecting the peculiar embarrassments I have encountered, in composing these volumes. Soon after my arrangements were made, early in 1826, for obtaining the necessary materials from Madrid, I was deprived of the use of my eyes for all purposes of reading and writing, and had no prospect of again recovering it. This was a serious obstacle to the prosecution of a work requiring the perusal of a large mass of authorities, in various languages, the contents of which were to be carefully collated, and transferred to my own pages, verified by minute reference. [2] Thus shut out from one sense, I was driven to rely exclusively on another, and to make the ear do the work of the eye. With the assistance of a reader, uninitiated, it may be added, in any modern language but his own, I worked my way through several venerable Castilian quartos, until I was satisfied of the practicability of the undertaking. I next procured the services of one more competent to aid me in pursuing my historical inquiries. The process was slow and irksome enough, doubtless, to both parties, at least till my ear was accommodated to foreign sounds, and an antiquated, oftentimes barbarous phraseology, when my progress became more sensible, and I was cheered with the prospect of success. It certainly would have been a far more serious misfortune, to be led thus blindfold through the pleasant paths of literature; but my track stretched, for the most part, across dreary wastes, where no beauty lurked, to arrest the traveller's eye and charm his senses. After persevering in this course for some years, my eyes, by the blessing of Providence, recovered sufficient strength to allow me to use them, with tolerable freedom, in the prosecution of my labors, and in the revision of all previously written. I hope I shall not be misunderstood, as stating these circumstances to deprecate the severity of criticism, since I am inclined to think the greater circumspection I have been compelled to use has left me, on the whole, less exposed to inaccuracies, than I should have been in the ordinary mode of composition. But, as I reflect on the many sober hours I have passed in wading through black letter tomes, and through manuscripts whose doubtful orthography and defiance of all punctuation were so many stumbling-blocks to my amanuensis, it calls up a scene of whimsical distresses, not usually encountered, on which the good-natured reader may, perhaps, allow I have some right, now that I have got the better of them, to dwell with satisfaction.

I will only remark, in conclusion of this too prolix discussion about myself, that while making my tortoise-like progress, I saw what I had fondly looked upon as my own ground, (having indeed lain unmolested by any other invader for so many ages,) suddenly entered, and in part occupied, by one of my countrymen. I allude to Mr. Irving's "History of Columbus," and "Chronicle of Granada;" the subjects of which, although covering but a small part of my whole plan, form certainly two of its most brilliant portions. Now, alas! if not devoid of interest, they are, at least, stripped of the charm of novelty. For what eye has not been attracted to the spot on which the light of that writer's genius has fallen?

I cannot quit the subject which has so long occupied me, without one glance at the present unhappy condition of Spain; who, shorn of her ancient splendor, humbled by the loss of empire abroad, and credit at home, is abandoned to all the evils of anarchy. Yet, deplorable as this condition is, it is not so bad as the lethargy in which she has been sunk for ages. Better be hurried forward for a season on the wings of the tempest, than stagnate in a deathlike calm, fatal alike to intellectual and moral progress. The crisis of a revolution, when old things are passing away, and new ones are not yet established, is, indeed, fearful. Even the immediate consequences of its achievement are scarcely less so to a people who have yet to learn by experiment the precise form of institutions best suited to their wants, and to accommodate their character to these institutions. Such results must come with time, however, if the nation be but true to itself. And that they will come, sooner or later, to the Spaniards, surely no one can distrust who is at all conversant with their earlier history, and has witnessed the examples it affords of heroic virtue, devoted patriotism, and generous love of freedom;

"Che l'antico valore ——non e ancor morto."

Clouds and darkness have, indeed, settled thick around the throne of the youthful Isabella; but not a deeper darkness than that which covered the land in the first years of her illustrious namesake; and we may humbly trust, that the same Providence, which guided her reign to so prosperous a termination, may carry the nation safe through its present perils, and secure to it the greatest of earthly blessings, civil and religious liberty.

November, 1837.

FOOTNOTES

[1] The only histories of this reign by continental writers, with which I am acquainted, are the "Histoire des Rois Catholiques Ferdinand et Isabelle, par l'Abbe Mignot, Paris, 1766," and the "Geschichte der Regierung Ferdinand des Katholischen, von Rupert Becker, Prag und Leipzig, 1790." Their authors have employed the most accessible materials only in the compilation; and, indeed, they lay claim to no great research, which would seem to be precluded by the extent of their works, in neither instance exceeding two volumes duodecimo. They have the merit of exhibiting, in a simple, perspicuous form, those events, which, lying on the surface, may be found more or less expanded in moat general histories.

[2] "To compile a history from various authors, when they can only be consulted by other eyes, is not easy, nor possible, but with more skilful and attentive help than can be commonly obtained." [Johnson's Life of Milton.] This remark of the great critic, which first engaged my attention in the midst of my embarrassments, although discouraging at first, in the end stimulated the desire to overcome them.



PREFACE

TO THE THIRD ENGLISH EDITION.

Since the publication of the First Edition of this work, it has undergone a careful revision; and this, aided by the communications of several intelligent friends, who have taken an interest in its success, has enabled me to correct several verbal inaccuracies, and a few typographical errors, which had been previously overlooked. While the Second Edition was passing through the press, I received, also, copies of two valuable Spanish works, having relation to the reign of the Catholic sovereigns, but which, as they appeared during the recent troubles of the Peninsula, had not before come to my knowledge. For these I am indebted to the politeness of Don Angel Calderon de la Barca, late Spanish Minister at Washington; a gentleman, whose frank and liberal manners, personal accomplishments, and independent conduct in public life, have secured for him deservedly high consideration in the United States, as well as in his own country.

I must still further acknowledge my obligation to Don Pascual de Gayangos, the learned author of the "Mahommedan Dynasties in Spain," recently published in London,—a work, which, from its thorough investigation of original sources, and fine spirit of criticism, must supply, what has been so long felt as an important desideratum with the student,—the means of forming a perfect acquaintance with the Arabian portion of the Peninsular annals. There fell into the hands of this gentleman, on the breaking up of the convents of Saragossa in 1835, a rich collection of original documents, comprehending, among other things, the autograph correspondence of Ferdinand and Isabella, and of the principal persons of their court. It formed, probably, part of the library of Geronimo Zurita,—historiographer of Aragon, under Philip the Second,—who, by virtue of his office, was intrusted with whatever documents could illustrate the history of the country. This rare collection was left at his death to a monastery in his native city. Although Zurita is one of the principal authorities for the present work, there are many details of interest in this correspondence, which have passed unnoticed by him, although forming the basis of his conclusions; and I have gladly availed myself of the liberality and great kindness of Senor de Gayangos, who has placed these manuscripts at my disposal, transcribing such as I have selected, for the corroboration and further illustration of my work. The difficulties attending this labor of love will be better appreciated, when it is understood, that the original writing is in an antiquated character, which few Spanish scholars of the present day could comprehend, and often in cipher, which requires much patience and ingenuity to explain. With these various emendations, it is hoped that the present Edition may be found more deserving of that favor from the public, which has been so courteously accorded to the preceding.

March, 1841.



CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.

INTRODUCTION.

SECTION I. VIEW OF THE CASTILIAN MONARCHY BEFORE THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY. STATE OF SPAIN AT THE MIDDLE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY EARLY HISTORY AND CONSTITUTION OF CASTILE THE VISIGOTHS INVASION OF THE ARABS ITS INFLUENCE ON THE CONDITION OF THE SPANIARDS CAUSES OF THEIR SLOW RECONQUEST OF THE COUNTRY THEIR ULTIMATE SUCCESS CERTAIN THEIR RELIGIOUS ENTHUSIASM INFLUENCE OF THEIR MINSTRELSY THEIR CHARITY TO THE INFIDEL THEIR CHIVALRY EARLY IMPORTANCE OF THE CASTILIAN TOWNS THEIR PRIVILEGES CASTILIAN CORTES ITS GREAT POWERS ITS BOLDNESS HERMANDADES OF CASTILE WEALTH OF THE CITIES PERIOD OF THE HIGHEST POWER OF THE COMMONS THE NOBILITY THEIR PRIVILEGES THEIR GREAT WEALTH THEIR TURBULENT SPIRIT THE CAVALLEROS OR KNIGHTS THE CLERGY INFLUENCE OF THE PAPAL COURT CORRUPTION OP THE CLERGY THEIR RICH POSSESSIONS LIMITED EXTENT OF THE ROYAL PREROGATIVE POVERTY OF THE CROWN ITS CAUSES ANECDOTE OF HENRY III., OF CASTILE CONSTITUTIONAL WRITERS ON CASTILE CONSTITUTION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY NOTICE OF MARINA AND SEMPERE

SECTION II. REVIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION OF ARAGON TO THE MIDDLE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY. RISE OF ARAGON FOREIGN CONQUESTS CODE OF SOPRARBE THE RICOS HOMBRES THEIR IMMUNITIES THEIR TURBULENCE PRIVILEGES OF UNION THEIR ABROGATION THE LEGISLATURE OF ARAGON ITS FORMS OF PROCEEDING ITS POWERS THE GENERAL PRIVILEGE JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS OF CORTES PREPONDERANCE OF THE COMMONS THE JUSTICE OF ARAGON HIS GREAT AUTHORITY SECURITY AGAINST ITS ABUSE INDEPENDENT EXECUTION OF IT VALENCIA AND CATALONIA RISE AND OPULENCE OF BARCELONA HER FREE INSTITUTIONS HAUGHTY SPIRIT OF THE CATALANS INTELLECTUAL CULTURE POETICAL ACADEMY OF TORTOSA BRIEF GLORY OF THE LIMOUSIN CONSTITUTIONAL WRITERS ON ARAGON NOTICES OF BLANCAS, MARTEL, AND CAPMANY

PART FIRST.

