Isabella of Castile - O. O. Howard

Early Life

"O Child! O new-born denizen

Of Life's great city! on thy head

The glory of the morn is shed,

Like a celestial benison!

Here at the portal thou dost stand,

And with thy little hand

Thou openest the mysterious gate

Into the future's undiscovered land.

By what astrology of fear or hope

Dare I to cast thy horoscope!"


Isabella of Castile


Isabella's Father—Mother—Family—Condition of Affairs in Castile at the Period of her Birth.

There appears to be a settled belief, quite general in its expression, that the character of a daughter derives from the father rather than from the mother. Fathers, surely, enjoy this conceit; but Isabella of Castile, whom the historians of Spain denominate Isabel la Catolica, affords a noble exception.

From infancy to age she followed few beaten paths, and indeed neither in natural traits nor in habits of action was she like the king, her father. John II. was, it is true, a prince of some intelligence and considerable culture, yet at all times he was infirm of purpose and weak as a ruler; so that, like all such men who come by inheritance to high place, he was uniformly ruled by men of stronger wills, and especially by ambitious favorites. The most prominent courtier among his ministers, who sought and obtained leadership in this king's domain, was Alvaro de Luna. He, in fact, exceeded all men of his class in essential gifts and accomplishments—gifts that would have befitted a crown, had a crown been his birthright.

At the time Isabella first saw the light the entire nobility of the kingdom was divided into two opposing camps, for and against this ruling spirit. The contention, at one time, was so sharp that it brought them to open battle. The crown prince took part in it, and fought on the side of "the rebels," as the opposers of the king were called. Alvaro, however, who was as full of expedients as a magician, was not at that time defeated. In fact, his opponents were never able soon enough to divine and meet his machinations. This man, in authority surpassing the modern prime-ministers of Germany and England, not being subjected to their legislative restrictions, obtained and kept for many years the mastery of Castile. Strange to say, in this reign of John II., foolishly bloody and contentious as it was, while inter arma  the Muses are usually silent, there was nevertheless much attention paid to cultivation of literature. It has, in this respect, been called the golden age for Castile. The names of Henry, Marquis of Villena, Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, Marquis of Santillana, and Juan de Mena frequently appear and have special prominence. They are writers honorably mentioned by the historians of the period. That was the time when a good taste and love for books appeared in Spain and were becoming more general—a time sad enough and terrible for humanity, yet not absolutely involved in gloom. The king himself was a poet, and, as far as such a character could be, a patron of poetic and literary aspirants. In literary achievements he could at least be rated above the "divine Augustus," whom the world knows to have had a similar ambition. Yet withal, the principal distinction of John II. of Castile was the reflex of his daughter Isabella's phenomenal successes and acknowledged virtues. She proved herself, as our studies reveal, a brave and able princess, who, with a heart intrinsically kind, was yet obliged to find her way politically through the troubled waters of intense aristocratic opposition and hierarchical interference. Her father died July 21st, 1454. In his last hours he did not have even the meagre consolation of self-approval. The historian says significantly: "Penetrated by remorse at the retrospect of his unprofitable life, and filled with melancholy presages of the future, the unhappy prince lamented on his death-bed to his faithful attendant, Cibdareal, that he had not been born the son of a mechanic instead of King of Castile."

These gloomy times became more so when Isabella's eldest brother, Henry IV., came to the throne. He was the son of John II. by the first wife, Maria of Aragon.

John's second queen, Isabella, from the royal family of Portugal, was the mother of Isabella and Alfonso. This Isabella, the subject of our sketch, was born April 22nd, 1451, in the little town of Madrigal. If it does not belie its name ("lightsome song"), this must have been a merry spot, yet the youth of her who was born there knew little of merriment. Madrigal was and to this day is a beautiful little city grouped around a small hill and situated in the midst of a fertile and rolling plain.

In the old days when revolutions, led by ambitious noblemen, were as frequent as they now are in some Spanish-American republics, Madrigal, being far from the reinforcement of any neighboring garrison, was exposed to raids from every direction. Her people defensively built a high and strong wall in the form of a completed circle. It swept around and beyond all the buildings. Enough of this stone wall and the lofty towers which form part of it, and were perhaps two hundred yards apart, remain till to-day to give an unique character to the place. Still living here, Isabella was but three years and three months old at the time of her father's death.

The cause of her mother's retirement to that quiet spot is not fully known. It might have been compulsory. It probably was voluntary. At any rate, even if fortune compelled her to turn her back upon festivities of that court of Castile, nothing more fortunate could have come to her daughter of tender years. Here the child lived in a wholesome atmosphere. No flatterers surrounded her childhood, and no crafty courtiers were attracted to her comparative solitude. The future throne was not yet discovered by the swarm of aspiring princes. The prospect of her own elevation was not at this time sure enough to touch the vanity of a child. Her half-brother Henry was king, and likely to have offspring; but should he die childless, there was her own brother Alfonso to precede her. Her mother, while living at Madrigal, and later at Arevalo, to some degree maintained her royal rank. Those who came in and went out before her were obliged to show her reverence, but as yet courtiers had but small interests to cultivate, so that all the pomp and display, the frivolity and seductive etiquette which would always have been around Isabella had she been already the known heir to a crown, were quite unknown to her in her early youth. She was also spared the sight of the corruption of her brother's court. Her pleasures were simple, and never of a nature to vitiate or impede the normal development of her mind. Her mother had had her day.

She had felt all the sensations of royalty and power, but her exercise of them had been cut short. It is recorded against her that she, with the aid of certain of the nobility, had overthrown the great favorite, who had been the prime cause of her elevation, Alvaro de Luna; that little by little she had turned the king, her husband, against him, and at last, when, like Pilate of old, he sought to wash his hands of that constable's murder, she watchfully kept the king from countermanding his orders until the cruel execution had been effected. Prescott's remarks concerning this royal mother in connection with De Luna's death sustain this view. "Had it not been," he writes, "for the superior constancy or vindictive temper of the queen, he, the king, would probably have yielded to the impulses of returning affection."

In spite of all this, it is hard to believe that, at the time of and after Isabella's birth, her mother was a wicked woman. Whatever be our conclusions as to her temper and conduct at earlier periods of her life, we must remember that men and women change, especially so under the influence of religion, when the Holy Spirit acts upon the conscience and heart. The Jacob in his youth acting treacherously toward his brother and falsely to his father is not the Israel who prevailed with God at Bethel. Saul of Tarsus, witnessing the death scene of the noble Stephen and haling men and women to prison and martyrdom because they believed in Jesus, is not the same character as Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles. And, surely, this devoted mother, who with her little children went into retirement at Madrigal, and later at the quiet town of Arevalo, doubtless to get them away from the seductions and falseness of a corrupt court, thinking to bring them up under natural and holy influences, planning that they might be properly educated, grandly developed and established in character before meeting the trials of life that were sure to come—this mother is a far different woman from that young, gay spirit that befitted the court of Portugal, or that ambitious, selfish, if not vindictive wife at the court of the King of Castile. This mother, like so many others, at the very hour of the birth of the child, when she went down into the dark valley and shadow of death, must have looked up to Him who is the rescuer of the perishing and the comforter of the distressed. She then, or at some time near that period, gave her heart more fully to the Lord, so that she could, as she actually did, carefully instruct her children "in those lessons of practical piety and in the deep reverence for religion which distinguished Isabella's maturer years."

Certainly Isabella of Portugal, whatever led to the change, became a religious woman, and with the light she had, found for herself consolation and strength in pious exercises. Such women, when highly gifted, after checkered experiences in the world, and especially after the severe chastenings of adversity, are generally good teachers.

Isabella's catholic zeal, which gave her the cognomen Catolica, is attributed to the lessons of her mother. A careful study of that mother's life and character leads one to ascribe other traits to the same source, such as her practical wisdom, her uniform common sense, and, moreover, that valiant constancy which was so often imputed to her in her career.

While the child Isabella was thus being reared far from the tumult of the kingdom, that tumult, ever manifest to honest Castilians, was becoming uncontrollable. Her brother Henry, after repudiating his first wife, Blanche of Aragon, married, in 1455, Juana, the sister of King Alfonso of Portugal. This princess did not meet the approval of Castilians. Juana was young, handsome, full of gayety and the love of pleasure. It was not long before her frivolity took a more dubious turn. There were rumors and suspicions of a score of intrigues. Soon there was one nobleman, whom she was seen in the court society to prefer to all others who were paying her attention. It was Beltram de Cueva. Therefore when, in 1462, her first child was born—to wit, the so-called Infanta of Castile—the cloud which had enveloped the good name of the mother also darkened that of the daughter. She was christened Juana, after her mother, but from the first she was called by the people, near and far, "Beltraneja." The suspicions and allegations of her illegitimacy followed this unfortunate young princess through life. They seemed like an avenging fury. Alas! a fury avenging upon her the parent's wrong-doing till the doors of the monastery of Santa Clara at Coimbra finally closed behind her, where, whatever she might have suffered, she was ever after dead to the world. But had it been otherwise, fancy the alternative! Would this princess, the natural successor of Henry, her father, have been high-minded and far-seeing—in brief, a woman to have pledged her aid to a Columbus? Or would she not, like her father and mother, have been incapable of grand thoughts and noble decisions? The answer to the charge, that great good in this royal house grew out of evil ways, is simply this: Our Heavenly Father, by turning and checking the purposes of scheming souls, often brings finally the silver and gold, purified, from the fires which He allows to be kindled; and His time to work out justice is not the short period of a human life: it is eternity.

If the queen-mother Juana fell into meshes of sin, her husband could not justly reproach her conduct. His wicked example was followed by the courtiers and dependents, and soon from a royal house the seeds of immorality were sown broadcast, and the fruit appeared far and near among the people. Never had the kingdom in its government been in a more deplorable condition. All sorts of arbitrary acts were constantly committed or attempted by the crown and its attaches. It was entirely forgotten that ordinary people had any rights to be respected. The laws were everywhere broken, and with impunity. This period of Castile resembled a darker one of the Middle Ages, and its ill-doings could hardly be surpassed in the previous history of the Teuton hordes. Every castle seemed to have become a shelter for brigands, and many nobles by birth were no better than footpads lurking behind hedges; and, as we might suppose, money, the currency of the country, was tampered with and greatly debased. It is hard even now, under the bright sunlight of modern civilization, to keep to the inflexible standard, so that we do not wonder at the extensive weakness and ever-growing distrusts that four hundred years ago followed a failing currency.

It was at this epoch, when the country was almost in a state of dissolution, that Isabella for the first time appeared at the court of Castile. Her brother, the king, not very long after the birth of Juana, wished, in order to prevent intrigues against his throne, to have Isabella and her younger brother, Alfonso, under his own eye.

Here and there he had discovered combinations against him and against the succession of Juana, so that no one could predict what his quasi-enemies might effect should they be able to seize or hold under durance either Alfonso or Isabella. The latter could not at that time have been more than twelve or thirteen years of age. As southern women come to maturity early, and as her growth in mind and heart was favored, as we have seen, by constant intimacy with her able and experienced mother, she must have been already a woman. There is recorded a bold but pleasing legend that, when for the first time this remarkable infanta showed her little face at the court of Castile, some old hidalgo of good heart, for there were such, full of pity for his perishing country, had gazed upon her with a prophet's hope, and murmured into his heard, "Now, Lord, let Thy servant depart in peace, for my country's deliverance is at hand."

Conspiracies of Villena

"Then, where our quiet herds repose,

The roar of baleful battle rose,

And brethren of a common tongue

To mortal strife as tigers sprung,

And every gift on Freedom's shrine

Was man for beast, and blood for wine!"


15th century Spain
The Conspiracies of the Marquis Of Villena—Civil Strife (A.D. 1462)—The Crowning of Isabella's Brother Alfonso at Avila —The Battle of Olmedo—Death of Alfonso—A Union of King and Nobles Upon Isabella as Successor to the Crown of Castile—Projects of Isabella's Marriage —Her Cousin Ferdinand of Aragon Preferred.

Among King Henry's leaders, who were sometimes his favorites, sometimes adherents and sometimes opponents, were two distinguished noblemen, Juan Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, and Alfonso Carillo, Archbishop of Toledo. The first, strong and able, possessed all the talents of a courtier. The other, the primate of Spain, was a haughty man, expert in plans and remarkably tenacious of purpose. He appeared to have an abiding sense that naturally everything should bend before his imperious will. It would, humanly speaking, have been well for the weak Henry if he had no other favorites than these; but he lacked the power to so limit himself, and each newly trusted follower, whether banker or statesman, only served to strengthen the jealousy and hatred already existing. The result was that these noblemen secretly blew to a glow the fires of sedition which the suspicious birth of the Princess Juana had very soon kindled.

The nobles of the realm had, according to usage, sworn allegiance (A.D. 1462) to this young infanta; but, impelled by scandal and its enlargements, not very long afterward they assembled at Burgos, conferred together, and made formal declaration that, in swearing fealty, they had simply acted under compulsion. They then drew up a long list of alleged governmental grievances—not an unusual performance for politicians—and they demanded redress of the king; at the same time they asked, as a token or pledge of settlement, that the king's little brother, Alfonso, be given into their hands to be recognized and protected as the true successor to the throne of Castile. The king, who then hardly knew friend from foe, and was never in any juncture given to resolute action, weakly began a negotiation with the confederates, and before long consented to their preposterous demands. A few days were enough to make him see that now he had given away every shred of power, so in desperation he repented, and gathering some loyal men-at-arms, he endeavored to seize and imprison the rebellious plotters. The members of the conspiracy, having the boy Alfonso already in possession, brought its confederates together at Avila, a small walled town planted among the hills, about fifty miles north of Madrid. Near this city, strong by nature and made stronger by art, was held a singular ceremonial. Without the thick walls on a high throne, erected upon a scaffold, they set up an effigy of the king, which they covered with well-chosen royal insignia. After a time they stripped this royal image of its showy attire, going through their performances with every show of solemnity. At last, having thrown the effigy with all the articles of distinction into the dust and trampled upon them, they lifted young Alfonso to its place on the fanciful throne, and paid him the homage due to the king. In this remarkable way the boy-prince received his troublesome crown. The principal cities of the kingdom, Cordova, Seville, Toledo, Burgos, and others astonishingly ratified this deposition of Henry the sovereign and the succession of Alfonso. At first the people generally throughout his domain appeared to concur in these proceedings; but notwithstanding this parade, the king—or rather legitimate royalty—had everywhere some secret friends and some who were open and bold. Henry, spurred on by chagrin or a feeling akin to despair, made for once a strong effort to gather to himself adherents; and he soon had the satisfaction of seeing his court surrounded by a loyal host, sufficient to have crushed the conspiracy, had he without hesitation struck quick and heavy blows; but instead of following up his advantage by action, he began as usual to parley and negotiate, being led to it by the crafty counsel of the Marquis of Villena; so that shortly after this vigorous spasm he unwisely disbanded his troops. The promised peace did not result, for there were two kings reigning, or attempting to reign, in Castile, and there seemed to be no end to the imbroglio; but during the continuance of the strife a brilliant idea occurred to the conspirators, and the evolution of this idea put Isabella, at sixteen, into the fiery furnace of her first great tribulation. It was thought by these worthies that if the king could gain the support of the powerful house of Pacheco, the head and heart of the rebellion, the opposition would be placated, and the conspiracy necessarily fall to pieces. It was conceived that this most desirable object could be best effected by the marriage of the infanta, Isabella, the sister of the king, to Don Diego Giron, the brother of the Marquis of Villena and nephew of the great primate of Spain. Giron was a grand master of the Knights of Calatrava, a powerful man, an audacious rebel, and a profligate. He was notorious in that court of corrupt royalty for his licentiousness. Heretofore several marriages had been planned for Isabella by princes and diplomats, always with a view to accomplish some political end.

She had thus far resisted all efforts on the part of her brother and others, claiming with reason that the infantas of the kingdom could not be wedded without the formal consent of the nobles of the realm. Fortunately for Isabella this was the recognized fact, and the noblemen of Castile, Leon, and Aragon were sufficiently powerful to prevent even the king from consummating his selfish purpose. But the Alfonso movement had brought about an extraordinary juncture of events, and such a proposed settlement was too great a temptation for Henry to resist; so that this weak apology for a sovereign had the unspeakable meanness to enter into negotiations with the conspirators to sell his sister's hand. There was but one troublesome obstacle, the oath of celibacy which Giron, the grand master, in order to increase the sanctity of his office, had taken. After a brief time, however, through the solicitation of himself and his prominent allies, the obliging Roman Pontiff was induced to relieve him from his troublesome oath and obligation.

When Isabella heard of this iniquitous scheme, so near its consummation, and was told that in case of need compulsion would be employed, she was horrified! Here is the strange historic record: "That with this person so inferior to her in birth, and so unworthy of her from every point of view, she, Isabella, was now to be united. On receiving the intelligence she confined herself to her apartment, abstaining from all nourishment and sleep for a day and a night, and imploring Heaven in the most piteous manner to save her from this dishonor, by her own death or that of her enemy."

A lady friend of high rank, Beatriz de Bobadilla, who was with her in this sorrow, and greatly sympathized with her while trying to soothe her, at last cried out, "God will not permit it! Neither will I!" Whereupon, before the eyes of the distressed infanta, she drew forth a dagger from her dress, and solemnly vowed that she would plunge it into the heart of the Master of Calatrava as soon as he should appear. Don Pedro Giron, having at last received his much-coveted dispensation from the Pope, and having resigned his offices of rank in his order, made magnificent preparations for the grand wedding, to which the king had agreed and the nobles did not oppose, and which, as he would fain believe, was now sure to come to pass. He actually set out upon the journey from his residence to the city of Madrid. An escort of friends and men-at-arms, which would befit the bridegroom of a royal princess, attended him on the road. The very first evening after he left Almagro, at a little village called Villa-rubia he became deathly sick. Four days after this virulent attack, which was as sudden and as terrible as that of our Asiatic cholera, he perished; and it is said that he died cursing his fate, and bemoaning the thought that he could not have been spared just a few weeks longer, that he might have accomplished the fell designs of his wicked heart. As always in those unscrupulous times, there was a suspicion of poison; still the child Isabella, the beautiful bride of promise, was saved from this disaster without a shadow being cast upon her own fair fame.

But the deliverance from one great trial was no bar to others. That sudden cloud, which had hung darkly over Isabella, the Lord had dissolved; but those which hung over her afflicted country, from whose ominous and gloomy effects she could not escape, became heavier than ever. There was no hope left of terminating the conflicts otherwise than by arms. The troops of Henry, reluctantly appealed to by him, again being mobilized, met those of the young Alfonso, his brother, at Olmedo, on the very same field where before this time John II. of Castile, in his day, had seen his subjects arrayed against him. On this theatre of strife was seen that indomitable prelate, the Archbishop of Toledo, having a scarlet mantle with a white cross thrown over his armor, leading his battalions into the fray, and repeatedly reforming their broken lines. By his side rode young Alfonso, armed cap-a-pie, playing as best he could his little part in the bloody drama. King Henry believed himself beaten, and, like Frederick the Great in his first combat, fled from the scene; but his followers did not all so give up. The two sides fought on with extreme determination till darkness put an end to the fighting; then it proved but a drawn battle. On the morrow the clash of arms was not renewed; both armies, one under a child, the other under an imbecile, gave themselves up for a season to all the unholy delights of revelry and unbridled license. In vain for months did functionaries of the Church, shamed by these bloody and bootless exercises, try to intervene. The confederated rebels constantly averred that, if they liked, they would depose their king; that they had a right so to do, and, in fact, that their political affairs lay entirely outside of the jurisdiction of the Holy See! Think of this independence in the heart of Spain! It seemed as if the people of Castile were bent upon self-destruction, even upon annihilation. District fought against district; town against town; members of the same family met in a hundred provincial affrays; not a highway was safe, even in full daylight, and the struggle was pushed to the very gates of the cities.

The Holy Brotherhood, Santa Hermandad, then a militia police maintained by the cities of Castile for the purpose of defending themselves and their claims in such times as these, often, but in vain, tried to interfere. They were successful in some instances, but woefully resisted in others, and their failures made the darkness of the times still darker, and gave new opportunity and impulse to the savage elements; but some providence, soon or late, always puts an end to such social upheavals. In the midst of the Castilian chaos came an unexpected blow, which was felt to mark the end of at least one act of this wild scene.

Alfonso, Isabella's brother, died suddenly of the plague, which somehow had sprung from the miseries of the period. His death took place on July 5th, 1468, at a village near Avila, the very place where he had been crowned. Alfonso was too young when he fell into the hands of crafty diplomatists and schemers to understand their bent, or to assert himself against them; but all that is recorded of his personal acts and sayings goes to show that he was a prince of good parts and fair promise, and by no means an unworthy kinsman of his illustrious sister.

The death of Alfonso entirely disconcerted the plans of the confederacy that had encircled him. All eyes were now turned toward Isabella. While the civil strife was rife and approaching its crisis of open war, she had remained at her older brother's court; but when, after the battle of Olmedo, the troops of Alfonso occupied Segovia, she had fled to him, glad enough to leave the most dissolute court that Spain had ever seen. Upon the sad event of her brother's decease she retired for a time to a nunnery of Avila. Here the tireless Archbishop of Toledo came to interview her. She was now only seventeen and a woman, yet able men like this archbishop already recognized her strength of mind and purpose. They demanded her for their partisan leader. Then appeared for the first time, on a great occasion, evidence of that fearless wisdom which was always her distinctive characteristic. She replied to the archbishop, and through him to his coadjutors, that she would not lead a mere faction in a civil war. She said that enough Castilian blood had already been shed; that her brother Henry was the rightful king; and that she proposed to mediate between him and his subjects, and, if possible, to restore peace.

Astonished by so much good sense and firm determination in one so young, the leading barons or nobles with some reluctance, it is true, finally accepted her offer of mediation. To fix up a peace with Henry was at no time very difficult. It was always easy for him to make terms, and quite as easy to break them. This time the articles which were drawn up and agreed to were: First, a general amnesty; second, his queen to be sent back to Portugal; Isabella herself to be the Princess of Asturias, Asturias being then, in a political sense, the title of the heir-apparent, like the Wales of England to-day; next, a Cortes to be convened to reform abuses and confirm the title of the infanta. It was also stipulated that Isabella, the heir of Castile and Leon, should never be constrained to marry against her wishes; and yet that she should not marry without the consent of her brother. An interview took place between Isabella and Henry at Toros de Guisando in New Castile. The king embraced his generous sister with apparent affection; the nobles present, without delay, took an oath of allegiance to her, and kissed her hand. All these preliminaries were soon approved by the Cortes, which was assembled at Ocaiia.

Isabella, now the recognized heir of the crown, entered into a new period of her life, which was principally characterized by sundry wooings and matrimonial projects, involving, as in all royal families, most curious and often questionable combinations. One of the most distinguished of her subsequent suitors was the Duke of Guienne, the brother of the French king, Louis XI.; another was her young cousin, Ferdinand of Aragon. Matters had so arranged themselves, after much contention, that Ferdinand, like Isabella, was but one step from his father's throne of Aragon; so that it appeared at the very first glance that a remarkable political purpose could now be subserved, and, in fact, nothing could be more advantageous for the two neighboring kingdoms, comparatively insignificant in separation, than by this great matrimonial opportunity to coalesce.

Isabella's sound intelligence certainly comprehended this desirable object; but in Ferdinand's behalf her woman's heart doubtless made its pleadings stronger than reasons of State. Her cousin was young, vigorous, handsome, of prepossessing address, and she resolved to marry him and no other.

But there were other perilous interests awake, which were determined to assert themselves and force upon the successor to the throne of Castile another husband. It did not, for example, suit the astute Marquis of Villena that Aragon should rule in Castile. He therefore, in relentless opposition, concocted another of his wily schemes, and, as a matter of course, obtained the poor king's sanction. This scheme consisted in a marriage alliance between Isabella and the old King Alfonso of Portugal for one item, and a like covenant between Juana—"Beltraneja"—and that old king's son for another. This was not the first time that Alfonso had been offered to Isabella's acceptance. When a child of thirteen years she had refused him, declaring in the refusal, with a spirit becoming a superior woman as she did on other occasions, that the infantas of Spain could not be married without the consent of the Cortes. At this time again she refused. Villena and his king, greatly vexed at her obduracy, would soon enough have used violence, but the citizens of Ocana, where the princess now resided, would have made short work of any small force sent to seize her person, and the hostile spirits were not then prepared to despatch a large one for the coveted purpose. The whole nation, for some reason, had just then taken a passionate interest in her affairs. Grave Castile was as full of light songs as Paris has been in cheery days. The old Portuguese king, who had sent a high functionary, the Archbishop of Lisbon, to do the wooing for him, was ridiculed with all the humor that the nation could command; while the young Prince of Aragon was congratulated and praised as if he had been the idol of the whole people.

True, Isabella had bound herself by the treaty of Toros de Guisando not to marry without the consent of her brother; but at the same time he had taken the pledge not to compel her to any marriage union. This article of the treaty and others, with no apparent scruple, he had already broken. She naturally and very properly judged herself released from her own contingent obligation; and so she strongly resolved to accept and promote the suit of her cousin of Aragon.


"Joy to the fair! whose constant knight

Her favor fired to feats of might!

Unnoted shall she not remain

Where meet the bright and noble train?"


Settlement of Articles Preliminary to Marriage by Ferdinand and Deputies at Ceruera of Catalonia, January 7, 1471—All the Ceremony of Betrothal Reported to the Hostile Villena—The Favorable Action of This Prelate and the King—The Admiral and the Bishop of Toledo Rescue Isabella and Carry Her in Triumph to Valladolid—How Ferdinand is Informed—His Crossing the Watched Frontier in Disguise—His Arrival at the Village of Burgos—A Narrow Escape from a Soldier's Missile

In answer to a strong popular feeling, which was now manifesting itself in various ways in Isabella's behalf, prominent Castilian gentlemen and noble families were powerfully influenced by secret Aragonese persuasion. For Ferdinand's father was seldom content to let things take their own course. The union of the two crowns, in the eyes of this shrewd politician, was too important a matter to be left to chance. Isabella herself, prudent and considerate as usual, privately sought and received the advice of many of her nobility; and this time it was in harmony with the voice of the populace. In spite of all difficulties arising from the hostility of enemies, and the wide separation of the parties most interested, the preliminaries had so far progressed that on January 7th, 1471, the articles of marriage were signed and sworn to by Ferdinand at Ceruera in Catalonia. He promised on his part, should he gain his prize, all respect for the laws and customs of Castile; to alienate no crown property; to make no appointments, whether civil or military, without Isabella's consent and approbation; to leave to her exclusively the nomination to all ecclesiastical benefices; to fix his residence in Castile, and never to leave the kingdom without his wife's approval. It is remarkable how much a young man, even such a shrewd and diplomatic one as Ferdinand, can be induced to promise before marriage! All public ordinances were to be signed by both consorts. He was to prosecute the hereditary war against the Moors. This same treaty settled upon Isabella a goodly dower—in fact, one superior to any ever before that time received by a queen of Aragon.

But all these proceedings had been quickly and faithfully reported to the enemy, Villena. In vain, so far as escaping his thorough espionage, had Isabella gone to her own little city of Madrigal to spend the days of her marriage negotiations under the protection of her mother. This move itself had been foreseen by her wily and almost ubiquitous foe. When she arrived in Madrigal, she found there a hostile Churchman, the Bishop of Burgos, a nephew of the marquis, established as a spy on her movements. In fact, all her surroundings were bought up by the enemy. Her attendants, male and female, made their frequent and full reports to the bishop. There was not a soul, it seemed just then, in whom she could confide! This Bishop of Burgos, however, as we shall see, was a far different man from our mitred captain of the Olmedo battle. As a well-informed spy, he soon had the most alarming news to communicate—viz., the certainty of a betrothal already accomplished in the face of all the well-planned hindrances, so that Villena readily understood that the time had come for him to play his last card. He strongly resolved upon getting Isabella into his possession by force. For that service another bishop was detailed and supplied with a reasonable guard. This time it was the Archbishop of Seville. Fortunately for Isabella's warning, this troop was preceded by a letter from King Henry himself, addressed to his loyal burghers of Madrigal, menacing them with his official displeasure if they should dare to defend his obstinate and undutiful sister against his royal mandates. These good people, however, came directly to her, and tremblingly explained their perplexity, agonized as they were between their love for her and their fear of the king. But Isabella had always her own bishop, who had hitherto never failed her either in wholesome counsel or in prompt action. He was not far away, and she contrived to let him know her desperate situation; and also to send word to Ferdinand's grandfather, Henriquez, the Admiral of Castile. The prelate rapidly collected a body of horse, and, reinforced by the troops of the admiral, reached Madrigal before Villena's bishop had arrived, and, before the dismayed eyes of her Burgos' watchers, bore away his royal charge amid the joyous shouts of the populace of Madrigal, who, notwithstanding their own peril, could not forego the impulse thus to express their real sentiments. The happy cavalcade soon made their triumphant entrance into Valladolid, where they and Isabella, riding gayly into the plaza, were received with indescribable enthusiasm. Meanwhile, envoys had been sent to young Ferdinand, who was at the time in Zaragoza, to let him know how critical the outlook was, and how necessary his presence. At the news the old king, John of Aragon, was exceedingly perplexed. He was making war against the Catalans, and that not a very successful one; he could not well spare a man. Moreover, he had but a trifling sum of money, and indeed was weakened by multiplied desertions from his army.

To send any considerable force with his son was equivalent to giving up his own vital enterprise. Yet, could he send him to Castile unprotected? The envoys from Isabella had hardly been able to ride across the frontier, which they had found carefully guarded by a churchman of Osma (another bishop), whom at first they had believed to be a friend. He had been but lately bribed by Villena and the Duke of Medina-Coeli. The country to be traversed was patrolled by Henry's royal troops, in order to prevent just such a trip as that which the young prince was requested to undertake, and a line of forts belonging to the hostile family of Mendoza studded the whole frontier.

Ferdinand, however, finally put an end to all uncertainty by declaring himself ready with a small escort in disguise to cross the guarded border. And this prince, who was carrying out his declaration, a prince who showed himself afterward the shrewdest politician of his age, began his career in a love adventure; true, it was a species of admixture. A love affair with him even thus early in life was, perhaps, as much political as of the heart. With a few companions, apparently merchants, he stole into the neighboring kingdom. Wherever the party stopped, the prince, in the garb of a menial, served them at table, behaving for all the world like our own English ancestor, Alfred. As Ferdinand was young, he probably sometimes thought that the fun of the escapade was alone worth half the kingdom of Castile. While the eccentric company was thus speeding from Zaragoza to the nearest Castilian town, where a sympathetic garrison was to welcome them, a showy embassy from the King of Aragon traversed the frontier at another point, attended with all the noise and circumstance of a princely cavalcade, and so attracted to itself the undivided attention of the Bishop of Osma and the entire patrol of the border.

In spite of this powerful diversion and their own superb acting (it was the play of courtiers, and the prize was a kingdom), Ferdinand's travelling party seem to have been not a little nervous, for they set out from one little inn where they had tarried on the road, leaving their money behind them. Yet they had made good speed, for late the second night after leaving Aragon, with that exultation which at least once in his life every human being must experience, when, after doubt, labor, and occasional despair, he heaves a sigh at the sight of the goal which he has at last reached, they stood before the battlements of Burgo. It was a little town whose garrison was then commanded by the Count of Trevino, one of the most reliable of Isabella's friends. While they remained doubtful and apprehensive before those battlements, preparing to demand an entrance, an unfriendly missile grazed our political Romeo's head. It was a stone which came very near dividing Castile from Aragon forever; it had been discharged from the battlements by one of the sentinels, who, not knowing what to make of this nocturnal party, took pains in this martial style to acquaint them with his uncertainty.

But it was not long before Prince Ferdinand was recognized, and the garrison received him with an enthusiasm which rewarded the party for all their fatigues and fears.

There is a crisis, a turning-point, a high-water mark in every important campaign; Burgo proved to be Ferdinand's, though, of course, he could not yet realize the full vantage which he had gained.

Marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand

"Friends were assembled together; the Elder and Magistrate also

Graced the scene with their presence, and stood like the Law and the Gospel,

One with the sanction of earth and one with the blessing of Heaven.,

Onward the bridal procession now moved to their new habitation,

Happy husband and wife, and friends conversing together."


Journey to Duenos—Valladolid—Isabella's Court—Ferdinand's Arrival at the Palace—Description of the Two—The Interview (October 15, 1469)—The Marriage (October 19, 1469)—The Consanguinity Law—How Obviated—Isabella's Chagrin at the Deceit Practised Upon Her—The Remedy.

The small town of Burgo detained the young prince only long enough for refreshment. Before dawn the next day after his arrival he was again on his way. The friendly commander of the Burgo garrison gave him a strong escorting cavalcade, so that he, like any resolute and hopeful young man, pushed his journey without a halt to Duenos, a small city in Leon. Here no accident or ill-will attended his approach. By the people and nearly the entire nobility of the region he was welcomed with joyous demonstrations.

