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History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella V1 by William H. Prescott

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During this long-protracted anarchy, the people lost whatever they had
gained in the two preceding reigns. By the advice of his minister, who
seems to have possessed a full measure of the insolence, so usual with
persons suddenly advanced from low to elevated station, the king not only
abandoned the constitutional policy of his predecessors in regard to the
commons, but entered on the most arbitrary and systematic violation of
their rights. Their deputies were excluded from the privy council, or lost
all influence in it. Attempts were made to impose taxes without the
legislative sanction. The municipal territories were alienated, and
lavished on the royal minions. The freedom of elections was invaded, and
delegates to cortes were frequently nominated by the crown; and, to
complete the iniquitous scheme of oppression, _pragmaticas_, or royal
proclamations, were issued, containing provisions repugnant to the
acknowledged law of the land, and affirming in the most unqualified terms
the right of the sovereign to legislate for his subjects. [5] The commons
indeed, when assembled in cortes, stoutly resisted the assumption of such
unconstitutional powers by the crown, and compelled the prince not only to
revoke his pretensions, but to accompany his revocation with the most
humiliating concessions. [6] They even ventured so far, during this reign,
as to regulate the expenses of the royal household; [7] and their language
to the throne on all these occasions, though temperate and loyal, breathed
a generous spirit of patriotism, evincing a perfect consciousness of their
own rights, and a steady determination to maintain them. [8]

Alas! what could such resolution avail, in this season of misrule, against
the intrigues of a cunning and profligate minister, unsupported too, as
the commons were, by any sympathy or co-operation on the part of the
higher orders of the state! A scheme was devised for bringing the popular
branch of the legislature more effectually within the control of the
crown, by diminishing the number of its constituents. It has been already
remarked, in the Introduction, that a great irregularity prevailed in
Castile as to the number of cities which, at different times, exercised
the right of representation. During the fourteenth century, the deputation
from this order had been uncommonly full. The king, however, availing
himself of this indeterminateness, caused writs to be issued to a very
small proportion of the towns which had usually enjoyed the privilege.
Some of those that were excluded indignantly though ineffectually
remonstrated against this abuse. Others, previously despoiled of their
possessions by the rapacity of the crown, or impoverished by the
disastrous feuds into which the country had been thrown, acquiesced in the
measure from motives of economy. From the same mistaken policy several
cities, again, as Burgos, Toledo, and others, petitioned the sovereign to
defray the charges of their representatives from the royal treasury; a
most ill-advised parsimony, which suggested to the crown a plausible
pretext for the new system of exclusion. In this manner the Castilian
cortes, which, notwithstanding its occasional fluctuations, had exhibited
during the preceding century what might be regarded as a representation of
the whole commonwealth, was gradually reduced, during the reigns of John
the Second and his son Henry the Fourth, to the deputations of some
seventeen or eighteen cities. And to this number, with slight variation,
it has been restricted until the occurrence of the recent revolutionary
movements in that kingdom. [9]

The non-represented were required to transmit their instructions to the
deputies of the privileged cities. Thus Salamanca appeared in behalf of
five hundred towns and fourteen hundred villages; and the populous
province of Galicia was represented by the little town of Zamora, which is
not even included within its geographical limits. [10] The privilege of a
_voice in cortes_, as it was called, came at length to be prized so
highly by the favored cities, that when, in 1506, some of those which were
excluded solicited the restitution of their ancient rights, their petition
was opposed by the former on the impudent pretence, that "the right of
deputation had been reserved by ancient law and usage to only eighteen
cities of the realm." [11] In this short-sighted and most unhappy policy,
we see the operation of those local jealousies and estrangements, to which
we have alluded in the Introduction. But, although the cortes, thus
reduced in numbers, necessarily lost much of its weight, it still
maintained a bold front against the usurpations of the crown. It does not
appear, indeed, that any attempt was made under John the Second, or his
successor, to corrupt its members, or to control the freedom of debate;
although such a proceeding is not improbable, as altogether conformable to
their ordinary policy, and as the natural result of their preliminary
measures. But, however true the deputies continued to themselves and to
those who sent them, it is evident that so limited and partial a selection
no longer afforded a representation of the interests of the whole country.
Their necessarily imperfect acquaintance with the principles or even
wishes of their widely scattered constituents, in an age when knowledge
was not circulated on the thousand wings of the press, as in our day, must
have left them oftentimes in painful uncertainty, and deprived them of the
cheering support of public opinion. The voice of remonstrance, which
derives such confidence from numbers, would hardly now be raised in their
deserted halls with the same frequency or energy as before; and, however
the representatives of that day might maintain their integrity
uncorrupted, yet, as every facility was afforded to the undue influence of
the crown, the time might come when venality would prove stronger than
principle, and the unworthy patriot be tempted to sacrifice his birthright
for a mess of pottage. Thus early was the fair dawn of freedom overcast,
which opened in Castile under more brilliant auspices, perhaps, than in
any other country in Europe.

While the reign of John the Second is so deservedly odious in a political
view, in a literary, it may be inscribed with what Giovio calls "the
golden pen of history." It was an epoch in the Castilian, corresponding
with that of the reign of Francis the First in French literature,
distinguished not so much by any production of extraordinary genius, as by
the effort made for the introduction of an elegant culture, by conducting
it on more scientific principles than had been hitherto known. The early
literature of Castile could boast of the "Poem of the Cid," in some
respects the most remarkable performance of the middle ages. It was
enriched, moreover, with other elaborate compositions, displaying
occasional glimpses of a buoyant fancy, or of sensibility to external
beauty, to say nothing of those delightful romantic ballads, which seemed
to spring up spontaneously in every quarter of the country, like the
natural wild flowers of the soil. But the unaffected beauties of
sentiment, which seem rather the result of accident than design, were
dearly purchased, in the more extended pieces, at the expense of such a
crude mass of grotesque and undigested verse, as shows an entire ignorance
of the principles of the art. [12]

The profession of letters itself was held in little repute by the higher
orders of the nation, who were altogether untinctured with liberal
learning. While the nobles of the sister kingdom of Aragon, assembled in
their poetic courts, in imitation of their Provençal neighbors, vied with
each other in lays of love and chivalry, those of Castile disdained these
effeminate pleasures as unworthy of the profession of arms, the only one
of any estimation in their eyes. The benignant influence of John was
perceptible in softening this ferocious temper. He was himself
sufficiently accomplished, for a king; and, notwithstanding his aversion
to business, manifested, as has been noticed, a lively relish for
intellectual enjoyment. He was fond of books, wrote and spoke Latin with
facility, composed verses, and condescended occasionally to correct those
of his loving subjects. [13] Whatever might be the value of his
criticisms, that of his example cannot be doubted. The courtiers, with the
quick scent for their own interest which distinguished the tribe in every
country, soon turned their attention to the same polite studies; [14] and
thus Castilian poetry received very early the courtly stamp, which
continued its prominent characteristic down to the age of its meridian

Among the most eminent of these noble _savans_, was Henry, marquis of
Villena, descended from the royal houses of Castile and Aragon, [15] but
more illustrious, as one of his countrymen has observed, by his talents
and attainments, than by his birth. His whole life was consecrated to
letters, and especially to the study of natural science. I am not aware
that any specimen of his poetry, although much lauded by his
contemporaries, [16] has come down to us. [17] He translated Dante's
"Commedia" into prose, and is said to have given the first example of a
version of the AEneid into a modern language. [18] He labored assiduously
to introduce a more cultivated taste among his countrymen, and his little
treatise on the _gaya sciencia_, as the divine art was then called,
in which he gives an historical and critical view of the poetical
Consistory of Barcelona, is the first approximation, however faint, to an
Art of Poetry in the Castilian tongue. [19] The exclusiveness with which
he devoted himself to science, and especially astronomy, to the utter
neglect of his temporal concerns, led the wits of that day to remark, that
"he knew much of heaven, and nothing of earth." He paid the usual penalty
of such indifference to worldly weal, by seeing himself eventually
stripped of his lordly possessions, and reduced, at the close of life, to
extreme poverty. [20] His secluded habits brought on him the appalling
imputation of necromancy. A scene took place at his death, in 1434, which
is sufficiently characteristic of the age, and may possibly have suggested
a similar adventure to Cervantes. The king commissioned his son's
preceptor, Brother Lope de Barrientos, afterwards bishop of Cuença, to
examine the valuable library of the deceased; and the worthy ecclesiastic
consigned more than a hundred volumes of it to the flames, as savoring too
strongly of the black art. The Bachelor Cibdareal, the confidential
physician of John the Second, in a lively letter on this occurrence to the
poet John de Mena, remarks, that "some would fain get the reputation of
saints, by making others necromancers;" and requests his friend "to allow
him to solicit, in his behalf, some of the surviving volumes from the
king, that in this way the soul of Brother Lope might be saved from
further sin, and the spirit of the defunct marquis consoled by the
consciousness, that his books no longer rested on the shelves of the man
who had converted him into a conjuror." [21] John de Mena denounces this
_auto da fe_ of science in a similar, but graver tone of sarcasm, in
his "Laberinto." These liberal sentiments in the Spanish writers of the
fifteenth century may put to shame the more bigoted criticism of the
seventeenth. [22]

Another of the illustrious wits of this reign was Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza,
marquis of Santillana, "the glory and delight of the Castilian nobility,"
whose celebrity was such, that foreigners, it was said, journeyed to Spain
from distant parts of Europe to see him. Although passionately devoted to
letters, he did not, like his friend the marquis of Villena, neglect his
public or domestic duties for them. On the contrary, he discharged the
most important civil and military functions. He made his house an academy,
in which the young cavaliers of the court might practise the martial
exercises of the age; and he assembled around him at the same time men
eminent for genius and science, whom he munificently recompensed, and
encouraged by his example. [23] His own taste led him to poetry, of which
he has left some elaborate specimens. They are chiefly of a moral and
preceptive character; but, although replete with noble sentiment, and
finished in a style of literary excellence far more correct than that of
the preceding age, they are too much infected with mythology and
metaphorical affectations to suit the palate of the present day. He
possessed, however, the soul of a poet; and when he abandons himself to
his native _redondillas_, delivers his sentiments with a sweetness
and grace inimitable. To him is to be ascribed the glory, such as it is,
of having naturalized the Italian sonnet in Castile, which Boscan, many
years later, claimed for himself with no small degree of self-
congratulation. [24] His epistle on the primitive history of Spanish
verse, although containing notices sufficiently curious from the age and
the source whence they proceed, has perhaps done more service to letters
by the valuable illustrations it has called forth from its learned editor.

This great man, who found so much leisure for the cultivation of letters
amidst the busy strife of politics, closed his career at the age of sixty,
in 1458. Though a conspicuous actor in the revolutionary scenes of the
period, he maintained a character for honor and purity of motive,
unimpeached even by his enemies. The king, notwithstanding his devotion to
the faction of his son Henry, conferred on him the dignities of count of
Real de Manzanares and marquis of Santillana; this being the oldest
creation of a marquis in Castile, with the exception of Villena. [26] His
eldest son was subsequently made duke of Infantado, by which title his
descendants have continued to be distinguished to the present day.

But the most conspicuous, for his poetical talents, of the brilliant
circle which graced the court of John the Second, was John de Mena, a
native of fair Cordova, "the flower of science and of chivalry," [27] as
he fondly styles her. Although born in a middling condition of life, with
humble prospects, he was early smitten with a love of letters; and, after
passing through the usual course of discipline at Salamanca, he repaired
to Rome, where, in the study of those immortal masters whose writings had
but recently revealed the full capacities of a modern idiom, he imbibed
principles of taste, which gave a direction to his own genius, and, in
some degree, to that of his countrymen. On his return to Spain, his
literary merit soon attracted general admiration, and introduced him to
the patronage of the great, and above all to the friendship of the marquis
of Santillana. [28] He was admitted into the private circle of the
monarch, who, as his gossiping physician informs us, "used to have Mena's
verses lying on his table, as constantly as his prayer-book." The poet
repaid the debt of gratitude by administering a due quantity of honeyed
rhyme, for which the royal palate seems to have possessed a more than
ordinary relish. [29] He continued faithful to his master amidst all the
fluctuations of faction, and survived him less than two years. He died in
1456; and his friend, the marquis of Santillana, raised a sumptuous
monument over his remains, in commemoration of his virtues and of their
mutual affection.