THE PERIOD WHEN THE DIFFERENT KINGDOMS OF SPAIN WERE FIRST UNITED UNDER ONE MONARCHY, AND A THOROUGH REFORM WAS INTRODUCED INTO THEIR INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION; OR THE PERIOD EXHIBITING MOST FULLY THE DOMESTIC POLICY OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA.

CHAPTER I. STATE OF CASTILE AT THE BIRTH OF ISABELLA.—REIGN OF JOHN II., OF CASTILE. REVOLUTION OF TRASTAMARA ACCESSION OF JOHN II. RISE OF ALVARO DE LUNA JEALOUSY OF THE NOBLES OPPRESSION OF THE COMMONS ITS CONSEQUENCES EARLY LITERATURE OF CASTILE ITS ENCOURAGEMENT UNDER JOHN II. MARQUIS OF VILLENA MARQUIS OF SANTILLANA JOHN DE MENA HIS INFLUENCE BAENA'S CANCIONERO CASTILIAN LITERATURE UNDER JOHN II DECLINE OF ALVARO DE LUNA HIS FALL HIS DEATH LAMENTED BY JOHN DEATH OF JOHN II BIRTH OF ISABELLA

CHAPTER II. CONDITION OF ARAGON DURING THE MINORITY OF FERDINAND.—REIGN OF JOHN II., OF ARAGON. JOHN OF ARAGON TITLE OF HIS SON CARLOS TO NAVARRE HE TAKES ARMS AGAINST HIS FATHER IS DEFEATED BIRTH OF FERDINAND CARLOS RETIRES TO NAPLES HE PASSES INTO SICILY JOHN II. SUCCEEDS TO THE CROWN OF ARAGON CARLOS RECONCILED WITH HIS FATHER IS IMPRISONED INSURRECTION OF THE CATALANS CARLOS RELEASED HIS DEATH HIS CHARACTER TRAGICAL STORY OF BLANCHE FERDINAND SWORN HEIR TO THE CROWN BESIEGED BY THE CATALANS IN GERONA TREATY BETWEEN FRANCE AND ARAGON GENERAL REVOLT IN CATALONIA SUCCESSES OF JOHN CROWN OF CATALONIA OFFERED TO RENE OF ANJOU DISTRESS AND EMBARRASSMENTS OF JOHN POPULARITY OF THE DUKE OF LORRAINE DEATH OF THE QUEEN OF ARAGON IMPROVEMENT IN JOHN'S AFFAIRS SIEGE OF BARCELONA IT SURRENDERS

CHAPTER III. REIGN OF HENRY IV., OF CASTILE.—CIVIL WAR.—MARRIAGE OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA. POPULARITY OF HENRY IV HE DISAPPOINTS EXPECTATIONS HIS DISSOLUTE HABITS OPPRESSION OF THE PEOPLE DEBASEMENT OF THE COIN CHARACTER OF PACHECO, MARQUIS OF VILLENA CHARACTER OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF TOLEDO INTERVIEW BETWEEN HENRY IV. AND LOUIS XI DISGRACE OF VILLENA AND THE ARCHBISHOP OF TOLEDO LEAGUE OF THE NOBLES DEPOSITION OF HENRY AT AVILA DIVISION OF PARTIES INTRIGUES OF THE MARQUIS OF VILLENA HENRY DISBANDS HIS FORCES PROPOSITION FOR THE MARRIAGE OF ISABELLA HER EARLY EDUCATION PROJECTED UNION WITH THE GRAND MASTER OF CALATRAVA HIS SUDDEN DEATH BATTLE OF OLMEDO CIVIL ANARCHY DEATH AND CHARACTER OF ALFONSO HIS REIGN A USURPATION THE CROWN OFFERED TO ISABELLA SHE DECLINES IT TREATY BETWEEN HENRY AND THE CONFEDERATES ISABELLA ACKNOWLEDGED HEIR TO THE CROWN AT TOROS DE GUISANDO SUITORS TO ISABELLA FERDINAND OF ARAGON SUPPORT OF JOANNA BELTRANEJA PROPOSAL OF THE KING OF PORTUGAL REJECTED BY ISABELLA SHE ACCEPTS FERDINAND ARTICLES OF MARRIAGE CRITICAL SITUATION OF ISABELLA FERDINAND ENTERS CASTILE PRIVATE INTERVIEW BETWEEN FERDINAND AND ISABELLA THEIR MARRIAGE NOTICE OF THE QUINCUAGENAS OF OVIEDO

CHAPTER IV. FACTIONS IN CASTILE.—WAR BETWEEN FRANCE AND ARAGON.—DEATH OF HENRY IV., OF CASTILE. FACTIONS IN CASTILE FERDINAND AND ISABELLA CIVIL ANARCHY REVOLT OF ROUSSILLON FROM LOUIS XI. GALLANT DEFENCE OF PERPIGNAN FERDINAND RAISES THE SIEGE TREATY BETWEEN FRANCE AND ARAGON ISABELLA'S PARTY GAINS STRENGTH INTERVIEW BETWEEN HENRY IV. AND ISABELLA AT SEGOVIA SECOND FRENCH INVASION OF ROUSSILLON FERDINAND'S SUMMARY EXECUTION OF JUSTICE SIEGE AND REDUCTION OF PERPIGNAN PERFIDY OF LOUIS XI. ILLNESS OF HENRY IV., OF CASTILE HIS DEATH INFLUENCE OF HIS REIGN NOTICE OF ALONSO DE PALENCIA NOTICE OF ENRIQUEZ DE CASTILLO

CHAPTER V. ACCESSION OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA.—WAR OF THE SUCCESSION.—BATTLE OF TORO. TITLE OF ISABELLA SHE IS PROCLAIMED QUEEN SETTLEMENT OF THE CROWN PARTISANS OF JOANNA ALFONSO OF PORTUGAL SUPPORTS HER CAUSE HE INVADES CASTILE HE ESPOUSES JOANNA CASTILIAN ARMY FERDINAND MARCHES AGAINST ALFONSO HE CHALLENGES HIM TO PERSONAL COMBAT DISORDERLY RETREAT OF THE CASTILIANS APPROPRIATION OF THE CHURCH PLATE REORGANIZATION OF THE ARMY KING OF PORTUGAL ARRIVES BEFORE ZAMORA ABSURD POSITION HE SUDDENLY DECAMPS OVERTAKEN BY FERDINAND BATTLE OF TORO THE PORTUGUESE ROUTED ISABELLA'S THANKSGIVING FOR THE VICTORY SUBMISSION OF THE WHOLE KINGDOM THE KING OF PORTUGAL VISITS FRANCE RETURNS TO PORTUGAL PEACE WITH FRANCE ACTIVE MEASURES OF ISABELLA TREATY OF PEACE WITH PORTUGAL JOANNA TAKES THE VEIL DEATH OF THE KING OF PORTUGAL DEATH OF THE KING OF ARAGON

