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

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Marina denies that the council could constitutionally exercise any
judicial authority, at least, in suits between private parties, and quotes
a passage from Pulgar, showing that its usurpations in this way were
restrained by Ferdinand and Isabella. (Teoría, part. 2, cap. 29.) Powers
of this nature, however, to a considerable extent, appear to have been
conceded to it by more than one statute under this reign. See Recop. de
las Leyes, (lib. 2, tit. 4, leyes 20, 22, and tit. 5, ley 12,) and the
unqualified testimony of Riol, Informe, apud Semanario Erudito, ubi supra.

[13] Ordenanças Reales, lib. 2, tit. 4.--Marina, Teoría de las Cortes,
part. 2, cap. 25.

By one of the statutes, (ley 4,) the commission of the judges, which,
before extended to life, or a long period, was abridged to one year. This
important innovation was made at the earnest and repeated remonstrance of
cortes, who traced the remissness and corruption, too frequent of late in
the court, to the circumstance that its decisions were not liable to be
reviewed during life. (Teoría, ubi supra.) The legislature probably
mistook the true cause of the evil. Few will doubt, at any rate, that the
remedy proposed must have been fraught with far greater.

[14] Ordenanças Reales, lib. 2, tit. 1, 3, 4, 15, 16, 17, 19; lib. 3, tit.
2.--Recop. de las Leyes, lib. 2, tit. 4, 5, 16.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
part. 2, cap. 94.

[15] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS.--By one of the statutes of the cortes of
Toledo, in 1480, the king was required to take his seat in the council
every Friday. (Ordenanças Reales, lib. 2, tit. 3, ley 32.) It was not so
new for the Castilians to have good laws, as for their monarchs to observe

[16] Sempere, Hist. des Cortès, p. 263.

[17] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, p. 167.--See the strong language, also, of
Peter Martyr, another contemporary witness of the beneficial changes in
the government. Opus Epistolarum, (Amstelodami, 1670,) ep. 31.

[18] Prieto y Sotelo, Historia del Derecho Real de España, (Madrid, 1738,)
lib. 3, cap. 16-21.--Marina has made an elaborate commentary on Alfonso's
celebrated code, in his Ensayo Histórico-Crítico sobre la Antigua
Legislacion de Castilla, (Madrid, 1808,) pp. 269 et seq. The English
reader will find a more succinct analysis in Dr. Dunham's History of Spain
and Portugal, (London, 1832,) in Lardner's Cyclopaedia, vol. iv. pp. 121-
150.--The latter has given a more exact, and, at the same time, extended
view of the early Castilian legislation, probably, than is to be found, in
the same compass, in any of the Peninsular writers.

[19] Marina (in his Ensayo Histórico-Crítico, p. 388) quotes a popular
satire of the fifteenth century, directed, with considerable humor,
against these abuses, which lead the writer in the last stanza to envy
even the summary style of Mahometan justice.

"En tierra de Moros un solo alcalde
Libra lo cevil e lo criminal,
E todo el dia se esta de valde
For la justicia andar muy igual:
Alli non es Azo, nin es Decretal,
Nin es Roberto, nin la Clementina,
Salvo discrecion e buena doctrina,
La qual muestra a todos vevir communal." p. 389.

[20] Mendez enumerates no less than five editions of this code, by 1500; a
sufficient evidence of its authority, and general reception throughout
Castile. Typographia Española, pp. 203, 261, 270.

[21] Ordenanças Reales, Prólogo.--Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi.
Ilust. 9.--Marina, Ensayo Histórico-Crítico, pp. 390 et seq.--Mendez,
Typographia Española, p. 261.--The authors of the three last-mentioned
works abundantly disprove Asso y Manuel's insinuation, that Montalavo's
code was the fruit of his private study, without any commission for it,
and that it gradually usurped an authority which it had not in its origin.
(Discurso Preliminar al Ord. de Alcalá.) The injustice of the last remark,
indeed, is apparent from the positive declaration of Bernaldez. "Los Reyes
mandaron tener en todas las ciudades, villas é lugares el libro de
Montalvo, _é por él determinar todas las cosas de justícia para cortar
los pléitos_." Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 42.

[22] Ordenanças Reales, lib. 7, tit. 2, ley 13.

[23] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 44.--Sempere
notices this feature of the royal policy. Hist. des Cortès, chap. 24.

[24] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 80.

[25] See the emphatic language, on this and other grievances, of the
Castilian commons, in their memorial to the sovereigns, Apendice, No. 10,
of Clemencin's valuable compilation. The commons had pressed the measure,
as one of the last necessity to the crown, as early as the cortes of
Madrigal, in 1476. The reader will find the whole petition extracted by
Marina, Teoría, tom. ii. cap. 5.

[26] Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, cap. 51.--Mem. de la
Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 5.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap.
95.--Ordenanças Reales, lib. 6, tit. 4, ley 26;--incorporated also into
the Recopilacion of Philip II., lib. 5, tit. 10, cap. 17. See also leyes 3
and 15.

[27] Admiral Enriquez, for instance, resigned 240,000 maravedies of his
annual income;--the Duke of Alva, 575,000;--the Duke of Medina Sidonia,
180,000.--The loyal family of the Mendozas were also great losers, but
none forfeited so much as the overgrown favorite of Henry IV., Beltran de
la Cueva, duke of Albuquerque, who had uniformly supported the royal
cause, and whose retrenchment amounted to 1,400,000 maravedies of yearly
rent. See the scale of reduction given at length by Señor Clemencin, in
Mem. de la Acad., tom. vi. loc. cit.

[28] "No monarch," said the high-minded queen, "should consent to alienate
his demesnes; since the loss of revenue necessarily deprives him of the
best means of rewarding the attachment of his friends, and of making
himself feared by his enemies." Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 1, cap. 4.

[29] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, ubi supra.--Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom.
vi. loc. cit.

[30] Ordenanças Reales, lib. 2, tit. 1, ley 2; lib. 4, tit. 9, ley 11.--
Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap. 96, 101.--Recop. de las Leyes, lib.
8, tit. 8, ley 10 et al.--These affairs were conducted in the true spirit
of knight-errantry. Oviedo mentions one, in which two young men of the
noble houses of Velasco and Ponce de Leon agreed to fight on horseback,
with sharp spears (_puntas de diamantes_), in doublet and hose, without
defensive armor of any kind. The place appointed for the combat was a
narrow bridge across the Xarama, three leagues from Madrid. Quincuagenas,
MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 23.

[31] Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. vii. pp. 487, 488.

[32] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 80.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2,
cap. 100.

[33] For example, at the great cortes of Toledo, in 1480, it does not
appear that any of the nobility were summoned, except those in immediate
attendance on the court, until the measure for the resumption of the
grants, which so nearly affected that body, was brought before the

[34] Conde gives the following account of these chivalric associations
among the Spanish Arabs, which, as far as I know, have hitherto escaped
the notice of European historians. "The Moslem _fronteros_ professed
great austerity in their lives, which they consecrated to perpetual war,
and bound themselves by a solemn vow to defend the frontier against the
incursions of the Christians. They were choice cavaliers, possessed of
consummate patience, and enduring fatigue, and always prepared to die
rather than desert their posts. It appears highly probable that the
Moorish fraternities suggested the idea of those military orders so
renowned for their valor in Spain and in Palestine, which rendered such
essential services to Christendom; for both the institutions were
established on similar principles." Conde, Historia de la Dominacion de
los Arabes en España, (Madrid, 1820,) tom. i. p. 619, not.

[35] See the details, given by Mariana, of the overgrown possessions of
the Templars in Castile at the period of their extinction, in the
beginning of the fourteenth century. (Hist. de España, lib. 15, cap. 10.)
The knights of the Temple and the Hospitallers seem to have acquired still
greater power in Aragon, where one of the monarchs was so infatuated as to
bequeath them his whole dominions,--a bequest which, it may well be
believed, was set aside by his high-spirited subjects. Zurita, Anales,
lib. 1, cap. 52.

[36] The apparition of certain preternatural lights in a forest,
discovered to a Galician peasant, in the beginning of the ninth century,
the spot, in which was deposited a marble sepulchre containing the ashes
of St. James. The miracle is reported with sufficient circumstantiality by
Florez, (Historia Compostellana, lib. 1, cap. 2, apud España Sagrada, tom.
xx.) and Ambrosio de Morales, (Corónica General de España, (Obras, Madrid,
1791-3,) lib. 9, cap. 7,) who establishes, to his own satisfaction, the
advent of St. James into Spain. Mariana, with more skepticism than his
brethren, doubts the genuineness of the body, as well as the visit of the
Apostle, but like a good Jesuit concludes, "It is not expedient to disturb
with such disputes the devotion of the people, so firmly settled as it
is." (Lib. 7, cap. 10.) The tutelar saint of Spain continued to support
his people by taking part with them in battle against the infidel down to
a very late period. Caro de Torres mentions two engagements in which he
cheered on the squadrons of Cortes and Pizarro, "with his sword flashing
lightning in the eyes of the Indians." Ordenes Militares, fol. 5.

[37] Rades y Andrada, Las Tres Ordenes, fol. 3-15.--Caro de Torres,
Ordenes Militares, fol. 2-8.--Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. pp. 116-118.

[38] Rades y Andrada, Las Tres Ordenes, part. 2, fol. 3-9, 49.--Caro de
Torres, Ordenes Militares, fol. 49, 50.--Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. pp.

[39] Rades y Andrada, Las Tres Ordenes, part. 3, fol. 1-6.--The knights of
Alcantara wore a white mantle, embroidered with a green cross.

[40] Rades y Andrada, Las Tres Ordenes, part. 1, fol. 12-15, 43, 54, 61,
64, 66, 67; part. 2, fol. 11, 51; part. 3, fol. 42, 49, 50.--Caro de
Torres, Ordenes Militares, passim.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol.
33.--Garibay, Compendio, lib. 11, cap. 13.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib.
1, cap. 19.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 2, dial. 1.

[41] Caro de Torres, Ordenes Militares, fol. 46, 74, 83.--Pulgar, Reyes
Católicos, part. 2, cap. 64.--Rades y Andrada, Las Tres Ordenes, part. 1,
fol. 69, 70; part. 2, fol. 82, 83; part. 3, fol. 54.--Oviedo,
Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 2, dial. 1.--The sovereigns gave great
offence to the jealous grandees who were competitors for the mastership of
St. James, by conferring that dignity on Alonso de Cardenas, with their
usual policy of making merit rather than birth the standard of preferment.

[42] Caro de Torres, Ordenes Militares, fol. 84.--Riol has given a full
account of the constitution of this council, Informe, apud Semanario
Erudito, tom. iii. pp. 164 et seq.

[43] The reader will find a view of the condition and general resources of
the military orders as existing in the present century in Spain, in
Laborde, Itinéraire Descriptif de l'Espagne, (2d edition, Paris, 1827-30,)
tom. v. pp. 102-117.

[44] Most readers are acquainted with the curious story, related by
Robertson, of the ordeal to which the Romish and Muzarabic rituals were
subjected, in the reign of Alfonso VI., and the ascendency which the
combination of king-craft and priest-craft succeeded in securing to the
former in opposition to the will of the nation. Cardinal Ximenes
afterwards established a magnificent chapel in the cathedral church of
Toledo for the performance of the Muzarabic services, which have continued
to be retained there to the present time. Fléchier, Histoire du Cardinal
Ximinès, (Paris, 1693,) p. 142.--Bourgoanne, Travels in Spain, Eng.
trans., vol. iii. chap. 1.

[45] Marina, Ensayo Histórico-Crítico, nos. 322, 334, 341.--Riol, Informe,
apud Semanario Erudito, pp. 92 et seq.

[46] Marina, Ensayo Histórico-Crítico, nos. 335-337.--Ordenanças Reales,
lib. 1, tit. 3, leyes 19, 20; lib. 2, tit. 7, ley 2; lib. 3, tit. 1, ley
6.--Riol, Informe, apud Semanario Erudito, loc. cit.--In the latter part
of Henry IV.'s reign, a papal bull had been granted against the provision
of foreigners to benefices. Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. vii. p. 196, ed

[47] Riol, in his account of this celebrated concordat, refers to the
original instrument, as existing in his time in the archives of Simancas,
Semanario Erudito, tom. iii. p. 95.

[48] "Lo que es público hoy en España é notorio," says Gonzalo de Oviedo,
"nunca los Reyes Cathólicos desearon ni procuraron sino que proveer é
presentar para las dignidades de la Iglesia hombres capazes é idoneos para
la buena administracion del servicio del culto divino, é á la buena
enseñanza é utilidad de los Christianos sus vasallos; y entre todos los
varones de sus Reynos así por largo conoscimiento como per larga é secreta
informacion acordaron encojer é elegir," etc. Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de

[49] Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, lib. 1, cap. 52.--Idem,
Dignidades de Castilla, p. 374.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap.
104.--See also the similar independent conduct pursued by Ferdinand, three
years previous, with reference to the see of Taraçona, related by Zurita,
Anales, tom. iv. fol. 304.

[50] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 44.--See a letter from one of
Henry's subjects, cited by Saez, Monedas de Enrique IV., p. 3.--Also the
coarse satire (composed in Henry's reign) of Mingo Revulgo, especially
coplas 24-27.