John de Mena is affirmed by some of the national critics to have given a
new aspect to Castilian poetry. [30] His great work was his "Laberinto,"
the outlines of whose plan may faintly remind us of that portion of the
"Divina Commedia" where Dante resigns himself to the guidance of Beatrice.
In like manner the Spanish poet, under the escort of a beautiful
personification of Providence, witnesses the apparition of the most
eminent individuals, whether of history or fable; and, as they revolve on
the wheel of destiny, they give occasion to some animated portraiture, and
much dull, pedantic disquisition. In these delineations we now and then
meet with a touch of his pencil, which, from its simplicity and vigor, may
be called truly _Dantesque_. Indeed, the Castilian Muse never before
ventured on so bold a flight; and, notwithstanding the deformity of the
general plan, the obsolete barbarisms of the phraseology, its quaintness
and pedantry, notwithstanding the cantering dactylic measure in which it
is composed, and which to the ear of a foreigner can scarcely be made
tolerable, the work abounds in conceptions, nay in whole episodes, of such
mingled energy and beauty, as indicate genius of the highest order. In
some of his smaller pieces his style assumes a graceful flexibility, too
generally denied to his more strained and elaborate efforts. [31]

It will not be necessary to bring under review the minor luminaries of
this period. Alfonso de Baena, a converted Jew, secretary of John the
Second, compiled the fugitive pieces of more than fifty of these ancient
troubadours into a _cancionero_, "for the disport and divertisement
of his highness the king, when he should find himself too sorely oppressed
with cares of state," a case we may imagine of no rare occurrence. The
original manuscript of Baena, transcribed in beautiful characters of the
fifteenth century, lies, or did lie until very lately, unheeded in the
cemetery of the Escurial, with the dust of many a better worthy. [32] The
extracts selected from it by Castro, although occasionally exhibiting some
fluent graces with considerable variety of versification, convey, on the
whole, no very high idea of taste or poetic talent. [33].

Indeed, this epoch, as before remarked, was not so much distinguished by
uncommon displays of genius, as by its general intellectual movement and
the enthusiasm kindled for liberal studies. Thus we find the corporation
of Seville granting a hundred _doblas_ of gold as the guerdon of a
poet who had celebrated in some score of verses the glories of their
native city; and appropriating the same sum as an annual premium for a
similar performance. [34] It is not often that the productions of a poet
laureate have been more liberally recompensed even by royal bounty. But
the gifted spirits of that day mistook the road to immortality. Disdaining
the untutored simplicity of their predecessors, they sought to rise above
them by an ostentation of learning, as well as by a more classical idiom.
In the latter particular they succeeded. They much improved the external
forms of poetry, and their compositions exhibit a high degree of literary
finish, compared with all that preceded them. But their happiest
sentiments are frequently involved in such a cloud of metaphor, as to
become nearly unintelligible; while they invoke the pagan deities with a
shameless prodigality that would scandalize even a French lyric. This
cheap display of school-boy erudition, however it may have appalled their
own age, has been a principal cause of their comparative oblivion with
posterity. How far superior is one touch of nature, as the "Finojosa" or
"Querella de Amor," for example, of the marquis of Santillana, to all this
farrago of metaphor and mythology!

The impulse, given to Castilian poetry, extended to other departments of
elegant literature. Epistolary and historical composition were cultivated
with considerable success. The latter, especially, might admit of
advantageous comparison with that of any other country in Europe at the
same period; [35] and it is remarkable, that, after such early promise,
the modern Spaniards have not been more successful in perfecting a
classical prose style.

Enough has been said to give an idea of the state of mental improvement in
Castile under John the Second. The Muses, who had found a shelter in his
court from the anarchy which reigned abroad, soon fled from its polluted
precincts under the reign of his successor Henry the Fourth, whose sordid
appetites were incapable of being elevated above the objects of the
senses. If we have dwelt somewhat long on a more pleasing picture, it is
because our road is now to lead us across a dreary waste exhibiting
scarcely a vestige of civilization.

While a small portion of the higher orders of the nation was thus
endeavoring to forget the public calamities in the tranquillizing pursuit
of letters, and a much larger portion in the indulgence of pleasure, [36]
the popular aversion for the minister Luna had been gradually infusing
itself into the royal bosom. His too obvious assumption of superiority,
even over the monarch who had raised him from the dust, was probably the
real though secret cause of this disgust. But the habitual ascendency of
the favorite over his master prevented the latter from disclosing this
feeling until it was heightened by an occurrence which sets in a strong
light the imbecility of the one and the presumption of the other. John, on
the death of his wife, Maria of Aragon, had formed the design of
connecting himself with a daughter of the king of France. But the
constable, in the mean time, without even the privity of his master,
entered into negotiations for his marriage with the princess Isabella,
granddaughter of John the First of Portugal; and the monarch, with an
unprecedented degree of complaisance, acquiesced in an arrangement
professedly repugnant to his own inclinations. [37] By one of those
dispensations of Providence, however, which often confound the plans of
the wisest, as of the weakest, the column, which the minister had so
artfully raised for his support, served only to crush him.

The new queen, disgusted with his haughty bearing, and probably not much
gratified with the subordinate situation to which he had reduced her
husband, entered heartily into the feelings of the latter, and indeed
contrived to extinguish whatever spark of latent affection for his ancient
favorite lurked within his breast. John, yet fearing the overgrown power
of the constable too much to encounter him openly, condescended to adopt
the dastardly policy of Tiberius on a similar occasion, by caressing the
man whom he designed to ruin, and he eventually obtained possession of his
person, only by a violation of the royal safe-conduct. The constable's
trial was referred to a commission of jurists and privy counsellors, who,
after a summary and informal investigation, pronounced on him the sentence
of death on a specification of charges either general and indeterminate,
or of the most trivial import. "If the king," says Garibay, "had dispensed
similar justice to all his nobles, who equally deserved it in those
turbulent times, he would have had but few to reign over." [38]

The constable had supported his disgrace, from the first, with an
equanimity not to have been expected from his elation in prosperity; and
he now received the tidings of his fate with a similar fortitude. As he
rode along the streets to the place of execution, clad in the sable livery
of an ordinary criminal, and deserted by those who had been reared by his
bounty, the populace, who before called so loudly for his disgrace, struck
with this astonishing reverse of his brilliant fortunes, were melted into
tears. [39] They called to mind the numerous instances of his magnanimity.
They reflected, that the ambitious schemes of his rivals had been not a
whit less selfish, though less successful, than his own; and that, if his
cupidity appeared insatiable, he had dispensed the fruits of it in acts of
princely munificence. He himself maintained a serene and even cheerful
aspect. Meeting one of the domestics of Prince Henry, he bade him request
the prince "to reward the attachment of his servants with a different
guerdon from what his master had assigned to him." As he ascended the
scaffold, he surveyed the apparatus of death with composure, and calmly
submitted himself to the stroke of the executioner, who, in the savage
style of the executions of that day, plunged his knife into the throat of
his victim, and deliberately severed his head from his body. A basin, for
the reception of alms to defray the expenses of his interment, was placed
at one extremity of the scaffold; and his mutilated remains, after having
been exposed for several days to the gaze of the populace, were removed,
by the brethren of a charitable order, to a place called the hermitage of
St. Andrew, appropriated as the cemetery for malefactors. [40]

Such was the tragical end of Alvaro de Luna; a man, who, for more than
thirty years, controlled the counsels of the sovereign, or, to speak more
properly, was himself the sovereign of Castile. His fate furnishes one of
the most memorable lessons in history. It was not lost on his
contemporaries; and the marquis of Santillana has made use of it to point
the moral of perhaps the most pleasing of his didactic compositions. [41]
John did not long survive his favorite's death, which he was seen
afterwards to lament even with tears. Indeed, during the whole of the
trial he had exhibited the most pitiable agitation, having twice issued
and recalled his orders countermanding the constable's execution; and, had
it not been for the superior constancy, or vindictive temper of the queen,
he would probably have yielded to these impulses of returning affection.

So far from deriving a wholesome warning from experience, John confided
the entire direction of his kingdom to individuals not less interested,
but possessed of far less enlarged capacities, than the former minister.
Penetrated with remorse at the retrospect of his unprofitable life, and
filled with melancholy presages of the future, the unhappy prince lamented
to his faithful attendant Cibdareal, on his deathbed, that "he had not
been born the son of a mechanic, instead of king of Castile." He died July
21st, 1454, after a reign of eight and forty years, if reign it may be
called, which was more properly one protracted minority. John left one
child by his first wife, Henry, who succeeded him on the throne; and by
his second wife two others, Alfonso, then an infant, and Isabella,
afterwards queen of Castile, the subject of the present narrative. She had
scarcely reached her fourth year at the time of her father's decease,
having been born on the 22d of April, 1451, at Madrigal. The king
recommended his younger children to the especial care and protection of
their brother Henry, and assigned the town of Cuellar, with its territory
and a considerable sum of money, for the maintenance of the Infanta
Isabella. [43]


[1] Sempere y Guarinos, Historia del Luxo, y de las Leyes Suntuarias de
España, (Madrid, 1788,) tom. i. p. 171.

[2] Crónica de Enrique III., edicion de la Academia, (Madrid, 1780,)
passim.--Crónica de Juan II., (Valencia, 1779,) p. 6.

[3] Crónica de Alvaro de Luna, edition de la Academia, (Madrid, 1784,)
tit. 3, 5, 68, 74.--Guzman, Generaciones y Semblanzas, (Madrid, 1775,)
cap. 33, 34.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, en Anales Históricos, (Madrid,
1682,) tom. i. fol. 227.--Crónica de Juan II., passim.--He possessed sixty
towns and fortresses, and kept three thousand lances constantly in pay.
Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS.

[4] Guzman, Generaciones, cap. 33.--Crónica de Don Juan II., p. 491, et
alibi. His complaisance for the favorite, indeed, must be admitted, if we
believe Guzman, to have been of a most extraordinary kind. "E lo que con
mayor maravilla se puede decir é oír, que aun en los autos naturales se
dió así á la ordenanza del condestable, que seyendo él mozo bien
complexionado, é teniendo á la reyna su muger moza y hermosa, si el
condestable se lo contradixiese, no iria á dormir á su cama della." Ubi

[5] Marina, Teoría de las Cortes, (Madrid, 1813,) tom. i. cap. 20.--tom.
ii. pp. 216, 390, 391.--tom. iii. part. 2, no. 4.--Capmany, Práctica y
Estilo de Celebrar Cortes en Aragon, Cataluña y Valencia, (Madrid, 1821,)
pp. 234, 235.--Sempere, Histoire des Cortès d'Espagne, (Bordeaux, 1815,)
ch. 18, 24.

[6] Several of this prince's laws for redressing the alleged grievances
are incorporated in the great code of Philip II., (Recopilacion de las
Leyes, (Madrid, 1640,) lib. 6, tit. 7, leyes 5, 7, 2,) which declares, in
the most unequivocal language, the right of the commons to be consulted on
all important matters. "Porque en los hechos arduos de nuestros reynos es
necessario consejo de nuestros subditos, y naturales, _especialmente de
los procuradores de las nuestras ciudades, villas, y lugares de los
nuestros reynos._" It was much easier to extort good laws from this
monarch, than to enforce them.

[7] Mariana, Historia de España, (Madrid, 1780,) tom. ii. p. 299.

[8] Marina, Teoría, ubi supra.

[9] Capmany, Práctica y Estilo, p. 228.--Sempere, Hist. des Cortès, chap.
19.--Marina, Teoría, part. 1, cap. 16.--In 1656, the city of Palencia was
content to repurchase its ancient right of representation from the crown,
at an expense of 80,000 ducats.

[10] Capmany, Práctica y Estilo, p. 230.--Sempere, Histoire des Cortès
d'Espagne, chap. 19.

[11] Marina, Teoría, tom. i. p. 161.

[12] See the ample collections of Sanchez, "Poesías Castellanas anteriores
al Siglo XV." 4 tom. Madrid, 1779-1790.

[13] Guzman, Generaciones, cap. 33.--Gomez de Cibdareal, Centon
Epistolario, (Madrid, 1775,) epist. 20, 49.--Cibdareal has given us a
specimen of this royal criticism, which Juan de Mena, the subject of it,
was courtier enough to adopt.

[14] Velazquez, Orígenes de la Poesía Castellana, (Málaga, 1797,) p. 45.--
Sanchez, Poesías Castellanas, tom. i. p. 10.--"The Cancioneros Generales,
in print and in manuscript," says Sanchez, "show the great number of
dukes, counts, marquises, and other nobles, who cultivated this art."

[15] He was the grandson, not, as Sanchez supposes (tom. i. p.15), the
son, of Alonso de Villena, the first marquis as well as constable created
in Castile, descended from James II. of Aragon. (See Dormer, Enmiendas y
Advertencias de Zurita, (Zaragoza, 1683,) pp. 371-376.) His mother was an
illegitimate daughter of Henry II., of Castile. Guzman, Generaciones, cap.
28.--Salazar de Mendoza, Monarquía de España, (Madrid, 1770,) tom. i. pp.
203, 339.

[16] Guzman, Generaciones, cap. 28.--Juan de Mena introduces Villena into
his "Laberinto," in an agreeable stanza, which has something of the
mannerism of Dante.

