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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;

"Chè l'antico valore
----non è 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'Abbé 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 Señor 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 RENÉ 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 ORDENANÇAS 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 Gonçalez, 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 "cortès 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 Sueño 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.

* * * * *

Notwithstanding the general diligence of the Spanish historians, they have
done little towards the investigation of the constitutional antiquities of
Castile, until the present century. Dr. Geddes's meagre notice of the
cortes preceded probably, by a long interval, any native work upon that
subject. Robertson frequently complains of the total deficiency of
authentic sources of information respecting the laws and government of
Castile; a circumstance, that suggests to a candid mind an obvious
explanation of several errors, into which he has fallen. Capmany, in the
preface to a work, compiled by order of the central junta in Seville, in
1809, on the ancient organization of the cortes in the different states of
the Peninsula, remarks, that "no author has appeared, down to the present
day, to instruct us in regard to the origin, constitution, and celebration
of the Castilian cortes, on all which topics there remains the most
profound ignorance." The melancholy results to which such an investigation
must necessarily lead, from the contrast it suggests of existing
institutions to the freer forms of antiquity, might well have deterred the
modern Spaniard from these inquiries; which, moreover, it can hardly be
supposed, would have received the countenance of government. The brief
interval, however, in the early part of the present century, when the
nation so ineffectually struggled to resume its ancient liberties, gave
birth to two productions, which have gone far to supply the
_desiderata_ in this department. I allude to the valuable works of
Marina, on the early legislation, and on the cortes, of Castile, to which
repeated reference has been made in this section. The latter, especially,
presents us with a full exposition of the appropriate functions assigned
to the several departments of government, and with the parliamentary
history of Castile deduced from original unpublished records.

It is unfortunate that his copious illustrations are arranged in so
unskilful a manner as to give a dry and repulsive air to the whole work.
The original documents, on which it is established, instead of being
reserved for an appendix, and their import only conveyed in the text,
stare at the reader in every page, arrayed in all the technicalities,
periphrases, and repetitions incident to legal enactments. The course of
the investigation is, moreover, frequently interrupted by impertinent
dissertations on the constitution of 1812, in which the author has fallen
into abundance of crudities, which he would have escaped, had he but
witnessed the practical operation of those liberal forms of government,
which he so justly admires. The sanguine temper of Marina has also
betrayed him into the error of putting, too uniformly, a favorable
construction on the proceedings of the commons, and of frequently deriving
a constitutional precedent from what can only be regarded as an accidental
and transient exertion of power in a season of popular excitement.

The student of this department of Spanish history may consult, in
conjunction with Marina, Sempere's little treatise, often quoted, on the
History of the Castilian Cortes. It is, indeed, too limited and desultory
in its plan to afford anything like a complete view of the subject. But,
as a sensible commentary, by one well skilled in the topics that he
discusses, it is of undoubted value. Since the political principles and
bias of the author were of an opposite character to Marina's, they
frequently lead him to opposite conclusions in the investigation of the
same facts. Making all allowance for obvious prejudices, Sempere's work,
therefore, may be of much use in correcting the erroneous impressions made
by the former writer, whose fabric of liberty too often rests, as
exemplified more than once in the preceding pages, on an ideal basis.

But, with every deduction, Marina's publications must be considered an
important contribution to political science. They exhibit an able analysis
of a constitution, which becomes singularly interesting, from its having
furnished, together with that of the sister kingdom of Aragon, the
earliest example of representative government, as well as from the liberal
principles on which that government was long administered.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Aragon was formally released from this homage in 1177, and Portugal in
1264. (Mariana, Historia General de España, (Madrid, 1780,) lib. 11, cap.
14; lib. 13, cap. 20.) The king of Granada, Aben Alahmar, swore fealty to
St. Ferdinand, in 1245, binding himself to the payment of an annual rent,
to serve under him with a stipulated number of his knights in war, and
personally _attend cortes when summoned_;--a whimsical stipulation this
for a Mahometan prince. Conde, Historia de la Dominacion de los Arabes en
España, (Madrid, 1820, 1821,) tom. iii. cap. 30.