[51] Pragmáticas del Reyno, fol. 64.--Ordenanças Reales, lib. 4, tit. 4,
ley 22; lib. 5, tit. 8, ley 2; lib. 6, tit. 9, ley 49; lib. 6, tit. 10,
ley 13.--See also other wholesome laws for the encouragement of commerce
and general security of property, as that respecting contracts, (lib. 5,
tit. 8, ley 5,)--fraudulent tradesmen, (lib. 5, tit. 8, ley 5,)--
purveyance, (lib. 6, tit. 11, ley 2 et al.--Recopilacion de las Leyes,
lib. 5, tit. 20, 21, 22; lib. 6, tit. 18, ley 1.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
part. 2, cap. 99.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 312.--Mem. de la Acad. de
Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 11.)--The revenue, it appears, in 1477, amounted to
27,415,228 maravedies; and in the year 1482, we find it increased to
150,695,288 maravedies. (Ibid., Ilust. 5.)--A survey of the kingdom was
made between the years 1477 and 1479, for the purpose of ascertaining the
value of the royal rents, which formed the basis of the economical
regulations adopted by the cortes of Toledo. Although this survey was
conducted on no uniform plan, yet, according to Señor Clemencin, it
exhibits such a variety of important details respecting the resources and
population of the country, that it must materially contribute towards an
exact history of this period. The compilation, which consists of twelve
folio volumes in manuscript, is deposited in the archives of Simancas.

[52] One of the statutes passed at Toledo expressly provides for the
erection of spacious and handsome edifices (_casas grandes y bien fechas_)
for the transaction of municipal affairs, in all the principal towns and
cities in the kingdom. Ordenanças Reales, lib. 7, tit. 1, ley 1.--See also
L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, passim,--et al. auct.

[53] "Cosa fue por cierto maravillosa," exclaims Pulgar, in his Glosa on
the Mingo Revulgo, "que lo que muchos hombres, y grandes senores no se
acordaron á hacer en muchos años, _sola una muger_, con su trabajo, y
gobernacion lo hizo en poco tiempo." Copla 21.

[54] The beautiful lines of Virgil, so often misapplied,

"Jam redit et Virgo; redeunt Saturnia regna;
Jam nova progenies," etc.

seem to admit here of a pertinent application.

[55] Carro de las Doñas, apud Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust.
21.--As one example of the moral discipline introduced by Isabella in her
court, we may cite the enactments against gaming, which had been carried
to great excess under the preceding reigns. (See Ordenanças Reales, lib.
2, tit. 14, ley 31; lib. 8, tit. 10, ley 7.) L. Marineo, according to whom
"hell is full of gamblers," highly commends the sovereigns for their
efforts to discountenance this vice. Cosas Memorables, fol. 165.

[56] See, for example, the splendid ceremony of Prince John's baptism, to
which the gossipping Curate of Los Palacios devotes the 32d and 33d
chapters of his History.



Origin of the Ancient Inquisition.--Retrospective View of the Jews in
Spain.--Their Wealth and Civilization.--Bigotry of the Age.--Its Influence
on Isabella.--Her Confessor, Torquemada.--Bull authorizing the
Inquisition.--Tribunal at Seville.--Forms of Trial.--Torture.--Autos da
Fe.--Number of Convictions.--Perfidious Policy of Rome.

It is painful, after having dwelt so long on the important benefits
resulting to Castile from the comprehensive policy of Isabella, to be
compelled to turn to the darker side of the picture, and to exhibit her as
accommodating herself to the illiberal spirit of the age in which she
lived so far as to sanction one of the grossest abuses that ever disgraced
humanity. The present chapter will be devoted to the establishment and
early progress of the modern Inquisition; an institution, which has
probably contributed more than any other cause to depress the lofty
character of the ancient Spaniard, and which has thrown the gloom of
fanaticism over those lovely regions which seem to be the natural abode of
festivity and pleasure.

In the present liberal state of knowledge, we look with disgust at the
pretensions of any human being, however exalted, to invade the sacred
rights of conscience, inalienably possessed by every man. We feel that the
spiritual concerns of an individual may be safely left to himself as most
interested in them, except so far as they can be affected by argument or
friendly monition; that the idea of compelling belief in particular
doctrines is a solecism, as absurd as wicked; and, so far from condemning
to the stake, or the gibbet, men who pertinaciously adhere to their
conscientious opinions in contempt of personal interests and in the face
of danger, we should rather feel disposed to imitate the spirit of
antiquity in raising altars and statues to their memory, as having
displayed the highest efforts of human virtue. But, although these truths
are now so obvious as rather to deserve the name of truisms, the world has
been slow, very slow, in arriving at them, after many centuries of
unspeakable oppression and misery.

Acts of intolerance are to be discerned from the earliest period in which
Christianity became the established religion of the Roman empire. But they
do not seem to have flowed from any systematized plan of persecution,
until the papal authority had swollen to a considerable height. The popes,
who claimed the spiritual allegiance of all Christendom, regarded heresy
as treason against themselves, and, as such, deserving all the penalties,
which sovereigns have uniformly visited on this, in their eyes,
unpardonable offence. The crusades, which, in the early part of the
thirteenth century, swept so fiercely over the southern provinces of
France, exterminating their inhabitants, and blasting the fair buds of
civilization which had put forth after the long feudal winter, opened the
way to the Inquisition; and it was on the ruins of this once happy land,
that were first erected the bloody altars of that tribunal. [1]

After various modifications, the province of detecting and punishing
heresy was exclusively committed to the hands of the Dominican friars; and
in 1233, in the reign of St. Louis, and under the pontificate of Gregory
the Ninth, a code for the regulation of their proceedings was finally
digested. The tribunal, after having been successively adopted in Italy
and Germany, was introduced into Aragon, where, in 1242, additional
provisions were framed by the council of Tarragona, on the basis of those
of 1233, which may properly be considered as the primitive instructions of
the Holy Office in Spain. [2]

This ancient Inquisition, as it is termed, bore the same odious
peculiarities in its leading features as the Modern; the same impenetrable
secrecy in its proceedings, the same insidious modes of accusation, a
similar use of torture, and similar penalties for the offender. A sort of
manual, drawn up by Eymerich, an Aragonese inquisitor of the fourteenth
century, for the instruction of the judges of the Holy Office, prescribes
all those ambiguous forms of interrogation, by which the unwary, and
perhaps innocent victim might be circumvented. [3] The principles, on
which the ancient Inquisition was established, are no less repugnant to
justice, than those which regulated the modern; although the former, it is
true, was much less extensive in its operation. The arm of persecution,
however, fell with sufficient heaviness, especially during the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries, on the unfortunate Albigenses, who from the
proximity and political relations of Aragon and Provence, had become
numerous in the former kingdom. The persecution appears, however, to have
been chiefly confined to this unfortunate sect, and there is no evidence
that the Holy Office, notwithstanding papal briefs to that effect, was
fully organized in Castile, before the reign of Isabella. This is perhaps
imputable to the paucity of heretics in that kingdom. It cannot, at any
rate, be charged to any lukewarmness in its sovereigns; since they, from
the time of St. Ferdinand, who heaped the fagots on the blazing pile with
his own hands, down to that of John the Second, Isabella's father, who
hunted the unhappy heretics of Biscay, like so many wild beasts, among the
mountains, had ever evinced a lively zeal for the orthodox faith. [4]

By the middle of the fifteenth century, the Albigensian heresy had become
nearly extirpated by the Inquisition of Aragon; so that this infernal
engine might have been suffered to sleep undisturbed from want of
sufficient fuel to keep it in motion, when new and ample materials were
discovered in the unfortunate race of Israel, on whom the sins of their
fathers have been so unsparingly visited by every nation in Christendom,
among whom they have sojourned, almost to the present century. As this
remarkable people, who seem to have preserved their unity of character
unbroken, amid the thousand fragments into which they have been scattered,
attained perhaps to greater consideration in Spain than in any other part
of Europe, and as the efforts of the Inquisition were directed principally
against them during the present reign, it may be well to take a brief
review of their preceding history in the Peninsula.

Under the Visigothic empire the Jews multiplied exceedingly in the
country, and were permitted to acquire considerable power and wealth. But
no sooner had their Arian masters embraced the orthodox faith, than they
began to testify their zeal by pouring on the Jews the most pitiless storm
of persecution. One of their laws alone condemned the whole race to
slavery; and Montesquieu remarks, without much exaggeration, that to the
Gothic code may be traced all the maxims of the modern Inquisition, the
monks of the fifteenth century only copying, in reference to the
Israelites, the bishops of the seventh. [5]

After the Saracenic invasion, which the Jews, perhaps with reason, are
accused of having facilitated, they resided in the conquered cities, and
were permitted to mingle with the Arabs on nearly equal terms. Their
common Oriental origin produced a similarity of tastes, to a certain
extent, not unfavorable to such a coalition. At any rate, the early
Spanish Arabs were characterized by a spirit of toleration towards both
Jews and Christians, "the people of the book," as they were called, which
has scarcely been found among later Moslems. [6] The Jews, accordingly,
under these favorable auspices, not only accumulated wealth with their
usual diligence, but gradually rose to the highest civil dignities, and
made great advances in various departments of letters. The schools of
Cordova, Toledo, Barcelona, and Granada were crowded with numerous
disciples, who emulated the Arabians in keeping alive the flame of
learning, during the deep darkness of the Middle Ages. [7] Whatever may be
thought of their success in speculative philosophy, [8] they cannot
reasonably be denied to have contributed largely to practical and
experimental science. They were diligent travellers in all parts of the
known world, compiling itineraries which have proved of extensive use in
later times, and bringing home hoards of foreign specimens and Oriental
drugs, that furnished important contributions to the domestic
pharmacopoeias. [9] In the practice of medicine, indeed, they became so
expert, as in a manner to monopolize that profession. They made great
proficiency in mathematics, and particularly in astronomy; while, in the
cultivation of elegant letters, they revived the ancient glories of the
Hebrew muse. [10] This was indeed the golden age of modern Jewish
literature, which, under the Spanish caliphs, experienced a protection so
benign, although occasionally checkered by the caprices of despotism, that
it was enabled to attain higher beauty and a more perfect development in
the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, than it has
reached in any other part of Christendom. [11]

The ancient Castilians of the same period, very different from their
Gothic ancestors, seem to have conceded to the Israelites somewhat of the
feelings of respect, which were extorted from them by the superior
civilization of the Spanish Arabs. We find eminent Jews residing in the
courts of the Christian princes, directing their studies, attending them
as physicians, or more frequently administering their finances. For this
last vocation they seem to have had a natural aptitude; and, indeed, the
correspondence which they maintained with the different countries of
Europe by means of their own countrymen, who acted as the brokers of
almost every people among whom they were scattered during the Middle Ages,
afforded them peculiar facilities both in politics and commerce. We meet
with Jewish scholars and statesmen attached to the courts of Alfonso the
Tenth, Alfonso the Eleventh, Peter the Cruel, Henry the Second, and other
princes. Their astronomical science recommended them in a special manner
to Alfonso the Wise, who employed them in the construction of his
celebrated Tables. James the First of Aragon condescended to receive
instruction from them in ethics; and, in the fifteenth century, we notice
John the Second, of Castile, employing a Jewish secretary in the
compilation of a national Cancionero. [12]

But all this royal patronage proved incompetent to protect the Jews, when
their flourishing fortunes had risen to a sufficient height to excite
popular envy, augmented, as it was, by that profuse ostentation of
equipage and apparel, for which this singular people, notwithstanding
their avarice, have usually shown a predilection. [13] Stories were
circulated of their contempt for the Catholic worship, their desecration
of its most holy symbols, and of their crucifixion, or other sacrifice, of
Christian children, at the celebration of their own passover. [14] With
these foolish calumnies, the more probable charge of usury and extortion
was industriously preferred against them, till at length, towards the
close of the fourteenth century, the fanatical populace, stimulated in
many instances by the no less fanatical clergy, and perhaps encouraged by
the numerous class of debtors to the Jews, who found this a convenient
mode of settling their accounts, made a fierce assault on this unfortunate
people in Castile and Aragon, breaking into their houses, violating their
most private sanctuaries, scattering their costly collections and
furniture, and consigning the wretched proprietors to indiscriminate
massacre, without regard to sex or age. [15]

In this crisis, the only remedy left to the Jews was a real or feigned
conversion to Christianity. St. Vincent Ferrier, a Dominican of Valencia,
performed such a quantity of miracles, in furtherance of this purpose, as
might have excited the envy of any saint in the Calendar; and these, aided
by his eloquence, are said to have changed the hearts of no less than
thirty-five thousand of the race of Israel, which doubtless must be
reckoned the greatest miracle of all. [16]

