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

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now agitated the minds of men from one extremity of the kingdom to the
other, and which occasionally displayed itself in tumults and acts of
violence, would soon burst forth with all the horrors of a civil war.

At this juncture, a proposition was made to Henry for detaching the
powerful family of Pacheco from the interests of the confederates, by the
marriage of his sister Isabella with the brother of the marquis of
Villena, Don Pedro Giron, grand master of the order of Calatrava, a
nobleman of aspiring views, and one of the most active partisans of his
faction. The archbishop of Toledo would naturally follow the fortunes of
his nephew, and thus the league, deprived of its principal supports, must
soon crumble to pieces. Instead of resenting this proposal as an affront
upon his honor, the abject mind of Henry was content to purchase repose
even by the most humiliating sacrifice. He acceded to the conditions;
application was made to Rome for a dispensation from the vows of celibacy
imposed on the grand master as the companion of a religious order; and
splendid preparations were instantly commenced for the approaching
nuptials. [22]

Isabella was then in her sixteenth year. On her father's death, she
retired with her mother to the little town of Arevalo, where, in
seclusion, and far from the voice of flattery and falsehood, she had been
permitted to unfold the natural graces of mind and person, which might
have been blighted in the pestilent atmosphere of a court. Here, under the
maternal eye, she was carefully instructed in those lessons of practical
piety, and in the deep reverence for religion, which distinguished her
maturer years. On the birth of the princess Joanna, she was removed,
together with her brother Alfonso, by Henry to the royal palace, in order
more effectually to discourage the formation of any faction adverse to the
interests of his supposed daughter. In this abode of pleasure, surrounded
by all the seductions most dazzling to youth, she did not forget the early
lessons that she had imbibed; and the blameless purity of her conduct
shone with additional lustre amid the scenes of levity and licentiousness
by which she was surrounded. [23]

The near connection of Isabella with the crown, as well as her personal
character, invited the application of numerous suitors. Her hand was first
solicited for that very Ferdinand, who was destined to be her future
husband, though not till after the intervention of many inauspicious
circumstances. She was next betrothed to his elder brother, Carlos; and
some years after his decease, when thirteen years of age, was promised by
Henry to Alfonso, of Portugal. Isabella was present with her brother at a
personal interview with that monarch in 1464, but neither threats nor
entreaties could induce her to accede to a union so unsuitable from the
disparity of their years; and with her characteristic discretion, even at
this early age, she rested her refusal on the ground, that "the infantas
of Castile could not be disposed of in marriage, without the consent of
the nobles of the realm." [25]

When Isabella understood in what manner she was now to be sacrificed to
the selfish policy of her brother, in the prosecution of which, compulsory
measures if necessary were to be employed, she was filled with the
liveliest emotions of grief and resentment. The master of Calatrava was
well known as a fierce and turbulent leader of faction, and his private
life was stained with most of the licentious vices of the age. He was even
accused of having invaded the privacy of the queen dowager, Isabella's
mother, by proposals of the most degrading nature, an outrage which the
king had either not the power, or the inclination, to resent. [26] With
this person, then, so inferior to her in birth, and so much more unworthy
of her in every other point of view, Isabella was now to be united. On
receiving the intelligence, she confined herself to her apartment,
abstaining from all nourishment and sleep for a day and night, says a
contemporary writer, and imploring Heaven, in the most piteous manner, to
save her from this dishonor, by her own death or that of her enemy. As she
was bewailing her hard fate to her faithful friend, Beatriz de Bobadilla,
"God will not permit it," exclaimed the high-spirited lady, "neither will
I;" then drawing forth a dagger from her bosom, which she kept there for
the purpose, she solemnly vowed to plunge it in the heart of the master of
Calatrava, as soon as he appeared! [27]

Happily her loyalty was not put to so severe a test. No sooner had the
grand master received the bull of dispensation from the pope, than,
resigning his dignities in his military order, he set about such sumptuous
preparations for his wedding, as were due to the rank of his intended
bride. When these were completed, he began his journey from his residence
at Almagro to Madrid, where the nuptial ceremony was to be performed,
attended by a splendid retinue of friends and followers. But, on the very
first evening after his departure, he was attacked by an acute disorder
while at Villarubia, a village not far from Ciudad Real, which terminated
his life in four days. He died, says Palencia, with imprecations on his
lips, because his life had not been spared some few weeks longer. [28] His
death was attributed by many to poison, administered to him by some of the
nobles, who were envious of his good fortune. But, notwithstanding the
seasonableness of the event, and the familiarity of the crime in that age,
no shadow of imputation was ever cast on the pure fame of Isabella. [29]

The death of the grand master dissipated, at a blow, all the fine schemes
of the marquis of Villena, as well as every hope of reconciliation between
the parties. The passions, which had been only smothered, now burst forth
into open hostility; and it was resolved to refer the decision of the
question to the issue of a battle. The two armies met on the plains of
Olmedo, where, two and twenty years before, John, the father of Henry, had
been in like manner confronted by his insurgent subjects. The royal army
was considerably the larger; but the deficiency of numbers in the other
was amply supplied by the intrepid spirit of its leaders. The archbishop
of Toledo appeared at the head of its squadrons, conspicuous by a rich
scarlet mantle, embroidered with a white cross, thrown over his armor. The
young prince Alfonso, scarcely fourteen years of age, rode by his side,
clad like him in complete mail. Before the action commenced, the
archbishop sent a message to Beltran de la Cueva, then raised to the title
of duke of Albuquerque, cautioning him not to venture in the field, as no
less than forty cavaliers had sworn his death. The gallant nobleman, who,
on this as on some other occasions, displayed a magnanimity which in some
degree excused the partiality of his master, returned by the envoy a
particular description of the dress he intended to wear; a chivalrous
defiance, which wellnigh cost him his life. Henry did not care to expose
his person in the engagement, and, on receiving erroneous intelligence of
the discomfiture of his party, retreated precipitately with some thirty or
forty horsemen to the shelter of a neighboring village. The action lasted
three hours, until the combatants were separated by the shades of evening,
without either party having decidedly the advantage, although that of
Henry retained possession of the field of battle. The archbishop of Toledo
and Prince Alfonso were the last to retire; and the former was seen
repeatedly to rally his broken squadrons, notwithstanding his arm had been
pierced through with a lance early in the engagement. The king and the
prelate may be thought to have exchanged characters in this tragedy. [30]

The battle was attended with no result, except that of inspiring
appetites, which had tasted of blood, with a relish for more unlicensed
carnage. The most frightful anarchy now prevailed throughout the kingdom,
dismembered by factions, which the extreme youth of one monarch and the
imbecility of the other made it impossible to control. In vain did the
papal legate, who had received a commission to that effect from his
master, interpose his mediation, and even fulminate sentence of
excommunication against the confederates. The independent barons plainly
told him, that "those who advised the pope that he had a right to
interfere in the temporal concerns of Castile deceived him; and that they
had a perfect right to depose their monarch on sufficient grounds, and
should exercise it." [31]

Every city, nay, almost every family, became now divided within itself. In
Seville and in Cordova, the inhabitants of one street carried on open war
against those in another. The churches, which were fortified, and occupied
with bodies of armed men, were many of them sacked and burnt to the
ground. In Toledo no less than four thousand dwellings were consumed in
one general conflagration. The ancient family feuds, as those between the
great houses of Guzman and Ponce de Leon in Andalusia, being revived,
carried new division into the cities, whose streets literally ran with
blood. [32] In the country, the nobles and gentry, issuing from their
castles, captured the defenceless traveller, who was obliged to redeem his
liberty by the payment of a heavier ransom than was exacted even by the
Mahometans. All communication on the high roads was suspended, and no man,
says a contemporary, dared move abroad beyond the walls of his city,
unless attended by an armed escort. The organization of one of those
popular confederacies, known under the name of _Hermandad_, in 1465,
which continued in operation during the remainder of this gloomy period,
brought some mitigation to these evils by the fearlessness with which it
exercised its functions, even against offenders of the highest rank, some
of whose castles were razed to the ground by its orders. But this relief
was only partial; and the successful opposition, which the Hermandad
sometimes encountered on these occasions, served to aggravate the horrors
of the scene. Meanwhile, fearful omens, the usual accompaniments of such
troubled times, were witnessed; the heated imagination interpreted the
ordinary operations of nature as signs of celestial wrath; [33] and the
minds of men were filled with dismal bodings of some inevitable evil, like
that which overwhelmed the monarchy in the days of their Gothic ancestors.

At this crisis, a circumstance occurred, which gave a new face to affairs,
and totally disconcerted the operations of the confederates. This was the
loss of their young leader, Alfonso; who was found dead in his bed, on the
5th of July, 1468, at the village of Cardeñosa, about two leagues from
Avila, which had so recently been the theatre of his glory. His sudden
death was imputed, in the usual suspicious temper of that corrupt age, to
poison, supposed to have been conveyed to him in a trout, on which he
dined the day preceding. Others attributed it to the plague, which had
followed in the train of evils, that desolated this unhappy country. Thus
at the age of fifteen, and after a brief reign, if reign it may be called,
of three years, perished this young prince, who, under happier auspices
and in maturer life, might have ruled over his country with a wisdom equal
to that of any of its monarchs. Even in the disadvantageous position, in
which he had been placed, he gave clear indications of future excellence.
A short time before his death, he was heard to remark, on witnessing the
oppressive acts of some of the nobles, "I must endure this patiently,
until I am a little older." On another occasion, being solicited by the
citizens of Toledo to approve of some act of extortion which they had
committed, he replied, "God forbid I should countenance such injustice!"
And on being told that the city in that case would probably transfer its
allegiance to Henry, he added, "Much as I love power, I am not willing to
purchase it at such a price." Noble sentiments, but not at all palatable
to the grandees of his party, who saw with alarm that the young lion, when
he had reached his strength, would be likely to burst the bonds with which
they had enthralled him. [35]

It is not easy to consider the reign of Alfonso in any other light, than
that of a usurpation; although some Spanish writers, and among the rest
Marina, a competent critic when not blinded by prejudice, regard him as a
rightful sovereign, and as such to be enrolled among the monarchs of
Castile. [36] Marina, indeed, admits the ceremony at Avila to have been
originally the work of a faction, and in itself informal and
unconstitutional; but he considers it to have received a legitimate
sanction from its subsequent recognition by the people. But I do not find,
that the deposition of Henry the Fourth was ever confirmed by an act of
cortes. He still continued to reign with the consent of a large portion,
probably the majority, of his subjects; and it is evident that
proceedings, so irregular as those at Avila, could have no pretence to
constitutional validity, without a very general expression of approbation
on the part of the nation.

The leaders of the confederates were thrown into consternation by an
event, which threatened to dissolve their league, and to leave them
exposed to the resentment of an offended sovereign. In this conjuncture,
they naturally turned their eyes on Isabella, whose dignified and
commanding character might counterbalance the disadvantages arising from
the unsuitableness of her sex for so perilous a situation, and justify her
election in the eyes of the people. She had continued in the family of
Henry during the greater part of the civil war; until the occupation of
Segovia by the insurgents, after the battle of Olmedo, enabled her to seek
the protection of her younger brother Alfonso, to which she was the more
inclined by her disgust with the license of a court, where the love of
pleasure scorned even the veil of hypocrisy. On the death of her brother,
she withdrew to a monastery at Avila, where she was visited by the
archbishop of Toledo, who, in behalf of the confederates, requested her to
occupy the station lately filled by Alfonso, and allow herself to be
proclaimed queen of Castile. [37]

Isabella discerned too clearly, however, the path of duty and probably of
interest. She unhesitatingly refused the seductive proffer, and replied,
that, "while her brother Henry lived, none other had a right to the crown;
that the country had been divided long enough under the rule of two
contending monarchs; and that the death of Alfonso might perhaps be
interpreted into an indication from Heaven of its disapprobation of their
cause." She expressed herself desirous of establishing a reconciliation
between the parties, and offered heartily to co-operate with her brother
in the reformation of existing abuses. Neither the eloquence nor
entreaties of the primate could move her from her purpose; and, when a
deputation from Seville announced to her that that city, in common with
the rest of Andalusia, had unfurled its standards in her name and
proclaimed her sovereign of Castile, she still persisted in the same wise
and temperate policy. [38]

The confederates were not prepared for this magnanimous act from one so
young, and in opposition to the advice of her most venerated counsellors.
No alternative remained, however, but that of negotiating an accommodation
on the best terms possible with Henry, whose facility of temper and love
of repose naturally disposed him to an amicable adjustment of his
differences. With these dispositions, a reconciliation was effected
between the parties on the following conditions; namely, that a general
amnesty should be granted by the king for all past offences; that the
queen, whose dissolute conduct was admitted to be matter of notoriety,
should be divorced from her husband, and sent back to Portugal; that
Isabella should have the principality of the Asturias (the usual demesne
of the heir apparent to the crown) settled on her, together with a
specific provision suitable to her rank; that she should be immediately
recognized heir to the crowns of Castile and Leon; that a cortes should be
convoked within forty days for the purpose of bestowing a legal sanction
on her title, as well as of reforming the various abuses of government;
and finally, that Isabella should not be constrained to marry in
opposition to her own wishes, nor should she do so without the consent of
her brother. [39]

In pursuance of these arrangements, an interview took place between Henry
and Isabella, each attended by a brilliant _cortège_ of cavaliers and
nobles, at a place called Toros de Guisando, in New Castile. [40] The
monarch embraced his sister with the tenderest marks of affection, and
then proceeded solemnly to recognize her as his future and rightful heir.
An oath of allegiance was repeated by the attendant nobles, who concluded
the ceremony by kissing the hand of the princess in token of their homage.
In due time the representatives of the nation, convened in cortes at
Ocaña, unanimously concurred in their approbation of these preliminary
proceedings, and thus Isabella was announced to the world as the lawful
successor to the crowns of Castile and Leon. [41]

It can hardly be believed, that Henry was sincere in subscribing
conditions so humiliating; nor can his easy and lethargic temper account
for his so readily relinquishing the pretensions of the Princess Joanna,
whom, notwithstanding the popular imputations on her birth, he seems
always to have cherished as his own offspring. He was accused, even while
actually signing the treaty, of a secret collusion with the marquis of
Villena for the purpose of evading it; an accusation, which derives a
plausible coloring from subsequent events.

