Joan Of Arc
Catherine De Medici
Read More Articles About: Famous Women
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
A. D. 1451-1504
"THE MOTHER OF SPAIN "
The great woman upon whose history we now enter lived but a little later in an age of rigid ecclesiastical rule than Joan of Arc. While Joan was upon the extreme confines of the Church Militant, where the flames of rebellion were soonest to burst forth, Isabella was at that center, was in that citadel, of Roman faith, which stands firm today. There the deep and gloomy resentments of fanaticism had been wrought out of the hand-to-hand conflict with Mohammedanism. The general air of cant and hypocrisy which overshadowed and ended the career of Joan of Arc that air, intensified in Spain, in the inner Cathay of Catholicism, surrounded, gave comfort, and offered powerful support to the supremely devout and to the devoutly intolerant. Thus lived and died Isabella; Torquemada, the Robespierre of the Church, was her early confessor. In her life and administration, therefore, many things will be found from which the encomiast must turn away, but these things should not be omitted by the historian. We shall, however, in the end, after considering her age and environment, contemplate the career of a very admirable and high-minded woman, who logically and perhaps successfully sought the welfare of the people whom she governed for she was a real sovereign, like Elizabeth of England, not merely a consort Queen, like Marie Antoinette of France.
A moment as to the geography of this subject : On the maps of the sixth century, the whole Spanish peninsula is marked "Kingdom of the Visigoths"; the Vandals hold Africa, south of Spain. In the tenth century, most of the peninsula is marked "Caliphate Cordova," with the "Kingdom of Leon" (Christian), north of the Douro River, in the northwest corner. The map of the triumphant Isabella, upon which we are now to look, finds Portugal, as at present, on the west, Leon spreading through to the Mediterranean Sea, and even to Sicily and Naples; and called "Leon and Castile," covering much the greater part of the peninsula; and having Catalonia at the northeast, small but owning the great city of Barcelona, which was to succeed Genoa, as Genoa had supplanted Venice, in the commercial primacy of the world. The whole peninsula, Moslem and Christian, had been called Spain from time immemorial, the Romans getting their word "Hispania" from the Phoenicians. Because Leon and Castile and Aragon covered nearly all the country, that consolidated monarchy became Spain, as the United States, to many foreigners, have become "America." The Spanish way of spelling the name is Espana (pronounced Espahnyah, with accent on the second syllable).
In 1450, over the mountains to the south of Castile, lay a long and narrow but fertile Mohammedan land named Granada, under rival Caliphs. The poets have vied with each other to exalt its beauties. Its principal city of Granada could alone furnish 20,000 fighting men. The other parts of Spain were Christian, but feudal and turbulent, unitedly looking on the Moors of Granada with steadfast hatred, yet expending their forces and shedding their blood in ceaseless attacks one on another.
As if called to forever change these conditions, Isabella the Catholic was born at Madrigal, in Burgos (north of Madrid. half way to the sea), April 22, 1451. Her history has been placed within the reach of English readers through the noble labors of William H. Prescott, a blind historian, who collated the unprinted manuscripts of the Spanish libraries, and gathered together the important parts of the recitals of Oviedo, Palencia and Enriquez, Llorente, Peter Martyr, the Academicians, and other less conspicuous scribes and actors in the scenes.
A strain of mental disorder ran through the stock out of which Isabella sprang. Her mother, her brother Henry, herself, her daughter Joan, her grandson Charles V, and the dark and gloomy Philip II, her great-grandson, all gave traces of this disorder. In Isabella its only manifestation was the melancholia in which she ended her days.
Four years after her birth, her father, John II, died, leaving his kingdom to his son by his first wife, and con-signing Isabella, his daughter by a second wife, to the guardianship of the new King, who was styled Henry IV of Castile. When she was sixteen, her brother the King affianced her to old Don Pedro Giron, Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava, an infamous man, who had grossly wronged Isabella's own mother. The young woman had previously shown a great deal of spirit, and now it was concluded to use force. The King needed the aid of the powerful faction which Giron could control.
Isabella, on learning that she was to be sacrificed to a notorious wretch of inferior station, shut herself in her apartment and denied herself sleep and food for a day and night, praying to Heaven to spare her. As she was bewailing her fate to her life-long friend, Beatriz of Bobadilla, that valiant lady, says Palencia, drew a dagger and declared that it should go to the heart of Giron as soon as he appeared.
On his way to the wedding he fell ill and died, "with imprecations on his lips," says Palencia, "because his life had not been spared some few weeks longer." Isabella considered the event an interposition of Providence.
This marriage having failed, the malcontents against Henry joined to exalt Isabella's own brother, Alfonso, and Isabella went with him. He was clearly a usurper. He died shortly after, and the seditious nobles then, in a large body, with the Archbishop of Toledo, primate of the Spanish Church, at their head, formally offered her the crown.
Isabella replied, to their astonishment, that while her "brother Henry lived, none other had a right to the crown; that the country had been divided long enough under the rule of two contending monarchs; and that the death of Alfonso might perhaps be interpreted into an indication from Heaven of its disapprobation of their cause." She advised reconciliation, and could not be moved from her purpose.
The King deemed himself unable to cope with his seditious subjects. They returned to him and exacted from the feeble-minded monarch a treaty which divorced his Queen and sent her back to her father, King of Portugal; that disinherited his own daughter, Joan; that declared Isabella Princess of Asturias and heir-apparent to the crowns of Leon and Castile; that the Cortes or Parliament should be convoked to sanction her title, and that she should not be compelled to marry against her consent; nor should she marry without Henry's consent. Upon this, brother and sister met publicly, and the treaty was ratified.
Isabella now appeared before the world as a great personage, and it may interest the reader to know that Prescott surmises that Richard III, the hunchback of England, sued unsuccessfully for her hand.
The young man whom she had long favored was Prince Ferdinand of Aragon, a knight, a fine military captain, forehanded and thoughtful far past his years, a fellow-countryman and zealot in fact, a companion and friend. When it became publicly known that Isabella and Ferdinand were lovers, and that the King of Castile had again attempted to provide his young sister with an aged husband this time the King of Portugal, father-in-law of the Castilian King boys paraded the streets of the great cities, singing verses prophetic of a happy marriage for Isabella, and mobs gathered at the royal palace to insult the prime minister of Henry. The people already felt that Isabella was to be their ruler, and union with Aragon was a pleasing prospect.
In the meantime, the old King of Aragon, Ferdinand's father, was busy advancing the interest of his son, whom he entitled King of Sicily and associated with himself on the little throne of Aragon. A commissioner was sent to operate on the mind of Isabella, and this commissioner carried cartes blanches signed by both Ferdinand and his father, to offer any terms whatever. It was not then believed that a Spanish woman could stand out against her husband in after years and protect her own rights.
Accordingly, on January 7, 1474, Isabella, at Cervera, signed articles of marriage with Ferdinand, in which he promised faithfully to respect the laws and usages of Castile; to fix his residence in Castile, and not to quit it without the consent of Isabella; to alienate no property belonging to the crown; to prefer no foreigners to municipal offices; indeed, to make no appointments of a civil or military nature without her consent; and to resign to her exclusively the right of nomination to ecclesiastical benefices. All ordinances of a public nature were to be subscribed by both. Ferdinand engaged to prosecute the war against the Moors in Granada, and a large dowry was settled on Isabella.
Why did Ferdinand's people sign a document which gave so much and took so little? Because Louis XI of France was likely, otherwise, to seize Aragon; because Ferdinand would be commander of the Spanish armies against the Moors, and thus a European knight of the first order; because the Aragonese statesmen did not hesitate to believe that the lover could get more after he was married than before. In this the sordid young man was deceived.
