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The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, V3 by William H. Prescott

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finally decide the fate of Naples. Expresses were daily despatched from
the French camp to Rome, whence the ministers of the different European
powers transmitted the tidings to their respective governments.
Machiavelli represented at that time the Florentine republic at the papal
court, and his correspondence teems with as many floating rumors and
speculations as a modern gazette. There were many French residents in the
city, with whom the minister was personally acquainted. He frequently
notices their opinions on the progress of the war, which they regarded
with the most sanguine confidence, as sure to result in the triumph of
their own arms, when once fairly brought into collision with the enemy.
The calmer and more penetrating eye of the Florentine discerns symptoms in
the condition of the two armies of quite a different tendency. [24]

It seemed now obvious, that victory must declare for that party which
could best endure the hardships and privations of its present situation.
The local position of the Spaniards was far more unfavorable than that of
the enemy. The Great Captain, soon after the affair of the bridge, had
drawn off his forces to a rising ground about a mile from the river, which
was crowned by the little hamlet of Cintura, and commanded the route to
Naples. In front of his camp he sunk a deep trench, which, in the
saturated soil, speedily filled with water; and he garnished it at each
extremity with a strong redoubt. Thus securely intrenched, he resolved
patiently to await the movements of the enemy.

The situation of the army, in the mean time, was indeed deplorable. Those
who occupied the lower level were up to their knees in mud and water; for
the excessive rains, and the inundation of the Garigliano, had converted
the whole country into a mere quagmire, or rather standing pool. The only
way in which the men could secure themselves was by covering the earth as
far as possible with boughs and bundles of twigs; and it was altogether
uncertain how long even this expedient would serve against the encroaching
element. Those on the higher grounds were scarcely in better plight. The
driving storms of sleet and rain, which had continued for several weeks
without intermission, found their way into every crevice of the flimsy
tents and crazy hovels, thatched only with branches of trees, which
afforded a temporary shelter to the troops. In addition to these evils,
the soldiers were badly fed, from the difficulty of finding resources in
the waste and depopulated regions in which they were quartered, [25] and
badly paid, from the negligence, or perhaps poverty, of King Ferdinand,
whose inadequate remittances to his general exposed him, among many other
embarrassments, to the imminent hazard of disaffection among the soldiery,
especially the foreign mercenaries, which nothing, indeed, but the most
delicate and judicious conduct on his part could have averted. [26]

In this difficult crisis, Gonsalvo de Cordova retained all his usual
equanimity, and even the cheerfulness, so indispensable in a leader who
would infuse heart into his followers. He entered freely into the
distresses and personal feelings of his men, and, instead of assuming any
exemption from fatigue or suffering on the score of his rank, took his
turn in the humblest tour of duty with the meanest of them, mounting guard
himself, it is said, on more than one occasion. Above all, he displayed
that inflexible constancy, which enables the strong mind in the hour of
darkness and peril to buoy up the sinking spirits around it. A remarkable
instance of this fixedness of purpose occurred at this time.

The forlorn condition of the army, and the indefinite prospect of its
continuance, raised a natural apprehension in many of the officers, that,
if it did not provoke some open act of mutiny, would in all probability
break down the spirits and constitution of the soldiers. Several of them,
therefore, among the rest Mendoza and the two Colonnas, waited on the
commander-in-chief, and, after stating their fears without reserve,
besought him to remove the camp to Capua, where the troops might find
healthy and commodious quarters, at least until the severity of the season
was mitigated; before which, they insisted, there was no reason to
anticipate any movement on the part of the French. But Gonsalvo felt too
deeply the importance of grappling with the enemy, before they should gain
the open country, to be willing to trust to any such precarious
contingency. Besides, he distrusted the effect of such a retrograde
movement on the spirits of his own troops. He had decided on his course
after the most mature deliberation; and, having patiently heard his
officers to the end, replied in these few but memorable words; "It is
indispensable to the public service to maintain our present position; and
be assured, I would sooner march forward two steps, though it should bring
me to my grave, than fall back one, to gain a hundred years." The decided
tone of the reply relieved him from further importunity. [27]

There is no act of Gonsalvo's life, which on the whole displays more
strikingly the strength of his character. When thus witnessing his
faithful followers drooping and dying around him, with the consciousness
that a word could relieve them from all their distresses, he yet refrained
from uttering it, in stern obedience to what he regarded as the call of
duty; and this too on his own responsibility, in opposition to the
remonstrances of those on whose judgment he most relied.

Gonsalvo confided in the prudence, sobriety, and excellent constitution of
the Spaniards, for resisting the bad effects of the climate. He relied too
on their tried discipline, and their devotion to himself, for carrying
them through any sacrifice he should demand of them. His experience at
Barleta led him to anticipate results of a very opposite character with
the French troops. The event justified his conclusions in both respects.

The French, as already noticed, occupied higher and more healthy ground,
on the other side of the Garigliano, than their rivals. They were
fortunate enough also to find more effectual protection from the weather
in the remains of a spacious amphitheatre, and some other edifices, which
still covered the site of Minturnae. With all this, however, they suffered
more severely from the inclement season than their robust adversaries.
Numbers daily sickened and died. They were much straitened, moreover, from
want of provisions, through the knavish peculations of the commissaries
who had charge of the magazines in Rome. Thus situated, the fiery spirits
of the French soldiery, eager for prompt and decisive action, and
impatient of delay, gradually sunk under the protracted miseries of a war,
where the elements were the principal enemy, and where they saw themselves
melting away like slaves in a prison-ship, without even the chance of
winning an honorable death on the field of battle. [28]

The discontent occasioned by these circumstances was further swelled by
the imperfect success, which had attended their efforts, when allowed to
measure weapons with the enemy.

At length the latent mass of disaffection found an object on which to vent
itself, in the person of their commander-in-chief, the marquis of Mantua,
never popular with the French soldiers. They now loudly taxed him with
imbecility, accused him of a secret understanding with the enemy, and
loaded him with the opprobrious epithets with which Trans-alpine insolence
was accustomed to stigmatize the Italians. In all this, they were secretly
supported by Ives d'Allègre, Sandricourt, and other French officers, who
had always regarded with dissatisfaction the elevation of the Italian
general; till at length the latter, finding that he had influence with
neither officers nor soldiers, and unwilling to retain command where he
had lost authority, availed himself of a temporary illness, under which he
was laboring, to throw up his commission, and withdrew abruptly to his own

He was succeeded by the marquis of Saluzzo, an Italian, indeed, by birth,
being a native of Piedmont, but who had long served under the French
banners, where he had been intrusted by Louis the Twelfth with very
important commands. He was not deficient in energy of character or
military science. But it required powers of a higher order than his to
bring the army under subordination, and renew its confidence under present
circumstances. The Italians, disgusted with the treatment of their former
chief, deserted in great numbers. The great body of the French chivalry,
impatient of their present unhealthy position, dispersed among the
adjacent cities of Fondi, Itri, and Gaeta, leaving the low country around
the Tower of the Garigliano to the care of the Swiss and German infantry.
Thus, while the whole Spanish army lay within a mile of the river, under
the immediate eye of their commander, prepared for instant service, the
French were scattered over a country more than ten miles in extent, where,
without regard to military discipline, they sought to relieve the dreary
monotony of a camp, by all the relaxations which such comfortable quarters
could afford. [29]

It must not be supposed that the repose of the two armies was never broken
by the sounds of war. More than one rencontre, on the contrary, with
various fortune, took place, and more than one display of personal prowess
by the knights of the two nations, as formerly at the siege of Barleta.
The Spaniards made two unsuccessful efforts to burn the enemy's bridge;
but they succeeded, on the other hand, in carrying the strong fortress of
Rocca Guglielma, garrisoned by the French. Among the feats of individual
heroism, the Castilian writers expatiate most complacently on that of
their favorite cavalier, Diego de Paredes, who descended alone on the
bridge against a body of French knights, all armed in proof, with a
desperate hardihood worthy of Don Quixote; and would most probably have
shared the usual fate of that renowned personage on such occasions, had he
not been rescued by a sally of his own countrymen. The French find a
counterpart to this adventure in that of the preux chevalier Bayard, who,
with his single arm, maintained the barriers of the bridge against two
hundred Spaniards, for an hour or more. [30]

Such feats, indeed, are more easily achieved with the pen than with the
sword. It would be injustice, however, to the honest chronicler of the day
to suppose that he did not himself fully

"Believe the magic wonders that he sung."

Every heart confessed the influence of a romantic age,--the dying age,
indeed, of chivalry,--but when, with superior refinement, it had lost
nothing of the enthusiasm and exaltation of its prime. A shadowy twilight
of romance enveloped every object. Every day gave birth to such
extravagances, not merely of sentiment, but of action, as made it
difficult to discern the precise boundaries of fact and fiction. The
chronicler might innocently encroach sometimes on the province of the
poet, and the poet occasionally draw the theme of his visions from the
pages of the chronicler. Such, in fact, was the case; and the romantic
Muse of Italy, then coming forth in her glory, did little more than give a
brighter flush of color to the chimeras of real life. The characters of
living heroes, a Bayard, a Paredes, and a La Palice, readily supplied her
with the elements of those ideal combinations, in which she has so
gracefully embodied the perfections of chivalry. [31]


"O pria sì cara al ciel del mondo parte,
Che l'acqua cigne, e 'l sasso orrido serra;
O lieta sopra ogn' altra e dolce terra,
Che 'l superbo Appennin segna e diparte;
Che val omai se 'l buon popol di Marte
Ti lasciò del mar donna e de la terra?
Le genti a te gia serve, or ti fan guerra,
E pongon man ne le tue treccie sparte.
Lasso nè manea de' tuoi figli ancora
Chi le più strane a te chiamando insieme
La spada sua nel tuo bel corpo adopre.
Or son queste simili a l' antich' opre?
O pur così pietate e Dio a' onora?
Ahi secol duro, ahi tralignato seme."
Bembo, rime Son. 108.

This exquisite little lyric, inferior to none other which had appeared on
the same subject since the "Italia mia" of Petrarch, was composed by Bembo
at the period of which we are treating.

[2] The philosophic Machiavelli discerned the true causes of the
calamities, in the corruptions of his country; which he has exposed, with
more than his usual boldness and bitterness of sarcasm, in the seventh
book of his "Arte della Guerra."

[3] Lorenzo Suarez de la Vega filled the post of minister at the republic
during the whole of the war. His long continuance in the office at so
critical a period, under so vigilant a sovereign as Ferdinand, is
sufficient warrant for his ability. Peter Martyr, while he admits his
talents, makes some objections to his appointment, on the ground of his
want of scholarship. "Nec placet quod hunc elegeritis hac tempestate.
Maluissem namque virum, qui Latinum calleret, vel salterm intelligeret,
linguam; hic tantum suam patriam vernaculam novit; prudentem esse alias,
atque inter ignaros literarum satis esse gnarum, Rex ipse mihi testatus
est. Cupissem tamen ego, quae dixi." (See the letter to the Catholic
queen, Opus Epist., epist. 246.) The objections have weight undoubtedly,
the Latin being the common medium of diplomatic intercourse at that time.
Martyr, who on his return through Venice from his Egyptian mission took
charge for the time of the interests of Spain, might probably have been
prevailed on to assume the difficulties of a diplomatic station there
himself. See also Part II. Chapter 11, note 7, of this History.

[4] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 38, 48.--Bembo,
Istoria Viniziana, tom. iii. lib. 6.--Daru, Hist. de Venise, tom. iii. p.
347.--Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, p. 311, ed. 1645.--
Buonaccorsi, Diario, pp. 77, 81.

[5] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 55.--Coxe,
History of the House of Austria, (London, 1807,) vol. i. chap. 23.

[6] Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 78.--St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., pp. 173,
174.--Varillas, Hist. de Louis XII., tom. i. pp. 386, 387.--Mémoires de la
Trémoille, chap. 19, apud Petitot, Collection des Mémoires, tom. xiv.--
Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. xiv. anno 1503.--Carta de Gonzalo, MS.

Historians, as usual, differ widely in their estimates of the French
numbers. Guicciardini, whose moderate computation of 20,000 men is usually
followed, does not take the trouble to reconcile his sum total with the
various estimates given by him in detail, which considerably exceed that
amount. Istoria, pp. 308, 309, 312.

[7] Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 81.--Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, lib. 6.