[2] Navarre was too inconsiderable, and bore too near a resemblance in its
government to the other Peninsular kingdoms, to require a separate notice;
for which, indeed, the national writers afford but very scanty materials.
The Moorish empire of Granada, so interesting in itself, and so
dissimilar, in all respects, to Christian Spain, merits particular
attention. I have deferred the consideration of it, however, to that
period of the history which is occupied with its subversion. See Part I.,
Chapter 8.

[3] See the Canons of the fifth Council of Toledo. Florez, España Sagrada,
(Madrid, 1747-1776,) tom. vi. p. 168.

[4] Recesvinto, in order more effectually to bring about the consolidation
of his Gothic and Roman subjects into one nation, abrogated the law
prohibiting their intermarriage. The terms in which his enactment is
conceived disclose a far more enlightened policy than that pursued either
by the Franks or Lombards. (See the Fuero Juzgo, (ed. de la Acad., Madrid,
1815,) lib. 3, tit. 1, ley 1.)--The Visigothic code, Fuero Juzgo, (Forum
Judicum,) originally compiled in Latin, was translated into Spanish under
St. Ferdinand; a copy of which version was first printed in 1600, at
Madrid. (Los Doctores Asso y Manuel, Instituciones del Derecho Civil de
Castilla, (Madrid, 1792,) pp. 6, 7.) A second edition, under the
supervision of the Royal Spanish Academy, was published in 1815. This
compilation, notwithstanding the apparent rudeness and even ferocity of
some of its features, may be said to have formed the basis of all the
subsequent legislation of Castile. It was, doubtless, the exclusive
contemplation of these features, which brought upon these laws the
sweeping condemnation of Montesquieu, as "puériles, gauches, idiotes,--
frivoles dans le fond et gigantesques dans le style." Espirit des Loix,
liv. 28, chap. 1.

[5] Some of the local usages, afterwards incorporated in the _fueros_, or
charters, of the Castilian communities, may probably be derived from the
time of the Visigoths. The English reader may form a good idea of the
tenor of the legal institutions of this people and their immediate
descendants, from an article in the sixty-first Number of the Edinburgh
Review, written with equal learning and vivacity.

[6] The Christians, in all matters exclusively relating to themselves,
were governed by their own laws, (See the Fuero Juzgo, Introd. p. 40,)
administered by their own judges, subject only in capital cases to an
appeal to the Moorish tribunals. Their churches and monasteries (_rosae
inter spinas_, says the historian) were scattered over the principal
towns, Cordova retaining seven, Toledo six, etc.; and their clergy were
allowed to display the costume, and celebrate the pompous ceremonial, of
the Romish communion. Florez, España Sagrada, tom. x. trat. 33, cap, 7.--
Morales, Corónica General de España, (Obras, Madrid, 1791-1793,) lib. 12,
cap. 78.--Conde, Domination de los Arabes, part 1, cap. 15, 22.

[7] Morales, Corónica, lib. 12, cap. 77.--Yet the names of several nobles
resident among the Moors appear in the record of those times. (See Salazar
de Mendoza, Monarquía de España, (Madrid, 1770,) tom. i. p. 34, note.) If
we could rely on a singular fact, quoted by Zurita, we might infer that a
large proportion of the Goths were content to reside among their Saracen
conquerors. The intermarriages among the two nations had been so frequent,
that, in 1311, the ambassador of James II., of Aragon, stated to his
Holiness, Pope Clement V., that of 200.000 persons composing the
population of Granada, not more than 500 were of pure Moorish descent!
(Anales de la Corona de Aragon, (Zaragoza, 1610,) lib. 5, cap. 93.) As the
object of the statement was to obtain certain ecclesiastical aids from the
pontiff, in the prosecution of the Moorish war, it appears very
suspicious, notwithstanding the emphasis laid on it by the historian.

[8] Bleda, Corónica de los Moros de España, (Valencia, 1618,) p. 171.--
This author states, that in his time there were several families in
Ireland, whose patronymics bore testimony to their descent from these
Spanish exiles. That careful antiquarian, Morales, considers the regions
of the Pyrenees lying betwixt Aragon and Navarre, together with the
Asturias, Biscay, Guipuscoa, the northern portion of Galicia and the
Alpuxarras, (the last retreat, too, of the Moors, under the Christian
domination,) to have been untouched by the Saracen invaders. See lib. 12,
cap. 76.