King Henry had now gone into Andalusia. His statesmen, hearing of the forthcoming marriage, sent a force to Madrigal to capture Isabella; her partisans sent a swifter force and rescued her, taking her to friends in Valladolid. Meanwhile Isabella dispatched a deputation to the King of Aragon (Palencia, the chronicler of these affairs among the number), to beg for succor. The embassy found the King of Aragon in deep troubles, with less than 300 enriques (gold coins) in his treasury. He could spare neither men nor money. The distracted father appealed to his son and the council. It was determined that Ferdinand and a dozen attendants should go disguised as merchants to Isabella, while an embassy, as a diversion, should travel in state from Aragon to Henry IV. The family of Mendoza, strongly opposed to Aragon, occupied a line of castles which Ferdinand must pass. He went disguised as an attendant, took care of the mules, and served at table. Reaching a friendly castle at last, an apprehensive sentinel on the battlements let fly a huge stone, which glanced so near the lover's head that his romantic adventure had nearly ended there. At last he reached Leon, where the lovers met as royal equals, somewhat to the chagrin of the Castilians, for they thought Isabella ought to exact homage.
On the 15th of October, 1474, Ferdinand met Isabella again at Valladolid. The couple borrowed enough money to pay the expenses of a public marriage. The Archbishop of Toledo produced a fictitious bull of the Pope, empowering the cousins to marry, and Isabella, devoutly considering this last barrier removed, made ready for the wedding, which took place in the presence of 2,000 people on the 19th. A genuine bull was secured when Isabella was a powerful sovereign, some years later.
How did Isabella look? Her dress betrays the Moslem influence, making her figure to appear like one of the heroines of the Bible. She was a year older than her lover. In stature she was somewhat above the middle size. Her complexion was fair, and her hair strongly inclined to red. Her mild blue eye beamed with intelligence and sensibility. "She was the handsomest lady whom I ever beheld," says Oviedo, "and the most gracious in her manners." "The portrait still existing of her in the royal palace," says Prescott, "is conspicuous for an open symmetry of features, indicative of a natural serenity of temper, and that beautiful harmony of intellectual and moral qualities which most distinguished her." She was dignified in her demeanor, and modest, even to a degree of reserve. She spoke the Castilian language with more than usual elegance; and early imbibed a relish for letters, in which the chroniclers all say she was superior to Ferdinand, who was a true knight in his contempt of learning. Isabella is the ideal Spanish woman; in dwelling on her graces and accomplishments, the Spanish historians, with one accord, pass at once into the realm of romance.
She was always a commanding woman. Determining to love and honor her husband, when she should get one, she had sent emissaries to every court, and early reports on Ferdinand had pleased her best of all. She loved no other man all her life.
She was cold and calculating, except when stirred by religion. All the enthusiasm of which she was capable then burst forth.
Under the reign of these princely persons, who borrowed money to get married with, the Spanish monarchy was to rise to almost the summit of its grandeur, and was in fact to accomplish all the results which have redounded to its lasting credit.
The inner state of Spain could not well be worse, and the Moors threatened it on the south. Some of the feudal lords had 20,000 soldiers, and hatreds of an intense Castilian kind seemed too numerous for anyone to attempt to remove or placate them. King Henry repudiated the Valladolid marriage, and civil war broke forth with increased horrors. Fifteen hundred houses of the Ponce faction were burned at Seville. The harvests failed or could not be gathered, and the people began to see in comets, earthquakes, and unusual storms, the coming of the end of the world.
While things were at their worst, Henry and Isabella met at Segovia and made an ineffectual peace; the factions still fought, but Isabella gained a great noble, the husband of Beatriz of Bobadilla, and he was Governor of Segovia, and custodian of the royal treasury. Henry, later on, repudiated this latter agreement because he thought he had been poisoned at Segovia.
Meanwhile Ferdinand was in Aragon. His character is well brought forth in the following episode: A noble named Gordo had become the chief man of Saragossa. He was popular, powerful, and had committed crimes without number, declaring that he was the law. He was, however, very obsequious to Ferdinand, and visited the palace, where he was received with every outward mark of favor. One day the Prince honored him with an invitation to an interview in a private apartment. It is said, on the authority of Palencia, Ferreras and Zurita, chroniclers, that when Gordo entered the chamber, he was appalled by the sight of the public hangman, a gibbet, and a confessor. He was seized and bound, lamenting his trust in Ferdinand. He appealed to Ferdinand, on the ground of brave deeds done for Ferdinand's father. These, Ferdinand assured him, should be gratefully remembered in the protection of his children. He was hanged. His body was exposed in the market-place, and those of his adherents who were found guilty of crime were punished in the regular tribunals without seditious outbreaks.
The civil war was greatly narrowed by the death of Isabella's brother, King Henry IV, December 12, 1474, which left only the King's daughter Joan to oppose the Cortes, the greater nobles, and Isabella and Ferdinand. Ferdinand, it is to be seen, was no mere carpet knight.
On December 13, at Segovia, the nobles, clergy and magistrates, in their robes of office, waited on Isabella at the castle, and, receiving her under a canopy of rich brocade, escorted her in solemn procession to the principal square of the city. Isabella, royally attired, rode on a Spanish jennet, whose bridle was held by two civic functionaries, while an officer on horseback bore before her a naked sword, the symbol of sovereignty. At the square Isabella ascended a throne on a high platform. A herald proclaimed : "Castile, Castile for the King Don Ferdinand and his consort Dora Isabella, Queen Proprietor of these Kingdoms!" The royal standards were then unfurled, the bells of the city pealed, and the cannons of the castle announced that Isabella was Queen. Isabella received the homage of her subjects, and swore to maintain the liberties of the realm without encroachment. She then moved toward the cathedral, where a Te Deum was chanted. She prostrated herself before the great altar and returned thanks to the Almighty, dedicating herself to His service and to Castile. This vow she kept.
When Ferdinand arrived, he found that Isabella had preserved the ante-nuptial contract, and meant to defend it. On his side, he felt he had a clearer title as a male descendant of Isabella's house than she had, because, if a woman were eligible, Joan was the daughter of the King. The man who had hanged Gordo was, however, compelled to leave the disputed matter to the "arbitration" of the Archbishop of Toledo and the Cardinal of Spain, and these Castilians stood by the marriage contract. They decided that commanders of fortified places must render homage to Isabella alone; the money was all to be under her care. Justice was to be administered by both, sitting together, when they were in the same city; by either when in a city with the other person absent. Both were to sign proclamations; the coinage was to bear their images together.
Ferdinand agreed because he could do no better. The pair had an infant daughter ( Joan, afterward mother of Charles V) ; to declare against female succession would debar her. Acquiescence would give him command of an army. Besides, Joan, the King's daughter, was not yet beaten. In fact, the very man who had exalted Isabella the Archbishop of Toledo now joined with Portugal to seat Joan on the throne of Castile, "I have raised Isabella from the distaff," said the prelate; "I will soon send her back to it again."
It is well to state that James in Spanish is Iago. The name that has been made by Shakespeare the synonym of all that is artfully treacherous, is in Spain the cognomen of the patron saint.
In the beginning of the ninth century a peasant of Galicia saw preternatural lights in a forest. Following them he found a marble sepulchre, containing the ashes of St. James (Santiago) the disciple of Jesus. The fathers at once established the advent of St. James into Spain as a historical fact. The Jesuit father Marina, a chronicler, doubts the genuineness of the body, and the advent of St. James, but concludes : "It is not expedient to disturb with such disputes the devotion of the people, so firmly settled as it is." Caro de Torres, a chronicler, states that St. James was incarnated in battle against the infidels down to a late period. Also in America, "he cheered on the squadrons of Cortes and Pizarro, with his sword flashing lightning in the eyes of the Indians." This is to ac-quaint the reader with the religious atmosphere of the time.