The little ceremony with which Alexander's remains were treated, while yet
scarcely cold, is the best commentary on the general detestation in which
he was held. "Lorsque Alexandre," says the pope's _maître des cérémonies_,
"rendit le dernier soupir, il n'y avait dans sa chambre que l'évêque de
Rieti, le dataire et quelques palefreniers. Cette chambre fut aussitôt
pillée. La face du cadavre devint noire; la langue s'enfla au point
qu'elle remplissait la bouche qui resta ouverte. La bière dans laquelle il
fallait mettre le corps se trouva trop petite; on l'y enfonça à coups de
poings. Les restes du pape insultés par ses domestiques furent portés dans
l'église de St. Pierre, sans être accompagnés de prêtres ni de torches, et
on les plaça en dedans de la grille du choeur pour les dérober aux
outrages de la populace." Notice de Burchard, apud Brequigny, Notices
et Extraits des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque du Roi, (Paris, 1787-1818,)
tom. i. p. 120.

[8] Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 82.--Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, Let.
1, 3, et al.--Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, tom. iii. lib. 6.--Ammirato,
Istorie Fiorentine, tom. iii. lib. 28.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5,
cap. 47.

[9] Guicciardini, in particular, has related them with a circumstantiality
which could scarcely have been exceeded by one of the conclave itself.
Istoria, lib. 6, pp. 316-318.

[10] Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, lib. 6.--Ammirato, Istorie Fiorentine, tom.
iii. lib. 28.

The election of Pius was extremely grateful to Queen Isabella, who caused
Te Deums and thanksgivings to be celebrated in the churches, for the
appointment of "so worthy a pastor over the Christian fold." See Peter
Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 265.

[11] Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 6.--Bembo, Istoria
Viniziana, lib. 7.

[12] Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 435-438.--Guicciardini,
Istoria, lib. 6, p. 316.--Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 83.--St. Gelais, Hist.
de Louys XII., p. 173.

[13] Cicero's country seat stood midway between Gaeta and Mola, the
ancient Formiae, about two miles and a half from each. (Cluverius, Ital.
Antiq., lib. 3, cap. 6.) The remains of his mansion and of his mausoleum
may still be discerned, on the borders of the old Appian way, by the
classical and credulous tourist.

[14] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 258, 259.--Chrónica del Gran
Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 95.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 19.--Peter
Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 261.

[15] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 38, 43, 44, 48,
57.--Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 258, 259.--Sismondi, Hist. des
Français, tom. xv. p. 417.--Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap.
16.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. pp. 252-257.--Carta del Gran
Capitan, MS.

The Castilian writers do not state the sum total of the Spanish force,
which is to be inferred only from the scattered estimates, careless and
contradictory as usual, of the various detachments which joined it.

[16] The Spaniards carried Monte Casino by storm, and with sacrilegious
violence plundered the Benedictine monastery of all its costly plate. They
were compelled, however, to respect the bones of the martyrs, and other
saintly relics; a division of spoil probably not entirely satisfactory to
its reverend inmates. Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 262.

[17] Chrónica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 102.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo
V., fol. 21.--Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, pp. 326, 327.--Peter
Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 267.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap.

[18] The remains of this city, which stood about four miles above the
mouth of the Liris, are still to be seen on the right of the road. In
ancient days it was of sufficient magnitude to cover both sides of the
river. See Strabo, Geographia, lib. 5, p. 233, (Paris, 1629, with
Casaubon's notes,) p. 110.

[19] Chrónica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 107.--Giovio, Vita Magni
Gonsalvi, fol. 263.

[20] The marshes of Minturnae lay between the city and the mouth of the
Liris. (Cluverius, Ital. Antiq., lib. 3, cap. 10, sec. 9.) The Spanish
army encamped, says Guicciardini, "in a place called by Livy, from its
vicinity to Sessa, _aquae Sinuessanae_, being perhaps the marshes in
which Marius hid himself." (Istoria, lib. 6.) The historian makes two
blunders in a breath. 1st. _Aquae Sinuessanae_, was a name derived not
from Sessa, the ancient Suessa Aurunca, but from the adjacent Sinuessa, a
town about ten miles southeast of Minturnae. (Comp. Livy, lib. 22, cap.
14, and Strabo, lib. 5, p. 233.) 2d. The name did not indicate marshes,
but natural hot springs, particularly noted for their salubrity.
"Salubritate harum aquarum," says Tacitus in allusion to them (Annales,
lib. 12); and Pliny notices their medicinal properties more explicitly.
Hist. Naturalis, lib. 31, cap. 2.

[20] This does not accord with Horace's character of the Garigliano, the
ancient Liris, as the "taciturnus amnis," (Carm., lib. i. 30,) and still
less with that of Silius Italicus,

"Liris ... qui fonte quieto
Dissimulat cursum, et _nullo mutabilis imbre_
Perstringit tacitas gemmanti gurgite ripas."
Puncia, lib. 4.

Indeed, the stream exhibits at the present day the same soft and tranquil
aspect celebrated by the Roman poets. Its natural character, however, was
entirely changed at the period before us, in consequence of the unexampled
heaviness and duration of the autumnal rains.

[21] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 188.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon,
tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 14.--Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 16.
--Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 269.--Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum,
fol. 262-264.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 22.--Machiavelli, Legazione
Prima a Roma, let. 11, Nov. 10.--let. 16, Nov. 13.--let. 17.--Chrónica del
Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 106.--Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp.
440, 441.

[22] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 264.

[23] Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, pp. 327, 328.--Giovio, Vitae Illust.
Virorum, fol. 262.--Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 29.--
Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 443-445.

[24] Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 9, 10, 18.

The French showed the same confidence from the beginning of hostilities.
One of that nation having told Suarez, the Castilian minister at Venice,
that the marshal de la Trémouille said, "He would give 20,000 ducats, if
he could meet Gonsalvo de Cordova in the plains of Viterbo;" the Spaniard
smartly replied, "Nemours would have given twice as much not to have met
him at Cerignola." Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 36.

[25] This barren tract of uninhabited country must have been of very
limited extent; for it lay in the Campania Felix, in the neighborhood of
the cultivated plains of Sessa, the Massicau mountain, and Falernian
fields,--names, which call up associations, that must live while good
poetry and good wine shall be held in honor.

[26] Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. lib. 28, cap. 5.--Guicciardini,
Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, p. 328.--Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma,
let. 44.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 22.--Chrónica del Gran Capitan,
cap. 107, 108.--The Neapolitan conquests, it will be remembered, were
undertaken exclusively for the crown of Aragon, the revenues of which were
far more limited than those of Castile.

[27] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 188.--Chrónica del Gran
Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 108.--Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap,
16.--Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, p. 328.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib.
5, cap. 58.

[28] Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 265.--Garnier, Hist. de France,
tom. v. p. 445.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 59.--Buonaccorsi,
Diario, fol. 85.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 22.--Varillas, Hist. de
Louis XII., tom. i. pp. 401, 402.

[29] Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 440-443.--Giovio, Vitae Illust.
Virorum, fol. 264, 265.--Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, p. 329.--
Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 44.--St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys
XII., pp. 173, 174.

[30] Chrónica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 106.--Mémoires de Bayard,
chap. 25, apud Petitot, Collection des Mémoires, tom. xv.--Varillas, Hist.
de Louis XII., tom. i. p. 417.--Quintana, Españoles Célebres, tom. i. pp.
288-290.--Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 39, 44.

[31] Compare the prose romances of D'Auton, of the "loyal serviteur" of
Bayard, and the no less loyal biographer of the Great Captain, with the
poetic ones of Ariosto, Berni, and the like.

"Magnanima menzogna! or quando è il vero
Si bello, che si possa a te preporre?"



1503, 1504.

Gonsalvo Crosses the River.--Consternation of the French.--Action near
Gaeta.--Hotly Contested.--The French Defeated.--Gaeta Surrenders.--Public
Enthusiasm.--Treaty with France.--Review of Gonsalvo's Military Conduct.--
Results of the Campaign.

Seven weeks had now elapsed, since the two armies had lain in sight of
each other without any decided movement on either side. During this time,
the Great Captain had made repeated efforts to strengthen himself, through
the intervention of the Spanish ambassador, Francisco de Rojas, [1] by
reinforcements from Rome. His negotiations were chiefly directed to secure
the alliance of the Orsini, a powerful family, long involved in a bitter
feud with the Colonnas, then in the Spanish service. A reconciliation
between these noble houses was at length happily effected; and Bartolomeo
d'Alviano, the head of the Orsini, agreed to enlist under the Spanish
commander with three thousand men. This arrangement was finally brought
about through the good offices of the Venetian minister at Rome, who even
advanced a considerable sum of money towards the payment of the new
levies. [2]

The appearance of this corps, with one of the most able and valiant of the
Italian captains at its head, revived the drooping spirits of the camp.
Soon after his arrival, Alviano strongly urged Gonsalvo to abandon his
original plan of operations, and avail himself of his augmented strength
to attack the enemy in his own quarters. The Spanish commander had
intended to confine himself wholly to the defensive, and, too unequal in
force to meet the French in the open field, as before noticed, had
intrenched himself in his present strong position, with the fixed purpose
of awaiting the enemy there. Circumstances had now greatly changed. The
original inequality was diminished by the arrival of the Italian levies,
and still further compensated by the present disorderly state of the
French army. He knew, moreover, that in the most perilous enterprises, the
assailing party gathers an enthusiasm and an impetus in its career, which
counterbalance large numerical odds; while the party taken by surprise is
proportionably disconcerted, and prepared, as it were, for defeat before a
blow is struck. From these considerations, the cautious general acquiesced
in Alviano's project to cross the Garigliano, by establishing a bridge at
a point opposite Suzio, a small place garrisoned by the French on the
right bank, about four miles above their head-quarters. The time for the
attack was fixed as soon as possible after the approaching Christmas, when
the French, occupied with the festivities of the season, might be thrown
off their guard. [3]

This day of general rejoicing to the Christian world at length arrived. It
brought little joy to the Spaniards, buried in the depths of these dreary
morasses, destitute of most of the necessaries of life, and with scarcely
any other means of resisting the climate, than those afforded by their
iron constitutions and invincible courage. They celebrated the day,
however, with all the devotional feeling, and the imposing solemnities,
with which it is commemorated by the Roman Catholic church; and the
exercises of religion, rendered more impressive by their situation, served
to exalt still higher the heroic constancy, which had sustained them under
such unparalleled sufferings.

In the mean while, the materials for the bridge were collected, and the
work went forward with such despatch, that on the 28th of December all was
in readiness for carrying the plan of attack into execution. The task of
laying the bridge across the river was intrusted to Alviano, who had
charge of the van. The central and main division of the army under
Gonsalvo was to cross at the same point; while Andrada at the head of the
rear-guard was to force a passage at the old bridge, lower down the
stream, opposite to the Tower of the Garigliano. [4]

The night was dark and stormy. Alviano performed the duty intrusted to him
with such silence and celerity, that the work was completed without
attracting the enemy's notice. He then crossed over with the van-guard,
consisting chiefly of cavalry, supported by Navarro, Paredes, and Pizarro;
and, falling on the sleeping garrison of Suzio, cut to pieces all who
offered resistance.

The report of the Spaniards having passed the river spread far and wide,
and soon reached the head-quarters of the marquis of Saluzzo, near the
Tower of the Garigliano. The French commander-in-chief, who believed that
the Spaniards were lying on the other side of the river, as torpid as the
snakes in their own marshes, was as much astounded by the event as if a
thunderbolt had burst over his head from a cloudless sky. He lost no time,
however, in rallying such of his scattered forces as he could assemble,
and in the mean while despatched Ives d'Allègre with a body of horse to
hold the enemy in check, till he could make good his own retreat on Gaeta.
His first step was to demolish the bridge near his own quarters, cutting
the moorings of the boats and turning them adrift down the river. He
abandoned his tents and baggage, together with nine of his heaviest
cannon; leaving even the sick and wounded to the mercy of the enemy,
rather than encumber himself with anything that should retard his march.
The remainder of the artillery he sent forward in the van. The infantry
followed next, and the rear, in which Saluzzo took his own station, was
brought up by the men-at-arms to cover the retreat.