CHAPTER VI. INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION OF CASTILE. SCHEME OF REFORM FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF CASTILE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HERMANDAD CODE OF THE HERMANDAD INEFFECTUAL OPPOSITION OF THE NOBILITY TUMULT AT SEGOVIA ISABELLA'S PRESENCE OF MIND ISABELLA VISITS SEVILLE HER SPLENDID RECEPTION THERE SEVERE EXECUTION OF JUSTICE MARQUIS OF CADIZ AND DUKE OF MEDINA SIDONIA ROYAL PROGRESS THROUGH ANDALUSIA IMPARTIAL EXECUTION OP THE LAWS REORGANIZATION OP THE TRIBUNALS KING AND QUEEN PRESIDE IN COURTS OF JUSTICE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF ORDER REFORM OF THE JURISPRUDENCE CODE OF ORDENANCAS REALES SCHEMES FOR REDUCING THE NOBILITY REVOCATION OF THE ROYAL GRANTS LEGISLATIVE ENACTMENTS THE QUEEN'S SPIRITED CONDUCT TO THE NOBILITY MILITARY ORDERS OF CASTILE ORDER OF ST. JAGO ORDER OF CALATRAVA ORDER OF ALCANTARA GRAND-MASTERSHIPS ANNEXED TO THE CROWN THEIR REFORMATION USURPATIONS OF THE CHURCH RESISTED BY CORTES DIFFERENCE WITH THE POPE RESTORATION OF TRADE SALUTARY ENACTMENTS OF CORTES PROSPERITY OF THE KINGDOM NOTICE OF CLEMENCIN

CHAPTER VII. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MODERN INQUISITION. ORIGIN OF THE ANCIENT INQUISITION ITS INTRODUCTION INTO ARAGON RETROSPECTIVE VIEW OF THE JEWS IN SPAIN UNDER THE ARABS UNDER THE CASTILIANS PERSECUTION OF THE JEWS THEIR STATE AT THE ACCESSION OF ISABELLA CHARGES AGAINST THEM BIGOTRY OF THE AGE ITS INFLUENCE ON ISABELLA CHARACTER OF HER CONFESSOR, TORQUEMADA PAPAL BULL AUTHORIZING THE INQUISITION ISABELLA RESORTS TO MILDER MEASURES ENFORCES THE PAPAL BULL INQUISITION AT SEVILLE PROOFS OF JUDAISM THE SANGUINARY PROCEEDINGS OF THE INQUISITORS CONDUCT OF THE PAPAL COURT FINAL ORGANIZATION OF THE INQUISITION FORMS OF TRIAL TORTURE INJUSTICE OF ITS PROCEEDINGS AUTOS DA FE CONVICTIONS UNDER TORQUEMADA PERFIDIOUS POLICY OF ROME NOTICE OF LLORENTE'S HISTORY OF THE INQUISITION

CHAPTER VIII.

REVIEW OF THE POLITICAL AND INTELLECTUAL CONDITION OF THE SPANISH ARABS PREVIOUS TO THE WAR OF GRANADA. EARLY SUCCESSES OF MAHOMETANISM CONQUEST OF SPAIN WESTERN CALIPHATE FORM OF GOVERNMENT CHARACTER OF THE SOVEREIGNS MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT SUMPTUOUS PUBLIC WORKS GREAT MOSQUE OF CORDOVA REVENUES MINERAL WEALTH OF SPAIN HUSBANDRY AND MANUFACTURES POPULATION CHARACTER OF ALHAKEM II. INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT DISMEMBERMENT OF THE CORDOVAN EMPIRE KINGDOM OF GRANADA AGRICULTURE AND COMMERCE RESOURCES OF THE CROWN LUXURIOUS CHARACTER OF THE PEOPLE MOORISH GALLANTRY CHIVALRY UNSETTLED STATE OF GRANADA CAUSES OF HER SUCCESSFUL RESISTANCE LITERATURE OF THE SPANISH ARABS CIRCUMSTANCES FAVORABLE TO IT PROVISIONS FOR LEARNING THE ACTUAL RESULTS AVERROES THEIR HISTORICAL MERITS USEFUL DISCOVERIES THE IMPULSE GIVEN BY THEM TO EUROPE THEIR ELEGANT LITERATURE POETICAL CHARACTER INFLUENCE ON THE CASTILIAN CIRCUMSTANCES PREJUDICIAL TO THEIR REPUTATION NOTICES OF CASIRI, CONDE, AND CARDONNE

CHAPTER IX. WAR OF GRANADA.—SURPRISE OF ZAHARA.—CAPTURE OF ALHAMA. ZAHARA SURPRISED BY THE MOORS DESCRIPTION OF ALHAMA THE MARQUIS OF CADIZ HIS EXPEDITION AGAINST ALHAMA SURPRISE OF THE FORTRESS VALOR OF THE CITIZENS SALLY UPON THE MOORS DESPERATE COMBAT FALL OF ALHAMA CONSTERNATION OF THE MOORS THE MOORS BESIEGE ALHAMA DISTRESS OF THE GARRISON THE DUKE OF MEDINA SIDONIA MARCHES TO RELIEVE ALHAMA RAISES THE SIEGE MEETING OF THE TWO ARMIES THE SOVEREIGNS AT CORDOVA ALHAMA INVESTED AGAIN BY THE MOORS ISABELLA'S FIRMNESS FERDINAND RAISES THE SIEGE VIGOROUS MEASURES OF THE QUEEN

CHAPTER X. WAR OF GRANADA.—UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPT ON LOJA.—DEFEAT IN THE AXARQUIA. SIEGE OF LOJA CASTILIAN FORCES ENCAMPMENT BEFORE LOJA SKIRMISH WITH THE ENEMY RETREAT OF THE SPANIARDS REVOLUTION IN GRANADA DEATH OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF TOLEDO AFFAIRS OF ITALY OF NAVARRE RESOURCES OF THE CROWN JUSTICE OF THE SOVEREIGNS EXPEDITION TO THE AXARQUIA THE MILITARY ARRAY PROGRESS OF THE ARMY MOORISH PREPARATIONS SKIRMISH AMONG THE MOUNTAINS RETREAT OF THE SPANIARDS THEIR DISASTROUS SITUATION THEY RESOLVE TO FORCE A PASSAGE DIFFICULTIES OF THE ASCENT DREADFUL SLAUGHTER MARQUIS OF CADIZ ESCAPES LOSSES OF THE CHRISTIANS

CHAPTER XI. WAR OF GRANADA.—GENERAL VIEW OF THE POLICY PURSUED IN THE CONDUCT OF THIS WAR. ABDALLAH MARCHES AGAINST THE CHRISTIANS ILL OMENS MARCHES ON LUCENA BATTLE OF LUCENA CAPTURE OF ABDALLAH LOSSES OF THE MOORS MOORISH EMBASSY TO CORDOVA DEBATES IN THE SPANISH COUNCIL TREATY WITH ABDALLAH INTERVIEW BETWEEN THE TWO KINGS GENERAL POLICY OF THE WAR INCESSANT HOSTILITIES DEVASTATING FORAYS STRENGTH OF THE MOORISH FORTRESSES DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECES OF THE KINDS OF AMMUNITION ROADS FOR THE ARTILLERY DEFENCES OF THE MOORS TERMS TO THE VANQUISHED SUPPLIES FOR THE ARMY ISABELLA'S CARE OF THE TROOPS HER PERSEVERANCE IN THE WAR POLICY TOWARDS THE NOBLES COMPOSITION OF THE ARMY SWISS MERCENARIES THE ENGLISH LORD SCALES THE QUEEN'S COURTESY MAGNIFICENCE OF THE NOBLES THEIR GALLANTRY ISABELLA VISITS THE CAMP ROYAL COSTUME DEVOUT DEMEANOR OF THE SOVEREIGNS CEREMONIES ON THE OCCUPATION OF A CITY RELEASE OF CHRISTIAN CAPTIVES POLICY IN FOMENTING THE MOORISH FACTIONS CHRISTIAN CONQUESTS NOTICE OF FERNANDO DEL PULGAR NOTICE OF ANTONIO DE LEBRIJA



INTRODUCTION.

SECTION I.

VIEW OF THE CASTILIAN MONARCHY BEFORE THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.

Early History and Constitution of Castile.—Invasion of the Arabs.—Slow Reconquest of the Country.—Religious Enthusiasm of the Spaniards.— Influence of their Minstrelsy.—Their Chivalry.—Castilian Towns.— Cortes.—Its Powers.—Its Boldness.—Wealth of the Cities.—The Nobility. —Their Privileges and Wealth.—Knights.—Clergy.—Poverty of the Crown.— Limited Extent of the Prerogative.

For several hundred years after the great Saracen invasion in the beginning of the eighth century, Spain was broken up into a number of small but independent states, divided in their interests, and often in deadly hostility with one another. It was inhabited by races, the most dissimilar in their origin, religion, and government, the least important of which has exerted a sensible influence on the character and institutions of its present inhabitants. At the close of the fifteenth century, these various races were blended into one great nation, under one common rule. Its territorial limits were widely extended by discovery and conquest. Its domestic institutions, and even its literature, were moulded into the form, which, to a considerable extent, they have maintained to the present day. It is the object of the present narrative to exhibit the period in which these momentous results were effected,—the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella.