With the battle-cry of "St. James and St. Lazarus !" on his lips, Ferdinand now went forth against Joan and her uncle, the King of Portugal: In a word, the armies finally met near Toro, on the Douro River, at the boundaries of the provinces of Valadolid and Zamora. The battle lasted three hours. The standard of Portugal was borne by Edward of Almeyda. He lost his right arm, his left arm, and held the flagstaff in his teeth till he was cut down. Mariana, a chronicler, saw the armor of this knight at the cathedral of Toledo, where it was pre-served as a trophy.
Isabella was at Tordesillas, a few miles behind. On hearing the news, she walked in procession barefoot to the church of St. Paul, and offered up thanksgiving to the God of Battles. The nobles now all came over to Isabella; the crafty Louis XI of France found religious difficulties in the way of aiding Portugal any further, and only the problem of composing the kingdoms was left to Isabella's solution.
She now reorganized the Holy Brotherhood, a body of police, whose jurisdiction extended to robbery, burglary, theft, and resistance to the operations of justice. A junto met at Duenas and wrote a set of penalties in blood. Executions were conducted by shooting the culprit with arrows. The loss of a member, or several members, was denounced against ordinary crimes, while petty thefts might be punished by stripes. The nobles opposed the Holy Brotherhood, and Isabella set to work to make it respected.
The inhabitants of Segovia rose against Cabrera, husband of Beatriz, who was governor. The infanta or crown Princess Isabella was in Cabrera's keeping. Cabrera, with the royal child, was driven into the citadel and rigorously blockaded. Isabella, the Queen, and Beatriz were at Tordesillas. They took horse for Segovia. The mob met Isabella and requested her to leave Beatriz be-hind. She replied : "I am Queen of Castile; the city is mine, moreover, by the right of legal inheritance. I am not used to the receiving of conditions from rebellious subjects." She entered the beleaguered citadel with Beatriz at a friendly gate. The mob multiplied in numbers, crying : "Death to the Alcalde (Cabrera) ! Attack the castle !" Isabella ordered the portals to be opened and the populace, pouring in, found her seated as a magistrate, to hear their complaint. "Tell me," she commanded, "what are your grievances, and I will do all in my power to redress them; for I am sure that what is for your interest must be also for mine, and for that of the whole city."
The complainants demanded that Cabrera should be deposed.
"He is deposed already," answered the royal judge, "and you have my authority to turn out such of his officers as are still in the castle, which I shall intrust to one of my own servants, on whom I can rely."
The people shouted, "Long live the Queen !" and proceeded to carry out her orders. They then attended her to the royal residence, where she admonished them to go home and become calm, On the morrow she would hear three or four of them in full.
The Queen, hearing the cause the next day, and tracing the riot to the jealousy of the Bishop of Segovia, restored Cabrera, and no riot followed.* Cabrera enjoyed her favor till her death.
Anarchy still prevailed in Estremadura and Andalusia, where the factions of Guzman and Ponce de Leon were at war. The Queen resolved to go far south. It was thought her tribunal would be scorned, and she would be killed. She answered : "It is true there are dangers and inconveniences to be encountered; but my fate is in God's hands. I feel confident he will guide to a prosperous issue such designs as are righteous in themselves and resolutely conducted."
Notwithstanding the alarms of Cardinal Mendoza, her prime minister, she was magnificently received at Seville. She erected her tribunal in the castle, and, after the fashion of earlier monarchs, proceeded to do justice. Every Friday she took her seat in her chair of state, on an elevated platform covered with cloth of gold, and surrounded by her council. The high court of criminal law sat every day. The Queen heard such suits as were brought to her, saving to the parties expense and delay.* For two months this went on. Plundered property was restored and four thousand guilty persons were punished. The population of Seville began to diminish by flight, the burghers sued for an amnesty, and Isabella, to give the region a fair start on the road to good order, after demanding a restitution of all property illegally taken, passed an act of oblivion for all crimes except heresy.
The great Marquis of Cadiz (Ponce de Leon), head of one of the contending factions, and the one that had fought against her, now visited Isabella with only two attendants, and proffered his allegiance. This pacified Seville. The great contending lords were sent each to his estate, and were not compelled to fraternize in public.
The next year, 1478, Ferdinand and Isabella together inspected the Moorish frontier, and carried to Cordova the administration of justice that had succeeded at Seville. Two great warring lords were sent each to his estate, and the disaffected one swore fealty to his Queen.
In the far northwest, fifty feudal fortresses, the dens of robbers, were razed to the ground, and 1,500 perfidious knights fled from Leon. A wealthy knight named Alvaro Yañez de Lugo was sentenced to death for a hideous crime. His friends sought to pay to the Queen 40,000 doblas of gold for a commutation of sentence. Some of the ministers thought the money should be accepted and spent in the Moorish wars. But Isabella refused to intervene, and, furthermore, that no imputation might rest on the crown, allowed the malefactor's money to descend to his heirs. Thus, to the astonishment of Castilians, it was said that money would no longer corrupt justice in Spain. "The wretched inhabitants of the mountains, who had long since despaired of justice," says Pulgar, "blessed God for their deliverance, as it were, from a deplorable captivity."
"I well remember," says Oviedo, "to have seen the Queen, together with the Catholic King, her husband, sitting in judgment in the castle of Madrid, every Friday, dispensing justice to all such, great and small, as came to demand it. This was indeed the age of justice, and, since our sacred mistress has been taken from us, it has been more difficult, and far more costly, to transact business with a stripling of a secretary, than it was with the Queen and all her ministers."
"The law," says Sempere, "acquired an authority which caused a decree signed by two or three judges, to be more respected since that time, than an army before."
"Whereas," says Pulgar, "the kingdom was previously filled with banditti and malefactors of every description, who committed the most diabolical excesses, in open contempt of law, there was now such terror impressed on the hearts of all, that no one dared to lift his arm against another, or even to assail him with contumelious or discourteous language. The knight and the squire, who had before oppressed the laborer, were intimidated by the fear of that justice which was sure to be executed on them. The roads were swept of the banditti. The strongholds of violence were thrown open, and the whole nation, re-stored to tranquillity and order, sought no other redress than that afforded by the operation of the law."
Yet the grandees of the realm would have liked, the old order better. An imposing body of these nobles waited on the royal pair, asking for the abolition of the police, and the restoration of the laws and customs of Henry IV, Isabella's deceased brother.
The monarchs answered : "You may follow the court, or retire to your estates, but so long as Heaven permits us to retain the rank with which we have been intrusted, we shall take care not to imitate the example of Henry IV, in becoming a tool in the hands of our nobility." The nobles retired, abashed.
During Ferdinand's absence in Aragon, in 1481, a quarrel occurred in the palace at Valladolid between two young noblemen, Ramiro Nunez, lord of Toral, and Frederick Henriquez, son of the Admiral of Castile. The Queen, on hearing of it, granted a safe-conduct to the lord of Toral as the weaker party, until the affair should be adjusted between them. Don Frederick, however, disregarding the Queen's action, caused his enemy to be waylaid by three bullies, armed with bludgeons, and severely beat-en, one evening in the streets of Valladolid.