Before Allègre could reach Suzio, the whole Spanish army had passed the
Garigliano, and formed on the right bank. Unable to face such superior
numbers, he fell back with precipitation, and joined himself to the main
body of the French, now in full retreat on Gaeta. [5]

Gonsalvo, afraid the French might escape him, sent forward Prospero
Colonna, with a corps of light horse, to annoy and retard their march
until he could come up. Keeping the right bank of the river with the main
body, he marched rapidly through the deserted camp of the enemy, leaving
little leisure for his men to glean the rich spoil, which lay tempting
them on every side. It was not long before he came up with the French,
whose movements were greatly retarded by the difficulty of dragging their
guns over the ground completely saturated with rain. The retreat was
conducted, however, in excellent order; they were eminently favored by the
narrowness of the road, which, allowing but a comparatively small body of
troops on either side to come into action, made success chiefly depend on
the relative merits of these. The French rear, as already stated, was made
up of their men-at-arms, including Bayard, Sandricourt, La Fayette, and
others of their bravest chivalry, who, armed at all points, found no great
difficulty in beating off the light troops which formed the advance of the
Spaniards. At every bridge, stream, and narrow pass, which afforded a
favorable position, the French cavalry closed their ranks, and made a
resolute stand to gain time for the columns in advance.

In this way, alternately halting and retreating, with perpetual
skirmishes, though without much loss on either side, they reached the
bridge before Mola di Gaeta. Here, some of the gun-carriages breaking down
or being overturned occasioned considerable delay and confusion. The
infantry, pressing on, became entangled with the artillery. The marquis of
Saluzzo endeavored to avail himself of the strong position afforded by the
bridge to restore order. A desperate struggle ensued. The French knights
dashed boldly into the Spanish ranks, driving back for a time the tide of
pursuit. The chevalier Bayard, who was seen as usual in the front of
danger, had three horses killed under him; and, at length, carried forward
by his ardor into the thickest of the enemy, was retrieved with difficulty
from their hands by a desperate charge of his friend Sandricourt. [6]

The Spaniards, shaken by the violence of the assault, seemed for a moment
to hesitate; but Gonsalvo had now time to bring up his men-at-arms, who
sustained the faltering columns, and renewed the combat on more equal
terms. He himself was in the hottest of the _mêlée_; and at one time
was exposed to imminent hazard by his horse's losing his footing on the
slippery soil, and coming with him to the ground. The general fortunately
experienced no injury, and, quickly recovering himself, continued to
animate his followers by his voice and intrepid bearing, as before.

The fight had now lasted two hours. The Spaniards, although still in
excellent heart, were faint with fatigue and want of food, having
travelled six leagues, without breaking their fast since the preceding
evening. It was, therefore, with no little anxiety, that Gonsalvo looked
for the coming up of his rear-guard, left, as the reader will remember,
under Andrada at the lower bridge, to decide the fortune of the day.

The welcome spectacle at length presented itself. The dark columns of the
Spaniards were seen, at first faint in the distance, by degrees growing
more and more distinct to the eye. Andrada had easily carried the French
redoubt on his side of the Garigliano; but it was not without difficulty
and delay, that he recovered the scattered boats which the French had set
adrift down the stream, and finally succeeded in re-establishing his
communications with the opposite bank. Having accomplished this, he
rapidly advanced by a more direct road, to the east of that lately
traversed by Gonsalvo along the sea-side, in pursuit of the French. The
latter beheld with dismay the arrival of this fresh body of troops, who
seemed to have dropped from the clouds on the field of battle. They
scarcely waited for the shock before they broke, and gave way in all
directions. The disabled carriages of the artillery, which clogged up the
avenues in the rear, increased the confusion among the fugitives, and the
foot were trampled down without mercy under the heels of their own
cavalry, in the eagerness of the latter to extricate themselves from their
perilous situation. The Spanish light horse followed up their advantage
with the alacrity of vengeance long delayed, inflicting bloody retribution
for all they had so long suffered in the marshes of Sessa.

At no great distance from the bridge the road takes two directions, the
one towards Itri, the other to Gaeta. The bewildered fugitives here
separated; by far the greater part keeping the latter route. Gonsalvo sent
forward a body of horse under Navarro and Pedro de la Paz by a short cut
across the country, to intercept their flight. A large number fell into
his hands in consequence of this manoeuvre; but the greater part of those
who escaped the sword succeeded in throwing themselves into Gaeta. [7]

The Great Captain took up his quarters that night in the neighboring
village of Castellone. His brave followers had great need of refreshment,
having fasted and fought through the whole day, and that under a driving
storm of rain which had not ceased for a moment. Thus terminated the
battle, or rout, as it is commonly called, of the Garigliano, the most
important in its results of all Gonsalvo's victories, and furnishing a
suitable close to his brilliant military career. [8] The loss of the
French is computed at from three to four thousand men, left dead on the
field, together with all their baggage, colors, and splendid train of
artillery. The Spaniards must have suffered severely during the sharp
conflict on the bridge; but no estimate of their loss is to be met with,
in any native or foreign writer. [9] It was observed that the 29th of
December, on which this battle was won, came on Friday, the same ominous
day of the week, which had so often proved auspicious to the Spaniards
under the present reign. [10]

The disparity of the forces actually engaged was probably not great, since
the extent of country over which the French were quartered prevented many
of them from coming up in time for action. Several corps, who succeeded in
reaching the field at the close of the fight, were seized with such a
panic as to throw down their arms without attempting resistance. [11] The
admirable artillery, on which the French placed chief reliance, was not
only of no service, but of infinite mischief to them, as we have seen. The
brunt of the battle fell on their chivalry, which bore itself throughout
the day with the spirit and gallantry worthy of its ancient renown; never
flinching, till the arrival of the Spanish rear-guard fresh in the field,
at so critical a juncture, turned the scale in their adversaries' favor.

Early on the following morning, Gonsalvo made preparations for storming
the heights of Mount Orlando, which overlooked the city of Gaeta. Such was
the despondency of its garrison, however, that this strong position, which
bade defiance a few months before to the most desperate efforts of Spanish
valor, was now surrendered without a struggle. The same feeling of
despondency had communicated itself to the garrison of Gaeta; and, before
Navarro could bring the batteries of Mount Orlando to bear upon the city,
a flag of truce arrived from the marquis of Saluzzo with proposals for

This was more than the Great Captain could have ventured to promise
himself. The French were in great force; the fortifications of the place
in excellent repair; it was well provided with artillery and ammunition,
and with provisions for ten days at least; while their fleet, riding in
the harbor, afforded the means of obtaining supplies from Leghorn, Genoa,
and other friendly ports. But the French had lost all heart; they were
sorely wasted by disease; their buoyant self-confidence was gone, and
their spirits broken by the series of reverses, which had followed without
interruption from the first hour of the campaign, to the last disastrous
affair of the Garigliano. The very elements seemed to have leagued against
them. Further efforts they deemed a fruitless struggle against destiny;
and they now looked with melancholy longing to their native land, eager
only to quit these ill-omened shores for ever.

The Great Captain made no difficulty in granting such terms, as, while
they had a show of liberality, secured him the most important fruits of
victory. This suited his cautious temper far better than pressing a
desperate foe to extremity. He was, moreover, with all his successes, in
no condition to do so; he was without funds, and, as usual, deeply in
arrears to his army; while there was scarcely a ration of bread, says an
Italian historian, in his whole camp. [12]

It was agreed by the terms of capitulation, January 1st, 1504, that the
French should evacuate Gaeta at once, and deliver it up to the Spaniards
with its artillery, munitions, and military stores of every description.
The prisoners on both sides, including those taken in the preceding
campaign, an arrangement greatly to the advantage of the enemy, were to be
restored; and the army in Gaeta was to be allowed a free passage by land
or sea, as they should prefer, to their own country. [13]

From the moment hostilities were brought to a close; Gonsalvo displayed
such generous sympathy for his late enemies, and such humanity in
relieving them, as to reflect more honor on his character than all his
victories. He scrupulously enforced the faithful performance of the
treaty, and severely punished any violence offered to the French by his
own men. His benign and courteous demeanor towards the vanquished, so
remote from the images of terror with which he had been, hitherto
associated in their minds, excited unqualified admiration; and they
testified their sense of his amiable qualities, by speaking of him as the
"gentil capitaine et gentil cavalier." [14]

The news of the rout of the Garigliano and the surrender of Gaeta diffused
general gloom and consternation over France. There was scarcely a family
of rank, says a writer of that country, that had not some one of its
members involved in these sad disasters. [15] The court went into
mourning. The king, mortified at the discomfiture of all his lofty
schemes, by the foe whom he despised, shut himself up in his palace,
refusing access to every one, until the agitation of his spirits threw him
into an illness, which had wellnigh proved fatal.

Meanwhile his exasperated feelings found an object on which to vent
themselves in the unfortunate garrison of Gaeta, who so pusillanimously
abandoned their post to return to their own country. He commanded them to
winter in Italy, and not to recross the Alps without further orders. He
sentenced Sandricourt and Allègre to banishment for insubordination to
their commander-in-chief; the latter, for his conduct, more particularly,
before the battle of Cerignola; and he hanged up the commissaries of the
army, whose infamous peculations had been a principal cause of its ruin.

But the impotent wrath of their monarch was not needed to fill the bitter
cup, which the French soldiers were now draining to the dregs. A large
number of those, who embarked for Genoa, died of the maladies contracted
during their long bivouac in the marshes of Minturnae. The rest recrossed
the Alps into France, too desperate to heed their master's prohibition.
Those who took their way by land suffered still more severely from the
Italian peasantry, who retaliated in full measure the barbarities they had
so long endured from the French. They were seen wandering like spectres
along the high roads and principal cities on the route, pining with cold
and famine; and all the hospitals in Rome, as well as the stables, sheds,
and every other place, however mean, affording shelter, were filled with
the wretched vagabonds, eager only to find some obscure retreat to die in.

The chiefs of the expedition fared little better. Among others, the
marquis of Saluzzo, soon after reaching Genoa, was carried off by a fever,
caused by his distress of mind. Sandricourt, too haughty to endure
disgrace, laid violent hands on himself. Allègre, more culpable, but more
courageous, survived to be reconciled with his sovereign, and to die a
soldier's death on the field of battle. [17]

Such are the dismal colors in which the French historians depict the last
struggle made by their monarch for the recovery of Naples. Few military
expeditions have commenced under more brilliant and imposing auspices; few
have been conducted in so ill-advised a manner through their whole
progress; and none attended in their close with more indiscriminate and
overwhelming ruin.

On the 3d of January, 1504, Gonsalvo made his entry into Gaeta; and the
thunders of his ordnance, now for the first time heard from its
battlements, announced that this strong key to the dominions of Naples had
passed into the hands of Aragon. After a short delay for the refreshment
of his troops, he set out for the capital. But, amidst the general jubilee
which greeted his return, he was seized with a fever, brought on by the
incessant fatigue and high mental excitement in which he had been kept for
the last four months. The attack was severe, and the event for some time
doubtful. During this state of suspense the public mind was in the deepest
agitation. The popular manners of Gonsalvo had won the hearts of the giddy
people of Naples, who transferred their affections, indeed, as readily as
their allegiance; and prayers and vows for his restoration, were offered
up in all the churches and monasteries of the city. His excellent
constitution at length got the better of his disease. As soon as this
favorable result was ascertained, the whole population, rushing to the
other extreme, abandoned itself to a delirium of joy; and, when he was
sufficiently recovered to give them audience, men of all ranks thronged to
Castel Nuovo to tender their congratulations, and obtain a sight of the
hero, who now returned to their capital, for the third time, with the
laurel of victory on his brow. Every tongue, says his enthusiastic
biographer, was eloquent in his praise; some dwelling on his noble port,
and the beauty of his countenance; others on the elegance and amenity of
his manners; and all dazzled by a spirit of munificence, which would have
become royalty itself. [18]

The tide of panegyric was swelled by more than one bard, who sought,
though with indifferent success, to catch inspiration from so glorious a
theme; trusting doubtless that his liberal hand would not stint the
recompense to the precise measure of desert. Amid this general burst of
adulation, the muse of Sannazaro, worth all his tribe, was alone silent;
for the trophies of the conqueror were raised on the ruins of that royal
house, under which the bard had been so long sheltered; and this silence,
so rare in his tuneful brethren, must be admitted to reflect more credit
on his name, than the best he ever sung. [19]

The first business of Gonsalvo was to call together the different orders
of the state, and receive their oaths of allegiance to King Ferdinand. He
next occupied himself with the necessary arrangements for the
reorganization of the government, and for reforming various abuses which
had crept into the administration of justice, more particularly. In these
attempts to introduce order, he was not a little thwarted, however, by the
insubordination of his own soldiery, They loudly clamored for the
discharge of the arrears, still shamefully protracted, till, their
discontents swelling to open mutiny, they forcibly seized on two of the
principal places in the kingdom as security for the payment. Gonsalvo
chastised their insolence by disbanding several of the most refractory
companies, and sending them home for punishment. He endeavored to relieve
them in part by raising contributions from the Neapolitans. But the
soldiers took the matter into their own hands, oppressing the unfortunate
people on whom they were quartered in a manner which rendered their
condition scarcely more tolerable, than when exposed to the horrors of
actual war. [20] This was the introduction, according to Guicciardini, of
those systematic military exactions in time of peace, which became so
common afterwards in Italy, adding an inconceivable amount to the long
catalogue of woes which afflicted that unhappy land. [21]

Amidst his manifold duties, Gonsalvo did not forget the gallant officers
who had borne with him the burdens of the war, and he requited their
services in a princely style, better suited to his feelings than his
interests, as subsequently appeared. Among them were Navarro, Mendoza,
Andrada, Benavides, Leyva, the Italians Alviano and the two Colonnas, most
of whom lived to display the lessons of tactics, which they learned under
this great commander, on a still wider theatre of glory, in the reign of
Charles the Fifth. He made them grants of cities, fortresses, and
extensive lands, according to their various claims, to be held as fiefs of
the crown. All this was done with the previous sanction of his royal
master, Ferdinand the Catholic. They did some violence, however, to his
more economical spirit, and he was heard somewhat peevishly to exclaim,
"It boots little for Gonsalvo de Cordova to have won a kingdom for me, if
he lavishes it all away before it comes into my hands." It began to be
perceived at court that the Great Captain was too powerful for a subject.