[9] The lot of the Visigothic slave was sufficiently hard. The
oppressions, which this unhappy race endured, were such as to lead Mr.
Southey, in his excellent Introduction to the "Chronicle of the Cid," to
impute to their co-operation, in part, the easy conquest of the country by
the Arabs. But, although the laws, in relation to them, seem to be taken
up with determining their incapacities rather than their privileges, it is
probable that they secured to them, on the whole, quite as great a degree
of civil consequence, as was enjoyed by similar classes in the rest of
Europe. By the Fuero Juzgo, the slave was allowed to acquire property for
himself, and with it to purchase his own redemption. (Lib. 5, tit. 4, ley
16.) A certain proportion of every man's slaves were also required to bear
arms, and to accompany their master to the field. (Lib. 9, tit 2, ley 8.)
But their relative rank is better ascertained by the amount of composition
(that accurate measurement of civil rights with all the barbarians of the
north) prescribed for any personal violence inflicted on them. Thus, by
the Salic law, the life of a free Roman was estimated at only one-fifth of
that of a Frank, (Lex Salica, tit. 43, sec. 1, 8;) while, by the law of
the Visigoths, the life of a slave was valued at half of that of a
freeman, (lib. 6, tit. 4, ley 1.) In the latter code, moreover, the master
was prohibited, under the severe penalties of banishment and sequestration
of property, from either maiming or murdering his own slave, (lib. 6, tit.
5, leyes 12, 13;) while, in other codes of the barbarians, the penalty was
confined to similar trespasses on the slaves of another; and, by the Salic
law, no higher mulct was imposed for killing, than for kidnapping a slave.
(Lex Salica, tit. 11, sec. 1, 3.) The legislation of the Visigoths, in
those particulars, seems to have regarded this unhappy race as not merely
a distinct species of property. It provided for their personal security,
instead of limiting itself to the indemnification of their masters.

[10] Corónica General, part. 3, fol. 54.

[11] According to Morales, (Corónica, lib. 13, cap. 57,) this took place
about 850.

[12] Toledo was not reconquered until 1085; Lisbon, in 1147.

[13] The archbishops of Toledo, whose revenues and retinues far exceeded
those of the other ecclesiastics, were particularly conspicuous in these
holy wars. Mariana, speaking of one of these belligerent prelates,
considers it worthy of encomium, that "it is not easy to decide whether he
was most conspicuous for his good government in peace, or his conduct and
valor in war." Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 14.

[14] The first occasion, on which the military apostle condescended to
reveal himself to the Leonese, was the memorable day of Clavijo, A. D.
844, when 70,000 infidels fell on the field. From that time, the name of
St. Jago became the battle-cry of the Spaniards. The truth of the story is
attested by a contemporary charter of Ramiro I. to the church of the
saint, granting it an annual tribute of corn and wine from the towns in
his dominions, and a knight's portion of the spoils of every victory over
the Mussulmans. The _privilegio del voto_, as it is called, is given
at length by Florez in his Collection, (España Sagrada, tom. xix. p. 329,)
and is unhesitatingly cited by most of the Spanish historians, as Garibay,
Mariana, Morales, and others.--More sharp-sighted critics discover, in its
anachronisms, and other palpable blunders, ample evidence of its forgery.
(Mondejar, Advertencies &, la Historia de Mariana (Valencia, 1746,) no.
157,--Masdeu, Historia Crítica de España, y de la Cultura Española,
(Madrid, 1783-1805,) tom. xvi. supl. 18.) The canons of Compostella,
however, seem to have found their account in it, as the tribute of good
cheer, which it imposed, continued to be paid by some of the Castilian
towns, according to Mariana, in his day. Hist. de España, tom. i. p. 416.

[15] French, Flemish, Italian, and English volunteers, led by men of
distinguished rank, are recorded by the Spanish writers to have been
present at the sieges of Toledo, Lisbon, Algeziras, and various others.
More than sixty, or, as some accounts state, a hundred thousand, joined
the army before the battle of Navas de Tolosa; a round exaggeration,
which, however, implies the great number of such auxiliaries. (Garibay,
Compendio Historial de las Chrónicas de España, (Barcelona, 1628,) lib.
12, cap. 33.) The crusades in Spain were as rational enterprises, as those
in the East were vain and chimerical. Pope Pascal II. acted like a man of
sense, when he sent back certain Spanish adventurers, who had embarked in
the wars of Palestine, telling them that "the cause of religion could be
much better served by them at home."