The larger city of Valladolid is not far from Duenos. At this writing (1893) Valladolid is among the foremost of the cities of Spain. Its art school, its university, its medical college, its collections of sculpture and painting, its superb buildings, its men of culture, its board of trade, its modern social life, enjoying the facilities and advantages of the more northern cities of Europe, place its people on the advance line of that intelligence which never ceases to struggle against bigotry and superstition. Still the old city has a strong hold upon the past. The Plaza Mayor far antedates the time of Isabella, and is clouded by the cruel histories of executions and by the bull-fights peculiar to Spain. The structure named Ochavo is where the ill-starred Alvaro de Luna was beheaded June 2nd, 1452, when Isabella of Castile was but one year old. The historic palace, so often occupied by the shifting court of Isabella's father, John II., by Isabella herself, and her successors, still holds its place, as fresh-looking on the exterior as it was four hundred years ago.

At the period of which we write—the fall of 1469—Isabella's little court, as we have seen, came here, and remained looking anxiously and hopefully for messages from Aragon. The news of Ferdinand's triumphant entry into the small neighboring city travelled faster than he, and it is not difficult to imagine how the blood came and went in Isabella's cheeks in her relief and joy as she glanced at the first dispatch from Duenos: "He is safe, and here!" Ferdinand's escape from perils and safe approach were to this young princess more than any earthly estates or possessions. Isabella at once wrote to her brother, for she always did promptly just what was discreetly becoming. She informed him of the presence of Ferdinand, and of her intention to marry him. Yet at the same time she endeavored to demonstrate that the wretched secrecy or concealment from him, her brother, of all that had been done was none of her procuring or her fault; and then she promised in her own name and that of her future spouse perfect respect and allegiance to him, her king and brother.

On October 15th, 1469, Ferdinand left Duenos and rode to Valladolid, and here he first met the Archbishop of Toledo, whom it is pleasant to see in a different role  from that which he had played at Olmedo. It was the stately pontiff who led the young prince to his charming mistress. At this time Ferdinand was only eighteen, of fine build and handsome figure, with a cheerful face, a pleasant voice, and condescending, gracious manners. Isabella was about a year his senior. Her type was a rare one. Among those dark-haired, olive-complexioned Spanish ladies, as if Nature herself had put upon her a stamp of peculiar excellence, she appeared a blonde, with large gray eyes and hair in which chestnut and auburn hues were intermingled; and she had the usual accompaniment of such hair—a clear, light complexion. Kindness and intelligence, thoughtful sympathy and quiet resolution were the natural expression of those exceptional eyes. Withal she was above the medium height, and had a commanding presence. The historians of her country describe her very much as in later times people have described Mary Queen of Scots. But what a difference between the busy, intelligent, fruitful, and unblemished personal life of the one, and the light, sensuous, tempest-tossed, misfortuneful existence of the other! But we must not anticipate. Isabella in many things was already fairly educated; in essentials, thoroughly. She spoke the Castilian language—which has always been the best Spanish of the peninsula—with peculiar correctness and grace, and even expressed herself easily in the Latin tongue. On approach there was noticeable in her demeanor a modest dignity which announced her a true woman and at the same time a veritable queen.

These young people of high birth and so well matched had now a most important interview. Whom they took into their secret council history does not say. The preliminaries to Ferdinand's bright hopes and Isabella's womanly plans were agreed upon. After a little more than two hours spent together they separated, and he went back to Duenos; but Ferdinand soon returned to Valladolid, and all that the preliminary ceremonials demanded having been completed, the marriage itself took place October 19th, 1469, at the temporary residence of Isabella in the palace of Juan de Vinero. No less than two thousand persons were at hand and in attendance upon the ceremony. The first witnesses were the warlike Archbishop of Toledo and the good Admiral of Castile, Ferdinand's grandfather. Here let us note a curious circumstance, which more than many others may show the difference between those times and our own. In order that the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella might be recognized by the Church, "a dispensation" was necessary, for they were within the prohibited range of consanguinity. Isabella was too well known and appreciated by this time by those around her, for them for one moment to think that she would ever marry, under any circumstances, against the canons of the universal Church. Of course that idea never entered anybody's head. It seemed as though the ship must founder just in sight of the harbor. Amid anxious consultations and letters interchanged during the few weeks preceding the marriage by Ferdinand and the wily father and others concerning this anxious and most perplexing matter, they resorted at last to the always-and-in-everything reliable Archbishop of Toledo.

Why had they not asked the venerable Pope himself for a bull? First, these young people had to make haste, and the Pope was far off in Rome. Secondly, his sovereign will was on the side of Isabella's brother, King Henry. Better not ask him, thought the archbishop, whom no difficulty, whether of a martial, material, or spiritual nature could daunt, but simply forge the necessary bull. Ferdinand readily assented. His conscience seldom troubled him. But confidants asked, What would happen when Isabella at last should learn that she had been deceived and actually married in contravention of the canons of the Church? The archbishop did not deign a reply. He had too many present cares to trouble himself concerning future problems; sufficient for the day were the evils thereof. He boldly produced the essential document, whose validity nobody at the time had the ill grace to question. When Isabella afterward knew of these edifying proceedings she was much displeased, and very sore at heart over the subject, even after a genuine bull from a succeeding and friendly pontiff had come to put all things to rights.

The marriage having been consummated, the wedded pair proceeded at once jointly to inform King Henry by messengers of all that had taken place; and they accompanied the startling announcement with the same protestations and promises which Isabella had already made. They also entreated his approbation. The king, chilled by his defeat, answered coolly and dryly that he would advise with his ministers. It was a characteristic answer from Henry. He had advised with his ministers under other circumstances, when it was more to the purpose to act promptly; but in this case little harm could come to the bride and groom through such advisers, for it was indeed too late for even the ingenious schemes of a Villena to operate. The marriage, so plainly auspicious for the future glory of the two kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, was already an accomplished fact. The young people, while they were happy together and felt comparative safety from open and secret enemies, surrounded as they were by powerful friends, had by no means cleared the whole way to a political success. While the changeable Henry was consulting his ministers, and some of them with extraordinarily active brains were contriving new snares for Isabella's feet, she and her consort moved from Valladolid to Duenos. Without doubt there were two good reasons. Henry's court passed often from Segovia to Medina del Campo, where John II., his father, had built the great castle "De la Mota," whose ruins to-day indicate the palatial grandeur of the structure and the prison-like strength of its walls. Valladolid could not be defended against a sudden attack like Duenos, and was only seventeen miles from this formidable keep. Duenos, with a wholesome garrison loyal to Isabella, was some eight leagues farther north, above Valladolid. The first reason of the discreet Isabella for the removal is plain: "It is a safer place for us just now." The second was that Ferdinand was not quite as submissive to their protector, the Archbishop of Toledo, as that prelate desired; and soon even the gentle Isabella chafed under his arrogance and self-seeking. On one occasion Ferdinand, before he had learned the art of a far-seeing prudence, said to the archbishop: "I am not to be put in leading-strings, like so many of the sovereigns of Castile." A temporary separation from him seemed wise. Still in her poverty of resources she depended almost altogether upon this archbishop, who, in his vexation or meditated resentful discipline, had so cut down their essential supplies that for a time they were in distress for the ordinary means of living.

As the difficulties of the situation multiplied, filling the hearts of these inexperienced young people with ever-increasing anxieties and fears of a catastrophe, they were busy enough in their correspondence. When the old King John of Aragon, Ferdinand's father, heard through their communications of the strained relations between his son and the Archbishop of Toledo, he wrote Ferdinand plainly that he had made a mistake, and begged him to hasten and rectify it by yielding promptly and graciously to the wishes of this powerful churchman; for indeed it was a very inopportune time for friends to divide, almost in the presence of shrewd and unrelenting foes. Ferdinand must have done something in the way of his wise father's counsel, for it was not long before the great archbishop, seeming for the time to forego all resentment, put the prince at the head of a fine body of Castilian horsemen.

But Isabella's dependence upon favorite friends was very soon relieved; for from reasons that will appear, resulting from the action of Henry and his advisers, whole provinces in the north and in the south came loyally and strongly to the support of her cause, so that the little court at Duenos, so clouded in the outset, before a year had expired began to give promise of a more glorious future.

Schemes of King Henry

"What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted?

Thrice is he armed that has his quarrel just;

And he but naked, though locked in steel,

Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted."


The Schemes of King Henry and Villena—The Village of Lozova—The Conference (October, 1470) Between Henry's Court and the French Ambassadors—Juana Declared Legitimate—Isabella's Right of Succession Openly Recalled—Juana Affianced to the Duke of Guienne Louis' Brother—How the Nobles Abandoned Isabella on Account of the French Alliance—Emeute at Valladolid—Isabella's Friend Vivero Punished by the King—Her First Child Born at Duenos—Aragon's Border War—Ferdinand Carries Succor to His Father in Perpignon—Isabella's Removal to Aranda—Beatriz's Secret Visit to Her—Her Sudden Arrival at Segovia —Henry's Pleasant Reception — Ferdinand's Return—King Henry's Sickness and Attempt to Imprison the Consorts—How They Escaped.

It will be remembered that the date of Isabella's marriage at Valladolid was October 19th, 1469. Henry and Villena not far away spent a year in scheming and negotiating, with the hope of somehow undoing what had already been settled, with what results will soon appear. There is a small village just across the mountain eastward from Segovia, where at this period the court of Castile often sojourned. The name of the noted valley with its village is Lozoya. The king, Henry, and some of his court in October, 1470, went thither to meet distinguished plenipotentiaries sent from France by the French king, Louis XI. At this conference the conspiring nobles showed their designs. A public declaration was drawn up and promulgated—to wit, that Isabella had married against her promise made in the Treaty of Toros de Guisando; that, therefore, by this act she forfeited her rights to the Castilian succession; and that the story concerning Juana's illegitimacy was untrue, Henry and his queen now swearing, contrary to former admissions, that she was legitimate. Then finally this Princess Juana, at the time but nine years old, became formally affianced to the Duke of Guienne, the brother of King Louis XI. This duke, it must be recalled, was one of the rejected suitors of Isabella of Castile.

Many of the most prominent Spanish nobles, who, after their own urgent solicitation, had put Isabella at the head of their party and sworn allegiance to her as the rightful successor to the crown, now shamefully abandoned her cause, and took formal oath to support the child Juana. They at this time supposed that all the strength of France would be behind this new arrangement, and so their time-serving hearts did not scruple to inaugurate a new and cunningly contrived perfidy. But conspirators bent upon wrong-doing seldom count sufficiently upon reactions. Isabella was popular in Castile from her childhood, and more so after her union with Ferdinand, then the favorite young prince. In the northern and southern provinces of Castile, as we have seen, powerful interests had already declared in her favor. Henry's recent effort to secure a French alliance through the illegitimate daughter worked more strongly against him in all those sections and to some degree in other provinces. Isabella now began to have sufficient supplies and strong military support. As so much of the princess's great future depended upon the manner in which, while she remained at Duenos, she conducted her intercourse with different noble houses, we may profitably dwell for a short time upon some of the details. The Duke of Medina-Sidonia, who, with his powerful relationship, now took open ground for Isabella, carried with him all the aristocracy of Andalusia. Then there was still steadfast the Archbishop of Toledo. While much annoyed at Ferdinand's late apparent want of respect for his position, and perhaps more so at Isabella, who, although, as he thought, she owed all her elevation and present advantage to him, had seemingly cooled toward him, yet this powerful prelate remained substantially on her side. There was something due to his committal and something to his taste. The bishop disliked fickleness, and did like Isabella's little court better than the other. When that court was yet in miniature and half starving, there was indeed something about it pleasantly simple, healthy, something unusually refreshing, an atmosphere wonderfully clear in contrast with the gross dissoluteness of Henry's household. The influence of it was, in fact, immense, at least among the honest people, as soon as its nature little by little became known. So it came to pass before long that, though the Pachecos, the Velascos, the Zunigos, and other noble families at and after the conference of Lozoya took the side of Juana, the house of Mendoza returned to Isabella. Pedro Gonzales de Mendoza, Cardinal of Spain, began a hopeful correspondence with Ferdinand at Duenos; and afterward the young prince, who was never idle, won to himself the head of the house, the Duke of Infantado, by a timely service that he rendered him. Upon the different branches of that house the consorts could even now count with moral certainty. And all the while Cabrera, the husband of Isabella's bosom friend, Beatriz de Bobadilla, and Governor of Segovia, being the custodian of Henry's royal treasure, which was kept in that impregnable stronghold, was drawn to Isabella by two powerful motives: the one the natural friendship represented by his wife's relationship, and the other his feelings of antipathy to and jealousy of Villena, the Grand Master of Santiago, for there was jealousy mixed in this cup which promoted the differences of these two. Villena oftener had the ear of the king. Disguised as a peasant woman, Cabrera's wife left Segovia and came to Aranda de Duero, to which place Isabella some time before had moved her court from Duenos. Beatriz assured her friend that she could place full confidence in Cabrera, her husband, and further, that she and her husband were endeavoring to bring her, Isabella, and the king together in Segovia, and that when everything should be ready Isabella could go there without fear or hesitation.

Before, however, we develop this most important part of Isabella's history, let us return to Duenos and see how it is that, during an absence of her husband in Aragon, she is found at Aranda de Duero. That first year of married life, spent mostly at Duenos, is sufficiently interesting to warrant a few items of its history. At one time, after the couple left Valladolid, strange troubles arose, which gave King Henry occasion to endeavor to strengthen his authority. The populace, after some exciting cause, had given itself up afresh to that favorite mediaeval amusement which, ever since, in many countries has had a periodic existence—viz., a persecution of the Jews. It became so bitter at this time that it brought on a collision of arms. Isabella and her husband, trusting to the affection of the citizens, which had been already exhibited, hastened from Duenos to use their position and influence to quell the disturbance, but they themselves barely escaped open resistance. Henry, upon the desperate cries of the Jews for help, sent Count Benavente to succor them. He rewarded this gentleman by giving him the houses and estates of Juan de Vinero. The marriage of Isabella at Vinero's castle and his devotion to her had displeased the king; hence this high-handed confiscation. After the excitement of this small emeute at Valladolid the consorts returned to Duenos, and soon after Isabella, on October 2nd, 1470, gave birth to her first child, a daughter, whom they named Isabel. Before many days Ferdinand was obliged to leave his wife and child at the command of his father.

Some province of John of Aragon, near the French border, had been placed under France as a sort of collateral guarantee that Aragon would fulfill its treaty promises. France, having weakened the garrisons along that border for distant use, the people suddenly rose to throw off the French yoke. John of Aragon sided with the insurrectionists, and very speedily all the pledged territory, except a few castles, was regained by him. Into one of these at Perpignon, against every remonstrance, acting for its defence, the brave old king had gone. The French king, having seen the turn affairs were taking, had sent forward troops in abundance under the Duke of Savoy, one of his best generals. While these forces were approaching Perpignon the friends of King John were greatly alarmed for his safety, as well as for the result of his bold resistance to the French. There was a loud call for his son, Ferdinand, which reached him at Duenos. As soon as he brought the news of his father's perilous situation to Isabella, she agreed with him that both filial affection and patriotic duty bade him start at once for the field of strife. It was at this time that the Archbishop of Toledo, generously overlooking Ferdinand's past slights of manner or seeming want of respect to his injunctions, came forward and tendered to him a cavalry command armed and equipped for the war.

The young prince had now his first great trial, the first separation from his queenly wife; but we judge that in the thrill to his young blood of perilous enterprise it was harder for her than for him. However blanched by her fears for his safety, however tried in view of the uncertain issues at home in these disjointed times, this noble young woman buckled on his sword without a murmur, bade him an affectionate adieu in a last embrace, while she asked Heaven to watch over him and give him a speedy and triumphant return. How, after his departure, she passed into her secret chamber to grow weaker and paler and give way to abundant tears, till God had strengthened her heart and steeled her loyal soul to bear more heroically the burden of separation and long waiting, was known only to herself and Heaven. By such parting griefs and secret triumphs women with great hearts are often schooled, and through suffering arrive at the higher planes of character. This preparation, separation, and prolonged absence were among the beginnings of Isabella's character-making experiences. What Ferdinand accomplished in this sudden march may be told briefly. He gathered reinforcements from Aragon, till his army numbered nearly ten thousand. He then pushed on with marvellous speed, till he had gained the summit of the Pyrenees. He cleared the eastern mountain slopes at a time when there was such a blinding storm that nobody on the other side had dreamed of the approach of troops. As he drew near, the enemy abandoned the siege of Perpignon, and fled. Prescott sums up the results in one of his graphic sentences: "John (the father) marched out, with colors flying and music playing, at the head of his little hand, to greet his deliverers; and after an affecting interview in the presence of the two armies, the father and son returned in triumph into Perpignon."

It requires no stretch of the imagination to follow the escorted messengers of rank who recrossed the Pyrenees, and rode with joyous speed over the intervening mountains, hills, and dales to bear the first glad news of Ferdinand's safety, enterprise, and success to his expectant princess. These good tidings were sweet indeed, and the bearers doubtless had reason to remember her happy recognition of their arduous service.

But she, too, had a good report to send back by them more slowly returning after their much-needed rest; for Isabella had not been idle. Both duty and feeling constrained her to activity. To hearts loving abundant work assuages the pain of separation. After Ferdinand's departure Isabella led her little court from Duenos to Aranda de Duero. We surmise that this move was made because this city was some fifty miles nearer her husband; because it was under the direct protection of Enriquez, the Admiral of Castile, and his friends, for, as we have before seen, he joined in his own person the interests of Castile and Aragon; and further, because just then the loyalty of the surrounding country and the abundance of supplies added no little strength to her motives of action.

Beatriz Bobadilla found her way to this Aranda de Duero, and Isabella gave to her message an attentive ear; but she could hardly trust herself to journey southward to Segovia while Villena was still there. Her brother w a s too changeable to risk a promise from him.

But Beatriz urged that Cabrera controlled the king's money, and so, whether the latter realized it or not, he measurably controlled the king himself. Isabella again wisely called the old Archbishop of Toledo into her council. "Go by all means," he said; "I will be your escort." They quickly made the journey, and Isabella was warmly received and entertained at the house of her devoted friend. Henry was just then in one of his changeable moods. Possibly he was tiring of Villena. The French king, cooling in his friendship, had recently made peace with Ferdinand's father. The Duke of Guienne, from France, was seeking another alliance than that of Beltraneja; and prominent Castilian houses one after another were turning away and proving untrue to the plans and schemes that Villena so adroitly had led him to adopt. So that Cabrera did not reckon without his host when he invited the sister and brother to a meeting. The wily Villena for the time was taken completely by surprise. When notified, Isabella was already at the house of Cabrera. He did not know what all this meant; and suspecting treachery among his allies, he fled to Ayllon, a small village near Segovia. The king was hunting near Segovia when he heard of her approach. He came at once to meet his sister, and appeared full of amiable intentions; he even held the bridle of her palfrey while she was riding through the city. We are assured that Isabella did not long delay now to make a new petition to Henry in person—namely, to overlook the past, and to give his much-desired benediction to her marriage. Henry at least appeared to be her friend, so much so that she remained some time at Segovia, while Ferdinand, making all possible speed, returned to Castile and joined her in that city. Henry welcomed the much-praised young hero without stint. What comfort! At last there was to be a wholesome peace throughout Castile and Aragon, and the future to Isabella and her returned soldier-prince looked never before so bright. The two courts intermingled and multiplied their pleasant entertainments, and though there were no documents drawn or new pledges given, everything seemed to be settled by a tacit understanding.

Of course at this time the Marquis of Villena, now become the Grand Master of Santiago, finding the drift of affairs, and especially that there was no counterplot against him, came back to Segovia, and with his royal master, showing as gracious a front as possible, enjoyed the love-feasts which were so abundant. The guests were well supplied, and Henry kept among them.. He commended the keeper of his treasure for his royal hospitality, but—woe betide the misfortune! —soon after eating he was taken suddenly ill. Who has not been so served after such a feast? Suspicions of poisoning were carefully circulated, so that the ailing king should hear them. He was for a time really alarmed, and listening anew to the schemes of those in the interest of the grand master, the late marquis, he resolved to seize and imprison the sister who had so recently ventured within his power. From this fell issue of her visit the constancy of Cabrera, Beatriz, and other friends, coupled with her own unremitting vigilance, protected her, so that this wretched brother's new enterprise, carefully and treacherously planned for him, came to naught.

The detail of these proceedings is something as follows: The grand master, hurrying away, sent confidential letters to the king as soon as his sickness seemed to have a serious turn, entreating him during a night fixed upon to seize upon Segovia by force of arms and take both Isabella and Ferdinand prisoners, for he now had them in his net! In this commendable work the grand conspirator promised Henry aid, strong and adequate; but such a plan could not be kept secret even long enough for a safe and thorough execution. Isabella and her friends, as was intimated, were too wary for so dreadful a consummation. As soon as she heard of what was impending she insisted on Ferdinand's instant departure to Tarragona, for he was and would be needed outside of Segovia. He obeyed her wish, while she confined herself to her comparatively safe retreat in the Alcazar, really a bona fide citadel in the possession of her friends, determined to probe all this royal and master manoeuvring, and to wait within this grand Alcazar for results, whether to be auspicious or otherwise. Herein, at any rate, were the rich treasures of the royal household, which she and her devoted friends, the Cabreras, might somehow guard against a time of need. That event, which then seemed little more than a dream, was not very long in coming.

Accession to the Throne of Castile

"So when my mistress shall he seen

In sweetness of her looks and mind,

By virtue first, then choice, a queen,

Tell me, if she were not designed

The eclipse and glory of her kind?"


The Chagrin of Henry IV.—How Isabella Refused the Crown Tendered to Her by the Alfonso Confederates—Death of the Grand Master of Santiago (Villena)—Death of Henry IV., December 11, 1474—Isabella Succeeds to the Throne, Sharing the Honor with the Absent Ferdinand —The Inauguration Ceremonial, December 13, 1474—Ferdinand and His Party Want to Have the Proprietary Right and Power in Him—Isabella's Wise Words in Reply—The Alienation of the Archbishop of Toledo—His Jealousy Finally Became Treason—Old Alfonso and Juana—His Crossing the Border with 20,000 Men—The Betrothal at Plasencia—Their Announcement as King and Queen of Castile—Alfonso's Army Halts at Arevalo—What Isabella was Doing—Seeking Family Alliance with France—Helping Aragon—Moving Court to Medina Del Campo—Organizing a Kingdom—Cabrera's Reward—Exercising Justice—Mariana's Picture—Summary of Causes.

Henry IV was really ill, and now his failure to capture his princely sister and Ferdinand added chagrin to his ailment; but he seems not to have well understood her principles. Had he done so, he would have had little to fear from her. It will be remembered that, in the few past troublous years, at all times when the conspiracy against Henry was the nearest to success, Isabella refused to strive for the crown. She contented herself with the promises of the succession, which had been confirmed by the estates of the realm.

After the death of her brother Alfonso, when many prominent men were returning to their allegiance to the king, the conspirators in haste took Isabella from her mother's palace home in Arevalo, and conveyed her to Avila, their own famous headquarters. The Archbishop of Toledo believed that his arguments, carefully set before her, would convince her that the crown itself even then rightfully belonged to her. He undertook the task. He urged the corruptions of the royal household, the anarchy everywhere apparent, the changeable character and untruth appertaining to all the governing conclave, the illegitimate children and other sources of shameful scandals. He urged that Isabella's sanction and co-operation were all that the resisting nobles of Castile now required to complete their patriotic efforts.

"It is our only remedy," the archbishop said. "You have no right to shrink from peril and fatigue when the fatherland is in danger." Isabella's answer, considering her extreme youth, was remarkably wise. "Thank you," she replied, "for affection and service. Some day I may be able to reward you. Your intentions are good, but the death of my poor brother Alfonso has shown that God disapproves your methods. Whoever long for new things, political changes, bring in greater evils than they escape, such as factions, discord, war. Neither experience nor reason allows the existence over the same country of two kings. I do not like fruit prematurely gathered. I wish the king to live long, and that the royal dignity come to me late. Until he shall have disappeared from the sight of men I shall not think of taking the title of queen. Return to King Henry his kingdom, and bring peace to your country. It is the greatest favor you can do me, and will be the best proof of your affection."

But for the aberrations of a weak mind, clouded with suspicion, the poor king might have remained satisfied with such a clear-sighted, self-poised sister. She was the last person likely to plot against his failing life.

As Henry's illness continued with more or less severity, it is probable that his physicians advised him in the fall months, in order to secure a higher temperature, to move to Madrid. At any rate, he and his court went there, leaving Isabella in substantial possession of Segovia. One historian says: "There was much evil speaking at that time and much hatred prevailing. Processions, vows, public prayers, and supplications—all were tried to propitiate the Deity." As a consequence, hearing that he had rallied, it was thought for a time that the king's health had actually improved.

However, before many days had elapsed after the departure of Henry's court from Segovia, Isabella's stalwart enemy, Don Juan Pacheco, who, as Marquis of Villena and latterly as Grand Master of Santiago, with plenty of men and money always at his command, had caused her more trouble than any other nobleman, met his death from an acute and rapid disorder. It seemed to her and to her friends a providential deliverance. The shock of this death, altogether unexpected, must have greatly affected the already depressed and ailing king. He had lost his last dependence, a forgiven conspirator, it is true, but of late his strong adviser, his trusted friend. Henry himself, losing hope, very soon grew worse, and passed away from earth December 11th, 1474. Isabella allowed no delay. She was in Segovia, and there were in the city a goodly number of her adherents among the functionaries, civil, military, and ecclesiastical. She demanded speedy recognition, according to her right of succession—a right more than once formally admitted by Henry and not challenged by any testament left by him, and one confirmed, as we have seen, by act of the Cortes of Castile. December 13th, 1474, was a day to be long remembered in the history of Spain. The ceremony was not elaborate. The prominent men present in the city, official and unofficial, came early to the Alcazar. She mounted her palfrey, and with the usual number of bearers lifting a sort of canopy over her head and walking by her side, she led a select procession to the main plaza. There in the midst a suitable platform had been constructed, like those we often see erected in city parks on public memorial occasions.

In front of the platform she dismounted and passed up the steps to her designated place, amid the welcoming acclaim of the populace, guarded by a few intimates; and we may be sure that Beatriz Bobadilla was among them. Hither from the city came the leaders and men of mark to offer, separately, their pledge of fealty. It is said that each laid his hand upon a copy of the Gospel, as is still the practice in some judicial tribunals, when repeating the oath and promise of allegiance. After this simple ceremony the standards were raised and the colors unfurled to the breeze in the name of the beautiful queen, while the voice of the herald was heard, "Castile, Castile for Don Ferdinand and his consort, Dona Isabella, proprietary queen of these kingdoms!" All the people, an astonishingly large assembly, repeated substantially the herald's cry, "Castile, Castile for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella!" This public endorsement was followed by cheer upon cheer, an expression of the joyous enthusiasm of the multitude, and many, as far as waiting patience could endure, pressed up to kiss her extended hand. At last Isabella, after taking her oath of obligation, again mounted her horse, which was led by men of distinction. Now, decked in royal robes, and preceded by a cavalier with a drawn sabre, she was borne amid a happy throng to the cathedral, where followed the service of prayer and thanksgiving. Isabella, before the main altar, in a kneeling posture, gave thanks to God for His past favor and help, and besought Him for the wisdom adequate to meet the new and weighty obligations of the present and the future.

It was an elegant and unique performance, an inaugural act full of quiet dignity and sober earnestness, well garnished by the evident joy and brightening hope of a sanguine people. It was well for the harmony of the occasion that the successor of the old Villena, the young marquis, already a marplot, was not there; and even that the wary husband, Don Ferdinand himself, was away in his own acknowledged domain. But the ambitious and watchful Ferdinand did not long delay his coming. He had hardly reached Segovia when a disagreeable dispute sprang up between different leaders, which was of a piece with most of the controversies that had long prevailed in Spain. In fact, whenever a point of difference could be made between two or more prominent personages, it was diligently used to create bitterness and separations, and weaken an essential governmental control. Under the weakness of the head, unscrupulous leaders had multiplied, and they had divided with each other the government lands and taken the spoils of their rivals, amounting in a multitude of glaring cases to positive robberies. It was certainly irksome to Don Ferdinand not to be the sole master. To have in Isabella not simply a consort, but more than an equal, was far more than he had intended in assenting to the marriage contract. His party contended that he, being the male heir in the Trastamora family (the royal family of Castile), should reign in Castile as well as in Aragon. Isabella's party showed, as there was no Salic law in Castile, that a woman could reign there, and went on to demonstrate that Isabella was indeed the "queen proprietor" of the realm.

Isabella again was very clear-sighted, and displayed great moderation. The historian Mariana puts into the mouth of Isabella some wholesome sentiments, addressed to her husband. "The differences with regard to our rights," she said, "have amused me as well as you. What need to cavil concerning the respective rights of those who are attached to each other body, soul, and estate by hearts' love and the holy bonds of matrimony? Let other women (if they wish) have something separate from their husbands; to him to whom I have given my whole heart, shall I yet be chary of giving authority, riches, and sceptre? . . .

"Wherever I am queen, you will be king—i.e., govern everything without limit or exception. This is my determination, and shall he forever. We had to show our learned doctors that we had some respect for their law, dissimulating (it may be) for a time; but if lords and courtiers have founded ambitious hopes on this imbroglio, they will be disappointed. Not without your consent shall any one of them obtain anything, either honor, office, or government. Nevertheless, these little annoyances have had two advantages. The first is, the succession of our daughter has been assured; for if your right (according to the Salic law) had been recognized and enforced, she would have been excluded. The second is, there will be peace in Castile; for to have given the honors, the castles, the revenues, and the offices to strangers would have caused trouble and discontent; and you will never be tempted now to do this. If all this arrangement does not suit you, I belong to you, do with me and mine as you will. I have told you what I wish and how I am resolved to act." Here we behold the mingling of tact, reason, and affection, and these won the game. The soul of Ferdinand, though much stirred by partisan reasoning, was satisfied to trust such a sensible and affectionate wife.

About this time there happened something which cannot fail to produce in us a feeling of regret. The Archbishop of Toledo, the hero who fought under the scarlet mantle with a white cross at Olmedo, the one who even forged a bull for Isabella's marriage, the man who had undertaken herculean labors and endured countless worries for his future queen—he, with his large possessions and great influence, Arnold-like was meditating the desertion of her cause. How a dissatisfied, jealous heart broods over the bad side of his fancies! True, Ferdinand and his partisans, seeking absolute control of Castile, had been baffled under his advice; yet Isabella, in spite of her deference of manner, began to appear to him as a firm and sagacious woman, and leaning on her husband more and more, was not looking much to him for advice, certainly not in common matters; and he plainly saw that she would never in her life submit to authoritative control.

This royal pair, who were so anxiously looking after and adjusting their respective rights and so nicely defining their powers, were, he felt, not likely to leave much planning to any third party. Surely he was eliminated, or fast losing the hope of his ambitious heart! And was there not at hand a more tangible grievance? The cardinal, Mendoza, a sanguine and plausible genius, had come to court, and was as well received as himself; and it is probable that Ferdinand much preferred Mendoza to himself; so that, on the whole, the latter was supplanting the jealous archbishop in the counsels of the sovereigns. The dissatisfied prelate, at any rate, like the great Achilles in his wrath, retired to his own pavilion. In vain did John of Aragon plead with him to return; in vain did Isabella employ her best weapons—to wit, shrewd messages and most deferential epistles. His face was set; he went away, and he looked not back. Soon the mystery of his, late conduct was explained, for the proofs were brought to Isabella that her old and trusted friend was already in treasonable correspondence with a foreign enemy of the State. The mischief to these young rulers that had been during their own little controversy everywhere brewing was very great. In no case, however, would it have been possible to step at once from such anarchical warring conditions of affairs as Henry IV. had left in Castile to an orderly and peaceful kingdom.

Some of the Castilian nobles, taking advantage of the divisions and turbulence, at first stood aloof from the new regime, and later, being determined to make all the confusion they could, had preceded the archbishop in their works of opposition and rebellion. The young Marquis of Villena, for example, following the leading of his shrewd and scheming father, recently deceased, bore a conspicuous part. His mind and talents ran to war-like measures. His marquisate that he could control, whether the sovereigns of Castile assented or not, afforded him both means and men. His domain was contiguous to that of Toledo. The Duke of Arevalo, whose influence was great in all Estremadura, unaccountably withheld his allegiance from Isabella. The Grand Master of Calatrava, the chief of that large disciplined military order, which made of its head almost a king, with a large following and abundant revenues, was ready for the field against the new queen. The hostile spirits embraced also in their growing numbers the Marquis of Cadiz, probably just then because some other leader with whom he had a deadly feud had favored Isabella's cause. Thus high and overflowing did party spirit run in those bloody days. The pretext for formulating opposition was the cause of the infanta, Juana Beltraneja.

"Juana, the daughter of Henry IV.," the malcontents soon openly declared, "is the proper heir to the throne." The unhappy war which resulted from this declaration is denominated the war with Portugal, or the war of the succession.

The old Alfonso, called the African, on account of his early successes beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, was still reigning in Portugal. During his whole life he was reputed a chivalric man, full of generous impulses, active even in age, being of an unusually sanguine temperament. Don Juan, his son, had, like his father, a decided thirst for enterprise. To this royal house of Portugal the malcontents of Castile resorted. Juana was, as we know, the aged Alfonso's niece. It was agreed that he should protect and marry this child, though she was at the time only thirteen years of age; but as another dispensation from the Pope was required on account of consanguinity, it was necessary for the present to delay the marriage; but the evident emergency caused them after betrothal to claim at once the sovereignty of Castile. There was much misgiving in Portugal over this agreement; but the uncontrollable desire of Alfonso to succor this unfortunate young princess and make her his bride, and the fiery zeal of his son, Don Juan, well supported by the young nobles around him, carried everything before them, so that the offensive and defensive alliance, between the friends of Juana and the Portuguese, was speedily and strongly consummated. In consequence, by May, 1475, we find the chivalrous old king leading out an army of nearly 20,000 men, in truth of rather hasty levies, yet the best troops his States could furnish, so as to cross the borders of his kingdom.