The new and legitimate basis, on which the pretensions of Isabella to the
throne now rested, drew the attention of neighboring princes, who
contended with each other for the honor of her hand. Among these suitors,
was a brother of Edward the Fourth, of England, not improbably Richard,
duke of Gloucester, since Clarence was then engaged in his intrigues with
the earl of Warwick, which led a few months later to his marriage with the
daughter of that nobleman. Had she listened to his proposals, the duke
would in all likelihood have exchanged his residence in England for
Castile, where his ambition, satisfied with the certain reversion of a
crown, might have been spared the commission of the catalogue of crimes
which blacken his memory. [42]

Another suitor was the duke of Guienne, the unfortunate brother of Louis
the Eleventh, and at that time the presumptive heir of the French
monarchy. Although the ancient intimacy, which subsisted between the royal
families of France and Castile, in some measure favored his pretensions,
the disadvantages resulting from such a union were too obvious to escape
attention. The two countries were too remote from each other, [43] and
their inhabitants too dissimiliar in character and institutions, to permit
the idea of their ever cordially coalescing as one people under a common
sovereign. Should the duke of Guienne fail in the inheritance of the
crown, it was argued, he would be every way an unequal match for the
heiress of Castile; should he succeed to it, it might be feared, that, in
case of a union, the smaller kingdom would be considered only as an
appendage, and sacrificed to the interests of the larger. [44]

The person on whom Isabella turned the most favorable eye was her kinsman
Ferdinand of Aragon. The superior advantages of a connection, which should
be the means of uniting the people of Aragon and Castile into one nation,
were indeed manifest. They were the descendants of one common stock,
speaking one language, and living under the influence of similar
institutions, which had moulded them into a common resemblance of
character and manners. From their geographical position, too, they seemed
destined by nature to be one nation; and, while separately they were
condemned to the rank of petty and subordinate states, they might hope,
when consolidated into one monarchy, to rise at once to the first class of
European powers. While arguments of this public nature pressed on the mind
of Isabella, she was not insensible to those which most powerfully affect
the female heart. Ferdinand was then in the bloom of life, and
distinguished for the comeliness of his person. In the busy scenes, in
which he had been engaged from his boyhood, he had displayed a chivalrous
valor, combined with maturity of judgment far above his years. Indeed, he
was decidedly superior to his rivals in personal merit and attractions.
[45] But, while private inclinations thus happily coincided with
considerations of expediency for inclining her to prefer the Aragonese
match, a scheme was devised in another quarter for the express purpose of
defeating it.

A fraction of the royal party, with the family of Mendoza at their head,
had retired in disgust with the convention of Toros de Guisando, and
openly espoused the cause of the princess Joanna. They even instructed her
to institute an appeal before the tribunal of the supreme pontiff, and
caused a placard, exhibiting a protest against the validity of the late
proceedings, to be nailed secretly in the night to the gate of Isabella's
mansion. [46] Thus were sown the seeds of new dissensions, before the old
were completely eradicated. With this disaffected party the marquis of
Villena, who, since his reconciliation, had resumed his ancient ascendency
over Henry, now associated himself. Nothing, in the opinion of this
nobleman, could be more repugnant to his interests, than the projected
union between the houses of Castile and Aragon; to the latter of which, as
already noticed, [47] once belonged the ample domains of his own
marquisate, which he imagined would be held by a very precarious tenure
should any of this family obtain a footing in Castile.

In the hope of counteracting this project, he endeavored to revive the
obsolete pretensions of Alfonso, king of Portugal; and, the more
effectually to secure the co-operation of Henry, he connected with his
scheme a proposition for marrying his daughter Joanna with the son and
heir of the Portuguese monarch; and thus this unfortunate princess might
be enabled to assume at once a station suitable to her birth, and at some
future opportunity assert with success her claim to the Castilian crown.
In furtherance of this complicated intrigue, Alfonso was invited to renew
his addresses to Isabella in a more public manner than he had hitherto
done; and a pompous embassy, with the archbishop of Lisbon at its head,
appeared at Ocaña, where Isabella was then residing, bearing the proposals
of their master. The princess returned, as before, a decided though
temperate refusal. [48] Henry, or rather the marquis of Villena, piqued at
this opposition to his wishes, resolved to intimidate her into compliance;
and menaced her with imprisonment in the royal fortress at Madrid. Neither
her tears nor entreaties would have availed against this tyrannical
proceeding; and the marquis was only deterred from putting it in execution
by his fear of the inhabitants of Ocaña, who openly espoused the cause of
Isabella. Indeed, the common people of Castile very generally supported
her in her preference of the Aragonese match. Boys paraded the streets,
bearing banners emblazoned with the arms of Aragon, and singing verses
prophetic of the glories of the auspicious union. They even assembled
round the palace gates, and insulted the ears of Henry and his minister by
the repetition of satirical stanzas, which contrasted Alfonso's years with
the youthful graces of Ferdinand. [49] Notwithstanding this popular
expression of opinion, however, the constancy of Isabella might at length
have yielded to the importunity of her persecutors, had she not been
encouraged by her friend, the archbishop of Toledo, who had warmly entered
into the interests of Aragon, and who promised, should matters come to
extremity, to march in person to her relief at the head of a sufficient
force to insure it.

Isabella, indignant at the oppressive treatment, which she experienced
from her brother, as well as at his notorious infraction of almost every
article in the treaty of Toros de Guisando, felt herself released from her
corresponding engagements, and determined to conclude the negotiations
relative to her marriage, without any further deference to his opinion.
Before taking any decisive step, however, she was desirous of obtaining
the concurrence of the leading nobles of her party. This was effected
without difficulty, through the intervention of the archbishop of Toledo,
and of Don Frederic Henriquez, admiral of Castile, and the maternal
grandfather of Ferdinand; a person of high consideration, both from his
rank and character, and connected by blood with the principal families in
the kingdom. [50] Fortified by their approbation, Isabella dismissed the
Aragonese envoy with a favorable answer to his master's suit. [51]

Her reply was received with almost as much satisfaction by the old king of
Aragon, John the Second, as by his son. This monarch, who was one of the
shrewdest princes of his time, had always been deeply sensible of the
importance of consolidating the scattered monarchies of Spain under one
head. He had solicited the hand of Isabella for his son, when she
possessed only a contingent reversion of the crown. But, when her
succession had been settled on a more secure basis, he lost no time in
effecting this favorite object of his policy. With the consent of the
states, he had transferred to his son the title of king of Sicily, and
associated him with himself in the government at home, in order to give
him greater consequence in the eyes of his mistress. He then despatched a
confidential agent into Castile, with instructions to gain over to his
interests all who exercised any influence on the mind of the princess;
furnishing him for this purpose with _cartes blanches_, signed by
himself and Ferdinand, which he was empowered to fill at his discretion.

Between parties thus favorably disposed, there was no unnecessary delay.
The marriage articles were signed, and sworn to by Ferdinand at Cervera,
on the 7th of January. He promised faithfully to respect the laws and
usages of Castile; to fix his residence in that kingdom, and not to quit
it without the consent of Isabella; to alienate no property belonging to
the crown; to prefer no foreigners to municipal offices, and indeed to
make no appointments of a civil or military nature, without her consent
and approbation; and to resign to her exclusively the right of nomination
to ecclesiastical benefices. All ordinances of a public nature were to be
subscribed equally by both. Ferdinand engaged, moreover, to prosecute the
war against the Moors; to respect King Henry; to suffer every noble to
remain unmolested in the possession of his dignities, and not to demand
restitution of the domains formerly owned by his father in Castile. The
treaty concluded with a specification of a magnificent dower to be settled
on Isabella, far more ample than that usually assigned to the queens of
Aragon. [53] The circumspection of the framers of this instrument is
apparent from the various provisions introduced into it solely to calm the
apprehensions and to conciliate the good will of the party disaffected to
the marriage; while the national partialities of the Castilians in general
were gratified by the jealous restrictions imposed on Ferdinand, and the
relinquishment of all the essential rights of sovereignty to his consort.

While these affairs were in progress, Isabella's situation was becoming
extremely critical. She had availed herself of the absence of her brother
and the marquis of Villena in the south, whither they had gone for the
purpose of suppressing the still lingering spark of insurrection, to
transfer her residence from Ocaña to Madrigal, where, under the protection
of her mother, she intended to abide the issue of the pending negotiations
with Aragon. Far, however, from escaping the vigilant eye of the marquis
of Villena by this movement, she laid herself more open to it. She found
the bishop of Burgos, the nephew of the marquis, stationed at Madrigal,
who now served as an effectual spy upon her actions. Her most confidential
servants were corrupted, and conveyed intelligence of her proceedings to
her enemy. Alarmed at the actual progress made in the negotiations for her
marriage, the marquis was now convinced that he could only hope to defeat
them by resorting to the coercive system, which he had before abandoned.
He accordingly instructed the archbishop of Seville to march at once to
Madrigal with a sufficient force to secure Isabella's person; and letters
were at the same time addressed by Henry to the citizens of that place,
menacing them with his resentment, if they should presume to interpose in
her behalf. The timid inhabitants disclosed the purport of the mandate to
Isabella, and besought her to provide for her own safety. This was perhaps
the most critical period in her life. Betrayed by her own domestics,
deserted even by those friends of her own sex who might have afforded her
sympathy and counsel, but who fled affrighted from the scene of danger,
and on the eve of falling into the snares of her enemies, she beheld the
sudden extinction of those hopes, which she had so long and so fondly
cherished. [54]

In this exigency, she contrived to convey a knowledge of her situation to
Admiral Henriquez, and the archbishop of Toledo. The active prelate, on
receiving the summons, collected a body of horse, and, reinforced by the
admiral's troops, advanced with such expedition to Madrigal, that he
succeeded in anticipating the arrival of the enemy. Isabella received her
friends with unfeigned satisfaction; and, bidding adieu to her dismayed
guardian, the bishop of Burgos, and his attendants, she was borne off by
her little army in a sort of military triumph to the friendly city of
Valladolid, where she was welcomed by the citizens with a general burst of
enthusiasm. [55]

In the mean time Gutierre de Cardenas, one of the household of the
princess, [56] and Alfonso de Palencia, the faithful chronicler of these
events, were despatched into Aragon in order to quicken Ferdinand's
operations, during the auspicious interval afforded by the absence of
Henry in Andalusia. On arriving at the frontier town of Osma, they were
dismayed to find that the bishop of that place, together with the duke of
Medina Celi, on whose active co-operation they had relied for the safe
introduction of Ferdinand into Castile, had been gained over to the
interests of the marquis of Villena. [57] The envoys, however, adroitly
concealing the real object of their mission, were permitted to pass
unmolested to Saragossa, where Ferdinand was then residing. They could not
have arrived at a more inopportune season. The old king of Aragon was in
the very heat of the war against the insurgent Catalans, headed by the
victorious John of Anjou. Although so sorely pressed, his forces were on
the eve of disbanding for want of the requisite funds to maintain them.
His exhausted treasury did not contain more than three hundred enriques.
[58] In this exigency he was agitated by the most distressing doubts. As
he could spare neither the funds nor the force necessary for covering his
son's entrance into Castile, he must either send him unprotected into a
hostile country, already aware of his intended enterprise and in arms to
defeat it, or abandon the long-cherished object of his policy, at the
moment when his plans were ripe for execution. Unable to extricate himself
from this dilemma, he referred the whole matter to Ferdinand and his
council. [59]