The legislative enactments of this period, and still more under John the
Second, during the first half of the fifteenth century, were uncommonly
severe upon the Jews. While they were prohibited from mingling freely with
the Christians, and from exercising the professions for which they were
best qualified, [17] their residence was restricted within certain
prescribed limits of the cities which they inhabited; and they were not
only debarred from their usual luxury of ornament in dress, but were held
up to public scorn, as it were, by some peculiar badge or emblem
embroidered on their garments. [18] Such was the condition of the Spanish
Jews at the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella. The _new Christians_, or
_converts_, as those who had renounced the faith of their fathers were
denominated, were occasionally preferred to high ecclesiastical dignities,
which they illustrated by their integrity and learning. They were
intrusted with municipal offices in the various cities of Castile; and, as
their wealth furnished an obvious resource for repairing, by way of
marriage, the decayed fortunes of the nobility, there was scarcely a
family of rank in the land, whose blood had not been contaminated, at some
period or other, by mixture with the _mala sangre_, as it came afterwards
to be termed, of the house of Judah; an ignominious stain, which no time
has been deemed sufficient wholly to purge away. [19]

Notwithstanding the show of prosperity enjoyed by the converted Jews,
their situation was far from secure. Their proselytism had been too sudden
to be generally sincere; and, as the task of dissimulation was too irksome
to be permanently endured, they gradually became less circumspect, and
exhibited the scandalous spectacle of apostates returning to wallow in the
ancient mire of Judaism. The clergy, especially the Dominicans, who seem
to have inherited the quick scent for heresy which distinguished their
frantic founder, were not slow in sounding the alarm; and the
superstitious populace, easily roused to acts of violence in the name of
religion, began to exhibit the most tumultuous movements, and actually
massacred the constable of Castile in an attempt to suppress them at Jaen,
the year preceding the accession of Isabella. After this period, the
complaints against the Jewish heresy became still more clamorous, and the
throne was repeatedly beset with petitions to devise some effectual means
for its extirpation. [20]

A chapter of the Chronicle of the Curate of Los Palacios, who lived at
this time in Andalusia, where the Jews seem to have most abounded, throws
considerable light on the real, as well as pretended motives of the
subsequent persecution. "This accursed race," he says, speaking of the
Israelites, "were either unwilling to bring their children to be baptized,
or, if they did, they washed away the stain on returning home. They
dressed their stews and other dishes with oil, instead of lard; abstained
from pork; kept the passover; ate meat in lent; and sent oil to replenish
the lamps of their synagogues; with many other abominable ceremonies of
their religion. They entertained no respect for monastic life, and
frequently profaned the sanctity of religious houses by the violation or
seduction of their inmates. They were an exceedingly politic and ambitious
people, engrossing the most lucrative municipal offices; and preferred to
gain their livelihood by traffic, in which they made exorbitant gains,
rather than by manual labor or mechanical arts. They considered themselves
in the hands of the Egyptians, whom it was a merit to deceive and plunder.
By their wicked contrivances they amassed great wealth, and thus were
often able to ally themselves by marriage with noble Christian families."

It is easy to discern, in this medley of credulity and superstition, the
secret envy, entertained by the Castilians, of the superior skill and
industry of their Hebrew brethren, and of the superior riches which these
qualities secured to them; and it is impossible not to suspect, that the
zeal of the most orthodox was considerably sharpened by worldly motives.

Be that as it may, the cry against the Jewish abominations now became
general. Among those most active in raising it, were Alfonso de Ojeda, a
Dominican, prior of the monastery of St. Paul in Seville, and Diego de
Merlo, assistant of that city, who should not be defrauded of the meed of
glory to which they are justly entitled by their exertions for the
establishment of the modern Inquisition. These persons, after urging on
the sovereigns the alarming extent to which the Jewish leprosy prevailed
in Andalusia, loudly called for the introduction of the Holy Office, as
the only effectual means of healing it. In this they were vigorously
supported by Niccoló Franco, the papal nuncio then residing at the court
of Castile. Ferdinand listened with complacency to a scheme, which
promised an ample source of revenue in the confiscations it involved. But
it was not so easy to vanquish Isabella's aversion to measures so
repugnant to the natural benevolence and magnanimity of her character. Her
scruples, indeed, were rather founded on sentiment than reason, the
exercise of which was little countenanced in matters of faith, in that
day, when the dangerous maxim, that the end justifies the means, was
universally received, and learned theologians seriously disputed whether
it were permitted to make peace with the infidel, and even whether
promises made to them were obligatory on Christians. [22]

The policy of the Roman church, at that time, was not only shown in its
perversion of some of the most obvious principles of morality, but in the
discouragement of all free inquiry in its disciples, whom it instructed to
rely implicitly in matters of conscience on their spiritual advisers. The
artful institution of the tribunal of confession, established with this
view, brought, as it were, the whole Christian world at the feet of the
clergy, who, far from being always animated by the meek spirit of the
Gospel, almost justified the reproach of Voltaire, that confessors have
been the source of most of the violent measures pursued by princes of the
Catholic faith. [23] Isabella's serious temper, as well as early
education, naturally disposed her to religious influences. Notwithstanding
the independence exhibited by her in all secular affairs, in her own
spiritual concerns she uniformly testified the deepest humility, and
deferred too implicitly to what she deemed the superior sagacity, or
sanctity, of her ghostly counsellors. An instance of this humility may be
worth recording. When Fray Fernando de Talavera, afterwards archbishop of
Granada, who had been appointed confessor to the queen, attended her for
the first time in that capacity, he continued seated, after she had knelt
down to make her confession, which drew from her the remark, "that it was
usual for both parties to kneel." "No," replied the priest, "this is God's
tribunal; I act here as his minister, and it is fitting that I should keep
my seat, while your Highness kneels before me." Isabella, far from taking
umbrage at the ecclesiastic's arrogant demeanor, complied with all
humility, and was afterwards heard to say, "This is the confessor that I
wanted." [24]

Well had it been for the land, if the queen's conscience had always been
intrusted to the keeping of persons of such exemplary piety as Talavera.
Unfortunately, in her early days, during the lifetime of her brother
Henry, that charge was committed to a Dominican monk, Thomas de
Torquemada, a native of old Castile, subsequently raised to the rank of
prior of Santa Cruz in Segovia, and condemned to infamous immortality by
the signal part which he performed in the tragedy of the Inquisition. This
man, who concealed more pride under his monastic weeds than might have
furnished forth a convent of his order, was one of that class, with whom
zeal passes for religion, and who testify their zeal by a fiery
persecution of those whose creed differs from their own; who compensate
for their abstinence from sensual indulgence, by giving scope to those
deadlier vices of the heart, pride, bigotry, and intolerance, which are no
less opposed to virtue, and are far more extensively mischievous to
society. This personage had earnestly labored to infuse into Isabella's
young mind, to which his situation as her confessor gave him such ready
access, the same spirit of fanaticism that glowed in his own. Fortunately,
this was greatly counteracted by her sound understanding, and natural
kindness of heart. Torquemada urged her, or, indeed, as is stated by some,
extorted a promise, that, "should she ever come to the throne, she would
devote herself to the extirpation of heresy, for the glory of God, and the
exaltation of the Catholic faith." [25] The time was now arrived when this
fatal promise was to be discharged.

It is due to Isabella's fame to state thus much in palliation of the
unfortunate error into which she was led by her misguided zeal; an error
so grave, that, like a vein in some noble piece of statuary, it gives a
sinister expression to her otherwise unblemished character. [26] It was
not until the queen had endured the repeated importunities of the clergy,
particularly of those reverend persons in whom she most confided, seconded
by the arguments of Ferdinand, that she consented to solicit from the pope
a bull for the introduction of the Holy Office into Castile. Sixtus the
Fourth, who at that time filled the pontifical chair, easily discerning
the sources of wealth and influence, which this measure opened to the
court of Rome, readily complied with the petition of the sovereigns, and
expedited a bull bearing date November 1st, 1478, authorizing them to
appoint two or three ecclesiastics, inquisitors for the detection and
suppression of heresy throughout their dominions. [27]

The queen, however, still averse to violent measures, suspended the
operation of the ordinance, until a more lenient policy had been first
tried. By her command, accordingly, the archbishop of Seville, Cardinal
Mendoza, drew up a catechism exhibiting the different points of the
Catholic faith, and instructed the clergy throughout his diocese to spare
no pains in illuminating the benighted Israelites, by means of friendly
exhortation and a candid exposition of the true principles of
Christianity. [28] How far the spirit of these injunctions was complied
with, amid the excitement then prevailing, may be reasonably doubted.
There could be little doubt, however, that a report, made two years later,
by a commission of ecclesiastics with Alfonso de Ojeda at its head,
respecting the progress of the reformation, would be necessarily
unfavorable to the Jews. [29] In consequence of this report the papal
provisions were enforced by the nomination, on the 17th of September,
1480, of two Dominican monks as inquisitors, with two other ecclesiastics,
the one as assessor, and the other as procurator fiscal, with instructions
to proceed at once to Seville, and enter on the duties of their office.
Orders were also issued to the authorities of the city to support the
inquisitors by all the aid in their power. But the new institution, which
has since become the miserable boast of the Castilians, proved so
distasteful to them in its origin, that they refused any co-operation with
its ministers, and indeed opposed such delays and embarrassments, that,
during the first years, it can scarcely be said to have obtained a footing
in any other places in Andalusia, than those belonging to the crown. [30]

On the 2d of January, 1481, the court commenced operations by the
publication of an edict, followed by several others, requiring all persons
to aid in apprehending and accusing all such as they might know or suspect
to be guilty of heresy, [31] and holding out the illusory promise of
absolution to such as should confess their errors within a limited period.
As every mode of accusation, even anonymous, was invited, the number of
victims multiplied so fast, that the tribunal found it convenient to
remove its sittings from the convent of St. Paul, within the city, to the
spacious fortress of Triana, in the suburbs. [32]

The presumptive proofs by which the charge of Judaism was established
against the accused are so curious, that a few of them may deserve notice.
It was considered good evidence of the fact, if the prisoner wore better
clothes or cleaner linen on the Jewish sabbath than on other days of the
week; if he had no fire in his house the preceding evening; if he sat at
table with Jews, or ate the meat of animals slaughtered by their hands, or
drank a certain beverage held in much estimation by them; if he washed a
corpse in warm water, or when dying turned his face to the wall; or,
finally, if he gave Hebrew names to his children; a provision most
whimsically cruel, since, by a law of Henry the Second, he was prohibited
under severe penalties from giving them Christian names. He must have
found it difficult to extricate himself from the horns of this dilemma.
[33] Such are a few of the circumstances, some of them purely accidental
in their nature, others the result of early habit, which might well have
continued after a sincere conversion to Christianity, and all of them
trivial, on which capital accusations were to be alleged, and even
satisfactorily established. [34]

The inquisitors, adopting the wily and tortuous policy of the ancient
tribunal, proceeded with a despatch, which shows that they could have paid
little deference even to this affectation of legal form. On the sixth day
of January, six convicts suffered at the stake. Seventeen more were
executed in March, and a still greater number in the month following; and
by the 4th of November in the same year, no less than two hundred and
ninety-eight individuals had been sacrificed in the _autos da fe_ of
Seville. Besides these, the mouldering remains of many, who had been tried
and convicted after their death, were torn up from their graves, with a
hyena-like ferocity, which has disgraced no other court, Christian or
Pagan, and condemned to the common funeral pile. This was prepared on a
spacious stone scaffold, erected in the suburbs of the city, with the
statues of four prophets attached to the corners, to which the unhappy
sufferers were bound for the sacrifice, and which the worthy Curate of Los
Palacios celebrates with much complacency as the spot "where heretics were
burnt, and ought to burn as long as any can be found." [35]

Many of the convicts were persons estimable for learning and probity; and,
among these, three clergymen are named, together with other individuals
filling judicial or high municipal stations. The sword of justice was
observed, in particular, to strike at the wealthy, the least pardonable
offenders in times of proscription.

The plague which desolated Seville this year, sweeping off fifteen
thousand inhabitants, as if in token of the wrath of Heaven at these
enormities, did not palsy for a moment the arm of the Inquisition, which,
adjourning to Aracena, continued as indefatigable as before. A similar
persecution went forward in other parts of the province of Andalusia; so
that within the same year, 1481, the number of the sufferers was computed
at two thousand burnt alive, a still greater number in effigy, and
seventeen thousand _reconciled_; a term which must not be understood
by the reader to signify anything like a pardon or amnesty, but only the
commutation of a capital sentence for inferior penalties, as fines, civil
incapacity, very generally total confiscation of property, and not
unfrequently imprisonment for life. [36]

The Jews were astounded by the bolt, which had fallen so unexpectedly upon
them. Some succeeded in making their escape to Granada, others to France,
Germany, or Italy, where they appealed from the decisions of the Holy
Office to the sovereign pontiff. [37] Sixtus the Fourth appears for a
moment to have been touched with something like compunction; for he
rebuked the intemperate zeal of the inquisitors, and even menaced them
with deprivation. But these feelings, it would seem, were but transient;
for, in 1483, we find the same pontiff quieting the scruples of Isabella
respecting the appropriation of the confiscated property, and encouraging
both sovereigns to proceed in the great work of purification, by an
audacious reference to the example of Jesus Christ, who, says he,
consolidated his kingdom on earth by the destruction of idolatry; and he
concludes with imputing their successes in the Moorish war, upon which
they had then entered, to their zeal for the faith, and promising them the
like in future. In the course of the same year, he expedited two briefs,
appointing Thomas de Torquemada inquisitor-general of Castile and Aragon,
and clothing him with full powers to frame a new constitution for the Holy
Office. This was the origin of that terrible tribunal, the Spanish or
modern Inquisition, familiar to most readers, whether of history or
romance; which, for three centuries, has extended its iron sway over the
dominions of Spain and Portugal. [38] Without going into details
respecting the organization of its various courts, which gradually swelled
to thirteen during the present reign, I shall endeavor to exhibit the
principles which regulated their proceedings, as deduced in part from the
code digested under Torquemada, and partly from the practice which
obtained during his supremacy. [39]

Edicts were ordered to be published annually, on the first two Sundays in
lent, throughout the churches, enjoining it as a sacred duty on all, who
knew or suspected another to be guilty of heresy, to lodge information
against him before the Holy Office; and the ministers of religion were
instructed to refuse absolution to such as hesitated to comply with this,
although the suspected person might stand in the relation of parent,
child, husband, or wife. All accusations, anonymous as well as signed,
were admitted; it being only necessary to specify the names of the
witnesses, whose testimony was taken down in writing by a secretary, and
afterwards read to them, which, unless the inaccuracies were so gross as
to force themselves upon their attention, they seldom failed to confirm.