Meanwhile, Louis the Twelfth was filled with serious apprehensions for the
fate of his possessions in the north of Italy. His former allies, the
emperor Maximilian and the republic of Venice, the latter more especially,
had shown many indications, not merely of coldness to himself, but of a
secret understanding with his rival, the king of Spain. The restless pope,
Julius the Second, had schemes of his own, wholly independent of France.
The republics of Pisa and Genoa, the latter one of her avowed
dependencies, had entered into correspondence with the Great Captain, and
invited him to assume their protection; while several of the disaffected
party in Milan had assured him of their active support, in case he would
march with a sufficient force to overturn the existing government. Indeed,
not only France, but Europe in general, expected that the Spanish
commander would avail himself of the present crisis, to push his
victorious arms into upper Italy, revolutionize Tuscany in his way, and,
wresting Milan from the French, drive them, crippled and disheartened by
their late reverses, beyond the Alps. [23]

But Gonsalvo had occupation enough on his hands in settling the disordered
state of Naples. King Ferdinand, his sovereign, notwithstanding the
ambition of universal conquest absurdly imputed to him by the French
writers, had no design to extend his acquisitions beyond what he could
permanently maintain. His treasury, never overflowing, was too deeply
drained by the late heavy demands on it, for him so soon to embark on
another perilous enterprise, that must rouse anew the swarms of enemies,
who seemed willing to rest in quiet after their long and exhausting
struggle; nor is there any reason to suppose he sincerely contemplated
such a movement for a moment. [24]

The apprehension of it, however, answered Ferdinand's purpose, by
preparing the French monarch to arrange his differences with his rival, as
the latter now earnestly desired, by negotiation. Indeed, two Spanish
ministers had resided during the greater part of the war at the French
court, with the view of improving the first opening that should occur for
accomplishing this object; and by their agency a treaty was concluded, to
continue for three years, which guaranteed to Aragon the undisturbed
possession of her conquests during that period. The chief articles
provided for the immediate cessation of hostilities between the
belligerents, and the complete re-establishment of their commercial
relations and intercourse, with the exception of Naples, from which the
French were to be excluded. The Spanish crown was to have full power to
reduce all refractory places in that kingdom; and the contracting parties
solemnly pledged themselves, each to render no assistance, secretly or
openly, to the enemies of the other. The treaty, which was to run from the
25th of February, 1504, was signed by the French king and the Spanish
plenipotentiaries at Lyons, on the 11th of that month, and ratified by
Ferdinand and Isabella, at the convent of Santa Maria de la Mejorada, the
31st of March following. [25]

There was still a small spot in the heart of Naples, comprehending Venosa
and several adjoining towns, where Louis d'Ars and his brave associates
yet held out against the Spanish arms. Although cut off by the operation
of this treaty from the hope of further support from home, the French
knight disdained to surrender; but sallied out at the head of his little
troop of gallant veterans, and thus, armed at all points, says Brantôme,
with lance in rest, took his way through Naples, and the centre of Italy.
He marched in battle array, levying contributions for his support on the
places through which he passed. In this manner he entered France, and
presented himself before the court at Blois. The king and queen, delighted
with his prowess, came forward to welcome him, and made good cheer, says
the old chronicler, for himself and his companions, whom they recompensed
with liberal largesses, proffering at the same time any boon to the brave
knight, which he should demand for himself. The latter in return simply
requested that his old comrade Ives d'Allègre should be recalled from
exile. This trait of magnanimity, when contrasted with the general
ferocity of the times, has something in it inexpressibly pleasing. It
shows, like others recorded of the French gentlemen of that period, that
the age of chivalry,--the chivalry of romance, indeed,--had not wholly
passed away. [26]

The pacification of Lyons sealed the fate of Naples; and, while it
terminated the wars in that kingdom, closed the military career of
Gonsalvo de Cordova. It is impossible to contemplate the magnitude of the
results, achieved with such slender resources, and in the face of such
overwhelming odds, without deep admiration for the genius of the man by
whom they were accomplished.

His success, it is true, is imputable in part to the signal errors of his
adversaries. The magnificent expedition of Charles the Eighth failed to
produce any permanent impression, chiefly in consequence of the
precipitation with which it had been entered into, without sufficient
concert with the Italian states, who became a formidable enemy when united
in his rear. He did not even avail himself of his temporary acquisition of
Naples to gather support from the attachment of his new subjects. Far from
incorporating with them, he was regarded as a foreigner and an enemy, and,
as such, expelled by the joint action of all Italy from its bosom, as soon
as it had recovered sufficient strength to rally.

Louis the Twelfth profited by the errors of his predecessor. His
acquisitions in the Milanese formed a basis for future operations; and by
negotiation and otherwise he secured the alliance and the interests of the
various Italian governments on his side. These preliminary arrangements
were followed by preparations every way commensurate with his object. He
failed in the first campaign, however, by intrusting the command to
incompetent hands, consulting birth rather than talent or experience.

In the succeeding campaigns, his failure, though partly chargeable on
himself, was less so than on circumstances beyond his control. The first
of these was the long detention of the army before Rome by Cardinal
D'Amboise, and its consequent exposure to the unexampled severity of the
ensuing winter. A second was the fraudulent conduct of the commissaries,
implying, no doubt, some degree of negligence in the person who appointed
them; and lastly, the want of a suitable commander-in-chief of the army.
La Trémouille being ill, and D'Aubigny a prisoner in the hands of the
enemy, there appeared no one among the French qualified to cope with the
Spanish general. The marquis of Mantua, independently of the disadvantage
of being a foreigner, was too timid in council, and dilatory in conduct,
to be any way competent to this difficult task.

If his enemies, however, committed great errors, it is altogether owing to
Gonsalvo that he was in a situation to take advantage of them. Nothing
could be more unpromising than his position on first entering Calabria.
Military operations had been conducted in Spain on principles totally
different from those which prevailed in the rest of Europe. This was the
case especially in the late Moorish wars, where the old tactics and the
character of the ground brought light cavalry chiefly into use. This,
indeed, constituted his principal strength at this period; for his
infantry, though accustomed to irregular service, was indifferently armed
and disciplined. An important revolution, however, had occurred in the
other parts of Europe. The infantry had there regained the superiority
which it maintained in the days of the Greeks and Romans. The experiment
had been made on more than one bloody field; and it was found that the
solid columns of Swiss and German pikes not only bore down all opposition
in their onward march, but presented an impregnable barrier, not to be
shaken by the most desperate charges of the best heavy-armed cavalry. It
was against these dreaded battalions that Gonsalvo was now called to
measure for the first time the bold but rudely armed and comparatively raw
recruits from Galicia and the Asturias.

He lost his first battle, into which it should be remembered he was
precipitated against his will. He proceeded afterwards with the greatest
caution, gradually familiarizing his men with the aspect and usages of the
enemy whom they held in such awe, before bringing them again to a direct
encounter. He put himself to school during this whole campaign, carefully
acquainting himself with the tactics, discipline, and novel arms of his
adversaries, and borrowing just so much as he could incorporate into the
ancient system of the Spaniards, without discarding the latter altogether.
Thus, while he retained the short sword and buckler of his countrymen, he
fortified his battalions with a large number of spearmen, after the German
fashion. The arrangement is highly commended by the sagacious Machiavelli,
who considers it as combining the advantages of both systems, since, while
the long spear served all the purposes of resistance, or even of attack on
level ground, the short swords and targets enabled their wearers, as
already noticed, to cut in under the dense array of hostile pikes, and
bring the enemy to close quarters, where his formidable weapon was of no
avail. [27]

While Gonsalvo made this innovation in the arms and tactics, he paid equal
attention to the formation of a suitable character in his soldiery. The
circumstances in which he was placed at Barleta, and on the Garigliano,
imperatively demanded this. Without food, clothes, or pay, without the
chance even of retrieving his desperate condition by venturing a blow at
the enemy, the Spanish soldier was required to remain passive. To do this
demanded, patience, abstinence, strict subordination, and a degree of
resolution far higher than that required to combat obstacles, however
formidable in themselves, where active exertion, which tasks the utmost
energies of the soldier, renews his spirits and raises them to a contempt
of danger. It was calling on him, in short, to begin with achieving that
most difficult of all victories, the victory over himself.

All this the Spanish commander effected. He infused into his men a portion
of his own invincible energy. He inspired a love of his person, which led
them to emulate his example, and a confidence in his genius and resources,
which supported them under all their privations by a firm reliance on a
fortunate issue. His manners were distinguished by a graceful courtesy,
less encumbered with etiquette than was usual with persons of his high
rank in Castile. He knew well the proud and independent feelings of the
Spanish soldier; and, far from annoying him by unnecessary restraints,
showed the most liberal indulgence at all times. But his kindness was
tempered with severity, which displayed itself, on such occasions as
required interposition, in a manner that rarely failed to repress
everything like insubordination. The reader will readily recall an example
of this in the mutiny before Tarento; and it was doubtless by the
assertion of similar power, that he was so long able to keep in check his
German mercenaries, distinguished above the troops of every other nation
by their habitual license and contempt of authority.

While Gonsalvo relied so freely on the hardy constitution and patient
habits of the Spaniards, he trusted no less to the deficiency of these
qualities in the French, who, possessing little of the artificial
character formed under the stern training of later times, resembled their
Gaulish ancestors in the facility with which they were discouraged by
unexpected obstacles, and the difficulty with which they could be brought
to rally. [28] In this he did not miscalculate. The French infantry, drawn
from the militia of the country, hastily collected and soon to be
disbanded, and the independent nobility and gentry who composed the
cavalry service, were alike difficult to be brought within the strict curb
of military rule. The severe trials, which steeled the souls, and gave
sinewy strength to the constitutions, of the Spanish soldiers, impaired
those of their enemies, introduced divisions into their councils, and
relaxed the whole tone of discipline. Gonsalvo watched the operation of
all this, and, coolly waiting the moment when his weary and disheartened
adversary should be thrown off his guard, collected all his strength for a
decisive blow, by which to terminate the action. Such was the history of
those memorable campaigns, which closed with the brilliant victories of
Cerignola and the Garigliano.