Isabella, hearing this, mounted her horse in a severe storm and rode alone to the castle of Simancas, then in possession of the father of the offender. She traveled so swiftly in her anger that the officers of her guard could not overtake her till the castle was reached. She demanded of the Admiral his son. "He is not here," answered the Admiral. "Surrender the keys of your castle !" she commanded, and searched the place herself, but fruitlessly. The young man was not there. She returned to Valladolid, and was confined to her bed the next day with extreme fatigue.
"My body is lame," said she, "with the blows given to Don Frederick in contempt of my safe-conduct."
The Admiral took counsel with his friends, who were of opinion that it would be the best policy to deliver up his son. The young man was accordingly conducted to the palace by the constable of Haro, who represented to the irate Queen that his nephew was a lad scarce twenty years of age, and begged her, in her action, to remember the disgrace a harsh penalty would bring on a great house.
Isabella ordered the young miscreant to be publicly conducted as a prisoner by one of her alcaldes through the great 'square of Valladolid to the fortress of Arevalo, where he was detained in close confinement, all privilege of communication with the world being cut off. At length, considering that he was closely related to the King, she released him, but banished him for a time to Sicily.
Having proved herself a sovereign entitled to obedience, Isabella's next struggle was with the Pope, Sixtus IV, who not only paid no attention to her wishes, but declared to her that "he was the head of the Church, and, as such, possessed an unlimited power in the distribution of benefices, and that he was not bound to consult the inclination of any potentate on earth, any further than might subserve the interests of religion." On this all Spaniards were ordered out of the papal states, and the Pope, in alarm, heard that Isabella meant to summon a council of potentates. A papal legate was hurriedly sent to Spain, but he was ordered out of the realm, when the Pope made a highly conciliatory move, and Isabella was left to exalt whomsoever she willed. She thereafter advanced only persons of exemplary piety and learning, and even the interests and desires of her husband counted for nothing when they ran opposite to this rule. The chronicler dwells on those good old times, when churchmen were to be found of such modesty as to be required to be urged to accept the dignities to which their merits entitled them.
The factions having been silenced, the thieves having been punished, and the arrogations of the Pope rebuked, the next step of Isabella was to restore the Holy Office of the Inquisition, chiefly for the purpose of destroying the Jews in Spain.
A Dominican monk named Thomas of Torquemada had been the early confessor of Isabella. "He won from her a promise," says Zurita, "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."
Nor did she have later confessors who were less dangerous. Siguenza says that when Brother Fernando of Talavera, afterward Archbishop of Granada, attended Isabella for the first time as confessor, he continued seated after she had knelt to make her confession, which drew from her the remark that it had been 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 complied, and afterward she said : "This is the confessor that I wanted." It will be seen, later, that Ximenes followed Talavera, as Talavera followed Torquemada.
In answer to the application of the potentates, Sixtus IV, November 1, 1478, issued a bull for the suppression of heresy, and the Jews of Castile were exhorted publicly to become Christians. The actual Court of the Inquisition opened at Seville on January 2, 1481, when an edict was published requiring all persons to accuse such others as they knew to be heretics. It was to be considered good evidence of heresy if the prisoner wore his best clothes on the Jewish Sabbath; if he had no fire the previous evening; if he ate with Jews; if he died with his face to the wall; if he gave Hebrew names to his children (he was forbidden by law to give them Christian names).
To obtain evidence, the following instructions were given at Seville : "When the Inquisitor has opportunity, he shall manage to introduce to the conversation of the prisoner some one of his acquaintances, or any other converted heretic, who shall feign that he still persists in his heresy, telling the prisoner that he abjured for the sole purpose of escaping punishment, thus deceiving the Inquisitors. Having thus gained the prisoner's confidence, he shall go into his cell some day after dinner, and, keeping up the conversation till night, shall remain with him under the pretext of the lateness of the hour. 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 meantime spies shall be kept in hearing at the door, as well as a notary, in order to certify what may be said within."
Now began the auto da fe at Seville the Act of Faith the burning of human beings for what they had believed. A spacious stone scaffold was erected in the suburbs. At each corner was the statue of a prophet, and this was the stake to which the wretched victim of priestly rancor was bound. "Here," says the Curate of Los Palendos, "heretics were burned, and ought to burn, as long as any can be found."
In the year 1481, in Andalusia alone, 2,000 persons were burned alive, a still greater number in effigy, and 17,000 "reconciled." Let us read the sentence by which a heretic named Roger Ponce was "reconciled." 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 a week during life, except in case of illness 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 so doing, and vespers on Sundays and festivals; to recite the service for the day and the night, and to repeat the Lord's Prayer seven times in the day, ten times in the evening, and twenty times at midnight. If Roger Ponce failed in any of the above requisites, he was to be burned as a relapsed heretic.
Nor did the hatred of the priests cease with the death of a heretic. The sepulchres were opened, and the bodies of the dead, in whatever state of decay, were tried and burned.
The Pope hesitated at these enormities, but later took on new courage, extolling the sovereigns, and appointing Torquemada Inquisitor General of Castile and Aragon. Torquemada organized thirteen courts.
The accused person disappeared mysteriously. He was carried to a secret dungeon. If he testified, and could be made to contradict himself, he was guilty; if, aware of his danger, he refused to testify, he was taken deep into the torture-chambers, where the cries of his anguish could never be heard. The rich were in especial danger, as confiscation of their wealth to Torquemada followed their conviction of heresy. It was to the interests of the judges to find their victims guilty.
On the day appointed, the convicted heretics came forth amid pompous priestly ceremonials. The convicts were clad in coarse woolen garments, of yellow color, on which was a scarlet cross; on the garment, also, were pictures of flames of fire, devils, and other symbols of the wearer's future fate. The sad spectacle which followed was held to typify the terrors of the Day of judgment.
In eighteen years Torquemada thus burned 10,220 persons. The prisoners for life finally became so numerOtis that they were assigned to their own houses for imprisonment.
Torquemada died quietly in bed at a good old age. Yet he did not live without fear of poison, though he possessed the horn of a unicorn on his table that had the power, in his belief, of detecting and materializing poisons. He also had fifty horse and 200 foot when he traveled. Divine vengeance did not reach him, and human vengeance could not, so well had Isabella established her government.
But not one act of Torquemada could have gone on without the consent and even the order of Isabella. She was as supreme above the priests as above the laymen. At Truxillo, in 1486, a man was put in prison by a civil judge. Certain priests, relatives of the offender, demanded his release on account of his connection with the religious profession. Agitating the populace, the priests declared an insult had been offered to the Church, and advised an attack on the prison, which, following, set free not only the offender, but all others in that jail. Isabella sent a force to Truxillo, captured the rioters, sentenced the lay leaders to death, and banished the priests out of the realm.
In 1481 Isabella began war on the Moors. Previous monarchs had been on easy terms with them. However, a fanatical Caliph arose, who gave the Catholic Queen every opportunity for a holy war, and himself sounded the knell of Moorish rule in Spain. It was no gentle clash of arms, for in one of the early campaigns, Ferdinand hung 110 Mohammedans on the walls of a captured town called Benemaquez, sold men, women and children into slavery, and finally razed the place to the ground.
When the great Moorish war was well under way, Isabella had gathered at Cordova, her base of operations, an army of 80,000 men under Ferdinand. She herself had the quartermaster and commissary departments in charge. She moved along the frontier, establishing posts and receiving hourly intelligence. She visited the camps and not only inflamed the hearts of the soldiers with fanatical rage against the Mohammedans, but distributed clothes, medicines and money. She who re-established the Spanish Inquisition also was the first person in the world to establish camp hospitals, and at the large tents known then as "the Queen's hospitals" sick and wounded soldiers were served and tended at the charge of the crown. She was the soul of the war. When peace was talked of, she would make such bitter objections that the knights and grandees, says the learned Lebrija, "mortified at being surpassed in zeal for the holy war by a woman, eagerly collected their forces, which had been partly disbanded, and returned across the borders to renew hostilities."