"Aquel claro padre aquel dulce fuente
aquel que en el castolo monte resuena
es don Enrique Señor de Villena
honrra de España y del siglo presente," etc.
Juan de Mena, Obras, (Alcalá, 1566,) fol. 138.

[17] The recent Castilian translators of Bouterwek's History of Spanish
Literature have fallen into an error in imputing the beautiful
_cancion_ of the "Querella de Amor" to Villena. It was composed by
the Marquis of Santillana. (Bouterwek, Historia de la Literatura Española,
traducida por Cortina y Hugalde y Mollinedo, (Madrid, 1829,) p. 196, and
Sanchez, Poesías Castellanas, tom. i. pp. 38, 143.)

[18] Velazquez, Orígenes de la Poesía Castellana, p. 45.--Bouterwek,
Literatura Española, trad. de Cortina y Mollinedo, nota S.

[19] See an abstract of it in Mayans y Siscar, Orígines de la Lengua
Española, (Madrid, 1737,) tom. ii. pp. 321 et seq.

[20] Zurita, Anales de la Corona de Aragon, (Zaragoza, 1669,) tom. iii. p.
227.--Guzman, Generaciones, cap. 28.

[21] Centon Epistolario, epist. 66.--The bishop endeavored to transfer the
blame of the conflagration to the king. There can be little doubt,
however, that the good father infused the suspicions of necromancy into
his master's bosom. "The angels," he says in one of his works, "who
guarded Paradise, presented a treatise on magic to one of the posterity of
Adam, from a copy of which Villena derived his science." (See Juan de
Mena, Obras, fol. 139, glosa.) One would think that such an orthodox
source might have justified Villena in the use of it.

[22] Comp. Juan de Mena, Obras, copl. 127, 128; and Nic. Antonio,
Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii. p. 220.

[23] Pulgar, Claros Varones de Castilla, y Letras, (Madrid, 1755,) tit.
4.--Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus, lib. 10, cap. 9.--Quincuagenas de
Gonzalo de Oviedo, MS., batalla 1, quinc. 1, dial. 8.

[24] Garcilasso de la Vega, Obras, ed. de Herrera, (1580,) pp. 75, 76--
Sanchez, Poesías Castellanas, tom. i. p. 21.--Boscan, Obras, (1543,) fol.
19.--It must be admitted, however, that the attempt was premature, and
that it required a riper stage of the language to give a permanent
character to the innovation.

[25] See Sanchez, Poesías Castellanas, tom. i. pp. 1-119.--A copious
catalogue of the marquis de Santillana's writings is given in the same
volume, (pp. 33 et seq.) Several of his poetical pieces are collected in
the Cancionero General, (Anvers, 1573,) fol. 34 et seq.

[26] Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit. 4.--Salazar de Mendoza, Monarquía, tom.
i. p. 218.--Idem, Orígen de las Dignidades Seglares de Castilla y Leon,
(Madrid, 1794,) p. 285.--Oviedo makes the marquis much older, seventy-five
years of age, when he died. He left, besides daughters, six sons, who all
became the founders of noble and powerful houses. See the whole genealogy,
in Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 8.

[27] "Flor de saber y cabellería." El Laberinto, copla 114.

[28] Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii. pp. 265 et seq.

[29] Cibdareal, Centon Epistolario, epist. 47, 49.

[30] See Velazquez, Poesía Castellana, p. 49.

[31] A collection of them is incorporated in the Cancionero General, fol.
41 et seq.

[32] Castro, Biblioteca Española, (Madrid, 1781,) tom. i, pp. 266, 267.--
This interesting document, the most primitive of all the Spanish
_cancioneros_, notwithstanding its local position in the library is
specified by Castro with great precision, eluded the search of the
industrious translators of Bouterwek, who think it may have disappeared
during the French invasion. Literatura Española, trad. de Cortina y
Mollinedo, p. 205, nota Hh.

[33] See these collected in Castro, Biblioteca Española, tom. ii. p. 265
et seq.--The veneration entertained for the poetic art in that day may be
conceived from Baena's whimsical prologue. "Poetry," he says, "or the gay
science, is a very subtile and delightsome composition. It demands in him,
who would hope to excel in it, a curious invention, a sane judgment, a
various scholarship, familiarity with courts and public affairs, high
birth and breeding, a temperate, courteous, and liberal disposition, and,
in fine, honey, sugar, salt, freedom, and hilarity in his discourse." p.

[34] Castro, Biblioteca Española, tom. i. p. 273.

[35] Perhaps the most conspicuous of these historical compositions for
mere literary execution is the Chronicle of Alvaro de Luna, to which I
have had occasion to refer, edited in 1784, by Flores, the diligent
secretary of the Royal Academy of History. He justly commends it for the
purity and harmony of its diction. The loyalty of the chronicler seduces
him sometimes into a swell of panegyric, which may he thought to savor too
strongly of the current defect of Castilian prose; but it more frequently
imparts to his narrative a generous glow of sentiment, raising it far
above the lifeless details of ordinary history, and occasionally even to
positive eloquence.

Nic. Antonio, in the tenth book of his great repository, has assembled the
biographical and bibliographical notices of the various Spanish authors of
the fifteenth century, whose labors diffused a glimmering of light over
their own age, which has become faint in the superior illumination of the

[36] Sempere, in his Historia del Luxo, (tom. i. p. 177,) has published an
extract from an unprinted manuscript of the celebrated marquis of Villena,
entitled _Triunfo de las Doñas_, in which, adverting to the _petits-
maîtres_ of his time, he recapitulates the fashionable arts employed by
them for the embellishment of the person, with a degree of minuteness
which might edify a modern _dandy_.

[37] Crónica de Juan II., p. 499.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa,
(1679,) tom. ii. pp. 335, 372.

[38] Crónica de Alvaro de Luna, tit. 128.--Crónica de Juan II., pp. 457,
460, 572.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 227, 228.--Garibay,
Compendio Historial de las Chrónicas de España, (Barcelona, 1628,) tom.
ii. p. 493.

[39] Crónica de Alvaro de Luna, tit. 128.--What a contrast to all this is
afforded by the vivid portrait, sketched by John de Mena, of the constable
in the noontide of his glory.

"Este caualga sobre la fortuna
y doma su cuello con asperas riendas
y aunque del tenga tan muchas de prendas
ella non le osa tocar de ninguna," etc.
Laberinto, coplas 235 et seq.

[40] Cibdareal, Centon Epistolario, ep. 103.--Crónica de Juan II., p.
564.--Crónica de Alvaro de Luna, tit. 128, and Apend. p. 458.

[41] Entitled "Doctrinal de Privados." See the Cancionero General, fol. 37
et seq.--In the following stanza, the constable is made to moralize with
good effect on the instability of worldly grandeur.

"Quo se hizo la moneda
que guarde para mis daños
tantos tiempos tantos años
plata joyas oro y seda
y de todo no me queda
sine este cadahalso;
mundo malo mundo falso
no ay quien contigo pueda."

Manrique has the same sentiments in his exquisite "Coplas." I give
Longfellow's version, as spirited as it is literal.

"Spain's haughty Constable,--the great
And gallant Master,--cruel fate
Stripped him of all.
Breathe not a whisper of his pride,
He on the gloomy scaffold died,
Ignoble fall!
The countless treasures of his care,
Hamlets and villas green and fair,
His mighty power,--
What were they all but grief and shame,
Tears and a broken heart,--when came.
The parting hour!"
Stanza 21.

[42] Cibdareal, Centon Epistolario, ep. 103.--Crónica de Alvaro de Luna,
tit. 128.

[43] Crónica de Juan II., p. 576.--Cibdareal, Centon Epistolario, epist.

There has been considerable discrepancy, even among cotemporary writers,
both as to the place and the epoch of Isabella's birth, amounting, as
regards the latter, to nearly two years. I have adopted the conclusion of
Señor Clemencin, formed from a careful collation of the various
authorities, in the sixth volume of the Memorias de la Real Academia de
Historia, (Madrid, 1821,) Ilust. 1, pp. 56-60. Isabella was descended both
on the father's and mother's side from the famous John of Gaunt, duke of
Lancaster. See Florez, Memorias de las Reynas Cathólicas, (2d ed. Madrid,
1770,) tom. ii. pp. 743, 787.




John of Aragon.--Difficulties with his Son Carlos.--Birth of Ferdinand.--
Insurrection of Catalonia.--Death of Carlos.--His Character.--Tragical
Story of Blanche.--Young Ferdinand besieged by the Catalans.--Treaty
between France and Aragon.--Distress and Embarrassments of John.--Siege
and Surrender of Barcelona.

We must now transport the reader to Aragon, in order to take a view of the
extraordinary circumstances, which opened the way for Ferdinand's
succession in that kingdom. The throne, which had become vacant by the
death of Martin, in 1410, was awarded by the committee of judges to whom
the nation had referred the great question of the succession, to
Ferdinand, regent of Castile during the minority of his nephew, John the
Second; and thus the sceptre, after having for more than two centuries
descended in the family of Barcelona, was transferred to the same bastard
branch of Trastamara, that ruled over the Castilian monarchy. [1]
Ferdinand the First was succeeded after a brief reign by his son Alfonso
the Fifth, whose personal history belongs less to Aragon than to Naples,
which kingdom he acquired by his own prowess, and where he established his
residence, attracted, no doubt, by the superior amenity of the climate and
the higher intellectual culture, as well as the pliant temper of the
people, far more grateful to the monarch than the sturdy independence of
his own countrymen.

During his long absence, the government of his hereditary domains devolved
on his brother John, as his lieutenant-general in Aragon. [2] This prince
had married Blanche, widow of Martin, king of Sicily, and daughter of
Charles the Third, of Navarre. By her he had three children; Carlos,
prince of Viana; [3] Blanche, married to and afterwards repudiated by
Henry the Fourth, of Castile; [4] and Eleanor, who espoused a French
noble, Gaston, count of Foix. On the demise of the elder Blanche, the
crown of Navarre rightfully belonged to her son, the prince of Viana,
conformably to a stipulation in her marriage contract, that, on the event
of her death, the eldest heir male, and, in default of sons, female,
should inherit the kingdom, to the exclusion of her husband. [5] This
provision, which had been confirmed by her father, Charles the Third, in
his testament, was also recognized in her own, accompanied however with a
request, that her son Carlos, then twenty-one years of age, would, before
assuming the sovereignty, solicit "the good will and approbation of his
father." [6] Whether this approbation was withheld, or whether it was ever
solicited, does not appear. It seems probable, however, that Carlos,
perceiving no disposition in his father to relinquish the rank and nominal
title of king of Navarre, was willing he should retain them, so long as he
himself should be allowed to exercise the actual rights of sovereignty;
which indeed he did, as lieutenant-general or governor of the kingdom, at
the time of his mother's decease, and for some years after. [7]

In 1447, John of Aragon contracted a second alliance with Joan Henriquez,
of the blood royal of Castile, and daughter of Don Frederic Henriquez,
admiral of that kingdom; [8] a woman considerably younger than himself, of
consummate address, intrepid spirit, and unprincipled ambition. Some years
after this union, John sent his wife into Navarre, with authority to
divide with his son Carlos the administration of the government there.
This encroachment on his rights, for such Carlos reasonably deemed it, was
not mitigated by the deportment of the young queen, who displayed all the
insolence of sudden elevation, and who from the first seems to have
regarded the prince with the malevolent eye of a step-mother.