The accused, in the mean time, whose mysterious disappearance was perhaps
the only public evidence of his arrest, was conveyed to the secret
chambers of the Inquisition, where he was jealously excluded from
intercourse with all, save a priest of the Romish church and his jailer,
both of whom might be regarded as the spies of the tribunal. In this
desolate condition, the unfortunate man, cut off from external
communication and all cheering sympathy or support, was kept for some time
in ignorance even of the nature of the charges preferred against him, and
at length, instead of the original process, was favored only with extracts
from the depositions of the witnesses, so garbled as to conceal every
possible clue to their name and quality. With still greater unfairness, no
mention whatever was made of such testimony, as had arisen in the course
of the examination, in his own favor. Counsel was indeed allowed from a
list presented by his judges. But this privilege availed little, since the
parties were not permitted to confer together, and the advocate was
furnished with no other sources of information than what had been granted
to his client. To add to the injustice of these proceedings, every
discrepancy in the statements of the witnesses was converted into a
separate charge against the prisoner, who thus, instead of one crime,
stood accused of several. This, taken in connection with the concealment
of time, place, and circumstance in the accusations, created such
embarrassment, that, unless the accused was possessed of unusual acuteness
and presence of mind, it was sure to involve him, in his attempts to
explain, in inextricable contradiction. [41]

If the prisoner refused to confess his guilt, or, as was usual, was
suspected of evasion, or an attempt to conceal the truth, he was subjected
to the torture. This, which was administered in the deepest vaults of the
Inquisition, where the cries of the victim could fall on no ear save that
of his tormentors, is admitted by the secretary of the Holy Office, who
has furnished the most authentic report of its transactions, not to have
been exaggerated in any of the numerous narratives which have dragged
these subterranean horrors into light. If the intensity of pain extorted a
confession from the sufferer, he was expected, if he survived, which did
not always happen, to confirm it on the next day. Should he refuse to do
this, his mutilated members were condemned to a repetition of the same
sufferings, until his obstinacy (it should rather have been termed his
heroism) might be vanquished. [42] Should the rack, however, prove
ineffectual to force a confession of his guilt, he was so far from being
considered as having established his innocence, that, with a barbarity
unknown to any tribunal where the torture has been admitted, and which of
itself proves its utter incompetency to the ends it proposes, he was not
unfrequently convicted on the depositions of the witnesses. At the
conclusion of his mock trial, the prisoner was again returned to his
dungeon, where, without the blaze of a single fagot to dispel the cold, or
illuminate the darkness of the long winter night, he was left in unbroken
silence to await the doom which was to consign him to an ignominious
death, or a life scarcely less ignominious. [43]

The proceedings of the tribunal, as I have stated them, were plainly
characterized throughout by the most flagrant injustice and inhumanity to
the accused. Instead of presuming his innocence, until his guilt had been
established, it acted on exactly the opposite principle. Instead of
affording him the protection accorded by every other judicature, and
especially demanded in his forlorn situation, it used the most insidious
arts to circumvent and to crush him. He had no remedy against malice or
misapprehension on the part of his accusers, or the witnesses against him,
who might be his bitterest enemies; since they were never revealed to nor
confronted with the prisoner, nor subjected to a cross-examination, which
can best expose error or wilful collusion in the evidence. [44] Even the
poor forms of justice, recognized in this court, might be readily
dispensed with; as its proceedings were impenetrably shrouded from the
public eye, by the appalling oath of secrecy imposed on all, whether
functionaries, witnesses, or prisoners, who entered within its precincts.
The last, and not the least odious feature of the whole, was the
connection established between the condemnation of the accused and the
interests of his judges; since the confiscations, which were the uniform
penalties, of heresy, [45] were not permitted to flow into the royal
exchequer, until they had first discharged the expenses, whether in the
shape of salaries or otherwise, incident to the Holy Office. [46]

The last scene in this dismal tragedy was the _act of faith_, (auto
da fe,) the most imposing spectacle, probably, which, has been witnessed
since the ancient Roman triumph, and which, as intimated by a Spanish
writer, was intended, somewhat profanely, to represent the terrors of the
Day of Judgment. [47] The proudest grandees of the land, on this occasion,
putting on the sable livery of familiars of the Holy Office and bearing
aloft its banners, condescended to act as the escort of its ministers;
while the ceremony was not unfrequently countenanced by the royal
presence. It should be stated, however, that neither of these acts of
condescension, or, more properly, humiliation, were witnessed until a
period posterior to the present reign. The effect was further heightened
by the concourse of ecclesiastics in their sacerdotal robes, and the
pompous ceremonial, which the church of Rome knows so well how to display
on fitting occasions; and which was intended to consecrate, as it were,
this bloody sacrifice by the authority of a religion, which has expressly
declared that it desires mercy, and not sacrifice. [48]

The most important actors in the scene were the unfortunate convicts, who
were now disgorged for the first time from the dungeons of the tribunal.
They were clad in coarse woollen garments, styled _san benitos_, brought
close round the neck, and descending like a frock down to the knees. [49]
These were of a yellow color, embroidered with a scarlet cross, and well
garnished with figures of devils and flames of fire, which, typical of the
heretic's destiny hereafter, served to make him more odious in the eyes of
the superstitious multitude. [50] The greater part of the sufferers were
condemned to be _reconciled_, the manifold meanings of which soft phrase
have been already explained. Those who were to be _relaxed_, as it was
called, were delivered over, as impenitent heretics, to the secular arm,
in order to expiate their offence by the most painful of deaths, with the
consciousness, still more painful, that they were to leave behind them
names branded with infamy, and families involved in irretrievable ruin.

It is remarkable, that a scheme so monstrous as that of the Inquisition,
presenting the most effectual barrier, probably, that was ever opposed to
the progress of knowledge, should have been revived at the close of the
fifteenth century, when the light of civilization was rapidly advancing
over every part of Europe. It is more remarkable, that it should have
occurred in Spain, at this time under a government which had displayed
great religious independence on more than one occasion, and which had paid
uniform regard to the rights of its subjects, and pursued a generous
policy in reference to their intellectual culture. Where, we are tempted
to ask, when we behold the persecution of an innocent, industrious people
for the crime of adhesion to the faith of their ancestors, where was the
charity, which led the old Castilian to reverence valor and virtue in an
infidel, though an enemy? Where the chivalrous self-devotion, which led an
Aragonese monarch, three centuries before, to give away his life, in
defence of the persecuted sectaries of Provence? Where the independent
spirit, which prompted the Castilian nobles, during the very last reign,
to reject with scorn the proposed interference of the pope himself in
their concerns, that they were now reduced to bow their necks to a few
frantic priests, the members of an order, which, in Spain at least, was
quite as conspicuous for ignorance as intolerance? True indeed the
Castilians, and the Aragonese subsequently still more, gave such evidence
of their aversion to the institution, that it can hardly be believed the
clergy would have succeeded in fastening it upon them, had they not
availed themselves of the popular prejudices against the Jews. [52]
Providence, however, permitted that the sufferings, thus heaped on the
heads of this unfortunate people, should be requited in full measure to
the nation that inflicted them. The fires of the Inquisition, which were
lighted exclusively for the Jews, were destined eventually to consume
their oppressors. They were still more deeply avenged in the moral
influence of this tribunal, which, eating like a pestilent canker into the
heart of the monarchy, at the very time when it was exhibiting a most
goodly promise, left it at length a bare and sapless trunk.

Notwithstanding the persecutions under Torquemada were confined almost
wholly to the Jews, his activity was such as to furnish abundant
precedent, in regard to forms of proceeding, for his successors; if,
indeed, the word forms may be applied to the conduct of trials so summary,
that the tribunal of Toledo alone, under the superintendence of two
inquisitors, disposed of three thousand three hundred and twenty-seven
processes in little more than a year. [53] The number of convicts was
greatly swelled by the blunders of the Dominican monks, who acted as
qualificators, or interpreters of what constituted heresy, and whose
ignorance led them frequently to condemn as heterodox propositions
actually derived from the fathers of the church. The prisoners for life,
alone, became so numerous, that it was necessary to assign them their own
houses as the places of their incarceration.

The data for an accurate calculation of the number of victims sacrificed
by the Inquisition during this reign are not very satisfactory. From such
as exist, however, Llorente has been led to the most frightful results. He
computes, that, during the eighteen years of Torquemada's ministry, there
were no less than 10,220 burnt, 6860 condemned, and burnt in effigy as
absent or dead, and 97,321 reconciled by various other penances; affording
an average of more than 6000 convicted persons annually. [54] In this
enormous sum of human misery is not included the multitude of orphans,
who, from the confiscation of their paternal inheritance, were turned over
to indigence and vice. [55] Many of the reconciled were afterwards
sentenced as relapsed; and the Curate of Los Palacios expresses the
charitable wish, that "the whole accursed race of Jews, male and female,
of twenty years of age and upwards, might be purified with fire and
fagot!" [56]

The vast apparatus of the Inquisition involved so heavy an expenditure,
that a very small sum, comparatively, found its way into the exchequer, to
counterbalance the great detriment resulting to the state from the
sacrifice of the most active and skilful part of its population. All
temporal interests, however, were held light in comparison with the
purgation of the land from heresy; and such augmentations as the revenue
did receive, we are assured, were conscientiously devoted to pious
purposes, and the Moorish war! [57]

The Roman see, during all this time, conducting itself with its usual
duplicity, contrived to make a gainful traffic by the sale of
dispensations from the penalties incurred by such as fell under the ban of
the Inquisition, provided they were rich enough to pay for them, and
afterwards revoking them, at the instance of the Castilian court.
Meanwhile, the odium, excited by the unsparing rigor of Torquemada, raised
up so many accusations against him, that he was thrice compelled to send
an agent to Rome to defend his cause before the pontiff; until, at length,
Alexander the Sixth, in 1494, moved by these reiterated complaints,
appointed four coadjutors, out of a pretended regard to the infirmities of
his age, to share with him the burdens of his office. [58]

This personage, who is entitled to so high a rank among those who have
been the authors of unmixed evil to their species, was permitted to reach
a very old age, and to die quietly in his bed. Yet he lived in such
constant apprehension of assassination, that he is said to have kept a
reputed unicorn's horn always on his table, which was imagined to have the
power of detecting and neutralizing poisons; while, for the more complete
protection of his person, he was allowed an escort of fifty horse and two
hundred foot in his progresses through the kingdom. [59]

This man's zeal was of such an extravagant character, that it may almost
shelter itself under the name of insanity. His history may be thought to
prove, that, of all human infirmities, or rather vices, there is none
productive of more extensive mischief to society than fanaticism. The
opposite principle of atheism, which refuses to recognize the most
important sanctions to virtue, does not necessarily imply any destitution
of just moral perceptions, that is, of a power of discriminating between
right and wrong, in its disciples. But fanaticism is so far subversive of
the most established principles of morality, that, under the dangerous
maxim, "For the advancement of the faith, all means are lawful," which
Tasso has rightly, though perhaps undesignedly, derived from the spirits
of hell, [60] it not only excuses, but enjoins the commission of the most
revolting crimes, as a sacred duty. The more repugnant, indeed, such
crimes may be to natural feeling, or public sentiment, the greater their
merit, from the sacrifice which the commission of them involves. Many a
bloody page of history attests the fact, that fanaticism, armed with
power, is the sorest evil which can befall a nation.

* * * * *

Don Juan Antonio Llorente is the only writer who has succeeded in
completely lifting the veil from the dread mysteries of the Inquisition.
It is obvious how very few could be competent to this task, since the
proceedings of the Holy Office were shrouded in such impenetrable secrecy,
that even the prisoners who were arraigned before it, as has been already
stated, were kept in ignorance of their own processes. Even such of its
functionaries, as have at different times pretended to give its
transactions to the world, have confined themselves to an historical
outline, with meagre notices of such parts of its internal discipline as
might be safely disclosed to the public.