[16] See Heeren, Politics of Ancient Greece, translated by Bancroft, chap.
7.

[17] The oldest manuscript extant of this poem, (still preserved at Bivar,
the hero's birth-place,) bears the date of 1207, or at latest 1307, for
there is some obscurity in the writing. Its learned editor, Sanchez, has
been led by the peculiarities of its orthography, metre, and idiom, to
refer its composition to as early a date as 1153. (Coleccion de Poesías
Castellanas anteriores al Siglo XV. (Madrid 1779-90,) tom. i. p. 223.)

Some of the late Spanish antiquaries have manifested a skepticism in
relation to the "Cid," truly alarming. A volume was published at Madrid,
in 1792, by Risco, under the title of "Castilla, o Historia de Rodrigo
Diaz," etc., which the worthy father ushered into the world with much
solemnity, as a transcript of an original manuscript coeval with the time
of the "Cid," and fortunately discovered by him in an obscure corner of
some Leonese monastery. (Prólogo). Masdeu, in an analysis of this precious
document, has been led to scrutinize the grounds on which the reputed
achievements of the "Cid" have rested from time immemorial, and concludes
with the startling assertion, that "of Rodrigo Diaz, el Campeador, we
absolutely know nothing with any degree of probability, not even his
existence!" (Hist. Crítica, tom. xx. p. 370.) There are probably few of
his countrymen, that will thus coolly acquiesce in the annihilation of
their favorite hero, whose exploits have been the burden of chronicle, as
well as romance, from the twelfth century down to the present day.

They may find a warrant for their fond credulity, in the dispassionate
judgment of one of the greatest of modern historians, John Muller, who, so
far from doubting the existence of the Campeador, has succeeded, in his
own opinion at least, in clearing from his history the "mists of fable and
extravagance," in which it has been shrouded. See his Life of the Cid,
appended to Escobar's "Romancero," edited by the learned and estimable Dr.
Julius, of Berlin. Frankfort, 1828.

[18] A modern minstrel inveighs loudly against this charity of his
ancestors, who devoted their "cantos de cigarra," to the glorification of
this "Moorish rabble," instead of celebrating the prowess of the Cid,
Bernardo, and other worthies of their own nation. His discourtesy,
however, is well rebuked by a more generous brother of the craft.

"No es culpa si de los Moros
los valientes hechos cantan,
pues tanto mas resplandecen
nuestras celebres hazañas;
que el encarecer los hechos
del vencido en la batalla,
engrandece al vencedor,
aunque no hablen de el palabra."

Duran, Romancero de Romances Moriscos, (Madrid, 1828.) p. 227.

[19] When the empress queen of Alfonso VII. was besieged in the castle of
Azeca, in 1139, she reproached the Moslem cavaliers for their want of
courtesy and courage in attacking a fortress defended by a female. They
acknowledged the justice of the rebuke, and only requested that she would
condescend to show herself to them from her palace; when the Moorish
chivalry, after paying their obeisance to her in the most respectful
manner, instantly raised the siege, and departed. (Ferreras, Histoire
Générale d'Espagne, traduite par d'Hermilly, (Paris, 1742-51.) tom. in. p.
410.) It was a frequent occurrence to restore a noble captive to liberty
without ransom, and even with costly presents. Thus Alfonso XI. sent back
to their father two daughters of a Moorish prince, who formed part of the
spoils of the battle of Tarifa. (Mariana, Hist. die España, tom. ii. p.
32.) When this same Castilian sovereign, after a career of almost
uninterrupted victory over the Moslems, died of the plague before
Gibraltar, in 1350, the knights of Granada put on mourning for him,
saying, that "he was a noble prince, and one that knew how to honor his
enemies as well as his friends." Conde, Domination de los Arabes, tom.
iii. p. 149.