Navarre was at that time divided by two potent factions, styled, from
their ancient leaders, Beaumonts and Agramonts; whose hostility,
originating in a personal feud, had continued long after its original
cause had become extinct. [9]

The prince of Viana was intimately connected with some of the principal
partisans of the Beaumont faction, who heightened by their suggestions the
indignation to which his naturally gentle temper had been roused by the
usurpation of Joan, and who even called on him to assume openly, and in
defiance of his father, the sovereignty which of right belonged to him.
The emissaries of Castile, too, eagerly seized this occasion of
retaliating on John his interference in the domestic concerns of that
monarchy, by fanning the spark of discord into a flame. The Agramonts, on
the other hand, induced rather by hostility to their political adversaries
than to the prince of Viana, vehemently espoused the cause of the queen.
In this revival of half-buried animosities, fresh causes of disgust were
multiplied, and matters soon came to the worst extremity. The queen, who
had retired to Estella, was besieged there by the forces of the prince.
The king, her husband, on receiving intelligence of this, instantly
marched to her relief; and the father and son confronted each other at the
head of their respective armies near the town of Aybar. [10] The unnatural
position, in which they thus found themselves, seems to have sobered their
minds, and to have opened the way to an accommodation, the terms of which
were actually arranged, when the long-smothered rancor of the ancient
factions of Navarre thus brought in martial array against each other,
refusing all control, precipitated them into an engagement. The royal
forces were inferior in number, but superior in discipline, to those of
the prince, who, after a well contested action, saw his own party entirely
discomfited, and himself a prisoner. [11]

Some months before this event, Queen Joan had been delivered of a son,
afterwards so famous as Ferdinand the Catholic; whose humble prospects, at
the time of his birth, as a younger brother, afforded a striking contrast
with the splendid destiny which eventually awaited him. This auspicious
event occurred in the little town of Sos, in Aragon, on the 10th of March,
1452; and, as it was nearly contemporary with the capture of
Constantinople, is regarded by Garibay to have been providentially
assigned to this period, as affording, in a religious view, an ample
counterpoise to the loss of the capital of Christendom. [12]

The demonstrations of satisfaction, exhibited by John and his court on
this occasion, contrasted strangely with the stern severity with which he
continued to visit the offences of his elder offspring. It was not till
after many months of captivity that the king, in deference to public
opinion rather than the movements of his own heart, was induced to release
his son, on conditions, however, so illiberal (his indisputable claim to
Navarre not being even touched upon) as to afford no reasonable basis of
reconciliation. The young prince accordingly, on his return to Navarre,
became again involved in the factions which desolated that unhappy
kingdom, and, after an ineffectual struggle against his enemies, resolved
to seek an asylum at the court of his uncle Alfonso the Fifth, of Naples,
and to refer to him the final arbitration of his differences with his
father. [13]

On his passage through France and the various courts of Italy, he was
received with the attentions due to his rank, and still more to his
personal character and misfortunes. Nor was he disappointed in the
sympathy and favorable reception, which he had anticipated from his uncle.
Assured of protection from so high a quarter, Carlos might now reasonably
flatter himself with the restitution of his legitimate rights, when these
bright prospects were suddenly overcast by the death of Alfonso, who
expired at Naples of a fever in the month of May, 1458, bequeathing his
hereditary dominions of Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia to his brother John,
and his kingdom of Naples to his illegitimate son Ferdinand. [14]

The frank and courteous manners of Carlos had won so powerfully on the
affections of the Neapolitans, who distrusted the dark, ambiguous
character of Ferdinand, Alfonso's heir, that a large party eagerly pressed
the prince to assert his title to the vacant throne, assuring him of a
general support from the people. But Carlos, from motives of prudence or
magnanimity, declined engaging in this new contest, [15] and passed over
to Sicily, whence he resolved to solicit a final reconciliation with his
father. He was received with much kindness by the Sicilians, who,
preserving a grateful recollection of the beneficent sway of his mother
Blanche, when queen of that island, readily transferred to the son their
ancient attachment to the parent. An assembly of the states voted a
liberal supply for his present exigencies, and even urged him, if we are
to credit the Catalan ambassador at the court of Castile, to assume the
sovereignty of the island. [16] Carlos, however, far from entertaining so
rash an ambition, seems to have been willing to seclude himself from
public observation. He passed the greater portion of his time at a convent
of Benedictine friars not far from Messina, where, in the society of
learned men, and with the facilities of an extensive library, he
endeavored to recall the happier hours of youth in the pursuit of his
favorite studies of philosophy and history. [17]

In the mean while, John, now king of Aragon and its dependencies, alarmed
by the reports of his son's popularity in Sicily, became as solicitous for
the security of his authority there, as he had before been for it in
Navarre. He accordingly sought to soothe the mind of the prince by the
fairest professions, and to allure him back to Spain by the prospect of an
effectual reconciliation. Carlos, believing what he most earnestly wished,
in opposition to the advice of his Sicilian counsellors, embarked for
Majorca, and, after some preliminary negotiations, crossed over to the
coast of Barcelona. Postponing, for fear of giving offence to his father,
his entrance into that city, which, indignant at his persecution, had made
the most brilliant preparations for his reception, he proceeded to
Igualada, where an interview took place between him and the king and
queen, in which he conducted himself with unfeigned humility and
penitence, reciprocated on their part by the most consummate
dissimulation. [18]

All parties now confided in the stability of a pacification so anxiously
desired, and effected with such apparent cordiality. It was expected that
John would hasten to acknowledge his son's title as heir apparent to the
crown of Aragon, and convene an assembly of the states to tender him the
customary oath of allegiance. But nothing was further from the monarch's
intention. He indeed summoned the Aragonese cortes at Fraga for the
purpose of receiving their homage to himself; but he expressly refused
their request touching a similar ceremony to the prince of Viana; and he
openly rebuked the Catalans for presuming to address him as the successor
to the crown. [19]

In this unnatural procedure it was easy to discern the influence of the
queen. In addition to her original causes of aversion to Carlos, she
regarded him with hatred as the insuperable obstacle to her own child
Ferdinand's advancement. Even the affection of John seemed to be now
wholly transferred from the offspring of his first to that of his second
marriage; and, as the queen's influence over him was unbounded, she found
it easy by artful suggestions to put a dark construction on every action
of Carlos, and to close up every avenue of returning affection within his

Convinced at length of the hopeless alienation of his father, the prince
of Viana turned his attention to other quarters, whence he might obtain
support, and eagerly entered into a negotiation, which had been opened
with him on the part of Henry the Fourth, of Castile, for a union with his
sister the princess Isabella. This was coming in direct collision with the
favorite scheme of his parents. The marriage of Isabella with the young
Ferdinand, which indeed, from the parity of their ages, was a much more
suitable connection than that with Carlos, had long been the darling
object of their policy, and they resolved to effect it in the face of
every obstacle. In conformity with this purpose, John invited the prince
of Viana to attend him at Lerida, where he was then holding the cortes of
Catalonia. The latter fondly, and indeed foolishly, after his manifold
experience to the contrary, confiding in the relenting disposition of his
father, hastened to obey the summons, in expectation of being publicly
acknowledged as his heir in the assembly of the states. After a brief
interview he was arrested, and his person placed in strict confinement.

The intelligence of this perfidious procedure diffused general
consternation among all classes. They understood too well the artifices of
the queen and the vindictive temper of the king, not to feel the most
serious apprehensions, not only for the liberty, but for the life of their
prisoner. The cortes of Lerida, which, though dissolved on that very day,
had not yet separated, sent an embassy to John, requesting to know the
nature of the crimes imputed to his son. The permanent deputation of
Aragon, and a delegation from the council of Barcelona, waited on him for
a similar purpose, remonstrating at the same time against any violent and
unconstitutional proceeding. To all these John returned a cold, evasive
answer, darkly intimating a suspicion of conspiracy by his son against his
life, and reserving to himself the punishment of the offense. [21]

No sooner was the result of their mission communicated, than the whole
kingdom was thrown into a ferment. The high-spirited Catalans rose in
arms, almost to a man. The royal governor, after a fruitless attempt to
escape, was seized and imprisoned in Barcelona. Troops were levied, and
placed under the command of experienced officers of the highest rank. The
heated populace, outstripping the tardy movement of military operations,
marched forward to Lerida in order to get possession of the royal person.
The king, who had seasonable notice of this, displayed his wonted presence
of mind. He ordered supper to be prepared for him at the usual hour, but,
on the approach of night, made his escape on horseback with one or two
attendants only, on the road to Fraga, a town within the territory of
Aragon; while the mob, traversing the streets of Lerida, and finding
little resistance at the gate, burst into the palace and ransacked every
corner of it, piercing, in their fury, even the curtains and beds with
their swords and lances. [22]

The Catalan army, ascertaining the route of the royal fugitive, marched
directly on Fraga, and arrived so promptly that John, with his wife, and
the deputies of the Aragonese cortes assembled there, had barely time to
make their escape on the road to Saragossa, while the insurgents poured
into the city from the opposite quarter. The person of Carlos, in the mean
time, was secured in the inaccessible fortress of Morella, situated in a
mountainous district on the confines of Valencia. John, on halting at
Saragossa, endeavored to assemble an Aragonese force capable of resisting
the Catalan rebels. But the flame of insurrection had spread throughout
Aragon, Valencia, and Navarre, and was speedily communicated to his
transmarine possessions of Sardinia and Sicily. The king of Castile
supported Carlos at the same time by an irruption into Navarre, and his
partisans, the Beaumonts, co-operated with these movements by a descent on
Aragon. [23]

John, alarmed at the tempest which his precipitate conduct had roused, at
length saw the necessity of releasing his prisoner; and, as the queen had
incurred general odium as the chief instigator of his persecution, he
affected to do this in consequence of her interposition. As Carlos with
his mother-in-law traversed the country on their way to Barcelona, he was
everywhere greeted, by the inhabitants of the villages thronging out to
meet him, with the most touching enthusiasm. The queen, however, having
been informed by the magistrates that her presence would not be permitted
in the capital, deemed it prudent to remain at Villa Franca, about twenty
miles distant; while the prince, entering Barcelona, was welcomed with the
triumphant acclamation due to a conqueror returning from a campaign of
victories. [24]

The conditions on which the Catalans proposed to resume their allegiance
to their sovereign were sufficiently humiliating. They insisted not only
on his public acknowledgment of Carlos as his rightful heir and successor,
with the office, conferred on him for life, of lieutenant-general of
Catalonia, but on an obligation on his own part, that he would never enter
the province without their express permission. Such was John's extremity,
that he not only accepted these unpalatable conditions, but did it with
affected cheerfulness.

Fortune seemed now weary of persecution, and Carlos, happy in the
attachment of a brave and powerful people, appeared at length to have
reached a haven of permanent security. But at this crisis he fell ill of a
fever, or, as some historians insinuate, of a disorder occasioned by
poison administered during his imprisonment; a fact, which, although
unsupported by positive evidence, seems, notwithstanding its atrocity, to
be no wise improbable, considering the character of the parties
implicated. He expired on the 23d of September, 1461, in the forty-first
year of his age, bequeathing his title to the crown of Navarre, in
conformity with the original marriage contract of his parents, to his
sister Blanche and her posterity. [25]

Thus in the prime of life, and at the moment when he seemed to have
triumphed over the malice of his enemies, died the prince of Viana, whose
character, conspicuous for many virtues, has become still more so for his
misfortunes. His first act of rebellion, if such, considering his
legitimate pretensions to the crown, it can be called, was severely
requited by his subsequent calamities; while the vindictive and
persecuting temper of his parents excited a very general commiseration in
his behalf, and brought him more effectual support, than could have been
derived from his own merits or the justice of his cause. The character of
Don Carlos has been portrayed by Lucio Marineo, who, as he wrote an
account of these transactions by the command of Ferdinand the Catholic,
cannot be suspected of any undue partiality in favor of the prince of
Viana. "Such," says he, "were his temperance and moderation, such the
excellence of his breeding, the purity of his life, his liberality and
munificence, and such the sweetness of his demeanor, that no one thing
seemed to be wanting in him which belongs to a true and perfect prince."
[26] He is described by another contemporary, as "in person somewhat above
the middle stature, having a thin visage, with a serene and modest
expression of countenance, and withal somewhat inclined to melancholy."
[27] He was a considerable proficient in music, painting, and several
mechanic arts. He frequently amused himself with poetical composition, and
was the intimate friend of some of the most eminent bards of his time. But
he was above all devoted to the study of philosophy and history. He made a
version of Aristotle's Ethics into the vernacular, which was first printed
nearly fifty years after his death, at Saragossa, in 1509. He compiled
also a Chronicle of Navarre from the earliest period to his own times,
which, although suffered to remain in manuscript, has been liberally used
and cited by the Spanish antiquaries, Garibay, Blancas, and others. [28]
His natural taste and his habits fitted him much better for the quiet
enjoyment of letters, than for the tumultuous scenes in which it was his
misfortune to be involved, and in which he was no match for enemies grown
gray in the field and in the intrigues of the cabinet. But, if his
devotion to learning, so rare in his own age, and so very rare among
princes in any age, was unpropitious to his success on the busy theatre on
which he was engaged, it must surely elevate his character in the
estimation of an enlightened posterity.

