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

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Had he struck at once into the southern districts of Castile, where most
of those friendly to his cause were to be found, and immediately commenced
active operations with the aid of the marquis of Cadiz, who it was
understood was prepared to support him in that quarter, it is difficult to
say what might have been the result. Ferdinand and Isabella were so wholly
unprepared at the time of Alfonso's invasion, that it is said they could
scarcely bring five hundred horse to oppose it. By this opportune delay at
Arevalo, they obtained space for preparation. Both of them were
indefatigable in their efforts. Isabella, we are told, was frequently
engaged through the whole night in dictating despatches to her
secretaries. She visited in person such of the garrisoned towns as
required to be confirmed in their allegiance, performing long and painful
journeys on horseback with surprising celerity, and enduring fatigues,
which, as she was at that time in delicate health, wellnigh proved fatal
to her constitution. [15] On an excursion to Toledo, she determined to
make one effort more to regain the confidence of her ancient minister the
archbishop. She accordingly sent an envoy to inform him of her intention
to wait on him in person at his residence in Alcalá de Henares. But as the
surly prelate, far from being moved by this condescension, returned for
answer, that, "if the queen entered by one door, he would go out at the
other," she did not choose to compromise her dignity by any further

By Isabella's extraordinary exertions, as well as those of her husband,
the latter found himself, in the beginning of July, at the head of a force
amounting in all to four thousand men-at-arms, eight thousand light horse,
and thirty thousand foot, an ill-disciplined militia, chiefly drawn from
the mountainous districts of the north, which manifested peculiar devotion
to his cause; his partisans in the south being preoccupied with
suppressing domestic revolt, and with incursions on the frontiers of
Portugal. [16]

Meanwhile Alfonso, after an unprofitable detention of nearly two months at
Arevalo, marched on Toro, which, by a preconcerted agreement, was
delivered into his hands by the governor of the city, although the
fortress, under the conduct of a woman, continued to maintain a gallant
defence. While occupied with its reduction, Alfonso was invited to receive
the submission of the adjacent city and castle of Zamora. The defection of
these places, two of the most considerable in the province of Leon, and
peculiarly important to the king of Portugal from their vicinity to his
dominions, was severely felt by Ferdinand, who determined to advance at
once against his rival, and bring their quarrel to the issue of a battle;
in this, acting in opposition to the more cautious counsel of his father,
who recommended the policy, usually judged most prudent for an invaded
country, of acting on the defensive, instead of risking all on the chances
of a single action.

Ferdinand arrived before Toro on the 19th of July, and immediately drew up
his army, before its walls, in order of battle. As the king of Portugal,
however, still kept within his defences, Ferdinand sent a herald into his
camp, to defy him to a fair field of fight with his whole army, or, if he
declined this, to invite him to decide their differences by personal
combat. Alfonso accepted the latter alternative; but, a dispute arising
respecting the guaranty for the performance of the engagements on either
side, the whole affair evaporated, as usual, in an empty vaunt of

The Castilian army, from the haste with which it had been mustered, was
wholly deficient in battering artillery, and in other means for annoying a
fortified city; and, as its communications were cut off, in consequence of
the neighboring fortresses being in possession of the enemy, it soon
became straitened for provisions. It was accordingly decided in a council
of war to retreat without further delay. No sooner was this determination
known, than it excited general dissatisfaction throughout the camp. The
soldiers loudly complained that the king was betrayed by his nobles; and a
party of over-loyal Biscayans, inflamed by the suspicions of a conspiracy
against his person, actually broke into the church where Ferdinand was
conferring with his officers, and bore him off in their arms from the
midst of them to his own tent, notwithstanding his reiterated explanations
and remonstrances. The ensuing retreat was conducted in so disorderly a
manner by the mutinous soldiery, that Alfonso, says a contemporary, had he
but sallied with two thousand horse, might have routed and perhaps
annihilated the whole army. Some of the troops were detached to reinforce
the garrisons of the loyal cities, but most of them dispersed again among
their native mountains. The citadel of Toro soon afterwards capitulated.
The archbishop of Toledo, considering these events as decisive of the
fortunes of the war, now openly joined the king of Portugal at the head of
five hundred lances, boasting at the same time, that "he had raised
Isabella from the distaff, and would soon send her back to it again." [17]

So disastrous an introduction to the campaign might indeed well fill
Isabella's bosom with anxiety. The revolutionary movements, which had so
long agitated Castile, had so far unsettled every man's political
principles, and the allegiance of even the most loyal hung so loosely
about them, that it was difficult to estimate how far it might be shaken
by such a blow occurring at this crisis. [18] Fortunately, Alfonso was in
no condition to profit by his success. His Castilian allies had
experienced the greatest difficulty in enlisting their vassals in the
Portuguese cause; and, far from furnishing him with the contingents which
he had expected, found sufficient occupation in the defence of their own
territories against the loyal partisans of Isabella. At the same time,
numerous squadrons of light cavalry from Estremadura and Andalusia,
penetrating into Portugal, carried the most terrible desolation over the
whole extent of its unprotected borders. The Portuguese knights loudly
murmured at being cooped up in Toro, while their own country was made the
theatre of war; and Alfonso saw himself under the necessity of detaching
so considerable a portion of his army for the defence of his frontier, as
entirely to cripple his future operations. So deeply, indeed, was he
impressed, by these circumstances, with the difficulty of his enterprise,
that, in a negotiation with the Castilian sovereigns at this time, he
expressed a willingness to resign his claims to their crown in
consideration of the cession of Galicia, together with the cities of Toro
and Zamora, and a considerable sum of money. Ferdinand and his ministers,
it is reported, would have accepted the proposal; but Isabella, although
acquiescing in the stipulated money payment, would not consent to the
dismemberment of a single inch of the Castilian territory.

In the mean time both the queen and her husband, undismayed by past
reverses, were making every exertion for the reorganization of an army on
a more efficient footing. To accomplish this object, an additional supply
of funds became necessary, since the treasure of King Henry, delivered
into their hands by Andres de Cabrera, at Segovia, had been exhausted by
the preceding operations. [19] The old king of Aragon advised them to
imitate their ancestor Henry the Second, of glorious memory, by making
liberal grants and alienations in favor of their subjects, which they
might, when more firmly seated on the throne, resume at pleasure.
Isabella, however, chose rather to trust to the patriotism of her people,
than have recourse to so unworthy a stratagem. She accordingly convened an
assembly of the states, in the month of August, at Medina del Campo. As
the nation had been too far impoverished under the late reign to admit of
fresh exactions, a most extraordinary expedient was devised for meeting
the stipulated requisitions. It was proposed to deliver into the royal
treasury half the amount of plate belonging to the churches throughout the
kingdom, to be redeemed in the term of three years, for the sum of thirty
_cuentos_, or millions, of maravedies. The clergy, who were very
generally attached to Isabella's interests, far from discouraging this
startling proposal, endeavored to vanquish the queen's repugnance to it by
arguments and pertinent illustrations drawn from Scripture. This
transaction certainly exhibits a degree of disinterestedness, on the part
of this body, most unusual in that age and country, as well as a generous
confidence in the good faith of Isabella, of which she proved herself
worthy by the punctuality with which she redeemed it. [20]

Thus provided with the necessary funds, the sovereigns set about enforcing
new levies and bringing them under better discipline, as well as providing
for their equipment in a manner more suitable to the exigencies of the
service, than was done for the preceding army. The remainder of the summer
and the ensuing autumn were consumed in these preparations, as well as in
placing their fortified towns in a proper posture of defence, and in the
reduction of such places as held out against them. The king of Portugal,
all this while, lay with his diminished forces in Toro, making a sally on
one occasion only, for the relief of his friends, which was frustrated by
the sleepless vigilance of Isabella.

Early in December, Ferdinand passed from the siege of Burgos, in Old
Castile, to Zamora, whose inhabitants expressed a desire to return to
their ancient allegiance; and, with the co-operation of the citizens,
supported by a large detachment from his main army, he prepared to invest
its citadel. As the possession of this post would effectually intercept
Alfonso's communications with his own country, he determined to relieve it
at every hazard, and for this purpose despatched a messenger into Portugal
requiring his son, Prince John, to reinforce him with such levies as he
could speedily raise. All parties now looked forward with eagerness to a
general battle, as to a termination of the evils of this long-protracted

The Portuguese prince, having with difficulty assembled a corps amounting
to two thousand lances and eight thousand infantry, took a northerly
circuit round Galicia, and effected a junction with his father in Toro, on
the 14th of February, 1476. Alfonso, thus reinforced, transmitted a
pompous circular to the pope, the king of France, his own dominions, and
those well affected to him in Castile, proclaiming his immediate intention
of taking the usurper, or of driving him from the kingdom. On the night of
the 17th, having first provided for the security of the city by leaving in
it a powerful reserve, Alfonso drew off the residue of his army, probably
not much exceeding three thousand five hundred horse and five thousand
foot, well provided with artillery and with arquebuses, which latter
engine was still of so clumsy and unwieldy construction, as not to have
entirely superseded the ancient weapons of European warfare. The
Portuguese army, traversing the bridge of Toro, pursued their march along
the southern side of the Douro, and reached Zamora, distant only a few
leagues, before the dawn. [21]

At break of day, the Castilians were surprised by the array of floating
banners, and martial panoply glittering in the sun, from the opposite side
of the river, while the discharges of artillery still more unequivocally
announced the presence of the enemy. Ferdinand could scarcely believe that
the Portuguese monarch, whose avowed object had been the relief of the
castle of Zamora, should have selected a position so obviously unsuitable
for this purpose. The intervention of the river, between him and the
fortress situated at the northern extremity of the town, prevented him
from relieving it, either by throwing succors into it, or by annoying the
Castilian troops, who, intrenched in comparative security within the walls
and houses of the city, were enabled by means of certain elevated
positions, well garnished with artillery, to inflict much heavier injury
on their opponents, than they could possibly receive from them. Still,
Ferdinand's men, exposed to the double fire of the fortress and the
besiegers, would willingly have come to an engagement with the latter; but
the river, swollen by winter torrents, was not fordable, and the bridge,
the only direct avenue to the city, was enfiladed by the enemy's cannon,
so as to render a sally in that direction altogether impracticable. During
this time, Isabella's squadrons of light cavalry, hovering on the skirts
of the Portuguese camp, effectually cut off its supplies, and soon reduced
it to great straits for subsistence. This circumstance, together with the
tidings of the rapid advance of additional forces to the support of
Ferdinand, determined Alfonso, contrary to all expectation, on an
immediate retreat; and accordingly on the morning of the 1st of March,
being little less than a fortnight from the time in which he commenced
this empty gasconade, the Portuguese army quitted its position before
Zamora, with the same silence and celerity with which it had occupied it.

Ferdinand's troops would instantly have pushed after the fugitives, but
the latter had demolished the southern extremity of the bridge before
their departure; so that, although some few effected an immediate passage
in boats, the great body of the army was necessarily detained until the
repairs were completed, which occupied more than three hours. With all the
expedition they could use, therefore, and leaving their artillery behind
them, they did not succeed in coming up with the enemy until nearly four
o'clock in the afternoon, as the latter was defiling through a narrow pass
formed by a crest of precipitous hills on the one side, and the Douro on
the other, at the distance of about five miles from the city of Toro. [22]

A council of war was then called, to decide on the expediency of an
immediate assault. It was objected, that the strong position of Toro would
effectually cover the retreat of the Portuguese in case of their
discomfiture; that they would speedily be reinforced by fresh recruits
from that city, which would make them more than a match for Ferdinand's
army, exhausted by a toilsome march, as well as by its long fast, which it
had not broken since the morning; and that the celerity, with which it had
moved, had compelled it, not only to abandon its artillery, but to leave a
considerable portion of the heavy-armed infantry in the rear.
Notwithstanding the weight of these objections, such were the high spirit
of the troops and their eagerness to come to action, sharpened by the view
of the quarry, which after a wearisome chase seemed ready to fall into
their hands, that they were thought more than sufficient to counterbalance
every physical disadvantage; and the question of battle was decided in the

As the Castilian army emerged from the defile into a wide and open plain,
they found that the enemy had halted, and was already forming in order of
battle. The king of Portugal led the centre, with the archbishop of Toledo
on his right wing, its extremity resting on the Douro; while the left,
comprehending the arquebusiers and the strength of the cavalry, was placed
under the command of his son, Prince John. The numerical force of the two
armies, although in favor of the Portuguese, was nearly equal, amounting
probably in each to less than ten thousand men, about one-third being
cavalry. Ferdinand took his station in the centre, opposite his rival,
having the admiral and the duke of Alva on his left; while his right wing,
distributed into six battles or divisions, under their several commanders,
was supported by a detachment of men-at-arms from the provinces of Leon
and Galicia.