[20] One of the most extraordinary achievements, in this way, was that of
the grand master of Alcantara, in 1394, who, after ineffectually
challenging the king of Granada to meet him in single combat, or with a
force double that of his own, marched boldly up to the gates of his
capital, where he was assailed by such an overwhelming host, that he with
all his little band perished on the field. (Mariana, Hist. de España, lib.
19, cap. 3.) It was over this worthy compeer of Don Quixote that the
epitaph was inscribed, "Here lies one who never knew fear," which led
Charles V. to remark to one of his courtiers, that "the good knight could
never have tried to snuff a candle with his fingers."

[21] This singular fact, of the existence of an Arabic military order, is
recorded by Conde. (Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. i. p. 619, note.) The
brethren were distinguished for the simplicity of their attire, and their
austere and frugal habits. They were stationed on the Moorish marches, and
were bound by a vow of perpetual war against the Christian infidel. As
their existence is traced as far back as 1030, they may possibly have
suggested the organization of similar institutions in Christendom, which
they preceded by a century at least. The loyal historians of the Spanish
military orders, it is true, would carry that of St. Jago as far back as
the time of Ramiro I., in the ninth century; (Caro de Torres, Historia de
las Ordenes Militares de Santiago, Calatrava, y Alcantara, (Madrid, 1629,)
fol. 2.--Rades y Andrada, Chrónica de las Tres Ordenes y Cavallerías,
(Toledo, 1572,) fol. 4,) but less prejudiced critics, as Zurita and
Mariana, are content with dating it from the papal bull of Alexander III.,
1175.

[22] In one of the Paston letters, we find the notice of a Spanish knight
appearing at the court of Henry VI., "wyth a Kercheff of Plesaunce
iwrapped aboute hys arme, the gwych Knight," says the writer, "wyl renne a
cours wyth a sharpe spere for his sou'eyn lady sake." (Fenn, Original
Letters, (1787,) vol. i. p. 6.) The practice of using sharp spears,
instead of the guarded and blunted weapons usual in the tournament, seems
to have been affected by the chivalrous nobles of Castile; many of whom,
says the chronicle of Juan II., lost their lives from this circumstance,
in the splendid tourney given in honor of the nuptials of Blanche of
Navarre and Henry, son of John II. (Crónica de D. Juan II., (Valencia,
1779,) p. 411.) Monstrelet records the adventures of a Spanish cavalier,
who "travelled all the way to the court of Burgundy to seek honor and
reverence" by his feats of arms. His antagonist was the Lord of Chargny;
on the second day they fought with battle-axes, and "the Castilian
attracted general admiration, by his uncommon daring in fighting with his
visor up." Chroniques, (Paris, 1595,) tom. ii. p. 109.

[23] The Venetian ambassador, Navagiero, speaking of the manners of the
Castilian nobles, in Charles V.'s time, remarks somewhat bluntly, that,
"if their power were equal to their pride, the whole world would not be
able to withstand them." Viaggio fatto in Spagna et in Francia, (Vinegia,
1563,) fol. 10.

[24] The most ancient of these regular charters of incorporation, now
extant, was granted by Alfonso V., in 1020, to the city of Leon and its
territory. (Mariana rejects those of an earlier date, adduced by Asso and
Manuel and other writers. Ensayo Histórico-Crítico, sobre la Antigua
Legislation de Castilla, (Madrid, 1808,) pp. 80-82.) It preceded, by a
long interval, those granted to the burgesses in other parts of Europe,
with the exception, perhaps, of Italy; where several of the cities, as
Milan, Pavia, and Pisa, seem early in the eleventh century to have
exercised some of the functions of independent states. But the extent of
municipal immunities conceded to, or rather assumed by, the Italian cities
at this early period, is very equivocal; for their indefatigable
antiquarian confesses that all, or nearly all their archives, previous to
the time of Frederick I., (the latter part of the twelfth century,) had
perished amid their frequent civil convulsions. (See the subject in
detail, in Muratori, Dissertazioni sopra le Antichità Italiane, (Napoli,
1752,) dissert. 45.) Acts of enfranchisement became frequent in Spain
during the eleventh century; several of which are preserved, and exhibit,
with sufficient precision, the nature of the privileges accorded to the
inhabitants.--Robertson, who wrote when the constitutional antiquities of
Castile had been but slightly investigated, would seem to have little
authority, therefore, for deriving the establishment of communities from
Italy, and still less for tracing their progress through France and
Germany to Spain. See his History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V,
(London, 1796,) vol. i. pp. 29, 30.

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