The tragedy did not terminate with the death of Carlos. His sister
Blanche, notwithstanding the inoffensive gentleness of her demeanor, had
long been involved, by her adhesion to her unfortunate brother, in a
similar proscription with him. The succession to Navarre having now
devolved on her, she became tenfold an object of jealousy both to her
father, the present possessor of that kingdom, and to her sister Eleanor,
countess of Foix, to whom the reversion of it had been promised by John,
on his own decease. The son of this lady, Gaston de Foix, had lately
married a sister of Louis the Eleventh, of France; and, in a treaty
subsequently contracted between that monarch and the king of Aragon, it
was stipulated that Blanche should be delivered into the custody of the
countess of Foix, as surety for the succession of the latter, and of her
posterity, to the crown of Navarre. [29]

Conformably to this provision, John endeavored to persuade the princess
Blanche to accompany him into France, under the pretext of forming an
alliance for her with Louis's brother, the duke of Berri. The unfortunate
lady, comprehending too well her father's real purpose, besought him with
the most piteous entreaties not to deliver her into the hands of her
enemies; but, closing his heart against all natural affection, he caused
her to be torn from her residence at Olit, in the heart of her own
dominions, and forcibly transported across the mountains into those of the
count of Foix. On arriving at St. Jean Pied de Port, a little town on the
French side of the Pyrenees, being convinced that she had nothing further
to hope from human succor, she made a formal renunciation of her right to
Navarre in favor of her cousin and former husband, Henry the Fourth, of
Castile, who had uniformly supported the cause of her brother Carlos.
Henry, though debased by sensual indulgence, was naturally of a gentle
disposition, and had never treated her personally with unkindness. In a
letter, which she now addressed to him, and which, says a Spanish
historian, cannot be read, after the lapse of so many years, without
affecting the most insensible heart, [30] she reminded him of the dawn of
happiness which she had enjoyed under his protection, of his early
engagements to her, and of her subsequent calamities; and, anticipating
the gloomy destiny which awaited her, she settled on him her inheritance
of Navarre, to the entire exclusion of her intended assassins, the count
and countess of Foix. [31]

On the same day, the last of April, she was delivered over to one of their
emissaries, who conducted her to the castle of Ortes in Bearne, where,
after languishing in dreadful suspense for nearly two years, she was
poisoned by the command of her sister. [32] The retribution of Providence
not unfrequently overtakes the guilty even in this world. The countess
survived her father to reign in Navarre only three short weeks; while the
crown was ravished from her posterity for ever by that very Ferdinand,
whose elevation had been the object to his parents of so much solicitude
and so many crimes.

Within a fortnight after the decease of Carlos, the customary oaths of
allegiance, so pertinaciously withheld from that unfortunate prince, were
tendered by the Aragonese deputation, at Calatayud, to his brother
Ferdinand, then only ten years of age, as heir apparent of the monarchy;
after which he was conducted by his mother into Catalonia, in order to
receive the more doubtful homage of that province. The extremities of
Catalonia at this time seemed to be in perfect repose, but the capital was
still agitated by secret discontent. The ghost of Carlos was seen stalking
by night through the streets of Barcelona, bewailing in piteous accents
his untimely end, and invoking vengeance on his unnatural murderers. The
manifold miracles wrought at his tomb soon gained him the reputation of a
saint, and his image received the devotional honors reserved for such as
have been duly canonized by the church. [33]

The revolutionary spirit of the Barcelonians, kept alive by the
recollection of past injury, as well as by the apprehensions of future
vengeance, should John succeed in reestablishing his authority over them,
soon became so alarming, that the queen, whose consummate address,
however, had first accomplished the object of her visit, found it
advisable to withdraw from the capital; and she sought refuge, with her
son and such few adherents as still remained faithful to them, in the
fortified city of Gerona, about fifty miles north of Barcelona.

Hither, however, she was speedily pursued by the Catalan militia, embodied
under the command of their ancient leader Roger, count of Pallas, and
eager to regain the prize which they had so inadvertently lost. The city
was quickly entered, but the queen, with her handful of followers, had
retreated to a tower belonging to the principal church in the place,
which, as was very frequent in Spain, in those wild times, was so strongly
fortified as to be capable of maintaining a formidable resistance. To
oppose this, a wooden fortress of the same height was constructed by the
assailants, and planted with lombards and other pieces of artillery then
in use, which kept up an unintermitting discharge of stone bullets on the
little garrison. [34] The Catalans also succeeded in running a mine
beneath the fortress, through which a considerable body of troops
penetrated into it, when, their premature cries of exultation having
discovered them to the besieged, they were repulsed, after a desperate
struggle, with great slaughter. The queen displayed the most intrepid
spirit in the midst of these alarming scenes; unappalled by the sense of
her own danger and that of her child, and by the dismal lamentations of
the females by whom she was surrounded, she visited every part of the
works in person, cheering her defenders by her presence and dauntless
resolution. Such were the stormy and disastrous scenes in which the
youthful Ferdinand commenced a career, whose subsequent prosperity was
destined to be checkered by scarcely a reverse of fortune. [35]

In the mean while, John, having in vain attempted to penetrate through
Catalonia to the relief of his wife, effected this by the co-operation of
his French ally, Louis the Eleventh. That monarch, with his usual
insidious policy, had covertly despatched an envoy to Barcelona on the
death of Carlos, assuring the Catalans of his protection, should they
still continue averse to a reconciliation with their own sovereign. These
offers were but coldly received; and Louis found it more for his interest
to accept the propositions made to him by the king of Aragon himself,
which subsequently led to most important consequences. By three several
treaties, of the 3d, 21st, and 23d of May, 1462, it was stipulated, that
Louis should furnish his ally with seven hundred lances and a
proportionate number of archers and artillery during the war with
Barcelona, to be indemnified by the payment of two hundred thousand gold
crowns within one year after the reduction of that city; as security for
which the counties of Roussillon and Cerdagne were pledged by John, with
the cession of their revenues to the French king, until such time as the
original debt should be redeemed. In this transaction both monarchs
manifested their usual policy; Louis believing that this temporary
mortgage would become a permanent alienation, from John's inability to
discharge it; while the latter anticipated, as the event showed, with more
justice, that the aversion of the inhabitants to the dismemberment of
their country from the Aragonese monarchy would baffle every attempt on
the part of the French to occupy it permanently. [36]

In pursuance of these arrangements, seven hundred French lances with a
considerable body of archers and artillery [37] crossed the mountains,
and, rapidly advancing on Gerona, compelled the insurgent army to raise
the siege, and to decamp with such precipitation as to leave their cannon
in the hands of the royalists. The Catalans now threw aside the thin veil,
with which they had hitherto covered their proceedings. The authorities of
the principality, established in Barcelona, publicly renounced their
allegiance to King John and his son Ferdinand, and proclaimed them enemies
of the republic. Writings at the same time were circulated, denouncing
from scriptural authority, as well as natural reason, the doctrine of
legitimacy in the broadest terms, and insisting that the Aragonese
monarchs, far from being absolute, might be lawfully deposed for an
infringement of the liberties of the nation. "The good of the
commonwealth," it was said, "must always be considered paramount to that
of the prince." Extraordinary doctrines these for the age in which they
were promulged, affording a still more extraordinary contrast with those
which have been since familiar in that unhappy country! [38]

The government then enforced levies of all such as were above the age of
fourteen, and, distrusting the sufficiency of its own resources, offered
the sovereignty of the principality to Henry the Fourth, of Castile. The
court of Aragon, however, had so successfully insinuated its influence
into the council of this imbecile monarch, that he was not permitted to
afford the Catalans any effectual support; and, as he abandoned their
cause altogether before the expiration of the year, [39] the crown was
offered to Don Pedro, constable of Portugal, a descendant of the ancient
house of Barcelona. In the mean while, the old king of Aragon, attended by
his youthful son, had made himself master, with his characteristic
activity, of considerable acquisitions in the revolted territory,
successively reducing Lerida, [40] Cervera, Amposta, [41] Tortosa, and the
most important places in the south of Catalonia. Many of these places were
strongly fortified, and most of them defended with a resolution which cost
the conqueror a prodigious sacrifice of time and money. John, like Philip
of Macedon, made use of gold even more than arms, for the reduction of his
enemies; and, though he indulged in occasional acts of resentment, his
general treatment of those who submitted was as liberal as it was politic.
His competitor, Don Pedro, had brought little foreign aid to the support
of his enterprise; he had failed altogether in conciliating the attachment
of his new subjects; and, as the operations of the war had been conducted
on his part in the most languid manner, the whole of the principality
seemed destined soon to relapse under the dominion of its ancient master.
At this juncture the Portuguese prince fell ill of a fever, of which he
died on the 29th of June, 1466. This event, which seemed likely to lead to
a termination of the war, proved ultimately the cause of its protraction.

It appeared, however, to present a favorable opportunity to John for
opening a negotiation with the insurgents. But, so resolute were they in
maintaining their independence, that the council of Barcelona condemned
two of the principal citizens, suspected of defection from the cause, to
be publicly executed; it refused moreover to admit an envoy from the
Aragonese cortes within the city, and caused the despatches, with which he
was intrusted by that body, to be torn in pieces before his face.

The Catalans then proceeded to elect René le Bon, as he was styled, of
Anjou, to the vacant throne, brother of one of the original competitors
for the crown of Aragon on the demise of Martin; whose cognomen of "Good"
is indicative of a sway far more salutary to his subjects than the more
coveted and imposing title of Great. [43] This titular sovereign of half a
dozen empires, in which he did not actually possess a rood of land, was
too far advanced in years to assume this perilous enterprise himself; and
he accordingly intrusted it to his son John, duke of Calabria and
Lorraine, who, in his romantic expeditions in southern Italy, had acquired
a reputation for courtesy and knightly prowess, inferior to none other of
his time. [44] Crowds of adventurers flocked to the standard of a leader,
whose ample inheritance of pretensions had made him familiar with war from
his earliest boyhood; and he soon found himself at the head of eight
thousand effective troops. Louis the Eleventh, although not directly
aiding his enterprise with supplies of men or money, was willing so far to
countenance it, as to open a passage for him through the mountain
fastnesses of Roussillon, then in his keeping, and thus enable him to
descend with his whole army at once on the northern borders of Catalonia.

The king of Aragon could oppose no force capable of resisting this
formidable army. His exchequer, always low, was completely exhausted by
the extraordinary efforts, which he had made in the late campaigns; and,
as the king of France, either disgusted with the long protraction of the
war, or from secret good-will to the enterprise of his feudal subject,
withheld from King John the stipulated subsidies, the latter monarch found
himself unable, with every expedient of loan and exaction, to raise
sufficient money to pay his troops, or to supply his magazines. In
addition to this, he was now involved in a dispute with the count and
countess of Foix, who, eager to anticipate the possession of Navarre,
which had been guaranteed to them on their father's decease, threatened a
similar rebellion, though on much less justifiable pretences, to that
which he had just experienced from Don Carlos. To crown the whole of
John's calamities, his eyesight, which had been impaired by exposure and
protracted sufferings during the winter siege of Amposta, now failed him
altogether. [46]

In this extremity, his intrepid wife, putting herself at the head of such
forces as she could collect, passed by water to the eastern shores of
Catalonia, besieging Rosas in person, and checking the operations of the
enemy by the capture of several inferior places; while Prince Ferdinand,
effecting a junction with her before Gerona, compelled the duke of
Lorraine to abandon the siege of that important city. Ferdinand's ardor,
however, had nearly proved fatal to him; as, in an accidental encounter
with a more numerous party of the enemy, his jaded horse would infallibly
have betrayed him into their hands, had it not been for the devotion of
his officers, several of whom, throwing themselves between him and his
pursuers, enabled him to escape by the sacrifice of their own liberty.

These ineffectual struggles could not turn the tide of fortune. The duke
of Lorraine succeeded in this and the two following campaigns in making
himself master of all the rich district of Ampurdan, northeast of
Barcelona. In the capital itself, his truly princely qualities and his
popular address secured him the most unbounded influence. Such was the
enthusiasm for his person, that, when he rode abroad, the people thronged
around him, embracing his knees, the trappings of his steed, and even the
animal himself, in their extravagance; while the ladies, it is said,
pawned their rings, necklaces, and other ornaments of their attire, in
order to defray the expenses of the war. [47]

King John, in the mean while, was draining the cup of bitterness to the
dregs. In the winter of 1468, his queen, Joan Henriquez, fell a victim to
a painful disorder, which had been secretly corroding her constitution for
a number of years. In many respects, she was the most remarkable woman of
her time. She took an active part in the politics of her husband, and may
be even said to have given them a direction. She conducted several
important diplomatic negotiations to a happy issue, and, what was more
uncommon in her sex, displayed considerable capacity for military affairs.
Her persecution of her step-son, Carlos, has left a deep stain on her
memory. It was the cause of all her husband's subsequent misfortunes. Her
invincible spirit, however, and the resources of her genius, supplied him
with the best means of surmounting many of the difficulties in which she
had involved him, and her loss at this crisis seemed to leave him at once
without solace or support. [48]

At this period, he was further embarrassed, as will appear in the ensuing
chapter, by negotiations for Ferdinand's marriage, which was to deprive
him, in a great measure, of his son's co-operation in the struggle with
his subjects, and which, as he lamented, while he had scarcely three
hundred _enríques_ in his coffers, called on him for additional