The action commenced in this quarter. The Castilians, raising the war-cry
of "St. James and St. Lazarus," advanced on the enemy's left under Prince
John, but were saluted with such a brisk and well-directed fire from his
arquebusiers, that their ranks were disconcerted. The Portuguese men-at-
arms, charging them at the same time, augmented their confusion, and
compelled them to fall back precipitately on the narrow pass in their
rear, where, being supported by some fresh detachments from the reserve,
they were with difficulty rallied by their officers, and again brought
into the field. In the mean while, Ferdinand closed with the enemy's
centre, and the action soon became general along the whole line. The
battle raged with redoubled fierceness in the quarter where the presence
of the two monarchs infused new ardor into their soldiers, who fought as
if conscious that this struggle was to decide the fate of their masters.
The lances were shivered at the first encounter, and, as the ranks of the
two armies mingled with each other, the men fought hand to hand with their
swords, with a fury sharpened by the ancient rivalry of the two nations,
making the whole a contest of physical strength rather than skill. [23]

The royal standard of Portugal was torn to shreds in the attempt to seize
it on the one side and to preserve it on the other, while its gallant
bearer, Edward de Almeyda, after losing first his right arm, and then his
left, in its defence, held it firmly with his teeth until he was cut down
by the assailants. The armor of this knight was to be seen as late as
Mariana's time, in the cathedral church of Toledo, where it was preserved
as a trophy of this desperate act of heroism, which brings to mind a
similar feat recorded in Grecian story.

The old archbishop of Toledo, and the cardinal Mendoza, who, like his
reverend rival, had exchanged the crosier for the corslet, were to be seen
on that day in the thickest of the _mêlée_. The holy wars with the infidel
perpetuated the unbecoming spectacle of militant ecclesiastics among the
Spaniards, to a still later period, and long after it had disappeared from
the rest of civilized Europe.

At length, after an obstinate struggle of more than three hours, the valor
of the Castilian troops prevailed, and the Portuguese were seen to give
way in all directions. The duke of Alva, by succeeding in turning their
flank, while they were thus vigorously pressed in front, completed their
disorder, and soon converted their retreat into a rout. Some, attempting
to cross the Douro, were drowned, and many, who endeavored to effect an
entrance into Toro, were entangled in the narrow defile of the bridge, and
fell by the sword of their pursuers, or miserably perished in the river,
which, bearing along their mutilated corpses, brought tidings of the fatal
victory to Zamora. Such were the heat and fury of the pursuit, that the
intervening night, rendered darker than usual by a driving rain storm,
alone saved the scattered remains of the army from destruction. Several
Portuguese companies, under favor of this obscurity, contrived to elude
their foes by shouting the Castilian battle-cry. Prince John, retiring
with a fragment of his broken squadrons to a neighboring eminence,
succeeded, by lighting fires and sounding his trumpets, in rallying round
him a number of fugitives; and, as the position he occupied was too strong
to be readily forced, and the Castilian troops were too weary, and well
satisfied with their victory, to attempt it, he retained possession of it
till morning, when he made good his retreat into Toro. The king of
Portugal, who was missing, was supposed to have perished in the battle,
until, by advices received from him late on the following day, it was
ascertained that he had escaped without personal injury, and with three or
four attendants only, to the fortified castle of Castro Nuño, some leagues
distant from the field of action. Numbers of his troops, attempting to
escape across the neighboring frontiers into their own country, were
maimed or massacred by the Spanish peasants, in retaliation of the
excesses wantonly committed by them in their invasion of Castile.
Ferdinand, shocked at this barbarity, issued orders for the protection of
their persons, and freely gave safe-conducts to such as desired to return
into Portugal. He even, with a degree of humanity more honorable, as well
as more rare, than military success, distributed clothes and money to
several prisoners brought into Zamora in a state of utter destitution, and
enabled them to return in safety to their own country. [24]

The Castilian monarch remained on the field of battle till after midnight,
when he returned to Zamora, being followed in the morning by the cardinal
of Spain and the admiral Henriquez, at the head of the victorious legions.
Eight standards with the greater part of the baggage were taken in the
engagement, and more than two thousand of the enemy slain or made
prisoners. Queen Isabella, on receiving tidings of the event at
Tordesillas, where she then was, ordered a procession to the church of St.
Paul in the suburbs, in which she herself joined, walking barefoot with
all humility, and offered up a devout thanksgiving to the God of battles
for the victory with which he had crowned her arms. [25]

It was indeed a most auspicious victory, not so much from the immediate
loss inflicted on the enemy, as from its moral influence on the Castilian
nation. Such as had before vacillated in their faith,--who, in the
expressive language of Bernaldez, "estaban aviva quien vence,"--who were
prepared to take sides with the strongest, now openly proclaimed their
allegiance to Ferdinand and Isabella; while most of those, who had been
arrayed in arms or had manifested by any other overt act their hostility
to the government, vied with each other in demonstrations of the most
loyal submission, and sought to make the best terms for themselves which
they could. Among these latter, the duke of Arevalo, who indeed had made
overtures to this effect some time previous through the agency of his son,
together with the grand master of Calatrava, and the count of Urueña, his
brother, experienced the lenity of government, and were confirmed in the
entire possession of their estates. The two principal delinquents, the
marquis of Villena and the archbishop of Toledo, made a show of resistance
for some time longer; but, after witnessing the demolition of their
castles, the capture of their towns, the desertion of their vassals, and
the sequestration of their revenues, were fain to purchase a pardon at the
price of the most humble concessions, and the forfeiture of an ample
portion of domain.

The castle of Zamora, expecting no further succors from Portugal, speedily
surrendered, and this event was soon followed by the reduction of Madrid,
Baeza, Toro, and other principal cities; so that, in little more than six
months from the date of the battle, the whole kingdom, with the exception
of a few insignificant posts still garrisoned by the enemy, had
acknowledged the supremacy of Ferdinand and Isabella. [26]

Soon after the victory of Toro, Ferdinand was enabled to concentrate a
force amounting to fifty thousand men, for the purpose of repelling the
French from Guipuscoa, from which they had already twice been driven by
the intrepid natives, and whence they again retired with precipitation on
receiving news of the king's approach. [27]

Alfonso, finding his authority in Castile thus rapidly melting away before
the rising influence of Ferdinand and Isabella, withdrew with his virgin
bride into Portugal, where he formed the resolution of visiting France in
person, and soliciting succor from his ancient ally, Louis the Eleventh.
In spite of every remonstrance, he put this extraordinary scheme into
execution. He reached France, with a retinue of two hundred followers, in
the month of September. He experienced everywhere the honors due to his
exalted rank, and to the signal mark of confidence, which he thus
exhibited towards the French king. The keys of the cities were delivered
into his hands, the prisoners were released from their dungeons, and his
progress was attended by a general jubilee. His brother monarch, however,
excused himself from affording more substantial proofs of his regard,
until he should have closed the war then pending between him and Burgundy,
and until Alfonso should have fortified his title to the Castilian crown,
by obtaining from the pope a dispensation for his marriage with Joanna.

The defeat and death of the duke of Burgundy, whose camp, before Nanci,
Alfonso visited in the depth of winter, with the chimerical purpose of
effecting a reconciliation between him and Louis, removed the former of
these impediments; as, in good time, the compliance of the pope did the
latter. But the king of Portugal found himself no nearer the object of his
negotiations; and, after waiting a whole year a needy supplicant at the
court of Louis, he at length ascertained that his insidious host was
concerting an arrangement with his mortal foes, Ferdinand and Isabella.
Alfonso, whose character always had a spice of Quixotism in it, seems to
have completely lost his wits at this last reverse of fortune. Overwhelmed
with shame at his own credulity, he felt himself unable to encounter the
ridicule which awaited his return to Portugal, and secretly withdrew, with
two or three domestics only, to an obscure village in Normandy, whence he
transmitted an epistle to Prince John, his son, declaring, "that, as all
earthly vanities were dead within his bosom, he resolved to lay up an
imperishable crown by performing a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and
devoting himself to the service of God, in some retired monastery;" and he
concluded with requesting his son "to assume the sovereignty, at once, in
the same manner as if he had heard of his father's death." [28]

Fortunately Alfonso's retreat was detected before he had time to put his
extravagant project in execution, and his trusty followers succeeded,
though with considerable difficulty, in diverting him from it; while the
king of France, willing to be rid of his importunate guest, and unwilling
perhaps to incur the odium of having driven him to so desperate an
extremity as that of his projected pilgrimage, provided a fleet of ships
to transport him back to his own dominions, where, to complete the farce,
he arrived just five days after the ceremony of his son's coronation as
king of Portugal. Nor was it destined that the luckless monarch should
solace himself, as he had hoped, in the arms of his youthful bride; since
the pliant pontiff, Sixtus the Fourth, was ultimately persuaded by the
court of Castile to issue a new bull overruling the dispensation formerly
conceded, on the ground that it had been obtained by a misrepresentation
of facts.

Prince John, whether influenced by filial piety, or prudence, resigned the
crown of Portugal to his father, soon after his return; [29] and the old
monarch was no sooner reinstated in his authority, than, burning with a
thirst for vengeance, which made him insensible to every remonstrance, he
again prepared to throw his country into combustion by reviving his
enterprise against Castile. [30]

While these hostile movements were in progress, Ferdinand, leaving his
consort in possession of a sufficient force for the protection of the
frontiers, made a journey into Biscay for the purpose of an interview with
his father, the king of Aragon, to concert measures for the pacification
of Navarre, which still continued to be rent with those sanguinary feuds,
that were bequeathed like a precious legacy from one generation to
another. [31] In the autumn of the same year a treaty of peace was
definitively adjusted between the plenipotentiaries of Castile and France,
at St. Jean de Luz, in which it was stipulated as a principle article,
that Louis the Eleventh should disconnect himself from his alliance with
Portugal, and give no further support to the pretensions of Joanna. [32]

Thus released from apprehension in this quarter, the sovereigns were
enabled to give their undivided attention to the defence of the western
borders. Isabella, accordingly, early in the ensuing winter, passed into
Estremadura for the purpose of repelling the Portuguese, and still more of
suppressing the insurrectionary movements of certain of her own subjects,
who, encouraged by the vicinity of Portugal, carried on from their private
fortresses a most desolating and predatory warfare over the circumjacent
territory. Private mansions and farm-houses were pillaged and burnt to the
ground, the cattle and crops swept away in their forays, the highways
beset, so that all travelling was at an end, all communication cut off,
and a rich and populous district converted at once into a desert.
Isabella, supported by a body of regular troops and a detachment of the
Holy Brotherhood, took her station at Truxillo, as a central position,
whence she might operate on the various points with greatest facility. Her
counsellors remonstrated against this exposure of her person in the very
heart of the disaffected country; but she replied that "it was not for her
to calculate perils or fatigues in her own cause, nor by an unseasonable
timidity to dishearten her friends, with whom she was now resolved to
remain until she had brought the war to a conclusion." She then gave
immediate orders for laying siege at the same time to the fortified towns
of Medellin, Merida, and Deleytosa.

At this juncture the infanta Doña Beatriz of Portugal, sister-in-law of
King Alfonso, and maternal aunt of Isabella, touched with grief at the
calamities, in which she saw her country involved by the chimerical
ambition of her brother, offered herself as the mediator of peace between
the belligerent nations. Agreeably to her proposal, an interview took
place between her and Queen Isabella at the frontier town of Alcantara. As
the conferences of the fair negotiators experienced none of the
embarrassments usually incident to such deliberations, growing out of
jealousy, distrust, and a mutual design to overreach, but were conducted
in perfect good faith, and a sincere desire, on both sides, of
establishing a cordial reconciliation, they resulted, after eight days'
discussion, in a treaty of peace, with which the Portuguese infanta
returned into her own country, in order to obtain the sanction of her
royal brother. The articles contained in it, however, were too unpalatable
to receive an immediate assent; and it was not until the expiration of six
months, during which Isabella, far from relaxing, persevered with
increased energy in her original plan of operations, that the treaty was
formally ratified by the court of Lisbon. [33]

It was stipulated in this compact, that Alfonso should relinquish the
title and armorial bearings, which he had assumed as king of Castile; that
he should resign his claims to the hand of Joanna, and no longer maintain
her pretensions to the Castilian throne; that that lady should make the
election within six months, either to quit Portugal for ever, or to remain
there on the condition of wedding Don John, the infant son of Ferdinand
and Isabella, [34] so soon as he should attain a marriageable age, or to
retire into a convent, and take the veil; that a general amnesty should be
granted to all such Castilians as had supported Joanna's cause; and,
finally, that the concord between the two nations should be cemented by
the union of Alonso, son of the prince of Portugal, with the infanta
Isabella, of Castile. [35]

Thus terminated, after a duration of four years and a half, the War of the
Succession. It had fallen with peculiar fury on the border provinces of
Leon and Estremadura, which, from their local position, had necessarily
been kept in constant collision with the enemy. Its baneful effects were
long visible there, not only in the general devastation and distress of
the country, but in the moral disorganization, which the licentious and
predatory habits of soldiers necessarily introduced among a simple
peasantry. In a personal view, however, the war had terminated most
triumphantly for Isabella, whose wise and vigorous administration,
seconded by her husband's vigilance, had dispelled the storm, which
threatened to overwhelm her from abroad, and established her in
undisturbed possession of the throne of her ancestors.