Llorente was secretary to the tribunal of Madrid from 1790 to 1792. His
official station consequently afforded him every facility for an
acquaintance with the most recondite affairs of the Inquisition; and, on
its suppression at the close of 1808, he devoted several years to a
careful investigation of the registers of the tribunals, both of the
capital and the provinces, as well as of such other original documents
contained within their archives, as had not hitherto been opened to the
light of day. In the progress of his work he has anatomized the most
odious features of the institution with unsparing severity; and his
reflections are warmed with a generous and enlightened spirit, certainly
not to have been expected in an ex-inquisitor. The arrangement of his
immense mass of materials is indeed somewhat faulty, and the work might be
recast in a more popular form, especially by means of a copious
retrenchment. With all its subordinate defects, however, it is entitled to
the credit of being the most, indeed the only, authentic history of the
modern Inquisition; exhibiting its minutest forms of practice, and the
insidious policy by which they were directed, from the origin of the
institution down to its temporary abolition. It well deserves to be
studied, as the record of the most humiliating triumph, which fanaticism
has ever been able to obtain over human reason, and that, too, during the
most civilized periods, and in the most civilized portion of the world.
The persecutions, endured by the unfortunate author of the work, prove
that the embers of this fanaticism may be rekindled too easily, even in
the present century.


[1] Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, translated by Maclaine, (Charlestown,
1810,) cent. 13, p. 2, chap. 5.--Sismondi, Histoire des Français, (Paris,
1821,) tom. vi. chap. 24-28; tom; vii. chap. 2, 3.--Idem, De la
Littérature du Midi de l'Europe, (Paris, 1813,) tom. i. chap. 6.--In the
former of these works M. Sismondi has described the physical ravages of
the crusades in southern France, with the same spirit and eloquence, with
which he has exhibited their desolating moral influence in the latter.

Some Catholic writers would fain excuse St. Dominic from the imputation of
having founded the Inquisition. It is true he died some years before the
perfect organization of that tribunal; but, as he established the
principles on which, and the monkish militia by whom, it was administered,
it is doing him no injustice to regard him as its real author.--The
Sicilian Paramo, indeed, in his heavy quarto, (De Origine et Progressu
Officii Sanctae Inquisitionis, Matriti, 1598,) traces it up to a much more
remote antiquity, which, to a Protestant ear at least, savors not a little
of blasphemy. According to him, God was the first inquisitor, and his
condemnation of Adam and Eve furnished the model of the judicial forms
observed in the trials of the Holy Office. The sentence of Adam was the
type of the inquisitorial _reconciliation_; his subsequent raiment of
the skins of animals was the model of the _san-benito_, and his expulsion
from Paradise the precedent for the confiscation of the goods of heretics.
This learned personage deduces a succession of inquisitors through the
patriarchs, Moses, Nebuchadnezzar, and King David, down to John the
Baptist, and even our Saviour, in whose precepts and conduct he finds
abundant authority for the tribunal! Paramo, De Origine Inquisitionis,
lib. 1, tit. 1, 2, 3.

[2] Sismondi, Hist. des Français, tom. vii. chap. 3.--Limborch, History of
the Inquisition, translated by Chandler, (London, 1731,) book 1, chap.
24.--Llorente, Histoire Critique de l'Inquisition d'Espagne, (Paris,
1818,) tom. i. p. 110.--Before this time we find a constitution of Peter
I. of Aragon against heretics, prescribing in certain cases the burning of
heretics and the confiscation of their estates, in 1197. Marca, Marca
Hispanica, sive Limes Hispanicus, (Parisiis, 1688,) p. 1384.

[3] Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii, p. 186.--Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, tom. i. pp. 110-124.--Puigblanch cites some of the
instructions from Eymerich's work, whose authority in the courts of the
Inquisition he compares to that of Gratian's Decretals in other
ecclesiastical judicatures. One of these may suffice to show the spirit of
the whole. "When the inquisitor has an opportunity, he shall manage so as
to introduce to the conversation of the prisoner some one of his
accomplices, or any other converted heretic, who shall feign that he still
persists in his heresy, telling him that he had abjured for the sole
purpose of escaping punishment, by deceiving the inquisitors. Having thus
gained his confidence, he shall go into his cell some day after dinner,
and, keeping up the conversation till night, shall remain with him under
pretext of its being too late for him to return home. He shall then urge
the prisoner to tell him all the particulars of his past life, having
first told him the whole of his own; and in the mean time spies shall be
kept in hearing at the door, as well as a notary, in order to certify what
may be said within." Puigblanch, Inquisition Unmasked, translated by
Walton, (London, 1816,) vol. i. pp. 238, 239.

[4] Mariana, Hist. de España, lib. 12, cap. 11; lib. 21, cap. 17.--
Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 3.--The nature of the
penance imposed on reconciled heretics by the ancient Inquisition was much
more severe than that of later times. Llorente cites an act of St. Dominic
respecting a person of this description, named Ponce Roger. The penitent
was commanded to be "_stripped of his clothes and beaten with rods by a
priest, three Sundays in succession, from the gate of the city to the door
of the church_; not to eat any kind of animal food during his whole
life; to keep three Lents a year, without even eating fish; to abstain
from fish, oil, and wine three days in the week during life, except in
case of sickness or excessive labor; to wear a religious dress with a
small cross embroidered on each side of the breast; to attend mass every
day, if he had the means of doing so, and vespers on Sundays and
festivals; to recite the service for the day and the night, and to repeat
the _pater noster_ seven times in the day, ten times in the evening,
and _twenty times at midnight_"! (Ibid., chap. 4.) If the said Roger
failed in any of the above requisitions, he was to be burnt as a relapsed
heretic! This was the encouragement held out by St. Dominic to penitence.

[5] Montesquieu, Esprit des Loix, liv. 28, chap. 1.--See the canon of the
17th council of Toledo, condemning the Israelitish race to bondage, in
Florez, España Sagrada, (Madrid, 1747-75,) tom. vi. p. 229.--Fuero Juzgo
(ed. de la Acad. (Madrid, 1815,) lib. 12, tit. 2 and 3,) is composed of
the most inhuman ordinances against this unfortunate people.

[6] The Koran grants protection to the Jews on payment of tribute. See the
Koran, translated by Sale, (London, 1825,) chap. 9.

[7] The first academy founded by the learned Jews in Spain was that of
Cordova, A. D. 948. Castro, Biblioteca Española, tom. i. p. 2.--Basnage,
History of the Jews, translated by Taylor, (London, 1708,) book 7, chap.

[8] In addition to their Talmudic lore and Cabalistic mysteries, the
Spanish Jews were well read in the philosophy of Aristotle. They pretended
that the Stagirite was a convert to Judaism and had borrowed his science
from the writings of Solomon. (Brucker, Historia Critica Philosophiae,
(Lipsiae, 1766,) tom. ii. p. 853.) M. Degerando, adopting similar
conclusions with Brucker, in regard to the value of the philosophical
speculations of the Jews, passes the following severe sentence upon the
intellectual, and indeed moral character of the nation. "Ce peuple, par
son caractère, ses moeurs, ses institutions, semblait être destiné à
rester stationnaire. Un attachement excessif à leurs propres traditions
dominait chez les Juifs tous les penchans de l'esprit: ils restaient
presque étrangers aux progrès de la civilisation, au mouvement général de
la société; ils étaient en quelque sorte moralement isolés, alors même
qu'ils communiquaient avec tous les peuples, et parcouraient toutes les
contrées. Aussi nous cherchons en vain, dans ceux de leurs écrits qui nous
sont connus, non seulement de vraies découvertes, mais même des idées
réellement originales." Histoire Comparée des Systèmes de Philosophie,
(Paris, 1822,) tom. iv. p. 299.

[9] Castro, Biblioteca Española, tom. i. pp. 21, 33, et alibi.--Benjamin
of Tudela's celebrated Itinerary, having been translated into the various
languages of Europe, passed into sixteen editions before the middle of the
last century. Ibid., tom. i. pp. 79, 80.

[10] The beautiful lament, which the royal psalmist has put into the
mouths of his countrymen, when commanded to sing the songs of Sion in a
strange land, cannot be applied to the Spanish Jews, who, far from hanging
their harps upon the willows, poured forth their lays with a freedom and
vivacity which may be thought to savor more of the modern troubadour than
of the ancient Hebrew minstrel. Castro has collected, under Siglo XV., a
few gleanings of such as, by their incorporation into a Christian
Cancionero, escaped the fury of the Inquisition. Biblioteca Española, tom.
i. pp. 265-364.

[11] Castro has done for the Hebrew what Casiri a few years before did for
the Arabic literature of Spain, by giving notices of such works as have
survived the ravages of time and superstition. The first volume of his
Biblioteca Española contains an analysis accompanied with extracts from
more than seven hundred different works, with biographical sketches of
their authors; the whole bearing most honorable testimony to the talent
and various erudition of the Spanish Jews.

[12] Basnage, History of the Jews, book 7, chap. 5, 15, 16.--Castro,
Biblioteca Española, tom. i. pp. 116, 265, 267.--Mariana, Hist. de España,
tom. i. p. 906;--tom. ii. pp. 63, 147, 459.--Samuel Levi, treasurer of
Peter the Cruel, who was sacrificed to the cupidity of his master, is
reported by Mariana to have left behind him the incredible sum of 400,000
ducats to swell the royal coffers. Tom. ii. p. 82.

[13] Sir Walter Scott, with his usual discernment, has availed himself of
these opposite traits in his portraits of Rebecca and Isaac in Ivanhoe, in
which he seems to have contrasted the lights and shadows of the Jewish
character. The humiliating state of the Jews, however, exhibited in this
romance, affords no analogy to their social condition in Spain; as is
evinced not merely by their wealth, which was also conspicuous in the
English Jews, but by the high degree of civilization, and even political
consequence, which, notwithstanding the occasional ebullitions of popular
prejudice, they were permitted to reach there.

[14] Calumnies of this kind were current all over Europe. The English
reader will call to mind the monkish fiction of the little Christian,

"Slain with cursed Jewes, as it is notable,"

singing most devoutly after his throat was cut from ear to ear, in
Chaucer's Prioresse's Tale. See another instance in the old Scottish
ballad of the "Jew's Daughter" in Percy's "Reliques of Ancient Poetry."

[15] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 43.--Mariana, Hist. de España,
tom. ii. pp. 186, 187.--In 1391, 5000 Jews were sacrificed to the popular
fury, and, according to Mariana, no less than 10,000 perished from the
same cause in Navarre about sixty years before. See tom. i. p. 912.

[16] According to Mariana, the restoration of sight to the blind, feet to
the lame, even life to the dead, were miracles of ordinary occurrence with
St. Vincent. (Hist. de España, tom. ii. pp. 229, 230.) The age of miracles
had probably ceased by Isabella's time, or the Inquisition might have been
spared. Nic. Antonio, in his notice of the life and labors of this
Dominican, (Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii. pp. 205, 207,) states that he
preached his inspired sermons in his vernacular Valencian dialect to
audiences of French, English, and Italians, indiscriminately, who all
understood him perfectly well; "a circumstance," says Dr. McCrie, in his
valuable "History of the Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in
Spain," (Edinburgh, 1829.) "which, if it prove anything, proves that the
hearers of St. Vincent possessed more miraculous powers than himself, and
that they should have been canonized, rather than the preacher." P. 87,

[17] They were interdicted from the callings of vintners, grocers,
taverners, especially of apothecaries, and of physicians, and nurses.
Ordenanças Reales, lib. 8, tit. 3, leyes 11, 15, 18.

[18] No law was more frequently reiterated than that prohibiting the Jews
from acting as stewards of the nobility, or farmers and collectors of the
public rents. The repetition of this law shows to what extent that people
had engrossed what little was known of financial science in that day. For
the multiplied enactments in Castile against them, see Ordenanças Reales,
(lib. 8, tit. 3.) For the regulations respecting the Jews in Aragon, many
of them oppressive, particularly at the commencement of the fifteenth
century, see Fueros y Observancias del Reyno de Aragon, (Zaragoza, 1667,)
tom. i. fol. 6.--Marca Hispanica, pp. 1416, 1433.--Zurita, Anales, tom.
iii. lib. 12, cap. 45.

[19] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 43.--Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, préf. p. 26.--A manuscript entitled _Tizon de España_,
(Brand of Spain,) tracing up many a noble pedigree to a Jewish or
Mahometan root, obtained a circulation, to the great scandal of the
country, which the efforts of the government, combined with those of the
Inquisition, have not been wholly able to suppress. Copies of it, however,
are now rarely to be met with. (Doblado, Letters from Spain, (London,
1822,) let. 2.) Clemencin notices two works with this title, one as
ancient as Ferdinand and Isabella's time, and both written by bishops.
Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. p. 125.

[20] Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 479.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
part. 2, cap. 77.

[21] Reyes Católicos, MS., cap, 43. Vol. I.—21.

[22] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, ubi supra.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
part. 2, cap. 77.--Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 386.--Mem. de la Acad.
de Hist., tom. vi. p. 44.--Llorente, tom. i. pp. 143, 145.