By the middle of the fifteenth century, the number of states, into which the country had been divided, was reduced to four; Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and the Moorish kingdom of Granada. The last, comprised within nearly the same limits as the modern province of that name, was all that remained to the Moslems of their once vast possessions in the Peninsula. Its concentrated population gave it a degree of strength altogether disproportioned to the extent of its territory; and the profuse magnificence of its court, which rivalled that of the ancient caliphs, was supported by the labors of a sober, industrious people, under whom agriculture and several of the mechanic arts had reached a degree of excellence, probably unequalled in any other part of Europe during the Middle Ages.

The little kingdom of Navarre, embosomed within the Pyrenees, had often attracted the avarice of neighboring and more powerful states. But, since their selfish schemes operated as a mutual check upon each other, Navarre still continued to maintain her independence, when all the smaller states in the Peninsula had been absorbed in the gradually increasing dominion of Castile and Aragon.

This latter kingdom comprehended the province of that name, together with Catalonia and Valencia. Under its auspicious climate and free political institutions, its inhabitants displayed an uncommon share of intellectual and moral energy. Its long line of coast opened the way to an extensive and flourishing commerce; and its enterprising navy indemnified the nation for the scantiness of its territory at home, by the important foreign conquests of Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, and the Balearic Isles.

The remaining provinces of Leon, Biscay, the Asturias, Galicia, Old and New Castile, Estremadura, Murcia, and Andalusia, fell to the crown of Castile, which, thus extending its sway over an unbroken line of country from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, seemed by the magnitude, of its territory, as well as by its antiquity, (for it was there that the old Gothic monarchy may be said to have first revived after the great Saracen invasion,) to be entitled to a pre-eminence over the other states of the Peninsula. This claim, indeed, appears to have been recognized at an early period of her history. Aragon did homage to Castile for her territory on the western bank of the Ebro, until the twelfth century, as did Navarre, Portugal, and, at a later period, the Moorish kingdom of Granada. [1] And, when at length the various states of Spain were consolidated into one monarchy, the capital of Castile became the capital of the new empire, and her language the language of the court and of literature.

It will facilitate our inquiry into the circumstances which immediately led to these results, if we briefly glance at the prominent features in the early history and constitution of the two principal Christian states, Castile and Aragon, previous to the fifteenth century. [2]

The Visigoths who overran the Peninsula, in the fifth century, brought with them the same liberal principles of government which distinguished their Teutonic brethren. Their crown was declared elective by a formal legislative act. [3] Laws were enacted in the great national councils, composed of prelates and nobility, and not unfrequently ratified in an assembly of the people. Their code of jurisprudence, although abounding in frivolous detail, contained many admirable provisions for the security of justice; and, in the degree of civil liberty which it accorded to the Roman inhabitants of the country, far transcended those of most of the other barbarians of the north. [4] In short, their simple polity exhibited the germ of some of those institutions, which, with other nations, and under happier auspices, have formed the basis of a well-regulated constitutional liberty. [5]

But, while in other countries the principles of a free government were slowly and gradually unfolded, their development was much accelerated in Spain by an event, which, at the time, seemed to threaten their total extinction,—the great Saracen invasion at the beginning of the eighth century. The religious, as well as the political institutions of the Arabs, were too dissimilar to those of the conquered nation, to allow the former to exercise any very sensible influence over the latter in these particulars. In the Spirit of toleration, which distinguished the early followers of Mahomet, they conceded to such of the Goths, as were willing to continue among them after the conquest, the free enjoyment of their religious, as well as of many of the civil privileges which they possessed under the ancient monarchy. [6] Under this liberal dispensation it cannot be doubted, that many preferred remaining in the pleasant regions of their ancestors, to quitting them for a life of poverty and toil. These, however, appear to have been chiefly of the lower order; [7] and the men of higher rank, or of more generous sentiments, who refused to accept a nominal and precarious independence at the hands of their oppressors, escaped from the overwhelming inundation into the neighboring countries of France, Italy, and Britain, or retreated behind those natural fortresses of the north, the Asturian hills and the Pyrenees, whither the victorious Saracen disdained to pursue them. [8]

Here the broken remnant of the nation endeavored to revive the forms, at least, of the ancient government. But it may well be conceived, how imperfect these must have been under a calamity, which, breaking up all the artificial distinctions of society, seemed to resolve it at once into its primitive equality. The monarch, once master of the whole Peninsula, now beheld his empire contracted to a few barren, inhospitable rocks. The noble, instead of the broad lands and thronged halls of his ancestors, saw himself at best but the chief of some wandering horde, seeking a doubtful subsistence, like himself, by rapine. The peasantry, indeed, may be said to have gained by the exchange; and, in a situation, in which all factitious distinctions were of less worth than individual prowess and efficiency, they rose in political consequence. Even slavery, a sore evil among the Visigoths, as indeed among all the barbarians of German origin, though not effaced, lost many of its most revolting features, under the more generous legislation of later times. [9]

A sensible and salutary influence, at the same time, was exerted on the moral energies of the nation, which had been corrupted in the long enjoyment of uninterrupted prosperity. Indeed, so relaxed were the morals of the court, as well as of the clergy, and so enervated had all classes become, in the general diffusion of luxury, that some authors have not scrupled to refer to these causes principally the perdition of the Gothic monarchy. An entire reformation in these habits was necessarily effected in a situation, where a scanty subsistence could only be earned by a life of extreme temperance and toil, and where it was often to be sought, sword in hand, from an enemy far superior in numbers. Whatever may have been the vices of the Spaniards, they cannot have been those of effeminate sloth. Thus a sober, hardy, and independent race was gradually formed, prepared to assert their ancient inheritance, and to lay the foundations of far more liberal and equitable forms of government, than were known to their ancestors.

At first, their progress was slow and almost imperceptible. The Saracens, indeed, reposing under the sunny skies of Andalusia, so congenial with their own, seemed willing to relinquish the sterile regions of the north to an enemy whom they despised. But, when the Spaniards, quitting the shelter of their mountains, descended into the open plains of Leon and Castile, they found themselves exposed to the predatory incursions of the Arab cavalry, who, sweeping over the face of the country, carried off in a single foray the hard-earned produce of a summer's toil. It was not until they had reached some natural boundary, as the river Douro, or the chain of the Guadarrama, that they were enabled, by constructing a line of fortifications along these primitive bulwarks, to secure their conquests, and oppose an effectual resistance to the destructive inroads of their enemies.

Their own dissensions were another cause of their tardy progress. The numerous petty states, which rose from the ruins of the ancient monarchy, seemed to regard each other with even a fiercer hatred than that with which they viewed the enemies of their faith; a circumstance that more than once brought the nation to the verge of ruin. More Christian blood was wasted in these national feuds, than in all their encounters with the infidel. The soldiers of Fernan Goncalez, a chieftain of the tenth century, complained that their master made them lead the life of very devils, keeping them in the harness day and night, in wars, not against the Saracens, but one another. [10]

These circumstances so far palsied the arm of the Christians, that a century and a half elapsed after the invasion, before they had penetrated to the Douro, [11] and nearly thrice that period before they had advanced the line of conquest to the Tagus, [12] notwithstanding this portion of the country had been comparatively deserted by the Mahometans. But it was easy to foresee that a people, living, as they did, under circumstances so well adapted to the development of both physical and moral energy, must ultimately prevail over a nation oppressed by despotism, and the effeminate indulgence, to which it was naturally disposed by a sensual religion and a voluptuous climate. In truth, the early Spaniard was urged by every motive that can give efficacy to human purpose. Pent up in his barren mountains, he beheld the pleasant valleys and fruitful vineyards of his ancestors delivered over to the spoiler, the holy places polluted by his abominable rites, and the crescent glittering on the domes, which were once consecrated by the venerated symbol of his faith. His cause became the cause of Heaven. The church published her bulls of crusade, offering liberal indulgences to those who served, and Paradise to those who fell in battle, against the infidel. The ancient Castilian was remarkable for his independent resistance of papal encroachment; but the peculiarity of his situation subjected him in an uncommon degree to ecclesiastical influence at home. Priests mingled in the council and the camp, and, arrayed in their sacerdotal robes, not unfrequently led the armies to battle. [13] They interpreted the will of Heaven as mysteriously revealed in dreams and visions. Miracles were a familiar occurrence. The violated tombs of the saints sent forth thunders and lightnings to consume the invaders; and, when the Christians fainted in the fight, the apparition of their patron, St. James, mounted on a milk-white steed, and bearing aloft the banner of the cross, was seen hovering in the air, to rally their broken squadrons, and lead them on to victory. [14] Thus the Spaniard looked upon himself as in a peculiar manner the care of Providence. For him the laws of nature were suspended. He was a soldier of the Cross, fighting not only for his country, but for Christendom. Indeed, volunteers from the remotest parts of Christendom eagerly thronged to serve under his banner; and the cause of religion was debated with the same ardor in Spain, as on the plains of Palestine. [15] Hence the national character became exalted by a religious fervor, which in later days, alas! settled into a fierce fanaticism. Hence that solicitude for the purity of the faith, the peculiar boast of the Spaniards, and that deep tinge of superstition, for which they have ever been distinguished above the other nations of Europe.