Joanna's interests were alone compromised, or rather sacrificed, by the
treaty. She readily discerned in the provision for her marriage with an
infant still in the cradle, only a flimsy veil intended to disguise the
king of Portugal's desertion of her cause. Disgusted with a world, in
which she had hitherto experienced nothing but misfortune herself, and
been the innocent cause of so much to others, she determined to renounce
it for ever, and seek a shelter in the peaceful shades of the cloister.
She accordingly entered the convent of Santa Clara at Coimbra, where, in
the following year, she pronounced the irrevocable vows, which divorce the
unhappy subject of them for ever from her species. Two envoys from
Castile, Ferdinand de Talavera, Isabella's confessor, and Dr. Diaz de
Madrigal, one of her council, assisted at this affecting ceremony; and the
reverend father, in a copious exhortation addressed to the youthful
novice, assured her "that she had chosen the better part approved in the
Evangelists; that, as spouse of the church, her chastity would be prolific
of all spiritual delights; her subjection, liberty,--the only true
liberty, partaking more of Heaven than of earth. No kinsman," continued
the disinterested preacher, "no true friend, or faithful counsellor, would
divert you from so holy a purpose." [36]

Not long after this event, King Alfonso, penetrated with grief at the loss
of his destined bride,--the "excellent lady," as the Portuguese continue
to call her,--resolved to imitate her example, and exchange his royal
robes for the humble habit of a Franciscan friar. He consequently made
preparation for resigning his crown anew, and retiring to the monastery of
Varatojo, on a bleak eminence near the Atlantic Ocean, when he suddenly
fell ill, at Cintra, of a disorder which terminated his existence, on the
28th of August, 1481. Alfonso's fiery character, in which all the elements
of love, chivalry, and religion were blended together, resembled that of
some paladin of romance; as the chimerical enterprises, in which he was
perpetually engaged, seem rather to belong to the age of knight-errantry,
than to the fifteenth century. [37]

In the beginning of the same year in which the pacification with Portugal
secured to the sovereigns the undisputed possession of Castile, another
crown devolved on Ferdinand by the death of his father, the king of
Aragon, who expired at Barcelona, on the 20th of January, 1479, in the
eighty-third year of his age. [38] Such was his admirable constitution
that he retained not only his intellectual, but his bodily vigor,
unimpaired to the last. His long life was consumed in civil faction or
foreign wars; and his restless spirit seemed to take delight in these
tumultuous scenes, as best fitted to develop its various energies. He
combined, however, with this intrepid and even ferocious temper, an
address in the management of affairs, which led him to rely, for the
accomplishment of his purposes, much more on negotiation than on positive
force. He may be said to have been one of the first monarchs who brought
into vogue that refined science of the cabinet, which was so profoundly
studied by statesmen at the close of the fifteenth century, and on which
his own son Ferdinand furnished the most practical commentary.

The crown of Navarre, which he had so shamelessly usurped, devolved, on
his decease, on his guilty daughter Leonora, countess of Foix, who, as we
have before noticed, survived to enjoy it only three short weeks. Aragon,
with its extensive dependencies, descended to Ferdinand. Thus the two
crowns of Aragon and Castile, after a separation of more than four
centuries, became indissolubly united, and the foundations were laid of
the magnificent empire which was destined to overshadow every other
European monarchy.


[1] The popular belief of Joanna's illegitimacy was founded on the
following circumstances. 1. King Henry's first marriage with Blanche of
Navarre was dissolved, after it had subsisted twelve years, on the
publicly alleged ground of "impotence in the parties." 2. The princess
Joanna, the only child of his second queen, Joanna of Portugal, was not
born until the eighth year of her marriage, and long after she had become
notorious for her gallantries. 3. Although Henry kept several mistresses,
whom he maintained in so ostentatious a manner as to excite general
scandal, he was never known to have had issue by any one of them.--To
counterbalance the presumption afforded by these facts, it should be
stated, that Henry appears, to the day of his death, to have cherished the
princess Joanna as his own offspring, and that Beltran de la Cueva, duke
of Albuquerque, her reputed father, instead of supporting her claims to
the crown on the demise of Henry, as would have been natural had he been
entitled to the honors of paternity, attached himself to the adverse
faction of Isabella.

Queen Joanna survived her husband about six months only. Father Florez
(Reynas Cathólicas, tom. ii. pp. 760-786) has made a flimsy attempt to
whitewash her character; but, to say nothing of almost every contemporary
historian, as well as of the official documents of that day (see Marina,
Teoría, tom. iii. part. 2, num. 11), the stain has been too deeply fixed
by the repeated testimony of Castillo, the loyal adherent of her own
party, to be thus easily effaced.

It is said, however, that the queen died in the odor of sanctity; and
Ferdinand and Isabella caused her to be deposited in a rich mausoleum,
erected by the ambassador to the court of the Great Tamerlane for himself,
but from which his remains were somewhat unceremoniously ejected, in order
to make room for those of his royal mistress.

[2] See this subject discussed _in extenso_, by Marina, Teoría, part. 2,
cap. 1-10.--See, also, Introd. Sect. I. of this History.

[3] See Part I. Chap. 3.

[4] See Part I. Chap. 4, Note 2.

[5] Fortunately, this strong place, in which the royal treasure was
deposited, was in the keeping of Andres de Cabrera, the husband of
Isabella's friend, Beatriz de Bobadilla. His co-operation at this juncture
was so important, that Oviedo does not hesitate to declare, "It lay with
him to make Isabella or her rival queen, as he listed." Quincuagenas, MS.,
bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 23.

[6] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 10.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año
75.--Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 93.--L. Marineo,
Cosas Memorables, fol. 155.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 2,
dial. 3.

[7] Marina, whose peculiar researches and opportunities make him the best,
is my only authority for this convention of the cortes. (Teoría, tom. ii.
pp. 63, 89.) The extracts he makes from the writ of summons, however, seem
to imply, that the object was not the recognition of Ferdinand and
Isabella, but of their daughter, as successor to the crown. Among the
nobles, who openly testified their adhesion to Isabella, were no less than
four of the six individuals, to whom the late king had intrusted the
guardianship of his daughter Joanna; viz. the grand cardinal of Spain, the
constable of Castile, the duke of Infantado, and the count of Benavente.

[8] A precedent for female inheritance, in the latter kingdom, was
subsequently furnished by the undisputed succession and long reign of
Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, and mother of Charles V. The
introduction of the Salic law, under the Bourbon dynasty, opposed a new
barrier, indeed; but this has been since swept away by the decree of the
late monarch, Ferdinand VII., and the paramount authority of the cortes;
and we may hope that the successful assertion of her lawful rights by
Isabella II. will put this much vexed question at rest for ever.

[9] See Part I. Chap. 3.--Ferdinand's powers are not so narrowly limited,
at least not so carefully defined, in this settlement, as in the marriage
articles. Indeed, the instrument is much more concise and general in its
whole import.

[10] Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, lib. 1, cap. 40.--L.
Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 155, 156.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol.
222-224.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 35, 36.--See the original
instrument signed by Ferdinand and Isabella, cited at length in Dormer's
Discursos Varios de Historia, (Zaragoza, 1683,) pp. 295-313.--It does not
appear that the settlement was ever confirmed by, or indeed presented to,
the cortes. Marina speaks of it, however, as emanating from that body.
(Teoría, tom. ii. pp. 63, 64.) From Pulgar's statement, as well as from
the instrument itself, it seems to have been made under no other auspices
or sanction, than that of the great nobility and cavaliers. Marina's
eagerness to find a precedent for the interference of the popular branch
in all the great concerns of government, has usually quickened, but
sometimes clouded, his optics. In the present instance he has undoubtedly
confounded the irregular proceedings of the aristocracy exclusively, with
the deliberate acts of the legislature.

[11] Alonso de Palencia, Corónica, MS., part. 2, cap. 94.--Garibay,
Compendio, lib. 18, cap. 3.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 10,
11.--Pulgar, Letras, (Madrid, 1775,) let. 3, al Arzobispo de Toledo.--The
archbishop's jealousy of cardinal Mendoza is uniformly reported by the
Spanish writers as the true cause of his defection from the queen.

[12] Ruy de Pina, Chrónica d'el Rey Alfonso V., cap. 173, apud Collecçaö
de Livros Inéditos de Historia Portugueza, (Lisboa, 1790-93,) tom. i.

[13] The ancient rivalry between the two nations was exasperated into the
most deadly rancor, by the fatal defeat at Aljubarrotta, in 1235, in which
fell the flower of the Castilian nobility. King John I. wore mourning, it
is said, to the day of his death, in commemoration of this disaster.
(Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 394-396.--La Clède, Hist.
de Portugal, tom. iii. pp. 357-359.) Pulgar, the secretary of Ferdinand
and Isabella, addressed, by their order, a letter of remonstrance to the
king of Portugal, in which he endeavors, by numerous arguments founded on
expediency and justice, to dissuade him from his meditated enterprise.
Pulgar, Letras, No. 7.

[14] Ruy de Pina, Chrónica d'el Rey Alfonso V., cap. 174-178.--Bernaldez,
Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 16, 17, 18.--Bernaldez states, that Alfonso,
previously to his invasion, caused largesses of plate and money to be
distributed among the Castilian nobles, whom he imagined to be well
affected towards him. Some of them, the duke of Alva in particular,
received his presents and used them in the cause of Isabella.--Faria y
Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 396-398.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv.
fol. 230-240.--La Clède, Hist. de Portugal, tom. iii. pp. 360-362.-Pulgar,
Crónica, p. 51.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 156.--Oviedo,
Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 2, dial. 3.

[15] The queen, who was, at that time, in a state of pregnancy, brought on
a miscarriage by her incessant personal exposure. Zurita, Anales, tom. iv.
fol. 234.

[16] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 75.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 45-55.--
Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. vii. p. 411.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos,
MS., cap. 23.

[17] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 18.--Faria y Sousa, Europa
Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 398-400.--Pulgar, Crónica, pp. 55-60.--Ruy de
Pina, Chrón. d'el Rey Alfonso V., cap. 179.--La Clède, Hist. de Portugal,
tom. iii. p. 366.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 240-243.

[18] "Pues no os maravilleis de eso," says Oviedo, in relation to these
troubles, "que nó solo entre hermanos suele haber esas diferencias, mas
entre padre é hijo lo vimos ayer, como suelen decir." Quincuagenas, MS.,
bat. 1, quinc. 2, dial. 3.

[19] The royal coffers were found to contain about 10,000 marks of silver.
(Pulgar, Reyes Catól. p. 54.) Isabella presented Cabrera with a golden
goblet from her table, engaging that a similar present should be regularly
made to him and his successors on the anniversary of his surrender of
Segovia. She subsequently gave a more solid testimony of her gratitude, by
raising him to the rank of marquis of Moya, with the grant of an estate
suitable to his new dignity.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1,
dial. 23.

[20] The indignation of Dr. Salazar de Mendoza is roused by this
misapplication of the church's money, which he avers "no necessity
whatever could justify." This worthy canon flourished in the seventeenth
century. Crón. del Gran Cardenal, p. 147.--Pulgar, Reyes Catól. pp. 60-
62.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 400.--Rades y Andrada,
Las Tres Ordenes, part. 1, fol. 67.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 243.--
Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 18, 20. Zuñiga gives some additional
particulars respecting the grant of the cortes, which I do not find
verified by any contemporary author. Annales de Sevilla, p. 372.

[21] Carbajal, Anales, MS., años 75, 76.--Ruy de Pina, Chrón. del Rey
Alfonso V., cap. 187, 189.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 20, 22.
--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 63-78.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol.
156.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 401, 404.--Several of
the contemporary Castilian historians compute the Portuguese army at
double the amount given in the text.

[22] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 82-85.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol.
252, 253.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 404, 405.--
Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos. MS., cap. 23.--Ruy de Pina, Chrón. d'el Rey
Alfonso V., cap. 190.

[23] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 76.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol.
158.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 85-89.--Faria y Sousa, Europa
Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 404, 405.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap.
23.--La Clède, Hist. de Portugal, tom. iii. pp. 378-383.--Zurita, Anales,
tom. iv. fol. 252-255.