Isabella was supported by a number of great Castilian nobles who were jealous to the last degree of each other, and none too respectful to Ferdinand. Isabella, herself a typical Castilian, dealt with these commanders as best she could. She reached past their pride to their self-interest by giving them the populous Moorish cities that they took, satisfying their cupidity while she gratified her own fanaticism.
The war was carried on with all the extravagant display of the age of chivalry. Before Moclin, in 1486, the Queen was asked to, come to the council of war. When she reached the army with her daughter, a courtly train of damsels followed, all on richly caparisoned mules. The Queen was seated on a saddle-chair, embossed with gold and silver. The housings were of a crimson color, and the bridle was of satin, curiously wrought with letters of gold. The King was sheathed in complete mail. The banners, gleaming lances, and glitter of the knightly appanage were all that the modern theaters have simulated, and were multiplied into an impressive spectacle.
Isabella herself frequently wore mail. Several suits of her armor hang in the Museum of the Armory at Madrid. Isabella was larger than Ferdinand, to judge by their suits of steel.
On August i8, 1487, the King and Queen, with all the panoply of Christian chivalry, entered the conquered city of Malaga. The royal alferez raised the standard of the Cross on the summit of the principal fortress, and all who beheld it prostrated themselves on their knees in silent worship of the Almighty, while the priests chanted Te Deum. "The ensign of St. James," says Marineo, "was then unfolded, and all invoked his blessed name. Lastly was displayed the banner of the sovereigns, at which the whole army shouted forth, as if with one voice, 'Castile! Castile!' " A prelate now led the way to the principal mosque, with bells, vases, missals, plate and other sacred furniture, where, after the rites of purification, the edifice was consecrated to the true faith. Bells began to ring in the city, "the celestial music of their chimes," says the glad Bernaldez, "sounding at every hour of the day and night, and causing perpetual torment to the ears of the infidel."
The entire population of Malaga was now ordered to repair to the great courtyard of the castle. The people, old and young, came, wringing their hands, raising their eyes to heaven, and uttering the most piteous lamentations.
The doom of slavery was proclaimed against the entire multitude. One-third were to go to Africa, in exchange for an equal number of Christian captives held there by Moslems. One-third were to be sold for a war indemnity. The remainder were to be reserved for royal present-making. One hundred warriors were sent to the Pope, "who converted them in a year," says Bernaldez. Isabella presented fifty of the most beautiful Moorish girls to the Queen of Naples, thirty to the Queen of Portugal; others to the ladies of her court. The grandees of Spain, on the whole, were well stocked with fresh slaves.
Ferdinand was able to play upon the captives' hopes in a manner that redounded to his commercial fame. He fixed a ransom, and told the poor people to bring on their wealth, and see if they could not reach the sum. They obeyed. The sum could not be made up, so Ferdinand got both person and property, without fear that anything had been secreted.
When Malaga fell, Granada must follow. In the next campaign, of 1487-89, on the other side of Granada, when Ferdinand and Ponce de Leon would have retreated from before the fortress of Baza, it was Isabella's implorations, from the city of Jaen, the base of supplies, that again inspired the army. Let them persevere. She would get the supplies. Baza surrendered, El Zagel, the Caliph, was taken, and the silvery standard of the Cross reached the sea at the city of Almeria. The eighth year of the Moorish wars closed in 1490, with Isabella nearing the summit of Spanish glory. All acknowledged that blood and treasure would have gone for nothing but for her surprising fortitude in times of trouble and almost general despair. "The chivalrous heart of the Spaniard," says Prescott eloquently, "did homage to her as his tutelar saint; and she held a control over her people, such as no man could have acquired in any age and probably no woman, in an age and country less romantic."
In order to take Granada, the stone-and-mortar camp of Santa Fe was built outside the Moorish capital "the only city in Spain," says Estrada, "that has never been contaminated by the Moslem heresy." Inasmuch as Malaga had been sold into slavery because it had resisted, Abdallah, the Caliph at Granada, set out to obtain better terms. The conquerors agreed to protect the Mohammedans in their religion, and to leave them their mosques. In fact, the terms, on paper, were nearly what a conqueror would grant today.
When, therefore, on the 2d of January, 1492, the great silvery Cross of Ferdinand was seen shining in the sun-beams, while the standard of St. James the Disciple waved from the red towers of Alhambra, the grandees of Spain, surrounding the Queen did homage to her as the Sovereign of Granada, and looked upon both her and her spouse, the King, as more than mortal, as beings sent by the Almighty for the deliverance of Spain.
This triumph, which caused a sensation so profound in Europe, ended a Moorish domination of 741 years.
While this eleven-year crusade had been going on, and Isabella had been draining every financial resource to secure funds, and resorting to every expedient to keep the proud nobles in some sort of league, there had followed her court, for most of the time, an elderly, high-browed, scholarly man, who drew upon himself the ridicule of the ignorant, but gradually acquired the respect of the great. On the theory that the earth was spherical, he desired to sail westward on the Spanish Ocean and reach the Kingdoms of Kublan Khan, which Marco Polo had gained only by an overland journey of three years through Tartary. Isabella had set the matter before her learned men, but they did not believe the doctrine of the ,Antipodes of people with their feet upwards was godly or reasonable. A confessor of the Queen, Juan Perez, had encouraged the theorist to hope on, and when from the camp of Santa Fe, the surrender of the Caliph was seen to be forthcoming, another appeal was made by Christopher Columbus, the theorist, to the powerful Queen. Even the great Ponce de Leon, even the richest dukes, did not feel disposed to send men and ships over the abyss into which the Spanish sun sank every evening. As for Ferdinand, he ever looked upon the matter as the dream of a madman.
When, at last, the Queen heard the views of Columbus, that enough gold could be brought home from Asia to conquer Jerusalem and Constantinople, she was of a mind to treat, but the demand of Columbus, that he be made Admiral over his discoveries, did not seem possible to her, as he was a Genoese sailor, and such offices were only for old Castilian blood. When, at last, these compunctions were removed, and Isabella came to look at the matter in the light of a crusade, she became enthusiastic, and the cold views of Ferdinand could no longer restrain her. "I will assume the undertaking," cried she, "for my own crown of Castile, and I am ready to pawn my jewels to defray the expenses of it, if the funds in the treasury shall be found inadequate." The treasury of Aragon lent the money, and it was paid back to Ferdinand, who gilded his saloons at Saragossa with the first gold Columbus brought home. The agreement with Columbus was made at Santa Fe, near Granada, April 14, 1492.
By this act, which passed for so small an item in her administration, Isabella became one of the most spectacular characters in history, and she, whose career cannot be briefly told, because of the magnitude of her doings, is generally known among seventy millions of Americans for the single act of womanly faith and emotion which offered to Columbus the opportunity of doubling the area of the known world.
Almost at the same time that the parchments of Christopher Columbus lay on the council tables of the Queen at Santa Fe, outside of Granada, the edict for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain was also under consideration, and it was the first signed. It would be thought that, as war had so softened the asperities of Christian triumph as to spare the Moslems, the Jews might have shared this charity, especially as they had been well taxed. On March 30, 1492, it was proclaimed that, after July 31, 1492, every unbaptized Jew must depart from Spain. Some chroniclers estimate the emigration at 16o,000 souls; some at 800,000. Probabilities strongly favor the smaller figures. No person could take gold or silver out of Spain. The horrors of the emigration were shocking, and once more brought on the plague.