The long wars with the Mahometans served to keep alive in their bosoms the ardent glow of patriotism; and this was still further heightened by the body of traditional minstrelsy, which commemorated in these wars the heroic deeds of their ancestors. The influence of such popular compositions on a simple people is undeniable. A sagacious critic ventures to pronounce the poems of Homer the principal bond which united the Grecian states. [16] Such an opinion may be deemed somewhat extravagant. It cannot be doubted, however, that a poem like that of the "Cid," which appeared as early as the twelfth century, [17] by calling up the most inspiring national recollections in connection with their favorite hero, must have operated powerfully on the moral sensibilities of the people.

It is pleasing to observe, in the cordial spirit of these early effusions, little of the ferocious bigotry which sullied the character of the nation in after ages. [18] The Mahometans of this period far excelled their enemies in general refinement, and had carried some branches of intellectual culture to a height scarcely surpassed by Europeans in later times. The Christians, therefore, notwithstanding their political aversion to the Saracens, conceded to them a degree of respect, which subsided into feelings of a very different complexion, as they themselves rose in the scale of civilization. This sentiment of respect tempered the ferocity of a warfare, which, although sufficiently disastrous in its details, affords examples of a generous courtesy, that would do honor to the politest ages of Europe. [19] The Spanish Arabs were accomplished in all knightly exercises, and their natural fondness for magnificence, which shed a lustre over the rugged features of chivalry, easily communicated itself to the Christian cavaliers. In the intervals of peace, these latter frequented the courts of the Moorish princes, and mingled with their adversaries in the comparatively peaceful pleasures of the tourney, as in war they vied with them in feats of Quixotic gallantry. [20]

The nature of this warfare between two nations, inhabitants of the same country, yet so dissimilar in their religious and social institutions as to be almost the natural enemies of each other, was extremely favorable to the exhibition of the characteristic virtues of chivalry. The contiguity of the hostile parties afforded abundant opportunities for personal rencounter and bold romantic enterprise. Each nation had its regular military associations, who swore to devote their lives to the service of God and their country, in perpetual war against the infidel [21] The Spanish knight became the true hero of romance, wandering over his own land, and even into the remotest climes, in quest of adventures; and, as late as the fifteenth century, we find him in the courts of England and Burgundy, doing battle in honor of his mistress, and challenging general admiration by his uncommon personal intrepidity. [22] This romantic spirit lingered in Castile, long after the age of chivalry had become extinct in other parts of Europe, continuing to nourish itself on those illusions of fancy, which were at length dispelled by the caustic satire of Cervantes.

Thus patriotism, religious loyalty, and a proud sense of independence, founded on the consciousness of owing their possessions to their personal valor, became characteristic traits of the Castilians previously to the sixteenth century, when the oppressive policy and fanaticism of the Austrian dynasty contrived to throw into the shade these generous virtues. Glimpses of them, however, might long be discerned in the haughty bearing of the Castilian noble, and in that erect, high-minded peasantry, whom oppression has not yet been able wholly to subdue. [23]

To the extraordinary position, in which the nation was placed, may also be referred the liberal forms of its political institutions, as well as a more early development of them than took place in other countries of Europe. From the exposure of the Castilian towns to the predatory incursions of the Arabs, it became necessary, not only that they should be strongly fortified, but that every citizen should be trained to bear arms in their defence. An immense increase of consequence was given to the burgesses, who thus constituted the most effective part of the national militia. To this circumstance, as well as to the policy of inviting the settlement of frontier places by the grant of extraordinary privileges to the inhabitants, is to be imputed the early date, as well as liberal character, of the charters of community in Castile and Leon. [24] These, although varying a good deal in their details, generally conceded to the citizens the right of electing their own magistrates for the regulation of municipal affairs. Judges were appointed by this body for the administration of civil and criminal law, subject to an appeal to the royal tribunal. No person could be affected in life or property, except by a decision of this municipal court; and no cause while pending before it could be evoked thence into the superior tribunal. In order to secure the barriers of justice more effectually against the violence of power, so often superior to law in an imperfect state of society, it was provided in many of the charters that no nobles should be permitted to acquire real property within the limits of the community; that no fortress or palace should be erected by them there; that such as might reside within its territory, should be subject to its jurisdiction; and that any violence, offered by them to its inhabitants, might be forcibly resisted with impunity. Ample and inalienable funds were provided for the maintenance of the municipal functionaries, and for other public expenses. A large extent of circumjacent country, embracing frequently many towns and villages, was annexed to each city with the right of jurisdiction over it. All arbitrary tallages were commuted for a certain fixed and moderate rent. An officer was appointed by the crown to reside within each community, whose province it was to superintend the collection of this tribute, to maintain public order, and to be associated with the magistrates of each city in the command of the forces it was bound to contribute towards the national defence. Thus while the inhabitants of the great towns in other parts of Europe were languishing in feudal servitude, the members of the Castilian corporations, living under the protection of their own laws and magistrates in time of peace, and commanded by their own officers in war, were in full enjoyment of all the essential rights and privileges of freemen. [25]

It is true, that they were often convulsed by intestine feuds; that the laws were often loosely administered by incompetent judges; and that the exercise of so many important prerogatives of independent states inspired them with feelings of independence, which led to mutual rivalry, and sometimes to open collision. But with all this, long after similar immunities in the free cities of other countries, as Italy for example, [26] had been sacrificed to the violence of faction or the lust of power, those of the Castilian cities not only remained unimpaired, but seemed to acquire additional stability with age. This circumstance is chiefly imputable to the constancy of the national legislature, which, until the voice of liberty was stifled by a military despotism, was ever ready to interpose its protecting arm in defence of constitutional rights.

The earliest instance on record of popular representation in Castile occurred at Burgos, in 1169; [27] nearly a century antecedent to the celebrated Leicester parliament. Each city had but one vote, whatever might be the number of its representatives. A much greater irregularity, in regard to the number of cities required to send deputies to cortes on different occasions, prevailed in Castile, than ever existed in England; [28] though, previously to the fifteenth century, this does not seem to have proceeded from any design of infringing on the liberties of the people. The nomination of these was originally vested in the householders at large, but was afterwards confined to the municipalities; a most mischievous alteration, which subjected their election eventually to the corrupt influence of the crown. [29] They assembled in the same chamber with the higher orders of the nobility and clergy; but, on questions of moment, retired to deliberate by themselves. [30] After the transaction of other business, their own petitions were presented to the sovereign, and his assent gave them the validity of laws. The Castilian commons, by neglecting to make their money grants depend on correspondent concessions from the crown, relinquished that powerful check on its operations so beneficially exerted in the British parliament, but in vain contended for even there, till a much later period than that now under consideration. Whatever may have been the right of the nobility and clergy to attend in cortes, their sanction was not deemed essential to the validity of legislative acts; [31] for their presence was not even required in many assemblies of the nation which occurred in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. [32] The extraordinary power thus committed to the commons was, on the whole, unfavorable to their liberties. It deprived them of the sympathy and co-operation of the great orders of the state, whose authority alone could have enabled them to withstand the encroachments of arbitrary power, and who, in fact, did eventually desert them in their utmost need. [33]

But, notwithstanding these defects, the popular branch of the Castilian cortes, very soon after its admission into that body, assumed functions and exercised a degree of power on the whole superior to that enjoyed by it in other European legislatures. It was soon recognized as a fundamental principle of the constitution, that no tax could be imposed without its consent; [34] and an express enactment to this effect was suffered to remain on the statute book, after it had become a dead letter, as if to remind the nation of the liberties it had lost. [35] The commons showed a wise solicitude in regard to the mode of collecting the public revenue, oftentimes more onerous to the subject than the tax itself. They watched carefully over its appropriation to its destined uses. They restrained a too prodigal expenditure, and ventured more than once to regulate the economy of the royal household. [36] They kept a vigilant eye on the conduct of public officers, as well as on the right administration of justice, and commissions were appointed at their suggestion for inquiring into its abuses. They entered into negotiation for alliances with foreign powers, and, by determining the amount of supplies for the maintenance of troops in time of war, preserved a salutary check over military operations. [37] The nomination of regencies was subject to their approbation, and they defined the nature of the authority to be entrusted to them. Their consent was esteemed indispensable to the validity of a title to the crown, and this prerogative, or at least the image of it, has continued to survive the wreck of their ancient liberties. [38] Finally, they more than once set aside the testamentary provisions of the sovereigns in regard to the succession. [39]