Confident from the hope of large accessions from the Castilian lords coming from different directions as he advanced, he left his capital and moved slowly enough in a northeasterly direction through what is now the district of Caceres, without any considerable halt till he reached Plasencia. Though this western part of Spain is fertile and formerly, when under the Moors, was well populated and extensively used for the raising of grain, yet the "Spanish pacification," so called, and continuous border troubles between the petty sovereigns from both sides, had rendered much of the province of Estremadura almost a desert. The question of supplies then doubtless affected the marches and in a measure controlled all Alfonso's military operations. At Plasencia the young Marquis of Villena was on hand with the Infanta Juana. Here, commencing May 12th, five months after the crowning of Isabella at Segovia, was a new inaugural ceremony. The public betrothal was first had; then followed all the formal proceedings of assuming the crown of Castile and announcing the claim of the new sovereigns, Alfonso V. and Juana, to the world. The prospects from that mountain town were then so very bright, that days were spent in joyous feasting, while swift messengers were carrying the tidings from province to province, and calling all "true-hearted Castilians to the legitimate standard." The Duke of Arevalo in person then guided the army over the dividing ridge into his own beautiful land, and on as far as his own city, Arevalo. So much success without a blow of opposition! Twenty thousand men, even if one third were horsemen, looked small in that large country. Everything was too quiet to last. Ferdinand, with his father behind him, was not to be despised, and Isabella had as yet the majority of churchmen and nobles with her, for certainly by many good people she was much beloved. The Portuguese king, thinking of these things, became wise and wary, though, we surmise, for war purposes at the wrong time and place. But this is where Divine providence ever seems to come into men's affairs. The old king took counsel, and decided to wait awhile for his allies to increase his forces.

While the Portuguese army is here at Arevalo, comfortably waiting, let us see the other side of the picture. Just what Isabella and Ferdinand were doing from December, 1474, till May, 1475, is not, at this date, easy to ascertain. They do not, even in June, appear to have realized that the jealous and dissatisfied old Archbishop of Toledo, with his estates and his followers, would actually go over to the enemy. Certainly they were occupied very much with the troubles that their father, King John of Aragon, kept bringing to their attention. They had sought through this provident father a royal alliance with France, by negotiating for the marriage of their little daughter, hardly three years of age, to the Dauphin. Their ambassadors were long detained in France, as if they had been spies; while in Aragon new and terrible conflicts arose which taxed all the energies and resources of the King of Aragon, and caused him to call loudly for the help and co-operation of his son. As we have seen, the difficulties arising in the distribution of the powers of the government between the two young sovereigns had also absorbed much time and thought. Next came the change in location of the whole Castilian court, already much enlarged and carefully organized, to Medina del Campo. It habitually cost kings and queens of that day large sums of money to keep up the proper dress and dignity pertaining to their high functions. Before the assessment and collection of taxes could be perfected money must be hired; and "Medina del Campo," an old writer says, was "then a much-frequented market town, a centre for commerce and public fairs, a rich place—a good city for borrowing money." The Duke of Alva, having speedily decided for Isabella, gave the Castle of Mota, near the suburbs of Medina del Campo, into her hands. Then furthermore, after the moving, there was all the process of organizing a kingdom—that is, putting proper men, as far as good sense with but little experience would justify, into the right places. Doubtful people must be displaced and loyal friends be hastened into position. Cabrera, for example, who had done so much for Isabella as princess to secure her inheritance, was rewarded by being made Marquis of Moya, a city near the boundary of the province of Valencia, which city for some reason he strongly desired to possess. Again, we cannot overlook the gigantic operation which Isabella at once entered upon of repressing disorder and bringing at least a semblance of justice to the populace. Mariana pictures it thus: "The queen, laying aside all jealousy, authorized Ferdinand to appoint to military offices; and dividing with him every case, she often spent the night in dictating to her secretaries. . . . She tried to enforce the law. Many highway robbers and other gross criminals were seized, convicted, and executed, giving hope and satisfaction to the honest folk."

Behind all this (which we succinctly recount) the worries over false friends who deserted, vanishing as they did almost from the home circle; the distractions from projects of foreign alliances, from the trying border disasters of Aragon; the difficult adjustments of the sovereignty; the moving the court from Segovia to the Castle of Mota; the raising of essential revenues; the filling of the offices, civil and military—i.e., the putting out and the putting in of people with discriminating rewards; behind all such absorbing work of administration for the new ruler, were most engrossing family burdens and cares, which surely are enough of themselves for any ordinary young woman to bear. It was amid this turmoil and absorption in which both were engaged that the old King of Portugal stole a march upon the young king and queen, and almost before they caught rumors of his invasion or comprehended his purpose, he was near the very citadel of their State, and apparently prepared to strike the last fatal blow.

Old Alfonso at Toro

"A Perfect woman nobly planned,

To warn, to comfort, and command,

And yet a spirit still and bright,

With something of an angel's light."


Old Alfonso at Toro—Isabella's Genius Under Trials—Prompt Measures—Ferdinand Northward, Isabella Going North-Westward and then Southward—At and Near Toledo—Archbishop Avoids Interview—Army of 42,000 Brought Together before Toro—Old Alfonso Declines Battle—No Siege-Guns Against Him—Ferdinand's Army Melts Away—Isabella's Reprisals—Small Successes in Combats, Raids, and Sieges—Alfonso, Harassed by Troubles in His Army and at Home, Negotiates —Isabella Refuses His Terms—Isabella Raised Money with the Church Plate—How She Kept Her Promise—Her Illness at Tordesillas—She Defeats a Sally from Toro—Ferdinand at Zamora—Isabella's Help—The Siege of Zamora—The Great and Decisive Battle Near Toro—Isabella's Thanksgiving at Tordesillas—Ferdinand's Absence from Castile—Alfonso's Campaign Of 1477-79.

Great emergencies are necessary to show what genius can accomplish. The surprise, the consternation of everybody around her, in which even young Ferdinand shared to some extent, only gave the youthful queen inspiration and resolve. When Juana's announcement of queenship reached the sovereigns, they did not have at hand to exceed five hundred horse—a mere court escort. Which way should they look? "Go, Ferdinand," Isabella said, "hasten to Valladolid and raise levies from the northern provinces as fast as you can; and I will take another direction." He and she set out at once; and he soon succeeded in raising a considerable force of cavaliers and militia, but his army had little coherence or discipline. Some movement or rumor of it made the wary Alfonso draw back a little toward Portugal. He halted at Toro, where he had good cover in the shape of a fortified city. Meanwhile, Isabella with her small escort, moving in a northwest direction, pushed on obliquely toward him till she reached the town of Tordesillas, which she put into condition of defence, and caused to be garrisoned. Then she went on southward, drawing all loyal hearts toward her, till she reached the special domain of the treacherous Archbishop of Toledo, who had not yet taken the open field against his queen. He was in a small city, Alcala, in the neighborhood of his capital, Toledo, when she approached.

She sent messengers ahead to confer with him. He declined an interview, and escaped from her immediate presence with threats that he would again reduce her to the distaff from whence he had elevated her. She was greatly chagrined and disappointed, but she reaped abundant fruits from this long and arduous journey. Friends were strengthened in their devotion, the wavering were brought over, and town after town was fairly well fortified, and raiding parties along Alfonso's border sent to do him and his people irreparable mischief.

Before the end of that dreadful summer, by the unremitting labor of the young sovereigns and those who still adhered to their cause, an army fairly well equipped and supplied was gathered and led out to confront the old king at Toro. Don Ferdinand in person, always ambitious of generalship, took the command. Reckoning his infantry at 30,000, his cavalry at 8000, and cavaliers and irregular bands at about 4000, he estimated his host when assembled outside the walls of Toro at 42,000 men.

Besides this array, Ferdinand learned on his approach that the central stronghold—that is, the citadel of Toro—was still in the hands of his friends. Alfonso had now only half of Ferdinand's number of fighting men.

Sitting down before the walls of Toro, Ferdinand, after the war fashion of that day, invited his enemy to battle. It is said that the chivalrous old king could with difficulty be kept from either marching out and fighting, or from closing in with Ferdinand's offer to stake everything on the issue of single combat; but wiser counsels prevailed, and it was not done. Ferdinand had no siege-guns, and could not reduce the place, neither could he stay there long for want of supplies. His men, moreover, without discipline, could not be controlled. Suspicions of all sorts, quarrels, and insurrections peculiar always to the Spanish soldiery in their own country and outside of it, when there was poor discipline, forced a disastrous retreat; and, as has been the case in many other civil wars, the army melted away, and the men, especially the militia, scattered to their homes. Military writers blame Alfonso, first, for remaining so long idle at Arevalo; and, second, for not sallying forth and striking Ferdinand's forces when they were retiring from Toro in disorder. Doubtless he constantly hoped that all the Castilian people would finally resort to him and Juana, as in the American Rebellion General Lee hoped that the people of Maryland would flock to him during his northern march and on the approach of his army.

To ravage the country from Arevalo was not then his policy. At Toro the citadel now gave up and capitulated to Alfonso, and at the same time the Archbishop of Toledo, seeing such favorable symptoms in this direction, came with his quota of five hundred men. A masterly inactivity was just then Alfonso's policy, and probably, as he desired immediately to govern the people as his own, it was not, according to the outlook, an unwise plan.

Notwithstanding these unparalleled disasters, few of the friends of Isabella followed the lead of Toledo. In every new place from which the confederates tried to draw a contingent or provisions they were disappointed and persistently opposed. Nobody seemed ready to help the ally which specious promises had allured into the country. Ferdinand kept a small army at work besieging and recovering places like Burgos, with limited garrisons; and Isabella's more southern cavaliers rendered greater service by crossing the frontiers of Estremadura and Andalusia, and carrying into Portugal a sort of guerilla warfare, attended with plunder and devastation.

Alfonso, worried by the outcries of the Portuguese, that came from his army and from home, and vexed at the real want of loyal feeling for him and his betrothed in his present neighborhood, at last determined to offer to the young sovereigns terms of settlement. He would recognize Ferdinand and Isabella as king and queen, if Toro, Zamora, and all of Galicia were ceded to him, and if the sovereigns also would pay, as in later years France did to Germany at the end of their war, a stipulated sum of money. Even Ferdinand was ready to yield; but Isabella said with such a spirit of determination and emphasis, "Not an inch of our territory, not a stone of our fortresses!" that negotiations were at once broken off.

Once more Isabella and her friends put forth their energies. Money and men must be raised to clear the country. She would not yet tolerate the weakening methods of selling benefits to dukes and other aristocratic leaders, or of bartering away to towns, cities, and provinces privileges that her predecessors, soon after the emergency, had not been slow to modify or recall. As the distress was great, she wisely appealed to the love and confidence of her people, sentiments that were now on the increase. The result was a singular financial operation. Half the church-plate in Castile was surrendered into the royal treasury, under Isabella's promise to redeem the same in three years, at thirty millions of maravedis ($150,000). It is said that churchmen already had such implicit confidence in the piety and ability of the young queen, that they aided her by Scripture arguments in overcoming some scruples of con science that she herself had entertained against so touching the church property. It is certainly to Isabella's lasting honor that she did not fail, in time, to meet her promise in the punctual payment of the obligation.

After her unparalleled fatigues in her long and arduous journeys, the queen left the neighborhood of Toledo, May 28th, 1475, and went to Segovia for the purpose, it is said, of getting Cabrera to issue coin from the treasury for the immediate and pressing necessities of the war. This is the time that she left her daughter in Cabrera's hands as a pledge of repayment, or as a hostage in case of disaster to her cause. She then journeyed on through Medina to Tordesillas, where her strong foremost garrison was facing her rival's army at Toro. Here she became extremely ill. Her expected accouchement at the time she set out for Tordesillas and thence for the central and southern provinces of Castile gave great anxiety to her household friends. But who could bring back timid landholders and time-serving aristocrats to their true bearings like the queen? Who else could possibly interview the old Archbishop of Toledo, and save to the kingdom himself perhaps and his numerous followers? There was, in fact, no other who, with any hope of success, would attempt these feats. She accomplished wonders, as we have seen, but the physical effort and the mental strain were too much. A sickness of great severity naturally resulted, and brought her to the verge of the grave. Her confinement at this time was premature, and it was some weeks before she could leave her chamber or engage in any concerns of State, however pressing and important they might be. But this strong woman's recuperative power soon brought her to her husband's side, prepared for further counsel and for effective executive action.

About the time of her reappearance at court the King of Portugal, still in Toro, tried by a sally to send out some aid to his friends; but Isabella, whose thoughts seemed to be everywhere, had anticipated his designs, and so frustrated them. New levies were again made, and this time sent to the different drill-grounds. All loyal fortified places were supplied with garrisons, and their works repaired and strengthened. Towns filled with malcontents, for men became restless too often on the very account of the robberies and other crimes they had previously committed, were one after another reduced to obedience, so that very soon after the revenue became sufficient scarcely any of the people, except the heads of Juana's and Alfonso's confederacy, would render the insurgents any aid.

In fact, the invader with his army, though occupying a strong place in the heart of the country, was gradually being cut off from the necessary supplies, and reduced to uncomfortable straits. Isabella instinctively knew that there were more ways than one to make effective war against this ancient foe, and she ardently sought them out and followed them up sans pitie.

In December, 1475, Zamora, a town nearer to Portugal than Toro, became weary of Alfonso's rule. The loyal citizens outside the citadel, which a Portuguese garrison still held, begged for Isabella's troops. Ferdinand went thither at once, and arrayed as large a force as he could bring together against the citadel. This time he had with him between 25,000 and 30,000 men of all arms fairly well equipped, well drilled, and, better than all, in junior officers well commanded. The old admiral, always reliable, and the Duke of Alva were prominent among his subordinates. Alfonso, finding his communications cut off, sent with all speed to his son in Portugal to hasten reinforcements. Prince John with extraordinary promptness marched 10,000 soldiers, of whom but 2000 were horse, in a circuit, so as to give Zamora a wide berth, and came with them to Toro. The junction was made February 14th, 1476. It was a happy St. Valentine's day in old Alfonso's bivouac; but it is inconceivable how such a scanty accession could have raised even Alfonso's sanguine mind to such a pitch of bravado and over-confidence. Note his bragging letters to the French king, to his own subjects, to his allies of Spain, and also to the Pope of Rome: "Now will we crush the pretensions of Ferdinand and Isabella!" Having garrisoned Toro, he marched at once with all his effective troops, probably over 10,000 in number, and came to the vicinity of Zamora. His army drew up in battle order quite near that city; but for some reason—probably taking the advice of some cautious engineer—he revealed his lines at dawn, February 18th, to Ferdinand's astonished gaze on the opposite side of the river Douro.

Here were the contending armies in array, with only a river between them. Surely a great battle was now at last to be fought; but Alfonso's generalship was not of the best. Young Ferdinand was the abler warrior. Some things outside of Ferdinand's immediate camp will interest us. Isabella, always raising revenues, supplies, and troops, had gone up to Burgos. Hearing rumors of the situation of affairs near Zamora, and in order to help her lord in this emergency, she hastened to Tordesillas, and established herself there. She had gathered a number of squadrons of light cavalry, which, like the Uhlans of the Prussians or the Cossacks of Russia, were forever harassing an enemy or cutting off his wagons or pack-animals loaded with supplies. Isabella also, to inspirit the army at the front, sent word that she was exerting her best powers to forward all the troops that could be brought together; for she, as well as Ferdinand, fully felt that the crisis of their lives was near at hand. Ferdinand kept his army on the ground well in command. He managed by his long-range projectiles to inflict much injury upon the exposed camp of his foe, but on account of his own cover he received scarcely any damage in return. Alfonso did not now dare to cross over the Douro and risk an engagement, for he perceived that the tables of the Toro affair the year before had now been turned upon him.

Just then the announcement of large reinforcements to Ferdinand, who already outnumbered him, came to his attentive ears. He had hoped to throw in some help to the beleaguered citadel of Zamora, but instead he was himself daily in peril of being cut off forever from his most important stronghold at Toro. So the chivalrous old Alfonso, but two weeks after his boastful circular, in great mortification ordered a retreat. He commenced his backward march to Toro, March 1st, 1476. Ferdinand hastily repaired the broken bridge, which cost a few hours' delay, and then took up the pursuit. He overtook the Portuguese in a narrow defile near Toro. Without much hesitation he attacked them. It was a memorable battle. It is said that Alfonso's men fought hard; that the royal standard-bearer lost first his right and then his left arm, and after this he seized the sacred flag with his teeth. The Archbishop of Toledo, the commander of the right, was again in the carnage, and Prince John bore his part on the left of the old king. Three hours of fierce resistance were all the Portuguese could make. Ferdinand's left wing commander, the Duke of Alva, had at last turned their flank, thus changing a sudden disorder into an absolute rout. King Alfonso fled to Castro Nuno, several leagues from the field, where his son, more sullen, had also found a refuge. The place was soon filled with friends and foes. It was a Spanish massacre of the olden time which followed, and terrible to think of. Only the quickly coming darkness saved the utter annihilation of the scattered battalions. Many soldiers who escaped to the frontier were killed by the peasants, who sought in this way to take revenge for the privations and sufferings caused by this invasion. Don Ferdinand at this battle kept a cool head. As opportunity offered, he showed humanity. He gave paroles and safe conducts to some of the Portuguese prisoners, and clothing and even money to others, while he sent them as soon as possible to their own country. After the passion of the conflict is over, the kindness of a magnanimous captain is always recalled to his advantage. Two thousand of Juana's and Alfonso's followers fell on this dreadful field near Toro. Castile had that day a great triumph. Of course the citadel of Zamora and the strong town of Toro surrendered before many days. Quickly, almost on the wings of the wind, the news was brought back to the headquarters of the anxious young queen at Tordesillas.

Instantly on hearing the welcome tidings she caused a procession for thanksgiving to be formed, and she herself conducting it, "led the way barefooted to the Church of St. Paul in the Suburbs." This news caused the bitterest sorrow to poor little Juana, herself the daughter of a queen; but to Isabella it brought intense joy. It was to her the expression of the Divine will, and so her soul-rendered thanks to God. However we may interpret history, we cannot help feeling that His ways are far beyond our ken. Can His blessing to one innocent soul be at the same time a curse to any other equally pure? With a dim upward gaze we wait for eternity to balance the scales of justice.

The indomitable spirit of the Portuguese king, who after reaching his capital was looking pitifully upon his young and dependent betrothed, could not yet give up effort in her behalf. He would make no peace. He first hastened with a petition to King Louis XI. of France. That monarch received him with feasts and other marks of distinction, but played upon him the then discovered and fashionable diplomatic tricks which Alfonso too late unveiled. He then fled to some obscure resort and surrendered his kingdom to his enterprising son; but after a time, induced by faithful friends, he returned. His trusty son abdicated at once in the old king's favor. The picture of the kindly, unselfish relation of these two men is phenomenal in those times of intense selfishness, egotism, and ambition. Once more, in the fall of 1477, Alfonso, fired with passion, made another effort to break the growing power of Isabella.

When the final blows against Castile were attempted, Ferdinand again was away from the court. He had gone to look after enemies in the north and to aid his aged father in Aragon and in that troublesome border province of Navarre. France, Aragon, and Castile that very fall had made an arrangement by treaty stipulations which caused Louis of France to cease his alliance with Portugal. Imagine the chagrin and disappointment of King Alfonso, after being foiled in Estremadura, to receive the news of this new transaction!

The messages from her absent lord increased Isabella's conviction that her queenship was approved of Heaven, for her enemy was left by France to fight his battles alone. Another item of information about this time came to reassure her and strengthen her cause. The Sovereign Pontiff had reversed his decision permitting the old monarch and Juana to wed.

This campaign of the Portuguese king, commencing late in the fall of 1477 and continuing through the ensuing winter, spring, and summer of 1478, was a most remarkable military effort. He undertook to imitate Isabella's previous methods of raiding. In forays he sent from his own country numerous small expeditions into Andalusia and Estremadura.

His men-at-arms, like partisan commanders in all civil wars, would ravage the country, carry off animals and grain, and often destroy buildings and rob the people, till the fertile regions became almost depopulated and the villages and small towns deserted.

Promptly and fearlessly our young queen, like an experienced general, brought forward her best-drilled cavalry, and escorted by the most enterprising cavaliers of Castile, marched them into the provinces already overrun by the Portuguese, to meet fire and sword with fire and sword.

Close of the Portuguese War

"The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth, as the gentle rain from Heaven,

Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed;

It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.

'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown;

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

It is an attribute to God Himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God's,

When mercy seasons justice."


Cathedral at Toledo


A Slight Review—Isabella Closing the Portuguese War (1477–79)—Toro Again, and Donna Maria Sarmiento—Visit to Madrid—The Sovereigns Part Company—General Count de Feria—After-Plans for Clearing the Frontier—Isabella's Court —Journeys to Seville—How Justice Was Administered — The Amnesty — Heretics are Excepted from the General Pardon —The Extent of Confiscations — The Archbishop of Toledo Punished — The Birth of Isabella's Second Child, Prince Juan—The Baptism and the Thanksgiving, with Grand Ceremonies.

The surrender of the citadel of Toro has already been mentioned. To present, however, a little of the work of the busy queen during this time of pacification—a work by no means completed when the aged Alfonso crossed the border and went with Juana to his own capital—let us go back and follow her steps awhile a little more in detail. She had reached Segovia when a message was brought to her from the citizens of Toro, begging for her presence as soon as she could make the journey. It was a long and wearisome ride, but she went at once. The submission of the town was made upon her arrival. Very soon Don Ferdinand joined her there. The citadel had been stoutly maintained and defended by a woman, Doha Maria Sarmiento, widow of Juan d'Ulloa, who had something of the force and energy of Joan of Arc. Her continued challenge and persistent opposition to the queen's forces was doubtless intended to excite admiration in the bosom of Isabella, and so to obtain from her terms apt to be given to a valiant foe; and indeed she succeeded in procuring an honorable capitulation. Next the young sovereigns went together to Ocana, Toledo, and thence to the city of Madrid, a city now large and thriving, with 500,000 people, but at the time of this visit very small and surrounded by forests—in fact, but a tributary outpost of Toledo. It was here they heard of the renewed conflicts along the Portuguese border, and of the wasteful raids into the territories of Badajos and Ciudad Rodrigo. The general who was despatched thither in advance of the queen to make prompt resistance was Count de Feria. We have already seen how Isabella and Ferdinand had here separated, he going toward Aragon to bring walled towns to terms and on other imperative business, while she, in spite of all protestations of her friends, went straight to Estremadura. Her husband en route through the upper provinces conquered many places of great military strength, while his wife, from the fall of 1477 till the spring of 1479, assumed the task of driving out the Portuguese, of making a permanent treaty, and putting the relations of the two adjoining kingdoms on the firm basis of peace and close alliance. Meanwhile, by the energy of her loyal General, Feria, and his hardy troops, she succeeded in reducing Badajos and numerous other fortresses. The garrisons were generally replaced by new and trusted men, and the formal submission of the populace openly received and pledged. But without much delay here in her first visit, during the winter of 1477-78, Isabella and her little court proceeded fearlessly through all the turmoil in Estremadura to the already famous city of Seville, replete from that time till to-day with Roman, Moorish, and Spanish constructions, and with public exhibitions which are as unique as the carnivals of Southern Italy. Pedro the Cruel had left an Alcazar or royal residence, where the gentle Maria de Padilla exerted the only magic influence that could reach and subdue his savage nature. Here Isabella set up her court. Immediately we behold the brave young woman playing a new part.

She set apart one day in each week to hear such grievances or charges as the people desired to make. Like Nehemiah and Ezra of old, she had evidently been reading the books of the old law of her realm, and so revived a custom which for several reigns had not been in vogue. Every Friday the queen entered her hall of justice, probably that which is usually called the Hall of Ambassadors, and took her chair of state. It is said that this veritable throne was a seat covered with gold and placed upon a raised platform at the farthest end of the hall. On each side (according to Mariana) were the members of her privy council, gentlemen, prelates, and lawyers. Arranged in front were the secretaries or chosen readers of documents coming from those who sought redress. Back of these readers were placed the alcaldes, judges, constables, and other functionaries. Cases coming before this curious court were generally disposed of without delay. Where some light had to be thrown upon a given matter before decision could be made, the case was handed to some member of the council, with instructions to investigate and "report, as a rule, within three days." Except Fridays and Sundays, the queen's officials themselves gave audience to all petitioners. There was, indeed, no laxity on the part of those ministers of the court who were with her. Hosts of cases were heard and disposed of within two months. Vast amounts of property taken wrongfully from others by the powerful and unscrupulous, through this process went back to the lawful proprietors. Many convicted of capital offences were executed, and even the high rank of the criminals was not sufficient to keep them from trial, condemnation, and death.

The character of this ancient city can be imagined when we read this extraordinary historic statement: "Upward of 8000 persons, whose consciences, at the sight of these summary proceedings, convicted them of guilt, fled from Seville!" The city officials and the priests became alarmed at this depletion. They recalled to Isabella some of the unusual causes of crime: for example, the civil war, the feuds between great houses and the quarrels among their followers, and other innumerable private affairs in which men felt obliged to take justice into their own hands, somewhat as we have known excited men, in the practice of lynch law in unsettled communities in these later times, to violate all law. These leaders repeatedly came to the queen and urged more leniency. They declared that, should such strict inquiry be long made, no family could pass unscathed, at least in some of its members. Isabella began to see the need of more gentleness and more forgivingness in dealing with communities. She soon had a proclamation of pardon and amnesty carefully drawn and promulgated. Yet she insisted upon the virtue of restitution; all property taken by theft, by force, or in any way illegally acquired must be returned to its rightful owner. Yet just here this wonderful woman betrayed a perversion of mind that had not appeared before; and the sight of it fills the hearts of her modern admirers with sorrow. It is, that she made this exception to her rule of merciful and honest dealing: "No one need restore anything which has been taken from a heretic." It was a decree that could hardly have been, a natural expression of her soul. It was doubtless a graft from the bigotry and superstition around her, from which even this noble queen could not keep her spirit free. That little scion has borne a fruitage in Spain which even to-day shames the Roman Church, in view of the horrid cruelties and tortures inflicted upon innocent men and women; in view of the diabolical crimes committed by the Holy Office which cannot be palliated or denied. Yet we later Christians love to think that Isabella was herself rather a victim than an intentional promoter of any crime.

The common view of historians, if we except Anita George and perhaps Prescott, is that the course of Isabella touching "heretics" was not inconsistent with her sense of justice; for she was habitually rigid in judgment and unsparing in the execution of law against all crimes, such as murder, robbery, arson, and the like; and that she had been taught from infancy that what Rome called "heresy" was a crime, and, worst of all, a crime against the Church and the State. Her own mother, her convent-teachers (all that she ever had), and her several father-confessors, to whom she submitted in sacred things with little or no question, had steadily instilled into her mind this wicked dogma. At any rate, this bigotry, as we shall further see, was the one vulnerable point in her armor. The proclamation of amnesty was well timed. It stopped, above all, the continuous stampede from Andalusia into Portugal. One more instance of pacification, which afterward redounded greatly to the advantage of Spain, is given as belonging to this visit of the queen to the southern provinces. A dreadful feud had for a long time existed between the houses of Guzman and Ponce de Leon. Frequently had these persistent foes and their satellites met in the streets of this historic city and filled them with riots and bathed them in blood. As pacificator the much-loved queen succeeded in bringing together the champion chiefs and in establishing a permanent peace. There is, however, later in the story of Isabella another version of this important reconciliation.

A remarkable conviction must have dawned upon Isabella's mind after the defeat of Juana's conspiring friends. She saw plainly that the powerful barons or nobles who had extensive estates and numerous followers, and who desired greatly to have over them a weak rather than a powerful sovereign, in order that they might pursue their own unruly ways, had indeed formed and pushed the conspiracy against her. She then quickly, as we have said, became convinced that the good of the whole realm would result from crippling the power of these barons or nobles. One aristocrat after another came to offer his allegiance. She fearlessly conditioned his pardon at the price of a considerable portion of his possessions. Among the last to return and seek Isabella's pardon was the old Archbishop of Toledo. It is said that even the king, her husband, pleaded in vain with Isabella for him. At length she gave him a pardon, but not till she had punished him with great severity. A writer aptly says: "Then but a vestige remained of the colossal estate by the aid of which he had elevated her to the throne, and by the revenue of which he came so near removing her forever from that elevation."

An English historian further remarks: "The power thus lost by the high barons went to increase and consolidate that of the crown, and the Commons (that is, the Cortes), gratified at the immediate comfort that accrued to them from the new system, willingly lent their co-operation to sustain it."

Early in June, 1478, King Ferdinand, leaving his field-work of besieging Castro-Nuno, hurried south to join his wife upon receiving an affecting message from her. She was again to be ill. It was seven years since the birth of their first child. The last day of June, her husband being present, the next child appeared upon the scene. These parents, manifesting much joy, which on this occasion the nation shared, named the little prince Don Juan.

Nine days thereafter (July 9th, 1478), with a brilliant procession and ceremonial after the Roman Catholic forms, the child was taken to the church Santa Maria, and baptized by Don Pedro de Mendoza, the Cardinal of Spain. Mendoza was at the time also Archbishop of Seville. On the street, in the church, and returning there was a fine spectacular show which made joyous the people of the city. It was composed, in part, of the church officials, the city fathers in black, bearing on poles a large canopy over the heads of the nurse and child, who were mounted on a palfrey; several noblemen, cavaliers carrying the plate, the offerings, and the appropriate presents; the godmother, a rich duchess, riding on a pillion of honor, followed by nine finely dressed young women of rank; and the whole baptismal group gladdened by the ceaseless music of numerous instruments. In vain we try to depict the linings of the streets, the roofs, and balconies filled with the happy multitude, who shouted themselves hoarse at beholding that cavalcade which seemed to them to hold in embryo the hopes of an empire of blessings and of glory.

It was a month later, August 9th, 1478, when Isabella herself appeared. That was a day of thanksgiving. Her husband and herself, richly clad in showy vestments, were well mounted. It was difficult to tell which were the most beautiful and costly, their own royal robes or the superb gilt housings that adorned their steeds. They led a long procession of nobles, churchmen, and dignitaries of the government to the church, where high mass was held. Before leaving it, Isabella gave the offering of two gold coins. They were denominated excelentes. An excelente  was about $4.40 of American money. Each coin was valued at fifty excelentes, so that the offerint for herself and the young heir of the crown given to the church amounted altogether to $440.50. Here at Seville, notwithstanding the severity of Isabella's court decisions, the royal family, as the days, weeks, and months passed, had become stronger and stronger in the popular favor; but, as we know, there were some serious drawbacks to the maintenance of their authority. The large confiscations, for example, especially those that came upon such as were called "the converts" (i.e., Jews in Castile, who had nominally accepted Christianity), were deeply affecting the powerful aristocracy; and, indeed, on the part of the Jews themselves, who were numerous and exceedingly well-to-do in Andalusia, a secret conspiracy against the throne, during the fall, winter, and spring of 1477-78, was claimed to exist, and so reported to the queen. So that strong political reasons, fully as much as wrong religious convictions, instilled from infancy into their minds, biased the judgment of these sovereigns, and led them to their primary deleterious action touching the Jews and the Inquisition. But the Inquisition itself had not yet become a synonym for unrelenting torture. "As an ordinary tribunal, similar to those of other countries, the Inquisition had existed in Spain from an early period. Its functions, however, in these times were little more than nominal; but early in this reign, in consequence of alarms created by the alleged discovery, among the Jews and the Jewish converts, who had been required either to emigrate or to conform to Christianity, of a plot to overthrow the government, an application was made by Ferdinand and Isabella to Pope Sixtus IV. to permit its reorganization." The time of the application referred to "early in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella" was in 1478, and most probably soon after the birth of Prince Juan, for the Sovereign Pontiff granted the petition in November of that year. The order for the expulsion of the Jews was not formally promulgated till years later, and indeed the Inquisition (the Holy Office) "began its terrible career under Thomas Torquemada," not till 1483, five years after the permission of the Pope had been obtained.

Queen Isabella must at first have been very hopeful that mild measures would gain over the Jews, and further, that even heresy might be rooted out without severe measures.

But, as is plain enough now, the bigotry which would permit the thought of the whole-sale expulsion of the Jewish people from her territory, so contrary to the example and teachings of Christ, was the opening fissure in the dike which let in the floods of an infamous persecution, and led to the tortures and deaths of so many of the best people in the land.

As we are endeavoring to follow the steps of Isabella's eventful life somewhat in a chronological order, let us leave the notorious Holy Office for the present. The city of Seville, so turbulent and unruly when she arrived, owing to prompt justice and a well-timed amnesty, and doubtless owing also to the effect of the presence of a court of such good repute as Isabella's, found itself for the most part a quiet and happy community. After the acts of thanksgiving the sovereigns went from one principal city to another through Andalusia. They found a similar failure of justice everywhere—in fact, disorder and anarchy prevailing.