In a review of his military conduct, we must not overlook his politic
deportment towards the Italians, altogether the reverse of the careless
and insolent bearing of the French. He availed himself liberally of their
superior science, showing great deference, and confiding the most
important trusts, to their officers. [29] Far from the reserve usually
shown to foreigners, he appeared insensible to national distinctions, and
ardently embraced them as companions in arms, embarked in a common cause
with himself. In their tourney with the French before Barleta, to which
the whole nation attached such importance as a vindication of national
honor, they were entirely supported by Gonsalvo, who furnished them with
arms, secured a fair field of fight, and shared the triumph of the victors
as that of his own countrymen,--paying those delicate attentions, which
cost far less, indeed, but to an honorable mind are of greater value, than
more substantial benefits. He conciliated the good-will of the Italian
states by various important services; of the Venetians, by his gallant
defence of their possessions in the Levant; of the people of Rome, by
delivering them from the pirates of Ostia; while he succeeded,
notwithstanding the excesses of his soldiery, in captivating the giddy
Neapolitans to such a degree, by his affable manners and splendid style of
life, as seemed to efface from their minds every recollection of the last
and most popular of their monarchs, the unfortunate Frederic.

The distance of Gonsalvo's theatre of operations from his own country,
apparently most discouraging, proved extremely favorable to his purposes.
The troops, cut off from retreat by a wide sea and an impassable mountain
barrier, had no alternative but to conquer or to die. Their long
continuance in the field without disbanding gave them all the stern,
inflexible qualities of a standing army; and, as they served through so
many successive campaigns under the banner of the same leader, they were
drilled in a system of tactics far steadier and more uniform than could be
acquired under a variety of commanders, however able. Under these
circumstances, which so well fitted them for receiving impressions, the
Spanish army was gradually moulded into the form determined by the will of
its great chief.

When we look at the amount offered at the disposal of Gonsalvo, it appears
so paltry, especially compared with the gigantic apparatus of later wars,
that it may well suggest disparaging ideas of the whole contest. To judge
correctly, we must direct our eyes to the result. With this insignificant
force, we shall then see the kingdom of Naples conquered, and the best
generals and armies of France annihilated; an important innovation
effected in military science; the art of mining, if not invented, carried
to unprecedented perfection; a thorough reform introduced in the arms and
discipline of the Spanish soldier; and the organization completed of that
valiant infantry, which is honestly eulogized by a French writer, as
irresistible in attack, and impossible to rout; [30] and which carried the
banners of Spain victorious, for more than a century, over the most
distant parts of Europe.

* * * * *

The brilliant qualities and achievements of Gonzalo de Cordova have
naturally made him a popular theme both for history and romance. Various
biographies of him have appeared in the different European languages,
though none, I believe, hitherto in English. The authority of principal
reference in these pages is the Life which Paolo Giovio has incorporated
in his great work, "Vitae Illustrium Virorum," which I have elsewhere
noticed. This Life of Gonsalvo is not exempt from the prejudices, nor from
the minor inaccuracies, which may be charged on most of this author's
productions; but these are abundantly compensated by the stores of novel
and interesting details which Giovio's familiarity with the principal
actors of the time enabled him to throw into his work, and by the skilful
arrangement. of his narrative, so disposed as, without studied effort, to
bring into light the prominent qualities of his hero. Every page bears the
marks of that "golden pen," which the politic Italian reserved for his
favorites; and, while this obvious partiality may put the reader somewhat
on his guard, it gives an interest to the work, inferior to none other of
his agreeable compositions.

The most imposing of the Spanish memoirs of Gonsalvo, in bulk at least, is
the "Chrónica del Gran Capitan," Alcala de Henares, 1584. Nic. Antonio
doubts whether the author were Pulgar, who wrote the "History of the
Catholic Kings," of such frequent reference in the Granadine wars', or
another Pulgar del Salar, as he is called, who received the honors of
knighthood from King Ferdinand for his valorous exploits against the
Moors. (See Bibliotheca Uova, tom. i. p. 387.) With regard to the first
Pulgar, there is no reason to suppose that he lived into the sixteenth
century; and, as to the second, the work composed by him, so far from
being the one in question, was a compendium, bearing the title of "Sumario
de los Hechos del Gran Capitan," printed as early as 1527, at Seville,
(See the editor's prologue to Pulgar's "Chrónica de los Reyes Católicos,"
ed Valencia, 1780.) Its author, therefore, remains in obscurity. He
sustains no great damage on the score of reputation, however, from this
circumstance; as his work is but an indifferent specimen of the rich old
Spanish chronicle, exhibiting most of its characteristic blemishes, with a
very small admixture of its beauties. The long and prosy narrative is
overloaded with the most frivolous details, trumpeted forth in a strain of
glorification, which sometimes disfigures more meritorious compositions in
the Castilian. Nothing like discrimination of character, of course, is to
be looked for in the unvarying swell of panegyric, which claims for its
subject all the extravagant flights of a hero of romance. With these
deductions, however, and a liberal allowance, consequently, for the
nationality of the work, it has considerable value as a record of events,
too recent in their occurrence to be seriously defaced by those deeper
stains of error, which are so apt to settle on the weather-beaten
monuments of antiquity. It has accordingly formed a principal source of
the "Vida del Gran Capitan," introduced by Quintana in the first volume of
his "Españoles Célebres," printed at Madrid, in 1807. This memoir, in
which the incidents are selected with discernment, displays the usual
freedom and vivacity of its poetic author. It does not bring the general
politics of the period under review, but will not be found deficient in
particulars having immediate connection with the personal history of its
subject; and, on the whole, exhibits in an agreeable and compendious form
whatever is of most interest or importance for the general reader.

The French have also a "Histoire de Gonsalve de Cordoue," composed by
Father Duponcet, a Jesuit, in two vols. 12mo, Paris, 1714. Though an
ambitious, it is a bungling performance, most unskilfully put together,
and contains quite as much of what its hero did not do, as of what he did.
The prolixity of the narrative is not even relieved by the piquancy of
style, which forms something like a substitute for thought in many of the
lower order of French historians. It is less to history, however, than to
romance, that the French public is indebted for its conceptions of the
character of Gonsalvo de Cordova, as depicted by the gaudy pencil of
Florian, in that highly poetic coloring, which is more attractive to the
majority of readers than the cold and sober delineations of truth.

The contemporary French accounts of the Neapolitan wars of Louis XII. are
extremely meagre, and few in number. The most striking, on the whole, is
D'Auton's chronicle, composed in the true chivalrous vein of old
Froissart, but unfortunately terminating before the close of the first
campaign. St. Gelais and Claude Seyssel touch very lightly on this part of
their subject. History becomes in their hands, moreover, little better
than fulsome panegyric, carried to such a height, indeed, by the latter
writer, as brought on him the most severe strictures from his
contemporaries; so that he was compelled to take up the pen more than once
in his own vindication. The "Mémoires de Bayard," Fleurange, and La
Trémouille, so diffuse in most military details, are nearly silent in
regard to those of the Neapolitan war. The truth is, the subject was too
ungrateful in itself, and presented too unbroken a series of calamities
and defeats, to invite the attention of the French historians, who
willingly turned to those brilliant passages in this reign, more soothing
to national vanity.

The blank has been filled up, or rather attempted to be so, by the
assiduity of their later writers. Among these, occasionally consulted by
me, are Varillas, whose "Histoire de Louis XII.," loose as it is, rests on
a somewhat more solid basis than his metaphysical reveries, assuming the
title of "Politique de Ferdinand," already repeatedly noticed; Garnier,
whose perspicuous narrative, if inferior to that of Gaillard in acuteness
and epigrammatic point, makes a much nearer approach to truth; and,
lastly, Sismondi, who, if he may be charged, in his "Histoire des
Français," with some of the defect incident to indiscreet rapidity of
composition, succeeds by a few brief and animated touches in opening
deeper views into character and conduct than can be got from volumes of
ordinary writers.

The want of authentic materials for a perfect acquaintance with the reign
of Louis XII. is a subject of complaint with French writers themselves.
The memoirs of the period, occupied with the more dazzling military
transactions, make no attempt to instruct us in the interior organization
or policy of the government. One might imagine, that their authors lived a
century before Philippe de Comines, instead of coming after him, so
inferior are they, in all the great properties of historic composition, to
this eminent statesman. The French _savans_ have made slender
contributions to the stock of original documents collected more than two
centuries ago by Godefroy for the illustration of this reign. It can
scarcely be supposed, however, that the labors of this early antiquary
exhausted the department, in which the French are rich beyond all others,
and that those, who work the same mine hereafter, should not find valuable
materials for a broader foundation of this interesting portion of their

It is fortunate that the reserve of the French in regard to their
relations with Italy, at this time, has been abundantly compensated by the
labors of the most eminent contemporary writers of the latter country, as
Bembo, Machiavelli, Giovio, and the philosophic Guicciardini; whose
situation as Italians enabled them to maintain the balance of historic
truth undisturbed, at least by undue partiality for either of the two
great rival powers; whose high public stations introduced them to the
principal characters of the day, and to springs of action hidden from
vulgar eyes; and whose superior science, as well as genius, qualified them
for rising above the humble level of garrulous chronicle and memoir to the
classic dignity of history. It is with regret that we must now strike into
a track unillumined by the labors of these great masters of their art in
modern times.

Since the publication of this History, the Spanish Minister at Washington,
Don Angel Calderon de la Barca, did me the favor to send me a copy of the
biography above noticed as the "Sumario de los Hechos del Gran Capitan."
It is a recent reprint from the ancient edition of 1527, of which the
industrious editor, Don F. Martinez de la Rosa, was able to find but one
copy in Spain. In its new form, it covers about a hundred duodecimo pages.
It has positive value, as a contemporary document, and as such I gladly
avail myself of it. But the greater part is devoted to the early history
of Gonsalvo, over which my limits have compelled me to pass lightly; and,
for the rest, I am happy to find, on the perusal of it, nothing of moment,
which conflicts with the statements drawn from other sources. The able
editor has also combined an interesting notice of its author, Pulgar,
_El de las Hazañas_, one of those heroes whose doughty feats shed the
illusions of knight-errantry over the war of Granada.


[1] He succeeded Garcilasso de la Vega at the court of Rome. Oviedo says,
in reference to the illustrious house of Rojas, "En todas las historias de
España no se hallan tantos caballeros de un linage y nombre notados por
valerosos caballeros y valientes milites como deste nombre de Rojas."
Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 2, dial. 8.

[2] Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. lib. 28, cap. 5.--Guicciardini,
Istoria, lib. 6, pp. 319, 320.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 48,
57.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 14, sec. 4, 5.--Daru,
Hist. de Venise, tom. iii. pp. 364, 365.

[3] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, pp. 267, 268.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V.,
fol. 22.--Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, pp. 329, 330.--
Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 36.

[4] Chrónica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 110.--Bernaldez, Reyes
Católicos, MS., cap. 189.--Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, lib. 3, fol. 266.
--Zurita, Historia del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 60.--Peter
Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 270.--Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 84.

[5] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 189.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V.,
fol. 22, 23.--Guicciardini, Istoria, p. 330.--Garnier, Hist. de France,
tom. v. pp. 448, 449.--Chrónica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 110.--
Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 14, sec. 6.--Zurita,
Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 60.--Senarega, apud Muratori, Rerum Ital.
Script., tom. xxiv. p. 579.

[6] Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, pp. 330, 331.--Garnier, Hist. de
France, tom. v. pp. 449-451.--Chrónica del Gran Capitan, ubi supra.--
Varillas, Hist. de Louis XII., tom. i. pp. 416-418.--Ammirato, Istorie
Florentine, tom. iii. lib. 28, p. 273.--Summonte, Hist. di Napoli, tom.
iii. p. 555.--Buonaccorsi, Diario, pp. 84, 85.--Giovio, Vitae Magni
Gonsalvi, fol. 268.

[8] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 190.--Garnier, Hist. de France,
tom. v. pp. 452, 453.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 23.--Guicciardini,
Istoria, lib. 6, p. 331.--Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 16.--
Chrónica del Gran Capitan, ubi supra.--Buonaccorsi, Diario, pp. 84, 85.--
Ammirato, Istorie Fiorentine, ubi supra.--Varillas, Hist. de Louis XII.,
tom. i. pp. 416-418.

[8] Soon after the rout of the Garigliano, Bembo produced the following
sonnet, which most critics agree was intended, although no name appears in
it, for Gonsalvo de Cordova.