It was at length determined, that the prince should undertake the journey,
accompanied by half a dozen attendants only, in the disguise of merchants,
by the direct route from Saragossa; while another party, in order to
divert the attention of the Castilians, should proceed in a different
direction, with all the ostentation of a public embassy from the king of
Aragon to Henry the Fourth. The distance was not great, which Ferdinand
and his suite were to travel before reaching a place of safety; but this
intervening country was patrolled by squadrons of cavalry for the purpose
of intercepting their progress; and the whole extent of the frontier, from
Almazan to Guadalajara, was defended by a line of fortified castles in the
hands of the family of Mendoza. [60] The greatest circumspection therefore
was necessary. The party journeyed chiefly in the night; Ferdinand assumed
the disguise of a servant, and, when they halted on the road, took care of
the mules, and served his companions at table. In this guise, with no
other disaster except that of leaving at an inn the purse which contained
the funds for the expedition, they arrived, late on the second night, at a
little place called the Burgo or Borough, of Osma, which the count of
Treviño, one of the partisans of Isabella, had occupied with a
considerable body of men-at-arms. On knocking at the gate, cold and faint
with travelling, during which the prince had allowed himself to take no
repose, they were saluted by a large stone discharged by a sentinel from
the battlements, which, glancing near Ferdinand's head, had wellnigh
brought his romantic enterprise to a tragical conclusion; when his voice
was recognized by his friends within, and, the trumpets proclaiming his
arrival, he was received with great joy and festivity by the count and his
followers. The remainder of his journey, which he commenced before dawn,
was performed under the convoy of a numerous and well-armed escort; and on
the 9th of October he reached Dueñas in the kingdom of Leon, where the
Castilian nobles and cavaliers of his party eagerly thronged to render him
the homage due to his rank. [61]

The intelligence of Ferdinand's arrival diffused universal joy in the
little court of Isabella at Valladolid. Her first step was to transmit a
letter to her brother Henry, in which she informed him of the presence of
the prince in his dominions, and of their intended marriage. She excused
the course she had taken by the embarrassments, in which she had been
involved by the malice of her enemies. She represented the political
advantages of the connection, and the sanction it had received from the
Castilian nobles; and she concluded with soliciting his approbation of it,
giving him at the same time affectionate assurances of the most dutiful
submission both on the part of Ferdinand and of herself. [62] Arrangements
were then made for an interview between the royal pair, in which some
courtly parasites would fain have persuaded their mistress to require some
act of homage from Ferdinand; in token of the inferiority of the crown of
Aragon to that of Castile; a proposition which she rejected with her usual
discretion. [63]

Agreeably to these arrangements, Ferdinand, on the evening of the 15th of
October, passed privately from Dueñas, accompanied only by four
attendants, to the neighboring city of Valladolid, where he was received
by the archbishop of Toledo, and conducted to the apartment of his
mistress. [64] Ferdinand was at this time in the eighteenth year of his
age. His complexion was fair, though somewhat bronzed by constant exposure
to the sun; his eye quick and cheerful; his forehead ample, and
approaching to baldness. His muscular and well-proportioned frame was
invigorated by the toils of war, and by the chivalrous exercises in which
he delighted. He was one of the best horsemen in his court, and excelled
in field sports of every kind. His voice was somewhat sharp, but he
possessed a fluent eloquence; and, when he had a point to carry, his
address was courteous and even insinuating. He secured his health by
extreme temperance in his diet, and by such habits of activity, that it
was said he seemed to find repose in business. [65] Isabella was a year
older than her lover. In stature she was somewhat above the middle size.
Her complexion was fair; her hair of a bright chestnut color, inclining to
red; and her mild blue eye beamed with intelligence and sensibility. She
was exceedingly beautiful; "the handsomest lady," says one of her
household, "whom I ever beheld, and the most gracious in her manners."
[66] The portrait still existing of her in the royal palace, is
conspicuous for an open symmetry of features, indicative of the natural
serenity of temper, and that beautiful harmony of intellectual and moral
qualities, which most distinguished her. She was dignified in her
demeanor, and modest even to a degree of reserve. She spoke the Castilian
language with more than usual elegance; and early imbibed a relish for
letters, in which she was superior to Ferdinand, whose education in this
particular seems to have been neglected. [67] It is not easy to obtain a
dispassionate portrait of Isabella. The Spaniards, who revert to her
glorious reign, are so smitten with her moral perfections, that even in
depicting her personal, they borrow somewhat of the exaggerated coloring
of romance.

The interview lasted more than two hours, when Ferdinand retired to his
quarters at Dueñas, as privately as he came. The preliminaries of the
marriage, however, were first adjusted; but so great was the poverty of
the parties, that it was found necessary to borrow money to defray the
expenses of the ceremony. [68] Such were the humiliating circumstances
attending the commencement of a union destined to open the way to the
highest prosperity and grandeur of the Spanish monarchy!

The marriage between Ferdinand and Isabella was publicly celebrated, on
the morning of the 19th of October, in the palace of John de Vivero, the
temporary residence of the princess, and subsequently appropriated to the
chancery of Valladolid. The nuptials were solemnized in the presence of
Ferdinand's grandfather, the admiral of Castile, of the archbishop of
Toledo, and a multitude of persons of rank, as well as of inferior
condition, amounting in all to no less than two thousand. [69] A papal
bull of dispensation was produced by the archbishop, relieving the parties
from the impediment incurred by their falling within the prohibited
degrees of consanguinity. This spurious document was afterwards discovered
to have been devised by the old king of Aragon, Ferdinand, and the
archbishop, who were deterred from applying to the court of Rome by the
zeal with which it openly espoused the interests of Henry, and who knew
that Isabella would never consent to a union repugnant to the canons of
the established church, and one which involved such heavy ecclesiastical
censures. A genuine bull of dispensation was obtained, some years later,
from Sixtus the Fourth; but Isabella, whose honest mind abhorred
everything like artifice, was filled with no little uneasiness and
mortification at the discovery of the imposition. [70] The ensuing week
was consumed in the usual festivities of this joyous season; at the
expiration of which, the new-married pair attended publicly the
celebration of mass, agreeably to the usage of the time, in the collegiate
church of Sante Maria. [71]

An embassy was despatched by Ferdinand and Isabella to Henry, to acquaint
him with their proceedings, and again request his approbation of them.
They repeated their assurances of loyal submission, and accompanied the
message with a copious extract from such of the articles of marriage, as,
by their import, would be most likely to conciliate his favorable
disposition. Henry coldly replied, that "he must advise with his
ministers." [72]

* * * * *

Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdés, author of the "Quincuagenas"
frequently cited in this History, was born at Madrid, in 1478. He was of
noble Asturian descent. Indeed, every peasant in the Asturias claims
nobility as his birthright. At the age of twelve he was introduced into
the royal palace, as one of the pages of Prince John. He continued with
the court several years, and was present, though a boy, in the closing
campaigns of the Moorish war. In 1514, according to his own statement, he
embarked for the Indies, where, although he revisited his native country
several times, he continued during the remainder of his long life. The
time of his death is uncertain.

Oviedo occupied several important posts under the government, and he was
appointed to one of a literary nature, for which he was well qualified by
his long residence abroad; that of historiographer of the Indies. It was
in this capacity that he produced his principal work, "Historia General de
las Indias," in fifty books. Las Casas denounces the book as a wholesale
fabrication, "as full of lies, almost, as pages." (Oeuvres, trad. de
Llorente, tom. i. p. 382.) But Las Casas entertained too hearty an
aversion for the man, whom he publicly accused of rapacity and cruelty,
and was too decidedly opposed to his ideas on the government of the
Indies, to be a fair critic. Oviedo, though somewhat loose and rambling,
possessed extensive stores of information, by which those who have had
occasion to follow in his track have liberally profited.

The work with which we are concerned is his Quincuagenas. It is entitled
"Las Quincuagenas de los generosos é ilustres é no menos famosos Reyes,
Príncipes, Duques, Marqueses y Condes et Caballeros, et Personas notables
de España, que escribió el Capitan Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdez,
Alcáide de sus Magestades de la Fortaleza de la Cibdad é Puerto de Sancto
Domingo de la Isla Españiola, Coronista de las Indias," etc. At the close
of the third volume is this record of the octogenarian author; "Acabé de
escribir de mi mano este famoso tractado de la nobleza de España, domingo
1730; dia de Páscua de Pentecostes XXIII. de mayo de 1556 años. Laus
Deo. Y de mi edad 79 años." This very curious work is in the form of
dialogues, in which the author is the chief interlocutor. It contains a
very full, and, indeed, prolix notice of the principal persons in Spain,
their lineage, revenues, and arms, with an inexhaustible fund of private
anecdote. The author, who was well acquainted with most of the individuals
of note in his time, amused himself, during his absence in the New World,
with keeping alive the images of home by this minute record of early
reminiscences. In this mass of gossip, there is a good deal, indeed, of
very little value. It contains, however, much for the illustration of
domestic manners, and copious particulars, as I have intimated, respecting
the characters and habits of eminent personages, which could have been
known only to one familiar with them. On all topics of descent and
heraldry, he is uncommonly full; and one would think his services in this
department alone might have secured him, in a land where these are so much
respected, the honors of the press. His book, however, still remains in
manuscript, apparently little known, and less used, by Castilian scholars.
Besides the three folio volumes in the Royal Library at Madrid, from which
the transcript in my possession was obtained, Clemencin, whose
commendations of this work, as illustrative of Isabella's reign, are
unqualified. (Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 10,) enumerates
three others, two in the king's private library, and one in that of the


"Nil pudet assuetos sceptris: mitissima sors est
Regnorum sub rege novo." Lucan, Pharsalia, lib. 8.

[2] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 8.--Rodericus
Sanctius, Historia Hispanica, cap. 38, 39.--Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit.
1.--Castillo, Crónica, i. 20.--Guzman, Generaciones, cap. 33.--Although
Henry's lavish expenditure, particularly on works of architecture, gained
him in early life the appellation of "the Liberal," he is better known on
the roll of Castilian sovereigns by the less flattering title of "the

[3] Zuñiga, Anales Eclesiasticos y Seculares de Sevilla, (Madrid, 1667,)
p. 344.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 20.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii.
pp. 415, 419.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 14 et
seq.--The surprise of Gibraltar, the unhappy source of feud between the
families of Guzman and Ponce de Leon, did not occur till a later period,

[4] Such was his apathy, says Mariana, that he would subscribe his name to
public ordinances, without taking the trouble to acquaint himself with
their contents. Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 423.

[5] Pulgar, Crónica de los Reyes Católicos, (Valencia, 1780,) cap. 2.--
Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 4.--Aleson, Anales de
Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 519, 520.--The marriage between Blanche and Henry
was publicly declared void by the bishop of Segovia, confirmed by the
archbishop of Toledo, "por impotencia respectiva, owing to some malign

[6] La Clède, Hist. de. Portugal, tom. iii. pp. 325, 345.--Florez, Reynas
Cathólicas, tom. ii. pp. 763, 766.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS.,
part. 1, cap. 20, 21.--It does not appear, however, whom Beltran de la
Cueva indicated as the lady of his love on this occasion. (See Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 23, 24.) Two anecdotes may he mentioned as characteristic of
the gallantry of the times. The archbishop of Seville concluded a superb
_fête_, given in honor of the royal nuptials, by introducing on the
table two vases filled with rings garnished with precious stones, to be
distributed among his female guests. At a ball given on another occasion,
the young queen having condescended to dance with the French ambassador,
the latter made a solemn vow, in commemoration of so distinguished an
honor, never to dance with any other woman.

[7] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 42, 47.--Castillo, Crónica,
cap. 23.

[8] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 35.--Sempere, Hist. del. Luxo,
tom. i. p. 183.--Idem, Hist. des Cortès, ch. 19.--Marina, Teoría, part. 1,
cap. 20.--part. 2, pp. 390, 391.--Zuñiga, Anales de Sevilla, pp. 346,
349.--The papal bulls of crusade issued on these occasions, says Palencia,
contained among other indulgences an exemption from the pains and
penalties of purgatory, assuring to the soul of the purchaser, after
death, an immediate translation into a state of glory. Some of the more
orthodox casuists doubted the validity of such a bull. But it was decided,
after due examination, that, as the holy father possessed plenary power of
absolution of all offenses committed upon earth, and as purgatory is
situated upon earth, it properly fell within his jurisdiction, (cap. 32.)
Bulls of crusade were sold at the rate of 200 maravedies each; and it is
computed by the same historian, that no less than 4,000,000 maravedies
were amassed by this traffic in Castile, in the space of four years!