Some writers are inclined to view the Spanish Inquisition, in its origin,
as little else than a political engine. Guizot remarks of the tribunal, in
one of his lectures, "Elle contenait en germe ce qu'elle est devenue; mais
elle ne l'était pas en commençant: elle fut d'abord plus politique que
religieuse, et destinée à maintenir l'ordre plutôt qu'à défendre la foi."
(Cours d'Histoire Moderne, (Paris, 1828-30,) tom. v. lec. 11.) This
statement is inaccurate in reference to Castile, where the facts do not
warrant us in imputing any other motive for its adoption than religious
zeal. The general character of Ferdinand, as well as the circumstances
under which it was introduced into Aragon, may justify the inference of a
more worldly policy in its establishment there.

[23] Essai sur les Moeurs et l'Esprit des Nations, chap. 176.

[24] Sigüenza, Historia de la Orden de San Gerónimo, apud Mem. de la Acad.
de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 13.--This anecdote is more characteristic of the
order than the individual. Oviedo has given a brief notice of this
prelate, whose virtues raised him from the humblest condition to the
highest posts in the church, and gained him, to quote that writer's words,
the appellation of "El sancto, ó el buen arzobispo en toda España."
Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de Talavera.

[25] Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 323.

[26] The uniform tenderness with which the most liberal Spanish writers of
the present comparatively enlightened age, as Marina, Llorente, Clemencin,
etc., regard the memory of Isabella, affords an honorable testimony to the
unsuspected integrity of her motives. Even in relation to the Inquisition,
her countrymen would seem willing to draw a veil over her errors, or to
excuse her by charging them on the age in which she lived.

[27] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2. cap. 77.--Bernaldez, Reyes
Católicos, MS., cap. 43.--Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. pp.
143-145.--Much discrepancy exists in the narratives of Pulgar, Bernaldez,
and other contemporary writers, in reference to the era of the
establishment of the modern Inquisition. I have followed Llorente, whose
chronological accuracy, here and elsewhere, rests on the most authentic

[28] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., ubi supra.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos,
part. 2, cap. 77.--I find no contemporary authority for imputing to
Cardinal Mendoza an active agency in the establishment of the Inquisition,
as is claimed for him by later writers, and especially his kinsman and
biographer, the canon Salazar de Mendoza. (Crón. del Gran Cardenal, lib.
1, cap. 49.--Monarquía, tom. i. p. 336.) The conduct of this eminent
minister in this affair seems, on the contrary, to have been equally
politic and humane. The imputation of bigotry was not cast upon it, until
the age when bigotry was esteemed a virtue.

[29] In the interim, a caustic publication by a Jew appeared, containing
strictures on the conduct of the administration, and even on the Christian
religion, which was controverted at length by Talavera, afterwards
archbishop of Granada. The scandal occasioned by this ill-timed production
undoubtedly contributed to exacerbate the popular odium against the

[30] It is worthy of remark, that the famous cortes of Toledo, assembled
but a short time previous to the above-mentioned ordinances, and which
enacted several oppressive laws in relation to the Jews, made no allusion
whatever to the proposed establishment of a tribunal, which was to be
armed with such terrific powers.

[31] This ordinance, in which Llorente discerns the first regular
encroachment of the new tribunal on the civil jurisdiction, was aimed
partly at the Andalusian nobility, who afforded a shelter to the Jewish
fugitives. Llorente has fallen into the error, more than once, of speaking
of the count of Arcos, and marquis of Cadiz, as separate persons. The
possessor of both titles was Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, who inherited the
former of them from his father. The latter (which he afterwards made so
illustrious in the Moorish wars) was conferred on him by Henry IV., being
derived from the city of that name, which had been usurped from the crown.

[32] The historian of Seville quotes the Latin inscription on the portal
of the edifice in which the sittings of the dread tribunal were held. Its
concluding apostrophe to the Deity is one that the persecuted might join
in, as heartily as their oppressors. "Exurge Domine; judica causam tuam;
capite nobis vulpes." Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 389.

[33] Ordenanças Reales, lib. 8, tit. 3, ley 26.

[34] Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. pp. 153-159.

[35] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 44.--Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, tom. 1, p. 160.--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 164.--
The language of Bernaldez as applied to the four statues of the
_quemadero_, "_en que_ los quemavan," is so equivocal, that it has led to
some doubts whether he meant to assert that the persons to be burnt were
enclosed in the statues, or fastened to them. Llorente's subsequent
examination has led him to discard the first horrible supposition, which
realized the fabled cruelty of Phalaris.--This monument of fanaticism
continued to disgrace Seville till 1810, when it was removed in order to
make room for the construction of a battery against the French.

[36] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 164.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos,
MS., cap. 44.--Mariana, lib. 24, cap. 17.--Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, ubi supra.--L. Marineo diffuses the 2000 capital executions
over several years. He sums up the various severities of the Holy Office
in the following gentle terms. "The church, who is the mother of mercy and
the fountain of charity, content with the imposition of penances,
generously accords life to many who do not deserve it. While those who
persist obstinately in their errors, after being imprisoned on the
testimony of trust-worthy witnesses, she causes to be put to the torture,
and condemned to the flames; some miserably perish, bewailing their
errors, and invoking the name of Christ, while others call upon that of
Moses. Many again, who sincerely repent, she, notwithstanding the
heinousness of their transgressions, _merely sentences to perpetual
imprisonment_"! Such were the tender mercies of the Spanish Inquisition.

[37] Bernaldez states, that guards were posted at the gates of the city of
Seville in order to prevent the emigration of the Jewish inhabitants,
which indeed was forbidden under pain of death. The tribunal, however, had
greater terrors for them, and many succeeded in effecting their escape.
Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 44.

[38] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 164.--Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla,
p. 396.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap. 77.--Garibay, Compendio,
tom. ii. lib. 18, cap. 17.--Paramo, De Origine Inquisitionis, lib. 2, tit.
2, cap. 2.--Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. pp. 163-173.

[39] Over these subordinate tribunals Ferdinand erected a court of
supervision, with appellate jurisdiction, under the name of Council of the
Supreme, consisting of the grand inquisitor, as president, and three other
ecclesiastics, two of them doctors of law. The principal purpose of this
new creation was to secure the interest of the crown in the confiscated
property, and to guard against the encroachment of the Inquisition on
secular jurisdiction. The expedient, however, wholly failed, because most
of the questions brought before this court were determined by the
principles of the canon law, of which the grand inquisitor was to be sole
interpreter, the others having only, as it was termed, a "consultative
voice." Llorente, tom. i. pp. 173, 174.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol.
324.--Riol, Informe, apud Semanario Erudito, tom. iii. pp. 156 et seq.

[40] Puigblanch, Inquisition Unmasked, vol. i. chap. 4.--Llorente, Hist.
de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 6, art. 1; chap. 9, art. 1, 2.--The
witnesses were questioned in such general terms, that they were even kept
in ignorance of the particular matter respecting which they were expected
to testify. Thus, they were asked "if they knew anything which had been
said or done contrary to the Catholic faith, and the interests of the
tribunal." Their answers often opened a new scent to the judges, and thus,
in the language of Montanus, "brought more fishes into the inquisitors'
holy angle." See Montanus, Discovery and Playne Declaration of sundry
subtill Practises of the Holy Inquisition of Spayne, Eng. trans. (London,
1569,) fol. 14.

[41] Limborch, Inquisition, book 4, chap. 20.--Montanus, Inquisition of
Spayne, fol. 6-15.--Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 6.
art. 1; chap. 9, art. 4-9.--Puigblanch, Inquisition Unmasked, vol. i.
chap. 4.

[42] Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 9, art. 7.--By a
subsequent regulation of Philip II., the repetition of torture in the same
process was strictly prohibited to the inquisitors. But they, making use
of a sophism worthy of the arch-fiend himself, contrived to evade this
law, by pretending after each new infliction, of punishment that they had
only suspended, and not terminated, the torture!

[43] Montanus, Inquisition of Spayne, fol. 24 et seq.--Limborch,
Inquisition, vol. ii. chap. 29.--Puigblanch, Inquisition Unmasked, vol. i.
chap. 4.--Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, ubi supra.--I shall spare the
reader the description of the various modes of torture, the rack, fire,
and pulley, practised by the inquisitors, which have been so often
detailed in the doleful narratives of such as have had the fortune to
escape with life from the fangs of the tribunal. If we are to believe
Llorente, these barbarities have not been decreed for a long time. Yet
some recent statements are at variance with this assertion. See, among
others, the celebrated adventurer Van Halen's "Narrative of his
Imprisonment in the Dungeons of the Inquisition at Madrid, and his Escape
in 1817-18."

[44] The prisoner had indeed the right of challenging any witness on the
ground of personal enmity. (Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i.
chap. 9, art. 10.) But as he was kept in ignorance of the names of the
witnesses employed against him, and as even, if he conjectured right, the
degree of enmity, competent to set aside testimony, was to be determined
by his judges, it is evident that his privilege of challenge was wholly

[45] Confiscation had long been decreed as the punishment of convicted
heretics by the statutes of Castile. (Ordenanças Reales, lib. 8, tit. 4.)
The avarice of the present system, however, is exemplified by the fact,
that those who confessed and sought absolution within the brief term of
grace allowed by the inquisitors from the publication of their edict, were
liable to arbitrary fines; and those who confessed after that period,
escaped with nothing short of confiscation. Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, tom. i. pp. 176, 177.

[46] Ibid., tom. i. p. 216.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. fol. 324.--Salazar
de Mendoza, Monarquía, tom. i. fol. 337.--It is easy to discern in every
part of the odious scheme of the Inquisition the contrivance of the monks,
a class of men, cut off by their profession from the usual sympathies of
social life, and who, accustomed to the tyranny of the confessional, aimed
at establishing the same jurisdiction over thoughts, which secular
tribunals have wisely confined to actions. Time, instead of softening,
gave increased harshness to the features of the new system. The most
humane provisions were constantly evaded in practice; and the toils for
ensnaring the victim were so ingeniously multiplied, that few, very few,
were permitted to escape without some censure. Not more than one person,
says Llorente, in one or perhaps two thousand processes, previous to the
time of Philip III., received entire absolution. So that it came to be
proverbial that all who were not roasted, were at least singed.

"Devant l'Inquisition, quand on vient à jubé,
Si l'on ne sort rôti, l'on sort au moins flambé."

[47] Montanus, Inquisition of Spayne, fol. 46.--Puigblanch, Inquisition
Unmasked, vol. i. chap. 4.--Every reader of Tacitus and Juvenal will
remember how early the Christians were condemned to endure the penalty of
fire. Perhaps the earliest instance of burning to death for heresy in
modern times occurred under the reign of Robert of France, in the early
part of the eleventh century. (Sismondi, Hist. des Français, tom. iv.
chap. 4.) Paramo, as usual, finds authority for inquisitorial autos da fe,
where one would least expect it, in the New Testament. Among other
examples, he quotes the remark of James and John, who, when the village of
Samaria refused to admit Christ within its walls, would have called down
fire from heaven to consume its inhabitants. "Lo," says Paramo, "fire, the
punishment of heretics; for the Samaritans were the heretics of those
times." (De Origine Inquisitionis, lib. 1, tit. 3, cap. 5.) The worthy
father omits to add the impressive rebuke of our Saviour to his over-
zealous disciples. "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. The son
of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

[48] Puigblanch, vol. i. chap. 4.--The inquisitors, after the celebration
of an auto da fe at Guadaloupe, in 1485, wishing probably to justify these
bloody executions in the eyes of the people, who had not yet become
familiar with them, solicited a sign from the Virgin (whose shrine in that
place is noted all over Spain) in testimony of her approbation of the Holy
Office. Their petition was answered by such a profusion of miracles, that
Dr. Francis Sanctius de la Fuente, who acted as scribe on the occasion,
became out of breath, and, after recording sixty, gave up in despair,
unable to keep pace with their marvellous rapidity. Paramo, De Origine
Inquisitionis, lib. 2, tit. 2, cap. 3.

[49] _San benito_, according to Llorente, (tom. i. p. 127,) is a
corruption of _saco bendito_, being the name given to the dresses
worn by penitents previously to the thirteenth century.

[50] Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 9, art. 16.--
Puigblanch, Inquisition Unmasked, vol. i. chap. 4.--Voltaire remarks
(Essai sur les Moeurs, chap. 140) that, "An Asiatic, arriving at Madrid on
the day of an auto da fe, would doubt whether it were a festival,
religious celebration, sacrifice, or massacre;--it is all of them. They
reproach Montezuma with sacrificing human captives to the gods.--What
would he have said, had he witnessed an auto da fe?"

[51] The government, at least, cannot be charged with remissness in
promoting this. I find two ordinances in the royal collection of
_pragmáticas_, dated in September, 1501, (there must be some error in
the date of one of them,) inhibiting, under pain of confiscation of
property, such as had been _reconciled_, and their children by the
mother's side, and grandchildren by the father's, from holding any office
in the privy council, courts of justice, or in the municipalities, or any
other place of trust or honor. They were also excluded from the vocations
of notaries, surgeons, and apothecaries. (Pragmáticas del Reyno, fol. 5,
6.) This was visiting the sins of the fathers, to an extent unparalleled
in modern legislation. The sovereigns might find a precedent in a law of
Sylla, excluding the children of the proscribed Romans from political
honors; thus indignantly noticed by Sallust. "Quin solus omnium, post
memoriam hominum, supplicia in post futuros composuit; _quîs prius
injuria quàm vita certa esset_." Hist. Fragments, lib. 1.