No theory can be evolved we think, that will excuse Isabella's action, or render it logical. Her declaration that, "when a college or corporation of any kind is convicted of any great or detestable crime, it is right that it should be disfranchised (enslaved), the less suffering with the greater, the innocent with the guilty," is tenable only, when she applies it to all corporations alike, and she has but a few months before, granted religious freedom to the very Mohammedans that she spent so much blood and treasure to overthrow. In the Moslems, too, she had an enemy as intolerant as herself; one or the other must suffer in the end. But the Jews were clannish rather than propagative. The act of Isabella, following the treaty of Granada, is an example of cold-blooded Castilian cruelty and hypocrisy, without excuse or palliation in argument or state-craft.
Columbus made his first return the year after the conquest of Granada, when the affairs of Isabella were at their best. He came through Portugal to Barcelona, and made a triumphal entry in Roman fashion. Six Indians, par-rots, stuffed birds and animals new to Spain, rare medicinal plants, and a display of golden ornaments were a part of the pageant. Ferdinand and Isabella awaited Columbus, sitting on a public throne, and rose to their feet as he approached. They ordered him to be seated in their presence, a rare Castilian procedure. Everybody thought an ancient and wealthy civilization in Asia had been reached, and the vision of much-needed wealth rose in the Spanish mind with overpowering effect. The King and Queen, listening to his recital, fell upon their knees and gave thanks to God, and the people were quick to fall prostrate. The six Indians were at once baptized by the King, Queen and Crown Prince John, and twelve priests were sent to carry the church into the new world. Isabella's interest in this matter was very keen, while Ferdinand proceeded with expedition to reap the financial advantages that he supposed were at hand.
When Columbus arrived at Cadiz, in chains, in 1500, there was a cry of anger throughout Spain. Isabella was at Granada. She liberated him, sent him 2,000 ducats, and invited him to Granada to hear his side of the story. The Queen wept as Columbus approached, and that great and venerable man, finding at last a friendly heart, threw himself at her feet and was himself overcome with emotion. The fact that Ferdinand was still permitted to deal in smooth phrases and do wrong to the foremost of mariners and philosophers, puzzled the will of Columbus and darkened the remainder of his days. And although some measure of justice was done to him, yet it fell out that, as his troubles increased, the time of trouble had also come for his Queen, as we shall proceed to relate, and it is possible that the sorrows of the Sovereign destroyed the peace and ruined the fortunes of the discoverer.
Isabella was perpetually annoyed with the declarations of Joan, daughter of Henry IV, that she was Queen of Castile. and therefore was glad to marry her daughter Isabella to Alonzo, Crown Prince of Portugal. Alonzo died and Isabella, a melancholy widow, returned to Castile. The King of Portugal himself died, and his successor sued for young Isabella's hand. She regretfully consented, but only on condition that the Jews should be expelled from Portugal, as they had been from Spain, and Emanuel with sorrow issued the cruel edict and obtained his Castilian bride.
Isabella had a son John, Crown Prince, and another daughter, Joan. By treaty with Austria, Prince John married Margaret, the daughter of Maximilian, Emperor of Germany, and Joan married the Archduke Philip, heir of the Austrian monarchy and, by his mother, heir to the sovereignty of the Low Countries. Isabella had still a third daughter, Catalina, and she married the King of England, and became the unhappy Catherine of Aragon.
As France was estranged by these marriages, a great armada of 130 vessels sailed with Joan for Flanders, and was to return with the German Princess.
Isabella dreaded the sea, and parted from her daughter Joan (who was to be the mother of two Emperors), with deep melancholy, increased by the recent death of her own mother, who, long before her death, had sunk into mental infirmities. Joan reached Flanders after a bad journey. Her marriage was celebrated at Lisle.
The armada, in returning, brought the German Princess through the Bay of Biscay in midwinter storms. After awful perils she landed, and was married to Prince John at Burgos with a pomp previously unexampled in Spain.
While Ferdinand and Isabella were marrying their daughter Isabella to Emanuel of Portugal, at the Spanish town nearest to the Portuguese frontier from Segovia and Madrid that is, at Valencia de Alcantara, close to the Tagus River news came that Prince John was dying at Salamanca. Only Ferdinand could post away. He sent back dispatches of hope to Isabella. John died October 4, 1497, aged 20. "Thus," says Peter Martyr, who was at the Prince's dying bed, "was laid low the hope of all Spain." He was a good young man, and the grief of the nation was profound.
Isabella received the news of the death of her son with meek and humble resignation. "The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be His name !" said she in low voice. She who had caused so many others to suffer had no disposition to escape from sufferings of her own.
The Queen of Portugal, Isabella the younger, was now Crown Princess. But news came that Duke Philip, Joan's husband, had assumed for himself and wife the title of Princes of Castile, implying their claims to the succession. Accordingly, Queen Isabella, the mother, sent for the King and Queen of Portugal to come to the sittings of the Spanish Parliament at Toledo. They reached Toledo in April, 1498. The oaths were taken, and the pair moved on to Aragon, where the matter was much more difficult. The Parliament at Saragossa would not swear fealty to a woman. The angry Queen cried out : "It would be bet-ter to reduce this country by arms at once, than to endure this insolence of the Parliament !" But the Knight Antonio de Fonseca replied : "The Aragonese have only acted as good and loyal subjects who, as they have been accustomed to mind their oaths, consider well before they take them. And we now must be most certainly excused if we move with caution in an affair that we find so difficult to justify by precedent in our history."
Matters were delayed, pending the birth of young Isabella's child, which, on August 23, 1498, proved to be a son, thus disposing of a vexed question. But the young mother died one hour later.
The infant was named Miguel, in honor of St. Michael, on whose day it was born. Miguel was borne through the streets, in the arms of his nurse, in a magnificent litter, and, according to the laws of Aragon, Ferdinand and Isabella were appointed guardians.
The Queen again testified her resignation, but could not leave her bed till the 2d of September, when she, with Ferdinand, in the Parliament of Saragossa, made oath. The Parliament of Castile followed in January, 1499, and of Portugal in March. Thus, for a time, the crown of all Spain was suspended over one head. The little Miguel died before he was two years old, and Joan was indeed Crown Princess. She loved her Austrian husband, but he had another charmer. The impetuous and half-mad Joan flew at the rival and tore her face with the nails of a jealous wife. This made a great scandal in Europe, and it was under circumstances so cruel that Charles V was born at Ghent to Joan. The Archduke and Joan at last came to Spain to receive the allegiance of the nation. The infant was more than a year old. He was destined to become King of Kings, sovereign over a larger territory than any potentate had previously ruled. Joan was recognized, even in Aragon, where Isabella the younger had been rejected. The Archduke Philip hurried away from Spain, leaving Joan, his passionately affection-ate wife, in a condition that prevented her going with him. "From the hour of Philip's departure," says Peter Martyr, "she refused all consolation, thinking only of rejoining her absent lord, and equally regardless of herself, her future subjects, and her afflicted parents. Her second child, Ferdinand (afterward Emperor), was born in March, 1503. In November she announced her determination to depart, which, in the state of things, war being imminent between France and Spain, was impracticable.
Joan was at Medina del Campo, west of Segovia. Isabella was at Segovia. One evening Joan left her apartment in the castle, and the Bishop of Burgos, in charge of the castle, was compelled to shut the gates in order to pre-vent the Princess from going forth scantily dressed. Thus thwarted, the mad Princess menaced the attendants with her vengeance, and stood on the barriers in the cold till morning, shivering and suffering very much, but growing more angry with each hour. The embarrassed Bishop, in this dreadful dilemma, not daring to lay violent hands on the great personage, sent in haste for the Queen, who was forty miles away.