"Ben devria farvi onor d' eterno esempio
Napoli vostra, e 'n mezzo al suo bel monte
Scolpirvi in lieta e ooronata fronte,
Gir trionfando, e dar i voti al tempio:
Poi che l' avete all' orgoglioso ed empio
Stuolo ritolta, e pareggiate l' onte;
Or ch' avea più la voglia e le man pronte
A far d' Italia tutta acerbo scempio.
Torcestel voi, Signor, dal corso ardito,
E foste tal, ch' ancora esser vorebbe
A por di qua dall' Alpe nostra il piede.
L' onda Tirrena del suo sangue crebbe,
E di tronchi resto coperto il lito,
E gli angelli ne fer secure prede."
Opere, tom. ii. p. 57.

[9] The Curate of Los Palacios sums up the loss of the French, from the
time of Gonsalvo's occupation of Barleta to the surrender of Gaeta, in the
following manner; 6000 prisoners, 14,000 killed in battle, a still greater
number by exposure and fatigue, besides a considerable body cut off by the
peasantry. To balance this bloody roll, he computes the Spanish loss at
two hundred slain in the field! Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 191.

[10] Chrónica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 110.--Zurita, Anales, ubi
supra.--Garibay, Compendio, lib. 19, cap. 16.--Quintana, Españoles
Célebres, tom. i. pp. 296, 97.

Guicciardini, who has been followed in this by the French writers, fixes
the date of the rout at the 28th of December. If, however, it occurred on
Friday, as he, and every authority, indeed, asserts, it must have been on
the 29th, as stated by the Spanish historians. Istoria, lib. 6, p. 330.

[11] Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 268.

[12] Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 268, 269.--Chrónica del Gran
Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 111.--Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 270.--
Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, p. 331.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5,
cap. 61.--Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 454, 455.--Sismondi, Hist.
des Français, tom. xv. cap. 29.

[13] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 61.--Garnier,
Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 454, 455.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS.,
cap. 190.--Giannone, Istoria di Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 4.

No particular mention was made of the Italian allies in the capitulation.
It so happened that several of the great Angevin lords, who had been taken
in the preceding campaigns of Calabria, were found in arms in the place.
(Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 252, 253, 269.) Gonsalvo, in
consequence of this manifest breach of faith, refusing to regard them as
comprehended in the treaty, sent them all prisoners of state to the
dungeons of Castel Nuovo in Naples. This action has brought on him much
unmerited obloquy with the French writers. Indeed, before the treaty was
signed, if we are to credit the Italian historians, Gonsalvo peremptorily
refused to include the Neapolitan lords within it. Thus much is certain;
that, after having been taken and released, they were now found under the
French banners a second time. It seems not improbable, therefore, that the
French, however naturally desirous they may have been of protection for
their allies, finding themselves unable to enforce it, acquiesced in such
an equivocal silence with respect to them as, without apparently
compromising their own honor, left the whole affair to the discretion of
the Great Captain.

With regard to the sweeping charge made by certain modern French
historians against the Spanish general, of a similar severity to the other
Italians indiscriminately, found in the place, there is not the slightest
foundation for it in any contemporary authority. See Gaillard, Rivalité,
tom. iv. p. 254.--Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. p. 456.--Varillas,
Hist de Louis XII., tom. i. pp. 419, 420.

[14] Fleurange, Mémoires, chap. 5, apud Petitot, Collection des Mémoires,
tom. xvi.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 190.--Giovio, Vitae
Illust. Virorum, fol. 269, 270.--Chrónica del Gran Capitan, cap. 111.

[15] Brantôme, who visited the banks of the Garigliano, some fifty years
after this, beheld them in imagination thronged with the shades of the
illustrious dead, whose bones lay buried in its dreary and pestilent
marshes. There is a sombre coloring in the vision of the old chronicler,
not unpoetical. Vies des Hommes Illustres, disc. 6.

[16] Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 456-458.--Giovio, Vitae Illust.
Virorum, fol. 269, 270.--Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, pp. 332,
337.--St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., p. 173.

[17] Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 86.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 23.--
Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 190.--Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum,
ubi supra.--Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iv. pp. 254-256.

[18] Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 270, 271.--Quintana, Españoles
Célebres, tom. i. p. 298.--Chrónica del Gran Capitan, lib. 3, cap. 1.--
Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 359.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos,
MS., cap. 190, 191.

[19] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 271.

[20] "Per servir sempre, vincitrice o vinia."

The Italians began at this early period to feel the pressure of those
woes, which a century and a half later wrung out of Filicaja the beautiful
lament, which has lost something of its touching graces, even under the
hand of Lord Byron.

[21] Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 64.--Guicciardini, Istoria, lib.
6, pp. 340, 341.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, ubi supra.--Carta del Gran
Capitan, MS.

[22] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 270, 271.--Chrónica del Gran
Capitan, lib. 8, cap. 1.--Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 24.

[23] Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, p. 338.--Zurita, Hist. del Rey
Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 64.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, rey 30, cap.
14.--Buonaccorsi, Diario, pp. 85, 86.

[24] Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 66.

The campaign against Louis XII. had cost the Spanish crown 331
_cuentos_ or millions of maravedies, equivalent to 9,268,000 dollars of
the present time. A moderate charge enough for the conquest of a kingdom;
and made still lighter to the Spaniards by one-fifth of the whole being
drawn from Naples itself. See Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 359.

[25] The treaty is to be found in Dumont, Corps Diplomatique, tom. iv. no.
26, pp. 51-53.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 64.--Machiavelli,
Legazione Seconda a Francia, let. 9, Feb. 11.

[26] Brantôme, Oeuvres, tom. ii. disc. 11.--Fleurange, Mémoires, chap. 5,
apud Petitot, Collection des Mémoires, tom. xvi.--Buonaccorsi, Diario, p.
85.--Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iv. pp. 255-260. See also Mémoires de
Bayard, chap. 25; the good knight, "sans peur et sans reproche," made one
of this intrepid little band, having joined Louis d'Ars after the
capitulation of Gaeta.

[27] Machiavelli, Arte della Guerra. lib. 2.--Machiavelli considers the
victory over D'Aubigny at Seminara as imputable in a great degree to the
peculiar arms of the Spaniards, who, with their short swords and shields,
gliding in among the deep ranks of the Swiss spearmen, brought them to
close combat, where the former had the whole advantage. Another instance
of the kind occurred at the memorable battle of Ravenna some years later.
Ubi supra.

[28] "Prima," says Livy pithily, speaking of the Gauls in the time of the
Republic, "eorum proelia plus quam virorum, postrema minu quam
foeminarum." Lib. 10, cap. 28.

[29] Two of the most distinguished of these were the Colonnas, Prospero
and Fabrizio, of whom frequent mention has been made in our narrative. The
best commentary on the military reputation of the latter, is the fact,
that he is selected by Machiavelli as the principal interlocutor in his
Dialogues on the Art of War.

[30] See Dubos, Ligue de Cambray, dissert. prelim., p. 60.--This French
writer has shown himself superior to national distinctions, in the liberal
testimony which he bears to the character of these brave troops. See a
similar strain of panegyric from the chivalrous pen of old Brantôme,
Oeuvres, tom. i. disc. 27.




Decline of the Queen's Health.--Alarm of the Nation.--Her Testament.--And
Codicil.--Her Resignation and Death.--Her Remains Transported to Granada.
--Isabella's Person.--Her Manners.--Her Character.--Parallel with Queen

The acquisition of an important kingdom in the heart of Europe, and of the
New World beyond the waters, which promised to pour into her lap all the
fabled treasures of the Indies, was rapidly raising Spain to the first
rank of European powers. But, in this noontide of her success, she was to
experience a fatal shock in the loss of that illustrious personage, who
had so long and so gloriously presided over her destinies. We have had
occasion to notice more than once the declining state of the queen's
health during the last few years. Her constitution had been greatly
impaired by incessant personal fatigue and exposure, and by the
unremitting activity of her mind. It had suffered far more severely,
however, from a series of heavy domestic calamities, which had fallen on
her with little intermission since the death of her mother in 1496. The
next year, she followed to the grave the remains of her only son, the heir
and hope of the monarchy, just entering on his prime; and in the
succeeding, was called on to render the same sad offices to the best
beloved of her daughters, the amiable queen of Portugal.

The severe illness occasioned by this last blow terminated in a dejection
of spirits, from which she never entirely recovered. Her surviving
children were removed far from her into distant lands; with the occasional
exception, indeed, of Joanna, who caused a still deeper pang to her
mother's affectionate heart, by exhibiting infirmities which justified the
most melancholy presages for the future.

Far from abandoning herself to weak and useless repining, however,
Isabella sought consolation, where it was best to be found, in the
exercises of piety, and in the earnest discharge of the duties attached to
her exalted station. Accordingly, we find her attentive as ever to the
minutest interests of her subjects; supporting her great minister Ximenes
in his schemes of reform, quickening the zeal for discovery in the west,
and, at the close of the year 1503, on the alarm of the French invasion,
rousing her dying energies, to kindle a spirit of resistance in her
people. These strong mental exertions, however, only accelerated the decay
of her bodily strength, which was gradually sinking under that sickness of
the heart, which admits of no cure, and scarcely of consolation.

In the beginning of that very year she had declined so visibly, that the
cortes of Castile, much alarmed, petitioned her to provide for the
government of the kingdom after her decease, in case of the absence or
incapacity of Joanna. [1] She seems to have rallied in some measure after
this, but it was only to relapse into a state of greater debility, as her
spirits sunk under the conviction, which now forced itself on her, of her
daughter's settled insanity.

Early in the spring of the following year, that unfortunate lady embarked
for Flanders, where, soon after her arrival, the inconstancy of her
husband, and her own ungovernable sensibilities, occasioned the most
scandalous scenes. Philip became openly enamoured of one of the ladies of
her suite, and his injured wife, in a paroxysm of jealousy, personally
assaulted her fair rival in the palace, and caused the beautiful locks,
which had excited the admiration of her fickle husband, to be shorn from
her head. This outrage so affected Philip, that he vented his indignation
against Joanna in the coarsest and most unmanly terms, and finally refused
to have any further intercourse with her. [2]

The account of this disgraceful scene reached Castile in the month of
June. It occasioned the deepest chagrin and mortification to the unhappy
parents. Ferdinand soon after fell ill of a fever, and the queen was
seized with the same disorder, accompanied by more alarming symptoms. Her
illness was exasperated by anxiety for her husband, and she refused to
credit the favorable reports of his physicians while he was detained from
her presence. His vigorous constitution, however, threw off the malady,
while hers gradually failed under it. Her tender heart was more keenly
sensible than his to the unhappy condition of their child, and to the
gloomy prospects which awaited her beloved Castile. [3]

Her faithful follower, Martyr, was with the court at this time in Medina
del Campo. In a letter to the count of Tendilla, dated October 7th, he
states that the most serious apprehensions were entertained by the
physicians for the queen's fate. "Her whole system," he says, "is pervaded
by a consuming fever. She loathes food of every kind, and is tormented
with incessant thirst, while the disorder has all the appearance of
terminating in a dropsy." [4]

In the mean while, Isabella lost nothing of her solicitude for the welfare
of her people, and the great concerns of government. While reclining, as
she was obliged to do a great part of the day, on her couch, she listened
to the recital or reading of whatever occurred of interest, at home or
abroad. She gave audience to distinguished foreigners, especially such
Italians as could acquaint her with particulars of the late war, and,
above all, in regard to Gonsalvo de Cordova, in whose fortunes she had
always taken the liveliest concern. [5] She received with pleasure, too,
such intelligent travellers, as her renown had attracted to the Castilian
court. She drew forth their stores of various information, and dismissed
them, says a writer of the age, penetrated with the deepest admiration of
that masculine strength of mind, which sustained her so nobly under the
weight of a mortal malady. [6]

This malady was now rapidly gaining ground. On the 15th of October we have
another epistle of Martyr, of the following melancholy tenor. "You ask me
respecting the state of the queen's health. We sit sorrowful in the palace
all day long, tremblingly waiting the hour, when religion and virtue shall
quit the earth with her. Let us pray that we may be permitted to follow
hereafter where she is soon to go. She so far transcends all human
excellence, that there is scarcely anything of mortality about her. She
can hardly be said to die, but to pass into a nobler existence, which
should rather excite our envy than our sorrow. She leaves the world filled
with her renown, and she goes to enjoy life eternal with her God in
heaven. I write this," he concludes, "between hope and fear, while the
breath is still fluttering within her." [7]

The deepest gloom now overspread the nation. Even Isabella's long illness
had failed to prepare the minds of her faithful people for the sad
catastrophe. They recalled several ominous circumstances which had before
escaped their attention. In the preceding spring, an earthquake,
accompanied by a tremendous hurricane, such as the oldest men did not
remember, had visited Andalusia, and especially Carmona, a place belonging
to the queen, and occasioned frightful desolation there. The superstitious
Spaniards now read in these portents the prophetic signs, by which Heaven
announces some great calamity. Prayers were put up in every temple;
processions and pilgrimages made in every part of the country for the
recovery of their beloved sovereign,--but in vain. [8]

Isabella, in the mean time, was deluded with no false hopes. She felt too
surely the decay of her bodily strength, and she resolved to perform what
temporal duties yet remained for her, while her faculties were still

On the 12th of October she executed that celebrated testament, which
reflects so clearly the peculiar qualities of her mind and character. She
begins with prescribing the arrangements for her burial. She orders her
remains to be transported to Granada, to the Franciscan monastery of Santa
Isabella in the Alhambra, and there deposited in a low and humble
sepulchre, without other memorial than a plain inscription on it. "But,"
she continues, "should the king, my lord, prefer a sepulchre in some other
place, then my will is that my body be there transported, and laid by his
side; that the union we have enjoyed in this world, and, through the mercy
of God, may hope again for our souls in heaven, may be represented by our
bodies in the earth." Then, desirous of correcting by her example, in this
last act of her life, the wasteful pomp of funeral obsequies to which the
Castilians were addicted, she commands that her own should be performed in
the plainest and most unostentatious manner, and that the sum saved by
this economy should be distributed in alms among the poor.