As the darkest hour, however, is commonly said to precede the dawning, so
light now seemed to break upon the affairs of John. A physician in Lerida,
of the Hebrew race, which monopolized at that time almost all the medical
science in Spain, persuaded the king to submit to the then unusual
operation of couching, and succeeded in restoring sight to one of his
eyes. As the Jew, after the fashion of the Arabs, debased his real science
with astrology, he refused to operate on the other eye, since the planets,
he said, wore a malignant aspect. But John's rugged nature was insensible
to the timorous superstitions of his age, and he compelled the physician
to repeat his experiment, which in the end proved perfectly successful.
Thus restored to his natural faculties, the octogenarian chief, for such
he might now almost be called, regained his wonted elasticity, and
prepared to resume offensive operations against the enemy with all his
accustomed energy. [49] Heaven, too, as if taking compassion on his
accumulated misfortunes, now removed the principal obstacle to his success
by the death of the duke of Lorraine, who was summoned from the theatre of
his short-lived triumphs on the 16th of December, 1469. The Barcelonians
were thrown into the greatest consternation by his death, imputed, as
usual, though without apparent foundation, to poison; and their respect
for his memory was attested by the honors no less than royal, which they
paid to his remains. His body, sumptuously attired, with his victorious
sword by his side, was paraded in solemn procession through the
illuminated streets of the city, and, after lying nine days in state, was
deposited amid the lamentations of the people in the sepulchre of the
sovereigns of Catalonia. [50]

As the father of the deceased prince was too old, and his children too
young, to give effectual aid to their cause, the Catalans might be now
said to be again without a leader. But their spirit was unbroken, and with
the same resolution in which they refused submission more than two
centuries after, in 1714, when the combined forces of France and Spain
were at the gates of the capital, they rejected the conciliatory advances
made them anew by John. That monarch, however, having succeeded by
extraordinary efforts in assembling a competent force, was proceeding with
his usual alacrity in the reduction of such places in the eastern quarter
of Catalonia as had revolted to the enemy, while at the same time he
instituted a rigorous blockade of Barcelona by sea and land. The
fortifications were strong, and the king was unwilling to expose so fair a
city to the devastating horrors of a storm. The inhabitants made one
vigorous effort in a sally against the royal forces; but the civic militia
were soon broken, and the loss of four thousand men, killed and prisoners,
admonished them of their inability to cope with the veterans of Aragon.

At length, reduced to the last extremity, they consented to enter into
negotiations, which were concluded by a treaty equally honorable to both
parties. It was stipulated, that Barcelona should retain all its ancient
privileges and rights of jurisdiction, and, with some exceptions, its
large territorial possessions. A general amnesty was to be granted for
offences. The foreign mercenaries were to be allowed to depart in safety;
and such of the natives, as should refuse to renew their allegiance to
their ancient sovereign within a year, might have the liberty of removing
with their effects wherever they would. One provision may be thought
somewhat singular, after what had occurred; it was agreed that the king
should cause the Barcelonians to be publicly proclaimed, throughout all
his dominions, good, faithful, and loyal subjects; which was accordingly

The king, after the adjustment of the preliminaries, "declining," says a
contemporary, "the triumphal car which had been prepared for him, made his
entrance into the city by the gate of St. Anthony, mounted on a white
charger; and, as he rode along the principal streets, the sight of so many
pallid countenances and emaciated figures, bespeaking the extremity of
famine, smote his heart with sorrow." He then proceeded to the hall of the
great palace, and on the 22d of December, 1472, solemnly swore there to
respect the constitution and laws of Catalonia. [52]

Thus ended this long, disastrous civil war, the fruit of parental
injustice and oppression, which had nearly cost the king of Aragon the
fairest portion of his dominions; which devoted to disquietude and
disappointment more than ten years of life, at a period when repose is
most grateful; and which opened the way to foreign wars, that continued to
hang like a dark cloud over the evening of his days. It was attended,
however, with one important result; that of establishing Ferdinand's
succession over the whole of the domains of his ancestors.


[1] The reader who may be curious in this matter will find the pedigree
exhibiting the titles of the several competitors to the crown given by Mr.
Hallam. (State of Europe during the Middle Ages, (2d ed. London, 1819,)
vol. ii. p. 60, note.) The claims of Ferdinand were certainly not derived
from the usual laws of descent.

[2] The reader of Spanish history often experiences embarrassment from the
identity of names in the various princes of the Peninsula. Thus the John,
mentioned in the text, afterwards John II., might be easily confounded
with his namesake and contemporary, John II., of Castile. The genealogical
table, at the beginning of this History, will show their relationship to
each other.

[3] His grandfather, Charles III., created this title in favor of Carlos,
appropriating it as the designation henceforth of the heir apparent.--
Aleson, Anales del Reyno de Navarra, contin. de Moret, (Pamplona, 1766,)
tom. iv. p. 398.--Salazar de Mendoza, Monarquia, tom. ii. p. 331.

[4] See Part I. Chap. 3, Note 5, of this History.

[5] This fact, vaguely and variously reported by Spanish writers, is fully
established by Aleson, who cites the original instrument, contained in the
archives of the counts of Lerin. Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 354, 365.

[6] See the reference to the original document in Aleson. (Tom. iv. pp.
365, 366.) This industrious writer has established the title of Prince
Carlos to Navarre, so frequently misunderstood or misrepresented by the
national historians, on an incontestable basis.

[7] Ibid., tom. iv. p. 467.

[8] See Part I. Chap. 3, of this work.

[9] Gaillard errs in referring the origin of these factions to this epoch.
(Histoire de la Rivalité de France et de l'Espagne, (Paris, 1801,) tom.
iii. p. 227.) Aleson quotes a proclamation of John in relation to them in
the lifetime of Queen Blanche. Annales de Navarra, tom. iv. p. 494.

[10] Zurita, Anales, tom. iii. fol. 278.--Lucio Marineo Siculo, Coronista
de sus Magestades, Las Cosas Memorables de España, (Alcalà de Henares,
1539,) fol. 104.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 494-498.

[11] Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 223.--Aleson, Anales de
Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 501-503.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 105.

[12] Compendio, tom. iii. p. 419.--L. Marineo describes the heavens as
uncommonly serene at the moment of Ferdinand's birth. "The sun, which had
been obscured with clouds during the whole day, suddenly broke forth with
unwonted splendor. A crown was also beheld in the sky, composed of various
brilliant colors like those of a rainbow. All which appearances were
interpreted by the spectators as an omen, that the child then born would
be the most illustrious among men." (Cosas Memorables, fol. 153.) Garibay
postpones the nativity of Ferdinand to the year 1453, and L. Marineo, who
ascertains with curious precision even the date of his conception, fixes
his birth in 1450, (fol. 153.) But Alonso de Palencia in his History,
(Verdadera Corónica de Don Enrique IV., Rei de Castilla y Leon, y del Rei
Don Alonso su Hermano, MS.) and Andrés Bernaldez, Cura de Los Palacios,
(Historia de los Reyes Católicos, MS., c. 8,) both of them contemporaries,
refer this event to the period assigned in the text; and, as the same
epoch is adopted by the accurate Zurita, (Anales, tom. iv. fol. 9,) I have
given it the preference.

[13] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 3-48.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom.
iv. pp. 508-526.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 105.

[14] Giannone, Istoria Civile del Regno di Napoli, (Milano, 1823,) lib.
26, c. 7.--Ferreras, Histoire Générale d'Espagne, trad. par D'Hermilly,
(Paris, 1751,) tom. vii. p. 60.--L'Histoire du Royaume de Navarre, par
l'un des Secrétaires Interprettes de sa Majesté, (Paris, 1596,) p. 468.

[15] Compare the narrative of the Neapolitan historians, Summonte
(Historia della Città e Regno di Napoli, (Napoli, 1675,) lib. 5, c. 2) and
Giannone, (Istoria Civile, lib. 26, c. 7.--lib. 27. Introd.) with the
opposite statements of L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, (fol. 106,) himself a
contemporary, Aleson, (Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. p. 546,) and other
Spanish writers.

[16] Enriquez del Castillo, Crónica de Enrique el Quarto, (Madrid, 1787,)
cap. 43.

[17] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 97.--Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus,
tom. ii. p. 282.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 106.--Abarca, Reyes
de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 250.--Carlos bargained with Pope Pius II. for a
transfer of this library, particularly rich in the ancient classics, to
Spain, which was eventually defeated by his death. Zurita, who visited the
monastery containing it nearly a century after this period, found its
inmates possessed of many traditionary anecdotes respecting the prince
during his seclusion among them.

[18] Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 548-554.--Abarca, Reyes de
Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 251.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 60-69.

[19] Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, ubi supra.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol.
70-75.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. p. 556.

[20] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 108.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 17,
cap. 3.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 556, 557.--Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 27.

[21] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 108, 109.--Abarca, Reyes de
Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 252.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 17, cap. 45.--Aleson,
Anales de Navarra, tom. ii. p. 357.

[22] Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. ii. p. 358.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 17,
cap. 6.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 253.--L. Marineo, Cosas
Memorables, fol. 111.

[23] Zurita, Anales, lib. 17, cap. 6.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol.

[24] Castillo, Crónica, cap. 28.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, fol. 253, 254.
--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 111, 112.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra,
tom. iv. pp. 559, 560.--The inhabitants of Tarraca closed their gates upon
the queen, and rung the bells on her approach, the signal of alarm on the
appearance of an enemy, or for the pursuit of a malefactor.

[25] Alonso de Palencia, Crónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 51.--L. Marineo,
Cosas Memorables, fol. 114.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 561-
563.--Zurita, Anales, cap. 19, 24.

[26] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 106.--"Por quanto era la templança
y mesura de aquel principe; tan grande el concierto y su criança y
costumbres, la limpieza de su vida, su liberalidad y magnificencia, y
finalmente su dulce conversacion, que ninguna cosa en el faltava de
aquellas que pertenescen a recta vivir; y que arman el verdadero y
perfecto principe y señor."

[27] Gundisalvus Garsias, apud Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii.
p. 281.

[28] Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii. pp. 281, 282.--Mariana,
Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 434.

[29] This treaty was signed at Olit in Navarre, April 12th, 1462.--Zurita,
Anales, lib. 17, cap. 38, 39.--Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iii. p. 235.--
Gaillard confounds it with the subsequent one made in the month of May,
near the town of Salvatierra in Bearne.

[30] Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom., vii. p. 110.

[31] Hist. du Royaume de Navarre, p. 496.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom.
iv. pp. 590-593.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 258, 259.--
Zurita, Anales, lib. 17, cap. 38.

[32] Lebrija, De Bello Navariensi, (Granatae, 1545,) lib. 1, cap. 1, fol.
74.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, ubi supra.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 17, cap.
38.--The Spanish historians are not agreed as to the time or even mode of
Blanche's death. All concur, however, in attributing it to assassination,
and most of them, with the learned Antonio Lebrija, a contemporary, (loc.
cit.,) in imputing it to poison. The fact of her death, which Aleson, on I
know not what authority, refers to the 2d of December, 1464, was not
publicly disclosed till some months after its occurrence, when disclosure
became necessary in consequence of the proposed interposition of the
Navarrese cortes.

[33] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 51.--Zurita, Anales,
tom. iv. fol. 98.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 256.--Aleson,
Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 563 et seq.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables,
fol. 114.--According to Lanuza, who wrote nearly two centuries after the
death of Carlos, the flesh upon his right arm, which had been amputated
for the purpose of a more convenient application to the diseased members
of the pilgrims who visited his shrine, remained in his day in a perfectly
sound and healthful state! (Historias Ecclesiásticas y Seculares de
Aragon, (Zaragoza, 1622,) tom. i. p. 553.) Aleson wonders that any should
doubt the truth of miracles, attested by the monks of the very monastery
in which Carlos was interred.

[34] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 116.--Alonso de Palencia,
Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 51.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 113. The
Spaniards, deriving the knowledge of artillery from the Arabs, had become
familiar with it before the other nations of Christendom. The affirmation
of Zurita, however, that 5000 balls were fired from the battery of the
besiegers at Gerona in one day, is perfectly absurd. So little was the
science of gunnery advanced in other parts of Europe at this period, and
indeed later, that it was usual for a field-piece not to be discharged
more than twice in the course of an action, if we may credit Machiavelli,
who, indeed, recommends dispensing with the use of artillery altogether.
Arte della Guerra, lib. 3. (Opere, Genova, 1798.)

[35] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, c. 51.--L. Marineo, Cosas
Memorables, fol. 116.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 113.--Abarca, Reyes
de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 259.

[36] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 111.--Another 100,000 crowns were to be
paid in case further assistance should be required from the French monarch
after the reduction of Barcelona. This treaty has been incorrectly
reported by most of the French and all the Spanish historians whom I have
consulted, save the accurate Zurita. An abstract from the original
documents, compiled by the Abbé Legrand, has been given by M. Petitot in
his recent edition of the Collection des Mémoires relatifs à l'Histoire de
France, (Paris, 1836,) tom. xi. Introd. p. 245.

[37] A French lance, it may be stated, of that day, according to L.
Marineo, was accompanied by two horsemen; so that the whole contingent of
cavalry to be furnished on this occasion amounted to 2100. (Cosas
Memorables, fol. 117.) Nothing could be more indeterminate than the
complement of a lance in the Middle Ages. It is not unusual to find it
reckoned at five or six horsemen.