[9] Saez, Monedas de Enrique IV., (Madrid, 1805,) pp. 2-5.--Alonso de
Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 36, 39.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 19.

[10] Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit. 6.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 15.--
Mendoza, Monarquía de España, tom. i. p. 328.--The ancient marquisate of
Villena, having been incorporated into the crown of Castile, devolved to
Prince Henry of Aragon, on his marriage with the daughter of John II. It
was subsequently confiscated by that monarch, in consequence of the
repeated rebellions of Prince Henry; and the title, together with a large
proportion of the domains originally attached to it, was conferred on Don
Juan Pacheco, by whom it was transmitted to his son, afterwards raised to
the rank of duke of Escalona, in the reign of Isabella. Salazar de
Mendoza, Dignidades de Castilla y Leon, (Madrid, 1794,) lib. 3, cap. 12,

[11] Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit. 20.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS.,
cap. 10, 11.

[12] At least these are the important consequences imputed to this
interview by the French writers. See Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iii. pp.
241-243.--Comines, Mémoires, liv. 3, chap. 8.--Also Castillo, Crónica,
cap. 48, 49.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 17, cap. 50.

[13] Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. ii. p. 122.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 17,
cap. 56.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 51, 52, 58.--The queen of Aragon, who
was as skilful a diplomatist as her husband, John I., assailed the vanity
of Villena, quite as much as his interest. On one of his missions to her
court, she invited him to dine with her _tête-à-tête_ at her own table,
while during the repast they were served by the ladies of the palace.
Ibid., cap. 40.

[14] See the memorial presented to the king, cited at length in Marina,
Teoría, tom. iii. Apend. no. 7.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 58, 64.--Zurita,
Anales, lib. 17, cap. 56.--Lebrija, Hispanarum Rerum Ferdinando Rege et
Elisabe Reginâ Gestarum Decades, (apud Granatam, 1545,) lib. 1, cap. 1,
2.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 6.--Bernaldez, Reyes
Católicos, MS., cap. 9.

[15] Castillo, Crónica, cap. 65.

[16] See copies from the original instruments, which are still preserved
in the archives of the house of Villena, in Marina, Teoría, tom. iii.
part. 2, Ap. 6, 8.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 66, 67.--Alonso de Palencia,
Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 57.

[17] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 62.--Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 68, 69, 74.

[18] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 63, 70.--Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 75, 76.

[19] The celebrated marquis of Santillana died in 1458, at the age of
sixty. (Sanchez, Poesías Castellanas, tom. i. p. 23.) The title descended
to his eldest son, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, who is represented by his
contemporaries to have been worthy of his sire. Like him, he was imbued
with a love of letters; he was conspicuous for his magnanimity and
chivalrous honor, his moderation, constancy, and uniform loyalty to his
sovereign, virtues of rare worth in those rapacious and turbulent times.
(Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit. 9.) Ferdinand and Isabella created him duke
del Infantado. This domain derives its name from its having been once the
patrimony of the _infantes_ of Castile. See Salazar de Mendoza, Monarquía,
tom. i. p. 219,--and Dignidades de Castilla, lib. 3, cap. 17.--Oviedo,
Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 8.

[20] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 64.--Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 78.

[21] Castillo, Crónica, cap. 80, 82.

[22] Rades y Andrada, Chrónica de Las Tres Ordenes y Cavallerías, (Toledo,
1572,) fol. 76.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 85.--Alonso de Palencia,
Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 73.

[24] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 154.-Florez, Reynas Cathólicas,
tom. ii. p. 789.-Castillo, Crónica, cap. 37.

[25] Aleson, Anales de Navarra, tom. iv. pp. 561, 562.--Zurita, Anales,
lib. 16, cap. 46, lib. 17, cap. 3.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 31, 57.--
Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 55.

[26] Decad. de Palencia, apud Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. p. 65,

[27] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 73.--Mariana, Hist. de
España, tom. ii. p. 450.--Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. p. 532.

This lady, Doña Beatriz Fernandez de Bobadilla, the most intimate personal
friend of Isabella, will appear often in the course of our narrative.
Gonzalo de Oviedo, who knew her well, describes her as "illustrating her
generous lineage by her conduct, which was wise, virtuous, and valiant."
(Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de Cabrera.) The last epithet, rather singular
for a female character, was not unmerited.

[28] Palencia imputes his death to an attack of the quinsy. Corónica, MS.,
cap. 73.

[29] Rades y Andrada, Las Tres Ordenes, fol. 77.--Caro de Torres, Historia
de las Ordenes Militares de Santiago, Calatrava, y Alcantara, (Madrid,
1629,) lib. 2, cap. 59.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 85.--Alonso de Palencia,
Corónica, MS., cap. 73.--Gaillard remarks on this event, "Chacun crut sur
cette mort ce qu'il voulut." And again in a few pages after, speaking of
Isabella, he says, "On remarqua que tons ceux qui pouvoient faire obstacle
à la satisfaction ou à la fortune d'Isabelle, mouroient toujours à propos
pour elle." (Rivalité, tom. iii. pp. 280, 286.) This ingenious writer is
fond of seasoning his style with those piquant sarcasms, in which
oftentimes more is meant than meets the ear, and which Voltaire rendered
fashionable in history. I doubt, however, if, amid all the heats of
controversy and faction, there is a single Spanish writer of that age, or
indeed of any subsequent one, who has ventured to impute to the
contrivance of Isabella any one of the fortunate coincidences, to which
the author alludes.

[30] Lebrija, Rerum Gestarum Decades, lib. 1, cap. 2--Zurita, Anales, lib.
18, cap. 10--Castillo, Cronies, cap. 93, 97.--Alonso de Palencia,
Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap 80.

[31] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica MS., cap. 82.

[32] Zuñiga, Anales de Sevilla, pp. 851, 352.--Carta del Levantamiento de
Toledo, apud Castillo, Crónica, p. 109.--The historian of Seville has
quoted an animated apostrophe addressed to the citizens by one of their
number in this season of discord:

"Mezquina Sevilla en la sangre bañada
de los tus fijos, i tus cavalleros,
que fado enemigo te tiene minguada," etc.

The poem concludes with a summons to throw off the yoke of their

"Despierta Sevilla e sacude el imperio,
que faze a tus nobles tanto vituperio."

See Anales, p. 359.

[33] "Quod in pace fore, sen natura, tune fatum et ira dei vocabatur;"
says Tacitus, (Historiae, lib. 4, cap. 26,) adverting to a similar state
of excitement.

[34] Saez quotes a MS. letter of a contemporary, exhibiting a frightful
picture of these disorders. (Monedas de Enrique IV., p. 1, not.--Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 83, 87, et passim.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. p.
451.--Marina, Teoría, tom. ii. p. 487.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS.,
part. 1, cap. 69.) The active force kept on duty by the Hermandad amounted
to 3000 horse. Ibid., cap. 89, 90.

[35] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 87, 92.--Castillo, Crónica,
cap. 94.--Garibay, Compendio, lib. 17, cap. 20.

[36] Marina, Teoría, part. 2, cap. 88.

[37] Lebrija, Rerum Gestarum Decad., lib. 1, cap. 3.--Alonso de Palencia,
Corónica, MS., part. 1, cap. 92.--Florez, Reynas Cathólicas, tom. ii. p.

[38] Lebrija, Rerum Gestarum Decad., lib. 1, cap. 3.--Ferreras, Hist.
d'Espagne, tom. vii. p. 218.-Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, part. 1, cap.
92.--part. 2, cap. 5.

[39] See a copy of the original compact cited at length by Marina, Teoría,
Apend. no. 11.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 1, cap. 2.

[40] So called from four bulls, sculptured in stone, discovered there,
with Latin inscriptions thereon, indicating it to have been the site of
one of Julius Caesar's victories during the civil war. (Estrada, Poblacion
General de España, (Madrid, 1748,) tom. i. p. 306.)--Galindez de Carbaja,
contemporary, fixes the date of this convention in August. Apales del Rey
Fernando el Católico, MS., año 1468.

[41] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 4.--Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 18.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. pp. 461, 462.--
Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 1, cap. 2.--Castillo affirms that Henry,
incensed by his sister's refusal of the king of Portugal, dissolved the
cortes at Ocaña, before it had taken the oath of allegiance to her.
(Crónica, cap. 127.) This assertion, however, is counterbalanced by the
opposite one of Pulgar, a contemporary writer, like himself. (Reyes
Católicos, cap. 5.) And as Ferdinand and Isabella, in a letter addressed,
after their marriage, to Henry IV., transcribed also by Castillo, allude
incidentally to such a recognition as to a well-known fact, the balance of
testimony must be admitted to be in favor of it. See Castillo, Crónica,
cap. 114.

[42] Isabella, who in a letter to Henry IV., dated Oct. 12th, 1469,
adverts to these proposals of the English prince, as being under
consideration at the time of the convention of Toros de Guisando, does not
specify which of the brothers of Edward IV. was intended. (Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 136.)

Mr. Turner, in his History of England during the Middle Ages, (London,
1825,) quotes part of the address delivered by the Spanish envoy to
Richard III., in 1483, in which the orator speaks of "the unkindness,
which his queen Isabella had conceived for Edward IV., for his refusal of
her, and his taking instead to wife a widow of England." (Vol. iii. p.
274.) The old chronicler Hall, on the other hand, mentions, that it was
currently reported, although he does not appear to credit it, that the
earl of Warwick had been despatched into Spain in order to request the
hand of the princess Isabella for his master Edward IV., in 1463. (See his
Chronicle of England, (London, 1809,) pp. 263, 264.)--I find nothing in
the Spanish accounts of that period, which throws any light on these
obvious contradictions.

[43] The territories of France and Castile touched, indeed, on one point
(Guipuscoa), but were separated along the whole remaining line of frontier
by the kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre.

[44] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, cap. 8.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS.,
part. 2, cap. 10.

[45] Isabella, in order to acquaint herself more intimately with the
personal qualities of her respective suitors, had privately despatched her
confidential chaplain, Alonso de Coca, to the courts of France and of
Aragon, and his report on his return was altogether favorable to
Ferdinand. The duke of Guienne he represented as "a feeble, effeminate
prince, with limbs so emaciated as to be almost deformed, and with eyes so
weak and watery as to incapacitate him for the ordinary exercises of
chivalry. While Ferdinand, on the other hand, was possessed of a comely,
symmetrical figure, a graceful demeanor, and a spirit that was up to
anything;" _mui dispuesto para toda coga que hacer ginsiese_. It is
not improbable that the queen of Aragon condescended to practise some of
those agreeable arts on the worthy chaplain, which made so sensible an
impression on the marquis of Villena.

[46] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 5.

[47] See ante, note 10.

[48] Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 391.--Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 121, 127.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap.
7.--Lebrija, Rerum Gestarum Decad., lib. 1, cap. 7.

[49] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 7.--Alonso de Palencia,
Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 7.

[50] Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit. 2.

[51] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 154.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv.
fol. 162.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 7.--Pulgar,
Reyes Católicos, cap. 9.

[52] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 157, 163.

[53] See the copy of the original marriage contract, as it exists in the
archives of Simancas, extracted in tom. vi. of Memorias de la Acad. de
Hist., Apend. no. 1.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 18, cap. 21.--Ferreras, Hist.
d'Espagne, tom. vii. p. 236.

[54] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 12.--Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 128, 131, 136.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 162.--Beatrice
de Bobadilla and Mencia de la Torre, the two ladies most in her
confidence, had escaped to the neighboring town of Coca.

[55] Castillo, Crónica, cap. 136.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS.,
part. 2, cap. 12.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 69.

[56] This cavalier, who was of an ancient and honorable family in Castile,
was introduced to the princess's service by the archbishop of Toledo. He
is represented by Gonzalo de Oviedo as a man of much sagacity and
knowledge of the world, qualities with which he united a steady devotion
to the interests of his mistress. Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1,
quinc. 2, dial. 1.

[57] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 14.-The bishop told Palencia,
that "if his own servants deserted him, he would oppose the entrance of
Ferdinand into the kingdom."

[58] Zurita, Anales, lib. 18, cap. 26.--The enrique was a gold coin, so
denominated from Henry II.

[59] Zurita, Anales, lib. 18, cap. 26.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii.
p. 273.