The same remedies were applied. Where they could not delay long enough for the Friday courts Isabella appointed the corregidores, a sort of judicial commissioners with power. These functionaries replaced the sovereigns so far as to demand the immediate and continuous hearing of cases. They also made note of all illegal action, and either remedied it themselves or reported the matter to the court for correction. There appeared to be a singular charm in Isabella's presence, for peace and order followed her visits as she passed on through this long-troubled province.

Ferdinand remained with his wife till, going northward, they reached Truxillo. And here, not only were the same tribunals of justice re-established or supervised, but the business, so enormous in that age, of fortifying frontier towns was pushed with vigor lest old Alfonso should spring some new trap upon them. Here they were when the news of the death of Ferdinand's father came.

This monarch, John I., the King of Aragon, was eighty years of age. He had been indeed a warrior and a statesman. The day of his death, January 19th, 1479, although he bequeathed a kingdom to his son, it is said that he was "so poor that his jewels, including the rich collar of the garter which he had worn, were pawned to defray the expenses of his funeral." Ferdinand gained a kingdom, but he lost the counsel both of a devoted parent and also of a far-seeing coadjutor. This news caused the king at once to leave his wife and children, for he feared the action of the Cortez, which at Zaragoza had immediately met, and was inclined to show its independence of the heir to the crown. In the natural order of events, it was during this separation that Queen Isabella so greatly added to her renown. Here at Truxillo, toward the close of the campaign, she took up her quarters with her moving court. It was just the place, in a military sense, from which to operate in all directions.

Her anxious friends cried out, "Not there, not there!" Her men of State deemed it the height of imprudence to be so near the front, and came to her with a strong remonstrance. Her answer is a key to her whole life and character: "It is not for me to calculate perils or fatigues in our own cause, nor by an unseasonable timidity dishearten my friends, with whom I am now resolved to remain until I shall have brought the war to a conclusion."

One can hardly estimate the enthusiasm awakened in the hearts of her chosen leaders by such inspiring words and conduct. They went forth briskly to lay siege to places still held by the enemy. They met fearlessly the raiding bands, and defeated them, driving back the fugitives across the border, as at Toro. But the fury of Alfonso and the strong operations of Isabella's enterprising battalions could not help the increasing horror and desolations of this continued war. The two peoples, the Spanish and the Portuguese, were too much alike to war against each other. When Scotchmen fought Englishmen the borders of both countries grew wild, and much precious blood was shed in vain. It was little better here. Old Alfonso's heart was rankling with chagrin at his failures, and seemingly fervid with passion for revenge; while on the other side of his border sat the vigilant young queen, full of expedients, determined in purpose, and well sustained by her men-at-arms. How might such a war be ended? For every move there was a countermove; for every castle taken there was one or more lost. The monarch plainly saw, even with his vision obscured by his hates, that he was making no progress, and all the world appeared now to array itself against him. There was a woman of ability and of as exalted a character as Isabella's own, whose relationship to both parties afforded grand opportunities for the intervention which she undertook. Indeed, it is refreshing to be able to find in that heroic age so fine a model, one so much, in heart and temper, like the Master, who diligently studied the Lord's sayings and successfully sought the promised blessing of the Peace-Maker. It was Beatriz of Portugal, Alfonso's brother's wife, and own aunt to Isabella, whose heart was sore at all this misery springing from endless war. She so far gained his ear as to get from him permission to carry a white flag to her august niece, bearing with her an outline of what he would agree to in a treaty. As soon as the preliminary message reached Truxillo, Isabella showed no reluctance to confer with her good aunt.

They came together in Alcantara, a town near the border, and spent there with each other eight fruitful days. The terms, which were most thoroughly canvassed, and probably prayerfully considered, were drawn up; but the assent of Beatriz was not sufficient for the establishment of peace. She was but an ambassadress. She now hastened back to Portugal to lay her important document before the exacting old king. He was to resign his claim to the hand of Juana, and they two to the throne of Castile. Juana must either leave Portugal, or, strange to say, arrange to marry Isabella's infant son, Don Juan, when he should become of sufficient age. The terms gave her another privilege, that of shutting herself up in a nunnery for life.

As usual in the diplomacy of those days, a royal marriage presents the other side of the covenant—namely, young Alfonso, son of Prince John and grandson of Portugal's king, was to marry Isabel, the Infanta of Castile. This was the second marriage sought for this baby daughter before she was five years old. The proposed treaty was indeed a little one-sided, but Isabella thought not. Did she not offer to Portugal the best that she had—two priceless gems, a son and a daughter? The old king was for a time sullen and obstinate, while Isabella pressed the war with more and more vigor; so that at last, yielding to what came to him as a blind necessity, he gladdened the heart of his waiting sister by putting his name to the unwelcome treaty of Alcantara (February, 1480). His claims to Juana and Castile were resigned. Juana, poor child, hitherto a mere puppet in the hands of ambitious tormentors, took the third offer, and retired to the convent of Santa Anna, at Coimbra, where she took the veil in the presence of Talavera, Queen Isabella's confessor, and another witness, Dr. Diaz, of Madrigal. The confessor's last words to the young novice, in view of all her history, must have appeared to her to bear a double significance. "No kinsman, no true friend, or faithful counsellor," he said, "would divert you from so holy a purpose." The chivalric, eccentric, romantic, impulsive King of Portugal, disappointed in his love and in all his worldly plans, for a while made preparations to give up his kingdom and to enthrone again his loyal son, Prince John, and to seek for himself some profound retirement under the patronage of a religious order. He was prevented, however, by his sudden death, August 28th, 1481, nearly a year and a half after that famous treaty which brought the much-needed rest to these two neighboring countries. At last peace had come to the two, distracted and impoverished beyond measure in the loss of life and treasure, thus to settle the vexed question as to which of the two women, Juana or Isabella, should be Queen of Castile and Leon. As soon as possible after the ratification of the grand treaty of Alcantara Queen Isabella removed her ubiquitous court to the city of Toledo. It was then, as now, a wonderful and beautiful city. To-day it numbers nearly 25,000 population, and is over 2000 years old. It is set upon a hill. ..The surrounding country, though rolling like an American prairie, stretches out to the view from Toledo's high places like a vast fertile plain, clotted with hamlets and villages. From the railway across this plain, the first glimpse of Toledo, standing high upon an immense rock, r000 feet in elevation, presents the appearance of a strong, well defended citadel adorned with a variety of peculiar and picturesque structures. The swift river, not yet free from its mountain impulse, rolls and tumbles around the entire city. There is but one road of approach, which crosses a bridge, and ascends with the steepest practicable slope, and winds into the suburbs, where it becomes a street, and goes straight on to the main plaza. In Toledo we yet find the Roman circus, the Moorish towers and walls, the ancient synagogue, the convents, the cathedral, the palace, the Alcazar, the bishop's palace, and the world famous sword manufactory. Even the crooked, narrow, badly paved streets have historic meaning in them—they were arranged for defensive battle. The houses themselves, solid and massive, are interior forts. A modern writer says: "The Toledans, like their houses, are solid, trustworthy old Castilians." These are especially proud of their unique language, the Castilian Spanish.

To many races of men, Roman, Hebrew, Moorish, Goth, and Christian of every lineage, has this extensive fortress, perched up there high in the air, been successively a veritable city of refuge. In one of the churches, San Juan de los Reyes, is a fine alto-rilievo  figure of Isabel-Catolica—a figure and profile answering well to the descriptions of Isabella in her youth. There is probably no other place in Castile, except, perhaps, in Valladolid, where a livelier remembrance of the energetic and fearless queen is to be found. Some of the motives which impelled the queen to reside some months at Toledo appear in her history. Her guardian friend and helper, Alfonso de Carillo, the archbishop, whom we have seen severely punished and crippled in his revenues, was not there; he had passed on to his favorite resort, Alcala de Henares, where he gave himself to pursuits not warlike or governmental. But Toledo the city and Toledo the dependent country had the revenues that Isabella needed. She now convoked what was sometimes called the "Third House" of the Cortez, consisting of the representatives of the property and business of the cities. They acted as she wished. They conditioned city contributions upon royal grants of special privileges. Her exchequer was very low when she came to Toledo. Soon afterward it was fairly supplied. In one way her favorite confessor, Talavera, helped the replenishment. He examined the old grants of her brother Henry. Those which he reported as improper or "excessive" were diminished or countermanded, according to that good father's estimates and recommendations. Again the same policy of justice was needed here, and Toledo was then a good centre to work from. Isabella appears to have uniformly adhered to her plans originally taken at Seville—viz., to move her court from point to point, to bring system and order to each province, from the south to the north of her domain, and into every department of her administration as then recognized in the courts, in the cities, in the Cortez, and in her own royal council. And, therefore, if we except the measures concerning the Jews, which indeed as yet were only in embryo, her success in the line of justice and order had been continuous and remarkable. The wonder to most of us is how she could carry all these public and engrossing responsibilities, and at the same time give much attention to her own immediate household.

It is with this feeling, while thinking of her little children, and of the systematic care always given by her to their nurture and home training, that we read another brief historic announcement—to wit, "At Toledo, November 6th, 1479, Isabella of Castile gave birth to her third child, the Princess Juana."

Much of Castile after the war with Portugal was like a desert. Many cities were yet garrisoned by enemies, but the sunshine of peace had at last begun to appear. Now Aragon, with its outlying dukedoms, was added to the domain of the young sovereigns. Their hearts swelled with emotions such as few of earth's dignitaries have experienced—joy, ambition, and a sense of great responsibility. Here was the beginning of a great empire, and one to be freighted with long-continued power, blending good and evil to men—a power which has lasted till this very year of grace, 1893.

Court of the Sovereigns

"Thy form benign, O Goddess, wear;

Thy milder influence impart,

Thy philosophic train be there

To soften, not to wound, my heart.

The generous spark extinct revive;

Teach me to love and to forgive;

Exact my own defects to scan,

What others are to feel, and know myself a man."


The Year 1480—How Isabella Held the Reins of Control—How She Dealt with Two Young Lords—An Instance of Justice —The Riot of Segovia—Independence of Character—An Account of the Court of the Sovereigns.

It was not long before Ferdinand's presence in Aragon (during 1480) was again demanded. Whether he were present or absent, according to the marriage contract in matters pertaining to Castile and Leon, Isabella had evidently held the reins of control very much in her own hands. A few instances of record which follow show how, as at Seville, she decided matters at once, and sometimes acted without the least consultation.

Two young men, sons of noble families, one Don Fadrique, a cousin of Ferdinand, and the other, Don Ramiro Nunez, had a petty quarrel concerning a young lady, Dona Maria Manuel. It came to notice in the queen's rooms, where it went so far as to an exchange of high words and taunting insults. As soon as Isabella knew of this occurrence she put both offenders under arrest, and ordered them to keep to their own quarters till the matter should be investigated. Ramiro obeyed the arrest, but Fadrique, trusting to his rank, being a son of the admiral and own cousin of the king, the very next day left his apartments without permission. Isabella, hearing of this daring breech of the discipline of the court, at once released Ramiro from his confinement, and gave him a formal "safeguard." The violent youth, Fadrique, as soon as he was informed that Ramiro was at large, sent three of his followers in masque against him. They surprised the young man in a public square of Medina, and sadly beat him.

Just as soon as the queen was made aware of this additional outrage and second insult to her authority, she called for her palfrey, and set off at once to the admiral's castle at Simancas. Her old friend, the admiral, met her at his gates, and told her Fadrique was not there; but she took possession of this castle and also of another, that of Rio Seco, using her cavaliers, who had mounted in haste and followed the incensed queen. It was a very stormy day. The wetting rain, the journey of twenty-five miles to Simancas and back to Medina, and the great vexation of her spirit made Isabella quite ill, causing her, in fact, to take to her bed; but she declared that she was ill from the young lord's misconduct, saying, "This body is sore with the blows given by Don Fadrique to my safe-conduct."

Of course the admiral caused the young man to submit to punishment, but pleaded his extreme youth—only nineteen years. He, however, could obtain no mitigation. Fadrique first suffered a considerable period of solitary confinement at Arevalo, and then was banished to Sicily, where he was made to remain several years. Ramiro, full of revenge, now began to stir up a family feud, planning a bold attack on the admiral himself, which fortunately was parried by the admiral's own men. Again the queen intervened. Neither this young lord nor any other should thus attempt to avenge himself in Castile. His estates were taken from him, and he went to Portugal. It was some eight years, in his case, before he was suffered to return and to resume his possessions. Had the king been in Medina, she doubtless would have called upon him to execute the laws, but it is evident that she had a strong will of her own, and would brook no insult to her royal authority, not even from those highest in rank and nearest of kin.

An anecdote of Isabella's administration of justice about this time exhibits another phase of character, which belongs to the honest and impartial ruler. During 1480, while she was holding her court tribunals at Medina, a rich man, De Lugo by name, had secured to himself additional property by means of a false deed. As a matter of precaution De Lugo had murdered the notary who aided him in the forgery. There was no witness to the deed except a servant, whom the murderer trusted. The widow of the deceased, however, half suspecting the crime, brought the matter to Isabella. A thorough search was instituted and the body was at last found on the rich man's premises. Confronted with his horrid crime, the wretch made a full confession. He knew how eagerly the queen desired to carry on a war which was already dawning upon her vision—a war against the Moors; so he offered her a large and tempting sum of money to be used in its prosecution, provided his life should be spared. Many prominent advisers urged her to make this bargain. "Did not this great and desirable object justify the means?" Isabella, with instant decision, said, "No! Justice must take its course. "When the law not only caused the man's death, but accomplished the confiscation of his estate and put it at her disposal, she, in her review of the proceedings of the court, gave back the estate to the innocent families interested.

Another case in point. The well-known story of Isabella's personal efforts and success in suppressing a riot at Segovia shows both her courage and her practical wisdom at a very early period of her administration. It was when the people, deceived and stirred up by schemers among the dissatisfied nobles, rose in a body against their governor, Cabrera, the Marquis of Moya. The governor himself was absent; but the leaders, seizing parts of the citadel, imprisoned his deputy and Isabella's little daughter, the Princess Isabel, within the defences; and matters were indeed in a bad condition at the very heart of Castile.

The queen, then in a neighboring city with a few members of her court and a small escort, hastened to Segovia. A committee of the turbulent multitude stopped her outside the city limits, and entreated her to leave behind certain unpopular members of her party there en route, particularizing the Duchess of Moya and Count Benavente. Isabella replied without hesitation, "I am Queen of Castile; the city of Segovia is mine, moreover, by right of inheritance; and I am not used to receive conditions from rebellious subjects." On she went into the city, and reached the citadel.

The cry of the angry multitudes might well have made her tremble and seek shelter. Rioters were heard to say, "Death to the governor!" "Assail the castle!"

Her friends, in terror, begged her to shut, barricade, and defend the gates; but Isabella did just the contrary. She ordered the gates thrown open. The people then thronged the avenues and approaches to the alcazar. She went boldly to the open court, and facing the leaders, asked of them the cause of all that tumult. "Tell me 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 rioters met the unexpected in this calm and fearless woman. They answered, "All we desire is the removal of Cabrera from the government of the city."

"He is deposed already," rejoined Isabella, "and you have my authority to remove such of his officers as are still in the castle, which I shall entrust to one of my own servants on whom I can rely."

A sudden revulsion followed, when the late angry men now shouted, "Long live the queen!"

The next step was to examine carefully into the grounds of complaint, and finding that they had proceeded from the slanders of enemies of rank, the queen fearlessly so reported to the leading spirits, and restored the acquitted Cabrera to his office. Prescott, after relating this incident, justly remarks: "Thus, by a happy presence of mind, an affair which threatened at its outset disastrous consequences was settled without bloodshed or compromise of royal dignity."

The preceding incidents certainly indicate a strong character. Isabella held tenaciously to royalty. To her mind, the rights of kings were real and sacred; so she manifested her faith in the sovereignty of her administration as Queen of Castile and Leon. She was doubtless easily offended by the least want of respect shown her by any one of her lofty friends, and she had the nerve to assert herself and maintain the dignity of her office. She had a strong and abiding sense of justice. In some few instances, however, where she could not rise altogether above the bigotry and superstition of her environments, she is known to have departed from right-doing; still her inmost soul loved justice and inclined to mercy.

It is refreshing to meet so courageous a woman. She is not afraid of timid or criminal deputations. She can meet and stop mob violence and convert rudeness and riot into immediate friendly support.

Frequently during Isabella's reign the Court of the Sovereigns passed from Medina del Campo to its favorite southern point of sojourn—that is, to the charming city of Seville. Pausing for a few moments in the chronological order of this story, we will attempt a brief picture, such as was often there exhibited, of this "Court of the Sovereigns." Little by little the personnel of Isabella's court, while remaining pure and of good repute as she desired, had increased in its numbers, and all that pertained to it had assumed the grandeur that her ideas of sovereignty demanded. An elite society of envoys, ambassadors, and their families clustered around her own officials and friends. Here took place the formal receptions, fetes, and solemnities usual in all public life. The preceding kings of Castile had drawn around them, the customary dignitaries, domestics, and favorites, with followings more or less numerous. But the coming of a woman to the throne enhanced the importance of the feminine element, which, taking a complexion after the color of Isabella's tastes and character, soon made altogether a new community, in every part of which her potent influence was felt.

There were several daughters of the nobles who were almost brought up in the palace with her children. Jealous supervision was uniformly exercised till they became of age, and the queen gave them dowries when she approved their marriage. As arranged, there were substantially several courts united. The court of the young Prince John, for example, was indeed a copy, on a smaller scale, of that of his parents.

Masters and servants made up a world by themselves. This world had its peculiar constitution—i.e., its organization, its rules of government, its judicial features. Wherever the sovereigns halted and remained for any considerable time, their presence in a community changed the ordinary methods of administration, both executive and judicial; "court alcaldes" were substituted for city magistrates. They took cognizance of such crimes and torts as were committed within the court groups, and the jurisdiction was usually temporarily limited to a fifteen-mile radius. In fact, the city and its suburbs where the court resided became during its sojourn the royal domain.

The court authority was declared by a visible standard or symbol. It had a police of its own, and was provided with whatever machinery might be essential to its civil, religious, or material life.

As was natural, after a few removals it became a sort of travelling city, whose inhabitants, as far as possible, had been selected from the best of the different classes of society.

This city was at last so complete that it did not have to borrow soldier, priest, or magistrate from without. There was the finished arrangement for Divine worship—the confessors for each sovereign; the almoner to distribute royal charities; the chaplain for the chapel service, and a sacristan, with his assistant, guarding the keys of the sacred chests, where the holy vestments and sacred relics were kept; then there was a master for the music choir of children to use their young voices in the hymns; an orchestra for the chant, and men with stringed and other instruments for religious edification. The children of Isabella. themselves loved to participate in the music. A French writer remarks: "While the music was not magnificent, the sacred services were sufficient to satisfy the most exacting devotion."

The royal household had many officials under the senior major-domo. This high personage himself supervised the expenses and ordered all payments by the paymaster. A comptroller united with him in auditing accounts of purchases. His "trenchants" cut up the viands, the physician of his Highness tasted all the meats, and the cup-bearer had similar functions. There was a master of the kitchen. In the prince's house were four subordinates under the master, but he never abandoned the keys of the kitchen. Two porters guarded the kitchen entrance. There were also chamberlains who had charge of the prince's bed-chamber; there were layers of the tables and custodians of the plate, which included all the silverware, etc. At the bottom of the list of employees were the sweepers, who often had boy assistants. These details, so carefully recorded in annals of the period, give us the idea of a wealthy establishment, provided with a great number of servants, but an establishment where order prevails, every official being required to perform some task or carry out the duties of his calling. The grand chamberlain held near the king the same rank as the major-domo in the palace. He became an intimate companion. In the morning he gave a shirt to the king, and presented the silver basin for ablution. At the little court of Don Juan, when the chamberlain had finished like work, he then sent in the shoe servant and the barber. "The attending barber," probably here at Seville, "was Guttiere de Lunar, a good man and a fine talker. He delighted the prince with farcical stories, and was without malice, never speaking ill of anybody." Twenty-four Espinosa guardsmen watched at night over the king. They were uniformly recruited from the noble families of the city of Espinosa. Twenty-four more guarded the son. Always at nightfall they came to the palace and virtually took possession. Twelve at a time were on duty. Some slept at the entrance to the royal chamber, which was never locked, except by the express order of the sovereign. The others made the rounds of the halls and corridors, the lance in poise, the sword by the side, keeping themselves assured that there was nothing to disturb the peace. Whoever entered the palace after the gates had been closed and attempted forcibly to pass this patrol was in danger of his life. At sun-rising these Espinosa guards retired, giving place to the chamberlains and employees before named.

At the beginning of Isabella's reign there was no such guard. The continos, so called, were a local police, but did not, like the regular guard, undertake to escort the sovereigns from place to place and make a garrison wherever they halted or sojourned. After the famous attempts upon the lives of the sovereigns they even armed their servants, such as the hostlers and equerries. At last the court was arranged and protected like a citadel, and was furnished with every means to this end. This extra guarding, including escort troops and the increasing establishment, brought in a multitude of officers, high and low, medical men and attendants, tradesmen, butchers, pastrymen, armorers, furbishers, builders, saddlers, farriers, clothiers, and even fishermen and water-bearers.

When the sovereigns in their best days put themselves in march, their going forth appeared like the migration of an Eastern tribe, where there were innumerable tents. The old nomadic Eastern princes, it will be remembered, pitched their pavilions and tents and decorated them amid the drummings of their followers, the noisy outcries of the multitude, and the neighings of their steeds. All the canvas came down the next day, leaving no trace except a vast trodden flat, muddy streams, and some camp debris. It became so here; for, properly speaking, there was as yet no capital to this kingdom. Some cities, like Segovia, Medina del Campo, and Seville, where the court in 1490 found itself, were simply favorite places of sojourn.

The several "alcazars" were usually large chateaux, often with walls around them. These castle-like structures symbolized the power of the ruler or some grandee. They grew up in the numerous internecine wars. Now the sovereigns made use of them, encamping their court-city near at hand. Here were held the court festivals, with their pomp and rich ceremonials, with their processions, including ladies. Isabella loved these solemn exhibitions, in which royalty was strengthened by a splendid environment superior to that of any noble lord's undertaking. Much lay in the luxury and richness of dress. She herself often appeared in velvet robes, adorned a with her jewels and precious stones—ornamentation which at times was more resplendent than beautiful. As a woman and a queen, magnificence of toilet, which added brilliancy and freshness, a sort of royal completeness to her natural beauty, gave her no little pleasure.

Her favorite confessor, Talavera, never ceased to speak against this "vanity." At one time he reproached her severely for an outlay incurred in Barcelona, for the sumptuous manner in which, when receiving the envoys of Charles VIII , she clothed her attendants and ladies of the court, and even for the expensive dresses that she herself wore during the diplomatic solemnities and festivities. He complained, too, that she led in the dance. All this, he said, had a corrupting tendency at home, and gave the ambassadors a false idea of Castilian manners, which always had demanded gravity of deportment.

These reproaches were at the confessional. The pious queen made a gentle apology, saying: "Somebody has exaggerated the part I bore, for it did not occur to me to dance. There were no new toilets, no new dresses for my ladies; only one new silk dress, costing three marcs-d'or, the most economic possible—that was the extent of my 'fete de fetes'!"  The priest was surely too exacting!

Moors of Spain

"And shall we leave, from age to age,

To godless hands the Holy Tomb?

Against Thy saints the heathen rage

Launch forth Thy lightnings, and consumer!"


The Moors of Spain—The War (A.D. 1481)—How Isabella Prepared for It—Reorganization—How Muley Aben Hassan Hastened the Outbreak—The Surprise of Zahara by Moors—Spaniards' Attack upon Alhama—The Marquis of Cadiz—How the City was Sacked—Muley Aben Hassan's Siege—Guzman's Relief and Reconciliation to the Marquis of Cadiz—Meeting at Seville—Advice to Abandon Alhama—How Isabella Met It.

Christian nations, so called, and those which followed Mahomet, have for ages been arrayed against each other. Practically both have resorted to arms to further the desire of propagating their doctrines, or of extending their domain; so that, along with the teachings of our Saviour which the adherents of Rome in some form brought to the people of Europe, here was always a speedy appeal to arms, either to preserve a dynasty or to conquer new lands, wresting them from the common enemies of Christianity. Mahomet's disciples were even fiercer than their foes, and for a while as persistent as they in similar efforts. Under the name of Moors they once overran all Spain and a great stretch of land beyond the Pyrenees. Little by little Christian princes, separately and in combination, had been pushing back the Moors, across the mountains and down the peninsula. In the middle of the fifteenth century, when Isabella of Castile was born, this remarkable people, so cruel in their hates and yet so abundantly successful in the arts of peace, had been constrained within the country of Granada. It was a kingdom which Irving pictures by a single sentence as "in the southern part of Spain, bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, and defended on the land side by lofty and rugged mountains, locking up within their embraces deep, rich, and verdant valleys, where the sterility of the surrounding heights was repaid by prodigal fertility." The central city, Granada, in the midst of the largest and most productive plain or rolling prairie, was already most famous. It was really the citadel of a vast fortification, where the Ronda, the Segura, the Nevada, and the Alpujarras mountain ranges presented grand and substantial faces and flanks. Isa bella, and, in fact, the inhabitants of Castile and Leon generally, had inherited that spirit of the Crusades that made it seem to them an imperative duty to regain from the Moors all the portion of Spain which they still held. Isabella never doubted this constraining spirit. Her ancestors, almost without exception, had driven the infidel southward from their limits.

As De Nervo phrases it, "Toledo, Seville, Cordova had successively opened their gates, and the flag of Castile was already floating above their mosques," when Isabella in her turn, catching up this grand idea of reclamation, cast her eyes upon the last realm which the infidels were holding, the last in all Spain; and she strongly wished to be the instrument which should complete the great work by the conquest of Granada. Her purpose had never changed. It was in the marriage contract. It appeared in her official conferences with Ferdinand and others. It seemed to be known in the halls of justice, in the reorganization of her forces, in her unyielding aim to bring about more centralized power, in her perfecting the Hermandad, and in subordinating to her authority the Church officials and the great orders of her realm. The purging her provinces from the disaffected and the rebellious was only stripping for the race. Those most hateful and troublesome conflicts for the succession but revealed weak points to be repaired, and showed the want of arms, ammunition, and other supplies to be purchased or created, all and ever with a sole view to the accomplishment of this most holy, most glorious work of her life and that of her husband—the extension of their sway to the Mediterranean, and the transfer of all the territory then under the Crescent to the Holy Cross.

Isabella had not finished the troublesome civil struggle before the new war, like a black cloud, began to darken the southern sky. As we have seen, she had reorganized her court and all that pertained to the civil functions of Castile.

With Ferdinand to help, and certainly in this with more than his wonted zeal, she proceeded to make an army. The habit of the rank and file electing their captains so much prevailed up to this period that these leaders, often, it is true, the bravest and best of the lords, controlled the coming and going of their forces. The whole army was indeed but a fairly well-regulated militia, upon which, as the trial showed, Isabella could not depend in emergencies with any reasonable certainty.

As the idea grew upon her that she and her consort were destined to bring about a "total expulsion of the Mussulman" from the peninsula, she worked effectively to unify and consolidate her authority. She became, in fact, the commander-in-chief. To her artillery, rude as it yet was, she gave much attention, and as far as was possible, little by little, she made herself felt in the cavalry and infantry arms, and it was not long before Ferdinand became in fact, as well as in name, the senior general of her forces, with an army that had some coherence and that she through him could handle at will.

The immediate, ostensible cause of a war with Granada arose from the old king, Muley Aben Hassan, refusing to pay the large annual tribute to which his predecessor had agreed by formal treaty. Irving gives a graphic account of the visit of the haughty. Christian knight, Juan de Vera, to the proud king in his palace at Granada, preferring the demand for the tribute, which Muley Aben Hassan had of late willfully neglected to pay.

"Tell your sovereign," said the fierce old Moor, "that the kings of Granada who used to pay tribute in money to the Castilian crown are dead. Our mint at present coins nothing but blades of cimeters and heads of lances."

This Spanish embassy was sent in 1478; but till the contest with Portugal had been fully concluded, it would have been impossible to enforce by arms the demand which had received so bitter and contemptuous a refusal.

Finally, three years after, the war began (in 1481). Though Isabella had already made abundant preparations for the conquest, and Ferdinand at Medina del Campo had partly revealed his plans to his subordinate commanders when he said, "I will pick up the seeds one by one of these pomegranates" (Granada), it was left to the enterprising Muley Aben Hassan to make the first advance and attack of the war.

The first blow came upon the strongest frontier post along the border, Zahara, situated on the mountain road from Medina Sidonia to Ronda. The strength of the place, like a fort cut in solid rock with perilous approaches, had induced a fatal carelessness on the part of the commander, Hernandez de Saavedra, so that Muley Aben Hassan, with a large force, was able at night to surprise the garrison and put the most of it to the sword. The inhabitants were gathered at the dawn, and without pity marched off to Granada. After repairing all weak points of the works, and giving the place a garrison of Moors, the old king returned to his capital in triumph. This took place just after Christmas in 1481.

It is not difficult to imagine the intense chagrin of Ferdinand and Isabella when the news, with exaggerated horrors, first reached their court at Medina del Campo. It taught them, however, thus early a wholesome lesson, which may be summarized in the common expression, "More than one can play at the game of war." But in this game one can seldom predict the end from the beginning; this very disaster served to unite and inspirit all Spaniards, and begot for them among the Christian nations a wide and deep sympathy. And, strange to say, the potion appeared too strong even for Granada. An old Moorish prophet, on hearing the first tidings, cried in the streets: "Woe! woe to Granada! its hour of desolation approaches. The ruins of Zahara will fall upon our heads! My spirit tells me that the end of our empire is at hand!"

To Muley Aben Hassan's fierce challenge and fiercer action the sovereigns were not slow to respond. They now went into the campaign with all the vigor, energy, and force that they could command. Immediately, before Ferdinand's indignation and disappointment could subside, for he and Isabella had greatly desired to begin the war themselves, the former issued retaliatory instructions. Every Spanish commander along the irregular Moorish frontier was to put himself in readiness, keep a constant vigilance, and expect to rush across the border upon any favorable occasion, in order somehow to compensate quickly the losses already sustained, and procure military advantage by further ravages and slaughter. The first onslaught reached Alhama, a city of the Moors, situated on a mountain road between Granada and Malaga.

The place, with its famous citadel, was naturally capable of the strongest defence. It was renowned for its baths, and had gathered there, as in a safe storehouse, much merchandise; furthermore, it always had a reasonably large garrison of soldiers for its protection.

The Marquis of Cadiz, a typical young noble of that chivalric period, full of ardor and the love of enterprise, was at Marchena when he received the orders of his sovereigns. He promptly sent around to neighboring towns, and soon had gathered a force of some 6000 soldiers, of whom about 3000 were light cavalry. Meanwhile, he had dispatched a trusty and experienced leader, Ortego de Prado, to make a most thorough reconnoissance of the roads and approaches to Alhama. This was completely done. Ortego penetrating the citadel itself, found that the Moors' fancied security in their fastness was so great that even the men of the garrison of the citadel were not exercising the .usual care and vigilance.

The marquis did not wait for Ortega's return. He and the leaders of the expedition, undiscovered, halted their men in a valley near Alhama, and there for the first time the marquis explained to the command what they were to undertake, and seems to have awakened the greatest enthusiasm and universal eagerness on the part of his men to make the desperate assault.

Ortega and his scouts having joined him, his presence as yet unsuspected by the Moors, the marquis hastened to execute his plan. A French writer (the Baron de Nervo) gives the following brief recital: "They arrived at night at the foot of the immense rocks, at the top of which was the citadel. The ladders were at once set up, and thirty men scaled the ramparts, strangled the sentinels, and pushed on into the fort, whose gates they then swung wide open. All the garrison of this fort, caught asleep, were put to the edge of the sword; and, in the morning, when the inhabitants of the city caught sight of the Castilian flag planted upon the ramparts of their fortress, they were paralyzed with terror and astonishment."

The Moors were always fierce warriors, and soon recovered in a measure from their surprise, and attempted a vigorous defence. All—women, old men, and children included—seized arms, and when the Christian soldiers endeavored to enter their streets, already fully barricaded, they found death to meet them "under a shower of stones and projectiles of every sort; they were burned by boiling water, oil, and tar cast upon them from roofs and balconies by the women."

The Castilians, after a hard struggle, were at last (February 28th, 1482) victorious; but the scenes that followed in the path of the victors were replete with horrors. Many of the helpless inhabitants were massacred, and of those that were spared, both men and women were taken and held as the slaves of the haughty conquerors, for this was at that time the favorite custom of cruel war.

The pillage, also, of this rich city was excessive. Lying as it did so far within Muley Aben Hassan's domain, the Spaniards believed that the place must be finally abandoned, so they proceeded to waste and destroy what they could not carry off. They discovered plenty of gold and silver and precious stones; silks, satins, and choice fabrics of divers sorts. There were also in great abundance the usual fruits of that fertile region, tanks of olive oil, grain, and honey.

Perhaps the only palliation for this work of destruction was the finding and setting at liberty of many Christian prisoners, some that had been long in confinement, and some that had been recently penned up in those dreadful dungeons, such as the Moors delighted to keep ready for their captives.