[38] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 113-115.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica,
MS., part. 2, cap. 1.

[39] In conformity with the famous verdict given by Louis XI. at Bayonne,
April 23d, 1463, previously to the interview between him and Henry IV. on
the shores of the Bidassoa. See Part I. Chap. 3, of this History.

[40] This was the battle-ground of Julius Caesar in his wars with Pompey.
See his ingenious military manoeuvre as simply narrated in his own
Commentaries, (De Bello Civili, tom. i. p. 54,) and by Lucan, (Pharsalia,
lib. 4,) with his usual swell of hyperbole.

[41] The cold was so intense at the siege of Amposta, that serpents of an
enormous magnitude are reported by L. Marineo to have descended from the
mountains, and taken refuge in the camp of the besiegers. Portentous and
supernatural voices were frequently heard during the nights. Indeed, the
superstition of the soldiers appears to have been so lively as to have
prepared them for seeing and hearing anything.

[42] Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 390.--Alonso de
Palencia, MS., part. 2, cap. 60, 61--Castillo, Crónica, pp. 43, 44, 46,
49, 50, 54.--Zurita, Anales, tom. ii. fol. 116, 124, 127, 128, 130, 137,
147.--M. La Clède states, that "Don Pedro no sooner arrived in Catalonia,
than he was poisoned."(Histoire Générale de Portugal, (Paris, 1735,) tom.
iii. p. 245.) It must have been a very slow poison. He arrived January
21st, 1464, and died June 29th, 1466.

[43] Sir Walter Scott, in his "Anne of Geierstein," has brought into full
relief the ridiculous side of René's character. The good king's fondness
for poetry and the arts, however, although showing itself occasionally in
puerile eccentricities, may compare advantageously with the coarse
appetites and mischievous activity of most of the contemporary princes.
After all, the best tribute to his worth was the earnest attachment of his
people. His biography has been well and diligently compiled by the
viscount of Villeneuve Bargemont, (Histoire de René d'Anjou, Paris, 1825,)
who has, however, indulged in greater detail than was perhaps to have been
desired by René, or his readers.

[44] Comines says of him, "A tous alarmes c'estoit le premier homme armé,
et de toutes pièces, et son cheval tousjours bardé. Il portoit un
habillement que ces conducteurs portent en Italie, et sembloit bien prince
et chef de guerre; et y avoit d'obéissance autant que monseigneur de
Charolois, et luy obéissoit tout l'ost de meilleur coeur, car à la vérité
il estoit digne d'estre honoré." Philippe de Comines, Mémoires, apud
Petitot; (Paris, 1826,) liv. 1, chap. 11.

[45] Villeneuve Bargemont, Hist. de René, tom. ii. pp. 168, 169.--Histoire
de Louys XI., autrement dicte La Chronique Scandaleuse, par un Greffier de
l'Hostel de Ville de Paris, (Paris, 1620,) p. 145.--Zurita, Anales, tom.
iv. fol. 150, 153.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 17.--
Palencia swells the numbers of the French in the service of the duke of
Lorraine to 20,000.

[46] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 139.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv.
fol. 148, 149, 158.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 611-613.--
Duclos, Hist. de Louis XI., (Amsterdam, 1746,) tom. ii. p. 114.--Mém. de
Comines, Introd., p. 258, apud Petitot.

[47] Villeneuve Bargemont, Hist. de René, tom. ii. pp. 182, 183.--L.
Marineo, fol. 140.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 153-164.--Abarca, Reyes
de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 29, cap. 7.

[48] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 88.--L. Marineo,
Cosas Memorables, fol. 143.--Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. p. 609.--
The queen's death was said to have been caused by a cancer. According to
Aleson and some other Spanish writers, Joan was heard several times, in
her last illness, to exclaim, in allusion, as was supposed, to her
assassination of Carlos, "Alas! Ferdinand, how dear thou hast cost thy
mother!" I find no notice of this improbable confession in any
contemporary author.

[49] Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. pp. 459, 460.--L. Marineo, Cosas
Memorables, fol. 151.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 88.

[50] Villeneuve Bargemont, Hist. de René, tom. ii. pp. 182,333, 334.--L.
Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 142.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, part.
2, cap. 39.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 178.--According to M. de
Villeneuve Bargemont, the princess Isabella's hand had been offered to the
duke of Lorraine, and the envoy despatched to notify his acceptance of it,
on arriving at the court of Castile, received from the lips of Henry IV.
the first tidings of his master's death, (tom. ii. p. 184.) He must have
learned too with no less surprise that Isabella had already been married
at that time more than a year! See the date of the official marriage
recorded in Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Apend. no. 4.

[51] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 29, 45.--Zurita,
Anales, tom. iv. fol. 180-183.-Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, rey 29, cap. 29.

[52] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 144, 147.--Zurita, Anales, tom.
iv. fol. 187, 188.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 1.




Henry IV. disappoints Expectations.--Oppression of the People.--League of
the Nobles.--Extraordinary Scene at Avila.--Early Education of Isabella.--
Death of her Brother Alfonso.--Intestine Anarchy.--The Crown offered to
Isabella.--She declines it.--Her Suitors.--She accepts Ferdinand of
Aragon.--Marriage Articles.--Critical Situation of Isabella.--Ferdinand
enters Castile.--Their Marriage.

While these stormy events were occurring in Aragon, the Infanta Isabella,
whose birth was mentioned at the close of the first chapter, was passing
her youth amidst scenes scarcely less tumultuous. At the date of her
birth, her prospect of succeeding to the throne of her ancestors was even
more remote than Ferdinand's prospect of inheriting that of his; and it is
interesting to observe through what trials, and by what a series of
remarkable events, Providence was pleased to bring about this result, and
through it the union, so long deferred, of the great Spanish monarchies.

The accession of her elder brother, Henry the Fourth, was welcomed with an
enthusiasm, proportioned to the disgust which had been excited by the
long-protracted and imbecile reign of his predecessor. Some few, indeed,
who looked back to the time when he was arrayed in arms against his
father, distrusted the soundness either of his principles or of his
judgment. But far the larger portion of the nation was disposed to refer
this to inexperience, or the ebullition of youthful spirit, and indulged
the cheering anticipations which are usually entertained of a new reign
and a young monarch. [1] Henry was distinguished by a benign temper, and
by a condescension, which might be called familiarity, in his intercourse
with his inferiors, virtues peculiarly engaging in persons of his elevated
station; and as vices, which wear the gloss of youth, are not only
pardoned, but are oftentimes popular with the vulgar, the reckless
extravagance in which he indulged himself was favorably contrasted with
the severe parsimony of his father in his latter years, and gained him the
surname of "the Liberal." His treasurer having remonstrated with him on
the prodigality of his expenditure, he replied, "Kings, instead of
hoarding treasure like private persons, are bound to dispense it for the
happiness of their subjects. We must give to our enemies to make them
friends, and to our friends to keep them so." He suited the action so well
to the word, that, in a few years, there was scarcely a _mara-vedi_
remaining in the royal coffers. [2]

He maintained greater state than was usual with the monarchs of Castile,
keeping in pay a body-guard of thirty-six hundred lances, splendidly
equipped, and officered by the sons of the nobility. He proclaimed a
crusade against the Moors, a measure always popular in Castile; assuming
the pomegranate branch, the device of Granada, on his escutcheon, in token
of his intention to extirpate the Moslems from the Peninsula. He assembled
the chivalry of the remote provinces; and, in the early part of his reign,
scarce a year elapsed without one or more incursions into the hostile
territory, with armies of thirty or forty thousand men. The results did
not correspond with the magnificence of the apparatus; and these brilliant
expeditions too often evaporated in a mere border foray, or in an empty
gasconade under the walls of Granada. Orchards were cut down, harvests
plundered, villages burnt to the ground, and all the other modes of
annoyance peculiar to this barbarous warfare put in practice by the
invading armies as they swept over the face of the country; individual
feats of prowess, too, commemorated in the romantic ballads of the time,
were achieved; but no victory was gained, no important post acquired. The
king in vain excused his hasty retreats and abortive enterprises by
saying, "that he prized the life of one of his soldiers more than those of
a thousand Mussulmans." His troops murmured at this timorous policy, and
the people of the south, on whom the charges of the expeditions fell with
peculiar heaviness, from their neighborhood to the scene of operations,
complained that "the war was carried on against them, not against the
infidel." On one occasion an attempt was made to detain the king's person,
and thus prevent him from disbanding his forces. So soon had the royal
authority fallen into contempt! The king of Granada himself, when summoned
to pay tribute after a series of these ineffectual operations, replied
"that, in the first years of Henry's reign, he would have offered
anything, even his children, to preserve peace to his dominions; but now
he would give nothing." [3]

The contempt, to which the king exposed himself by his public conduct, was
still further heightened by his domestic. With even a greater
indisposition to business, than was manifested by his father, [4] he
possessed none of the cultivated tastes, which were the redeeming
qualities of the latter. Having been addicted from his earliest youth to
debauchery, when he had lost the powers, he retained all the relish, for
the brutish pleasures of a voluptuary. He had repudiated his wife, Blanche
of Aragon, after a union of twelve years, on grounds sufficiently
ridiculous and humiliating. [5] In 1455, he espoused Joanna, a Portuguese
princess, sister of Alfonso the Fifth, the reigning monarch. This lady,
then in the bloom of youth, was possessed of personal graces, and a lively
wit, which, say the historians, made her the delight of the court of
Portugal. She was accompanied by a brilliant train of maidens, and her
entrance into Castile was greeted by the festivities and military
pageants, which belong to an age of chivalry. The light and lively manners
of the young queen, however, which seemed to defy the formal etiquette of
the Castilian court, gave occasion to the grossest suspicions. The tongue
of scandal indicated Beltran de la Cueva, one of the handsomest cavaliers
in the kingdom, and then newly risen in the royal graces, as the person to
whom she most liberally dispensed her favors. This knight defended a
passage of arms, in presence of the court, near Madrid, in which he
maintained the superior beauty of his mistress, against all comers. The
king was so much delighted with his prowess, that he commemorated the
event by the erection of a monastery dedicated to St. Jerome; a whimsical
origin for a religious institution. [6]

The queen's levity might have sought some justification in the unveiled
licentiousness of her husband. One of the maids of honor, whom she brought
in her train, acquired an ascendency over Henry, which he did not attempt
to disguise; and the palace, after the exhibition of the most disgraceful
scenes, became divided by the factions of the hostile fair ones. The
archbishop of Seville did not blush to espouse the cause of the paramour,
who maintained a magnificence of state, which rivalled that of royalty
itself. The public were still more scandalized by Henry's sacrilegious
intrusion of another of his mistresses into the post of abbess of a
convent in Toledo, after the expulsion of her predecessor, a lady of noble
rank and irreproachable character. [7]

The stream of corruption soon finds its way from the higher to the more
humble walks of life. The middling classes, imitating their superiors,
indulged in an excess of luxury equally demoralizing, and ruinous to their
fortunes. The contagion of example infected even the higher ecclesiastics;
and we find the archbishop of St. James hunted from his see by the
indignant populace in consequence of an outrage attempted on a youthful
bride, as she was returning from church, after the performance of the
nuptial ceremony. The rights of the people could be but little consulted,
or cared for, in a court thus abandoned to unbounded license. Accordingly
we find a repetition of most of the unconstitutional and oppressive acts
which occurred under John the Second, of Castile; attempts at arbitrary
taxation, interference in the freedom of elections, and in the right
exercised by the cities of nominating the commanders of such contingents
of troops as they might contribute to the public defence. Their
territories were repeatedly alienated, and, as well as the immense sums
raised by the sale of papal indulgences for the prosecution of the Moorish
war, were lavished on the royal satellites. [8]

But, perhaps, the most crying evil of this period was the shameless
adulteration of the coin. Instead of five royal mints, which formerly
existed, there were now one hundred and fifty in the hands of authorized
individuals, who debased the coin to such a deplorable extent, that the
most common articles of life were enhanced in value three, four, and even
six fold. Those who owed debts eagerly anticipated the season of payment;
and, as the creditors refused to accept it in the depreciated currency, it
became a fruitful source of litigation and tumult, until the whole nation
seemed on the verge of bankruptcy. In this general license, the right of
the strongest was the only one which could make itself heard. The nobles,
converting their castles into dens of robbers, plundered the property of
the traveller, which was afterwards sold publicly in the cities. One of
these robber chieftains, who held an important command on the frontiers of
Murcia, was in the habit of carrying on an infamous traffic with the Moors
by selling to them as slaves the Christian prisoners of either sex whom he
had captured in his marauding expeditions. When subdued by Henry, after a
sturdy resistance, he was again received into favor, and reinstated in his
possessions. The pusillanimous monarch knew neither when to pardon, nor
when to punish. [9]