Without going further into detail, enough has been said to show the high powers claimed by the commons, previously to the fifteenth century, which, instead of being confined to ordinary subjects of legislation, seem, in some instances, to have reached to the executive duties of the administration. It would, indeed, show but little acquaintance with the social condition of the Middle Ages, to suppose that the practical exercise of these powers always corresponded with their theory. We trace repeated instances, it is true, in which they were claimed and successfully exerted; while, on the other hand, the multiplicity of remedial statutes proves too plainly how often the rights of the people were invaded by the violence of the privileged orders, or the more artful and systematic usurpations of the crown. But, far from being intimidated by such acts, the representatives in cortes were ever ready to stand forward as the intrepid advocates of constitutional freedom; and the unqualified boldness of their language on such occasions, and the consequent concessions of the sovereign, are satisfactory evidence of the real extent of their power, and show how cordially they must have been supported by public opinion.

It would be improper to pass by without notice an anomalous institution peculiar to Castile, which sought to secure the public tranquillity by means scarcely compatible themselves with civil subordination. I refer to the celebrated Hermandad, or Holy Brotherhood, as the association was sometimes called, a name familiar to most readers in the lively fictions of Le Sage, though conveying there no very adequate idea of the extraordinary functions which it assumed at the period under review. Instead of a regularly organized police, it then consisted of a confederation of the principal cities bound together by solemn league and covenant, for the defence of their liberties in seasons of civil anarchy. Its affairs were conducted by deputies, who assembled at stated intervals for this purpose, transacting their business under a common seal, enacting laws which they were careful to transmit to the nobles and even the sovereign himself, and enforcing their measures by an armed force. This wild kind of justice, so characteristic of an unsettled state of society, repeatedly received the legislative sanction; and, however formidable such a popular engine may have appeared to the eye of the monarch, he was often led to countenance it by a sense of his own impotence, as well as of the overweening power of the nobles, against whom it was principally directed. Hence these associations, although the epithet may seem somewhat overstrained, have received the appellation of "cortes extraordinary." [40]

With these immunities, the cities of Castile attained a degree of opulence and splendor unrivalled, unless in Italy, during the middle ages. At a very early period, indeed, their contact with the Arabs had familiarized them with a better system of agriculture, and a dexterity in the mechanic arts unknown in other parts of Christendom. [41]

On the occupation of a conquered town, we find it distributed into quarters or districts, appropriated to the several crafts, whose members were incorporated into guilds, under the regulation of magistrates and by- laws of their own appointment. Instead of the unworthy disrepute, into which the more humble occupations have since fallen in Spain, they were fostered by a liberal patronage, and their professors in some instances elevated to the rank of knighthood. [42] The excellent breed of sheep, which early became the subject of legislative solicitude, furnished them with an important staple which, together with the simpler manufactures and the various products of a prolific soil, formed the materials of a profitable commerce. [43] Augmentation of wealth brought with it the usual appetite for expensive pleasures; and the popular diffusion of luxury in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is attested by the fashionable invective of the satirist, and by the impotence of repeated sumptuary enactments. [44] Much of this superfluous wealth, however, was expended on the construction of useful public works. Cities, from which the nobles had once been so jealously excluded, came now to be their favorite residence. [45] But, while their sumptuous edifices and splendid retinues dazzled the eyes of the peaceful burghers, their turbulent spirit was preparing the way for those dismal scenes of faction, which convulsed the little commonwealths to their centre during the latter half of the fifteenth century.

The flourishing condition of the communities gave their representatives a proportional increase of importance in the national assembly. The liberties of the people seemed to take deeper root in the midst of those political convulsions, so frequent in Castile, which unsettled the ancient prerogatives of the crown. Every new revolution was followed by new concessions on the part of the sovereign, and the popular authority continued to advance with a steady progress until the accession of Henry the Third, of Trastamara, in 1393, when it may be said to have reached its zenith. A disputed title and a disastrous war compelled the father of this prince, John the First, to treat the commons with a deference unknown to his predecessors. We find four of their number admitted into his privy council, and six associated in the regency, to which he confided the government of the kingdom during his son's minority. [46] A remarkable fact, which occurred in this reign, showing the important advances made by the commons in political estimation, was the substitution of the sons of burgesses for an equal number of those of the nobility, who were stipulated to be delivered as hostages for the fulfilment of a treaty with Portugal, in 1393. [47] There will be occasion to notice, in the first chapter of this History, some of the circumstances, which, contributing to undermine the power of the commons, prepared the way for the eventual subversion of the constitution.

The peculiar situation of Castile, which had been so favorable to popular rights, was eminently so to those of the aristocracy. The nobles, embarked with their sovereign in the same common enterprise of rescuing their ancient patrimony from its invaders, felt entitled to divide with him the spoils of victory. Issuing forth, at the head of their own retainers, from their strong-holds or castles, (the great number of which was originally implied in the name of the country,) [48] they were continually enlarging the circuit of their territories, with no other assistance than that of their own good swords. [49] This independent mode of effecting their conquests would appear unfavorable to the introduction of the feudal system, which, although its existence in Castile is clearly ascertained, by positive law, as well as usage, never prevailed to anything like the same extent as it did in the sister kingdom of Aragon, and other parts of Europe. [50]

The higher nobility, or ricos hombres, were exempted from general taxation, and the occasional attempt to infringe on this privilege in seasons of great public emergency, was uniformly repelled by this jealous body. [51] They could not be imprisoned for debt; nor be subjected to torture, so repeatedly sanctioned in other cases by the municipal law of Castile. They had the right of deciding their private feuds by an appeal to arms; a right of which they liberally availed themselves. [52] They also claimed the privilege, when aggrieved, of denaturalizing themselves, or, in other words, of publicly renouncing their allegiance to their sovereign, and of enlisting under the banners of his enemy. [53] The number of petty states, which swarmed over the Peninsula, afforded ample opportunity for the exercise of this disorganizing prerogative. The Laras are particularly noticed by Mariana, as having a "great relish for rebellion," and the Castros as being much in the habit of going over to the Moors. [54] They assumed the license of arraying themselves in armed confederacy against the monarch, on any occasion of popular disgust, and they solemnized the act by the most imposing ceremonials of religion. [55] Their rights of jurisdiction, derived to them, it would seem, originally from royal grant, [56] were in a great measure defeated by the liberal charters of incorporation, which, in imitation of the sovereign, they conceded to their vassals, as well as by the gradual encroachment of the royal judicatures. [57] In virtue of their birth they monopolized all the higher offices of state, as those of constable and admiral of Castile, adelantados or governors of the provinces, cities, etc. [58] They secured to themselves the grand-masterships of the military orders, which placed at their disposal an immense amount of revenue and patronage. Finally, they entered into the royal or privy council, and formed a constituent portion of the national legislature.

These important prerogatives were of course favorable to the accumulation of great wealth. Their estates were scattered over every part of the kingdom, and, unlike the grandees of Spain at the present day, [59] they resided on them in person, maintaining the state of petty sovereigns, and surrounded by a numerous retinue, who served the purposes of a pageant in time of peace, and an efficient military force in war. The demesnes of John, lord of Biscay, confiscated by Alfonso the Eleventh to the use of the crown, in 1327, amounted to more than eighty towns and castles. [60] The "good constable" Davalos, in the time of Henry the Third, could ride through his own estates all the way from Seville to Compostella, almost the two extremities of the kingdom. [61] Alvaro de Luna, the powerful favorite of John the Second, could muster twenty thousand vassals. [62] A contemporary, who gives a catalogue of the annual rents of the principal Castilian nobility at the close of the fifteenth or beginning of the following century, computes several at fifty and sixty thousand ducats a year, [63] an immense income, if we take into consideration the value of money in that age. The same writer estimates their united revenues as equal to one-third of those in the whole kingdom. [64]

These ambitious nobles did not consume their fortunes, or their energies in a life of effeminate luxury. From their earliest boyhood they were accustomed to serve in the ranks against the infidel, [65] and their whole subsequent lives were occupied either with war, or with those martial exercises which reflect the image of it. Looking back with pride to their ancient Gothic descent, and to those times, when they had stood forward as the peers, the electors of their sovereign, they could ill brook the slightest indignity at his hand. [66] With these haughty feelings and martial habits, and this enormous assumption of power, it may readily be conceived that they would not suffer the anarchical provisions of the constitution, which seemed to concede an almost unlimited license of rebellion, to remain a dead letter. Accordingly, we find them perpetually convulsing the kingdom with their schemes of selfish aggrandizement. The petitions of the commons are filled with remonstrances on their various oppressions, and the evils resulting from their long, desolating feuds. So that, notwithstanding the liberal forms of its constitution, there was probably no country in Europe, during the Middle Ages, so sorely afflicted with the vices of intestine anarchy, as Castile. These were still further aggravated by the improvident donations of the monarch to the aristocracy, in the vain hope of conciliating their attachment, but which swelled their already overgrown power to such a height, that, by the middle of the fifteenth century, it not only overshadowed that of the throne, but threatened to subvert the liberties of the state.