The Queen was too feeble to come to the rescue at once, but sent on two of her greatest dignitaries, and followed as fast as she could. The best terms that the Queen's people could obtain from Joan were that she would retire to a humble kitchen outside for the nights, but as soon as it was light she again took her station on the barrier, and stood there immovable all day. When the Queen arrived, the habitual deference of Joan for her mother regained its sway, and the Princess, after much persuasion, returned to her apartment in the castle.
The French at this very time, were invading Spain, and the sick and bitterly disappointed Isabella once more, as in the glittering days of the crusades against the Moors, lighted the fires of patriotism in Spanish hearts. She passed her days, with her whole household, in fasting and continual prayer. She personally visited the religious houses of Segovia, distributed alms, and implored then to most humbly supplicate the Almighty to avert the impending calamity.
Ferdinand, as he had been fortunate at Naples, was fortunate now. The French came and retreated. Ferdinand could have captured France to the Loire. This was as late as 1502.
It has not been necessary to speak of the Grand Cardinal Mendoza, for twenty years "the third King of Spain," but with his death, in 1495, there came upon the public scene a priest, in the person of Ximenes, who may be considered as having figured as one of the principals of all the political pontiffs of history. When Mendoza died, he recommended Ximenes, confessor of the Queen, to succeed him as Archbishop of Toledo and chief minister. Ximenes was 59. He had already had a remarkable history. He had been in prison for six years for strict obedience to orders and yet for contumacy. He was a prodigious scholar, and the polyglot Bible of Ximenes, with Hebrew, Chaldee, Septuagint Greek and Latin versions, is still a monument in the world of letters. He had been a successful treasurer of estates, and had secured an income of 2,000 golden ducats a year, when, to the chagrin of all his friends, he resigned his various employments and entered on a novitiate in a monastery at Toledo. He joined the Observantines in the Franciscan order. He slept on the ground, or on the hard floor, with a billet of wood for his pillow. He wore hair-cloth next to his skin. He exercised himself with fasts, vigils and stripes. But his deprivations made him famous, and multitudes came to confess to him. Accordingly, he retired to a mountain fastness, where he dwelt in a cabin scarce large enough to contain him. Here he prayed, studied the Sacred Volume, ate only the green herbs or chestnuts, and drank from the running brooks. His frame wasted with abstinence, and his brain grew ecstatic in the meditations of his solitude. This period he ever after considered the most satisfactory of his long life. Time went on, and though events interfered with the austerities which Ximenes would gladly practice, it could not but be seen that he was a most unselfish and godly man.
By the time Talavera, confessor of Isabella, had been elevated to be Archbishop of Granada, the great and peculiar Queen had begun to lean so heavily on her confessor that Mendoza could think of but one man in the kingdom who would not abuse such a place. This was Ximenes. He was ordered to assume direction of the Queen's conscience. There came into court, says Peter Martyr, in effect, a confessor, in whose wasted frame and pallid, careworn countenance the nobles seemed to behold a father of the desert. He was famous throughout Spain for his piety, and Peter was sorry to think how soon Ximenes would become a crafty and designing politician. The priest reserved the right to remain in his own monastery, and, when he traveled, went on foot, begging alms. He was elected Provincial of his Order in Castile, and found the houses sadly luxurious and even licentious. To give him greater moral authority, Isabella visited the nunneries in person, and with her needle and distaff gave examples of industry and humility.
This had gone on some time when Mendoza died. Ferdinand wanted the vacant place for his own natural son, Alfonso, Archbishop of Saragossa. But Isabella nominated Ximenes. One day the Pope's bull of confirmation reached Isabella at Madrid. She summoned Ximenes. The anchorite entered. She placed the parcel in his hands. He devoutly kissed the communication of the Holy Father. He read the superscription : "To our venerable brother, Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros, Archbishop-elect of Toledo." He changed color, involuntarily dropped the packet from his hands, exclaimed, "There is a mistake, it cannot be intended for me!" and left the apartment without leave. Nor did he return.
The Queen sent two grandees, whom he liked, to argue with him and persuade him. They found he had fled from his monastery. They overtook him in the noonday heat nine miles on his way to the Franciscan monastery at Ocaña. He at first refused to return. "I hope," he said, "to pass the remainder of my days in the quiet practice of my monastic duties. It is too late to call me into public life, to burden me with the responsibility for which I have neither capacity nor inclination." He, however, obeyed the positive order of his Queen to come back. At court he persisted for six months in refusing to be consecrated, when there arrived from Rome a second bull, ordering him to obey the Church and interpose no further objection. On this, he could no longer postpone action, and was advanced to the primacy in Spain.
They had caught a Tartar in Ximenes. The deceased Mendoza's brother held a great office. His friends came on with their "papers" to support him for the place again under Ximenes. They recalled the great Mendoza's former favor to Ximenes. Ximenes said the young Mendoza must go. "The sovereigns may send me back to the cloister, but they cannot make me appoint a man on personal considerations." The Queen would not interfere, although she was surprised and perhaps mortified. Ximenes triumphed, and Mendoza was lost. Then Ximenes met Mendoza on the street, and saluted him with the old title. Mendoza stared. Ximenes again saluted him by the title that had been refused. "Now that I am at full liberty to consult my own judgment, without the suspicion of sinister influence," said Ximenes, "I am happy to restore you to a station for which you are well qualified." Thus was established the axiom that if an office-seeker applied to Ximenes, he must lack both merit and humility.
The Holy Father at Rome admonished Ximenes to live in state. So far as met the public eye, Ximenes complied. From a luxurious table he ate only his former kind and quantity of food. Under his silk or furs was the hair-cloth, which he mended with his own hands. Within the draperies of his luxurious couch was a pallet, on which he slept.
Ximenes now set out to entirely reform the Franciscan and Augustine orders. The outcry in Spain was there-upon so loud that it engaged the attention of Rome. The reform meant poverty instead of wealth, humility instead of arrogance. Ximenes boldly asked the Church of Christ in Spain to accept the example of Jesus as a sound working-theory of life. The general of all the Franciscans in Europe came to Isabella, possibly little considering the gloomy and fanatical tendencies of her own character. Thus he spoke to the great Queen :
"Why have you selected for a chief priest a man who is destitute of nearly every qualification, even that of birth; whose sanctity is a mere cloak to cover his ambition; whose morose temper makes him an enemy of even the common courtesies of life? It is not too late to rectify the evil which his intemperate measures have brought on our Church, and if your Highness value your own fame, or the interests of your soul, you will compel this man of yesterday to abdicate his office and return to his original obscurity."
"Art thou in thy senses, and knowest whom thou speakest to ?" asked Isabella.
"Yes," cried the desperate friar, "I am in my senses, and know very well whom I am speaking to, to the Queen of Castile, a mere handful of dust like myself !"
With that he ran out of the room, shutting the door with all the noise he could make.
In brief the entire power of the European church was again leveled against Isabella, but she listened to Ximenes, and, after a prodigious ecclesiastical turmoil, the greatest she had yet experienced, Ximenes reformed the Orders, a feat that reflected eternal glory on the reign, and on the Spanish Church.
This Ximenes has been imposed on the attention of the reader because, thus backed by the devout Isabella, he was to go forth into the land of the infidels, and, all treaties to the contrary, was to convert the Mussulmans of Granada to the worship of the cross.