[24] Faria y Sousa claims the honors of the victory for the Portuguese,
because Prince John kept the field till morning. Even M. La Clède, with
all his deference to the Portuguese historian, cannot swallow this. Faria
y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 405-410.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas,
MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 8.--Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran
Cardenal, lib. 1, cap. 46--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 85-90.--L.
Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 158.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 76.--
Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 23.--Ruy de Pina, Chrón. d'el Rey
Alfonso V., cap. 191.--Ferdinand, in allusion to Prince John, wrote to his
wife, that "if it had not been for the chicken, the old cock would have
been taken." Garibay, Compendio, lib. 18, cap. 8.

[25] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, p. 90.--The sovereigns, in compliance with a
previous vow, caused a superb monastery, dedicated to St. Francis, to be
erected in Toledo, with the title of San Juan de los Reyes, in
commemoration of their victory over the Portuguese. This edifice was still
to be seen in Mariana's time.

[26] Rades y Andrada, Las Tres Ordenes, tom. ii. fol. 79, 80.--Pulgar,
Reyes Católicos, cap. 48-50, 55, 60.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 19, cap. 46,
48, 54, 58.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. vii. pp. 476-478, 517-519,
546.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 10.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas,
MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 8.

[27] Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iii. pp. 290, 292.--Carbajal, Anales, MS.,
año 76.

[28] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 27.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
cap. 56, 57.--Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iii. pp. 290-292.--Zurita, Anales,
lib. 19, cap. 56, lib. 20, cap. 10.--Ruy de Pina, Chrón. d'el Rey Alfonso
V., cap. 194-202.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 412-
415.--Comines, Mémoires, liv. 5, chap. 7.

[29] According to Faria y Sousa, John was walking along the shores of the
Tagus, with the duke of Braganza, and the cardinal archbishop of Lisbon,
when he received the unexpected tidings of his father's return to
Portugal. On his inquiring of his attendants how he should receive him,
"How but as your king and father!" was the reply; at which John, knitting
his brows together, skimmed a stone, which he held in his hand, with much
violence across the water. The cardinal, observing this, whispered to the
duke of Braganza, "I will take good care that that stone does not rebound
on me." Soon after, he left Portugal for Rome, where he fixed his
residence. The duke lost his life on the scaffold for imputed treason soon
after John's accession.--Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 416.

[30] Comines, Mémoires, liv. 5, chap. 7.--Faria y Sousa, Europa
Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 116.--Zurita, Anales, lib. 20, cap. 25.--
Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 27.

[31] This was the first meeting between father and son since the elevation
of the latter to the Castilian throne. King John would not allow Ferdinand
to kiss his hand; he chose to walk on his left; he attended him to his
quarters, and, in short, during the whole twenty days of their conference
manifested towards his son all the deference, which, as a parent, he was
entitled to receive from him. This he did on the ground that Ferdinand, as
king of Castile, represented the elder branch of Trastamara, while he
represented only the younger. It will not be easy to meet with an instance
of more punctilious etiquette, even in Spanish history.--Pulgar, Reyes
Católicos, cap. 75.

[32] Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, p. 162.--Zurita, Anales,
lib. 20, cap. 25.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 79.

[33] Ruy de Pina, Chrón. d'el Rey Alfonso V., cap. 206.--L. Marineo, Cosas
Memorables, fol. 166, 167.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, cap. 85, 89, 90.--
Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 420, 421.--Ferreras, Hist.
d'Espagne, tom. vii. p. 538.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 79.--Bernaldez,
Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 28, 36, 37.

[34] Born the preceding year, June 28th, 1478. Carbajal, Anales, MS., anno

[35] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 168.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
cap. 91.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 420, 421.--Ruy de
Pina, Chrón. d'el Rey Alfonso V., cap. 206.

[36] Ruy de Pina, Chrón. d'el Rey Alfonso V., cap. 20.--Faria y Sousa,
Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 421.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, cap. 92.--L.
Marineo speaks of the _Señora muy excelente_, as an inmate of the cloister
at the period in which he was writing, 1522, (fol. 168.) Notwithstanding
her "irrevocable vows," however, Joanna several times quitted the
monastery, and maintained a royal state under the protection of the
Portuguese monarchs, who occasionally threatened to revive her dormant
claims to the prejudice of the Castilian sovereigns. She may be said,
consequently, to have formed the pivot, on which turned, during her
whole life, the diplomatic relations between the courts of Castile and
Portugal, and to have been a principal cause of those frequent
intermarriages between the royal families of the two countries, by which
Ferdinand and Isabella hoped to detach the Portuguese crown from her
interests. Joanna affected a royal style and magnificence, and subscribed
herself "I the Queen," to the last. She died in the palace at Lisbon, in
1530, in the 69th year of her age, having survived most of her ancient
friends, suitors, and competitors.--Joanna's history, subsequent to her
taking the veil, has been collected, with his usual precision, by Señor
Clemencin, Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 19.

[37] Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 423.--Ruy de Pina,
Chrón. d'el Rey Alfonso V., cap. 212.

[38] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 79.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap.
42.--Mariana, Hist. de España, (ed Valencia,) tom. viii. p. 204, not.--
Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 295.




Schemes of Reform.--Holy Brotherhood.--Tumult at Segovia.--The Queen's
Presence of Mind.--Severe Execution of Justice.--Royal Progress through
Andalusia.--Reorganization of the Tribunals.--Castilian Jurisprudence.--
Plans for Reducing the Nobles.--Revocation of Grants.--Military Orders of
Castile.--Masterships annexed to the Crown.--Ecclesiastical Usurpations
Resisted.--Restoration of Trade.--Prosperity of the Kingdom.

I have deferred to the present chapter a consideration of the important
changes introduced into the interior administration of Castile after the
accession of Isabella, in order to present a connected and comprehensive
view of them to the reader, without interrupting the progress of the
military narrative. The subject may afford an agreeable relief to the
dreary details of blood and battle, with which we have been so long
occupied, and which were rapidly converting the garden of Europe into a
wilderness. Such details indeed seem to have the deepest interest for
contemporary writers; but the eye of posterity, unclouded by personal
interest or passion, turns with satisfaction from them to those cultivated
arts, which can make the wilderness to blossom as the rose.

If there be any being on earth, that may be permitted to remind us of the
Deity himself, it is the ruler of a mighty empire, who employs the high
powers intrusted to him exclusively for the benefit of his people; who,
endowed with intellectual gifts corresponding with his station, in an age
of comparative barbarism, endeavors to impart to his land the light of
civilization which illumines his own bosom, and to create from the
elements of discord the beautiful fabric of social order. Such was
Isabella; and such the age in which she lived. And fortunate was it for
Spain that her sceptre, at this crisis, was swayed by a sovereign
possessed of sufficient wisdom to devise, and energy to execute, the most
salutary schemes of reform, and thus to infuse a new principle of vitality
into a government fast sinking into premature decrepitude.

The whole plan of reform introduced into the government by Ferdinand and
Isabella, or more properly by the latter, to whom the internal
administration of Castile was principally referred, was not fully unfolded
until the completion of her reign. But the most important modifications
were adopted previously to the war of Granada in 1482. These may be
embraced under the following heads. I. The efficient administration of
justice. II. The codification of the laws. III. The depression of the
nobles. IV. The vindication of ecclesiastical rights belonging to the
crown from the usurpation of the papal see. V. The regulation of trade.
VI. The pre-eminence of royal authority,

I. The administration of justice. In the dismal anarchy, which prevailed
in Henry the Fourth's reign, the authority of the monarch and of the royal
judges had fallen into such contempt, that the law was entirely without
force. The cities afforded no better protection than the open country.
Every man's hand seemed to be lifted against his neighbor. Property was
plundered; persons were violated; the most holy sanctuaries profaned; and
the numerous fortresses scattered throughout the country, instead of
sheltering the weak, converted into dens of robbers. [1] Isabella saw no
better way of checking tins unbounded license, than to direct against it
that popular engine, the _Santa Hermandad_, or Holy Brotherhood,
which had more than once shaken the Castilian monarchs on their

The project for the reorganization of this institution was introduced into
the cortes held, the year after Isabella's accession at Madrigal, in 1476.
It was carried into effect by the _junta_ of deputies from the different
cities of the kingdom, convened at Dueñas in the same year. The new
institution differed essentially from the ancient _hermandades_, since,
instead of being partial in its extent, it was designed to embrace the
whole kingdom; and, instead of being directed, as had often been the case,
against the crown itself, it was set in motion at the suggestion of the
latter, and limited in its operation to the maintenance of public order.
The crimes, reserved for its jurisdiction, were all violence or theft
committed on the highways or in the open country, and in cities by such
offenders as escaped into the country; house-breaking; rape; and
resistance of justice. The specification of these crimes shows their
frequency; and the reason for designating the open country, as the
particular theatre for the operations of the hermandad, was the facility
which criminals possessed there for eluding the pursuit of justice,
especially under shelter of the strong-holds or fortresses, with which it
was plentifully studded.

An annual contribution of eighteen thousand maravedies was assessed on
every hundred _vecinos_ or householders, for the equipment and maintenance
of a horseman, whose duty it was to arrest offenders, and enforce the
sentence of the law. On the flight of a criminal, the tocsins of the
villages, through which he was supposed to have passed, were sounded, and
the _quadrilleros_ or officers of the brotherhood, stationed on the
different points, took up the pursuit with such promptness as left little
chance of escape. A court of two alcaldes was established in every town
containing thirty families, for the trial of all crimes within the
jurisdiction of the hermandad; and an appeal lay from them in specified
cases to a supreme council. A general junta, composed of deputies from the
cities throughout the kingdom, was annually convened for the regulation of
affairs, and their instructions were transmitted to provincial juntas, who
superintended the execution of them. The laws, enacted at different times
in these assemblies, were compiled into a code under the sanction of the
junta general at Tordelaguna, in 1485. [2] The penalties for theft, which
are literally written in blood, are specified in this code with singular
precision. The most petty larceny was punished with stripes, the loss of a
member, or of life itself; and the law was administered with an unsparing
rigor, which nothing but the extreme necessity of the case could justify.
Capital executions were conducted by shooting the criminal with arrows.
The enactment, relating to this, provides, that "the convict shall receive
the sacrament like a Catholic Christian, and after that be executed as
speedily as possible, in order that his soul may pass the more securely."

Notwithstanding the popular constitution of the hermandad, and the obvious
advantages attending its introduction at this juncture, it experienced so
decided an opposition from the nobility, who discerned the check it was
likely to impose on their authority, that it required all the queen's
address and perseverance to effect its general adoption. The constable de
Haro, however, a nobleman of great weight from his personal character, and
the most extensive landed proprietor in the north, was at length prevailed
on to introduce it among his vassals. His example was gradually followed
by others of the same rank; and, when the city of Seville, and the great
lords of Andalusia, had consented to receive it, it speedily became
established throughout the kingdom. Thus a standing body of troops, two
thousand in number, thoroughly equipped and mounted, was placed at the
disposal of the crown, to enforce the law, and suppress domestic
insurrection. The supreme junta, which regulated the counsels of the
hermandad, constituted moreover a sort of inferior cortes, relieving the
exigencies of government, as we shall see hereafter, on more than one
occasion, by important supplies of men and money. By the activity of this
new military police, the country was, in the course of a few years,
cleared of its swarms of banditti, as well as of the robber chieftains,
whose strength had enabled them to defy the law. The ministers of justice
found a sure protection in the independent discharge of their duties; and
the blessings of personal security and social order, so long estranged
from the nation, were again restored to it.

The important benefits, resulting from the institution of the hermandad,
secured its confirmation by successive cortes, for the period of twenty-
two years, in spite of the repeated opposition of the aristocracy. At
length, in 1498, the objects for which it was established having been
completely obtained, it was deemed advisable to relieve the nation from
the heavy charges which its maintenance imposed. The great salaried
officers were dismissed; a few subordinate functionaries were retained for
the administration of justice, over whom the regular courts of criminal
law possessed appellate jurisdiction; and the magnificent apparatus of the
_Santa Hermandad_, stripped of all but the terrors of its name, dwindled
into an ordinary police, such as it has existed, with various
modifications of form, down to the present century. [4]

Isabella was so intent on the prosecution of her schemes of reform, that,
even in the minuter details, she frequently superintended the execution of
them herself. For this she was admirably fitted by her personal address,
and presence of mind in danger, and by the influence which a conviction of
her integrity gave her over the minds of the people. A remarkable
exemplification of this occurred, the year but one after her coronation,
at Segovia. The inhabitants, secretly instigated by the bishop of that
place, and some of the principal citizens, rose against Cabrera, marquis
of Moya, to whom the government of the city had been intrusted, and who
had made himself generally unpopular by his strict discipline. They even
proceeded so far as to obtain possession of the outworks of the citadel,
and to compel the deputy of the _alcayde_, who was himself absent, to
take shelter, together with the princess Isabella, then the only daughter
of the sovereigns, in the interior defences, where they were rigorously

The queen, on receiving tidings of the event at Tordesillas, mounted her
horse and proceeded with all possible despatch towards Segovia, attended
by Cardinal Mendoza, the count of Benavente, and a few others of her
court. At some distance from the city, she was met by a deputation of the
inhabitants, requesting her to leave behind the count of Benavente and the
marchioness of Moya, (the former of whom as the intimate friend, and the
latter as the wife of the alcayde, were peculiarly obnoxious to the
citizens,) or they could not answer for the consequences. Isabella
haughtily replied, that "she was queen of Castile; that the city was hers,
moreover, by right of inheritance; and that she was not used to receive
conditions from rebellious subjects." Then pressing forward with her
little retinue, through one of the gates, which remained in the hands of
her friends, she effected her entrance into the citadel.