Their self-confidence, however, proved eventually their ruin. They disdained a co-operation with the lower orders in defence of their privileges, and relied too unhesitatingly on their power as a body, to feel jealous of their exclusion from the national legislature, where alone they could have made an effectual stand against the usurpations of the crown.—The course of this work will bring under review the dexterous policy, by which the crown contrived to strip the aristocracy of its substantial privileges, and prepared the way for the period, when it should retain possession only of a few barren though ostentatious dignities. [67]

The inferior orders of nobility, the hidalgos, (whose dignity, like that of the ricos hombres, would seem, as their name imports, to have been originally founded on wealth,) [68] and the cavalleros, or knights, enjoyed many of the immunities of the higher class, especially that of exemption from taxation. [69] Knighthood appears to have been regarded with especial favor by the law of Castile. Its ample privileges and its duties are defined with a precision and in a spirit of romance, that might have served for the court of King Arthur. [70] Spain was indeed the land of chivalry. The respect for the sex, which had descended from the Visigoths, [71] was mingled with the religious enthusiasm, which had been kindled in the long wars with the infidel. The apotheosis of chivalry, in the person of their apostle and patron, St. James, [72] contributed still further to this exaltation of sentiment, which was maintained by the various military orders, who devoted themselves, in the bold language of the age, to the service "of God and the ladies." So that the Spaniard may be said to have put in action what, in other countries, passed for the extravagances of the minstrel. An example of this occurs in the fifteenth century, when a passage of arms was defended at Orbigo, not far from the shrine of Compostella, by a Castilian knight, named Sueno de Quenones, and his nine companions, against all comers, in the presence of John the Second and his court. Its object was to release the knight from the obligation, imposed on him by his mistress, of publicly wearing an iron collar round his neck every Thursday. The jousts continued for thirty days, and the doughty champions fought without shield or target, with weapons bearing points of Milan steel. Six hundred and twenty-seven encounters took place, and one hundred and sixty-six lances were broken, when the emprise was declared to be fairly achieved. The whole affair is narrated with becoming gravity by an eye-witness, and the reader may fancy himself perusing the adventures of a Launcelot or an Amadis. [73]

The influence of the ecclesiastics in Spain may be traced back to the age of the Visigoths, when they controlled the affairs of the state in the great national councils of Toledo. This influence was maintained by the extraordinary position of the nation after the conquest. The holy warfare, in which it was embarked, seemed to require the co-operation of the clergy, to propitiate Heaven in its behalf, to interpret its mysterious omens, and to move all the machinery of miracles, by which the imagination is so powerfully affected in a rude and superstitious age. They even condescended, in imitation of their patron saint, to mingle in the ranks, and, with the crucifix in their hands, to lead the soldiers on to battle. Examples of these militant prelates are to be found in Spain so late as the sixteenth century. [74]

But, while the native ecclesiastics obtained such complete ascendency over the popular mind, the Roman See could boast of less influence in Spain than in any other country in Europe. The Gothic liturgy was alone received, as canonical until the eleventh century; [75] and, until the twelfth, the sovereign held the right of jurisdiction over all ecclesiastical causes, of collating to benefices, or at least of confirming or annulling the election of the chapters. The code of Alfonso the Tenth, however, which borrowed its principles of jurisprudence from the civil and canon law, completed a revolution already begun, and transferred these important prerogatives to the pope, who now succeeded in establishing a usurpation over ecclesiastical rights in Castile, similar to that which had been before effected in other parts of Christendom. Some of these abuses, as that of the nomination of foreigners to benefices, were carried to such an impudent height, as repeatedly provoked the indignant remonstrances of the cortes. The ecclesiastics, eager to indemnify themselves for what they had sacrificed to Rome, were more than ever solicitous to assert their independence of the royal jurisdiction. They particularly insisted on their immunity from taxation, and were even reluctant to divide with the laity the necessary burdens of a war, which, from its sacred character, would seem to have imperative claims on them. [76]

Notwithstanding the immediate dependence thus established on the head of the church by the legislation of Alfonso the Tenth, the general immunities secured by it to the ecclesiastics operated as a powerful bounty on their increase; and the mendicant orders in particular, that spiritual militia of the popes, were multiplied over the country to an alarming extent. Many of their members were not only incompetent to the duties of their profession, being without the least tincture of liberal culture, but fixed a deep stain on it by the careless laxity of their morals. Open concubinage was familiarly practised by the clergy, as well as laity, of the period; and, so far from being reprobated by the law of the land, seems anciently to have been countenanced by it. [77] This moral insensibility may probably be referred to the contagious example of their Mahometan neighbors; but, from whatever source derived, the practice was indulged to such a shameless extent, that, as the nation advanced in refinement, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, it became the subject of frequent legislative enactments, in which the concubines of the clergy are described as causing general scandal by their lawless effrontery and ostentatious magnificence of apparel. [78]

Notwithstanding this prevalent licentiousness of the Spanish ecclesiastics, their influence became every day more widely extended, while this ascendency, for which they were particularly indebted in that rude age to their superior learning and capacity, was perpetuated by their enormous acquisitions of wealth. Scarcely a town was reconquered from the Moors, without a considerable portion of its territory being appropriated to the support of some ancient, or the foundation of some new, religious establishment. These were the common reservoir, into which flowed the copious streams of private as well as royal bounty; and, when the consequences of these alienations in mortmain came to be visible in the impoverishment of the public revenue, every attempt at legislative interference was in a great measure defeated by the piety or superstition of the age. The abbess of the monastery of Huelgas, which was situated within the precincts of Burgos, and contained within its walls one hundred and fifty nuns of the noblest families in Castile, exercised jurisdiction ever fourteen capital towns, and more than fifty smaller places; and she was accounted inferior to the queen only in dignity. [79] The archbishop of Toledo, by virtue of his office primate of Spain and grand chancellor of Castile, was esteemed, after the pope, the highest ecclesiastical dignitary in Christendom. His revenues, at the close of the fifteenth century, exceeded eighty thousand ducats; while the gross amount of those of the subordinate beneficiaries of his church rose to one hundred and eighty thousand. He could muster a greater number of vassals than any other subject in the kingdom, and held jurisdiction over fifteen large and populous towns, besides a great number of inferior places. [80]

These princely funds, when intrusted to pious prelates, were munificently dispensed in useful public works, and especially in the foundation of eleemosynary institutions, with which every great city in Castile was liberally supplied. [81] But, in the hands of worldly men, they were perverted from these noble uses to the gratification of personal vanity, or the disorganizing schemes of faction. The moral perceptions of the people, in the mean time, were confused by the visible demeanor of a hierarchy, so repugnant to the natural conceptions of religious duty. They learned to attach an exclusive value to external rites, to the forms rather than the spirit of Christianity; estimating the piety of men by their speculative opinions, rather than their practical conduct.—The ancient Spaniards, notwithstanding their prevalent superstition, were untinctured with the fiercer religious bigotry of later times; and the uncharitable temper of their priests, occasionally disclosed in the heats of religious war, was controlled by public opinion, which accorded a high degree of respect to the intellectual, as well as political superiority of the Arabs. But the time was now coming when these ancient barriers were to be broken down; when a difference of religious sentiment was to dissolve all the ties of human brotherhood; when uniformity of faith was to be purchased by the sacrifice of any rights, even those of intellectual freedom; when, in fine, the Christian and the Mussulman, the oppressor and the oppressed, were to be alike bowed down under the strong arm of ecclesiastical tyranny. The means by which a revolution so disastrous to Spain was effected, as well as the incipient stages of its progress, are topics that fall within the scope of the present history.