[60] Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. p. 78, Ilust. 2.

[61] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 14.--Zurita, Anales,
loc. cit.

[62] This letter, dated October 12th, is cited at length by Castillo,
Crónica, cap. 136.

[63] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 15.

[64] Gutierre de Cardenas was the first who pointed him out to the
princess, exclaiming at the same time, "_Ese es, ese es_," "This is he;"
in commemoration of which he was permitted to place on his escutcheon
the letters SS, whose pronunciation in Spanish resembles that of the
exclamation which he had uttered. Ibid., part. 2, cap. 15.--Oviedo,
Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 2, dial. 1.

[65] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 182.--Garibay, Compendio, lib. 18,
cap. 1.--"Tan amigo de los negocios," says Mariana, "que parecia con el
trabajo descansaba." Hist. de España, lib. 25, cap. 18.

[66] "En hermosura, puestas delante S. A. todas las mugeres que yo he
visto, ninguna vi tan graciosa, ni tanto de ver corao su persona, ni de
tal manera e sanctidad honestísíma." Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS.

[67] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 201.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon,
tom. ii. p. 362.--Garibay, Compendío, lib. 18, cap. 1.

[68] Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 465.

[69] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 1469.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS.,
part. 2, cap. 16.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 18, cap. 26.--See a copy of the
official record of the marriage, Mem. de la Acad., tom. vi. Apend. 4. See
also the Ilust. 2.

[70] The intricacies of this affair, at once the scandal and the
stumbling-block of the Spanish historians, have been unravelled by Señor
Clemencin, with his usual perspicuity. See Mem. de la Acad., tom. vi. pp.
105-116, Ilust. 2.

[71] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 16.--A lively
narrative of the adventures of Prince Ferdinand, detailed in this chapter,
may be found in Cushing's Reminiscences of Spain, (Boston, 1833,) vol. i.
pp. 225-255.

[72] Castillo, Crónica, cap. 137.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS.,
part. 2, cap. 16.




Factions in Castile.--Ferdinand and Isabella.--Gallant Defence of
Perpignan against the French.--Ferdinand Raises the Siege.--Isabella's
Party gains Strength.--Interview between King Henry IV. and Isabella.--The
French Invade Roussillon.--Ferdinand's Summary Justice.--Death of Henry
IV., of Castile.--Influence of his Reign.

The marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella disconcerted the operations of the
marquis of Villena, or, as he should be styled, the grand master of St.
James, since he had resigned his marquisate to his elder son, on his
appointment to the command of the military order above mentioned, a
dignity inferior only to the primacy in importance. It was determined,
however, in the councils of Henry to oppose at once the pretensions of the
princess Joanna to those of Isabella; and an embassy was gladly received
from the king of France, offering to the former lady the hand of his
brother the duke of Guienne, the rejected suitor of Isabella. Louis the
Eleventh was willing to engage his relative in the unsettled politics of a
distant state, in order to relieve himself from his pretensions at home.

An interview took place between Henry the Fourth and the French
ambassadors in a little village in the vale of Lozoya, in October, 1470. A
proclamation was read, in which Henry declared his sister to have
forfeited whatever claims she had derived from the treaty of Toros de
Guisando, by marrying contrary to his approbation. He then with his queen
swore to the legitimacy of the princess Joanna, and announced her as his
true and lawful successor. The attendant nobles took the usual oaths of
allegiance, and the ceremony was concluded by affiancing the princess,
then in the ninth year of her age, with the formalities ordinarily
practised on such occasions, to the count of Boulogne, the representative
of the duke of Guienne. [2]

This farce, in which many of the actors were the same persons who
performed the principal parts at the convention of Toros de Guisando, had
on the whole an unfavorable influence on Isabella's cause. It exhibited
her rival to the world as one whose claims were to be supported by the
whole authority of the court of Castile, with the probable co-operation of
France. Many of the most considerable families in the kingdom, as the
Pachecos, [3] the Mendozas in all their extensive ramifications, [4] the
Zuñigas, the Velascos, [5] the Pimentels, [6] unmindful of the homage so
recently rendered to Isabella, now openly testified their adhesion to her

Ferdinand and his consort, who held their little court at Dueñas, [8] were
so poor as to be scarcely capable of defraying the ordinary charges of
their table. The northern provinces of Biscay and Guipuscoa had, however,
loudly declared against the French match; and the populous province of
Andalusia, with the house of Medina Sidonia at its head, still maintained
its loyalty to Isabella unshaken. But her principal reliance was on the
archbishop of Toledo, whose elevated station in the church and ample
revenues gave him perhaps less real influence, than his commanding and
resolute character, which had enabled him to triumph over every obstacle
devised by his more crafty adversary, the grand master of St. James. The
prelate, however, with all his generous self-devotion, was far from being
a comfortable ally. He would willingly have raised Isabella to the throne,
but he would have her indebted for her elevation exclusively to himself.
He looked with a jealous eye on her most intimate friends, and complained
that neither she nor her husband deferred sufficiently to his counsel. The
princess could not always conceal her disgust at these humors, and
Ferdinand, on one occasion, plainly told him that "he was not to be put in
leading-strings, like so many of the sovereigns of Castile." The old king
of Aragon, alarmed at the consequences of a rupture with so indispensable
an ally, wrote in the most earnest manner to his son, representing the
necessity of propitiating the offended prelate. But Ferdinand, although
educated in the school of dissimulation, had not yet acquired that self-
command, which enabled him in after-life to sacrifice his passions, and
sometimes indeed his principles, to his interests. [9]

The most frightful anarchy at this period prevailed throughout Castile.
While the court was abandoned to corrupt or frivolous pleasure, the
administration of justice was neglected, until crimes were committed with
a frequency and on a scale, which menaced the very foundations of society.
The nobles conducted their personal feuds with an array of numbers which
might compete with those of powerful princes. The duke of Infantado, the
head of the house of Mendoza, [10] could bring into the field, at four and
twenty hours' notice one thousand lances and ten thousand foot. The
battles, far from assuming the character of those waged by the Italian
_condottieri_ at this period, were of the most sanguinary and destructive
kind. Andalusia was in particular the theatre of this savage warfare. The
whole of that extensive district was divided by the factions of the
Guzmans and Ponces de Leon. The chiefs of these ancient houses having
recently died, the inheritance descended to young men, whose hot blood
soon revived the feuds, which had been permitted to cool under the
temperate sway of their fathers. One of these fiery cavaliers was Rodrigo
Ponce de Leon, so deservedly celebrated afterwards in the wars of Granada
as the marquis of Cadiz. He was an illegitimate and younger son of the
count of Arcos, but was preferred by his father to his other children in
consequence of the extraordinary qualities which he evinced at a very
early period. He served his apprenticeship to the art of war in the
campaigns against the Moors, displaying on several occasions an uncommon
degree of enterprise and personal heroism. On succeeding to his paternal
honors, his haughty spirit, impatient of a rival, led him to revive the
old feud with the duke of Medina Sidonia, the head of the Guzmans, who,
though the most powerful nobleman in Andalusia, was far his inferior in
capacity and military science. [11]

On one occasion the duke of Medina Sidonia mustered an army of twenty
thousand men against his antagonist; on another, no less than fifteen
hundred houses of the Ponce faction were burnt to the ground in Seville.
Such were the potent engines employed by these petty sovereigns in their
conflicts with one another, and such the havoc which they brought on the
fairest portion of the Peninsula. The husbandman, stripped of his harvest
and driven from his fields, abandoned himself to idleness, or sought
subsistence by plunder. A scarcity ensued in the years 1472 and 1473, in
which the prices of the most necessary commodities rose to such an
exorbitant height, as put them beyond the reach of any but the affluent.
But it would be wearisome to go into all the loathsome details of
wretchedness and crime brought on this unhappy country by an imbecile
government and a disputed succession, and which are portrayed with lively
fidelity in the chronicles, the letters, and the satires of the time. [12]

While Ferdinand's presence was more than ever necessary to support the
drooping spirits of his party in Castile, he was unexpectedly summoned
into Aragon to the assistance of his father. No sooner had Barcelona
submitted to King John, as mentioned in a preceding chapter, [13] than the
inhabitants of Roussillon and Cerdagne, which provinces, it will be
remembered, were placed in the custody of France, as a guaranty for the
king of Aragon's engagements, oppressed by the grievous exactions of their
new rulers, determined to break the yoke, and to put themselves again
under the protection of their ancient master, provided they could obtain
his support. The opportunity was favorable. A large part of the garrisons
in the principal cities had been withdrawn by Louis the Eleventh, to cover
the frontier on the side of Burgundy and Brittany. John, therefore, gladly
embraced the proposal, and on a concerted day a simultaneous insurrection
took place throughout the provinces, when such of the French, in the
principal towns, as had not the good fortune to escape into the citadels,
were indiscriminately massacred. Of all the country, Salces, Collioure,
and the castle of Perpignan alone remained in the hands of the French.
John then threw himself into the last-named city with a small body of
forces, and instantly set about the construction of works to protect the
inhabitants against the fire of the French garrison in the castle, as well
as from the army which might soon be expected to besiege them from
without. [14]

Louis the Eleventh, deeply incensed at the defection of his new subjects,
ordered the most formidable preparations for the siege of their capital.
John's officers, alarmed at these preparations, besought him not to expose
his person at his advanced age to the perils of a siege and of captivity.
But the lion-hearted monarch saw the necessity of animating the spirits of
the besieged by his own presence; and, assembling the inhabitants in one
of the churches of the city, he exhorted them resolutely to stand to their
defence, and made a solemn oath to abide the issue with them to the last.

Louis, in the mean while, had convoked the _ban_ and _arrière-ban_ of the
contiguous French provinces, and mustered an array of chivalry and feudal
militia amounting, according to the Spanish historians, to thirty thousand
men. With these ample forces, his lieutenant-general, the duke of Savoy,
closely invested Perpignan; and, as he was provided with a numerous train
of battering artillery, instantly opened a heavy fire on the inhabitants.
John, thus exposed to the double fire of the fortress and the besiegers,
was in a very critical situation. Far from being disheartened, however, he
was seen, armed cap-a-pie, on horseback from dawn till evening, rallying
the spirits of his troops, and always present at the point of danger. He
succeeded perfectly in communicating his own enthusiasm to the soldiers.
The French garrison were defeated in several sorties, and their governor
taken prisoner; while supplies were introduced into the city in the very
face of the blockading army. [15]

Ferdinand, on receiving intelligence of his father's perilous situation,
instantly resolved, by Isabella's advice, to march to his relief. Putting
himself at the head of a body of Castilian horse, generously furnished him
by the archbishop of Toledo and his friends, he passed into Aragon, where
he was speedily joined by the principal nobility of the kingdom, and an
army amounting in all to thirteen hundred lances and seven thousand
infantry. With this corps he rapidly descended the Pyrenees, by the way of
Mançanara, in the face of a driving tempest, which concealed him for some
time from the view of the enemy. The latter, during their protracted
operations, for nearly three months, had sustained a serious diminution of
numbers in their repeated skirmishes with the besieged, and still more
from an epidemic which broke out in their camp. They also began to suffer
not a little from want of provisions. At this crisis, the apparition of
this new army, thus unexpectedly descending on their rear, filled them
with such consternation, that they raised the siege at once, setting fire
to their tents, and retreating with such precipitation as to leave most of
the sick and wounded a prey to the devouring element. John marched out,
with colors flying and music playing, at the head of his little band, to
greet his deliverers; and, after an affecting interview in the presence of
the two armies, the father and son returned in triumph into Perpignan.

The French army, reinforced by command of Louis, made a second ineffectual
attempt (their own writers call it only a feint) upon the city; and the
campaign was finally concluded by a treaty between the two monarchs, in
which it was arranged, that the king of Aragon should disburse within the
year the sum originally stipulated for the services rendered him by Louis
in his late war with his Catalan subjects; and that, in case of failure,
the provinces of Roussillon and Cerdagne should be permanently ceded to
the French crown. The commanders of the fortified places in the contested
territory, selected by one monarch from the nominations of the other, were
excused during the interim from obedience to the mandates of either; at
least so far as they might contravene their reciprocal engagements. [17]

There is little reason to believe that this singular compact was
subscribed in good faith by either party. John, notwithstanding the
temporary succor which he had received from Louis at the commencement of
his difficulties with the Catalans, might justly complain of the
infraction of his engagements, at a subsequent period of the war; when he
not only withheld the stipulated aid, but indirectly gave every facility
in his power to the invasion of the duke of Lorraine. Neither was the king
of Aragon in a situation, had he been disposed, to make the requisite
disbursements. Louis, on the other hand, as the event soon proved, had no
other object in view but to gain time to reorganize his army, and to lull
his adversary into security, while he took effectual measures for
recovering the prize which had so unexpectedly eluded him.