The populace, in the mean while, assembling in greater numbers than
before, continued to show the most hostile dispositions, calling out,
"Death to the alcayde! Attack the castle!" Isabella's attendants,
terrified at the tumult, and at the preparations which the people were
making to put their menaces into execution, besought their mistress to
cause the gates to be secured more strongly, as the only mode of defence
against the infuriated mob. But, instead of listening to their counsel,
she bade them remain quietly in the apartment, and descended herself into
the courtyard, where she ordered the portals to be thrown open for the
admission of the people. She stationed herself at the further extremity of
the area, and, as the populace poured in, calmly demanded the cause of the
insurrection. "Tell me," said she, "what are your grievances, and I will
do all in my power to redress them; for I am sure that what is for your
interest, must be also for mine, and for that of the whole city." The
insurgents, abashed by the unexpected presence of their sovereign, as well
as by her cool and dignified demeanor, replied, that all they desired was
the removal of Cabrera from the government of the city. "He is deposed
already," answered the queen, "and you have my authority to turn out such
of his officers as are still in the castle, which I shall intrust to one
of my own servants, on whom I can rely." The people, pacified by these
assurances, shouted, "Long live the queen!" and eagerly hastened to obey
her mandates.

After thus turning aside the edge of popular fury, Isabella proceeded with
her retinue to the royal residence in the city, attended by the fickle
multitude, whom she again addressed on arriving there, admonishing them to
return to their vocations, as this was no time for calm inquiry; and
promising, that, if they would send three or four of their number to her
on the morrow to report the extent of their grievances, she would examine
into the affair, and render justice to all parties. The mob accordingly
dispersed, and the queen, after a candid examination, having ascertained
the groundlessness or gross exaggeration of the misdemeanors imputed to
Cabrera, and traced the source of the conspiracy to the jealousy of the
bishop of Segovia and his associates, reinstated the deposed alcayde in
the full possession of his dignities, which his enemies, either convinced
of the altered dispositions of the people, or believing that the favorable
moment for resistance had escaped, made no further attempts to disturb.
Thus by a happy presence of mind, an affair, which threatened, at its
outset, disastrous consequences, was settled without bloodshed, or
compromise of the royal dignity. [5]

In the summer of the following year, 1477, Isabella resolved to pay a
visit to Estremadura and Andalusia, for the purpose of composing the
dissensions, and introducing a more efficient police, in these unhappy
provinces; which, from their proximity to the stormy frontier of Portugal,
as well as from the feuds between the great houses of Guzman and Ponce de
Leon, were plunged in the most frightful anarchy. Cardinal Mendoza and her
other ministers remonstrated against this imprudent exposure of her
person, where it was so little likely to be respected. But she replied,
"it was true there were dangers and inconveniences to be encountered; but
her fate was in God's hands, and she felt a confidence that he would guide
to a prosperous issue such designs as were righteous in themselves and
resolutely conducted."

Isabella experienced the most loyal and magnificent reception from the
inhabitants of Seville, where she established her head-quarters. The first
days of her residence there were consumed in _fêtes_, tourneys, tilts
of reeds, and other exercises of the Castilian chivalry. After this she
devoted her whole time to the great purpose of her visit, the reformation
of abuses. She held her court in the saloon of the alcazar, or royal
castle, where she revived the ancient practice of the Castilian
sovereigns, of presiding in person over the administration of justice.
Every Friday, she took her seat in her chair of state, on an elevated
platform covered with cloth of gold, and surrounded by her council,
together with the subordinate functionaries, and the insignia of a court
of justice. The members of her privy council, and of the high court of
criminal law, sat in their official capacity every day in the week; and
the queen herself received such suits as were referred to her
adjudication, saving the parties the usual expense and procrastination of

By the extraordinary despatch of the queen and her ministers, during the
two months that she resided in the city, a vast number of civil and
criminal causes were disposed of, a large amount of plundered property was
restored to its lawful owners, and so many offenders were brought to
condign punishment, that no less than four thousand suspected persons, it
is computed, terrified by the prospect of speedy retribution for their
crimes, escaped into the neighboring kingdoms of Portugal and Granada. The
worthy burghers of Seville, alarmed at this rapid depopulation of the
city, sent a deputation to the queen, to deprecate her anger, and to
represent that faction had been so busy of late years in their unhappy
town, that there was scarcely a family to be found in it, some of whose
members were not more or less involved in the guilt. Isabella, who was
naturally of a benign disposition, considering that enough had probably
been done to strike a salutary terror into the remaining delinquents, was
willing to temper justice with mercy, and accordingly granted an amnesty
for all past offences, save heresy, on the condition, however, of a
general restitution of such property as had been unlawfully seized and
retained during the period of anarchy. [6]

But Isabella became convinced that all arrangements for establishing
permanent tranquillity in Seville would be ineffectual, so long as the
feud continued between the great families of Guzman and Ponce de Leon. The
duke of Medina Sidonia and the marquis of Cadiz, the heads of these
houses, had possessed themselves of the royal towns and fortresses, as
well as of those which, belonging to the city, were scattered over its
circumjacent territory, where, as has been previously stated, they carried
on war against each other, like independent potentates. The former of
these grandees had been the loyal supporter of Isabella in the War of the
Succession. The marquis of Cadiz, on the other hand, connected by marriage
with the house of Pacheco, had cautiously withheld his allegiance,
although he had not testified his hostility by any overt act. While the
queen was hesitating as to the course she should pursue in reference to
the marquis, who still kept himself aloof in his fortified castle of
Xerez, he suddenly presented himself by night at her residence in Seville,
accompanied only by two or three attendants. He took this step, doubtless,
from the conviction that the Portuguese faction had nothing further to
hope in a kingdom where Isabella reigned not only by the fortune of war,
but by the affections of the people; and he now eagerly proffered his
allegiance to her, excusing his previous conduct as he best could. The
queen was too well satisfied with the submission, however tardy, of this
formidable vassal, to call him to severe account for past delinquencies.
She exacted from him, however, the full restitution of such domains and
fortresses as he had filched from the crown and from the city of Seville,
on condition of similar concessions by his rival, the duke of Medina
Sidonia. She next attempted to establish a reconciliation between these
belligerent grandees; but, aware that, however pacific might be their
demonstrations for the present, there could be little hope of permanently
allaying the inherited feuds of a century, whilst the neighborhood of the
parties to each other must necessarily multiply fresh causes of disgust,
she caused them to withdraw from Seville to their estates in the country,
and by this expedient succeeded in extinguishing the flame of discord. [7]

In the following year, 1478, Isabella accompanied her husband in a tour
through Andalusia, for the immediate purpose of reconnoitring the coast.
In the course of this progress, they were splendidly entertained by the
duke and marquis at their patrimonial estates. They afterwards proceeded
to Cordova, where they adopted a similar policy with that pursued at
Seville, compelling the count de Cabra, connected with the blood royal,
and Alonso de Aguilar, lord of Montilla, whose factions had long desolated
this fair city, to withdraw into the country, and restore the immense
possessions, which they had usurped both from the municipality and the
crown. [8]

One example among others may be mentioned, of the rectitude and severe
impartiality, with which Isabella administered justice, that occurred in
the case of a wealthy Galician knight, named Alvaro Yañez de Lugo. This
person, being convicted of a capital offence, attended with the most
aggravating circumstances, sought to obtain a commutation of his
punishment, by the payment of forty thousand _doblas_ of gold to the
queen, a sum exceeding at that time the annual rents of the crown. Some of
Isabella's counsellors would have persuaded her to accept the donative,
and appropriate it to the pious purposes of the Moorish war. But, far from
being blinded by their sophistry, she suffered the law to take its course,
and, in order to place her conduct above every suspicion of a mercenary
motive, allowed his estates, which might legally have been confiscated to
the crown, to descend to his natural heirs. Nothing contributed more to
re-establish the supremacy of law in this reign, than the certainty of its
execution, without respect to wealth or rank; for the insubordination,
prevalent throughout Castile, was chiefly imputable to persons of this
description, who, if they failed to defeat justice by force, were sure of
doing so by the corruption of its ministers. [9]

Ferdinand and Isabella employed the same vigorous measures in the other
parts of their dominions, which had proved so successful in Andalusia, for
the extirpation of the hordes of banditti, and of the robber-knights, who
differed in no respect from the former, but in their superior power. In
Galicia alone, fifty fortresses, the strongholds of tyranny, were razed to
the ground, and fifteen hundred malefactors, it was computed, were
compelled to fly the kingdom. "The wretched inhabitants of the mountains,"
says a writer of that age, "who had long since despaired of justice,
blessed God for their deliverance, as it were, from a deplorable
captivity." [10]

While the sovereigns were thus personally occupied with the suppression of
domestic discord, and the establishment of an efficient police, they were
not inattentive to the higher tribunals, to whose keeping, chiefly, were
intrusted the personal rights and property of the subject. They
reorganized the royal or privy council, whose powers, although, as has
been noticed in the Introduction, principally of an administrative nature,
had been gradually encroaching on those of the superior courts of law.
During the last century, this body had consisted of prelates, knights, and
lawyers, whose numbers and relative proportions had varied in different
times. The right of the great ecclesiastics and nobles to a seat in it
was, indeed, recognized, but the transaction of business was reserved for
the counsellors specially appointed. [11] Much the larger proportion of
these, by the new arrangement, was made up of jurists, whose professional
education and experience eminently qualified them for the station. The
specific duties and interior management of the council were prescribed
with sufficient accuracy. Its authority as a court of justice was
carefully limited; but, as it was charged with the principal executive
duties of government, it was consulted in all important transactions by
the sovereigns, who paid great deference to its opinions, and very
frequently assisted at its deliberations. [12]

No change was made in the high criminal court of _alcaldes de corte_,
except in its forms of proceeding. But the royal audience, or chancery,
the supreme and final court of appeal in civil causes, was entirely
remodelled. The place of its sittings, before indeterminate, and
consequently occasioning much trouble and cost to the litigants, was fixed
at Valladolid. Laws were passed to protect the tribunal from the
interference of the crown, and the queen was careful to fill the bench
with magistrates whose wisdom and integrity would afford the best guaranty
for a faithful interpretation of the law. [13]

In the cortes of Madrigal (1476), and still more in the celebrated one of
Toledo (1480), many excellent provisions were made for the equitable
administration of justice, as well as for regulating the tribunals. The
judges were to ascertain every week, either by personal inspection, or
report, the condition of the prisons, the number of the prisoners, and the
nature of the offences for which they were confined. They were required to
bring them to a speedy trial, and afford every facility for their defence.
An attorney was provided at the public expense, under the title of
"advocate for the poor," whose duty it was to defend the suits of such as
were unable to maintain them at their own cost. Severe penalties were
enacted against venality in the judges, a gross evil under the preceding
reigns, as well as against such counsel as took exorbitant fees, or even
maintained actions that were manifestly unjust. Finally, commissioners
were appointed to inspect and make report of the proceedings of municipal
and other inferior courts throughout the kingdom. [14]

The sovereigns testified their respect for the law by reviving the
ancient, but obsolete practice of presiding personally in the tribunals,
at least once a week. "I well remember," says one of their court, "to have
seen the queen, together with the Catholic king, her husband, sitting in
judgment in the alcazar of Madrid, every Friday, dispensing justice to all
such, great and small, as came to demand it. This was indeed the golden
age of justice," continues the enthusiastic writer, "and since our sainted
mistress has been taken from us, it has been more difficult, and far more
costly, to transact business with a stripling of a secretary, than it was
with the queen and all her ministers." [15]

By the modifications then introduced, the basis was laid of the judiciary
system, such as it has been perpetuated to the present age. The law
acquired an authority, which, in the language of a Spanish writer, "caused
a decree, signed by two or three judges, to be more respected since that
time, than an army before." [16] But perhaps the results of this improved
administration cannot be better conveyed than in the words of an eye-
witness. "Whereas," says Pulgar, "the kingdom was previously filled with
banditti and malefactors of every description, who committed the most
diabolical excesses, in open contempt of law, there was now such terror
impressed on the hearts of all, that no one dared to lift his arm against
another, or even to assail him with contumelious or discourteous language.
The knight and the squire, who had before oppressed the laborer, were
intimidated by the fear of that justice, which was sure to be executed on
them; the roads were swept of the banditti; the fortresses, the strong-
holds of violence, were thrown open, and the whole nation, restored to
tranquillity and order, sought no other redress, than that afforded by the
operation of the law." [17]

II. Codification of the laws. Whatever reforms might have been introduced
into the Castilian judicatures, they would have been of little avail,
without a corresponding improvement in the system of jurisprudence by
which their decisions were to be regulated. This was made up of the
Visigothic code, as the basis, the _fueros_ of the Castilian princes,
as far back as the eleventh century, and the "Siete Partidas," the famous
compilation of Alfonso the Tenth, digested chiefly from maxims of the
civil law. [18] The deficiencies of these ancient codes had been gradually
supplied by such an accumulation of statutes and ordinances, as rendered
the legislation of Castile in the highest degree complex, and often
contradictory. The embarrassment resulting from this, occasioned, as may
be imagined, much tardiness, as well as uncertainty, in the decisions of
the courts, who, despairing of reconciling the discrepancies in their own
law, governed themselves almost exclusively by the Roman, so much less
accommodated, as it was, than their own, to the genius of the national
institutions, as well as to the principles of freedom. [19]

The nation had long felt the pressure of these evils, and made attempts to
redress them in repeated cortes. But every effort proved unavailing,
during the stormy or imbecile reigns of the princes of Trastamara. At
length, the subject having been resumed in the cortes of Toledo, in 1480,
Dr. Alfonso Diaz de Montalvo, whose professional science had been matured
under the reigns of three successive sovereigns, was charged with the
commission of revising the laws of Castile, and of compiling a code, which
should be of general application throughout the kingdom.