From the preceding survey of the constitutional privileges enjoyed by the different orders of the Castilian monarchy, previous to the fifteenth century, it is evident that the royal authority must have been circumscribed within very narrow limits. The numerous states, into which the great Gothic empire was broken after the conquest, were individually too insignificant to confer on their respective sovereigns the possession of extensive power, or even to authorize their assumption of that state, by which, it is supported in the eyes of the vulgar. When some more fortunate prince, by conquest or alliance, had enlarged the circle of his dominions, and thus in some measure remedied the evil, it was sure to recur upon his death, by the subdivision of his estates among his children. This mischievous practice was even countenanced by public opinion; for the different districts of the country, in their habitual independence of each other, acquired an exclusiveness of feeling, which made it difficult for them ever cordially to coalesce; and traces of this early repugnance to each other are to be discerned in the mutual jealousies and local peculiarities which still distinguish the different sections of the Peninsula, after their consolidation into one monarchy for more than three centuries.

The election to the crown, although no longer vested in the hands of the national assembly, as with the Visigoths, was yet subject to its approbation. The title of the heir apparent was formerly recognized by a cortes convoked for the purpose; and, on the demise of his parent, the new sovereign again convened the estates to receive their oath of allegiance, which they cautiously withheld until he had first sworn to preserve inviolate the liberties of the constitution. Nor was this a merely nominal privilege, as was evinced on more than one memorable occasion. [82]

We have seen, in our review of the popular branch of the government, how closely its authority pressed even on the executive functions of the administration. The monarch was still further controlled, in this department, by his Royal or Privy Council, consisting of the chief nobility and great officers of state, to which, in later times, a deputation of the commons was sometimes added. [83] This body, together with the king, had cognizance of the most important public transactions, whether of a civil, military, or diplomatic nature. It was established by positive enactment, that the prince, without its consent, had no right to alienate the royal demesne, to confer pensions beyond a very limited amount, or to nominate to vacant benefices. [84] His legislative powers were to be exercised in concurrence with the cortes; [85] and, in the judicial department, his authority, during the latter part of the period under review, seems to have been chiefly exercised in the selection of officers for the higher judicatures, from a list of candidates presented to him on a vacancy by their members concurrently with his privy council. [86]

The scantiness of the king's revenue corresponded with that of his constitutional authority. By an ancient law, indeed, of similar tenor with one familiar to the Saracens, the sovereign was entitled to a fifth of the spoils of victory. [87] This, in the course of the long wars with the Moslems, would have secured him more ample possessions than were enjoyed by any prince in Christendom. But several circumstances concurred to prevent it.

The long minorities, with which Castile was afflicted perhaps more than any country in Europe, frequently threw the government into the hands of the principal nobility, who perverted to their own emoluments the high powers intrusted to them. They usurped the possessions of the crown, and invaded some of its most valuable privileges; so that the sovereign's subsequent life was often consumed in fruitless attempts to repair the losses of his minority. He sometimes, indeed, in the impotence of other resources, resorted to such unhappy expedients as treachery and assassination. [88] A pleasant tale is told by the Spanish historians, of the more innocent device of Henry the Third, for the recovery of the estates extorted from the crown by the rapacious nobles during his minority.

Returning home late one evening, fatigued and half famished, from a hunting expedition, he was chagrined to find no refreshment prepared for him, and still more so, to learn from his steward, that he had neither money nor credit to purchase it. The day's sport, however, fortunately furnished the means of appeasing the royal appetite; and, while this was in progress, the steward took occasion to contrast the indigent condition of the king with that of his nobles, who habitually indulged in the most expensive entertainments, and were that very evening feasting with the archbishop of Toledo. The prince, suppressing his indignation, determined, like the far-famed caliph in the "Arabian Nights," to inspect the affair in person, and, assuming a disguise, introduced himself privately into the archbishop's palace, where he witnessed with his own eyes the prodigal magnificence of the banquet, teeming with costly wines and the most luxurious viands.

The next day he caused a rumor to be circulated through the court, that he had fallen suddenly and dangerously ill. The courtiers, at these tidings, thronged to the palace; and, when they had all assembled, the king made his appearance among them, bearing his naked sword in his hand, and, with an aspect of unusual severity, seated himself on his throne at the upper extremity of the apartment.

After an interval of silence in the astonished assembly, the monarch, addressing himself to the primate, inquired of him, "How many sovereigns he had known in Castile?" The prelate answering four, Henry put the same question to the duke of Benevente, and so on to the other courtiers in succession. None of them, however, having answered more than five, "How is this," said the prince, "that you, who are so old, should have known so few, while I, young as I am, have beheld more than twenty! Yes," continued he, raising his voice, to the astonished multitude, "you are the real sovereigns of Castile, enjoying all the rights and revenues of royalty, while I, stripped of my patrimony, have scarcely wherewithal to procure the necessaries of life." Then giving a concerted signal, his guards entered the apartment, followed by the public executioner bearing along with him the implements of death. The dismayed nobles, not relishing the turn the jest appeared likely to take, fell on their knees before the monarch and besought his forgiveness, promising, in requital, complete restitution of the fruits of their rapacity. Henry, content with having so cheaply gained his point, allowed himself to soften at their entreaties, taking care, however, to detain their persons as security for their engagements, until such time as the rents, royal fortresses, and whatever effects had been filched from the crown, were restored. The story, although repeated by the gravest Castilian writers, wears, it must be owned, a marvellous tinge of romance. But, whether fact, or founded on it, it may serve to show the dilapidated condition of the revenues at the beginning of the fourteenth century, and its immediate causes. [89]

Another circumstance, which contributed to impoverish the exchequer, was the occasional political revolutions in Castile, in which the adhesion of a faction was to be purchased only by the most ample concessions of the crown.—Such was the violent revolution, which placed the House of Trastamara on the throne, in the middle of the fourteenth century.

But perhaps a more operative cause, than all these, of the alleged evil, was the conduct of those imbecile princes, who, with heedless prodigality, squandered the public resources on their own personal pleasures and unworthy minions. The disastrous reigns of John the Second and Henry the Fourth, extending over the greater portion of the fifteenth century, furnish pertinent examples of this. It was not unusual, indeed, for the cortes, interposing its paternal authority, by passing an act for the partial resumption of grants thus illegally made, in some degree to repair the broken condition of the finances. Nor was such a resumption unfair to the actual proprietors. The promise to maintain the integrity of the royal demesnes formed an essential part of the coronation oath of every sovereign; and the subject, on whom he afterwards conferred them, knew well by what a precarious, illicit tenure he was to hold them.

From the view which has been presented of the Castilian constitution at the beginning of the fifteenth century, it is apparent, that the sovereign was possessed of less power, and the people of greater, than in other European monarchies at that period. It must be owned, however, as before intimated, that the practical operation did not always correspond with the theory of their respective functions in these rude times; and that the powers of the executive, being susceptible of greater compactness and energy in their movements, than could possibly belong to those of more complex bodies, were sufficiently strong in the hands of a resolute prince, to break down the comparatively feeble barriers of the law. Neither were the relative privileges, assigned to the different orders of the state, equitably adjusted. Those of the aristocracy were indefinite and exorbitant. The license of armed combinations too, so freely assumed both by this order and the commons, although operating as a safety-valve for the escape of the effervescing spirit of the age, was itself obviously repugnant to all principles of civil obedience, and exposed the state to evils scarcely less disastrous than those which it was intended to prevent.

It was apparent, that, notwithstanding the magnitude of the powers conceded to the nobility and the commons, there were important defects, which prevented them from resting on any sound and permanent basis. The representation of the people in cortes, instead of partially emanating, as in England, from an independent body of landed proprietors, constituting the real strength of the nation, proceeded exclusively from the cities, whose elections were much more open to popular caprice and ministerial corruption, and whose numerous local jealousies prevented them from acting in cordial co-operation. The nobles, notwithstanding their occasional coalitions, were often arrayed in feuds against each other. They relied, for the defence of their privileges, solely on their physical strength, and heartily disdained, in any emergency, to support their own cause by identifying it with that of the commons. Hence, it became obvious, that the monarch, who, notwithstanding his limited prerogative, assumed the anomalous privilege of transacting public business with the advice of only one branch of the legislature, and of occasionally dispensing altogether with the attendance of the other, might, by throwing his own influence into the scale, give the preponderance to whichever party he should prefer; and, by thus dexterously availing himself of their opposite forces, erect his own authority on the ruins of the weaker.—How far and how successfully this policy was pursued by Ferdinand and Isabella, will be seen in the course of this History.

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