Amid triumphant joy the Marquis of Cadiz, finding a renegade spy, chose a point on the citadel ramparts which was the most conspicuous, and had the man hanged in sight of his army and the Moorish captives.

Very soon, however, thinking of the retaliation that must ensue as soon as the old King of Granada heard the unwelcome news of his daring seizure of Alhama, the marquis turned his attention to his defences. All breaches were repaired, and the fort was properly garrisoned against any possible attack or siege. After the heavy losses incurred in the capture of Alhama, the brave marquis had remaining not to exceed 5000 men, with whom to maintain himself in the enemy's country. He was not kept long in suspense. Muley Aben Hassan, without waiting an instant, at the first breath of the disaster, dispatched r000 light cavalry as an advance. These, however, met such a warm reception from the Spaniards outside of the gates of Alhama, that they rode with precipitation back to the capital, and spread the alarm, "Alhama is fallen! Alhama is fallen!"

It may well be believed there was terror, widespread and not easily curbed or controlled; for the fulfillment of the old Moorish prophet's prediction was indeed already at hand. The fierce old king, however, wasted no time in indulging in useless sentiment or in replies to the frightened. He took with him an army 50,000 strong, but unwisely, in his impulsive haste, without artillery. He had but little of that arm, and was too impatient to delay for the slow moving of heavy guns.

He came upon Alhama so quickly as to stop and turn back, in much disappointment, a re-enforcement of the Andalusians, under Don Alonzo de Aguilar, who had just then approached within a few leagues. He chased Don Alonzo till he was rid of his presence and annoyance, and then with indescribable fury and persistence assailed the city of Alhama. After his assaults, which at each renewal proved vain against his well-prepared and vigilant foe, he resorted at last to every kind of strategic contrivance.

There was but one spring or well of water inside the walls, and this gave an insufficient supply. The people were necessitated to go to the river, which was beyond the city limits, for their daily needs. They effected this without difficulty by an underground passage. Muley Aben Hassan discovered this gallery, and so obstructed it that it was said that "hereafter each drop of water cost a drop of blood."

With the water supply so cut off and provisions failing a famine set in, when even the brave Marquis of Cadiz began to fear that he might be forced to give up his brilliant prize, thus losing the city which had been taken at so much peril. But there came a relief that he had not dreamed of. The wife of the marquis seemed instinctively to have apprehended the imminent straits of her husband, and, strange to say, appealed to one who was powerful enough, but who had long been (and most probably still was) an avowed personal enemy of that husband and all his belongings. It was Don Juan de Guzman, the Duke of Medina Sidonia.

But the woman's tender and strong appeal found in his heart a ready response. Instantly all the past was either forgotten or forgiven, and the relief of the gallant little besieged army was assured to the faithful Marchioness on the spot. The duke drew his warriors from all parts of Andalusia. He assembled his forces at Seville in an incredibly short time, and he soon more than matched the Moorish host in numbers, gathering 5000 horse and 50,000 foot.

Ferdinand, from Medina del Campo, rode night and day to overtake this army and take command; but the enterprising Guzman was too rapid for him. He was indeed beyond the border, far on the way, when the king's desire was made known to him. He sent a message to the effect that it was impossible to stand still, and that the danger of destruction to the besieged was too imminent to admit of an hour's delay. So for a time the disappointed Ferdinand remained behind.

The rapid approach of this great army left no choice to the Moor. With sullen anger, after one more bold attempt wherein he lost seventy of his bravest warriors, the old king retired to Granada. It had been a siege of three short weeks, which had proved to be to his cause worse than useless, and fraught at every step with most cruel losses.

The duke and the marquis, at their first meeting, embraced each other like brothers coming together after alienation and separation, and they soon put Alhama to rights.

They garrisoned the place with the queen's favorite Hermandad, and put a trusty commander, Diego Merlo, in charge; and then marched homeward across the mountains to receive the plaudits of their anxious and waiting friends. Thus spasmodically the Castilians and the Moors made war in those times. To-day an army of 50,000; to morrow the scattered inhabitants of towns and villages, telling tales of their heroes' prowess, and perchance too of their own.

Isabella, at Medina del Campo, as soon as the good news of the taking of Alhama arrived, went, as she was wont, to the Church of St. James, and, having the Te Deum sung, returned thanks to God for this initiatory victory.

Then she followed her husband to Andalusia. They met at Seville; and here came the leaders of the late expedition to receive from her the most marked approval for their enterprise.

But, as one might anticipate, Muley Aben Hassan did not leave them much time for glorification. Understanding the smallness of the force left at Alhama, he returned, this time dragging along his siege artillery with him, and with his usual energy invested the city.

This news without delay came to the court at Seville. What was to be done? A council was hastily assembled, and after considerable deliberation, as councils of war are apt to do, decided "that it was more prudent, considering the forces and position of the Moorish king, to destroy and abandon Alhama." As soon as Isabella heard of the unwelcome decision, her strong character at once became manifest. "No! no!" she. said; "Alhama must not be given up!"

She demonstrated in a few words the absolute necessity of completing the victory; the honor that would result to their arms, to the future plans, and to Castile by promptly succoring the little garrison and its brave commander.

The effect of the young queen's spirit and language was then, as always, electric. The brave among the cavaliers, including Ferdinand, who desired to command an active army, were soon ardent for an immediate return to Alhama.

Moorish War

"Then mounte, then mounte, brave gallants all,

And don your helmes amaine;

Deathe's couriers, Fame and Honour,

call Us to the field againe."


Isabella's Energy—Ferdinand Relieves Alhama—She Introduces Religious Observance—The Mosques Become Churches—The Forays—Ferdinand's Siege of Loja—His Sad Discomfiture—Isabella's Fortitude and Comforting—Dissensions of the Moorish Royal Household—More Spanish Raids—Muley Aben Hassan's Successful Foray into Medina Sidonia—The Spanish Campaign at Azarquia—The Terrible Defeat—Isabella's Chagrin—Her Daughter Maria's Birth—Her Fine Generalship.

The resolute queen, who had such power, not only to show strength of character under discouraging circumstances, but to inspire with something of her own fortitude those who yielded to indecision, now began to exhibit those other qualities which were essential to the sovereign.

Ferdinand was at times over-prudent, losing his opportunities; then he became, under the impulse of his personal ambition, too ardent and rash, too often setting out with insufficient force and inadequate preparation.

Providentially his queen saw clearly and steadily what was needed, and did what was a little mortifying, yet a wholesome discipline to the husband: she supplemented his deficiencies.

At this juncture of events, pending the return to the front and the relief of Alhama, she labored night and day, much as a great quartermaster or commissary of modern times would do, to have all the necessary food collected and in hand and the transportation ready. She reviewed the soldiers, and spoke to them in groups. "We confide to you," she said with patriotic fervor—"we confide to you the honor of that flag which was planted by you upon the great tower of Alhama."

Indeed, she was half inclined to go with them, as they were fired with patriotic zeal and marched off gayly to the dangers of a new campaign; but an approaching accouchement rendered this impossible.

The object of this advance, pushed rapidly and finished without bloodshed, was speedily gained. On Ferdinand's approach with an army larger than his own, Muley Aben Hassan raised the siege, and withdrew from Alhama.

One writer says: "Ferdinand made his entrance into the city of Alhama, May 14th, 1482, like a triumphant conqueror. He was clothed in his finest royal dress, and escorted by all the nobility and prelates who had followed his march."

The mosques of the city were immediately converted into Christian churches. The costly ornaments which Isabella had sent for these churches were put in them, and the very first mass which was held in one (denominated the Cathedral) was celebrated by the great Cardinal of Spain.

Thus was demonstrated to the inhabitants what was the veritable object of the conquest—viz., "the triumph of the Christian faith." Subsequent to these exhibitions of religion there were many depredations and much foraging on the part of Ferdinand's army, in the interval between his visit to the garrison at Alhama and his entrance upon the other objects of this campaign of 1482—viz., to capture new cities. Forays like these were made again and again, and they were quite as annoying and destructive to the enemy as the taking of fortified towns. They, however, secured at this period no permanent results.

But it was not long—about July 1st, 1482 before Ferdinand brought together his forces, .loon light cavalry and 12,000 footmen, in the vicinity of Loja (Loxa), a strongly fortified town about twenty-five miles north of Alhama, and on the road from Granada to Cordova.

The river Genii (Xenil) half encircled the city on the southern approaches, and had then but one practicable ford and one bridge.

The aged Moor, Ali Atar, Muley Aben Hassan's best lieutenant, was in command, having some 3000 men, with abundance of light cavalry for sorties, which the rugged old warrior could so well handle. We will not delay to describe Ferdinand's abortive attempts at a partial siege. He located his troops badly at first; then he undertook to mend matters by attempting to gain, hold, and fortify an important elevation, called the Heights of Albohacen. Here the old warrior out-generalled him by the ruse  of a false retreat and an ambush.

Again Ferdinand sought relief by what was meant to be a moving of part of his force for position. The other troops, many of them very poorly supplied with food, mistook the rearward movement for a retreat, and so broke up and scattered toward the Spanish frontier. There was much hard fighting of the cavaliers; the king was more than once saved by the gallantry of the Marquis of Cadiz and other fearless leaders. Yet the main affair was much like the first battle of Frederick the Great in Silesia, and ended like the first Bull Run in the American Rebellion. Only a semblance of an army appeared at Ecija, the place for gathering the scattered forces, situated about half way between Seville and Cordova.

In this mortifying extremity Ferdinand displayed the cool and resolute conduct necessary to save his force from utter destruction.

He escaped just in time, for old Muley Aben Hassan was already on the road with abundant help for Ali Atar, when the king was beating back the latter, securing his retreat and regathering his stragglers.

At Ecija he made a more effective stand, then put an officer of rank into the field command, and retired with a small escort to meet his saddened queen at Cordova.

Nobody can measure Isabella's depression and chagrin at this defeat, taken as it was in connection with the illness already upon her. Like all those disguised blessings against which the first impulse of the heart is to rebel, from them, as Prescott says, "she received a salutary lesson." "It showed the importance of more extensive preparations for war, which must of necessity be a war of posts, and it taught the nation to entertain greater respect for an enemy who, whatever might be his natural strength, must become formidable when armed with the energy of despair."

Perhaps a more important lesson, which aroused her strong emotions and which the queen began to perceive, was that her husband was not a great general, and that, if she would guard her soldiers, her cause, and her country, dearer to her personally than life itself, she must hereafter rely more upon herself, she must garner in more power and exercise it without stint till the end of the war.

So, with incredible activity and energy, like all great souls after defeat, she at once set herself to reorganize the broken and scattered fragments of her army, to bring new forces to the front, which were better prepared for an advance into an enemy's country, and better equipped for carrying on to completion the conquest which she firmly believed to be a work almost Divine. And, indeed, there soon came tidings from the city of Granada which deepened her conviction of the holiness of her task; it was of that dissension in the royal family of the old king which grew out of his polygamous life, when a repudiated wife and her son turned upon him and repelled his neglects and cruelty with interest.

Here was coming help of the right sort; for did Isabella not know from her previous life, as well as from the teaching of her Church, that a house divided against itself cannot stand? After Muley Aben Hassan's double defeat at Alhama and return to his capital, there was great murmuring among the people. When a tyrant is on the upward wave of his successes he is not wanting in friends; when the reflux of misfortune comes, the fair-weather. friends are all found wanting. This aged monarch, whose rule hitherto had been in fierceness and bloodshed, began to experience during this period the effect of secret plottings against his throne. Among his many wives, the historians tell us, he had two whom he really loved, though in succession. The eldest, Ayxa, called by the Moors La Hora, because of her chastity, had a son, who, it was conceded, was the true heir to the throne. The name given him at his birth was Mahomet Abdalla, but his sobriquet, Boabdil, has become his historic appellation.

An unfortunate prediction of some of the seers of Granada concerning this child, to the effect that the kingdom would expire during his reign, appears to have turned his father and many others against him, and to have so far biased his own mind as to create discouragement and self distrust But the mother, who loved him, made up for his father's dislike, and tried her best to inspire him with noble sentiments At last, finding that a younger wife not only possessed her husband's affection, but was planning to displace Boabdil as the prince of succession, Ayxa hatched a strong conspiracy against Muley Aben Hassan himself, which the fierce old king quickly surmised. This plot his younger queen, Fatima, who was of Christian origin and very beautiful, and who had two sons to promote, more thoroughly unveiled.

At once Muley Aben Hassan displaced the chaste Ayxa and imprisoned her and also the son, Boabdil, in a part of the Alhambra. The tower where they were confined is still pointed out to visitors. It was there that the unbelieving old father, when some one spoke of the prediction of Granada's fall, had said: "The sword of the executioner shall prove the falsehood of these lying horoscopes.

But Ayxa had friends. She heard of the king's resolve to put her son to death, and, in concert with some faithful women, managed at midnight to let him down from a tower window by "shawls and scarfs tied together."

A horse was waiting at the foot of the outside slope; upon this the young prince succeeded in making his escape to Guadix, a strong city in the mountains of Alpujarras. There for a time he was in hiding. After enough enemies of the old king had gathered around Boabdil, he began to make a more formidable opposition. A little later, taking advantage of his father's temporary absence from the city of Granada, Boabdil and his adherents seized the capital and the Alhambra, and, having formally dethroned his father, caused himself to be proclaimed king. Muley Aben Hassan, on returning, found the gates closed against him and another commanding the guards and forces of the city.

The baffled monarch in deep chagrin turned away, but finding the city of Baza still loyal to him, he hastened to that city, where he was well received. He was soon aware that he could control nearly all of his domain outside of the capital, so that in time he gathered enough armed men to meet Boabdil and fight for the recovery of the throne. He came suddenly upon Granada in a night attack, and succeeded in reaching the lower part of it. He slew the inhabitants without pity, and for a time it seemed as if he would recover his Alhambra; but this time Boabdil and his followers, after a determined struggle, drove out the terrible old warrior, who, leaving the streets bathed in the blood of his own people, fled to Malaga, which was still subservient to his cause. Washington Irving, in his "Conquest of Granada," referring to this civil strife, thus sums up these events:

"Such was the commencement of those great international feuds and divisions which hastened the downfall of Granada. The Moors became separated into two hostile factions, headed by the father and the son, and several bloody encounters took place between them; yet they never failed to act with all their separate force against the Christians, as a common enemy, whenever an opportunity occurred."

It is not an easy task to fix with certainty upon the exact time of the different expeditions. But it appears that, while the quarrels of the Moorish royal family were absorbing their attention, King Ferdinand himself, later than the unfortunate siege of Loja, made a brief raid, like those of the cavalry in the American Rebellion. He penetrated into the richest parts of the great Vega, drove off cattle and horses, and carried back to Cordova abundance of other supplies, which aided him to keep a semblance of an army together through the ensuing winter.

But the restless Muley Aben Hassan had hardly reached Malaga, in the early spring of 1483, when he realized that something must be done, if he would maintain his authority against foes from without and within his much-troubled domain. He then gathered a considerable force (1500 horse and 6000 foot), and marched eastward till he had gained the province of Medina Sidonia. He took up a central defensive position on the banks of the Celemin, and then spread his foraging parties under escorts and guards in every direction. His systematic foraging exceeded that of King Ferdinand in the Vega.

He turned back after a few days rather overburdened with flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and droves of horses; but he did not get away without serious interruption and loss. As he passed the small town of Castellar, the Governor of Gibraltar, Pedro de Vargas, who had been waiting his chance all the time, with 70 horsemen dashed upon his columns, defeated a part of his command, and rescued 5000 cattle. Still the old king went back to Malaga with such abundance that he received all the éclat  of a conqueror.

There seemed so little substantial success on the part of the Spaniards during this season, that the queen's heart was again wrung with disappointment; and now, while the sovereigns were getting ready for a stronger effort in the prosecution of the great war, they consented to another, a sort of preliminary foray. At Antiquera, early in 1483, a council was held; here we find the governor of the province, Don Pedro Henriques; the Marquis of Cadiz; Don Juan de Silva, who bore the king's standard, and who was the commander at that time of Seville; Alonzo de Aguilar, and Alonzo de Cordova, then Grand Master of Santiago.

These, as we have seen, were enterprising cavaliers. They considered various projects for doing something brilliant and effective. At last they determined to follow the advice of some scouts, who, as it proved, were either themselves deceived or were disloyal at heart. They planned to make a rush for the little, fertile valley of Azarquia, which stretches from the vicinity of the mountains near Antiquera almost to the Mediterranean west of Malaga. The purposed expedition was to descend by the defiles of the mountains, conquer the smaller places, gather in the herds and other booty, pass beyond Malaga, and if perchance Malaga could not be taken, come back to Spanish territory by the shores of the great sea.

This army probably did not exceed 12,000, though it embraced all the great leaders who had been in the council of war at Antiquera. It was a most showy body of men, and attracted great attention as it left Antiquera.

Wealthy merchants in large numbers, with pack-mules in droves, followed the columns. We need not undertake a detailed account; the outcome was plain. The neighborhood of the valley was reached, but the news had preceded the march. The hamlets and villages were already deserted; flocks and herds had disappeared; and El Zagal, the younger brother of Muley Aben Hassan, a prince accustomed to arms, was ready with sufficient force in the mountains to waylay the raiders at the right places. Suffice it to say, that this expedition of the confident Spaniards through the country of Malaga ended more disastrously than any other during the long war. The words of De Nervo summarize the final situation "Vainly they tried to resist" (the peasants rolling stones upon them in the narrow passes)—" it was a thing impossible."

The Christian soldiers, disbanded, without leaders, were forced to obey only that sad cry: "Sala,e qui peut!" "They spread themselves over all that rough country, ruined by the separation, and only found in detail death under all its most terrible forms."

A few, however, escaped as by miracle, and among them the gallant Marquis of Cadiz, also Aguilar and the Grand Master of Santiago. The other leaders who had been part of the council of war were taken prisoners and led by El Zagal, amid the great rejoicing of the Moors of Malaga, to their places of confinement. The spot where most of the Spaniards fell is still called "The Hill of the Massacre."

Nearly every family of Andalusia, from peasant to cavalier, was represented in that massacre and in the ensuing retreat; and, in truth, there was hardly a household in that part of Spain that was not in mourning.

Probably Isabella had never been more deeply pained and depressed in her life than when one of the best of her knights, Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, at last appeared at her court of Cordova, covered with dirt and blood, pale and haggard, to make his sad report. There is little said in the chronicles of one very important event—other more absorbing things occurring in this sad year—but Isabella's fourth child, Donna Maria, was born (1483) at Cordova during that darkest period of the Moorish War. It was then that Isabella's husband, baffled, defeated, the great part of his army, lately so fine, being scattered to the four winds, discouraged and crestfallen, came to her bedside. Yet he found there extraordinary fortitude, the same old encouragement, the same unswerving faith in a final victory.

A few months later she had garnered up her little strength, though still weak from her late confinement, to prepare a new force to leave Cordova.

She had materially aided in getting supplies and funds, and had sent forth her bravest and best cavaliers, who had formed the council at Antiquera, only to be broken in pieces and to be overwhelmed in the mountains of Malaga—a terrible destruction really effected by the Moorish peasants, who had caught the well-armed soldiers in narrow passes and difficult defiles.

At the last a few had come back covered with blood and shame, with brothers and comrades of high and low degree slain or prisoners in horrid dungeons! These were things almost too hard to be borne. She, the queen, with her little ones around her, suffered with her soldiers; yet she braced up her heart, gave words of hope and strength, and, still believing that the Lord would eventually give her the victory, began at once to make new preparations on a larger scale. When in the outset she accepted the challenge of old Muley Aben Hassan and went to war, she knew that final and complete success would cost much suffering, treasure, and the lives of many whom she loved.

Her heart bled, but her resolve was unyielding. Isabella was a woman, but she was also a great general.

The Moorish War Continued

"Shamed be the hands that idly fold,

And lips that woo the reed's accord,

When laggard Time the hour has tolled

For true with false and new with old

To fight the battles of the Lord!"


Boabdil's Enterprise (April 21, 1483) and Defeat—His Imprisonment and Restoration—The Army Reviewed and Refitted—The Queen's Labors—An Innovation—"The Queen's Hospital"—The Count of Cabra's Reward —Plan to Seize the Coast and Sea—Siege of Velez-Malaga—El Zagal's Attack and Defeat—Velez-Malaga Taken—Isabella's Devout Joy.

That remarkable defeat in the mountains of Malaga had its likeness in the great Braddock discomfiture which preceded the American Revolution; and doubtless the procuring cause was the same—namely, the undervaluation of the enemy when that enemy was defending his own well-known passes, defiles, and fastnesses.

But this great victory for Muley Aben Hassan, turning the fickle populace of the country more and more to his standard, made it evident to Boabdil and his mother that the young king must do something in the war to exhibit his own prowess, or he would gradually be stripped of his possessions and power, and before long lose his crown.

With 9000 foot and some 700 horse, accompanied by his brave old father-in-law, Ali Atar, who but lately had successfully defended Loja against King Ferdinand, Boabdil led the way by forced marches through the Vega past Loja, aiming directly for Lucena. As soon as he had crossed the border he ravaged the country as much as his rapid march would permit, gathering in horses, cattle, flocks, and grain.

Old Ali Atar was familiar with this kind of work, for he had long subsisted upon Spanish products that his robber-like forays brought hack, and the vicinage of Lucena was called his garden spot. Boabdil hoped at this time to surprise his foes; but lie had some wide-awake cavaliers to deal with. Don Diego Fernandez de Cordova, in command at Lucena, having received early the news that the Moors were coming toward him in great force, at once took the usual means, by signal fires, to inform the neighboring towns and villages of his imminent danger. The Count of Cabra was at Baena when he heard the call of Diego. With incredible swiftness the quotas were gathered in and put on the march, picking up accessions as they approached Lucena. It is said that in his haste the count forgot his ordinary standard, so that at Cabra, finding an old, unused flag with the figure of a goat pictured upon it—the former insignia of that town—he had that unfurled at the head of his column. When all the volunteers had assembled the force was very small—not more than one third that of his foes.

Boabdil had reached Lucena April 21st (1483), made several bold attempts to break into the city; but Diego had with great gallantry and energy managed with his small garrison to make a good defence; so that Boabdil, for the sake of a better camp and to continue the foraging in which his soldiers delighted, drew off a few miles into the country. The Count of Cabra, full of ardor, at once determined to seek the Moors and give battle. Diego and others called his attention to the smallness of his force, and told him that reinforcements would join him in a few hours from Montilla and other towns; but the count was determined to fight at once. He feared that a great prize would escape him. Following his scouts, he ascended a hill, and then saw the hosts of Boabdil. They seemed to be sitting on the ground and feasting upon their supplies, which were newly gathered, the rich fruits of that fertile land. Their light cavalry, the flower of the chivalry of Granada, was so grouped as to guard well the bivouac. The Count of Cabra descended upon them like a whirlwind.

Surprised and loaded with the abundance of their booty, the Moorish infantry instantly took to flight, running toward their own border; but the cavalry of Boabdil, numerous enough under ordinary circumstances to have defeated the few squadrons of Cabra, were kept together and held in the position of a rear guard. They stood bravely and fought with their wonted fury till, at the Genii River, old Ali Atar, their indomitable leader, was slain. The difficulty of crossing the swollen river would have been great at this time if there had been no enemy near. Now it was fatal to the Moors. The confusion was extreme; large numbers of the fugitives perished in the deep swift waters; many became almost defenceless in their haste, and were slaughtered along the banks. Boabdil, conspicuous from his mount, had himself fought hard among the bravest. Being forced to a point where he was unable to effect a crossing, he at last dismounted and hid in some thick reeds near at hand. But he could not escape, and was shortly after this discovered and forced to surrender. He was treated with remarkable courtesy by the Count of Cabra, and conducted to his own castle at Baena, and, except for his restraint, was there given all the royal rites of hospitality and kindness.

The appalling news, as is always the case with evil tidings, went with lightning speed to Loja and to Granada. The sorrow and desolation that had visited Andalusia after the affairs of Ferdinand's failure and the massacre of the hill," near the valley of Azarquia, were far exceeded now throughout the land of the Moors.

Their internal divisions and the predictions of their old seer caused a cloud of thick darkness to hang over them. But the unyielding Ayxa, the mother of Boabdil, never would despair. She sent an embassy, offering a large ransom, to the Spanish court, which was then sojourning at Cordova. Boabdil was removed from Baena to Cordova; and as soon as Isabella returned from a brief absence, under her authority the unfortunate young king was kindly admitted to the audience chamber and courteously received by the sovereigns.

Hostility—savagery, in fact, and ultra-fanaticism seemed for a time to take possession of the majority of the counsellors of the court. "Grant the heathen no terms! Compromise not with the enemies of the Lord!" this was the burden of their cry. But Isabella would not listen an instant to such counsel. She could not think of keeping him a prisoner. Were not the internecine troubles of the Moors, without the expenditure of money, toil, and blood, so many advantages gained? So Isabella thought and spoke, and congratu lated Ferdinand and herself upon the fact that they could at this time show generosity without neglect of duty, and extend it to a humbled foe of royal blood.

Ferdinand saw to it that the terms were sufficiently exacting. They were, however, not far in excess of what the sultana had proposed. Boabdil was granted a truce for two years. He was to return to Granada to hold his crown as vassal to Castile, and, among other items of easier performance, to secure the free passage of Ferdinand's troops which should be sent against any refractory Moorish posts that did not recognize his rule. Four hundred Christian captives were to be liberated and 812,000 in Spanish gold transferred to Isabella's treasury. His own son and others were agreed upon to come and be held as hostages.

Upon these terms the sovereigns sent Boabdil in much state back to Granada. When the unfortunate young monarch was believed to have fallen beside Ali Atar the whole Moorish people were his friends. They called up his father's crimes and cruelty, and loudly lamented his untimely death; but the tide of popularity quickly turned against him when it became known that he surrendered; and now that he had made terms with his enemy, which would soon ruin his country, there were at least but few Moors who did not condemn him.

There were, however, a few stanch followers to unfurl his standard, and more still were bought up by the energetic Ayxa. Mothers seldom desert their sons—almost never in time of trouble. But it was not long after Boabdil's return and occupancy of the Alcazaba before his old father, who had gained and steadily held the Alhambra, caused such dreadful terror and bloodshed that Boabdil, for the sake of peace, agreed to depart from the capital and go to the city of Almeria, which was still fully loyal to his cause. Ayxa went with him, but berated him for his want of spirit in giving up for any cause whatever the capital of his nation. During the home troubles of the Moors, while they were quarrelling and depleting each other's strength, and while Ferdinand was often greatly absorbed with other neighbors, Isabella pushed on the war with all the energy she could command. There were yet in 1483 far more fortified cities untaken than can be found to-day in all the peninsula. Those repeated raids, which indeed destroyed much property and interrupted agriculture, were only light wounds. The strong cities must be taken one by one and held. Isabella, through her active and effective chief of staff, Don Francisco Ramirez, a man of energy and rare attainments, reviewed her entire army. Her artillery especially was enlarged and refitted. It was still clumsy enough and hard to transport, but it was needed to hatter down the thick walls. Isabella not only secured the funds and a large supply of arms, ammunition, and provisions, but we find her at the right moment even devoting her mind to practical engineering. When this department took form she was its head.

After cannon had been obtained, many of them from abroad, and cannon-balls manufactured, and abundance of powder put in depots, then the problem was how to get these things over the roads, rough, muddy, and flooded as they were, to the places where they would become of use. Better roads were constructed or the old repaired; hills were cut through, canons fined up with trees and rocks, and bridges stretched across frightful abysses. In all these preparations—in fact, in everything pertaining to the vigorous prosecution of this war, except the actual fighting, the queen bore an extraordinary part. She placed her court at all times just as near the scene of activity as possible, moving from place to place as the army was obliged to shift its positions. A regular line of couriers, like the pony express across the Rocky Mountains, kept her from hour to hour informed of what was passing at the front. From the sub-depots near her issued from time to time wagons heavily loaded and placed under convoys whose strength the queen herself prescribed. Again and again, where she believed that her presence would be beneficial, she would suddenly appear in camp with her cheery exhortation and help. There was one marked innovation that she introduced during the year 1489. A number of large tents called the "Queen's Hospitals" were there after present with her columns of troops and ready for battles. They were supplied with medicines and attendants and furniture, so that the wounded might not wait for proper attention and care. It is said that Isabella knew how to give lavishly and particularly to reward valor. For example, she gave to the Marquis of Cadiz, who surprised and seized Zahara, the titles of Marquis of Zahara and Duke of Cadiz, and also the substantial present of the city itself. It is also recorded that Isabella's court was temporarily at Vitoria when the battle of Lucena took place. After his capture of Boabdil the Count of Cabra went to Vitoria to pay his devoirs. The nobility and clergy marched out to receive him, and as he took his place at the right hand of the Cardinal of Spain, Isabella came forward to greet him, and seated him beside her at table, remarking that "The conquerors of kings should sit with kings."

Thus with womanly tact and resourcefulness and more than manly vigor was the war pressed forward from 1483-87, with its varying fortunes. There was not a month passed in which some important siege was not progressing. One city after another the Spaniards thus brought into subjection—Ronda, Zagra, Banos, Moclin, called the "shield of Granada," and Llora, named "Granada's right eye."

The sovereigns had indeed picked up the pomegranates of the Moors, having by (lint of the changing fortunes of war advanced their lines over fifty miles southward, eastward, and westward. They had carefully put into citadels and garrisons their own soldiers, and encouraged Christian colonies and settlements, so that the Spanish avenues to the great capital were now very little obstructed by hostile populations. The queen urged upon Ferdinand and her countrymen one more great effort—the seizure and control of those channels which enabled the Mussulmen of Africa to strengthen and reinforce their brethren in Spain. To take Malaga and Velez-Malaga and reorganize her fleet upon the Mediterranean seemed to Isabella to be the final move upon the chessboard of operations.

Nervo says: "In 1487 Isabella, after having obtained the Pope's sanction to use certain revenues—ecclesiastique—of Castile and Aragon, in person opened up the campaign." It was on April 7th, 1487, when at Cordova, Isabella, having buckled on his sword, bade adieu to her Ferdinand for this campaign. With his army fairly well equipped, he appeared before Velez-Malaga on the 17th of the same month. Situated between Granada and Malaga, it was deemed wise to subdue that smaller place before attempting to assail or besiege Malaga itself.

When the beautiful valley which contains the little city burst upon Ferdinand and his army, they were filled with great joy and hopes of a speedy triumph. The city, strongly walled and fortified, was in the upper part of the valley—in fact, on the mountain slope. Far above it, on the mountain crest, was the famous village and citadel of Bentomiz. Ferdinand took position and made a fortified camp for his army along the slope above Velez-Malaga, but below Bentomiz. He held the narrow defiles and mountain paths leading to the city, but he would be in peril should any force more than the strong Moorish garrison now there seize the crest of the mountain. He had to wait some days for his lum bering artillery, drawn by oxen. The valley roads could not be worse, and the guns and other siege apparatus, much scattered, were making not more than three or four miles a day.

Just at this awkward juncture old El Zagal, who since Muley Aben Hassan's retirement and death had divided the kingdom with Boabdil, emerged from Granada with an army of 20,000 men. Ferdinand had scarcely heard of his setting out when the host appeared and covered the heights of Bentomiz. It now seemed to the furious old warrior an easy thing to pounce upon the Spaniards and crush them. But he first endeavored to destroy the slow-moving and divided sections of artillery. In every effort, however, in this direction he was anticipated and foiled.

At last El Zagal sent a "Christian spy" into Velez-Malaga to carry a message to his faithful commander there: "Make a sortie against the Christians! Give me the night signal of it, and while they are fighting you, we will rush upon their flank and rear, dislodge and destroy them." But the shrewd old warrior in vain watched for the appointed signal. At last, in impatience and fury, he made a move for attack; but Ferdinand's men were lying in wait. A prolonged, fitful battle worried out the night. At dawn one of Ferdinand's cavaliers, a little more enterprising than the rest, seized an important height, and drove the Moslems down the steeps. In the dimness of the morning light El Zagal's other men thought that all was lost, and his army was taken with one of those unaccountable, unmanageable panics which come in somewhere in every war. The old man was shamefully deserted. He scarcely saved his own life by flight, and all Granada was filled with terror by the scattered fugitives from this field of battle. The people of the city' arose, and expelling El Zagal, re-established the unlucky Boabdil, that he might enjoy for a few short days the uncertain fruits of such a public act of the changeable populace.

The brave Rodovan de Vanegas, holding Velez-Malaga, would not surrender, even when he knew of El Zagal's disastrous affair. "Your artillery," he answered to the repeated summons, "can never get here; the mud is too deep and the roads too bad." But by much labor the artillery began to arrive. No help could reach him now, and the brave soldier yielded to the entreaties of the inhabitants to seek a lenient surrender. For once the Spanish king gave liberal terms. The 120 Christians taken from the prison were hurried off to Cordova. Isabella, as usual, received them with great tenderness at the old mosque cathedral. As she had heard of El Zagal's sudden move, she trembled with anxiety lest the "hill massacre," that had befallen her choicest knights in those very Malaga mountains, was about to be repeated. She had quickly brought out the reserves of Andalusia, old men and boys, and organized a strong reinforcement. This was already setting forth from the gates of Cordova when the good tidings came. And, indeed, it seemed to her more than ever before a victory straight from Heaven.