This laborious undertaking was accomplished in little more than four
years; and his work, which subsequently bore the title of _Ordenanças
Reales_, was published, or, as the privilege expresses it, "written
with types," _excrito de letra de molde_, at Huete, in the beginning
of 1485. It was one of the first works, therefore, which received the
honors of the press in Spain; and surely none could have been found, at
that period, more deserving of them. It went through repeated editions in
the course of that, and the commencement of the following century. [20] It
was admitted as paramount authority throughout Castile; and, although the
many innovations, which were introduced in that age of reform, required
the addition of two subsidiary codes in the latter years of Isabella, the
"Ordenanças" of Montalvo continued to be the guide of the tribunals down
to the time of Philip the Second; and may be said to have suggested the
idea, as indeed it was the basis of the comprehensive compilation, "Nueva
Recopilacion," which has since formed the law of the Spanish monarchy.

III. Depression of the nobles. In the course of the preceding chapters, we
have seen the extent of the privileges constitutionally enjoyed by the
aristocracy, as well as the enormous height to which they had swollen
under the profuse reigns of John the Second, and Henry the Fourth. This
was such, at the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella, as to disturb the
balance of the constitution, and to give serious cause of apprehension
both to the monarch and the people. They had introduced themselves into
every great post of profit or authority. They had ravished from the crown
the estates, on which it depended for its maintenance, as well as dignity.
They coined money in their own mints, like sovereign princes; and they
covered the country with their fortified castles, whence they defied the
law, and desolated the unhappy land with interminable feuds. It was
obviously necessary for the new sovereigns to proceed with the greatest
caution against this powerful and jealous body, and, above all, to attempt
no measure of importance, in which they would not be supported by the
hearty co-operation of the nation.

The first measure, which may be said to have clearly developed their
policy, was the organization of the hermandad, which, although ostensibly
directed against offenders of a more humble description, was made to bear
indirectly upon the nobility, whom it kept in awe by the number and
discipline of its forces, and the promptness with which it could assemble
them on the most remote points of the kingdom; while its rights of
jurisdiction tended materially to abridge those of the seignorial
tribunals. It was accordingly resisted with the greatest pertinacity by
the aristocracy; although, as we have seen, the resolution of the queen,
supported by the constancy of the commons, enabled her to triumph over all
opposition, until the great objects of the institution were accomplished.

Another measure, which insensibly operated to the depression of the
nobility, was making official preferment depend less exclusively on rank,
and much more on personal merit, than before. "Since the hope of guerdon,"
says one of the statutes enacted at Toledo, "is the spur to just and
honorable actions, when men perceive that offices of trust are not to
descend by inheritance, but to be conferred on merit, they will strive to
excel in virtue, that they may attain its reward." [22] The sovereigns,
instead of confining themselves to the grandees, frequently advanced
persons of humble origin, and especially those learned in the law, to the
most responsible stations, consulting them, and paying great deference to
their opinions, on all matters of importance. The nobles, finding that
rank was no longer the sole, or indeed the necessary avenue to promotion,
sought to secure it by attention to more liberal studies, in which they
were greatly encouraged by Isabella, who admitted their children into her
palace, where they were reared under her own eye. [23]

But the boldest assaults on the power of the aristocracy were made in the
famous cortes of Toledo, in 1480, which Carbajal enthusiastically styles
"cosa divina para reformacion y remedio de las desórdenes pasadas." [24]
The first object of its attention was the condition of the exchequer,
which Henry the Fourth had so exhausted by his reckless prodigality, that
the clear annual revenue amounted to no more than thirty thousand ducats,
a sum much inferior to that enjoyed by many private individuals; so that,
stripped of his patrimony, it at last came to be said, he was "king only
of the highways." Such had been the royal necessities, that blank
certificates of annuities assigned on the public rents were hawked about
the market, and sold at such a depreciated rate, that the price of an
annuity did not exceed the amount of one year's income. The commons saw
with alarm the weight of the burdens which must devolve on them for the
maintenance of the crown thus impoverished in its resources; and they
resolved to meet the difficulty by advising at once a resumption of the
grants unconstitutionally made during the latter half of Henry the
Fourth's reign, and the commencement of the present. [25] This measure,
however violent, and repugnant to good faith, it may appear at the present
time, seems then to have admitted of justification, as far as the nation
was concerned; since such alienation of the public revenue was in itself
illegal, and contrary to the coronation oath of the sovereign; and those
who accepted his obligations, held them subject to the liability of their
revocation, which had frequently occurred under the preceding reigns.

As the intended measure involved the interests of most of the considerable
proprietors in the kingdom, who had thriven on the necessities of the
crown, it was deemed proper to require the attendance of the nobility and
great ecclesiastics in cortes by a special summons, which it seems had
been previously omitted. Thus convened, the legislature appears, with
great unanimity, and much to the credit of those most deeply affected by
it, to have acquiesced in the proposed resumption of the grants, as a
measure of absolute necessity. The only difficulty was to settle the
principles on which the retrenchment might be most equitably made, with
reference to creditors, whose claims rested on a great variety of grounds.
The plan suggested by Cardinal Mendoza seems to have been partially
adopted. It was decided, that all, whose pensions had been conferred
without any corresponding services on their part, should forfeit them
entirely; that those, who had purchased annuities, should return their
certificates on a reimbursement of the price paid for them; and that the
remaining creditors, who composed the largest class, should retain such a
proportion only of their pensions, as might be judged commensurate with
their services to the state. [26]

By this important reduction, the final adjustment and execution of which
were intrusted to Fernando de Talavera, the queen's confessor, a man of
austere probity, the gross amount of thirty millions of maravedies, a sum
equal to three-fourths of the whole revenue on Isabella's accession, was
annually saved to the crown. The retrenchment was conducted with such
strict impartiality, that the most confidential servants of the queen, and
the relatives of her husband, were among those who suffered the most
severely. [27] It is worthy of remark that no diminution whatever was made
of the stipends settled on literary and charitable establishments. It may
be also added, that Isabella appropriated the first fruits of this
measure, by distributing the sum of twenty millions of maravedies among
the widows and orphans of those loyalists who had fallen in the War of the
Succession. [28] This resumption of the grants may be considered as the
basis of those economical reforms, which, without oppression to the
subject, augmented the public revenue more than twelve fold during this
auspicious reign. [29]

Several other acts were passed by the same cortes, which had a more
exclusive bearing on the nobility. They were prohibited from quartering
the royal arms on their escutcheons, from being attended by a mace-bearer
and a bodyguard, from imitating the regal style of address in their
written correspondence, and other insignia of royalty which they had
arrogantly assumed. They were forbidden to erect new fortresses, and we
have already seen the activity of the queen in procuring the demolition or
restitution of the old. They were expressly restrained from duels, an
inveterate source of mischief, for engaging in which the parties, both
principals and seconds, were subjected to the penalties of treason.
Isabella evinced her determination of enforcing this law on the highest
offenders, by imprisoning, soon after its enactment, the counts of Luna
and Valencia for exchanging a cartel of defiance, until the point at issue
should be settled by the regular course of justice. [30]

It is true the haughty nobility of Castile winced more than once at
finding themselves so tightly curbed by their new masters. On one
occasion, a number of the principal grandees, with the duke of Infantado
at their head, addressed a letter of remonstrance to the king and queen,
requiring them to abolish the hermandad, as an institution burdensome on
the nation, deprecating the slight degree of confidence which their
highnesses reposed in their order, and requesting that four of their
number might be selected to form a council for the general direction of
affairs of state, by whose advice the king and queen should be governed in
all matters of importance, as in the time of Henry the Fourth.

Ferdinand and Isabella received this unseasonable remonstrance with great
indignation, and returned an answer couched in the haughtiest terms. "The
hermandad," they said, "is an institution most salutary to the nation, and
is approved by it as such. It is our province to determine who are best
entitled to preferment, and to make merit the standard of it. You may
follow the court, or retire to your estates, as you think best; but, so
long as Heaven permits us to retain the rank with which we have been
intrusted, we shall take care not to imitate the example of Henry the
Fourth, in becoming a tool in the hands of our nobility." The discontented
lords, who had carried so high a hand under the preceding imbecile reign,
feeling the weight of an authority which rested on the affections of the
people, were so disconcerted by the rebuke, that they made no attempt to
rally, but condescended to make their peace separately as they could, by
the most ample acknowledgments. [31]

An example of the impartiality as well as spirit, with which Isabella
asserted the dignity of the crown, is worth recording. During her
husband's absence in Aragon in the spring of 1481, a quarrel occurred, in
the ante-chamber of the palace at Valladolid, between two young noblemen,
Ramiro Nuñez de Guzman, lord of Toral, and Frederic Henriquez, son of the
admiral of Castile, king Ferdinand's uncle. The queen, on receiving
intelligence of it, granted a safe-conduct to the lord of Toral, as the
weaker party, until the affair should be adjusted between them. Don
Frederic, however, disregarding this protection, caused his enemy to be
waylaid by three of his followers, armed with bludgeons, and sorely beaten
one evening in the streets of Valladolid.

Isabella was no sooner informed of this outrage on one whom she had taken
under the royal protection, than, burning with indignation, she
immediately mounted her horse, though in the midst of a heavy storm of
rain, and proceeded alone towards the castle of Simancas, then in
possession of the admiral, the father of the offender, where she supposed
him to have taken refuge, travelling all the while with such rapidity,
that she was not overtaken by the officers of her guard, until she had
gained the fortress. She instantly summoned the admiral to deliver up his
son to justice; and, on his replying that "Don Frederic was not there, and
that he was ignorant where He was," she commanded him to surrender the
keys of the castle, and, after a fruitless search, again returned to
Valladolid. The next day Isabella was confined to her bed by an illness
occasioned as much by chagrin, as by the excessive fatigue which she had
undergone. "My body is lame," said she, "with the blows given by Don
Frederic in contempt of my safe-conduct."

The admiral, perceiving how deeply he and his family had incurred the
displeasure of the queen, took counsel with his friends, who were led by
their knowledge of Isabella's character to believe that he would have more
to hope from the surrender of his son, than from further attempts at
concealment. The young man was accordingly conducted to the palace by his
uncle, the constable de Haro, who deprecated the queen's resentment by
representing the age of his nephew, scarcely amounting to twenty years.
Isabella, however, thought proper to punish the youthful delinquent, by
ordering him to be publicly conducted as a prisoner, by one of the
alcaldes of her court, through the great square of Valladolid to the
fortress of Arevalo, where he was detained in strict confinement, all
privilege of access being denied to him; and when, at length, moved by the
consideration of his consanguinity with the king, she consented to his
release, she banished him to Sicily, until he should receive the royal
permission to return to his own country. [32]

Notwithstanding the strict impartiality as well as vigor of the
administration, it could never have maintained itself by its own resources
alone, in its offensive operations against the high-spirited aristocracy
of Castile. Its most direct approaches, however, were made, as we have
seen, under cover of the cortes. The sovereigns showed great deference,
especially in this early period of their reign, to the popular branch of
this body; and, so far from pursuing the odious policy of preceding
princes in diminishing the amount of represented cities, they never failed
to direct their writs to all those which, at their accession, retained the
right of representation, and subsequently enlarged the number by the
conquest of Granada; while they exercised the anomalous privilege, noticed
in the Introduction to this History, of omitting altogether, or issuing
only a partial summons to the nobility. [33] By making merit the standard
of preferment, they opened the path of honor to every class of the
community. They uniformly manifested the greatest tenderness for the
rights of the commons in reference to taxation; and, as their patriotic
policy was obviously directed to secure the personal rights and general
prosperity of the people, it insured the co-operation of an ally, whose
weight, combined with that of the crown, enabled them eventually to
restore the equilibrium which had been disturbed by the undue
preponderance of the aristocracy.