During these occurrences Isabella's prospects were daily brightening in
Castile. The duke of Guienne, the destined spouse of her rival Joanna, had
died in France; but not until he had testified his contempt of his
engagements with the Castilian princess by openly soliciting the hand of
the heiress of Burgundy. [18] Subsequent negotiations for her marriage
with two other princes had entirely failed. The doubts which hung over her
birth, and which the public protestations of Henry and his queen, far from
dispelling, served only to augment, by the necessity which they implied
for such an extraordinary proceeding, were sufficient to deter any one
from a connection which must involve the party in all the disasters of a
civil war. [19]

Isabella's own character, moreover, contributed essentially to strengthen
her cause. Her sedate conduct, and the decorum maintained in her court,
formed a strong contrast with the frivolity and license which disgraced
that of Henry and his consort. Thinking men were led to conclude that the
sagacious administration of Isabella must eventually secure to her the
ascendency over her rival; while all, who sincerely loved their country,
could not but prognosticate for it, under her beneficent sway, a degree of
prosperity, which it could never reach under the rapacious and profligate
ministers who directed the councils of Henry, and most probably would
continue to direct those of his daughter.

Among the persons whose opinions experienced a decided revolution from
these considerations was Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, archbishop of Seville
and cardinal of Spain; a prelate, whose lofty station in the church was
supported by talents of the highest order; and whose restless ambition led
him, like many of the churchmen of the time, to take an active interest in
politics, for which he was admirably adapted by his knowledge of affairs
and discernment of character. Without deserting his former master, he
privately entered into a correspondence with Isabella; and a service,
which Ferdinand, on his return from Aragon, had an opportunity of
rendering the duke of Infantado, the head of the Mendozas, [20] secured
the attachment of the other members of this powerful family. [21]

A circumstance occurred at this time, which seemed to promise an
accommodation between the adverse factions, or at least between Henry and
his sister. The government of Segovia, whose impregnable citadel had been
made the depository of the royal treasure, was intrusted to Andres de
Cabrera, an officer of the king's household. This cavalier, influenced in
part by personal pique to the grand master of St. James, and still more
perhaps by the importunities of his wife, Beatriz de Bobadilla, the early
friend and companion of Isabella, entered into a correspondence with the
princess, and sought to open the way for her permanent reconciliation with
her brother. He accordingly invited her to Segovia, where Henry
occasionally resided, and, to dispel any suspicions which she might
entertain of his sincerity, despatched his wife secretly by night,
disguised in the garb of a peasant, to Aranda, where Isabella then held
her court. The latter, confirmed by the assurances of her friend, did not
hesitate to comply with the invitation, and, accompanied by the archbishop
of Toledo, proceeded to Segovia, where an interview took place between her
and Henry the Fourth, in which she vindicated her past conduct, and
endeavored to obtain her brother's sanction to her union with Ferdinand.
Henry, who was naturally of a placable temper, received her communication
with complacency, and, in order to give public demonstration of the good
understanding now subsisting between him and his sister, condescended to
walk by her side, holding the bridle of her palfrey, as she rode along the
streets of the city. Ferdinand, on his return into Castile, hastened to
Segovia, where he was welcomed by the monarch with every appearance of
satisfaction. A succession of and splendid entertainments, at which both
parties assisted, seemed to announce an entire oblivion of all past
animosities, and the nation welcomed with satisfaction these symptoms of
repose after the vexatious struggle by which it had been so long agitated.

The repose, however, was of no great duration. The slavish mind of Henry
gradually relapsed under its ancient bondage; and the grand master of St.
James succeeded, in consequence of an illness with which the monarch was
suddenly seized after an entertainment given by Cabrera, in infusing into
his mind suspicions of an attempt at assassination. Henry was so far
incensed or alarmed by the suggestion, that he concerted a scheme for
privately seizing the person of his sister, which was defeated by her own
prudence and the vigilance of her friends. [23]--But, if the visit to
Segovia failed in its destined purpose of a reconciliation with Henry, it
was attended with the important consequence of securing to Isabella a
faithful partisan in Cabrera, who, from the control which his situation
gave him over the royal coffers, proved a most seasonable ally in her
subsequent struggle with Joanna.

Not long after this event, Ferdinand received another summons from his
father to attend him in Aragon, where the storm of war, which had been for
some time gathering in the distance, now burst with pitiless fury. In the
beginning of February, 1474, an embassy consisting of two of his principal
nobles, accompanied by a brilliant train of cavaliers and attendants, had
been deputed by John to the court of Louis XI., for the ostensible purpose
of settling the preliminaries of the marriage, previously agreed on,
between the dauphin and the infanta Isabella, daughter of Ferdinand and
Isabella, then little more than three years of age. [24] The real object
of the mission was to effect some definitive adjustment or compromise of
the differences relating to the contested territories of Roussillon and
Cerdagne. The king of France, who, notwithstanding his late convention
with John, was making active preparations for the forcible occupation of
these provinces, determined to gain time by amusing the ambassadors with a
show of negotiation, and interposing every obstacle which his ingenuity
could devise to their progress through his dominions. He succeeded so well
in this latter part of his scheme, that the embassy did not reach Paris
until the close of Lent. Louis, who seldom resided in his capital, took
good care to be absent at this season. The ambassadors in the interim were
entertained with balls, military reviews, and whatever else might divert
them from the real objects of their mission. All communication was cut off
with their own government, as their couriers were stopped and their
despatches intercepted, so that John knew as little of his envoys or their
proceedings, as if they had been in Siberia or Japan. In the mean time,
formidable preparations were making in the south of France for a descent
on Roussillon; and when the ambassadors, after a fruitless attempt at
negotiation, which evaporated in mutual crimination and recrimination, set
out on their return to Aragon, they were twice detained, at Lyons and
Montpelier, from an extreme solicitude, as the French government expressed
it, to ascertain the safest route through a country intersected by hostile
armies; and all this, notwithstanding their repeated protestations against
this obliging disposition, which held them prisoners, in opposition to
their own will and the law of nations. The prince who descended to such
petty trickery passed for the wisest of his time. [25]

In the mean while, the Seigneur du Lude had invaded Roussillon at the head
of nine hundred French lances and ten thousand infantry, supported by a
powerful train of artillery, while a fleet of Genoese transports, laden
with supplies, accompanied the army along the coast. Elna surrendered
after a sturdy resistance; the governor and some of the principal
prisoners were shamefully beheaded as traitors; and the French then
proceeded to invest Perpignan. The king of Aragon was so much impoverished
by the incessant wars in which he had been engaged, that he was not only
unable to recruit his army, but was even obliged to pawn the robe of
costly fur, which he wore to defend his person against the inclemencies of
the season, in order to defray the expense of transporting his baggage. In
this extremity, finding himself disappointed in the cooperation, on which
he had reckoned, of his ancient allies the dukes of Burgundy and Brittany,
he again summoned Ferdinand to his assistance, who, after a brief
interview with his father in Barcelona, proceeded to Saragossa, to solicit
aid from the estates of Aragon.

An incident occurred on this visit of the prince worth noticing, as
strongly characteristic of the lawless habits of the age. A citizen of
Saragossa, named Ximenes Gordo, of noble family, but who had relinquished
the privileges of his rank in order to qualify himself for municipal
office, had acquired such ascendency over his townsmen, as to engross the
most considerable posts in the city for himself and his creatures. This
authority he abused in a shameless manner, making use of it not only for
the perversion of justice, but for the perpetration of the most flagrant
crimes. Although these facts were notorious, yet such were his power and
popularity with the lower classes, that Ferdinand, despairing of bringing
him to justice in the ordinary way, determined on a more summary process.
As Gordo occasionally visited the palace to pay his respects to the
prince, the latter affected to regard him with more than usual favor,
showing him such courtesy as might dissipate any distrust he had conceived
of him. Gordo, thus assured, was invited at one of those interviews to
withdraw into a retired apartment, where the prince wished to confer with
him on business of moment. On entering the chamber he was surprised by the
sight of the public executioner, the hangman of the city, whose presence,
together with that of a priest, and the apparatus of death with which the
apartment was garnished, revealed at once the dreadful nature of his

He was then charged with the manifold crimes of which he had been guilty,
and sentence of death was pronounced on him. In vain did he appeal to
Ferdinand, pleading the services which he had rendered on more than one
occasion to his father. Ferdinand assured him that these should be
gratefully remembered in the protection of his children, and then, bidding
him unburden his conscience to his confessor, consigned him to the hand of
the executioner. His body was exposed that very day in the market-place of
the city, to the dismay of his friends and adherents, most of whom paid
the penalty of their crimes in the ordinary course of justice. This
extraordinary proceeding is highly characteristic of the unsettled times
in which it occurred; when acts of violence often superseded the regular
operation of the law, even in those countries, whose forms of government
approached the nearest to a determinate constitution. It will doubtless
remind the reader of the similar proceeding imputed to Louis the Eleventh,
in the admirable sketch given us of that monarch in "Quentin Durward."

The supplies furnished by the Aragonese cortes were inadequate to King
John's necessities, and he was compelled, while hovering with his little
force on the confines of Roussillon, to witness the gradual reduction of
its capital, without being able to strike a blow in its defence. The
inhabitants, indeed, who fought with a resolution worthy of ancient
Numantia or Saguntum, were reduced to the last extremity of famine,
supporting life by feeding on the most loathsome offal, on cats, dogs, the
corpses of their enemies, and even on such of their own dead as had fallen
in battle! And when at length an honorable capitulation was granted them
on the 14th of March, 1475, the garrison who evacuated the city, reduced
to the number of four hundred, were obliged to march on foot to Barcelona,
as they had consumed their horses during the siege. [27]

The terms of capitulation, which permitted every inhabitant to evacuate,
or reside unmolested in the city, at his option, were too liberal to
satisfy the vindictive temper of the king of France. He instantly wrote to
his generals, instructing them to depart from their engagements, to keep
the city so short of supplies as to compel an emigration of its original
inhabitants, and to confiscate for their own use the estates of the
principal nobility; and after delineating in detail the perfidious policy
which they were to pursue, he concluded with the assurance, "that, by the
blessing of God and our Lady, and Monsieur St. Martin, he would be with
them before the winter, in order to aid them in its execution." [28] Such
was the miserable medley of hypocrisy and superstition, which
characterized the politics of the European courts in this corrupt age, and
which dimmed the lustre of names, most conspicuous on the page of history.

The occupation of Roussillon was followed by a truce of six months between
the belligerent parties. The regular course of the narrative has been
somewhat anticipated, in order to conclude that portion of it relating to
the war with Prance, before again reverting to the affairs of Castile,
where Henry the Fourth, pining under an incurable malady, was gradually
approaching the termination of his disastrous reign.

This event, which, from the momentous consequences it involved, was
contemplated with the deepest solicitude, not only by those who had an
immediate and personal interest at stake, but by the whole nation, took
place on the night of the 11th of December, 1474. [29] It was precipitated
by the death of the grand master of St. James, on whom the feeble mind of
Henry had been long accustomed to rest for its support, and who was cut
off by an acute disorder but a few months previous, in the full prime of
his ambitious schemes. The king, notwithstanding the lingering nature of
his disease gave him ample time for preparation, expired without a will,
or even, as generally asserted, the designation of a successor. This was
the more remarkable, not only as being contrary to established usage, but
as occurring at a period when the succession had been so long and hotly
debated. [30] The testaments of the Castilian sovereigns, though never
esteemed positively binding, and occasionally, indeed, set aside, when
deemed unconstitutional or even inexpedient by the legislature, [31] were
always allowed to have great weight with the nation.

With Henry the Fourth terminated the male line of the house of Trastamara,
who had kept possession of the throne for more than a century, and in the
course of only four generations had exhibited every gradation of character
from the bold and chivalrous enterprise of the first Henry of that name,
down to the drivelling imbecility of the last.