She and the women of her court were more fervently and devoutly than ever hymning and chanting praises to Him who sitteth upon the throne of the heavens. The incoming, released captives added to the joy and to the fervor of their devout recitations.

Fall of Malaga

"I have been thinking of the victims bound,

. . . . dying for the lack of air

And sunshine, in their close, damp cells of pain,

Where hope is not, and innocence in vain

Appeals against the torture and the chain!"


Isabella praying


The Moorish War Continued—Army Fleet at Malaga—Hamet El Zegri Defended Malaga, Besieged—Isabella with Her Court at the Camp—The Old Moorish Seer Reinforcing—He Attempts To Assassinate the King and Queen—The Capitulation—Ferdinand's Severity—The Christian Captives—The Mosques Dedicated—The prisoners badly treated—The Return of the Court to Andalusia—Family Life at Cordova.

All the smaller places, villages, hamlets and redoubts along the routes to Malaga, perhaps twenty in number, hastened to capitulate and receive the same privileges as Velez-Malaga. The main road from Velez-Malaga tan westward through an exceedingly fertile valley, an expanse in places of considerable breadth.

Ferdinand's army, after but a short rest, pushed on to the vicinity of the larger city. His forces had been at this time some 40,000 strong, besides the fleet, which already had possession of the port.

This naval squadron, with its armed vessels and its accompanying transports, made of it itself a formidable show to the anxious inhabitants of the city.

Ferdinand, before reaching the suburbs and making junction with his seamen, encountered two main obstacles where the valley narrows and seemingly ascends toward the great town. On his left was the strong fort or citadel, Gibralfaro, situated upon a high bluff; it is between the east end of the city and the sea, and commands all approaches from the east; the other, on the opposite side, was the rugged hill, jagged with sharp rocks and steep—a sort of foothill to the mountains that stretch along the north flank of Malaga.

These the terrible Hamet el Zegri, with his battalions, had occupied in force. The Moor burned all the houses in the suburbs that could afford shelter to his enemy's forces, and met the first assaults of the Spaniards with great vigor. After a hard struggle, with great losses on both sides, the foothill and every other point outside the thick walls of the city except the castle of Gibralfaro were taken. Into this stronghold Hamet el Zegri drew his shattered battalions. This castle. he made the headquarters of his operations. The Spaniards were not long in completely investing the city. The story of the siege of Malaga need not be repeated. It is told by many authors, with all its remarkable incidents. Gradually the forces of the king grew in numbers till finally there were between 60,000 and 70,000 men, "while," says Irving, "a fleet of vessels, freighted with heavy artillery and warlike munitions, kept pace with it at a short distance from the land, covering the sea with a thousand gleaming sails."

Ferdinand had again and again offered favorable terms to the city; but Hamet el Zegri overbore every faint heart, and made such short work with those who counselled prudence or pointed out the uselessness of resistance, that before long no man dared speak his mind. In fact, the citizens of Malaga, with few exceptions, became soldiers, and tried to outdo Hamet's fierce Gomeses in their loyal support.

Indeed, the old warrior himself was sustained by many promises and rumors, which at last proved themselves without foundation. He expected help from El Zagal. Many supplies, designed to come to the besieger by water, had been long delayed; the plague was reported as already breaking out in the neighboring villages; and it was told him that Isabella, hearing the rumor, by her letters had pleaded with her husband to return at once to Cordova.

We recall the previous preparations of the queen to join the army at Velez-Malaga. Just as soon as she was made aware of this obstinate defence and the cause of it, she set out with the ladies of her court, the Cardinal of Spain, and other high officials of the Church and the realm. The Marquis of Cadiz and the Master of Santiago received the queen and her cortege at a short distance from the camp, and escorted her to her beautiful pavilion, already prepared.

The soldiers, who always loved her appearing, standing in groups, watched the novel procession, and filled the region with their loud and joyous greetings. Isabella's arrival infused new life into all the operations of the siege. She begged that new offers for capitulation might now be made. El Zegri, though he felt the change; though he received appeals from the people, who began to suffer from hunger; though he was told that the court of Spain had come to stay, still fiercely answered "No."

His hopes from El Zagal were, however, soon rudely crushed. The old king did set out again from the country beyond Granada with a reasonable body of relief; but this time Boabdil intercepted, and defeated all the reinforcing column, and sent the news of it, with presents and congratulations, to the sovereigns, giving them a renewal of his pledges of allegiance.

From Guadix came 400 more devoted men, with a singular old Moorish seer at their head; by a rush and half surprise, and after a bloody combat, about two hundred succeeded in getting into the city. The old seer was found near the camp; but he was spared on account of the singular sanctity of his manner and appearance. He told the Marquis of Cadiz that he had an important message that he had vowed to deliver to the sovereigns. The marquis brought him to the court. Ferdinand was taking an afternoon siesta, so Isabella put off the interview sought for till he should awaken. Meanwhile, the marquis took the seer to another tent. Here Donna Beatriz, Isabella's early friend, and Don Alvaro, a young Portuguese knight, were sitting conversing. The saintly old Moor mistook them for the king and queen. Seizing his hidden cimeter, as he broke from his guard, he struck down Don Alvaro at one blow and aimed another at Beatriz. Fortunately for her the raised cimeter was caught by some tent hangings and then again by an ornament in her hair, and so did little harm. The old fanatic was instantly caught and slain by the guard and others close at hand, and immediately thereafter his body was shot from a catapult into the beleaguered town.

After this alarming experience the court guards were increased, and every soldier in the army seemed stimulated to redouble his exertions. As the siege went on the force outside still increased, and even distant nations sent there a small representative quota. The discipline at this place was remarkable. Gamblers and women of ill repute were shut out. Dice-throwing and card-playing were prohibited. Profane oaths and blasphemy ceased. There was never a bloody affray and hardly a dispute among the soldiers, who had been assembled from so many classes. At this siege all that military science in this mediaeval time had invented was brought together—wooden towers, with ladders and bridges; pieces of artillery to be buried and used as a mine; catapults and battering-rams, and all the apparatus for shaping stone missiles; the seven lombards, called the "seven sisters of Ximenes," to bombard thick walls and make practicable breaches.

Francis Ramirez finally led the way by his subterranean mines and galleries, and after breaking through all obstacles, and then after a terrific engagement within the city limits, captured the town. El Zegri, sullen still, drew off his relentless Gomeses to Gibralfaro, and left the starving citizens and their families to their fate.

On the 18th day of August, 1487, the city of Malaga, through its wealthy citizen, Ali Dordux, surrendered without conditions to Don Ferdinand, the king, who was himself in person commanding the besieging forces. Ali Dordux and 40 of his relatives were allowed their freedom and their property. This was almost the limit of the clemency of Ferdinand, who was very angry at the long-continued obstinacy of the Malagans—angry at their final reluctance to trust him; at their threat to hang all the Christian prisoners, and to destroy their city and immolate themselves; at their attempts to assassinate his queen and himself; and at their horrid cruelty, shown by their merciless executions during the siege.

There was one Moorish leader, Abrahen Zenete, who was pardoned out and out because in the heat of battle he had shown mercy and spared several youths against the remonstrances of his furious followers. He subsequently answered their charges by saying, "I saw no beard upon their young faces." Indeed, even in the heat of conflict we trace the noblesse oblige.

Hamet el Zegri gave up the castle on the 20th, two days after the capitulation of the city.

It is written that Isabella earnestly desired that the terms for Malaga should be more compassionate and humane. But we may understand some things from the universal resentment that followed the release of those 1600 prisoners. A large tent was prepared and put up outside the city, in which the queen received them. Many had the chains and fetters still clanking on their limbs. All were nearly starved. Some, dazed and stupid from long confinement, with no flesh upon their bones, staggered along half supported by stronger companions. Some, understanding nothing, mumbled meaningless words, but the most wept like children, and many tried to kiss the feet of the sovereigns in their joy at deliverance. Naked, filthy, and broken, a pitiable mass of humanity, these first inspired in the good queen and her friends about her the tenderest compassion, followed by sobs and weeping. Then came a feeling of strong resentment against the Moors, who had inflicted such terrible cruelties. With this feeling upon her, she this time did little to mitigate the severity of her husband's judgments, who himself, his friends must admit, was prone to exceed the Jewish rule of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

First, the city was cleansed of dead animals and decaying corpses. Then the chief mosque of the Moors was washed, scrubbed, and made ready for formal consecration. When all things were ready, the king and the queen made their triumphant entry into Malaga, renamed the grand mosque Santa Maria de la Encarnacion, and passed into it, led by the great Cardinal of Spain, in order to consecrate it forever as a house of Christian worship. They then chanted the usual forms of praise and thanksgiving. How strange that all men, both Jew and Gentile, could not have been embraced in the love of their hearts! The Spanish troops slowly wound their way to the plaza and to all the gates of the city and took military possession. In the spacious courtyard of what was called the "Lower Citadel" were gathered the surrendered soldiers, regular and volunteer, but without their arms; also the people of the neighboring villages, who had come for the same terms as the citizens of the city; and all the remaining population of Malaga, from 15,000 to 20,000 in number. After a few had been set apart for special purposes, the rest were separated into three divisions; the first were kept for exchange with Christian prisoners who were still held in bondage; the second were to be sold into slavery (with privilege of redemption for eight or nine months) to defray the expenses of the war; the third, by a system of allotment, were to be given to the nobles and leaders in the war. One hundred Gomeses were sent to the Pope's guard; the Queen of Naples, Ferdinand's sister, received 5o Moorish maids, and the Queen of Portugal 30; others, it is said, Isabella gave to her own personal friends among the ladies of her court. Four or five hundred of the Jews, who seldom fail each other when in trouble, were saved from slavery by the prompt action of their brethren elsewhere, their ransoms being promptly paid.

In the line of redemption there was a clause which fixed the sum for the whole Moorish people present at the rate of 36 ducats per head. The people were to be kept as hostages for eight months, or till it was finally paid. The poor people gave up everything, but were unable at the end of the eight months to get enough together to meet the demand. These were indeed cruel conditions, but they are perfectly consonant with the character of King Ferdinand. He was often selfish and crafty in his policy and cruel in his exactions; but they do not comport with the usual theory and practice of Isabella. One very friendly author (De Nervo) remarks, after gazing at this picture, "Yes, Isabella joined in this cruelty—even she!" As for her assent to the establishment of the terrible Inquisition, and for her favor to its first beginnings, there are many apologies; for example, the character of the times, the prevailing opinion of heresy, and the influence of churchmen; so there are reasons in extenuation for the severities in which she participated toward the people of Malaga—for example, the cruelty of the Moors themselves, and particularly the strong desires of the sovereigns to inspire such terror throughout the entire Moslem domain that the remaining cities would surrender without the expenditure of money and the horrors of the siege. But still the biographer is disappointed that, in order to render the truth of history, such apologies and extenuations have to be given at all.

Malaga, thus deprived of its inhabitants, was soon repeopled. The so called Christian immigrants, under generous grants, succeeded to the lands and dwellings of the Moors. The rights of the conqueror were not in those days limited and softened by the present law of nations. After the fall of Malaga, Velez-Malaga, and their dependencies, Granada's fate was substantially sealed. From the Moors' standpoint the great capital itself was surrounded by relentless and implacable foes, and almost shut off from exterior communication by the sea. It was clear enough that the Spaniards would take time only for a little rest and recruitment, and then hasten to put the finishing stroke to their work.

The court and army, leaving sufficient garrison, passed on with short marches to Andalusia. Isabella and her consort spent the winter in Cordova. It was a brilliant winter, but as the necessities of a fresh campaign were pressing her, the queen did not encourage either idleness or extraordinary display.

The cares of her own family—for we know how attentive she never failed to be to her children—must at this period have taken no little time and thought.

Her fifth and last child, Catalina, born December 5th, 1485, was now two years old. Her birthplace was Alcala de Henares. However eager to prosecute this to Isabella always a holy war, she derived no small comfort from the little circle around her, upon whom she could lavish a mother's affection and to their tender life give the impress of her own character.

Siege of Granada

"What if 'mid the cannons' thunder,

Whistling shot and bursting bomb,

When my brothers fall around me,

Should my heart grow cold and numb?"


Isabella's Court at Jaen—The Army Moved from Andalusia and Besieged Baza—Extraordinary Difficulties of this Siege—How Isabella Met Them—She Went to Camp—The Surrender of Baza—General Terms to Cidi Yahye and El Zagal—Surrender of other Cities—Ferdinand Demanded Granada—He Quarrelled with Boabdil, who Refused Him—The Sovereigns for the Winter Return to Andalusia—Isabella Again at Cordova.

In the spring of 1489 Isabella, to be near to the new front, moved her court to Jaen. Ferdinand led out from Cordova a larger army than before—some 40,000 foot and 13,000 horse. He aimed his blow against the Moorish possessions toward the east, where El Zagal still held sway. There were Baza, Guadix, Almeria, and the whole rich region north and east of the Alpujarras. El Zagal put Cidi Yahye, a relative and able warrior, in charge of the active movable defenders, made up principally of hardy mountaineers. Baza came first. It was provisioned for at least fifteen months. The fertile valleys had been made as barren as possible by fetching in herds and grain, so as to leave nothing to the approaching enemy. The siege began. After taking several fortified places and smaller towns, the battle raged around this rugged city. The labyrinth of "the orchards" gave the Moors great advantage. Ferdinand, after several bloody repulses, changed position, finally sitting down farther back in the suburbs. He was much troubled. The difficulties and trials were multiplying beyond all previous calculation. The mountain torrents inundated everything; the roads became execrable. It was hard to keep the army alive; and Baza, with its fierce and resolute defenders, appeared more impregnable than Malaga, for there were here no ships at hand to help. Ferdinand, like all perplexed commanders, at last resorted to a council of war. The council, even the Marquis of Cadiz agreeing, recorded the conclusion that the siege of Baza should be postponed, certainly until other parts of the country had been conquered; but the spirit of the junior officers with the rank and file did not weaken. They pleaded to stay. Isabella's postal express soon brought her the news of this hesitation and proposed action, and she wrote at once to the king: "Why should you despair of God's help after He has led your armies in safety thus far! Never have the Moors been weaker; never have the Christians been so strong. And no prestige in this campaign has thus far been lost—none by a single reverse. You cannot resume operations hereafter under so favorable auspices as those that now exist." . . . In conclusion she said: "If the soldiers will be true to their duty, I will see that they be furnished with all the necessary supplies."

There was no resisting such hopeful, sanguine words, coming as they did from a queen and a woman beloved. The reaction was immediate; the enthusiasm was general; to the soldiers her message was a breath of life and vigor, so that the siege began again with all the freshness and energy of a new campaign. But what a task was set for the besiegers!

It took forty fearful days to clear away the "orchards" and pleasure grounds. Four hundred soldiers were worked as pioneers, and half the army detailed to guard them while they labored.

The surrounding trench, when completed, was over six miles in length. Towers, flanked by long, sheltering barricades, were erected 300 yards apart, to be filled with guards, whose duty it was to watch and protect the advances of pioneers and battalions. Ferdinand's army was creeping up nearer and nearer to the walls of Baza, yet over four months had been used, and no important point was secured.

It is about this time that a communication from the Khedive of Egypt to Isabella at Jaen arrived. He complained bitterly of the intolerance which the sovereigns had exhibited toward the Moors, asserting, in contrast, that he himself had extended to all his subjects uniform protection. The message was brought by two Franciscans, who were kindly received, and sent back by the queen with acceptable presents. She contended in her rejoinder that the sovereigns of Spain also made no difference in dealing with their subjects; but that the province that had been occupied by the Moors belonged not to them, but to the Spanish race. They were simply recovering their own inalienable property.

The autumn rains set in. The defenders of Baza hoped much from these continuous showers—both the spoiling of their enemies' camping-grounds and the interruption of their convoys by swollen mountain streams and creeks and impassable roads. In fact, the soldiers suffered not only from the cold and wet, but their tents in one storm were mostly demolished and their temporary shelters destroyed. Yet within four days there-after these industrious Spaniards had housed their officers in adobe huts with tile roofs, and the rest of the army in little cabins of upright posts covered over with thick branches.

As soon as Isabella heard of this curious city, she thought that she would endeavor to preserve the contentment of the men by some provisions beyond the ordinary coarse fare; so she opened the way for bands of traders. They came at her call from the farthest provinces, and even from Sicily, and were soon scattered over the soldier villages, selling their luxuries and fabrics. This would seem rather a demoralizing operation, but the customary discipline of much work helped to keep the peace. With these humble houses for shelter and the busy traders to amuse the men, they would stand the late fall and even a winter in the field. So Isabella hoped; but the interruption of the trains of supply began at last to result in want of food.

Discontent always follows the prospect of famine. Again, in view of this condition, the indefatigable queen employed some 6000 pioneers and set them at work. They speedily repaired the roads, rebuilt the bridges which the flood had broken up, and put in comparative order two thoroughfares from Jaen to Baza, so that supplies might go in by one route, and the wagons and pack animals return by the other. From Andalusia were collected immense stores of grain. Isabella had this ground in the Jaen mills and sent forward. It is estimated that 14,000 mules were seen at that time daily passing the mountain crest, packed with food, and so restoring to the army the plenty never to be again imperilled. And this was not done by forced loans or constraint. She easily raised the levies, and with that rare facility she had to obtain money in sufficiency, kept replenishing her treasury. She borrowed from clergy and laity, giving mortgages on the royal demesne, at times pawning a part of the crown jewels and her personal valuables to the merchants of Barcelona and Valencia The mutual confidence between the people and Queen Isabella was something phenomenal. Her simple word would control the commercial world around her and open the strong boxes at need.

One secret of this potent influence was that Isabella promptly met her pecuniary obligations. But in spite of all this work in the rear and at the front, the soldiers, accustomed to go home for the winter, found their hardships too great. There was already much sickness, and the fretful complaints at their officers' failure to secure results grew daily louder. There was a growing danger of mutiny. All patriots began to call for the presence of the queen. Some hoped that, when she came and saw their suffering, she would cause a retreat; others remembered how courage and vigor had ever ensued upon the queen's appearance among them; and others still had a vague confidence that she was powerful enough to capture the well-defended city itself.

Isabella quickly answered the call. She arrived in camp, accompanied by her eldest daughter, the Cardinal of Spain, and the ladies of her court. The army, notwithstanding its dejection under its extreme trials, which seemed to bring no results except sickness, wounds, and death, received her and her charming train with the utmost enthusiasm. The Moors from their walls, pinnacles, and housetops gazed with wonder upon the unusual pageant, and they unaccountably seemed to be touched with a feeling of dismay, as if the great queen had waved over them some magic wand. They witnessed the renewed activity, the completed communications, the winter huts, the incoming luxuries; and the king himself, instead of leaving Baza for a furlough, was joined by the irrepressible queen. No wonder that a messenger came from Cidi Yahye, the warrior, and Mohamed Ben Hassan, the aged governor, with a petition for negotiation. The capitulation was soon concluded. The troops in Baza, which had been brought there as auxiliaries, were allowed to march out with the honors of war. The natives also might retire, keeping their personal property, whithersoever they liked, or remain near at hand, as subjects of Castile under taxation, their religion undisturbed, their colonies and laws secured to them. Such were the main conditions, next to impossible of fulfilment in the presence of a conquering Spanish army. On December 4th, 1489, as on former like occasions, the Spanish sovereigns took formal possession of the impregnable city of Baza. They abated nothing of the usual pomp and ceremony in their triumphant entry and subsequent processions. Isabella, after her fashion, was grateful to God for His favors and blessings; and, like all able commanders, she was very proud of this evident personal victory, where friends and enemies united to do her honor.

The acquisition of Baza was not the only fruit of this remarkable campaign. Though the sturdy warrior, Cidi Yahye, by fierce sal lies and impregnable walls, was able to keep back 50,000 fighting men for seven months, yet he managed to persuade his old cousin, El Zagal, to tender to Ferdinand and Isabella the immediate surrender of Almeria, Guadix, and their dependencies.

Without a day's delay, under the inspiration of its new-found joy and energy, this great army pushed on across a mountain range already clad in snow, through passes so narrow and along steeps so precipitous that a few hostile battalions could have fatally obstructed their march. The king, with his grand escort, led the way; and Queen Isabella, with her suite—an unwonted adjunct to an army on the march—brought forward the rear division. At this time certainly it was the guard of honor.

They had hardly come in sight of Almeria when El Zagal, the aged king and warrior, whose name since the massacre in the mountains of Malaga had been more terrible in the ears of the Spaniards than any other, came out to meet them. Soon after the greetings the two kings, apparently courteous friends, rode on together, with no show of opposition from any quarter, into this wealthy, commercial city. A quiet encampment for a few days' rest, while the sovereigns made Almeria secure, prepared the troops for another march. As they came near, Gaudix also threw open its gates; and in the briefest time thereafter, by the adroit methods of judiciously appointing and distributing garrisons under able commanders, King Ferdinand had taken possession of the region of the Alpujarras, which had for some time been the only acknowledged possession left to El Zagal. The same terms as those accepted by Baza were granted and agreed to on every side. The old king had assigned to him in the treaty no insignificant award for a humble vassal; and if by any possibility the wary and unscrupulous Ferdinand had kept faith and El Zagal had properly curbed his proud spirit, he would have been in very comfortable circumstances the remainder of his life. He was made the ruler of all the territory of Andarax and the fertile valley of the Alhurin; he had also half the salt pits of Maleha with which to increase his income. The title of king, sustained by a grand guard of 2000 Moors, was assigned him. His annual revenue was never to fall short of 4,000,000 of maravedi, or $12,000.

Yet the sharp iron of humiliation and discontent had entered the heart of the haughty old monarch. He soon sold his possessions and fled to Africa, where, it is said, he was robbed of all the money that he had carried away, and died, afflicted with blindness, in abject poverty.

When Boabdil, at Granada, heard the news of the fall of his hated uncle, El Zagal, he was at first greatly rejoiced. Without doubt his kingdom would now return, and he would rule the whole province of the Moors, though of course as the obedient vassal of the sovereigns of Spain! But the demand speedily came from Ferdinand to fulfil an old promise which he had made—that is, seeing that the Alpujarras country was conquered, to surrender at once his capital. Boabdil was crest-fallen at this terrible demand. He could not, even if he would, fulfil his almost forgotten promise without the immediate presence of the Spanish army; for almost to a man his Moorish subjects, on the reception of the tidings of El Zagal's fall, had turned their hearts against him. Boabdil, made to feel their chagrin, very properly sought for delay from Ferdinand in the execution of his promise.

Washington Irving gives a clear account of the situation in a few choice words. He says: "Ferdinand was not to be satisfied with such a reply. The time was come to bring his game of policy to a close, and to consummate his conquest by seating himself on the throne of the Alhambra. Professing to consider Boabdil as a faithless ally, who had broken his plighted word, he discarded him from his friendship, and addressed a second letter, not to that monarch, but to the commanders and council of the city. He demanded a complete surrender of the place, with all the arms in the possession either of the citizens or of others who had recently taken refuge within its walls. If the inhabitants should comply with this summons, he promised them the indulgent terms which had been granted to Baza, Guadix, and Almeria; if they should refuse, he threatened them with the fate of Malaga."

The reply of the citizens was made through the eminent Muza Ben Abil Gazan, a citizen of royal extraction, who in a previous harangue said: "If the Christian king desires our arms, let him come and win them; but let him win them dearly. For my part, sweeter were a grave beneath the walls of Granada, on the spot I had died to defend, than the richest couch within her palaces, earned by submission to the unbeliever."

The citizens' dispatch declared: "We will suffer death rather than surrender the city."

It was too late in the season for further offensive operations, so that, after putting Inigo Lopez de Mendoza in command of the extensive garrisons, with his headquarters well forward—in fact, within 25 miles of Granada, at Alcala la Real, where he could hold with tenacity the most important routes, the sovereigns and the main army passed back again by comfortable journeys to Andalusia.

The main court, moving from 'Jaen, joined Isabella, and spent the remainder of the winter and the early spring of 1490 in the city of Cordova. But the month of April found this movable caravan of a court again at Seville.

Marriage of Isabella's Daughter

"The bard has sung, God never formed a soul

Without its own peculiar mate, to meet

Its wandering half, when ripe to crown the whole

Bright plans of bliss, most heavenly, most complete!"


Isabella's Eldest Daughter Isabel, Betrothed to Alonso, Prince of Portugal—The Betrothal at Seville by Proxy—The Tournaments and Festivities—The Journey to Portugal—The Meeting with the King and Prince of Portugal. The Marriage at Elbora—Isabella Sorrowing with Her Daughter.

During April of 1490, while the court was at Seville, Isabel, the eldest daughter, was affianced, as promised in the treaty of Alcantara, to the Prince of Portugal. Concerning this betrothal, Prescott remarks "that an alliance with this kingdom, which from its contiguity possessed such ready means of annoyance to Castile, . . . was an object of importance to Ferdinand and Isabella. No inferior consideration could have reconciled the queen to a separation from this beloved daughter, her eldest child, whose gentle and uncommonly amiable disposition seems to have endeared her beyond their other children to her parents."

How strange it seems that even the sovereigns should settle with enemies at the price of a most precious child! But happily in this betrothal and subsequent marriage the prince was of a proper age and worthy of the infanta, who came to love him with an affection that death itself did not subdue. The ceremony of betrothal was negotiated and completed through ambassadors.

Don Ferdinando de Silveria stood hypothetically for Prince Alonso. After the betrothal came the usual tourneys and festivities, belonging rather to a time of peace than of war. The principal scene was outside the city, upon grounds temporarily fenced in, prepared and decorated like a grand amphitheatre.

The city of Seville and the court, as we have been viewing it, were full of liveliness and joy during the trials of skill at these tournaments, when the king and his courtiers participated, and ladies of rank, with the Infanta Isabel among them, occupied the main stand; and crowds of beautiful women filled the richly adorned galleries, in order to view the manly and martial exercises of the day.

The dance, to which the severe and exacting Talavera had on another occasion so much objected, again took place here after the trials of horsemanship and arms were over, and the sounds of hilarity and joyous music hardly ceased throughout the night which followed.

Before the end of the year this beloved child was borne away toward her new home, for the meeting with her spouse and for the marriage ceremony. The Master of Santiago and the grand cardinal formed part of her splendid escort. The greatness of her dower, the magnificence of her dresses, and the wealth of her trousseau are set down in the history of the event. How happy was Queen Isabella at this season! How full of promise were all her plans! and but for the war, not quite completed, how cloudless just then the skies of Castile!

The King of Portugal and the prince, his son, met the young princess at the border, near Estremos. They took her between them, the king riding at her left. The real betrothal in propria persona  took place on November 14th, 1490, at that city, and the marriage ceremony the next day. Soon the happy party journeyed on to Elbora. The festivities were prolonged for weeks at that place, and at Santarem, the temporary residence of the Portuguese court. One evening, during the summer of 1491, the King of Portugal rode to the outside of Santarem, purposing to take a walk along the banks of the Tagus; Prince Alonso, who accompanied him on horseback, in the exhilaration of his young manhood challenged his favorite friend, Juan de Melendez, to a race. During the running the prince's spirited horse, pressed beyond his strength, slipped and fell. His whole weight came upon the rider and crushed him to death. Now in quick revulsion the great joy was turned to mourning, and young Isabel, the broken-hearted bride, was carried back to her royal mother, whose grief and disappointment were hardly less than her own.

Fall of Granada—End of the War

"Out spoke the victor then,

As he hail'd them o'er the wave,

'Ye are brothers! ye are men

And we conquer but to save;

So peace instead of death let us bring,

And make submission meet

To our king."


Court of the Lions, Alhambra


The Moorish War Closed in 1492—Boabdil's Renewed Hostility—Campaign Opened July, 1490—Prince Juan Accompanies His Father, and is Knighted—Return of the King to Cordova—Boabdil Raided Effectively—He Besieged Solobrena—Ferdinand Returned With 30,000 Men—He Dealt Harshly With the Vega, Suppressed an Insurrection, and Came Back Before Winter—April, 1491, Grand Army Set Down Before Granada—Isabella at the Camp—Her Reconnoissance and Battle Near Zubia—The Camp Burned—Santa Fé Constructed—Boabdil's Capitulation—Terms Arranged by Commissioners—How Granada was Entered and Possessed by the Sovereigns—Boabdil's Departure—The Religious Ceremony of Dedications—Isabella and Ferdinand Contrasted—General Results of the Conquest.

Boabdil, after Ferdinand's apparent anger and absolute rejection, having no alternative, favored the uprising of his disdainful people. He gave the brave Muza the command of his cavalry, who, during the winter and spring, by his raids into the Spaniard's possessions, recovered many strong places and did them much mischief. Verily, Ferdinand had been too hasty in making an enemy of Boabdil. Isabella advised him not to take the field too early, but to wait till the storm had spent its fury; so that in 1490 it was late in the season before anything remarkable was done. In July the sovereigns set out for the vicinage of Granada. Isabella, with her family and prominent men of her court, stopped at the safe fortress of Moelin. This year, for the first time, she consented to let the prince, Don Juan, who was only twelve years of age, accompany his father. The object of this expedition was to ravage and destroy. For a time Muza managed, by sudden blows, frequent sallies, ambuscades, and his famous retreats, to draw Ferdinand's detachments into disastrous combats, inflicting upon them great losses and greatly hindering the object of the expedition. At last this was prevented by orders from Ferdinand, instructing all commanders to avoid all such conflicts; and so the work of destruction, systematically arranged, was then carried forward till all that fruitful region, the broad vega  which the brightening sunshine of patriotism had enabled the industrious peasants to cover with crops, was utterly desolated and made a black, smoking waste up to the very suburbs of Granada.

Ferdinand was greatly helped in this foray by his new allies, Cidi Yahye and El Zagal. But old El Zagal, who thought only to injure Boabdil, his hated nephew, could not have rendered him a better service; for this open work against his countrymen turned every loyal Moor against El Zagal himself and his scheming cousin, and gave a breath of enthusiasm to the unlucky Boabdil. After somewhat more than a month's active foraging and direful destruction, Ferdinand withdrew his battalions, and passed, with his enormous booty, over the mountains and back to Cordova. Boabdil had waited impatiently. He now felt sure that Ferdinand meant to compass his downfall. His time for revenge had come. And it is wonderful how much mischief he accomplished.

One strong fort in the mountains he took from the garrison, and razed everything to the ground. Many other strongholds fell one by one; his raiders penetrated even into Christian territory north of the mountains, and brought back herds and flocks; conspiracies and revolts arising in the Alpujarras country, Quickened by the hopes he inspired, sprang up and took form; and he at last went so far as to undertake the siege of Solobrena, a seaport town, doubtless dreaming of thus renewing connection with Africa.

But the news of all this roused Ferdinand and Isabella. The king set out again with an army nearly 30,000 strong. Boabdil, seeing new that he would be destroyed should he persist, at once abandoned his seaport schemes and returned to his capital.

This time Ferdinand contented himself with a fortnight's work through the vega  and its mountain approaches, seeing to it that anything of life or value left before should now be carried off or demolished; and then he marched on to the Alpujarras and quelled the insurrection there with an iron hand. This done, he passed back through Jaen to Cordova and rejoined his queen, who was much more troubled than he at the seeming reaction among the Moors. They would not stay conquered. But she, her daughter's marriage being over, during the fall and winter (1490—91), began anew to gather and organize an army and the material essential to its life and efficiency, strenuously preparing for what she and Ferdinand believed would be the final campaign in this great war.

In April 1491, the grand army of Spain, of between 50,000 and 60,000, embracing quotas from all the provinces, and having in it well-drilled Swiss mercenaries, was in better shape for a campaign then ever before. Thanks to Isabella. It was well equipped and well supplied.

Among the famous leaders who were commanding divisions of the host and who had taken part from the beginning, we find Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, who was the Marquis of Cadiz, really the most popular hero of the war, the Marquises of Villena and Santiago, also Don Alonzo de Aguilar, Gonzalo de Cordova, Cabara, Cifuntes, and Urena. Count Tenadilla was already at the front. Thus, with prime leaders and early mobilized, with Ferdinand at its head, the army was put in motion. The cavalry escorted the queen and her family as far as the headquarters of General Tenadilla, leaving the ladies and attendants there in the strong fortress, Alcala la Real; but Ferdinand pushed the main divisions at once into the vega, and, taking a position not more than five miles due west of Granada, near a village that was then called Los Ojos de Huascar, pitched his showy camp, April 23rd, in plain sight of Granada. He then proceeded to recover and occupy the villages and hamlets that Boabdil had taken, and so held every road of approach that it was not long before the capital city was completely shut off against any incoming supply.

In Granada were two places of great strength—the Alhambra and its defences upon one height; the citadel of Albaycin, always firmly held, upon another. The great wall, with its numerous flanking towers, was around the whole vast city, which at this time enclosed more than 200,000 inhabitants.

They were at first fairly well provisioned. Boabdil had a guard of upward of 20,000 warriors. These were the fiercest haters of the Christian rule and the most determined to fight to the bitter end. Muza, the most desperate character, who had risen to command, just suited the temper of his followers. At the magnificent display of Ferdinand's encampment, established almost at the gates of their capital, the Moors were rather filled with hot wrath than fear. They made repeated sorties, full of fire and fury, and they never showed the slightest hesitation. They struck upon convoys and detached columns quick and heavy blows. They challenged the Spaniards to such combats and personal encounters as belonged to that age of chivalry; which the cavaliers of Castile and Aragon, equally skilful, were prompt and delighted to accept.