It may be well to state here the policy pursued by Ferdinand and Isabella
in reference to the Military Orders of Castile, since, although not fully
developed until a much later period, it was first conceived, and indeed
partly executed, in that now under discussion.

The uninterrupted warfare, which the Spaniards were compelled to maintain
for the recovery of their native land from the infidel, nourished in their
bosoms a flame of enthusiasm, similar to that kindled by the crusades for
the recovery of Palestine, partaking in an almost equal degree of a
religious and a military character. This similarity of sentiment gave
birth also to similar institutions of chivalry. Whether the military
orders of Castile were suggested by those of Palestine, or whether they go
back to a remoter period, as is contended by their chroniclers, or
whether, in fine, as Conde intimates, they were imitated from
corresponding associations, known to have existed among the Spanish Arabs,
[34] there can be no doubt that the forms under which they were
permanently organized, were derived, in the latter part of the twelfth
century, from the monastic orders established for the protection of the
Holy Land. The Hospitallers, and especially the Templars, obtained more
extensive acquisitions in Spain, than in any, perhaps every other country
in Christendom; and it was partly from the ruins of their empire, that
were constructed the magnificent fortunes of the Spanish orders. [35]

The most eminent of these was the order of St. Jago, or St. James, of
Compostella. The miraculous revelation of the body of the Apostle, after
the lapse of eight centuries from the date of his interment, and his
frequent apparition in the ranks of the Christian armies, in their
desperate struggles with the infidel, had given so wide a celebrity to the
obscure town of Compostella in Galicia, which contained the sainted
relics, [36] that it became the resort of pilgrims from every part of
Christendom, during the Middle Ages; and the escalop shell, the device of
St. James, was adopted as the universal badge of the palmer. Inns for the
refreshment and security of the pious itinerants were scattered along the
whole line of the route from France; but, as they were exposed to
perpetual annoyance from the predatory incursions of the Arabs, a number
of knights and gentlemen associated themselves, for their protection, with
the monks of St. Lojo, or Eloy, adopting the rule of St. Augustine, and
thus laid the foundation of the chivalric order of St. James, about the
middle of the twelfth century. The cavaliers of the fraternity, which
received its papal bull of approbation five years later, in 1175, were
distinguished by a white mantle embroidered with a red cross, in fashion
of a sword, with the escallop shell below the guard, in imitation of the
device which glittered on the banner of their tutelar saint, when, he
condescended to take part in their engagements with the Moors. The red
color denoted, according to an ancient commentator, "that it was stained
with the blood of the infidel." The rules of the new order imposed on its
members the usual obligations of obedience, community of property, and of
conjugal chastity, instead of celibacy. They were, moreover, required to
relieve the poor, defend the traveler, and maintain perpetual war upon the
Mussulman. [37]

The institution of the knights of Calatrava was somewhat more romantic in
its origin. That town, from its situation on the frontiers of the Moorish
territory of Andalusia, where it commanded the passes into Castile, became
of vital importance to the latter kingdom. Its defense had accordingly
been entrusted to the valiant order of the Templars, who, unable to keep
their ground against the pertinacious assaults of the Moslems, abandoned
it, at the expiration of eight years, as untenable. This occurred about
the middle of the twelfth century; and the Castilian monarch, Sancho the
Beloved, as the last resort, offered it to whatever good knights would
undertake its defense.

The emprise was eagerly sought by a monk of a distant convent in Navarre,
who had once been a soldier, and whose military ardor seems to have been
exalted, instead of being extinguished, in the solitude of the cloister.
The monk, supported by his conventual brethren, and a throng of cavaliers
and more humble followers, who sought redemption under the banner of the
church, was enabled to make good his word. From the confederation of these
knights and ecclesiastics sprung the military fraternity of Calatrava,
which received the confirmation of the pontiff, Alexander the Third, in
1164. The rules which it adopted were those of St. Benedict, and its
discipline was in the highest degree austere.

The cavaliers were sworn to perpetual celibacy, from which they were not
released till so late as the sixteenth century. Their diet was of the
plainest kind. They were allowed meat only thrice a week, and then only
one dish. They were to maintain unbroken silence at the table, in the
chapel, and the dormitory; and they were enjoined both to sleep and to
worship with the sword girt on their side, in token of readiness for
action. In the earlier days of the institution, the spiritual, as well as
the military brethren, were allowed to make part of the martial array
against the infidel, until this was prohibited, as indecorous, by the Holy
See. From this order branched off that of Montesa, in Valencia, which was
instituted at the commencement of the fourteenth century, and continued
dependent on the parent stock. [38]

The third great order of religious chivalry in Castile was that of
Alcantara, which also received its confirmation from Pope Alexander the
Third, in 1177. It was long held in nominal subordination to the knights
of Calatrava, from which it was relieved by Julius the Second, and
eventually rose to an importance little inferior to that of its rival.

The internal economy of these three fraternities was regulated by the same
general principles. The direction of affairs was entrusted to a council,
consisting of the grand master and a number of the commanders
(_comendadores_), among whom the extensive territories of the order
were distributed. This council, conjointly with the grand master, or the
latter exclusively, as in the fraternity of Calatrava, supplied the
vacancies. The master himself was elected by a general chapter of these
military functionaries alone, or combined with the conventual clergy, as
in the order of Calatrava, which seems to have recognized the supremacy of
the military over the spiritual division of the community, more
unreservedly than that of St. James.

These institutions appear to have completely answered the objects of their
creation. In the earlier history of the Peninsula, we find the Christian
chivalry always ready to bear the brunt of battle against the Moors. Set
apart for this peculiar duty, their services in the sanctuary only tended
to prepare them for their sterner duties in the field of battle, where the
zeal of the Christian soldier may be supposed to have been somewhat
sharpened by the prospect of the rich temporal acquisitions, which the
success of his arms was sure to secure to his fraternity. For the
superstitious princes of those times, in addition to the wealth lavished
so liberally on all monastic institutions, granted the military orders
almost unlimited rights over the conquests achieved by their own valor. In
the sixteenth century, we find the order of St. James, which had shot up
to a pre-eminence above the rest, possessed of eighty-four commanderies,
and two hundred inferior benefices. This same order could bring into the
field, according to Garibay, four hundred belted knights, and one thousand
lances, which, with the usual complement of a lance in that day, formed a
very considerable force. The rents of the mastership of St. James
amounted, in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, to sixty thousand ducats,
those of Alcantara to forty-five thousand, and those of Calatrava to forty
thousand. There was scarcely a district of the Peninsula which was not
covered with their castles, towns, and convents. Their rich commanderies
gradually became objects of cupidity to men of the highest rank, and more
especially the grand-masterships, which, from their extensive patronage,
and the authority they conferred over an organized militia pledged to
implicit obedience, and knit together by the strong tie of common
interest, raised their possessors almost to the level of royalty itself.
Hence the elections to these important dignities came to be a fruitful
source of intrigue, and frequently of violent collision. The monarchs, who
had anciently reserved the right of testifying their approbation of an
election by presenting the standard of the order to the new dignitary,
began personally to interfere in the deliberations of the chapter. While
the pope, to whom a contested point was not unfrequently referred, assumed
at length the prerogative of granting the masterships in administration on
a vacancy, and even that of nomination itself, which, if disputed, he
enforced by his spiritual thunders. [40]

Owing to these circumstances, there was probably no one cause, among the
many which occurred in Castile during the fifteenth century, more prolific
of intestine discord, than the election to these posts, far too important
to be intrusted to any subject, and the succession to which was sure to be
contested by a host of competitors. Isabella seems to have settled in her
mind the course of policy to be adopted in this matter, at a very early
period of her reign. On occasion of a vacancy in the grand-mastership of
St. James, by the death of the incumbent, in 1476, she made a rapid
journey on horseback, her usual mode of travelling, from Valladolid to the
town of Ucles, where a chapter of the order was deliberating on the
election of a new principal. The queen, presenting herself before this
body, represented with so much energy the inconvenience of devolving
powers of such magnitude on any private individual, and its utter
incompatibility with public order, that she prevailed on them, smarting,
as they were, under the evils of a disputed succession, to solicit the
administration for the king, her husband. That monarch, indeed, consented
to waive this privilege in favor of Alonso de Cardenas, one of the
competitors for the office, and a loyal servant of the crown; but, at his
decease in 1499, the sovereigns retained the possession of the vacant
mastership, conformably to a papal decree, which granted them its
administration for life, in the same manner as had been done with that of
Calatrava in 1487, and of Alcantara in 1494. [41]

The sovereigns were no sooner vested with the control of the military
orders, than they began with their characteristic promptness to reform the
various corruptions, which had impaired their ancient discipline. They
erected a council for the general superintendence of affairs relating to
the orders, and invested it with extensive powers both of civil and
criminal jurisdiction. They supplied the vacant benefices with persons of
acknowledged worth, exercising an impartiality, which could never be
maintained by any private individual, necessarily exposed to the influence
of personal interests and affections. By this harmonious distribution, the
honors, which had before been held up to the highest bidder, or made the
subject of a furious canvass, became the incentive and sure recompense of
desert. [42]

In the following reign, the grand-masterships of these fraternities were
annexed in perpetuity to the crown of Castile by a bull of Pope Adrian the
Sixth; while their subordinate dignities, having survived the object of
their original creation, the subjugation of the Moors, degenerated into
the empty decorations, the stars and garters, of an order of nobility.

IV. Vindication of ecclesiastical rights belonging to the crown from papal
usurpation. In the earlier stages of the Castilian monarchy, the
sovereigns appear to have held a supremacy in spiritual, very similar to
that exercised by them in temporal matters. It was comparatively late that
the nation submitted its neck to the papal yoke, so closely riveted at a
subsequent period; and even the Romish ritual was not admitted into its
churches till long after it had been adopted in the rest of Europe.
[44] But, when the code of the Partidas was promulgated in the thirteenth
century, the maxims of the canon law came to be permanently established.
The ecclesiastical encroached on the lay tribunals. Appeals were
perpetually carried up to the Roman court; and the popes, pretending to
regulate the minutest details of church economy, not only disposed of
inferior benefices, but gradually converted the right of confirming
elections to the episcopal and higher ecclesiastical dignities, into that
of appointment. [45]

These usurpations of the church had been repeatedly the subject of grave
remonstrance in cortes. Several remedial enactments had passed that body,
during the present reign, especially in relation to the papal provision of
foreigners to benefices; an evil of much greater magnitude in Spain than
in other countries of Europe, since the episcopal demesnes, frequently
covering the Moorish frontier, became an important line of national
defence, obviously improper to be intrusted to the keeping of foreigners
and absentees. Notwithstanding the efforts of cortes, no effectual remedy
was devised for this latter grievance, until it became the subject of
actual collision between the crown and the pontiff, in reference to the
see of Taraçona, and afterwards of Cuenca. [46]

Sixtus the Fourth had conferred the latter benefice, on its becoming
vacant in 1482, on his nephew, Cardinal San Giorgio, a Genoese, in direct
opposition to the wishes of the queen, who would have bestowed it on her
chaplain, Alfonso de Burgos, in exchange for the bishopric of Cordova. An
ambassador was accordingly despatched by the Castilian sovereigns to Rome,
to remonstrate on the papal appointment; but without effect, as Sixtus
replied, with a degree of presumption, which might better have become his
predecessors of the twelfth century, that "he was head of the church, and,
as such, possessed of unlimited power in the distribution of benefices,
and that he was not bound to consult the inclination of any potentate on
earth, any farther than might subserve the interests of religion."

The sovereigns, highly dissatisfied with this response, ordered their
subjects, ecclesiastical as well as lay, to quit the papal dominions; an
injunction, which the former, fearful of the sequestration of their
temporalities in Castile, obeyed with as much promptness as the latter. At
the same time, Ferdinand and Isabella proclaimed their intention of
inviting the princes of Christendom to unite with them in convoking a
general council for the reformation of the manifold abuses, which
dishonored the church. No sound could have grated more unpleasantly on the
pontifical ear, than the menace of a general council, particularly at this
period, when ecclesiastical corruptions had reached a height which could
but ill endure its scrutiny. The pope became convinced that he had
ventured too far, and that Henry the Fourth was no longer monarch of
Castile. He accordingly despatched a legate to Spain, fully empowered to
arrange the matter en an amicable basis.