She next provides for several charities, assigning, among others, marriage
portions for poor maidens, and a considerable sum for the redemption of
Christian captives in Barbary. She enjoins the punctual discharge of all
her personal debts within a year; she retrenches superfluous offices in
the royal household, and revokes all such grants, whether in the forms of
lands or annuities, as she conceives to have been made without sufficient
warrant. She inculcates on her successors the importance of maintaining
the integrity of the royal domains, and, above all, of never divesting
themselves of their title to the important fortress of Gibraltar.

After this, she comes to the succession of the crown, which she settles on
the infanta Joanna, as "queen proprietor," and the archduke Philip as her
husband. She gives them much good counsel respecting their future
administration; enjoining them, as they would secure the love and
obedience of their subjects, to conform in all respects to the laws and
usages of the realm, to appoint no foreigner to office,-an error, into
which Philip's connections, she saw, would be very likely to betray them,
--and to make no laws or ordinances, "which necessarily require the
consent of cortes," during their absence from the kingdom. [9] She
recommends to them the same conjugal harmony which had ever subsisted
between her and her husband; she beseeches them to show the latter all
the deference and filial affection "due to him beyond every other parent,
for his eminent virtues;" and finally inculcates on them the most tender
regard for the liberties and welfare of their subjects.

She next comes to the great question proposed by the cortes of 1503,
respecting the government of the realm in the absence or incapacity of
Joanna. She declares that, after mature deliberation, and with the advice
of many of the prelates and nobles of the kingdom, she appoints King
Ferdinand her husband to be the sole regent of Castile, in that exigency,
until the majority of her grandson Charles; being led to this, she adds,
"by the consideration of the magnanimity and illustrious qualities of the
king, my lord, as well as his large experience, and the great profit which
will redound to the state from his wise and beneficent rule." She
expresses her sincere conviction that his past conduct affords a
sufficient guarantee for his faithful administration, but, in compliance
with established usage, requires the customary oath from him on entering
on the duties of the office.

She then makes a specific provision for her husband's personal
maintenance, which, "although less than she could wish, and far less than
he deserves, considering the eminent services he had rendered the state,"
she settles at one-half of all the net proceeds and profits accruing from
the newly discovered countries in the west; together with ten million
maravedies annually, assigned on the _alcavalas_ of the grand-masterships
of the military orders.

After some additional regulations, respecting the descent of the crown on
failure of Joanna's lineal heirs, she recommends in the kindest and most
emphatic terms to her successors the various members of her household, and
her personal friends, among whom we find the names of the marquis and
marchioness of Moya, (Beatrice de Bobadilla, the companion of her youth,)
and Garcilasso de la Vega, the accomplished minister at the papal court.

And, lastly, concluding in the same beautiful strain of conjugal
tenderness in which she began, she says, "I beseech the king my lord, that
he will accept all my jewels, or such as he shall select, so that, seeing
them, he may be reminded of the singular love I always bore him while
living, and that I am now waiting for him in a better world; by which
remembrance he may be encouraged to live the more justly and holily in

Six executors were named to the will. The two principal were the king and
the primate Ximenes, who had full powers to act in conjunction with any
one of the others. [10]

I have dwelt the more minutely on the details of Isabella's testament,
from the evidence it affords of her constancy in her dying hour to the
principles which had governed her through life; of her expansive and
sagacious policy; her prophetic insight into the evils to result from her
death,--evils, alas! which no forecast could avert; her scrupulous
attention to all her personal obligations; and that warm attachment to her
friends, which could never falter while a pulse beat in her bosom.

After performing this duty, she daily grew weaker, the powers of her mind
seeming to brighten as those of her body declined. The concerns of her
government still occupied her thoughts; and several public measures, which
she had postponed through urgency of other business, or growing
infirmities, pressed so heavily on her heart, that she made them the
subject of a codicil to her former will. It was executed November 23d,
only three days before her death.

Three of the provisions contained in it are too remarkable to pass
unnoticed. The first concerns the codification of the laws. For this
purpose, the queen appoints a commission to make a new digest of the
statutes and _pragmáticas_, the contradictory tenor of which still
occasioned much embarrassment in Castilian jurisprudence. This was a
subject she always had much at heart; but no nearer approach had been made
to it, than the valuable, though insufficient work of Montalvo, in the
early part of her reign; and, notwithstanding her precautions, none more
effectual was destined to take place till the reign of Philip the Second.

The second item had reference to the natives of the New World. Gross
abuses had arisen there since the partial revival of the _repartimientos_,
although Las Casas says, "intelligence of this was carefully kept from the
ears of the queen." [12] Some vague apprehension of the truth, however,
appears to have forced itself on her; and she enjoins her successors, in
the most earnest manner, to quicken the good work of converting and
civilizing the poor Indians, to treat them with the greatest gentleness,
and redress any wrongs they may have suffered in their persons or

Lastly, she expresses her doubts as to the legality of the revenue drawn
from the _alcavalas_, constituting the principal income of the crown.
She directs a commission to ascertain whether it were originally intended
to be perpetual, and if this were done with the free consent of the
people; enjoining her heirs, in that event, to collect the tax so that it
should press least heavily on her subjects. Should it be found otherwise,
however, she directs that the legislature be summoned to devise proper
measures for supplying the wants of the crown,--"measures depending for
their validity on the good pleasure of the subjects of the realm." [13]

Such were the dying words of this admirable woman; displaying the same
respect for the rights and liberties of the nation, which she had shown
through life, and striving to secure the blessings of her benign
administration to the most distant and barbarous regions under her sway.
These two documents were a precious legacy bequeathed to her people, to
guide them when the light of her personal example should be withdrawn for

The queen's signature to the codicil, which still exists among the
manuscripts of the royal library at Madrid, shows, by its irregular and
scarcely legible characters, the feeble state to which she was then
reduced. [14] She had now adjusted all her worldly concerns, and she
prepared to devote herself, during the brief space which remained, to
those of a higher nature. It was but the last act of a life of
preparation. She had the misfortune, common to persons of her rank, to be
separated in her last moments from those whose filial tenderness might
have done so much to soften the bitterness of death. But she had the good
fortune, most rare, to have secured for this trying hour the solace of
disinterested friendship; for she beheld around her the friends of her
childhood, formed and proved in the dark season of adversity.

As she saw them bathed in tears around her bed, she calmly said, "Do not
weep for me, nor waste your time in fruitless prayers for my recovery, but
pray rather for the salvation of my soul." [15] On receiving the extreme
unction, she refused to have her feet exposed, as was usual on that
occasion; a circumstance, which, occurring at a time when there can be no
suspicion of affectation, is often noticed by Spanish writers, as a proof
of that sensitive delicacy and decorum, which distinguished her through
life. [16] At length, having received the sacraments, and performed all
the offices of a sincere and devout Christian, she gently expired a little
before noon, on Wednesday, November 26th, 1504, in the fifty-fourth year
of her age, and thirtieth of her reign. [17]

"My hand," says Peter Martyr, in a letter written on the same day to the
archbishop of Granada, "falls powerless by my side, for very sorrow. The
world has lost its noblest ornament; a loss to be deplored not only by
Spain, which she has so long carried forward in the career of glory, but
by every nation in Christendom; for she was the mirror of every virtue,
the shield of the innocent, and an avenging sword to the wicked. I know
none of her sex, in ancient or modern times, who in my judgment is at all
worthy to be named with this incomparable woman." [18]

No time was lost in making preparations for transporting the queen's body
unembalmed to Granada, in strict conformity to her orders. It was escorted
by a numerous _cortège_ of cavaliers and ecclesiastics, among whom
was the faithful Martyr. The procession began its mournful march the day
following her death, taking the route through Arevalo, Toledo, and Jaen.
Scarcely had it left Medina del Campo, when a tremendous tempest set in,
which continued with little interruption during the whole journey. The
roads were rendered nearly impassable; the bridges swept away, the small
streams swollen to the size of the Tagus, and the level country buried
under a deluge of water. Neither sun nor stars were seen during their
whole progress. The horses and mules were borne down by the torrents, and
the riders in several instances perished with them. "Never," exclaims
Martyr, "did I encounter such perils, in the whole of my hazardous
pilgrimage to Egypt." [19]

At length, on the 18th of December, the melancholy and way-worn cavalcade
reached the place of its destination; and, amidst the wild strife of the
elements, the peaceful remains of Isabella were laid, with simple
solemnities, in the Franciscan monastery of the Alhambra. Here, under the
shadow of those venerable Moslem towers, and in the heart of the capital
which her noble constancy had recovered for her country, they continued to
repose till after the death of Ferdinand, when they were removed to be
laid by his side, in the stately mausoleum of the cathedral church of
Granada. [20]

I shall defer the review of Queen Isabella's administration, until it can
be done in conjunction with that of Ferdinand; and shall confine myself at
present to such considerations on the prominent traits of her character,
as have been suggested by the preceding history of her life.

Her person, as mentioned in the early part of the narrative, was of the
middle height, and well proportioned. She had a clear, fresh complexion,
with light blue eyes and auburn hair,--a style of beauty exceedingly rare
in Spain. Her features were regular, and universally allowed to be
uncommonly handsome. [21] The illusion which attaches to rank, more
especially when united with engaging manners, might lead us to suspect
some exaggeration in the encomiums so liberally lavished on her. But they
would seem to be in a great measure justified by the portraits that remain
of her, which combine a faultless symmetry of features with singular
sweetness and intelligence of expression.

Her manners were most gracious and pleasing. They were marked by natural
dignity and modest reserve, tempered by an affability which flowed from
the kindliness of her disposition. She was the last person to be
approached with undue familiarity; yet the respect which she imposed was
mingled with the strongest feelings of devotion and love. She showed great
tact in accommodating herself to the peculiar situation and character of
those around her. She appeared in arms at the head of her troops, and
shrunk from none of the hardships of war. During the reforms introduced
into the religious houses, she visited the nunneries in person, taking her
needle-work with her, and passing the day in the society of the inmates.
When travelling in Galicia, she attired herself in the costume of the
country, borrowing for that purpose the jewels and other ornaments of the
ladies there, and returning them with liberal additions. [22] By this
condescending and captivating deportment, as well as by her higher
qualities, she gained an ascendency over her turbulent subjects, which no
king of Spain could ever boast.