[52] The Aragonese, as we shall see hereafter, made a manly though
ineffectual resistance, from the first, to the introduction of the
Inquisition among them by Ferdinand. In Castile, its enormous abuses
provoked the spirited interposition of the legislature at the commencement
of the following reign. But it was then too late.

[53] 1485-6. (Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. p. 239.)--In
Seville, with probably no greater apparatus, in 1482, 21,000 processes
were disposed of. These were the first fruits of the Jewish heresy, when
Torquemada, although an inquisitor, had not the supreme control of the

[54] Llorente afterwards reduces this estimate to 8800 burnt, 96,504
otherwise punished; the diocese of Cuença being comprehended in that of
Murcia. (Tom. iv. p. 252.) Zurita says, that, by 1520, the Inquisition of
Seville had sentenced more than 4000 persons to be burnt, and 30,000 to
other punishments. Another author whom he quotes, carries up the estimate
of the total condemned by this single tribunal, within the same term of
time, to 100,000. Anales, tom. iv. fol. 324.

[55] By an article of the primitive instructions, the inquisitors were
required to set apart a small portion of the confiscated estates for the
education and Christian nurture of minors, children of the condemned.
Llorente says, that, in the immense number of processes, which he had
occasion to consult, he met with no instance of their attention to the
fate of these unfortunate orphans! Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap.

[56] Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 44.--Torquemada waged war upon freedom of
thought, in every form. In 1490, he caused several Hebrew Bibles to be
publicly burnt, and some time after, more than 6000 volumes of Oriental
learning, on the imputation of Judaism, sorcery, or heresy, at the autos
da fe of Salamanca, the very nursery of science. (Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 8, art. 5.) This may remind one of the
similar sentence passed by Lope de Barrientos, another Dominican, about
fifty years before, upon the books of the marquis of Villena. Fortunately
for the dawning literature of Spain, Isabella did not, as was done by her
successors, commit the censorship of the press to the judges of the Holy
Office, notwithstanding such occasional assumption of power by the grand

[57] Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap. 77.--L. Marineo, Cosas
Memorables, fol. 164.--The prodigious desolation of the land may be
inferred from the estimates, although somewhat discordant, of deserted
houses in Andalusia. Garibay (Compendio, lib. 18, cap. 17,) puts these at
three, Pulgar (Reyes Católicos, part. 2, cap. 77,) at four, L. Marineo
(Cosas Memorables, fol. 164,) as high as five thousand.

[58] Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 7, art. 8; chap. 8,
art. 6.

[59] Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii. p. 340.--Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 8, art. 6.

[60] "Per la fè--il tutto lice." Gerusalemme Liberata, cant. 4, stanza 26.



Conquest of Spain by the Arabs.--Cordovan Empire.--High Civilization and
Prosperity.--Its Dismemberment.--Kingdom of Granada.--Luxurious and
Chivalrous Character.--Literature of the Spanish Arabs.--Progress in
Science.--Historical Merits.--Useful Discoveries.--Poetry and Romance.--
Influence on the Spaniards.

We have now arrived at the commencement of the famous war of Granada,
which terminated in the subversion of the Arabian empire in Spain, after
it had subsisted for nearly eight centuries, and with the consequent
restoration to the Castilian crown of the fairest portion of its ancient
domain. In order to a better understanding of the character of the Spanish
Arabs, or Moors, who exercised an important influence on that of their
Christian neighbors, the present chapter will be devoted to a
consideration of their previous history in the Peninsula, where they
probably reached a higher degree of civilization than in any other part of
the world. [1]

It is not necessary to dwell upon the causes of the brilliant successes of
Mahometanism at its outset,--the dexterity with which, unlike all other
religions, it was raised upon, not against, the principles and prejudices
of preceding sects; the military spirit and discipline, which it
established among all classes, so that the multifarious nations who
embraced it, assumed the appearance of one vast, well-ordered camp; [2]
the union of ecclesiastical with civil authority intrusted to the caliphs,
which enabled them to control opinions, as absolutely as the Roman
pontiffs in their most despotic hour; [3] or lastly, the peculiar
adaptation of the doctrines of Mahomet to the character of the wild tribes
among whom they were preached. [4] It is sufficient to say, that these
latter, within a century after the coming of their apostle, having
succeeded in establishing their religion over vast regions in Asia, and on
the northern shores of Africa, arrived before the Straits of Gibraltar,
which, though a temporary, were destined to prove an ineffectual bulwark
for Christendom.

The causes which have been currently assigned for the invasion and
conquest of Spain, even by the most credible modern historians, have
scarcely any foundation in contemporary records. The true causes are to be
found in the rich spoils offered by the Gothic monarchy, and in the thirst
of enterprise in the Saracens, which their long uninterrupted career of
victory seems to have sharpened, rather than satisfied. [5] The fatal
battle, which terminated with the slaughter of King Roderic and the flower
of his nobility, was fought in the summer of 711, on a plain washed by the
Guadalete near Xerez, about two leagues distant from Cadiz. [6] The Goths
appear never to have afterwards rallied under one head, but their broken
detachments made many a gallant stand in such strong positions as were
afforded throughout the kingdom; so that nearly three years elapsed before
the final achievement of the conquest. The policy of the conquerors, after
making the requisite allowance for the evils necessarily attending such an
invasion, [7] may be considered liberal. Such of the Christians, as chose,
were permitted to remain in the conquered territory in undisturbed
possession of their property. They were allowed to worship in their own
way; to be governed, within prescribed limits, by their own laws; to fill
certain civil offices, and serve in the army; their women were invited to
intermarry with the conquerors; [8] and, in short, they were condemned to
no other legal badge of servitude than the payment of somewhat heavier
imposts than those exacted from their Mahometan brethren. It is true the
Christians were occasionally exposed to suffering from the caprices of
despotism, and, it may be added, of popular fanaticism. [9] But, on the
whole, their condition may sustain an advantageous comparison with that of
any Christian people under the Mussulman dominion of later times, and
affords a striking contrast with that of our Saxon ancestors after the
Norman conquest, which suggests an obvious parallel in many of its
circumstances to the Saracen. [10]

After the further progress of the Arabs in Europe had been checked by the
memorable defeat at Tours, their energies, no longer allowed to expand in
the career of conquest, recoiled on themselves, and speedily produced the
dismemberment of their overgrown empire. Spain was the first of the
provinces which fell off. The family of Omeya, under whom this revolution
was effected, continued to occupy her throne as independent princes, from
the middle of the eighth to the close of the eleventh century, a period
which forms the most honorable portion of her Arabian annals.

The new government was modelled on the eastern caliphate. Freedom shows
itself under a variety of forms; while despotism, at least in the
institutions founded on the Koran, seems to wear but one. The sovereign
was the depositary of all power, the fountain of honor, the sole arbiter
of life and fortune. He styled himself "Commander of the Faithful," and,
like the caliphs of the east, assumed an entire spiritual as well as
temporal supremacy. The country was distributed into six
_capitanías_, or provinces, each under the administration of a _wali_, or
governor, with subordinate officers, to whom was intrusted a more
immediate jurisdiction over the principal cities. The immense authority
and pretensions of these petty satraps became a fruitful source of
rebellion in later times. The caliph administered the government with
the advice of his _mexuar_, or council of state, composed of his principal
_cadis_ and _hagibs_, or secretaries. The office of prime minister, or
chief hagib, corresponded, in the nature and variety of its functions,
with that of a Turkish grand vizier. The caliph reserved to himself the
right of selecting his successor from among his numerous progeny; and this
adoption was immediately ratified by an oath of allegiance to the heir
apparent from the principal officers of state. [11]

The princes of the blood, instead of being condemned, as in Turkey, to
waste their youth in the seclusion of the harem, were intrusted to the
care of learned men, to be instructed in the duties befitting their
station. They were encouraged to visit the academies, which were
particularly celebrated in Cordova, where they mingled in disputation, and
frequently carried away the prizes of poetry and eloquence. Their riper
years exhibited such fruits as were to be expected from their early
education. The race of the Omeyades need not shrink from a comparison with
any other dynasty of equal length in modern Europe. Many of them amused
their leisure with poetical composition, of which numerous examples are
preserved in Conde's History; and some left elaborate works of learning,
which have maintained a permanent reputation with Arabian scholars. Their
long reigns, the first ten of which embrace a period of two centuries and
a half, their peaceful deaths, and unbroken line of succession in the same
family for so many years, show that their authority must have been founded
in the affections of their subjects. Indeed, they seem, with one or two
exceptions, to have ruled over them with a truly patriarchal sway; and, on
the event of their deaths, the people, bathed in tears, are described as
accompanying their relics to the tomb, where the ceremony was concluded
with a public eulogy on the virtues of the deceased, by his son and
successor. This pleasing moral picture affords a strong contrast to the
sanguinary scenes which so often attend the transmission of the sceptre
from one generation to another, among the nations of the east. [12]

The Spanish caliphs supported a large military force, frequently keeping
two or three armies in the field at the same time. The flower of these
forces was a body-guard, gradually raised to twelve thousand men, one-
third of them Christians, superbly equipped, and officered by members of
the royal family. Their feuds with the eastern caliphs and the Barbary
pirates required them also to maintain a respectable navy, which was
fitted out from the numerous dock-yards that lined the coast from Cadiz to

The munificence of the Omeyades was most ostentatiously displayed in their
public edifices, palaces, mosques, hospitals, and in the construction of
commodious quays, fountains, bridges, and aqueducts, which, penetrating
the sides of the mountains, or sweeping on lofty arches across the
valleys, rivalled in their proportions the monuments of ancient Rome.
These works, which were scattered more or less over all the provinces,
contributed especially to the embellishment of Cordova, the capital of the
empire. The delightful situation of this city, in the midst of a
cultivated plain washed by the waters of the Guadalquivir, made it very
early the favorite residence of the Arabs, who loved to surround their
houses, even in the cities, with groves and refreshing fountains, so
delightful to the imagination of a wanderer of the desert. [13] The public
squares and private court-yards sparkled with _jets d'eau_, fed by
copious streams from the Sierra Morena, which, besides supplying nine
hundred public baths, were conducted into the interior of the edifices,
where they diffused a grateful coolness over the sleeping-apartments of
their luxurious inhabitants. [14]

Without adverting to that magnificent freak of the caliphs, the
construction of the palace of Azahra, of which not a vestige now exists,
we may form a sufficient notion of the taste and magnificence of this era
from the remains of the far-famed mosque, now the cathedral of Cordova.
This building, which still covers more ground than any other church in
Christendom, was esteemed the third in sanctity by the Mahometan world,
being inferior only to the Alaksa of Jerusalem and the temple of Mecca.
Most of its ancient glories have indeed long since departed. The rich
bronze which embossed its gates, the myriads of lamps which illuminated
its aisles, have disappeared; and its interior roof of odoriferous and
curiously carved wood has been cut up into guitars and snuff-boxes. But
its thousand columns of variegated marble still remain; and its general
dimensions, notwithstanding some loose assertions to the contrary, seem to
be much the same as they were in the time of the Saracens. European
critics, however, condemn its most elaborate beauties as "heavy and
barbarous." Its celebrated portals are pronounced "diminutive, and in very
bad taste." Its throng of pillars gives it the air of "a park rather than
a temple," and the whole is made still more incongruous by the unequal
length of their shafts, being grotesquely compensated by a proportionate
variation of size in their bases and capitals, rudely fashioned after the
Corinthian order. [15]

But if all this gives us a contemptible idea of the taste of the Saracens
at this period, which indeed, in architecture, seems to have been far
inferior to that of the later princes of Granada, we cannot but be
astonished at the adequacy of their resources to carry such magnificent
designs into execution. Their revenue, we are told in explanation,
amounted to eight millions of _mitcales_ of gold, or nearly six
millions sterling; a sum fifteen-fold greater than that which William the
Conqueror, in the subsequent century, was able to extort from his
subjects, with all the ingenuity of feudal exaction. The tone of
exaggeration, which distinguishes the Asiatic writers, entitles them
perhaps to little confidence in their numerical estimates. This immense
wealth, however, is predicated of other Mahometan princes of that age; and
their vast superiority over the Christian states of the north, in arts and
effective industry, may well account for a corresponding superiority in
their resources.