But as time was thus consumed to little purpose, Ferdinand forbade the accepting of challenges and small contests, where only individual prowess was at stake and important lives were lost without other result than to increase the hatred and fierceness of the Moors.

After considering the situation for a brief time, Isabella moved, with all her belongings, to the camp. The Marquis of Cadiz, who loved to do gallant things, had caused his own large pavilion to be pitched, decorated, and fitted up for the queen, as one author says, "in the very midst of the soldiers." In this pavilion the most precious stuffs were used for tapestry and curtains. Furniture of wood finely carved was set off in upholstery with the stamped leather of Cordova. The table service was adorned with silver pieces engraved with the queen's arms; and besides such luxuries, "the number of her officers, of her ladies, of her attendants was what belonged to the greatest sovereignty of the age."

Verily, Isabella had passed far beyond the unpretentious clays of Madrigal and Arevalo.

When present she always had an altar erected, where the cardinal or some bishop, in the presence of the entire army, every morning celebrated the mass. Altogether, king, queen, priests, and soldiers "upon their knees besought from God the success of their enterprise and the glory of their arms."

This incoming of the queen and her ladies, which produced a great change in the appearance and spirit of Ferdinand's encampment, seemed only to increase the hardihood and bravado of the Moors. Probably the repression of the tourneys and tiltings and small combats on the vega  between the army and the city had been interpreted by the Moorish cavaliers as a sign that they too much excelled in that sort of warfare. At any rate, they did not cease their challenges and at tempts to draw out their enemy upon the common field.

One day a small body of Moors, well mounted, galloped nearer than usual to the Spanish outposts, when one of their number sprang over the barriers and pushed straight for the handsome pavilion, which, by the ensign floating over it, he rightly judged to belong to the queen. Checking his fiery steed for an instant, he hurled his lance into the open space near the pavilion. He then turned off, and was outside of the enclosure before the laggard guards could make an effective effort to arrest him, and swiftly joined his own cavalcade, which, amid clouds of dust, was galloping off to Granada. Attached to that lance was a message insulting to the queen. The indignation that ensued among those Spanish cavaliers and how they planned to avenge the affront may well be imagined.

Hernando de Pulgar, a man of great strength and courage—doubtless first getting permission from the king—chose a small mounted guard of the bravest and most athletic horsemen, and proceeded at midnight to the city. At one gate he found the guards, who, of course, never dreamed of such an attack, half asleep. They were aroused by the sudden ingress of a dozen horsemen, and made only such a defence as surprised men could.

But Pulgar galloped to one of the mosques, put his placard, with "Ave Maria" printed in large letters upon it, against the door, and to hold it there drove his dagger through it. He then clattered furiously away, hastening through the streets back to his guard amid the uproar of an alarmed city. His men had succeeded in keeping the gateway clear, so that they all, proud of his enterprise, safely escorted their hero across the Mega to his own quarters.

It is recorded that Charles V., the grandson of Isabella, many years afterward, gave to Pulgar and his descendants the right of burial in that mosque (converted by the Spaniards into a church), together with other special privileges during the ceremonies of the Catholic worship.

The next day after Pulgar's affair, the queen herself undertook a personal reconnoissance by passing around, with a large cavalry guard and escort, to the east of Granada. The gallant Marquis of Cadiz commanded the accompanying troops. Arriving at Zubia, a hamlet situated on rising ground, with a higher ridge to the east of it, about three miles from the great city, the troops in battalions were located in advance well out on the vega, with a good reserve placed upon the higher ground behind. The queen, thus well protected, with a few friends went to the roof of one of the houses, where she had a good view of the Alhambra, the citadel of Albaycin, and the turrets of the several mosques of the great city.

While the party was thus beholding this charming spectacle, once seen not to be forgotten, they descried a column of troops emerging from the city. The indomitable Muza had caught sight of the queen's large escort, and had watched it move along the ridge as if inviting battle. He must of course accept that challenge. Soon the Moors came through the suburbs in eager haste, faced the Spanish battalions in the plain, and dared them to fight. Isabella had strictly charged the marquis not to attack nor to allow the acceptance of any challenge to small combats. She greatly desired to have her survey without the loss of life. But the Moors persevered in their taunting insults, though not quite willing, where the Spaniards appeared so well posted, to commence a general attack. At last a Moorish horseman, large and muscular, clad in armor—the same, in fact, who a few days before had cleared Ferdinand's barriers and launched his labeled spear into the foreground of the queen's pavilion—rode into the space between the hostile lines. He approached sufficiently near the cavaliers for them to see that he was dragging in the dust by a cord the very placard which Pulgar had nailed to the door of the mosque. The "Ave Maria," that the infidel scorned and so treated, stirred in every Catholic heart something more than anger. The labeled spear had been a grievous insult to them and their queen; but this was to them a blasphemy aimed at their most sacred object of loyal worship. From all who witnessed the outrage there was a shout of wrath so deep and so indignant that the Moors knew well that no ordinary storm would follow.

Gorcilasso, a friend of Pulgar, who himself was not at Zubia, hastened to the king to get consent to his meeting the Goliath like Moor, and, if possible, to the avenging of the insult offered to the Blessed Virgin. The request was granted. After a remarkable contest with different weapons, the combatants fell to the ground together, and a cry of sorrow from the Spaniards followed their hero, for he was underneath; but in an instant the giant form of the Moor turned over and stiffened in death. Gorcilasso had slain him with a short sword as the Moor lifted a weapon for the last blow. The bleeding, victorious champion brought back the "Ave Maria" in triumph and waved it grandly before the eyes of his delighted countrymen.

The terrible Muza could stand this by-play no longer. Having a few pieces of artillery at hand, with them he opened the battle, which, like all such contests, had at first its varying fortunes. But the Moorish infantry early gave way under the strong charge of a Spanish battalion, and fled from the field, and Muza was obliged to order a retreat. The eager horsemen of the Marquis of Cadiz followed up the Moors, fighting furiously to the very gates of Granada, and some 2000 of whom were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. Many Spaniards fell, but their loss was considerably less than that of their foes. Isabella was nearer a battle than ever before. The very spot, in a small thicket, where she, with some of her family, was concealed is to-day pointed out to the visitor. A laurel tree, with hundreds of new and separate shoots from its roots, covering much ground, is said to be the one she planted. A small pedestal surmounted by a statue, which shows the handsome, youthful face of the queen, is near at hand. There is also the bishop's house and the monastery promised by her at the time and consecrated to San Francisco.

The good Marquis of Cadiz, after the sharp combat, showed to the sovereigns how impossible it was, when attacked, to avoid a combat, and received from the queen for himself and all engaged the warmest expressions of congratulation.

To such warriors as these it was a special source of satisfaction that they could be permitted to fight a successful battle for our Holy Lady in the very presence of the queen, whom they always idolized.

After the exciting events just related, the days came and went with very little to record, till one night there was an occurrence which excited the whole encampment and materially affected the sovereigns. Isabella, in her own pavilion, had retired for the night. She was soundly sleeping, when, about two o'clock in the morning, she was startled from sleep by a bright light. The night breeze had blown a curtain against a burning wick, which, left by some servant too near, had set it on fire. In an instant the curtain, the hangings, and soon the whole pavilion itself were in a blaze. The queen, in her night-dress, had barely time to escape, while the fire, propelled by flying sparks and cinders, caught other tents and extended the swift conflagration.

The next day she said: "In order to forestall another accident of this kind, we must build a city upon the same emplacement." While the new structures were under construction, the army and all connected with it bivouacked and quartered in the villages and groves near at hand. Workmen, skilled and unskilled, were drawn from the nearest cities of Andalusia, and large details for work were made from the army itself. In less than three months the Moors, with no little dismay, saw a new city built with stone and mortar and timber, presenting to Granada its substantial shape from across the vega. Isabella, declining to allow the use of her own name for the new city, gave it the name Santa Fé. By this act she showed what was always uppermost in her thoughts and heart—the Santa Fé, the holy faith; for this the whole war had been prosecuted from the beginning. This bright city, fresh and clean, should be a witness for her army and people. It has been a standing witness ever since—a perpetual memorial.

It is a little remarkable that Boabdil had not sent his cavaliers to interrupt and perhaps prevent these absorbing operations. But there were strong reasons for his inaction. There was a growing weakness among the inhabitants. Their communications were cut, so that they received no food nor help from without. Hunger began to make itself felt; and they were hopelessly divided among themselves. A very few of the sterner sort were willing to seek for the "last ditch." Feeling all this and the uselessness of the further effusion of blood, and knowing the strong leaning of Isabella herself to humane methods of settlement, Boabdil had secretly communicated with the sovereigns. He had commenced long before any opponent among his people had discerned what he was doing.

But at last a spy carried word of the secret negotiation to the uncompromising Muza. Then there was a sudden uprising; some 20,000 joined in an insurrection. Boabdil fled before their fury to the citadel of Albaycin and shut himself in. He then sent for the wisest and best of his opponents and addressed them kindly, substantially as follows: "I must now warn you of what is advantageous to you. Your good has been my thought all along, and not my own interest, which I have been unjustly suspected of providing for. Nothing was easier than to have gone to the enemy and put the Alhambra into his hands. Your conduct against me would justify this course. Yet hitherto we have been enabled to make a defence; till now we have not failed of provisions, and as long as there was the faintest hope of a successful resistance I have not spoken a word concerning peace. I acknowledge that long ago I committed a great fault, from pride, in rising against the king, my father, and for that I am sufficiently punished. But now that there remain to us no resources whatever, I have become convinced that I must negotiate with the enemy—make a treaty, if not advantageous, at least the best possible under these hard circumstances. I cannot understand the motives of the mutineers who oppose a peace so carefully and wisely managed. If, on your side, you can find any remedy, if there remain any resource, I shall be the first to break off negotiations. But as all abandon us, as we have no forces, no provisions, no succor to hope for, what madness has seized us and blinded our eyes? When two evils present themselves, the wise tell us to shun the greater. What we have belongs to the conqueror. If he leave us anything, we will he beholden to the grace and generosity of our enemy. I cannot say that they (the sovereigns) will keep their word; they have violated it only too often; perhaps some blame for this attaches to ourselves. The most potent motive which obliges men to observe good faith is to place confidence in them. On the other hand, what hinders our taking precautions? Have we not the right to demand sureties, to exact strong places and important hostages? The great and pressing desire our enemies have to' terminate as soon as possible this war will cause them, without doubt, to accommodate all the difficulties that lie in their path."

This remarkable speech had its desired effect. It made it plain that there was no longer a chance for the salvation of Granada. In the fall of that capital city must fall the Moorish power, and the Mussulman would forever pass from Spain. It was indeed a hard fate. But as no known power could longer keep it back, the Moors without further resistance decided to submit to the terms of capitulation.

Muza was perhaps an exception. There is a legend that, even after a truce had been agreed upon, he one night clad himself in armor and sought and found personal combat with a group of Spanish cavaliers who were curiously sauntering about outside the walls of Granada. He fought fiercely one knightly dual after another till he himself was slain.

To draw up the articles of capitulation did not prove an easy task. Two commissioners on each side were appointed. The sovereigns were represented by Gonsalvo de Cordova and their own secretary, Fernando de Zafra, and Boabdil by an old Moorish counsellor, Abul Cazim Abdul Melie. The usual place of meeting for these men was the village of Churiana, which was perhaps three miles from Granada.

It was a remarkable council whose business was to settle the surrender of a great city, the capital of a nation which had maintained itself for seven centuries; but, more than this, it was to dispose of a whole people, who had indeed been conquered in war, but who, if united once more, might, with their tremendous vitality, even yet declare their independence and successfully defy their conquerors. The aged Moor was far from being willing to submit absolutely to the will of the sovereigns. And certainly Isabella had no heart at that time to push these brave and gallant foes to extremes.

The commissioners came to an agreement after many preliminary and long conferences. The preliminary work ended November 28th, 1491. Then Gonsalvo put the terms into formal and acceptable shape:

I. A suspension of hostilities for seventy days. Granada to be surrendered if no succor came before their expiration.

II. All Christian captives to be set at liberty.

III. Boabdil and his principal nobles to take the oath of allegiance to Spain. (He was to have certain possessions in the province for his support.)

IV. The inhabitants of Granada to be subjects of Spain. They could keep their property, including arms and horses; surrendering the artillery.

V. They might exercise their religion, be under their own laws, the sovereigns appointing the governors.

VI. They were to be free from taxes for three years; then their own former system revived.

VII. Those who preferred to emigrate to Africa within three years would be provided with a free passage, and might depart from any port.

VIII. The sovereigns were to give up all hostages then held, including Boabdil's son, and the Moors to furnish 400 hostages, to be restored when the terms for which they obligated themselves should be fulfilled.

Such, in substance, were the conditions submitted by the respective commissioners to their chiefs, and regularly signed.

But Boabdil had so many enemies, open and secret, that he found it impossible to control the Moors and reasonably keep to the conditions of the truce; and he saw, as did everybody else, that no substantial help was coming from Granada or from without, so that he resolved to shorten the period. The day then appointed for the surrender was changed to January 2nd, 1492.

There is a French account of the transference of the keys of the city which differs in some respects from that commonly believed. It is in substance as follows: "Upon this day (January 2nd, 1492) every arrangement was perfected for proceeding to the city and taking possession of the Alhambra. It was at that time possible, by passing around to the right of the city from Santa Fé, to reach the fortress by a narrow way, which was rough and steep. Toward evening the king, the queen, and their suite traversed this narrow road. They were followed by an escort of certain nobles of the realm, principal officers of the army, and a considerable body of troops. As they approached the gates of the city which led to the fortress they met, mounted and accompanied by 50 Moorish cavaliers, the King of Granada himself, Boabdil, who had come out to present to the sovereigns the keys of the fortress. Boabdil, as soon as he saw the queen, dismounted, and moved quickly toward her to kiss the hand of the sovereign; whereupon she, gently drawing back her hand, from sympathy for him, declined to receive this humble act of submission. Boabdil then put the keys into the hands of the king as he said to him, 'We surrender to you the city and the realm. Both now belong to you; make use of them with clemency and moderation.'

Ferdinand took the keys, gave them to the Count of Tenadilla, who had already been designated as Governor of the Alhambra, passed, still mounted, into the court of the fortress. The Castilian flag was immediately raised upon the great tower, which the army, drawn up in the plains, at once caught sight of and saluted with enthusiastic cheering.

Ferdinand, leaving Tenadilla all the guard he could spare, led the queen and the rest back by the same route to the vega, and returned to Santa Fé to make preparations for his triumphal entry into the city. This entrance was to be made on the evening of January 6th, 1492, by quite another way—through the Gate of Triumph.

Boabdil did not return to the Alhambra; but after a courteous adieu, painful enough to him, passed on to join his wife, mother, and a few faithful followers at a village not far distant, where they were waiting for him. The hill from which he took his last sorrowful look at the beautiful city is still pointed out and named El ultimo suspiro del Moro, "the last sigh of the Moor.''

Like his uncle, El Zagal, Boabdil, troubled with remorse and surrounded by enemies on every hand, soon sold out to Isabella all the possessions which were left to him for 80,000 ducats (about $183,200) and retired to Africa, where, at last, thirty-four years after the surrender of Granada, he fell in battle while leading a division of the King of Fez in a civil war.

The great day of rejoicing (January 6th) finally was at hand. Ferdinand and Isabella now marched at the head of the entire army. Who could describe the richness of their royal dress or the magnificence of their appointments? The nobility and the great churchmen followed their sovereigns. Then came that faithful army which had so grandly performed its part. De Nervo says of them: "All, veteran and brave soldiers, intoxicated with joy, proud of their queen and of themselves." Such triumphant processions arc inspiring. They are the reward of great achievements. They are somewhat emblematical of the highest and noblest aspirations of the soul.

While the conquerors were thus rejoicing, the conquered had shut themselves within their houses to hide their grief and shame.

Ferdinand and his queen, with such an escort, did not forget their religious part. To her, as we know, this was the triumph of the cross over the crescent. They proceeded at once to the principal mosque, which had been prepared in advance and transformed into a Catholic cathedral. How this was effected without a violation of the terms of the surrender no writer as yet has explained; but doubtless this reservation of the great mosque was at least tacitly understood by all concerned. They then had a solemn public service, in which Ferdinand, like Saul among the prophets, bore a part not set down in the liturgies.

Irving declares of him in this worship: "In the fervor of his spirit, he supplicated from Heaven a continuance of its grace, and that this glorious triumph might be perpetuated." Would that a king, who could at such a time kneel before God and earnestly offer such a prayer, might then have been baptized with a little of the spirit of his Master, so as to practise the "clemency and moderation "which the humbler Boabdil besought at his hands!

Isabella was to some extent affected by superstitions and swayed by bigotry, yet she stood firmly to her convictions and was undoubtedly honest. But Ferdinand was different. He abided but momentarily in honest moods. He was always avaricious and ambitious, and to effect his ends used deceit and craft, which in those days were called diplomacy. Though the queen grandly covered all the skeletons in the household, yet they were there, and from time to time were disclosed. Ferdinand did not always keep faith with his own devoted wife, so that it is not surprising that he broke faith with the Moors, who were in his hands.

There was soon, however, abundant reason for abandoning the specific terms of the surrender of Granada and the Moorish realm. The major portion of the people of the province in the great city and outside of it, with all their chagrin and hatred and their fierce natures unchanged, could not bear the constant pressure and hectoring of their triumphant foes. They conspired, then quarrelled, then rebelled. A statesman, reviewing the results, would say: "It is not possible to mix oil and water. The State religion and the State law—to wit, the religion and law of Castile, must prevail."

At first Isabella and her gentle confessor, now made the Bishop of Granada, hoped that everything the Church and the queen desired might be brought about by simple, diligent preaching of the Gospel after the lead of the great apostles of Jesus. But that was too slow a method to suit the more ardent Romanists. Before long the terrible Ximenes was at work, driving the Moors by force into a semblance of Christianity through terror of poverty, of banishment, or of the horrible torture.

From the great mosque to the Alhambra the court proceeded; and from that time onward Granada became a court city, and the world-renowned Alhambra one of the palaces of the sovereigns of Spain.

The condensed summary that Prescott gives in his own way as the consequences of this Moorish war has in it elements of praise which are properly due to Queen Isabella. "During the latter period of their history," he says of the Moors, "they appear to have reposed in a state of torpid, luxurious indulgence."

Isabella, by her own faith and work through a thousand instrumentalities, wrought a change. She gave to that land of extraordinary fertility a better form of government and "advanced still higher the interests of humanity."

Spain recovered a large province "hitherto held by a people whose difference of religion, language, and general habits made them not only incapable of assimilating with their Christian neighbors, but almost their natural enemies." She prevented the Mohammedan ambition from attempting extension in Europe. She secured many new and "commodious havens" for her commerce. She now consolidated all the scattered fragments of the Visigothic empire into a great monarchy, putting the boundaries where nature seemed to suggest they should be. She as a State from a very low standing now began to rise till she came abreast of any kingdom in Europe. Under the long, feudal reign of petty lords, the inhabitants of small divisions had quarrelled with each other till national feeling among Spaniards, at the time of Isabella's accession, was almost extinct. Through the wars of succession, civil and foreign, and more largely through that great war of Granada (over ten years in duration), Isabella had guided her people till they had now "common notions" and "common action." Together they learned the faults and weakness of Moorish tyranny and Moorish anarchy, and so came more and more to venerate their own institutions as Isabella's influence gradually developed them.

"In this war," Prescott affirms with truth, "the spark of patriotism kindled through the whole nation, and the most distant provinces of the peninsula were knit together by a bond of union which has remained indissoluble."

The military advance in material, organization, discipline, and tactics, due more to Isabella than to her husband or any of her advisers, was immense. In material she drew from abroad the best improvements that existed. In organization she established national and permanent forces, whose officers the sovereigns appointed, where she had found only local temporary militia or partisan bands attached to jealous, independent, and quarrelsome chiefs. In discipline an army was formed that could keep the field for long campaigns and endure even hardships of winter marches, camps, and sieges. It was an army obedient to orders and loyal to its head. From this army sprang many great captains, who, in the fields of Granada, had learned well the lessons of war—captains who, "with that invincible infantry, spread the military fame of their country over all Christendom."

Spain at the end of this war had become, under Isabella and Ferdinand, a great nation, with much promise for humanity in its schools, its literature (its Cortes never intermitted), its courts of justice, and its recognized statutes.

There were some mistaken principles prevailing, like that of the alleged necessity for the external unity of Christ's Church, and that of the asserted Divine right of the sovereigns. The former left the frightful Spanish Inquisition, which Christendom now hates as it does the bloody guillotine of France, yet the roots of which have crippled and do still cripple the efforts of Spain's best thinkers and actors in all their modern efforts to keep up in the race of progress with sister nations. It caused intolerance like that of Russia to-day in dealing with the Jews, and drove multitudes of them to settle in other lands. Spain lost the benefit of their thrift, their industry, their commerce, and their other virtues, and did not accomplish their conversion—which, undoubtedly, sincere men had desired—to the reasonable and glorious religion that our Lord really had founded. The latter hard point, the Divine right of sovereigns, had its advantages as a fanciful theory, as a practical solvent, indeed, in the caldron of bad mixtures which existed; but in Spain the monarch was never a czar; and, little by little, the sovereign authority of that kingdom has been lessened till now the king is scarcely more than the executive head of the large portion of the people.

The Government of the United States, which, with all the light and helps of the nineteenth century, till lately fostered slave-holding, and has constantly broken faith with the Indians, and now maltreats and expels the Chinaman because of his excessive frugality and industry, cannot very severely condemn Isabella, who lived and reigned in Spain four hundred years ago, because she mistakenly believed a heretic to be a child of hell, and herself ordained of Heaven to direct all matters within her domain.

The beam and the mote must both come out before the real clearness of vision which Christ demanded shall exist.

Isabella and Columbus

Hail! Columbus, in vision so bold,

Why thus depressed and fleeing?

'Tis Queen Isabel, whose hand behold

Outstretched for thy succeeding!

Columbus and Isabel


Columbus—Isabella's Primary Attitude—The Ecclesiastical Council— Columbus Sent from Court in Disappointment—How Perez and a Few Others Had Called Him Back—His Interview With the Queen at Santa Fé—Her Favorable Reflection and Strong Decision—Isabella Became the Patroness of the Enterprise—Columbus' Discovery of the New World (1492)—His Reception and Second Voyage, September, 1493—The Troubles that Envy Brought—Reception of Columbus at Burgos—The Voyage of 1498—Priests and Convicts Fill Up the Ships—A Commissioner, Bovadillo, Sent to Hispaniola—Columbus Went Back to Spain in Irons—Isabelia's Vexation—She Showed him Friendship—Ferdinand Detained Him—Ovando Went to the New World—Isabella Bade Columbus Farewell for his Fourth Voyage 1502)—Her Kindness to the Natives.

In the history of Christopher Columbus there are phases and incidents of his remarkable career that blend at some important points with the life of Queen Isabella. When we look at Columbus from the standpoint of posterity, and mark his enlightened conviction and his indomitable purpose, we cannot help feeling that it was not a little strange that an intelligent, courageous, and enterprising woman like this queen should have allowed this patient and able investigator to follow her court so long without extending to him sympathy and help. But we must remember' that then, as now, there were screens which limited the vision of any such royal person as Isabella. For her, most clearly defined, was that almost impenetrable one raised by the Church officials around her, who themselves were environed by ignorance, prejudice, and superstition. Fernando de Talavera, her confessor, with all his sincerity, was their confidant and their exponent.

Columbus brought to court the recommendation of his devoted friend, Juan Perez de Marchena. But Talavera gave no credit to his credentials. He saw in Columbus only an Italian adventurer, in his extraordinary theories and demands nothing but presumption, or perhaps an incipient commingling of lunacy and necromancy. This prelate, who was her friend, trusted more than any other, by the instructions of the queen selected a most worthy council, composed of ecclesiastics who were very great scholars indeed in all matters that pertained to the Church—and who shall say that the propositions of Columbus did not pertain to the Church? His matter was committed to them. After long consideration they gave their solemn verdict that the scheme of Columbus was unwise, impracticable, and based on reasons too weak to warrant the support of the Government.

A second screen to Isabella's vision was the all absorbing war with the Moors. As we have seen, it was her war. At times she was the directing mind at the front. She camped with the troops and participated in all their excitements. When not in the field with the army, she was collecting reinforcements and provisions and sending them forward. She was devising a thousand ways to collect the money for the enormous expenses. All this was in addition to the raising of her family and the reorganizing and ruling of her kingdom. It is not at all to be wondered at, from this point of view, that she did not give her mind to objects of maritime discovery while so necessarily and thoroughly occupied. And, after all, there was in her heart a gleam of sympathy for this strange man in his most forlorn days. His private expenses were several times paid by her orders, and villages through which he must go were instructed to supply his immediate wants. Even though the unfavorable decision of the council had been made known to her, she consulted, concerning him, Cardinal Mendoza, who himself was a far-seeing man and friendly to Columbus, and caused him to communicate kind words to this disappointed seeker. She said that engrossing business prevented her and her husband for the present from thinking of any undertaking such as he meditated; but that when the war was concluded they would listen to his proposals. Isabella could hardly have done more.

But the patience of Columbus was exhausted. He did not think then that Isabella, with all her compassion and consequent kindness, would ever seriously consider his cause. He resolved in this extremity to try the French king, Francis I. Fortunately his devoted Juan Perez now held him back. It was not altogether pity for his friend that led to his so doing. Perez and a few others had caught not a little of the enthusiasm of the Genoese. They had become capable of appreciating the value of his theories and demonstrations, and saw how some foreign government might, by a little enterprise, secure all the advantages now so royally offered to the crown of Castile. They made another effort. They betook themselves to the queen. It was at a favorable time. The great war was now ended. She was at liberty to give to these patriotic callers her undivided attention. Isabella then suddenly resolved to grant the enthusiast a personal hearing.

Columbus was invited to repair to Santa Fé; and what showed a turning point in his favor, money enough to clothe him respectably and to defray his travelling expenses went along with the message. So the discoverer appeared at court and had an interview with the queen. He repeated his reasoning. He glowed with his subject. The countries which he was to discover were painted like those which some happy relator depicts from memory. He spoke of the wealth to be acquired—gold and silver to replace the losses of war and to build up the institutions of Spain; yes, he went a step farther, and referred to the dark night of paganism hanging over those lands which were so well outlined on the map of his faith and hope, and even promised funds for the recovery of the holy sepulchre!

It is said that this promise, looking to the recovery of the sepulchre of our Lord, touched the queen, but that "the conversion of the benighted heathen was with Isabella by far the most potent argument."

It delighted her imagination. It was different from the ordinary satisfactions of royal ambition. While Ferdinand employed old methods of diplomacy and moved in old grooves, Isabella enjoyed higher and broader flights. The holy sepulchre to be wrenched from the Turks! and millions of children plunged in heathen darkness to be brought into the lap of the Church by the daughter of Castile! and all that through the treasures soon to be found in those strange countries.

And what was promised was more than a mere possibility. It was a confident hope. Isabella seems at this remarkable interview to have remembered more distinctly than before what she had heard in favor of this bold enterprise. At the moment when her strong and generous mind had come into possession of the true nature of what was urged, her resolution, like an inspiration, was instantaneous. Such things, seen in visions, she could not afford to neglect. For a woman such as she not to act when things such as these could be done would be a crime. Great ideas impose themselves imperiously as duties upon great minds. She had taken advice when the idea of discovering a new world was another's, a stranger's; now, when this idea had become her own, she took no further advice.

She bethought herself, it is true, of Ferdinand's coolness with regard to the project—a coolness somewhat pronounced. But this consideration made her pause only for a few moments. She had her own life to live; and such a clear-sighted woman, even under the effect of her loyal devotion to her husband, could not have failed to see in him an inferior nature. She had hitherto maintained her mental independence; but if ever at all she asserted independence, she must do so now. Yet there was another great hindrance—the oft-recurring, ubiquitous difficulty of those times, and in fact of most times—she had no money. Well, there was the last resort. She could pawn the crown jewels!

Just so soon and just so long as anything, however unusual, however strange, could be done to promote an enterprise, which now appeared to her in the light of a holy duty, to whose accomplishment her whole heart from this decisive moment was given, that thing should be done.

This was Isabella's mental state when she called the shrewd San Angel, the treasurer of the sovereigns, into council. She gave her royal word that the desired voyage should be begun; and she became at once the active protector and friend of that singular, heroic man, who, now in hope and now almost in despair, had followed her court for seven weary years.

"I undertake the enterprise for my own crown of Castile," Isabella cried, "and I will pledge my jewels to raise the necessary funds!"

Never had Isabella been so great. She was from that moment, as Irving says, "the patroness of the discovery of the New World." As soon as Isabella's determination became known, there was plenty of loyal support. Even the cautious San Angel assured her that she need not pledge her jewels, for he was prepared to advance the necessary funds. Of course the unfaltering resolve of this popular and successful queen found willing aid. Isabella, the Queen of Spain, just as she had accomplished what appeared to her the great work of her life in the interest of her country and her religion—to wit, the taking of all Granada into her domain, was enabled, by a favoring Providence, to do this also—to give the word which sent Columbus, in 1492, with his three little ships, across the hitherto unknown Atlantic.

The trials he met and the obstacles—often cruel and unforeseen—which he had to overcome reveal themselves by glimpses here and there in his history. But he overcame. He kept his promise. He discovered new lands, and undertook, in the name of the sovereigns, to govern them. His first return, in March, 1493, was a triumph. The court of Spain and the people received him with every demonstration of joy and appreciation. The celebrated painting of Columbus' return and reception at Barcelona, where the court then was, emphasizes the glory of that event.

His second voyage was from Cadiz. There were 1500 willing men of all sorts this time accompanying him; and he led out of that beautiful harbor in September, 1493, seventeen ships. He multiplied the details of his findings; but, as one might predict, his very successes excited envy and criticism among those around him, which reacted against him with ten times greater force in Spain.

There was at hand many an unscrupulous aristocrat, avaricious and ambitious, who saw in Columbus only too large aspiration. His rise to place and power was too sudden. For was he not at best but a novus homo?  And was he not foreign born? Calumny heaped upon calumny at last came to his ears, and he again turned homeward, in 1496, to endeavor to answer the charges, known and unknown, which had poisoned the minds of even the king and queen. But again Isabella received him, giving the audience at Burgos, and heard his explanations. His vindication was complete and satisfactory. But before this time other hardy navigators besides Columbus had reached the New World, participated in discoveries, and returned. They had made and circulated the most bitter complaints of the doings of Columbus. They had imputed to him oppressions of the slaves, illicit gains, and accumulated riches, and in unmeasured terms they had also denounced his mode of administration.

Satisfied of his innocence of intentional wrong-doing, the queen heard his story and dismissed him again to enter upon his third voyage in 1498. At this departure she strongly emphasized her desire that the natives should be converted to the Catholic faith, and that slavery and oppression should be avoided. To carry out her wishes, which doubtless also were his, he solicited and encouraged several priests, who were charged with establishing missions in New Spain to go with him.

"This departure, alas!" says De Nervo, "was more difficult than the other two. The sailors who had come back with Columbus had spoken no good of those far-off countries, and they themselves had arrived poor and sick. Under these conditions nobody then was willing to embark."

The stories, of one kind and another, were so discreditable that good sailors could not be hired; and Columbus was obliged to take convicts from the prisons upon condition of changing their confinement into deportation. Finally, thus furnished and thus attended, he left the harbor of San Lucar May 30th, 1498. On the arrival of Columbus at Hispaniola all the evils depicted to the good queen by his enemies were found indeed to exist. The natives were shamefully oppressed by the governor whom he had left in charge. The people had revolted, the fields and the mines had been abandoned, and mixed crowds, ravaging to prevent death by hunger, were wandering about from place to place. Anarchy prevailed. The brave discoverer went to work to restore order. But of course new reports, springing from new causes of hatred and revenge, found their way to Isabella. All this produced the intended effect. She, while not crediting all the stories and exaggerations born of envy and malice, did harbor the suspicion that Columbus did not possess the capacity or peculiar talents essential to such a government. And, unfortunately for him, there arrived about this time at Malaga two vessels loaded with slaves, made such on account of their revolt and robberies.

The renewed clamor of his enemies now became so loud that the queen did two things: first, she set at liberty every slave, granting him a full pardon; and second, she sent a commissioner, whom she believed worthy of confidence, with power and instructions to make a thorough investigation of all matters pertaining to the renowned admiral (Christopher Columbus) in the New World. Certainly gratitude and respect for this admiral had not left Isabella's heart!

There appeared to be need for strong interference. She allowed, however, to this commissioner (the Chevalier of Calatrava, Francisco de Bovadillo) larger power than she had intended. The mistake lay in the choice of the man. On Bovadillo's arrival at Hispaniola "Columbus was his first victim." One of his servants was compelled to lock the heavy chains that bound him. October 8th, 15oo, was made memorable by his forced embarkation from the grand New World that his pre-eminent genius had revealed to Christendom. Enslaved, humiliated, and loaded with fetters, he arrived at Malaga the 17th of the ensuing December. At this time the court was again at Granada. When Isabella heard of what had taken place her consternation and horror were extreme. Orders were instantly sent to free the admiral from those ignominious irons.