But no part of Henry's conduct gave such umbrage to his nobles, as the
facility with which he resigned himself to the control of favorites, whom
he had created as it were from nothing, and whom he advanced over the
heads of the ancient aristocracy of the land. Among those especially
disgusted by this proceeding Were Juan Pacheco, marquis of Villena, and
Alfonso Carillo, archbishop of Toledo. These two personages exercised so
important an influence over the destinies of Henry, as to deserve more
particular notice. The former was of noble Portuguese extraction, and
originally a page in the service of the constable Alvaro de Luna, by whom
he had been introduced into the household of Prince Henry, during the
lifetime of John the Second. His polished and plausible address soon
acquired him a complete ascendency over the feeble mind of his master, who
was guided by his pernicious counsels, in his frequent dissensions with
his father. His invention was ever busy in devising intrigues, which he
recommended by his subtile, insinuating eloquence; and he seemed to prefer
the attainment of his purposes by a crooked rather than by a direct
policy, even when the latter might equally well have answered. He
sustained reverses with imperturbable composure; and, when his schemes
were most successful, he was willing to risk all for the excitement of a
new revolution. Although naturally humane, and without violent or
revengeful passions, his restless spirit was perpetually involving his
country in all the disasters of civil war. He was created marquis of
Villena, by John the Second; and his ample domains, lying on the confines
of Toledo, Murcia, and Valencia, and embracing an immense extent of
populous and well-fortified territory, made him the most powerful vassal
in the kingdom. [10]

His uncle, the archbishop of Toledo, was of a sterner character. He was
one of those turbulent prelates, not unfrequent in a rude age, who seem
intended by nature for the camp rather than the church. He was fierce,
haughty, intractable; and he was supported in the execution of his
ambitious enterprises, no less by his undaunted resolution, than by the
extraordinary resources, which he enjoyed as primate of Spain. He was
capable of warm attachments, and of making great personal sacrifices for
his friends, from whom, in return, he exacted the most implicit deference;
and, as he was both easily offended and implacable in his resentments, he
seems to have been almost equally formidable as a friend and as an enemy.

These early adherents of Henry, little satisfied with seeing their own
consequence eclipsed by the rising glories of the newly-created favorites,
began secretly to stir up cabals and confederacies among the nobles, until
the occurrence of other circumstances obviated the necessity, and indeed
the possibility, of further dissimulation. Henry had been persuaded to
take part in the internal dissensions which then agitated the kingdom of
Aragon, and had supported the Catalans in their opposition to their
sovereign by seasonable supplies of men and money. He had even made some
considerable conquests for himself, when he was induced, by the advice of
the marquis of Villena and the archbishop of Toledo, to refer the
arbitration of his differences with the king of Aragon to Louis the
Eleventh, of France; a monarch whose habitual policy allowed him to refuse
no opportunity of interference in the concerns of his neighbors.

The conferences were conducted at Bayonne, and an interview was
subsequently agreed on between the kings of France and Castile, to be held
near that city, on the banks of the Bidassoa, which divides the dominions
of the respective monarchs. The contrast exhibited by the two princes at
this interview, in their style of dress and equipage, was sufficiently
striking to deserve notice. Louis, who was even worse attired than usual,
according to Comines, wore a coat of coarse woollen cloth cut short, a
fashion then deemed very unsuitable to persons of rank, with a doublet of
fustian, and a weather-beaten hat, surmounted by a little leaden image of
the Virgin. His imitative courtiers adopted a similar costume. The
Castilians, on the other hand, displayed uncommon magnificence. The barge
of the royal favorite, Beltran de la Cueva, was resplendent with sails of
cloth of gold, and his apparel glittered with a profusion of costly
jewels. Henry was escorted by his Moorish guard gorgeously equipped, and
the cavaliers of his train vied with each other in the sumptuous
decorations of dress and equipage. The two nations appear to have been
mutually disgusted with the contrast exhibited by their opposite
affectations. The French sneered at the ostentation of the Spaniards, and
the latter, in their turn, derided the sordid parsimony of their
neighbors; and thus the seeds of a national aversion were implanted,
which, under the influence of more important circumstances, ripened into
open hostility. [12]

The monarchs seem to have separated with as little esteem for each other
as did their respective courtiers; and Comines profits by the occasion to
inculcate the inexpediency of such interviews between princes, who have
exchanged the careless jollity of youth for the cold and calculating
policy of riper years. The award of Louis dissatisfied all parties; a
tolerable proof of its impartiality. The Castilians, in particular,
complained, that the marquis of Villena and the archbishop of Toledo had
compromised the honor of the nation, by allowing their sovereign to cross
over to the French shore of the Bidassoa, and its interests, by the
cession of the conquered territory to Aragon. They loudly accused them of
being pensioners of Louis, a fact which does not appear improbable,
considering the usual policy of this prince, who, as is well known,
maintained an espionage over the councils of most of his neighbors. Henry
was so far convinced of the truth of these imputations, that he dismissed
the obnoxious ministers from their employments. [13]

The disgraced nobles instantly set about the organization of one of those
formidable confederacies, which had so often shaken the monarchs of
Castile upon their throne, and which, although not authorized by positive
law, as in Aragon, seemed to have derived somewhat of a constitutional
sanction from ancient usage. Some of the members of this coalition were
doubtless influenced exclusively by personal jealousies; but many others
entered into it from disgust at the imbecile and arbitrary proceedings of
the crown.

In 1462, the queen had been delivered of a daughter, who was named like
herself Joanna, but who, from her reputed father, Beltran de la Cueva, was
better known in the progress of her unfortunate history by the cognomen of
Beltraneja. Henry, however, had required the usual oath of allegiance to
be tendered to her as presumptive heir to the crown. The confederates,
assembled at Burgos, declared this oath of fealty a compulsory act, and
that many of them had privately protested against it at the time, from a
conviction of the illegitimacy of Joanna. In the bill of grievances, which
they now presented to the monarch, they required that he should deliver
his brother Alfonso into their hands, to be publicly acknowledged as his
successor; they enumerated the manifold abuses, which pervaded every
department of government, which they freely imputed to the unwholesome
influence exercised by the favorite, Beltran de la Cueva, over the royal
counsels, doubtless the true key to much of their patriotic sensibility;
and they entered into a covenant, sanctioned by all the solemnities of
religion usual on these occasions, not to re-enter the service of their
sovereign, or accept any favor from him until he had redressed their
wrongs. [14]

The king, who by an efficient policy might perhaps have crushed these
revolutionary movements in their birth, was naturally averse to violent,
or even vigorous measures. He replied to the bishop of Cuença, his ancient
preceptor, who recommended these measures; "You priests, who are not
called to engage in the fight, are very liberal of the blood of others."
To which the prelate rejoined, with more warmth than breeding, "Since you
are not true to your own honor, at a time like this, I shall live to see
you the most degraded monarch in Spain; when you will repent too late this
unseasonable pusillanimity." [15]

Henry, unmoved either by the entreaties or remonstrances of his adherents,
resorted to the milder method of negotiation. He consented to an interview
with the confederates, in which he was induced, by the plausible arguments
of the marquis of Villena, to comply with most of their demands. He
delivered his brother Alfonso into their hands, to be recognized as the
lawful heir to the crown, on condition of his subsequent union with
Joanna; and he agreed to nominate, in conjunction with his opponents, a
commission of five, who should deliberate on the state of the kingdom, and
provide an effectual reform of abuses. [16] The result of this
deliberation, however, proved so prejudicial to the royal authority, that
the feeble monarch was easily persuaded to disavow the proceedings of the
commissioners, on the ground of their secret collusion with his enemies,
and even to attempt the seizure of their persons. The confederates,
disgusted with this breach of faith, and in pursuance, perhaps, of their
original design, instantly decided on the execution of that bold measure,
which some writers denounce as a flagrant act of rebellion, and others
vindicate as a just and constitutional proceeding.

In an open plain, not far from the city of Avila, they caused a scaffold
to be erected, of sufficient elevation to be easily seen from the
surrounding country. A chair of state was placed on it, and in this was
seated an effigy of King Henry, clad in sable robes and adorned with all
the insignia of royalty, a sword at its side, a sceptre in its hand, and a
crown upon its head. A manifesto was then read, exhibiting in glowing
colors the tyrannical conduct of the king, and the consequent
determination to depose him; and vindicating the proceeding by several
precedents drawn from the history of the monarchy. The archbishop of
Toledo, then ascending the platform, tore the diadem from the head of the
statue; the marquis of Villena removed the sceptre, the count of Placencia
the sword, the grand master of Alcantara and the counts of Benavente and
Paredes the rest of the regal insignia; when the image, thus despoiled of
its honors, was rolled in the dust, amid the mingled groans and clamors of
the spectators. The young prince Alfonso, at that time only eleven years
of age, was seated on the vacant throne, and the assembled grandees
severally kissed his hand in token of their homage; the trumpets announced
the completion of the ceremony, and the populace greeted with joyful
acclamations the accession of their new sovereign. [17]

Such are the details of this extraordinary transaction, as recorded by the
two contemporary historians of the rival factions. The tidings were borne,
with the usual celerity of evil news, to the remotest parts of the
kingdom. The pulpit and the forum resounded with the debates of
disputants, who denied, or defended, the right of the subject to sit in
judgment on the conduct of his sovereign. Every man was compelled to
choose his side in this strange division of the kingdom. Henry received
intelligence of the defection, successively, of the capital cities of
Burgos, Toledo, Cordova, Seville, together with a large part of the
southern provinces, where lay the estates of some of the most powerful
partisans of the opposite faction. The unfortunate monarch, thus deserted
by his subjects, abandoned himself to despair, and expressed the extremity
of his anguish in the strong language of Job: "Naked came I from my
mother's womb, and naked must I go down to the earth!" [18]

A large, probably the larger part of the nation, however, disapproved of
the tumultuous proceedings of the confederates. However much they
contemned the person of the monarch, they were not prepared to see the
royal authority thus openly degraded. They indulged, too, some compassion
for a prince, whose political vices, at least, were imputable to mental
incapacity, and to evil counsellors, rather than to any natural turpitude
of heart. Among the nobles who adhered to him, the most conspicuous were
"the good count of Haro," and the powerful family of Mendoza, the worthy
scions of an illustrious stock. The estates of the marquis of Santillana,
the head of this house, lay chiefly in the Asturias, and gave him a
considerable influence in the northern provinces, [19] the majority of
whose inhabitants remained constant in their attachment to the royal

When Henry's summons, therefore, was issued for the attendance of all his
loyal subjects capable of bearing arms, it was answered by a formidable
array of numbers, that must have greatly exceeded that of his rival, and
which is swelled by his biographer to seventy thousand foot and fourteen
thousand horse; a much smaller force, under the direction of an efficient
leader, would doubtless have sufficed to extinguish the rising spirit of
revolt. But Henry's temper led him to adopt a more conciliatory policy,
and to try what could be effected by negotiation, before resorting to
arms. In the former, however, he was no match for the confederates, or
rather the marquis of Villena, their representative on these occasions.
This nobleman, who had so zealously co-operated with his party in
conferring the title of king on Alfonso, had intended to reserve the
authority to himself. He probably found more difficulty in controlling the
operations of the jealous and aspiring aristocracy, with whom he was
associated, than he had imagined; and he was willing to aid the opposite
party in maintaining a sufficient degree of strength to form a
counterpoise to that of the confederates, and thus, while he made his own
services the more necessary to the latter, to provide a safe retreat for
himself, in case of the shipwreck of their fortunes. [20]

In conformity with this dubious policy, he had, soon after the occurrence
at Avila, opened a secret correspondence with his former master, and
suggested to him the idea of terminating their differences by some
amicable adjustment. In consequence of these intimations, Henry consented
to enter into a negotiation with the confederates; and it was agreed, that
the forces on both sides should be disbanded, and that a suspension of
hostilities for six months should take place, during which some definitive
and permanent scheme of reconciliation might be devised. Henry, in
compliance with this arrangement, instantly disbanded his levies; they
retired overwhelmed with indignation at the conduct of their sovereign,
who so readily relinquished the only means of redress that he possessed,
and whom they now saw it would be unavailing to assist, since he was so
ready to desert himself. [21]

It would be an unprofitable task to attempt to unravel all the fine-spun
intrigues, by which the marquis of Villena contrived to defeat every
attempt at an ultimate accommodation between the parties, until he was
very generally execrated as the real source of the disturbances in the
kingdom. In the mean while, the singular spectacle was exhibited of two
monarchs presiding over one nation, surrounded by their respective courts,
administering the laws, convoking cortes, and in fine assuming the state
and exercising all the functions of sovereignty. It was apparent that this
state of things could not last long; and that the political ferment, which

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