The revenue of the Cordovan sovereigns was derived from the fifth of the
spoil taken in battle, an important item in an age of unintermitting war
and rapine; from the enormous exaction of one-tenth of the produce of
commerce, husbandry, flocks, and mines; from a capitation tax on Jews and
Christians; and from certain tolls on the transportation of goods. They
engaged in commerce on their own account, and drew from mines, which
belonged to the crown, a conspicuous part of their income. [16]

Before the discovery of America, Spain was to the rest of Europe what her
colonies have since become, the great source of mineral wealth. The
Carthaginians, and the Romans afterwards, regularly drew from her large
masses of the precious metals. Pliny, who resided some time in the
country, relates that three of her provinces were said to have annually
yielded the incredible quantity of sixty thousand pounds of gold. [17] The
Arabs with their usual activity penetrated into these arcana of wealth.
Abundant traces of their labors are still to be met with along the barren
ridge of mountains that covers the north of Andalusia; and the diligent
Bowles has enumerated no less than five thousand of their excavations in
the kingdom or district of Jaen. [18]

But the best mine of the caliphs was in the industry and sobriety of their
subjects. The Arabian colonies have been properly classed among the
agricultural. Their acquaintance with the science of husbandry is shown in
their voluminous treatises on the subject, and in the monuments which they
have everywhere left of their peculiar culture. The system of irrigation,
which has so long fertilized the south of Spain, was derived from them.
They introduced into the Peninsula various tropical plants and vegetables,
whose cultivation has departed with them. Sugar, which the modern
Spaniards have been obliged to import from foreign nations in large
quantities annually for their domestic consumption, until within the last
half century that they have been supplied by their island of Cuba,
constituted one of the principal exports of the Spanish Arabs. The silk
manufacture was carried on by them extensively. The Nubian geographer, in
the beginning of the twelfth century, enumerates six hundred villages in
Jaen as engaged in it, at a time when it was known to the Europeans only
from their circuitous traffic with the Greek empire. This, together with
fine fabrics of cotton and woollen, formed the staple of an active
commerce with the Levant, and especially with Constantinople, whence they
were again diffused, by means of the caravans of the north, over the
comparatively barbarous countries of Christendom.

The population kept pace with this general prosperity of the country. It
would appear from a census instituted at Cordova, at the close of the
tenth century, that there were at that time in it six hundred temples and
two hundred thousand dwelling-houses; many of these latter being,
probably, mere huts or cabins, and occupied by separate families. Without
placing too much reliance on any numerical statements, however, we may
give due weight to the inference of an intelligent writer, who remarks
that their minute cultivation of the soil, the cheapness of their labor,
their particular attention to the most nutritious esculents, many of them
such as would be rejected by Europeans at this day, are indicative of a
crowded population, like that, perhaps, which swarms over Japan or China,
where the same economy is necessarily resorted to for the mere sustenance
of life. [19]

Whatever consequence a nation may derive, in its own age, from physical
resources, its intellectual development will form the subject of deepest
interest to posterity. The most flourishing periods of both not
unfrequently coincide. Thus the reigns of Abderrahman the Third, Alhakem
the Second, and the regency of Almanzor, embracing the latter half of the
tenth century, during which the Spanish Arabs reached their highest
political importance, may be regarded as the period of their highest
civilization under the Omeyades; although the impulse then given carried
them forward to still further advances, in the turbulent times which
followed. This beneficent impulse is, above all, imputable to Alhakem. He
was one of those rare beings, who have employed the awful engine of
despotism in promoting the happiness and intelligence of his species. In
his elegant tastes, appetite for knowledge, and munificent patronage he
may be compared with the best of the Medici. He assembled the eminent
scholars of his time, both natives and foreigners, at his court, where he
employed them in the most confidential offices. He converted his palace
into an academy, making it the familiar resort of men of letters, at whose
conferences he personally assisted in his intervals of leisure from public
duty. He selected the most suitable persons for the composition of works
on civil and natural history, requiring the prefects of his provinces and
cities to furnish, as far as possible, the necessary intelligence. He was
a diligent student, and left many of the volumes which he read enriched
with his commentaries. Above all, he was intent upon the acquisition of an
extensive library. He invited illustrious foreigners to send him their
works, and munificently recompensed them. No donative was so grateful to
him as a book. He employed agents in Egypt, Syria, Irak, and Persia, for
collecting and transcribing the rarest manuscripts; and his vessels
returned freighted with cargoes more precious than the spices of the east.
In this way he amassed a magnificent collection, which was distributed,
according to the subjects, in various apartments of his palace; and which,
if we may credit the Arabian historians, amounted to six hundred thousand
volumes. [20]

If all this be thought to savor too much of eastern hyperbole, still it
cannot be doubted that an amazing number of writers swarmed over the
Peninsula at this period. Casiri's multifarious catalogue bears ample
testimony to the emulation, with which not only men, but even women of the
highest rank, devoted themselves to letters; the latter contending
publicly for the prizes, not merely in eloquence and poetry, but in those
recondite studies which have usually been reserved for the other sex. The
prefects of the provinces, emulating their master, converted their courts
into academies, and dispensed premiums to poets and philosophers. The
stream of royal bounty awakened life in the remotest districts. But its
effects were especially visible in the capital. Eighty free schools were
opened in Cordova. The circle of letters and science was publicly
expounded by professors, whose reputation for wisdom attracted not only
the scholars of Christian Spain, but of Prance, Italy, Germany, and the
British Isles. For this period of brilliant illumination with the Saracens
corresponds precisely with that of the deepest barbarism of Europe; when a
library of three or four hundred volumes was a magnificent endowment for
the richest monastery; when scarcely a "priest south of the Thames," in
the words of Alfred, "could translate Latin into his mother tongue;" when
not a single philosopher, according to Tiraboschi, was to be met with in
Italy, save only the French pope Sylvester the Second, who drew his
knowledge from the schools of the Spanish Arabs, and was esteemed a
necromancer for his pains. [21]

Such is the glowing picture presented to us of Arabian scholarship, in the
tenth and succeeding centuries, under a despotic government and a sensual
religion; and, whatever judgment may be passed on the real value of all
their boasted literature, it cannot be denied, that the nation exhibited a
wonderful activity of intellect, and an apparatus for learning (if we are
to admit their own statements) unrivalled in the best ages of antiquity.

The Mahometan governments of that period rested on so unsound a basis,
that the season of their greatest prosperity was often followed by
precipitate decay. This had been the case with the eastern caliphate, and
was now so with the western. During the life of Alhakem's successor, the
empire of the Omeyades was broken up into a hundred petty principalities;
and their magnificent capital of Cordova, dwindling into a second-rate
city, retained no other distinction than that of being the Mecca of Spain.
These little states soon became a prey to all the evils arising out of a
vicious constitution of government and religion. Almost every accession to
the throne was contested by numerous competitors of the same family; and a
succession of sovereigns, wearing on their brows but the semblance of a
crown, came and departed, like the shadows of Macbeth. The motley tribes
of Asiatics, of whom the Spanish Arabian population was composed, regarded
each other with ill-disguised jealousy. The lawless predatory habits,
which no discipline could effectually control in an Arab, made them ever
ready for revolt. The Moslem states, thus reduced in size and crippled by
faction, were unable to resist the Christian forces, which were pressing
on them from the north. By the middle of the ninth century, the Spaniards
had reached the Douro and the Ebro. By the close of the eleventh, they had
advanced their line of conquest, under the victorious banner of the Cid,
to the Tagus. The swarms of Africans who invaded the Peninsula, during the
two following centuries, gave substantial support to their Mahometan
brethren; and the cause of Christian Spain trembled in the balance for a
moment on the memorable day of Navas de Tolosa. But the fortunate issue of
that battle, in which, according to the lying letter of Alfonso the Ninth,
"one hundred and eighty-five thousand infidels perished, and only five and
twenty Spaniards," gave a permanent ascendency to the Christian arms. The
vigorous campaigns of James the First, of Aragon, and of St. Ferdinand, of
Castile, gradually stripped away the remaining territories of Valencia,
Murcia, and Andalusia; so that, by the middle of the thirteenth century,
the constantly contracting circle of the Moorish dominion had shrunk into
the narrow limits of the province of Granada. Yet on this comparatively
small point of their ancient domain, the Saracens erected a new kingdom of
sufficient strength to resist, for more than two centuries, the united
forces of the Spanish monarchies.

The Moorish territory of Granada contained, within a circuit of about one
hundred and eighty leagues, all the physical resources of a great empire.
Its broad valleys were intersected by mountains rich in mineral wealth,
whose hardy population supplied the state with husbandmen and soldiers.
Its pastures were fed by abundant fountains, and its coasts studded with
commodious ports, the principal marts in the Mediterranean. In the midst,
and crowning the whole, as with a diadem, rose the beautiful city of
Granada. In the days of the Moors it was encompassed by a wall, flanked by
a thousand and thirty towers, with seven portals. [22] Its population,
according to a contemporary, at the beginning of the fourteenth century,
amounted to two hundred thousand souls; [23] and various authors agree in
attesting, that, at a later period, it could send forth fifty thousand
warriors from its gates. This statement will not appear exaggerated, if we
consider that the native population of the city was greatly swelled by the
influx of the ancient inhabitants of the districts lately conquered by the
Spaniards. On the summit of one of the hills of the city was erected the
royal fortress or palace of the Alhambra, which was capable of containing
within its circuit forty thousand men. [24] The light and elegant
architecture of this edifice, whose magnificent ruins still form the most
interesting monument in Spain for the contemplation of the traveller,
shows the great advancement of the art since the construction of the
celebrated mosque of Cordova. Its graceful porticoes and colonnades, its
domes and ceilings, glowing with tints, which, in that transparent
atmosphere, have lost nothing of their original brilliancy, its airy
halls, so constructed as to admit the perfume of surrounding gardens and
agreeable ventilations of the air, and its fountains, which still shed
their coolness over its deserted courts, manifest at once the taste,
opulence, and Sybarite luxury of its proprietors. The streets are
represented to have been narrow, many of the houses lofty, with turrets of
curiously wrought larch or marble, and with cornices of shining metal,
"that glittered like stars through the dark foliage of the orange groves;"
and the whole is compared to "an enamelled vase, sparkling with hyacinths
and emeralds." [25] Such are the florid strains in which the Arabic
writers fondly descant on the glories of Granada.

At the foot of this fabric of the genii lay the cultivated _vega_, or
plain, so celebrated as the arena, for more than two centuries, of Moorish
and Christian chivalry, every inch of whose soil may be said to have been
fertilized with human blood. The Arabs exhausted on it all their powers of
elaborate cultivation. They distributed the waters of the Xenil, which
flowed through it, into a thousand channels for its more perfect
irrigation. A constant succession of fruits and crops was obtained
throughout the year. The products of the most opposite latitudes were
transplanted there with success; and the hemp of the north grew luxuriant
under the shadow of the vine and the olive. Silk furnished the principal
staple of a traffic that was carried on through the ports of Almeria and
Malaga. The Italian cities, then rising into opulence, derived their
principal skill in this elegant manufacture from the Spanish Arabs.
Florence, in particular, imported large quantities of the raw material
from them as late as the fifteenth century. The Genoese are mentioned as
having mercantile establishments in Granada; and treaties of commerce were
entered into with this nation, as well as with the crown of Aragon. Their
ports swarmed with a motley contribution from "Europe, Africa, and the
Levant," so that "Granada," in the words of the historian, "became the
common city of all nations." "The reputation of the citizens for trust-
worthiness," says a Spanish writer, "was such, that their bare word was
more relied on, than a written contract is now among us;" and he quotes
the saying of a Catholic bishop, that "Moorish works and Spanish faith
were all that were necessary to make a good Christian." [26]

The revenue, which was computed at twelve hundred thousand ducats, was
derived from similar, but, in some respects, heavier impositions than
those of the caliphs of Cordova. The crown, besides being possessed of
valuable plantations in the vega, imposed the onerous tax of one-seventh
on all the agricultural produce of the kingdom. The precious metals were
also obtained in considerable quantities, and the royal mint was noted for
the purity and elegance of its coin. [27]

The sovereigns of Granada were for the most part distinguished by liberal
tastes. They freely dispensed their revenues in the protection of letters,
the construction of sumptuous public works, and, above all, in the display
of a courtly pomp, unrivalled by any of the princes of that period. Each
day presented a succession of _fêtes_ and tourneys, in which the
knight seemed less ambitious of the hardy prowess of Christian chivalry,
than of displaying his inimitable horsemanship, and his dexterity in the
elegant pastimes peculiar to his nation. The people of Granada, like those
of ancient Rome, seem to have demanded a perpetual spectacle. Life was
with them one long carnival, and the season of revelry was prolonged until
the enemy was at the gate.

During the interval which had elapsed since the decay of the Omeyades, the
Spaniards had been gradually rising in civilization to the level of their
Saracen enemies; and, while their increased consequence secured them from
the contempt with which they had formerly been regarded by the Mussulmans,
the latter, in their turn, had not so far sunk in the scale, as to have
become the objects of the bigoted aversion, which was, in after days, so
heartily visited on them by the Spaniards. At this period, therefore, the
two nations viewed each other with more liberality, probably, than at any
previous or succeeding time. Their respective monarchs conducted their
mutual negotiations on a footing of perfect equality. We find several
examples of Arabian sovereigns visiting in person the court of Castile.
These civilities were reciprocated by the Christian princes. As late as
1463, Henry the Fourth had a personal interview with the king of Granada,
in the dominions of the latter. The two monarchs held their conference
under a splendid pavilion erected in the vega, before the gates of the
city; and, after an exchange of presents, the Spanish sovereign was
escorted to the frontiers by a body of Moorish cavaliers. These acts of

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