The character of Henry the Fourth has been sufficiently delineated in that
of his reign. He was not without certain amiable qualities, and may be
considered as a weak, rather than a wicked prince. In persons, however,
intrusted with the degree of power exercised by sovereigns of even the
most limited monarchies of this period, a weak man may be deemed more
mischievous to the state over which he presides than a wicked one. The
latter, feeling himself responsible in the eyes of the nation for his
actions, is more likely to consult appearances, and, where his own
passions or interests are not immediately involved, to legislate with
reference to the general interests of his subjects. The former, on the
contrary, is too often a mere tool in the hands of favorites, who, finding
themselves screened by the interposition of royal authority from the
consequences of measures for which they should be justly responsible,
sacrifice without remorse the public weal to the advancement of their
private fortunes. Thus the state, made to minister to the voracious
appetites of many tyrants, suffers incalculably more than it would from
one. So fared it with Castile under Henry the Fourth; dismembered by
faction, her revenues squandered on worthless parasites, the grossest
violations of justice unredressed, public faith become a jest, the
treasury bankrupt, the court a brothel, and private morals too loose and
audacious to seek even the veil of hypocrisy! Never had the fortunes of
the kingdom reached so low an ebb since the great Saracen invasion.

* * * * *

The historian cannot complain of a want of authentic materials for the
reign of Henry IV. Two of the chroniclers of that period, Alonso de
Palencia and Enriquez del Castillo, were eye-witnesses and conspicuous
actors in the scenes which they recorded, and connected with opposite
factions. The former of these writers, Alonso de Palencia, was born, as
appears from his work, "De Synonymis," cited by Pellicer, (Bibliotheca de
Traductores, p. 7,) in 1423. Nic. Antonio has fallen into the error of
dating his birth nine years later. (Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii. p. 331.)
At the age of seventeen, he became page to Alfonso of Carthagena, bishop
of Burgos, and, in the family of that estimable prelate, acquired a taste
for letters, which never deserted him during a busy political career. He
afterwards visited Italy, where he became acquainted with Cardinal
Bessarion, and through him with the learned George of Trebizond, whose
lectures on philosophy and rhetoric he attended. On his return to his
native country, he was raised to the dignity of royal historiographer by
Alfonso, younger brother of Henry IV., and competitor with him for the
crown. He attached himself to the fortunes of Isabella after Alfonso's
death, and was employed by the archbishop of Toledo in many delicate
negotiations, particularly in arranging the marriage of the princess with
Ferdinand, for which purpose he made a secret journey into Aragon. On the
accession of Isabella, he was confirmed in the office of national
chronicler, and passed the remainder of his life in the composition of
philological and historical works and translations from the ancient
classics. The time of his death is uncertain. He lived to a good old age,
however, since it appears from his own statement, (see Mendez, Typographia
Española, (Madrid, 1796,) p. 190,) that his version of Josephus was not
completed till the year 1492.

The most popular of Palencia's writings are his "Chronicle of Henry IV.,"
and his Latin "Decades," continuing the reign of Isabella down to the
capture of Baza, in 1489. His historical style, far from scholastic
pedantry, exhibits the business-like manner of a man of the world. His
Chronicle, which, being composed in the Castilian, was probably intended
for popular use, is conducted with little artifice, and indeed with a
prolixity and minuteness of detail, arising no doubt from the deep
interest which as an actor he took in the scenes he describes. His
sentiments are expressed with boldness, and sometimes with the acerbity of
party feeling. He has been much commended by the best Spanish writers,
such as Zurita, Zuñiga, Marina, Clemencin, for his veracity. The internal
evidence of this is sufficiently strong in his delineation of those scenes
in which he was personally engaged; in his account of others, it will not
be difficult to find examples of negligence and inaccuracy. His Latin
"Decades" were probably composed with more care, as addressed to a learned
class of readers; and they are lauded by Nic. Antonio as an elegant
commentary, worthy to be assiduously studied by all who would acquaint
themselves with the history of their country. The art of printing has done
less perhaps for Spain than for any other country in Europe; and these two
valuable histories are still permitted to swell the rich treasure of
manuscripts with which her libraries are overloaded.

Enriquez del Castillo, a native of Segovia, was the chaplain and
historiographer of King Henry IV., and a member of his privy council. His
situation not only made him acquainted with the policy and intrigues of
the court, but with the personal feelings of the monarch, who reposed
entire confidence in him, which Castillo repaid with uniform loyalty. He
appears very early to have commenced his Chronicle of Henry's reign. On
the occupation of Segovia by the young Alfonso, after the battle of
Olmedo, in 1467, the chronicler, together with the portion of his history
then complied, was unfortunate enough to fall into the enemy's hands. The
author was soon summoned to the presence of Alfonso and his counsellors,
to hear and justify, as he could, certain passages of what they termed his
"false and frivolous narrative." Castillo, hoping little from a defence
before such a prejudiced tribunal, resolutely kept his peace; and it might
have gone hard with him, had it not been for his ecclesiastical
profession. He subsequently escaped, but never recovered his manuscripts,
which were probably destroyed; and, in the introduction to his Chronicle,
he laments, that he has been obliged to rewrite the first half of his
master's reign.

Notwithstanding Castillo's familiarity with public affairs, his work is
not written in the business-like style of Palencia's. The sentiments
exhibit a moral sensibility scarcely to have been expected, even from a
minister of religion, in the corrupt court of Henry IV.; and the honest
indignation of the writer, at the abuses which he witnessed, sometimes
breaks forth in a strain of considerable eloquence. The spirit of his
work, notwithstanding its abundant loyalty, may be also commended for its
candor in relation to the partisans of Isabella; which has led some
critics to suppose that it underwent a _rifacimento_ after the accession
of that princess to the throne.

Castillo's Chronicle, more fortunate than that of his rival, has been
published in a handsome form under the care of Don Jose Miguel de Flores,
Secretary of the Spanish Academy of History, to whose learned labors in
this way Castilian literature is so much indebted.


[1] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 21.--Gaillard,
Rivalité, tom. iii. p. 284.--Rades y Andrada, Las Tres Ordenes, fol. 65.--
Caro de Torres, Ordenes Militares, fol. 43.

[2] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 23.--Castillo,
Crónica, p. 298.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 24.--
Henry, well knowing how little all this would avail without the
constitutional sanction of the cortes, twice issued his summons in 1470
for the convocation of the deputies, to obtain a recognition of the title
of Joanna. But without effect. In the letters of convocation issued for a
third assembly of the states, in 1471, this purpose was prudently omitted,
and thus the claims of Joanna failed to receive the countenance of the
only body which could give them validity. See the copies of the original
writs, addressed to the cities of Toledo and Segovia, cited by Marina,
Teoría, tom. ii. pp. 87-89.

[3] The grand master of St. James, and his son, the marquis of Villena,
afterwards duke of Escalona. The rents of the former nobleman, whose
avarice was as insatiable as his influence over the feeble mind of Henry
IV. was unlimited, exceeded those of any other grandee in the kingdom. See
Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit. 6.

[4] The marquis of Santillana, first duke of Infantado, and his brothers,
the counts of Coruña, and of Tendilla, and above all Pedro Gonzalez de
Mendoza, afterwards cardinal of Spain, and archbishop of Toledo, who was
indebted for the highest dignities in the church less to his birth than
his abilities. See Claros Varones, tit. 4, 9.--Salazar de Mendoza,
Dignidades, lib. 3, cap. 17.

[5] Alvaro de Zuñiga, count of Palencia, and created by Henry IV., duke of
Arevalo.--Pedro Fernandez de Velasco, count of Haro, was raised to the
post of constable of Castile in 1473, and the office continued to be
hereditary in the family from that period. Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit.
3.--Salazar de Mendoza, Dignidades, lib. 3, cap. 21.

[6] The Pimentels, counts of Benavente, had estates which gave them 60,000
ducats a year; a very large income for that period, and far exceeding that
of any other grandee of similar rank in the kingdom. L. Marineo, Cosas
Memorables, fol. 25.

[8] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 70.

[9] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 170.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS.,
cap. 45.

[10] This nobleman, Diego Hurtado, "muy gentil caballero y gran señor," as
Oviedo calls him, was at this time only marquis of Santillana, and was not
raised to the title of duke of Infantado till the reign of Isabella,
(Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 8.) To avoid confusion,
however, I have given him the title by which he is usually recognized by
Castilian writers.

[11] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 3.--Salazar de Mendoza, Crónica
de el Gran Cardenal de España, Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, (Toledo,
1625,) pp. 138, 150.--Zuñiga, Anales de Sevilla, p. 362.

[12] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 4, 5, 7.--Zuñiga, Anales de
Sevilla, pp. 363, 364.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap.
35, 38, 39, 42.--Saez, Monedas de Enrique IV., pp. 1-5.--Pulgar, in an
epistle addressed, in the autumn of 1473, to the bishop of Coria, adverts
to several circumstances which set in a strong light the anarchical state
of the kingdom and the total deficiency of police. The celebrated
satirical eclogue, also, entitled "Mingo Revulgo," exposes, with coarse
but cutting sarcasm, the license of the court, the corruption of the
clergy, and the prevalent depravity of the people. In one of its stanzas
it boldly ventures to promise another and a better sovereign to the
country. This performance, even more interesting to the antiquarian than
to the historian, has been attributed by some to Pulgar, (see Mariana,
Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 475,) and by others to Rodrigo Cota, (see
Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Veins, tom. ii p. 264,) but without satisfactory
evidence in favor of either. Bouterwek is much mistaken in asserting it to
have been aimed at the government of John II. The gloss of Pulgar, whose
authority as a contemporary must be considered decisive, plainly proves it
to have been directed against Henry IV.

[13] See Chap. II.

[14] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 56.--Mariana, Hist. de
España, tom. ii. p. 481.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 191.--Barante,
Histoire des Ducs de Bourgogne, (Paris, 1825,) tom. ix. pp. 101-106.

[15] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 70.--Mariana, Hist. de
España, tom. ii. p. 482.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 148.--Zurita,
Anales, tom. iv. fol. 195.--Anquetil, Histoire de France, (Paris, 1805,)
tom. v. pp. 60, 61.

[16] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 196.--Barante, Hist. des Ducs de
Bourgogne, tom. x. pp. 105, 106.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 149.
--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 70, 71, 72.

[17] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 200.--Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iii. p.
266.--See the articles of the treaty cited by Duclos, Hist. de Louis XI.,
tom. ii. pp. 99, 101.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., cap. 73.

[18] Louis XI. is supposed with much probability to have assassinated this
brother. M. de Barante sums up his examination of the evidence with this
remark: "Le roi Louis XI. ne fit peut-être pas mourir son frère, mais
personne ne pensa qu'il en fut incapable." Hist. des Ducs de Bourgogne,
tom. ix. p. 433.

[19] The two princes alluded to were the duke of Segorbe, a cousin of
Ferdinand, and the king of Portugal. The former, on his entrance into
Castile, assumed such sovereign state, (giving his hand, for instance, to
the grandees to kiss,) as disgusted these haughty nobles, and was
eventually the occasion of breaking off his match. Alonso de Palencia,
Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 62.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom.
ii. p. 392.

[20] Oviedo assigns another reason for this change; the disgust occasioned
by Henry IV.'s transferring the custody of his daughter from the family of
Mendoza to the Pachecos. Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 8.

[21] Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, p. 133.--Alonso de
Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 46, 92.--Castillo, Crónica, cap.
163.--The influence of these new allies, especially of the cardinal, over
Isabella's councils, was an additional ground of umbrage to the archbishop
of Toledo, who, in a communication with the king of Aragon, declared
himself, though friendly to their cause, to be released from all further
obligations to serve it. See Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. lib. 46, cap. 19.

[22] Carbajal, Anales, MS., años 73, 74.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, p. 27.
--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 164.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part.
2, cap. 75.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 23.

[23] Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, pp. 141, 142.--Castillo, Crónica,
cap. 164.--Oviedo has given a full account of this cavalier, who was
allied to an ancient Catalan family, but who raised himself to such pre-
eminence by his own deserts, says that writer, that he may well be
considered the founder of his house. Loc. cit.

[24] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 70.--This was the eldest child of
Ferdinand and Isabella, born Oct. 1st, 1470; afterwards queen of Portugal.

[25] Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iii. pp. 267-276.--Duclos, Hist. de Louis
XI., tom. ii. pp. 113, 115.--Chronique Scandaleuse, ed. Petitot, tom.
xiii. pp. 443, 444.

[26] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 83.--Ferreras, Hist.
d'Espagne, tom. vii. p. 400.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. lib. 19, cap. 12.

[27] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 150.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv.
lib. 19, cap. 13.--Chronique Scandaleuse, ed. Petitot, tom. xiii. p. 456.
--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 91.

[28] Of the original letters, as given by M. Barante, in his History of
the Dukes of Burgundy, in which the author has so happily seized the tone
and picturesque coloring of the ancient chronicle; tom. x. pp. 289, 298.

[29] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 10.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año
74.--Castillo, Crónica, cap. 148.