The messenger carried to him pleasant messages—for his expenses 1000 ducats from her bounty, and a courteous request for his presence at Granada. During the terrible and cruel voyage "this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles." Now indeed his heart leaped with returning joy. Isabella graciously received him as soon as he arrived at Granada. At the sight of this dignified man, truly nature's nobleman, still marred, bruised, and haggard from the tortures inflicted upon him, the queen could not repress her tears; and Columbus was so touched by this proof of her sympathy that he fell on his knees before her, sobbing. It did not take long to answer all the charges that envy, and malice, and all uncharitableness had devised. He was quickly restored to the full esteem and confidence of her whom he denominated "the good queen." It was entirely for political reasons and due to the urgent diplomacy of King Ferdinand and those smooth-tongued ministers who abetted his schemes that Columbus was next given a temporary rest in Spain. The plausible Ovando was chosen for the vice-royalty of those most extensive possessions in the New World during the admiral's temporary absence.

Again, however, his entreaty to be sent on another voyage was finally and favorably answered; and she, with peculiar patronage and protection," bade him God-speed as he set forth, in 1502, to explore for the fourth time coasts as yet unknown, that millions of men of all nations might in a distant future unite to bless his memory, and with it that of the royal queen, who had never intermitted her confidence and esteem.

Isabella has very justly received from all writers, churchmen and laymen, men and women, who have undertaken to review her life, a high commendation for her attitude taken and persisted in toward the Indians of the New World. And in her solicitude there was no affectation. This matter evidently lay close to her heart. While for the sake of homogeneity and church unity she had yielded to the compromising policy of her husband and other harsh theorists in the sovereign acts which expelled the Jews from Spain; while she also at last had allowed the fanatical epigrams of Ximenes to override the mild methods of her chosen Bishop of Granada with regard to the conversion of the conquered Moors, we are rejoiced to say she never yielded her convictions with regard to the natives of America. Hundreds of adventurers who had gone so far from their homes had not been seeking honorable work in the New World, but were looking, for the most part, to enjoy idleness with impunity. They did not find that abundance of the treasures of silver and gold lying on the surface which they had expected. The tillage of the soil became imperative. Determined not to put their own dainty hands to the plough, they, the conquerors of the gentle natives of the south, compelled them to do the work. These poor people were distributed systematically. That they, the Spaniards, had the right to use the natives seemed to them at that period undeniable. Were not the Indians benighted heathens and their conquerors Christians? It was in their eyes and even in the eyes of the great admiral an all-sufficient, self-evident reason.

Herein Queen Isabella was ahead of her times. She was indignant at every oppressive measure. She wanted her subjects to be free. The Indians, she constantly affirmed, were her subjects. Once, we read, that as a number of such slaves were to be sold in Andalusia, she suspended the sale till a council of churchmen could be assembled to examine the subject of this man-selling and pronounce of it were lawful. On another occasion, when several hundred, brought by greedy merchants who had followed Columbus, reached the shores of Spain, she asked: "What right had Columbus thus to dispose of my subjects?" A royal order was at once issued not only setting the enslaved free, but sending them back to New Spain; and there all slaves held under any pretext were ordered to be at once set at liberty. She took pains to have missionaries selected, and as far as possible those specially fitted for the work, and sent over to them. It is evident that a good purpose toward the native population was ever in her mind. And she remembered to provide for their kind treatment in her will and testament. The sad condition and almost annihilation of that unfortunate race, under Ferdinand's subsequent rulings, was not due in any degree to Queen Isabella.

Domestic Troubles

"When joy no longer soothes or cheers,

And ev'n the hope that threw

A moment's sparkle o'er our tears

Is dimmed and vanished too;

"Oh, who would bear life's stormy doom,

Did not thy wing of love

Come, brightly wafting through the gloom

Our peace branch from above?"


Columbus and Isabel


Decline of Health (1496)—The Queen's Sombre Review of Her Family—Her Daughter Isabel's Return in Sorrow—Her Espousal to King Emanual of Portugal—Catalina Affianced to Arthur, Prince of Wales—Don Juan, the Only Son, Married to Marguerita of Austria—A Review of the Ceremonies—Donna Juana, the Third Daughter, Went to Flanders, and Was Married to Philip, an Austrian Prince—Emanuel's Marriage to Isabel at Alcantara—Isabella was There—The Sudden Sickness and Death of Don Juan Stops the Festivities—Philip and Juana Claim the Succession—Isabella Sides with Emanuel and Isabel —The Queen's Impatience at Aragon's Opposition—Birth of Miguel and Death of Mother Isabel—Miguel the Heir—his Death—Juana Obtained the Succession—Don Carlos, afterward Emperor Charles V., Born to Juana at Ghent—He Became the Heir to Isabella—King Emanuel of Portugal Married the Fourth Daughter, Maria—The Queen's Grief Over Philip's Misconduct and Juana's Singular Insanity.

In 1496 the long strain of her labor and anxiety, in public, in private, in war, and in peace, in the councils of her court and in the family circle, began sensibly to affect Isabella's extraordinary constitution.

During the latter years of her mother's life—that mother, whom she had always devotedly loved, and who had before at intervals showed symptoms of mental aberration, became decidedly insane. This increased the queen's cares and solicitude. After her death a reaction came upon Isabella herself. While her health declined, her thoughts concerning her own children seem to have taken a sombre turn. She had one son and four daughters. The eldest child, Isabel, who in 1490 had married Alonso, the son of the King of Portugal, and lost him during the wedding tour, had in deep sorrow returned to pour out her griefs upon the bosom of her loving mother. Emanuel, the brother of Alonso, coming to the throne, had repeatedly solicited the hand of the stricken widow. At last, beginning to realize his genuine love for her, a love dating back to their early acquaintance at Elvora, she decided to accept him, and their marriage was to take place quietly, at her wish, in the presence of her father and mother, in 1497, at Alcantara. As this daughter was now as happy as one who so deeply deplored the loss of her first spouse could well be, the queen was not over-anxious concerning her future.

The betrothal of the second daughter, Catalina, came soon after her grandmother's death (October 1st, 1496. She .was affianced to Arthur, Prince of Wales. At the time of the ceremony—as Catalina was but eleven and her husband not many months her senior—the marriage, at best a political bond, was not to be consummated till some years later.

One can well imagine that no ambition for her child could prevent the queen from having many misgivings over such a heartless arrangement, so soon to become worse when, after the death of Arthur, in 1502, she should become the wife of his faithless, unloving brother, Henry VIII.

A prophetic soul, should the future's veil lift but a little, might indeed be darkened in face of such cloudy visions. Don Juan, the only son, whom during childhood we have met at the court of the sovereigns, and later in campaign with his father, where he was knighted, had married Marguerita, the daughter of the German emperor, Maximilian. Don Juan was certainly a prince of great promise, not only for his own qualifications, which were of no mean order, but because, owing to the consolidation of States and kingdoms and the accessions of the New World, all brought under the sceptre of our sovereigns, he or his offspring would hold sway over the largest kingdom of any European monarch. What could be better now than this union of the powers of Austria and Spain? This marriage, so desirable, had been celebrated with a becoming ceremony. Ferdinand and Don Juan, called the Prince of the Asturias, during a frightful storm had waited for the royal fiancée  at Santander, on the Bay of Biscay. The Admiral of Spain, in spite of the terrific gale, had brought her hither and landed her in safety. She then had been grandly escorted to Burgos, where the good queen affectionately welcomed her to Castile. The marriage at the cathedral had followed. The famous Bishop of Toledo, successor to him who claimed to have raised Isabella from the distaff, performed the rites. Grand masters, city deputations, commune delegates, and a host of noblemen were approving witnesses. Then had come the feastings, the joustings, and other amusements of various sorts, arranged in the large, open square of the city. At the close, bride and groom had taken their way to Salamanca, to be welcomed to Aragon.

The same naval squadron which had brought the Princess Marguerita to Spain had carried to Flanders Donna Juana, the third child of Isabella. Her marriage with Philip, the Austrian prince, had been negotiated by grand deputies. It stipulated that Don Juan should marry the princess of Austria, and Philip, the Infanta Juana. And this alliance proved a strong bond between the two countries for generations.

It was late in August, 1496, when this fleet, to be freighted with empires, departed from Spain. Isabella had gone with her child to the northern harbor. The weather was already bad, and the queen would like to have had Juana go by land, but just then unpleasant relations with France prevented; so with many fears she bade her a loving farewell and saw her embark. Many ships of the fleet were driven to unknown havens, and some were wrecked, but at last happy tidings came back. Her daughter had reached Flanders in safety, and the great marriage had taken place.

Thus far, what could be added to complete the wishes, always ambitious for her children, which had pressed the mind and heart of this queen mother? Yet, in some way, inexplicable except from increasing bodily infirmities, Isabella's horizon began to darken; and, indeed, sorrows in abundance were already germinating.

In September, 1497, Emanuel's constancy to the noble widow of his unfortunate brother was rewarded. After the preliminaries were settled, Isabella and the king accompanied the young people as far as Alcantara. There the marriage was celebrated. The wedding party had been there but three days, and were still in the midst of the quiet though joyful festival deemed appropriate to the occasion, when the alarming report came to the sovereigns that the heir of the throne, their son, the prince, was dangerously ill at Salamanca. Ferdinand, leaving the queen under the greatest stress of anxiety, hastened to the bedside of the prince. But thirteen days of life remained to him after the attack. He died in his father's arms October 4th, 1497. Great as was the grief of Isabella, upon the solicitation of Emanuel she kept her sorrow so restrained as to preserve a bright face in the presence of the bride. They could not, however, long hold back the news from her; and her grief became extreme, for this brother and sister had greatly loved each other.

Probably the very necessity to console another alleviated the heart of the stricken queen. She displayed not only strong fortitude, but exemplary Christian submission and resignation. She reiterated the significant, divinely inspired words of the patriarch, which have relieved so many breaking hearts: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed he the name of the Lord."

For this prince there was a great mourning for forty days. Private houses as well as all the public buildings were draped in black. Already, though so young, the Prince of the Asturias had awakened for himself a sincere regard, and the people were looking forward with high hopes to his succession to the throne; but Providence did not so order.

The family history continued in sorrow. Every new phase of it afflicted the heart of Queen Isabella.

Marguerita, the charming princess, full of wit and intelligence, the widow of Don Juan, so heavily afflicted while she was yet a bride, in the spring of 1498 had a child born to her, but without life. This fact was another source of perplexity as well as grief to the queen, for controversy touching the succession and party strife began immediately to make their appearance.

Philip, the Archduke of Austria, and Juana, his wife, as soon as the death of the Prince of the Asturias became known, assumed the title of Princes of Castile—a title which, according to Castilian custom, belonged to the heir of the first born. In fact, they claimed the succession, and publicly asserted it. Isabella addressed them personally and officially, and commanded them to surrender this claim.

Her daughter Isabel was the elder. Soon after she and King Emanuel, her husband, were invited by the queen to join her at Toledo, where the court was again sojourning. They arrived April 26th, 1498. Ferdinand and Isabella being present, the Cortes, then assembled, formally recognized and proclaimed Emanuel and Isabel, his wife, as Princes of Castile, The nobles of Castile and Leon gave to them willing and hearty homage; and they returned in joy and hope to Portugal. But just as this matter seemed to be settled, the queen, almost too ill to bear the strain, heard of a strong opposition from Aragon. A cousin of Ferdinand set up his claim, because he was the first male in the line of promotion. Several declarations of law in Aragon had excluded females. The consequence was that the sovereigns made an immediate and speedy journey to Saragossa and assembled the Cortes, and asked that body to recognize the King and Queen of Portugal. There was much feeling, much discussion, and much delay. It was at this time that Isabella became impatient, and forgot her usual respect for the nobles and delegates of the realm. This is the indignant language imputed to her: "Would it not be more honorable, and easier, too, to make simply a conquest and tame this nation (Aragon) by force of arms than to tolerate the arrogance of the Cortes and the insolence of the people?"

On August 23d, 1498, while this strife continued, a son was born to the King and Queen of Portugal. Yet, seemingly to crush the queen still more in her ardent affections, her cherished child, Isabel, had died in giving this son to the world.

Her body was reverently brought to her mourning parents at Saragossa, and laid away there in the great convent of St. Elizabeth. The babe, Miguel, was at once recognized by that obstinate Cortes as a Prince of Aragon and heir to the crown. It seems that a woman could transmit a kingly right that she herself did not possess.

Miguel was a weakly child, and in the spring of 1500, just before he was a year and a half old, he sickened and died.

The archduke and Juana were now foremost in the royal family; for besides the fact that Juana was the eldest of Isabella's children, she had already, a few days before the decease of little Miguel, given birth, at Ghent, to a son, whom the parents named Don Carlos. This hopeful event took place February 24th, 1500. This grandchild of Isabella was destined to become more distinguished than any man then living—to govern his kingdom and do his work and enter into history under the name of Emperor Charles V.

Maria, the fourth daughter of our queen, after considerable disappointing experience in the lists of marriage diplomacy, being much sought for by an Italian king and a prince, at last had a marriage in keeping with her heart's choice. King Emanuel, her brother-in-law, was the fortunate man. The Pope, with some show of reluctance, at last granted the release from the rule of consanguinity, and the happy pair were betrothed in August, 1500. On account of the recent deaths there was no public pageant or court festival. Maria, properly escorted, arrived in Portugal October loth, and the marriage was solemnized ten days later at Castillo del Sal.

One author sums up Emanuel's and Maria's history in this pleasant sentence: "This was a happy alliance." Though the fruits of Juana's marriage proved to be great, yet one could never properly use the word happy in connection with her long life.

Isabella did not live long enough to suffer with her daughter Catalina, who, after her child-marriage, lost her young husband, and was then wedded to the new Prince of Wales, himself but twelve years of age at the time of his betrothal, who in after years, as Henry VIII. of England, gave to her a life of loneliness, wretchedness, and final repudiation.

But if bitter experience is good for the soul, as many people believe, Isabella, weary, worn with health failing, and age creeping on, had enough of such trial through the conduct of her son-in-law, Philip, the archduke, and not less through the singular malady of her sorrow-burdened daughter, Juana, who at times exhibited marked mental derangement. Not long after Catalina's departure from the court of Castile, on January 29th, 1501, Philip and his wife arrived at the Spanish border. A distinguished party of noblemen, dispatched by the queen, met them and conducted them by slow journeys from city to city. As the heirs to the throne, they were feted and everywhere grandly received. It was not until May 7th that they met the sovereign parents coming from Andalusia at Toledo. The court and nobles around gave them a warm welcome.

The ensuing 22nd of the same month the Cortes assembled at Toledo, and extended to the young prince and princess their recognition as the heirs of succession, and they took the prescribed oath. By the following October the Cortes of Aragon at Saragossa, after an effective preceding visit of King Ferdinand, upon their arrival did the same as the Cortes of Toledo. It was said that Isabella's daughter Juana was the first princess ever permitted to be sworn in Aragon. This was a happy, distinctive event; but the queen mother was too ill and too weak to make the journey.

Juana soon returned. But the comfort of the queen was much disturbed by the unhappiness of her daughter. Her heart seemed to turn against the queen, and Philip's eccentric course gave her no joy and little help. He was fickle in purpose and headstrong, and often indulged himself in paroxysms of temper. The queen felt that no confidence could ever be placed in him. He was disrespectful to her, and showed such a marked dislike for his unhappy wife that Isabella dreaded the consequences of her own decease—an event which she had already begun to anticipate. She thought that Philip, after her departure, would give her husband no end of trouble.

Neither Marguerita nor Philip liked the Spaniards' dignified ways. And the people about the queen reciprocated their dislikes. She greatly desired his permanent residence in Spain, and this particularly with a view to lessening his roughness, reconciling the people to his ways, and smoothing away the hindrances to his prospective rule. He would not stay. He loved France and French ways better than Spain's. His wife begged him to remain; but for her wishes he had no regard. He showed her no affection nor respect. He would go first to the French court and thence to his own proper Flemish dominions, where he declared he could at least have ease and freedom.

In December, 1502, less than two years after his arrival in Spain, against the strong entreaties of his wife and the clear-sighted counsel of the sovereigns, he departed. Poor, broken-hearted Juana, then not in condition to accompany him, against her heart wish, was left with her mother. After his going the deserted wife would not be consoled. The alienation from everybody around her, including her fond mother, indicated a condition of mind bordering on insanity. Her love for Philip was phenomenal. His coldness, indifference, and final desertion only increased her sentiment of devotion. "Mute and motionless, her eyes fixed on the ground, regardless of everything around her, having no thought of her future subjects, and careless of her children's welfare, she spent her weary days, mentally numbering those that would elapse before she should be united to the object of her doting fondness."

Such is the picture an old author gives of this young princess, who, unable to get a glimpse of coming things, was already the mother of one who was to be the foremost man of his age. All hope within her seemed dead.

On March 10th, 1503, Juana's second son was born. They named him Ferdinand. Even this child gave her no apparent joy. "Let me go to Flanders!" was her repeated cry. In November of that year Philip sent his assent. Juana, in spite of her mother's cogent fears and the inclemency of the season, could not be persuaded to stay. In fact, opposition so greatly increased her malady that fears of completely destroying her intellect were rife. Once, while living at the Castle de la Mota, in Medina del Campo, the queen was called back from Segovia, whither she had gone for a temporary visit, at the news that Juana had actually undertaken to depart, and alone. Without any preparation, with a confused notion of joining her husband, the half-demented woman started on foot. Her attendants were quick enough to shut in her face the outer gates. Angry at this interference, Juana would not return, but persisted in staying at the outside gate of the castle till morning; and she would not even allow any one to wrap her in sufficient clothing to resist the extreme winter cold. The Bishop of Burgos, who in some way had charge of Juana's affairs, fearing to use too much force, and feeling the danger of yielding altogether to her obstinacy, sent a messenger to the queen.

The admiral and the archbishop, who were with the queen, hastened on to see what they could do to quiet Juana and cause her return to the castle, while Isabella followed, riding back as rapidly as her own extreme weakness would warrant. The distinguished friends had succeeded in getting the afflicted daughter to sleep in a wretched out-room that had been used as a kitchen; but at dawn of the following day she broke away and ran again to the gate, and there remained immovable till her mother's arrival.

Isabella with no little difficulty had her restrained and conducted to her proper rooms. It was by this time so evident to the queen that but one idea possessed Juana's thought that she decided to yield to her wish, and so consented to the journey to Flanders. Under the mother's reiterated promise, the departure was carefully prepared for, though put off till the end of March, 1504. But the effect of the extreme anxiety, watchfulness, and fatigue was too severe a trial for Isabella herself. Juana's forlorn condition became a constant worry to Isabella and gave the finishing touch to her sorrow.

Sickness and Death

Tomb of Isabella and Ferdinand


"Our very hopes belied our fears,

Our fears our hopes belied;

We thought her dying when she slept,

And sleeping when she died.

"For when the morn came, dim and sad,

And chill with early showers,

Her quiet eyelids closed—she had

Another morn than ours."


Isabella's Sorrow—Some Christian Resignation—Despondent View of Her Work—Past Energy and Life Power Contrasted by Isabella with Present Weakness—News from Juana Brought on a Fever—How She Revived Her Forces—Her Attention to Business—Her Will and Testament—It Recognizes Certain Rights of the People —Isabella's Death, November 26, 1504, at Medina Del Campo—The Solemn Funeral March to Granada—The Entombment.

From 1474-1504, during thirty years, Isabella was a ruler indeed. Her last thoughts concerned the welfare of her people. Never during this administration of the affairs of Castile and Leon had she deemed herself unequal to undertake any task that seemed to her mind to involve the best interests and honor of the nation. And now, in the last years, crushed, as we have seen, with sickness and family afflictions, she still retained the will and energy to think and plan for her kingdom. Seven years prior to this (1504) she had buried her cherished hopes for the monarchy and for her posterity in the grave of her only son, Don Juan. She had followed him to the grave while her grief for the loss of her much-loved mother was still fresh. One short year after the loss of Don Juan, her daughter Isabel, who had inherited many of her mother's most attractive traits of character, had died at child birth. Miguel, the babe, no less beloved on account of his weakly condition, had been left to the grandmother, and brought to her heart for a short space the comfort of his sweet child life; then he too was taken. The queen under all these afflictions gave clear evidence of pronounced Christian character. She ever manifested "an admirable and touching composure." Yet there was evidence of what we call a breaking heart. In spite of every effort, like the gradual darkening of the sky after sun-down on a cloudy evening, a gloom set in which increased as the days and months came and went. Every new calamity, public as well as private, shook her now over-sensitive soul and added to her forebodings of evil. It was not simply the mother-love that had been smitten and disappointed, but now this blow after blow had made it evident that her great labor for a united, happy, and extended sovereignty, carried on for thirty years with care, persistency, and seemingly wise methods, had left that sovereignty only hanging by a thread. Humanly speaking, all that her devoted life had built up would be demolished by her death. For was not the heir-apparent of Castile and Leon her daughter, Juana, whom the people already denominated "the mad"? And she was the wife of the unpromising Philip, the archduke. The actual government would then fall into the hands of this man, a selfish, careless foreigner—a government that she had long administered with a firm but gentle grasp of authority, and always with a view to the weal of the Spanish people.

There was bitterness even in the retrospect and dark forebodings of the future, which just then foreshadowed ignominy and overthrow. It was under this load of troubles, seen and feared, that Isabella's spirit, hitherto sanguine and courageous, gave way. She had not yet fully discovered that strongest faith which can rest in the fact that "man's extremity is God's opportunity."

She had once thought herself to be strong. In her earlier womanhood her health seemed perfect. Perhaps it had been injured by her indefatigable efforts both in peace and war. During those first years of public life she went rapidly from place to place, and always on horseback. Her horses had to be the best to be found and full of speed. She would appear in person, often unexpectedly, upon the scene, to raise money, collect supplies, encourage dispirited soldiers, or perform any mission which necessity or duty demanded. She would ride all day and dictate letters and instructions to her secretaries at night. This all came to her memory; but she was a weak woman now, and perhaps these very faithful and prolonged labors had brought on the weakness and caused the melancholy which was so hard to bear. It was in some such state of mind and body that more evil tidings from the erratic Juana found her. Juana had performed some new freak, to which such minds as hers, subject to intermittent attacks, are liable. This news, with her husband's temporary illness, which appeared serious, threw Isabella at once into a violent fever. There was no recuperative energy left in her system to resist the ravages of the disease, and she was evidently fast sinking. Numerous old and tried friends who surrounded her bedside saw plainly that this was the last sickness of their noble mistress. As soon as the news was spread abroad among the people by that hopeless phrase, "The queen is dying," the manifestations of grief were universal and deep—like those of grown-up children weeping for a worthy and much-beloved mother. They had, as it were, bound about her forehead the words, "Purity, peace, justice, and honor."

The people, priests and laymen, went in procession to their houses of worship, and fervent prayers ascended in her behalf. It is a good time, amid such lamentations and supplications, for a great soul, never without its stains or scars of sin and error till the blood-cleansing has fully come, to pass away. Yet, according to Pietro Martire, a worthy priest to whom she gave her confidence, she lived her life to its close. Loathing food and consumed by fever, which caused her an unquenchable thirst, she at last rose above all these sufferings, and gave her attention, as usual, to her family and her reign—to important counsels for the present and to provisions for the future. She still heard, and decided difficult matters at home and abroad. One stranger who came to her said, that from her sick-bed she ruled the world; and indeed, if not that, her heroism up to the last was marvellous.

Her will doubtless had been long considered, and now was dictated from a memory that had not faded. According to it, Juana was to be proclaimed queen proprietor, and Philip to sustain her as Ferdinand had sustained herself in the government of Castile. She enjoined them to keep to the laws of the land, and respect the customs of the people; not to introduce foreigners to office, and to look upon their father (Ferdinand) as the wisest counsellor. In the absence or incapacity of Juana—so much to be dreaded—Ferdinand would be the regent for the young prince, Don Carlos, Juana's eldest son, administering affairs during his minority.

Notwithstanding Ferdinand's derelictions—which Isabella well knew—she extolled his wisdom, his virtues, his achievements, and then settled upon him half the revenue from the New World and 10,000,000 maravedes (about $30,000) from other sources. She warned her successors never to alienate any of the public domain. Gibraltar was specifically included in this restriction.

Isabella's testament provided for numerous and characteristic gifts, such as endowments for poor maidens, ransoms for Christian captives then retained by the Moslems in Africa, and donations to those who were dear to her heart, especially to that friend of her youth, the Marchioness of Moya, whom she commended to hqr successor in most flattering terms. The payment of all debts and the reduction of household expenses were ordered in the document. A single item of this will is best given in its own terms, which evinced her devotion to her husband: "Beseech the king, my lord, that he will accept all my jewels, or such as he shall select, so that the sight of these may remind him of the singular love I bore him while living, and that I am waiting for him in a better world, by which remembrance he may be encouraged to live the more justly and holily in this."

There were also essential provisions for the manner in which she wished to be buried. Her body must be carried to Granada. No vain pomp and ceremony should be at the funeral. The money thus saved was to kind distributed to the poor. The xerga, a kind of coarse frieze of which the Castilians had made mourning garments, was interdicted. It is said that this showy material was never used again in the kingdom. After the will and testament had been disposed of, the constant review of important matters by her restless mind at last caused a codicil to be prepared and attached. This was finished but three days before the queen's death.

In the codicil she directed the preparation of a new digest of the statutes; for she had often been annoyed and perplexed by the uncertainty and contradictions of the pragmaticas—i.e.  the laws and royal orders as recorded.

She here recommended, as before mentioned, her subjects (the native Indians) of her western domain to the justice and charity of her successors. The principal income of the crown came through the alcavalas. A commission must examine whether this revenue had been given with the free consent of the people and in perpetuity. If it had been so given, then it was the wish of the queen that it should be so levied as to cause as little oppression as possible. Should this source of revenue be found to be illegal, then the Cortes should provide for the public expenses as they deemed fitting. Then Isabella, as testatrix, remarked incidentally and with emphasis that these fiscal dispositions should derive their validity from the good pleasure of the subjects of the realm.

The American Declaration of Independence, over two centuries later, did not more clearly recognize these rights of the governed. Thus Isabella's life slowly spent itself in purposes and plans involving kind feeling and the rights of humanity. None of her children were there at the Castle de la Mota; but some of her best friends stood by her bedside ready to meet every wish and minister to every necessity. Once she said: "Do not pray for my recovery; it is in vain. Pray for the salvation of my soul." Her delicacy and modesty, even up to the hour in which she received the extreme unction, were afterward spoken of by her kind friends, and incidents given which called these qualities to memory.

She expired November 26th, 1504, in the fifty-fourth year of her age, thus closing a reign of thirty years.

The next day (November 27th) following the death of the queen the funeral procession, with her remains, set out upon its sad journey. Such a storm had broken upon the land that the superstitious of the Castilians always connected it mysteriously with her departure from the earth. The cavalcade was composed of the nobility and high functionaries of the Church who were at the time in and near Medina del Campo. In the midst of floods and tempests they kept on their solemn march southward without a sunbeam to brighten them—through Arevalo, Toledo, and Jaen to Granada. Her wish was respected. No pomp, no display—nothing beyond the simplest ceremonial was observed after the arrival. She was at first laid away in an appropriate receptacle at the Alhambra. There she remained till years afterward, when she was removed and placed, as she had requested, beside the remains of her husband in the cathedral of Granada.


"Many the chapters dark with fear and failing,

Or bright with hope of conquests yet to be;

There wrote we how the land was rent with wailing,

Blent with exultant sounds of jubilee.

"Round the red chronicles on every border,

Illuminations done by Mercy's hand

Show fair, amid fierce battling and disorder,

Her white tents gleaming up and down the land."


The Calm of Isabella's Nature—The Second Birth —Clearness of Mind — Without Smallness—Habits of Endurance—Sovereign's Responsibility—Her Courage and Moderation—Her Purity—The Sombre Side—She Favored "Holy Office"—She Contemned a Heretic—She Expelled The Jews—The Clouds of Bigotry and Superstition Environed the Queen—Her Genuine Nobility as a Woman Shone through the Clouds.

In almost every particular Isabella reaches our ideal of a queen. The calm of her nature, that quality which the ancients considered as characteristic of their gods, endued her with a majesty greater than that which royalty can confer. From mere extraneous splendor such a quality cannot come. The solitude of her youth, when the new heart, "the second birth," doubtless came, had been a soil from which abundant virtues had sprung; beginning early, she went through many tribulations, and in one case only it is recorded that her equanimity failed her. The clearness of her mental vision astonished her counsellors; no question arose that she could not seize upon and weigh in all its bearings. Her good sense, or natural wisdom, never was duped by the most brilliant gifts offered. Once she declined even the crown of Castile—and posterity is convinced that she did well then to do so. Anything mean was repugnant to this great soul. When she was advised to obtain money—most necessary money, by means often employed by her predecessors, yet contrary to her sense of justice, though Ferdinand would have gladly followed the advice, she frowned the expedient out of sight in a moment. Her constancy and endurance were wonderful. It is undoubtedly true that during the Moorish wars she did more work than her energetic husband, and that but for her the siege of Baza, and later that of Granada, would have been abandoned. Her understanding of the responsibilities of a sovereign was such as only the greatest of rulers have possessed. Her courage was under all conditions unflinching. History, as we have seen, records the illustrative circumstance that, when thinking her presence necessary, she appeared suddenly and almost alone among infuriated crowds, and settled the pending quarrel without fear or favor. Her moderation was that of a noble masculine nature; she desired victory and not vengeance. The purity of the court, which followed after the opportune death of King Henry, as soon as she controlled it, was the pride and perpetual delight of every Spanish heart. Never was there a time when a counsellor could smile censoriously at her opinion, never an occasion when a Spaniard doubted her word, and never an instance when a breath of scandal touched her fair fame.

But after this deserved tribute there is, unfortunately, to her history a sombre side; it is that of the undoubted bigotry which, apologists confess and say, she imbibed from the lessons of her mother and of her Church. There is probably in every man something that belongs to him, and something that belongs to his age or to the circumstances in which he was born. She allowed the Inquisition to be introduced into her kingdom, and favored it. And she, like the Russian Czar to-day, countenanced, if she did not actively engage in, the expulsion of the Jews. The black pall of these two wrongs yet darkens all Spain. How could. that large mind, ordinarily so clear, have been thus clouded? Here was the fallacious bias. She had been taught from childhood that whosoever did not believe in that branch of Christ's Church which men name the great hierarchy of Rome was a heretic. She believed that a heretic was given over to the Evil One; and it appeared a bounden duty to hate the Evil One. A heretic to her was hardly a human being; and such feelings as love, friendship, and pity could not apply to him; or rather, that if applied to him, unless he recanted, they were unnatural feelings—they were crimes. When Jerome of Prague was burned by the council of Constance he saw a poor old woman approach the stake with an armful of wood to add to the heap. "Sancta simplicitas" (holy simplicity), said the martyr with his dying smile.

And we also may say, in speaking of Isabella's abnormal bigotry concerning heresy, as we would say of the slayers of the Salem witches, "Sancta simplicitas." In their times, strange as it may now seem, Washington and Taylor could hold slaves; but, thanks be to God! in our times Lincoln and Grant could free them. In the fifteenth century Isabella, for the sake of an external Church unity, could allow and favor the holy office, the terrible Inquisition; but again, thanks be to God! an advanced understanding of the teachings of Jesus gives to the kindred soul of a Castelar a more appropriate idea of what is best for the spread of true religion and what is needful for the advancement of the Spanish people.

May a complete deliverance from the thraldom of such bigotry and superstition, whose roots still have some life, soon be consummated in beautiful Spain.

As Abraham Lincoln once said concerning the criticisms upon one of his generals after Gettysburg: "While we are deeply grateful for what was done, let us not be hypercritical as to the rest!"

No woman with Isabella's great soul would to-day hate any man whom God loves and for whom Christ died.

There was that in her last days, as we have been able to record them, which lifts Isabella to the higher plane of the Christian living and teaching. Her behavior toward her husband, overlooking his faults, forgiving him for the wrongs which so often he had done her, meanwhile always guarding his reputation, so as to preserve for him the esteem of the court and of his children, is certainly remarkable. Her patience with poor Juana, and all her dealings with that erratic child, when herself ill and suffering, indicated a character well trained by affliction and adversity. Her steady resistance to the forces of nature, under sorrow after sorrow, when gloom came over her like a heavy pall, continued marvellously to the very end. Her will and testament show her ideas of royalty, which were at variance with the theories of a government by the people; but there was in the document respect for the rights of the people, patriotic devotion, and a strong sense of justice to the lowliest of her subjects. Certainly Isabella in those last solemn hours gave evidences of purity of heart, modesty of deportment, and love toward God and man.

History has justly ranked her among its heroes and heroines as a fearless ruler and a true woman.

May the great souls of to-day, through whom our Lord is to rule, enlighten, and bless the world, study the life and character of Isabella of Castile, and avoid her errors of theory and judgment, which are now so evident, and which in the main belonged to her age and environment; and may they imitate the abounding virtues which greatly prevailed in all her eventful career.

We conclude with a wish—a hope—that this phenomenal Columbian period, four hundred years after America's discovery, may bring a renewal of grateful recognition to the generous and glorious woman who gave success to the Genoese prophet, and thus brought a New World to mankind.