She spoke the Castilian with much elegance and correctness. She had an
easy fluency of discourse, which, though generally of a serious
complexion, was occasionally seasoned with agreeable sallies, some of
which have passed into proverbs. [23] She was temperate even to
abstemiousness in her diet, seldom or never tasting wine; [24] and so
frugal in her table, that the daily expenses for herself and family did
not exceed the moderate sum of forty ducats. [25] She was equally simple
and economical in her apparel. On all public occasions, indeed, she
displayed a royal magnificence; [26] but she had no relish for it in
private, and she freely gave away her clothes [27] and jewels, [28] as
presents to her friends. Naturally of a sedate, though cheerful temper,
[29] she had little taste for the frivolous amusements which make up so
much of a court life; and, if she encouraged the presence of minstrels and
musicians in her palace, it was to wean her young nobility from the
coarser and less intellectual pleasures to which they were addicted. [30]

Among her moral qualities, the most conspicuous, perhaps, was her
magnanimity. She betrayed nothing little or selfish, in thought or action.
Her schemes were vast, and executed in the same noble spirit in which they
were conceived. She never employed doubtful agents or sinister measures,
but the most direct and open policy. [31.] She scorned to avail herself of
advantages offered by the perfidy of others. [32] Where she had once given
her confidence, she gave her hearty and steady support; and she was
scrupulous to redeem any pledge she had made to those who ventured in her
cause, however unpopular. She sustained Ximenes in all his obnoxious but
salutary reforms. She seconded Columbus in the prosecution of his arduous
enterprise, and shielded him from the calumny of his enemies. She did the
same good service to her favorite, Gonsalvo de Cordova; and the day of her
death was felt, and, as it proved, truly felt by both, as the last of
their good fortune. [33] Artifice and duplicity were so abhorrent to her
character, and so averse from her domestic policy, that when they appear
in the foreign relations of Spain, it is certainly not imputable to her.
She was incapable of harboring any petty distrust, or latent malice; and,
although stern in the execution and exaction of public justice, she made
the most generous allowance, and even sometimes advances, to those who had
personally injured her. [34]

But the principle, which gave a peculiar coloring to every feature of
Isabella's mind, was piety. It shone forth from the very depths of her
soul with a heavenly radiance, which illuminated her whole character.
Fortunately, her earliest years had been passed in the rugged school of
adversity, under the eye of a mother who implanted in her serious mind
such strong principles of religion as nothing in after life had power to
shake. At an early age, in the flower of youth and beauty, she was
introduced to her brother's court; but its blandishments, so dazzling to a
young imagination, had no power over hers; for she was surrounded by a
moral atmosphere of purity,

"Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt." [35]

Such was the decorum of her manners, that, though encompassed by false
friends and open enemies, not the slightest reproach was breathed on her
fair name in this corrupt and calumnious court.

She gave a liberal portion of her time to private devotions, as well as to
the public exercises of religion. [36] She expended large sums in useful
charities, especially in the erection of hospitals and churches, and the
more doubtful endowments of monasteries. [37] Her piety was strikingly
exhibited in that unfeigned humility, which, although the very essence of
our faith, is so rarely found; and most rarely in those whose great powers
and exalted stations seem to raise them above the level of ordinary
mortals. A remarkable illustration of this is afforded in the queen's
correspondence with Talavera, in which her meek and docile spirit is
strikingly contrasted with the puritanical intolerance of her confessor.
[38] Yet Talavera, as we have seen, was sincere, and benevolent at heart.
Unfortunately, the royal conscience was at times committed to very
different keeping; and that humility which, as we have repeatedly had
occasion to notice, made her defer so reverentially to her ghostly
advisers, led, under the fanatic Torquemada, the confessor of her early
youth, to those deep blemishes on her administration, the establishment of
the Inquisition, and the exile of the Jews.

But, though blemishes of the deepest dye on her administration, they are
certainly not to be regarded as such on her moral character. It will be
difficult to condemn her, indeed, without condemning the age; for these
very acts are not only excused, but extolled by her contemporaries, as
constituting her strongest claims to renown, and to the gratitude of her
country. [39] They proceeded from the principle, openly avowed by the
court of Rome, that zeal for the purity of the faith could atone for every
crime. This immoral maxim, flowing from the head of the church, was echoed
in a thousand different forms by the subordinate clergy, and greedily
received by a superstitious people. [40] It was not to be expected, that a
solitary woman, filled with natural diffidence of her own capacity on such
subjects, should array herself against those venerated counsellors, whom
she had been taught from her cradle to look to as the guides and guardians
of her conscience.

However mischievous the operations of the Inquisition may have been in
Spain, its establishment, in point of principle, was not worse than many
other measures, which have passed with far less censure, though in a much
more advanced and civilized age. [41] Where, indeed, during the sixteenth,
and the greater part of the seventeenth century, was the principle of
persecution abandoned by the dominant party, whether Catholic or
Protestant? And where that of toleration asserted, except by the weaker?
It is true, to borrow Isabella's own expression, in her letter to
Talavera, the prevalence of a bad custom cannot constitute its apology.
But it should serve much to mitigate our condemnation of the queen, that
she fell into no greater error, in the imperfect light in which she lived,
than was common to the greatest minds in a later and far riper period.

Isabella's actions, indeed, were habitually based on principle. Whatever
errors of judgment be imputed to her, she most anxiously sought in all
situations to discern and discharge her duty. Faithful in the dispensation
of justice, no bribe was large enough to ward off the execution of the
law. [43] No motive, not even conjugal affection, could induce her to make
an unsuitable appointment to public office. [44] No reverence for the
ministers of religion could lead her to wink at their misconduct; [45] nor
could the deference she entertained for the head of the church, allow her
to tolerate his encroachments on the rights of her crown. [46] She seemed
to consider herself especially bound to preserve entire the peculiar
claims and privileges of Castile, after its union under the same sovereign
with Aragon. [47] And although, "while her own will was law," says Peter
Martyr, "she governed in such a manner that it might appear the joint
action of both Ferdinand and herself," yet she was careful never to
surrender into his hands one of those prerogatives which belonged to her
as queen proprietor of the kingdom. [48]

Isabella's measures were characterized by that practical good sense,
without which the most brilliant parts may work more to the woe than to
the weal of mankind. Though engaged all her life in reforms, she had none
of the failings so common in reformers. Her plans, though vast, were never
visionary. The best proof of this is, that she lived to see most of them

She was quick to discern objects of real utility. She saw the importance
of the new discovery of printing, and liberally patronized it from the
first moment it appeared. [49] She had none of the exclusive, local
prejudices, too common with her countrymen. She drew talent from the most
remote quarters to her dominions, by munificent rewards. She imported
foreign artisans for her manufactures; foreign engineers and officers for
the discipline of her army; and foreign scholars to imbue her martial
subjects with more cultivated tastes. She consulted the useful in all her
subordinate regulations; in her sumptuary laws, for instance, directed
against the fashionable extravagances of dress, and the ruinous
ostentation, so much affected by the Castilians in their weddings and
funerals. [50] Lastly, she showed the same perspicacity in the selection
of her agents; well knowing that the best measures become bad in
incompetent hands.

But, although the skilful selection of her agents was an obvious cause of
Isabella's success, yet another, even more important, is to be found in
her own vigilance and untiring exertions. During the first busy and
bustling years of her reign, these exertions were of incredible magnitude.
She was almost always in the saddle, for she made all her journeys on
horseback; and she travelled with a rapidity, which made her always
present on the spot where her presence was needed. She was never
intimidated by the weather, or the state of her own health; and this
reckless exposure undoubtedly contributed much to impair her excellent
constitution. [51]

She was equally indefatigable in her mental application. After assiduous
attention to business through the day, she was often known to sit up all
night, dictating despatches to her secretaries. [52] In the midst of these
overwhelming cares, she found time to supply the defects of her early
education by learning Latin, so as to understand it without difficulty,
whether written or spoken; and indeed, in the opinion of a competent
judge, to attain a critical accuracy in it. [53] As she had little turn
for light amusements, she sought relief from graver cares by some useful
occupation appropriate to her sex; and she left ample evidence of her
skill in this way, in the rich specimens of embroidery, wrought with her
own fair hands, with which she decorated the churches. She was careful to
instruct her daughters in these more humble departments of domestic duty;
for she thought nothing too humble to learn, which was useful. [54]

With all her high qualifications, Isabella would have been still unequal
to the achievement of her grand designs, without possessing a degree of
fortitude rare in either sex; not the courage, which implies contempt of
personal danger,--though of this she had a larger share than falls to most
men; [55] nor that which supports its possessor under the extremities of
bodily pain,--though of this she gave ample evidence, since she endured
the greatest suffering her sex is called to bear, without a groan; [56]
but that moral courage, which sustains the spirit in the dark hour of
adversity, and, gathering light from within to dispel the darkness,
imparts its own cheering influence to all around. This was shown
remarkably in the stormy season which ushered in her accession, as well as
through the whole of the Moorish war. It was her voice that decided never
to abandon Alhama. [57] Her remonstrances compelled the king and nobles to
return to the field, when they had quitted it, after an ineffectual
campaign. As dangers and difficulties multiplied, she multiplied resources
to meet them; and, when her soldiers lay drooping under the evils of some
protracted siege, she appeared in the midst, mounted on her war-horse,
with her delicate limbs cased in knightly mail; [58] and, riding through
their ranks, breathed new courage into their hearts by her own intrepid
bearing. To her personal efforts, indeed, as well as counsels, the success
of this glorious war may be mainly imputed; and the unsuspicious testimony
of the Venetian minister, Navagiero, a few years later, shows that the
nation so considered it. "Queen Isabel," says he, "by her singular genius,
masculine strength of mind, and other virtues most unusual in our own sex,
as well as hers, was not merely of great assistance in, but the chief
cause of the conquest of Granada. She was, indeed, a most rare and
virtuous lady, one of whom the Spaniards talk far more than of the king,
sagacious as he was, and uncommon for his time." [59]

Happily, these masculine qualities in Isabella did not extinguish the
softer ones which constitute the charm of her sex. Her heart overflowed
with affectionate sensibility to her family and friends. She watched over
the declining days of her aged mother, and ministered to her sad
infirmities with all the delicacy of filial tenderness. [60] We have seen
abundant proofs how fondly and faithfully she loved her husband to the
last, [61] though this love was not always as faithfully requited. [62]
For her children she lived more than for herself; and for them too she
died, for it was their loss and their afflictions which froze the current
of her blood, before age had time to chill it. Her exalted state did not
remove her above the sympathies of friendship. [63.] With her friends she
forgot the usual distinctions of rank, sharing in their joys, visiting and
consoling them in sorrow and sickness, and condescending in more than one
instance to assume the office of executrix on their decease. [64] Her
heart, indeed, was filled with benevolence to all mankind. In the most
fiery heat of war, she was engaged in devising means for mitigating its
horrors. She is said to have been the first to introduce the benevolent
institution of camp hospitals; and we have seen, more than once, her
lively solicitude to spare the effusion of blood even of her enemies. But
it is needless to multiply examples of this beautiful, but familiar trait
in her character. [65]

It is in these more amiable qualities of her sex, that Isabella's
superiority becomes most apparent over her illustrious namesake, Elizabeth
of England, [66] whose history presents some features parallel to her own.
Both were disciplined in early life by the teachings of that stern nurse
of wisdom, adversity. Both were made to experience the deepest humiliation
at the hands of their nearest relative, who should have cherished and
protected them. Both succeeded in establishing themselves on the throne
after the most precarious vicissitudes. Each conducted her kingdom,
through a long and triumphant reign, to a height of glory, which it had
never before reached. Both lived to see the vanity of all earthly
grandeur, and to fall the victims of an inconsolable melancholy; and both
left behind an illustrious name, unrivalled in the subsequent annals of
their country.

But, with these few circumstances of their history, the resemblance
ceases. Their characters afford scarcely a point of contact. Elizabeth,
inheriting a large share of the bold and bluff King Harry's temperament,
was haughty, arrogant, coarse, and irascible; while with these fiercer
qualities she mingled deep dissimulation and strange irresolution.
Isabella, on the other hand, tempered the dignity of royal station with
the most bland and courteous manners. Once resolved, she was constant in
her purposes, and her conduct in public and private life was characterized
by candor and integrity. Both may be said to have shown that magnanimity
which is implied by the accomplishment of great objects in the face of
great obstacles. But Elizabeth was desperately selfish; she was incapable
of forgiving, not merely a real injury, but the slightest affront to her
vanity; and she was merciless in exacting retribution. Isabella, on the
other hand, lived only for others,--was ready at all times to sacrifice
self to considerations of public duty; and, far from personal resentments,
showed the greatest condescension and kindness to those who had most
sensibly injured her; while her benevolent heart sought every means to
mitigate the authorized severities of the law, even towards the guilty.

Both possessed rare fortitude. Isabella, indeed, was placed in situations,
which demanded more frequent and higher displays of it than her rival; but
no one will doubt a full measure of this quality in the daughter of Henry

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