The legate, who was a layman, by name Domingo Centurion, no sooner arrived
in Castile, than he caused the sovereigns to be informed of his presence
there, and the purpose of his mission; but he received orders instantly to
quit the kingdom, without attempting so much as to disclose the nature of
his instructions, since they could not but be derogatory to the dignity of
the crown. A safe-conduct was granted for himself and his suite; but, at
the same time, great surprise was expressed that any one should venture to
appear, as envoy from his Holiness, at the court of Castile, after it had
been treated by him with such unmerited indignity.

Far from resenting this ungracious reception, the legate affected the
deepest humility; professing himself willing to waive whatever immunities
he might claim as papal ambassador, and to submit to the jurisdiction of
the sovereigns as one of their own subjects, so that he might obtain an
audience. Cardinal Mendoza, whose influence in the cabinet had gained him
the title of "third king of Spain," apprehensive of the consequences of a
protracted rupture with the church, interposed in behalf of the envoy,
whose conciliatory deportment at length so far mitigated the resentment of
the sovereigns, that they consented to open negotiations with the court of
Rome. The result was the publication of a bull by Sixtus the Fourth, in
which his Holiness engaged to provide such natives to the higher dignities
of the church in Castile, as should be nominated by the monarchs of that
kingdom; and Alfonso de Burgos was accordingly translated to the see of
Cuenca. [47] Isabella, on whom the duties of ecclesiastical preferment
devolved, by the act of settlement, availed herself of the rights, thus
wrested from the grasp of Rome, to exalt to the vacant sees persons of
exemplary piety and learning, holding light, in comparison with the
faithful discharge of this duty, every minor consideration of interest,
and even the solicitations of her husband, as we shall see hereafter. [48]
And the chronicler of her reign dwells with complacency on those good old
times, when churchmen were to be found of such singular modesty, as to
require to be urged to accept the dignities to which their merits entitled
them. [49]

V. The regulation of trade. It will be readily conceived that trade,
agriculture, and every branch of industry must have languished under the
misrule of preceding reigns. For what purpose, indeed, strive to
accumulate wealth, when it would only serve to sharpen the appetite of the
spoiler? For what purpose cultivate the earth, when the fruits were sure
to be swept away, even before harvest time, in some ruthless foray? The
frequent famines and pestilences, which occurred in the latter part of
Henry's reign and the commencement of his successor's, show too plainly
the squalid condition of the people, and their utter destitution of all
useful arts. We are assured by the Curate of Los Palacios, that the plague
broke out in the southern districts of the kingdom, carrying off eight, or
nine, or even fifteen thousand inhabitants from the various cities; while
the prices of the ordinary aliments of life rose to a height, which put
them above the reach of the poorer classes of the community. In addition
to these physical evils, a fatal shock was given to commercial credit by
the adulteration of the coin. Under Henry the Fourth, it is computed that
there were no less than one hundred and fifty mints openly licensed by the
crown, in addition to many others erected by individuals without any legal
authority. The abuse came to such a height, that people at length refused
to receive in payment of their debts the debased coin, whose value
depreciated more and more every day; and the little trade, which remained
in Castile, was carried on by barter, as in the primitive stages of
society. [50]

The magnitude of the evil was such as to claim the earliest attention of
the cortes under the new monarchs. Acts were passed fixing the standard
and legal value of the different denominations of coin. A new coinage was
subsequently made. Five royal mints were alone authorized, afterwards
augmented to seven, and severe penalties denounced against the fabrication
of money elsewhere. The reform of the currency gradually infused new life
into commerce, as the return of the circulations, which have been
interrupted for a while, quickens the animal body. This was furthered by
salutary laws for the encouragement of domestic industry. Internal
communication was facilitated by the construction of roads and bridges.
Absurd restrictions on change of residence, as well as the onerous duties
which had been imposed on commercial intercourse between Castile and
Aragon, were repealed. Several judicious laws were enacted for the
protection of foreign trade; and the flourishing condition of the
mercantile marine may be inferred from that of the military, which enabled
the sovereigns to fit out an armament of seventy sail in 1482, from the
ports of Biscay and Andalusia, for the defence of Naples against the
Turks. Some of their regulations, indeed, as those prohibiting the
exportation of the precious metals, savor too strongly of the ignorance of
the true principles of commercial legislation, which has distinguished the
Spaniards to the present day. But others, again, as that for relieving the
importation of foreign books from all duties, "because," says the statute,
"they bring both honor and profit to the kingdom, by the facilities which
they afford for making men learned," are not only in advance of that age,
but may sustain an advantageous comparison with provisions on
corresponding subjects in Spain at the present time. Public credit was re-
established by the punctuality with which the government redeemed the debt
contracted during the Portuguese war; and, notwithstanding the repeal of
various arbitrary imposts, which enriched the exchequer under Henry the
Fourth, such was the advance of the country under the wise economy of the
present reign, that the revenue was augmented nearly six fold between the
years 1477 and 1482. [51]

Thus released from the heavy burdens imposed on it, the spring of
enterprise recovered its former elasticity. The productive capital of the
country was made to flow through the various channels of domestic
industry. The hills and the valleys again rejoiced in the labor of the
husbandman; and the cities were embellished with stately edifices, both
public and private, which attracted the gaze and commendation of
foreigners. [52] The writers of that day are unbounded in their plaudits
of Isabella, to whom they principally ascribe this auspicious revolution
in the condition of the country and its inhabitants, [53] which seems
almost as magical as one of those transformations in romance wrought by
the hands of some benevolent fairy. [54]

VI. The pre-eminence of the royal authority. This, which, as we have seen,
appears to have been the natural result of the policy of Ferdinand and
Isabella, was derived quite as much from the influence of their private
characters, as from their public measures. Their acknowledged talents were
supported by a dignified demeanor, which formed a striking contrast with
the meanness in mind and manners that had distinguished their predecessor.
They both exhibited a practical wisdom in their own personal relations,
which always commands respect, and which, however it may have savored of
worldly policy in Ferdinand, was, in his consort, founded on the purest
and most exalted principle. Under such a sovereign, the court, which had
been little better than a brothel under the preceding reign, became the
nursery of virtue and generous ambition. Isabella watched assiduously over
the nurture of the high-born damsels of her court, whom she received into
the royal palace, causing them to be educated under her own eye, and
endowing them with liberal portions on their marriage. [55] By these and
similar acts of affectionate solicitude, she endeared herself to the
higher classes of her subjects, while the patriotic tendency of her public
conduct established her in the hearts of the people. She possessed, in
combination with the feminine qualities which beget love, a masculine
energy of character, which struck terror into the guilty. She enforced the
execution of her own plans, oftentimes even at great personal hazard, with
a resolution surpassing that of her husband. Both were singularly
temperate, indeed, frugal, in their dress, equipage, and general style of
living; seeking to affect others less by external pomp, than by the silent
though more potent influence of personal qualities. On all such occasions
as demanded it, however, they displayed a princely magnificence, which
dazzled the multitude, and is blazoned with great solemnity in the
garrulous chronicles of the day. [56]

The tendencies of the present administration were undoubtedly to
strengthen the power of the crown. This was the point to which most of the
feudal governments of Europe at this epoch were tending. But Isabella was
far from being actuated by the selfish aim or unscrupulous policy of many
contemporary princes, who, like Louis the Eleventh, sought to govern by
the arts of dissimulation, and to establish their own authority by
fomenting the divisions of their powerful vassals. On the contrary, she
endeavored to bind together the disjointed fragments of the state, to
assign to each of its great divisions its constitutional limits, and, by
depressing the aristocracy to its proper level and elevating the commons,
to consolidate the whole under the lawful supremacy of the crown. At
least, such was the tendency of her administration up to the present
period of our history. These laudable objects were gradually achieved
without fraud or violence, by a course of measures equally laudable; and
the various orders of the monarchy, brought into harmonious action with
each other, were enabled to turn the forces, which had before been wasted
in civil conflict, to the glorious career of discovery and conquest, which
it was destined to run during the remainder of the century.

* * * * *

The sixth volume of the Memoirs of the Royal Spanish Academy of History,
published in 1821, is devoted altogether to the reign of Isabella, It is
distributed into Illustrations, as they are termed, of the various
branches of the administrative policy of the queen, of her personal
character, and of the condition of science under her government. These
essays exhibit much curious research, being derived from unquestionable
contemporary documents, printed and manuscript, and from the public
archives. They are compiled with much discernment; and, as they throw
light on some of the most recondite transactions of this reign, are of
inestimable service to the historian. The author of the volume is the late
lamented secretary of the Academy, Don Diego Clemencin; one of the few who
survived the wreck of scholarship in Spain, and who with the erudition,
which has frequently distinguished his countrymen, combined the liberal
and enlarged opinions, which would do honor to any country.


[1] Among other examples, Pulgar mentions that of the alcayde of Castro-
Nuño, Pedro de Mendana, who, from the strong-holds in his possession,
committed such grievous devastations throughout the country, that the
cities of Burgos, Avila, Salamanca, Segovia, Valladolid, Medina, and
others in that quarter, were fain to pay him a tribute, (black mail,) to
protect their territories from his rapacity. His successful example was
imitated by many other knightly freebooters of the period. (Reyes
Católicos, part. 2, cap. 66.)--See also extracts cited by Saez from
manuscript notices by contemporaries of Henry IV. Monedas de Enrique IV.,
pp. 1, 2.

[2] The _quaderno_ of the laws of the Hermandad has now become very
rare. That in my possession was printed at Burgos, in 1527. It has since
been incorporated with considerable extension into the Recopilacion of
Philip II.

[3] Quaderno de las Leyes Nuevas de la Hermandad, (Burgos, 1527,) leyes 1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 16, 20, 36, 37.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap.
51.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 160, ed. 1539.--Mem. de la Acad.
de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 4.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 76.--Lebrija,
Rerum Gestarum Decades, fol. 36.--By one of the laws, the inhabitants of
such seignorial towns as refused to pay the contributions of the Hermandad
were excluded from its benefits, as well as from traffic with, and even
the power of recovering their debts, from other natives of the kingdom.
Ley 33.

[4] Recopilacion de las Leyes, (Madrid, 1640,) lib. 8, tit. 13, ley 44.--
Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 379.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2,
cap. 51.--Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 6.--Lebrija, Rerum
Gestarum Decad., fol. 37, 38.--Las Pragmáticas del Reyno, (Sevilla, 1520,)
fol. 85.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 160.

[5] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 76.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap.
59.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. p. 477.--Lebrija, Rerum
Gestarum Decad., fol. 41, 42.--Gonzalo de Oviedo lavishes many encomiums
on Cabrera, for "his generous qualities, his singular prudence in
government, and his solicitude for his vassals, whom he inspired with the
deepest attachment." (Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 23.) The
best panegyric on his character, is the unshaken confidence, which his
royal mistress reposed in him, to the day of her death.

[6] Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 381.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2,
cap. 65, 70, 71.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 29.--Carbajal,
Anales, MS., año 77.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 162; who says, no
less than 8,000 guilty fled from Seville and Cordova.

[7] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 29.-Zurita, Anales, tom. iv.
fol. 283.-Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 382.-Lebrija, Rerum Gestarum
Decades, lib. 7.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, ubi supra.-Garibay,
Compendio, lib. 18, cap. 11.

[8] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 30.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
part. 2, cap. 78.

[9] "Era muy inclinada," says Pulgar, "á facer justicia, tanto que le era
imputado seguir mas la via de rigor que de la piedad; y esto facia por
remediar á la gran corrupcion de crímines que falló en el Reyno quando
subcedió en él." Reyes Católicos, p. 37.

[10] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap. 97, 98.--L. Marineo, Cosas
Memorables, fol. 162.

[11] Ordenanças Reales de Castilla, (Burgos, 1528,) lib. 2, tit. 3, ley

This constitutional, though, as it would seem, impotent right of the
nobility, is noticed by Sempere. (Hist. des Cortès, pp. 123, 129.) It
should not have escaped Marina.

[12] Lib. 2, tit. 3, of the Ordenanças Reales is devoted to the royal
council. The number of the members was limited to one prelate, as
president, three knights, and eight or nine jurists. (Prólogo.) The
sessions were to be held every day, in the palace. (Leyes 1, 2.) They were
instructed to refer to the other tribunals all matters not strictly coming
within their own jurisdiction. (Ley 4.) Their acts, in all cases except
those specially reserved, were to have the force of law without the royal
signature. (Leyes 23, 24.) See also Los Doctores Asso y Manuel,
Instituciones del Derecho Civil de Castilla, (Madrid, 1792,) Introd. p.
111; and Santiago Agustin Riol, Informe, apud Semanario Erudito, (Madrid,
1788,) tom. iii. p. 114, who is mistaken in stating the number of jurists
in the council, at this time, at sixteen; a change, which did not take
place till Philip II.'s reign. (Recop. de las Leyes, lib. 2, tit. 4, ley

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