[30] This topic is involved in no little obscurity, and has been reported
with much discrepancy as well as inaccuracy by the modern Spanish
historians. Among the ancient, Castillo, the historiographer of Henry IV.,
mentions certain "testamentary executors," without, however, noticing in
any more direct way the existence of a will. (Crón. c. 168.) The Curate of
Los Palacios refers to a clause reported, he says, to have existed in the
testament of Henry IV., in which he declares Joanna his daughter and heir;
(Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 10.) Alonso de Palencia states positively that
there was no such instrument, and that Henry, on being asked who was to
succeed him, referred to his secretary Juan Gonzalez for a knowledge of
his intention. (Crón. c. 92.) L. Marineo also states that the king, "with
his usual improvidence," left no will. (Cosas Memorables, fol. 155.)
Pulgar, another contemporary, expressly declares that he executed no will,
and quotes the words dictated by him to his secretary, in which he simply
designates two of the grandees as "executors of his soul," (_albuceas de
su anima_,) and four others in conjunction with them as the guardians
of his daughter Joanna. (Reyes Cat. p. 31.) It seems not improbable that
the existence of this document has been confounded with that of a
testament, and that with reference to it, the phrase above quoted of
Castillo, as well as the passage of Bernaldez, is to be interpreted.
Carbajal's wild story of the existence of a will, of its secretion for
more than thirty years, and its final suppression by Ferdinand, is too
naked of testimony to deserve the least weight with the historian. (See
his Anales, MS., año 74.) It should be remembered, however, that most of
the above-mentioned writers compiled their works after the accession of
Isabella, and that none, save Castillo, were the partisans of her rival.
It should also be added that in the letters addressed by the princess
Joanna to the different cities of the kingdom, on her assuming the title
of queen of Castile, (bearing date May, 1475,) it is expressly stated that
Henry IV., on his deathbed, solemnly affirmed her to be his only daughter
and lawful heir. These letters were drafted by John de Oviedo, (Juan
Gonzalez,) the confidential secretary of Henry IV. See Zurita, Anales,
tom. iv. fol. 235-239.

[31] As was the case with the testaments of Alfonso of Leon and Alfonso
the Wise, in the thirteenth century, and with that of Peter the Cruel, in
the fourteenth.




Isabella proclaimed Queen.--Settlement of the Crown.--Alfonso of Portugal
supports Joanna.--Invades Castile.--Retreat of the Castilians.--
Appropriation of the Church Plate.--Reorganization of the Army.--Battle of
Toro.--Submission of the whole Kingdom.--Peace with France and Portugal.--
Joanna takes the Veil.--Death of John II., of Aragon.

Most of the contemporary writers are content to derive Isabella's title to
the crown of Castile from the illegitimacy of her rival Joanna. But, as
this fact, whatever probability it may receive from the avowed
licentiousness of the queen, and some other collateral circumstances, was
never established by legal evidence, or even made the subject of legal
inquiry, it cannot reasonably be adduced as affording in itself a
satisfactory basis for the pretensions of Isabella. [1]

These are to be derived from the will of the nation as expressed by its
representatives in cortes. The power of this body to interpret the laws
regulating the succession, and to determine the succession itself, in the
most absolute manner, is incontrovertible, having been established by
repeated precedents from a very ancient period. [2] In the present
instance, the legislature, soon after the birth of Joanna, tendered the
usual oaths of allegiance to her as heir apparent to the monarchy. On a
subsequent occasion, however, the cortes, for reasons deemed sufficient by
itself, and under a conviction that its consent to the preceding measure
had been obtained through an undue influence on the part of the crown,
reversed its former acts, and did homage to Isabella as the only true and
lawful successor. [3] In this disposition the legislature continued so
resolute, that, notwithstanding Henry twice convoked the states for the
express purpose of renewing their allegiance to Joanna, they refused to
comply with the summons; [4] and thus Isabella, at the time of her
brother's death, possessed a title to the crown unimpaired, and derived
from the sole authority which could give it a constitutional validity. It
may be added that the princess was so well aware of the real basis of her
pretensions, that in her several manifestoes, although she adverts to the
popular notion of her rival's illegitimacy, she rests the strength of her
cause on the sanction of the cortes.

On learning Henry's death, Isabella signified to the inhabitants of
Segovia, where she then resided, her desire of being proclaimed queen in
that city, with the solemnities usual on such occasions. [5] Accordingly,
on the following morning, being the 13th of December, 1474, a numerous
assembly, consisting of the nobles, clergy, and public magistrates in
their robes of office, waited on her at the alcazar or castle, and,
receiving her under a canopy of rich brocade, escorted her in solemn
procession to the principal square of the city, where a broad platform or
scaffold had been erected for the performance of the ceremony. Isabella,
royally attired, rode on a Spanish jennet whose bridle was held by two of
the civic functionaries, while an officer of her court preceded her on
horseback, bearing aloft a naked sword, the symbol of sovereignty. On
arriving at the square she alighted from her palfrey, and, ascending the
platform, seated herself on a throne which had been prepared for her. A
herald with a loud voice proclaimed, "Castile, Castile for the king Don
Ferdinand and his consort Doña Isabella, queen proprietor (_reina
proprietaria_) of these kingdoms!" The royal standards were then
unfurled, while the peal of bells and the discharge of ordnance from the
castle publicly announced the accession of the new sovereign. Isabella,
after receiving the homage of her subjects, and swearing to maintain
inviolate the liberties of the realm, descended from the platform, and,
attended by the same _cortège_, moved slowly towards the cathedral
church; where, after Te Deum had been chanted, she prostrated herself
before the principal altar, and, returning thanks to the Almighty for the
protection hitherto vouchsafed her, implored him to enlighten her future
counsels, so that she might discharge the high trust reposed in her, with
equity and wisdom. Such were the simple forms, that attended the
coronation of the monarchs of Castile, previously to the sixteenth
century. [6]

The cities favorable to Isabella's cause, comprehending far the most
populous and wealthy throughout the kingdom, followed the example of
Segovia, and raised the royal standard for their new sovereign. The
principal grandees, as well as most of the inferior nobility, soon
presented themselves from all quarters, in order to tender the customary
oaths of allegiance; and an assembly of the estates, convened for the
ensuing month of February at Segovia, imparted, by a similar ceremony, a
constitutional sanction to these proceedings. [7]

On Ferdinand's arrival from Aragon, where he was staying at the time of
Henry's death, occupied with the war of Roussillon, a disagreeable
discussion took place in regard to the respective authority to be enjoyed
by the husband and wife in the administration of the government.
Ferdinand's relatives, with the admiral Henriquez at their head, contended
that the crown of Castile, and of course the exclusive sovereignty, was
limited to him as the nearest male representative of the house of
Trastamara. Isabella's friends, on the other hand, insisted that these
rights devolved solely on her, as the lawful heir and proprietor of the
kingdom. The affair was finally referred to the arbitration of the
cardinal of Spain and the archbishop of Toledo, who, after careful
examination, established by undoubted precedent, that the exclusion of
females from the succession did not obtain in Castile and Leon, as was the
case in Aragon; [8] that Isabella was consequently sole heir of these
dominions; and that whatever authority Ferdinand might possess, could only
be derived through her. A settlement was then made on the basis of the
original marriage contract. [9] All municipal appointments, and collation
to ecclesiastical benefices, were to be made in the name of both with the
advice and consent of the queen. All fiscal nominations, and issues from
the treasury, were to be subject to her order. The commanders of the
fortified places were to render homage to her alone. Justice was to be
administered by both conjointly, when residing in the same place, and by
each independently, when separate. Proclamations and letters patent were
to be subscribed with the signatures of both; their images were to be
stamped on the public coin, and the united arms of Castile and Aragon
emblazoned on a common seal. [10]

Ferdinand, it is said, was so much dissatisfied with an arrangement which
vested the essential rights of sovereignty in his consort, that he
threatened to return to Aragon; but Isabella reminded him, that this
distribution of power was rather nominal than real; that their interests
were indivisible; that his will would be hers; and that the principle of
the exclusion of females from the succession, if now established, would
operate to the disqualification of their only child, who was a daughter.
By these and similar arguments the queen succeeded in soothing her
offended husband, without compromising the prerogatives of her crown.

Although the principal body of the nobility, as has been stated, supported
Isabella's cause, there were a few families, and some of them the most
potent in Castile, who seemed determined to abide the fortunes of her
rival. Among these was the marquis of Villena, who, inferior to his father
in talent for intrigue, was of an intrepid spirit, and is commended by one
of the Spanish historians as "the best lance in the kingdom." His immense
estates, stretching from Toledo to Murcia, gave him an extensive influence
over the southern regions of New Castile. The duke of Arevalo possessed a
similar interest in the frontier province of Estremadura. With these were
combined the grand master of Calatrava and his brother, together with the
young marquis of Cadiz, and, as it soon appeared, the archbishop of
Toledo. This latter dignitary, whose heart had long swelled with secret
jealousy at the rising fortunes of the cardinal Mendoza, could no longer
brook the ascendency which that prelate's consummate sagacity and
insinuating address had given him over the counsels of his young
sovereigns. After some awkward excuses, he abruptly withdrew to his own
estates; nor could the most conciliatory advances on the part of the
queen, nor the deprecatory letters of the old king of Aragon, soften his
inflexible temper, or induce him to resume his station at the court; until
it soon became apparent from his correspondence with Isabella's enemies,
that he was busy in undermining the fortunes of the very individual, whom
he had so zealously labored to elevate. [11]

Under the auspices of this coalition, propositions were made to Alfonso
the Fifth, king of Portugal, to vindicate the title of his niece Joanna to
the throne of Castile, and, by espousing her, to secure to himself the
same rich inheritance. An exaggerated estimate was, at the same time,
exhibited of the resources of the confederates, which, when combined with
those of Portugal, would readily enable them to crush the usurpers,
unsupported, as the latter must be, by the co-operation of Aragon, whose
arms already found sufficient occupation with the French.

Alfonso, whose victories over the Barbary Moors had given him the cognomen
of "the African," was precisely of a character to be dazzled by the nature
of this enterprise. The protection of an injured princess, his near
relative, was congenial with the spirit of chivalry; while the conquest of
an opulent territory, adjacent to his own, would not only satisfy his
dreams of glory, but the more solid cravings of avarice. In this
disposition he was confirmed by his son, Prince John, whose hot and
enterprising temper found a nobler scope for ambition in such a war, than
in the conquest of a horde of African savages. [12]

Still, there were a few among Alfonso's counsellors possessed of
sufficient coolness to discern the difficulties of the undertaking. They
reminded him that the Castilian nobles on whom he principally relied were
the very persons who had formerly been most instrumental in defeating the
claims of Joanna, and securing the succession to her rival; that Ferdinand
was connected by blood with the most powerful families of Castile; that
the great body of the people, the middle as well as the lower classes,
were fully penetrated not only with a conviction of the legality of
Isabella's title, but with a deep attachment to her person; while, on the
other hand, their proverbial hatred of Portugal would make them too
impatient of interference from that quarter, to admit the prospect of
permanent success. [13]

These objections, sound as they were, were overruled by John's
impetuosity, and the ambition or avarice of his father. War was
accordingly resolved on; and Alfonso, after a vaunting, and, as may be
supposed, ineffectual summons to the Castilian sovereigns to resign their
crown in favor of Joanna, prepared for the immediate invasion of the
kingdom at the head of an army amounting, according to the Portuguese
historians, to five thousand six hundred horse and fourteen thousand foot.
This force, though numerically not so formidable as might have been
expected, comprised the flower of the Portuguese chivalry, burning with
the hope of reaping similar laurels to those won of old by their fathers
on the plains of Aljubarrotta; while its deficiency in numbers was to be
amply compensated by recruits from the disaffected party in Castile, who
would eagerly flock to its banners, on its advance across the borders. At
the same time negotiations were entered into with the king of France, who
was invited to make a descent upon Biscay, by a promise, somewhat
premature, of a cession of the conquered territory.

Early in May, the king of Portugal put his army in motion, and, entering
Castile by the way of Estremadura, held a northerly course towards
Placencia, where he was met by the duke of Arevalo and the marquis of
Villena, and by the latter nobleman presented to the princess Joanna, his
destined bride. On the 12th of the month he was affianced with all
becoming pomp to this lady, then scarcely thirteen years of age; and a
messenger was despatched to the court of Rome, to solicit a dispensation
for their marriage, rendered necessary by the consanguinity of the
parties. The royal pair were then proclaimed, with the usual solemnities,
sovereigns of Castile; and circulars were transmitted to the different
cities, setting forth Joanna's title and requiring their allegiance. [14]

After some days given to festivity, the army resumed its march, still in a
northerly direction, upon Arevalo, where Alfonso determined to await the
arrival of the reinforcements which he expected from his Castilian allies.

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