The court went to Granada in the autumn of 1499, and Ximenes came with it. Then the court went to Seville, but Ximenes stayed behind. He at once summoned the Mohammedan doctors, and, being an eloquent man, expounded the Christian doctrines in a manner that would give least offense to Moslem argument.., He made liberal presents of costly dress, which the war-worn infidels accepted with delight, and many great teachers embraced the Cross. Seeing this, the populace of Granada came in for baptism in multitudes, so that the gratified Ximenes was compelled to baptize them by aspersion, scattering drops of holy water by an instrument, in order that all should be reached. The Moors who relied on the treaty, made protest against the strange "revival," and particularly a noble Moor named Zegri, stood well in the way, for neither gifts nor arguments would bring him away from Mohammed. Ximenes gave Zegri into the hands of Leon (lion), an officer "a lion," says Gomez, the historian, "by nature as well as name." "Take such measures with the prisoner," ordered Ximenes, "as shall clear the film from his eyes." Down went Zegri deep into the vaults, and after fasting, fetters, and, perhaps, torture, he came before Ximenes and humbly stated that "on the preceding night he had had a revelation from Allah, who had shown him the error of his ways, and commanded him to receive instant baptism. Your reverence," said he, "has only to turn this lion of yours loose among the people, and, my word for it, there will not be many days a Mussulman left within the walls of Granada !"
"Thus," exclaims the historian Ferreras, with a canting phrase which excites our wonder at his lack of the sardonic humor of the Arab "thus did Providence avail itself of the darkness of the dungeon to pour on the benighted mind of the infidel the light of the true faith !"
In the end, Granada rebelled, and Ximenes stood in danger of his life. He confronted this peril with joy. When the riot was put down, Ferdinand was of a mind that at last he could ruin Ximenes. But Ximenes reached Seville, showed Isabella that now the Moors could either be baptized or exiled, and returned triumphantly to accept the baptism of 50,000 who did not wish to get into Africa. The fiercest of the Moors emigrated, and the Moors who were baptized were called Moriscoes. In the end it fell out, so well did the character of Ximenes accord with the humor of the Queen and the ideals of the Spaniards, that even the prelates who had been temperate for the first eight years at Granada, declared that, after all, God had clearly sent Ximenes, for while Isabella might gain the soil, Ximenes had gained the souls.
Finally, for the reason that the baptized might back-slide if contaminated with the obstinate infidel, an edict or pragmatica, dated at Seville, February 12, 1502, ordered all unbaptized Moslems out of Spain by May, and Isabella might feel at last that she had not strained her conscience on either Jew or Moslem. There was not an unbaptized human being in Spain all were Christians the bloody and fiery and ostracising work was fully done.
Thus, too, Ferdinand and Ximenes like Abu-bekr, Omar, Ali and the others who were with the fanatical Mohammed rose in the minds of the people to the deified rank of companions of the saintly Isabella, who now, weighted with the fatigues of state, and smitten with the death and distraction of her children, sank rapidly toward the grave. But we must not dismiss Ximenes from our attention without saying that he had Spain from Ferdinand to keep for Charles V; that he was supreme regent for at least twenty months; that he was coldly treated by Charles V, and died at 81, some said of chagrin, and some of poison it might as well have been one as the other, considering what he had done for Charles V.
At the utter break-down of Isabella's health, in 1503, the Parliament, alarmed by existing conditions, petitioned her to make a will providing for a government in case of Joan's incapacity. Joan was now in Flanders, once more, where her troubles were increasing. In June of 1504, both Ferdinand and Isabella fell ill, at Medina del Campo, with the same malady. Ferdinand recovered. "The Queen's whole system," said Peter Martyr in a letter from her bed-side, "is pervaded by a consuming fever. She loathes food of every kind, and is tormented with an incessant thirst, while the disorder has all the appearance of terminating in a dropsy."
All this while Columbus was himself ill and in disgrace, unable or unwilling to present himself to any other than his patron, who was dying.
On October 14, 1504, Peter Martyr writes : "We sit sorrowful in the palace all day long, tremblingly waiting the hour when religion and virtue shall quit the earth with her. She so far transcends all human excellence that there is scarcely anything of mortality about her. She can hardly be said to die, but to pass into a nobler existence, which should rather excite our envy than our sorrow. She leaves the world filled with her renown, and she goes to enjoy life eternal with her God in heaven. I write this between hope and fear, while the breath is still fluttering within her."
On the 12th of October she had executed her will. In that document she orders that her remains be transported to Granada, to the Franciscan monastery of Saint Isabella in Alhambra, and there placed in a humble sepulchre with a plain inscription. "But," she stipulates, "should the King, my lord, prefer a sepulchre in some other place, then my will is that my body be transported thither, and laid by his side; that the union we have enjoyed in this world, and, through the mercy of God, may hope again for our souls in heaven, may be represented by our bodies on earth." She commands that her funeral shall be per-formed in the plainest and most unostentatious manner, and that the sum saved by this economy shall be given in alms to the poor. She calls to the attention of her successors the importance of retaining Gibraltar. She leaves the kingdom to Joan as Queen proprietor, and begs especial reverence for Ferdinand. She appoints Ferdinand Regent in case of need, and until the majority of Charles V. She remembers Beatriz, the surviving companion of her youth. She concludes : "I beseech the King my lord that he will accept all my jewels, or such as he shall select, so that, seeing them, he may be reminded of the singular love I always bore him while living, and that I am now waiting for him in a better world; by which remembrance he may be encouraged to live the most justly and holily in this." She appoints Ferdinand and Ximenes the two principal executors.
After signing this document, she daily grew weaker for a month. She added a codicil November 23, in which she begged her successors "to quicken the good work of converting and civilizing the poor Indians of the new world."
Now she was dying. She saw around her bed a great number of the very friends of her youth, and was possibly more blessed in this regard than any other historical personage so illustrious. This speaks well both for her and for Castilian manners.
"Do not weep for me," she said, "but pray for the salvation of my soul." On receiving the extreme unction she refused to have her feet exposed, as is usual, and therein caused the Spanish historians to note that she had ever been one of. the most modest women whom Spain had brought forth.
She gently expired a little before noon, November 26, 1504, at Medina del Campo, aged only 54, in the thirtieth year of her reign. She was not so old when she died as was Ximenes when he came to her.
"My hand," says Peter Martyr, "falls powerless by my side for very sorrow. The world has lost its noblest ornament, a loss to be deplored not only by Spain, which she has so long carried forward in the career of glory, but by every nation in Christendom; for she was the mirror of every virtue, the shield of the innocent, and an avenging sword to the wicked. I know none of her sex, in ancient or modern times, who, in my judgment, is at all worthy to be named with this grand woman."
A body of ecclesiastics and cavaliers left Medina at once on a direct route southward through Arevalo, Toledo, and Jaen, to Granada, carrying the unembalmed body of the deceased Queen. A tremendous storm set in, and neither sun nor stars appeared during the whole journey.
"Never did I encounter such perils," exclaims Peter Martyr, "in the whole of my hazardous pilgrimage to Egypt." The tempest continued nearly unabated while the last rites at the mausoleum were being performed.
The tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella today is in the chapel of the Cathedral of Granada, where she willed it to be. The effigies of the royal pair are sculptured in white marble on a magnificent sepulcher. The altar is adorned with bas reliefs commemorative of the conquest of Granada.
A month or so after the death of the Queen, the feeble Columbus, rising from his bed of illness, reached the court at Segovia. He who had made the Roman-like entry into Barcelona, only a few years before, now arrived a stranger without consequence at the gates of an unwelcoming city. The day had gone by for saving souls. The monarch was now at liberty to gratify his strong propensity to save money. The venerable Columbus, again stricken with illness, wrote from his dying bed : "It appears to me that his majesty does not think fit to fulfill that which he, with the Queen, who is now in glory, promised me by word and seal. I have done all that I could do. I leave the rest to God."