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The Romance of Spanish History by  John S.C. Abbott
Table of Contents


 

 

THE SPANISH BOURBONS

(From 1699 A.D. to 1788 A.D.)

Claimants for the Crown of Spain.—War of the Succession.—Vicissitudes of Battle.—Recognition of Philip V.—Death of Maria Louisa.—Elizabeth Farnese.—Abdication of Philip V.—Accession of Louis.—His Bride.—Her Waywardness.—Death of Philip V.—Accession of Ferdinand VI.—Accession of Charles III.—Power of the Jesuits.—Doom of Olivede.—Siege of Gibraltar.

[344] AFTER the death of Don John, the Spanish monarchy was left in a state of utter demoralization. The weak king was governed by a cabal of intriguers, whose only object seemed to be their own gratification and aggrandizement. The king himself, a prey to hypochondria bordering upon insanity, was distracted by the quarrels between his wife and his mother. In 1690 the queen died, and Charles married Eleanora, an Austrian princess. The French monarch, with impunity, wrested from Spain several provinces. The king become a hopeless invalid. After four years of languor and suffering, he passed from a joyless life into the tomb, leaving no heirs. His whole reign had been but a series of mortifications and calamities. His haughty wife despised her imbecile husband, and cruelly domineered over him. Charles II. was the sport of the factions which agitated his court. His dying hours were additionally embittered by the prospect of the ruin which was coming upon his country. The succession to the throne would be disputed.

There were several claimants ready immediately to put [345] forth their pretensions upon the death of the king. Louis XIV. of France founded a claim for his grandson the Duke of Anjou from the fact that the dauphin had married the Spanish infanta, Maria Theresa, eldest daughter of Philip IV. But the princess upon her marriage had solemnly renounced, in behalf of herself and her heirs, all claims to the succession.

The Emperor Leopold of Germany founded his claims, first, upon his descent from Philip and Joanna of Castile, and, secondly, on the rights of his mother, Mary Ann, daughter of Philip III. To obviate the jealousy of the European powers, in view of the union of the Spanish monarchy to the already immense possessions of Austria, the emperor and his eldest son Joseph relinquished their claims in favor of the second son, the Archduke Charles.

A Bavarian prince claimed the crown upon the ground that his mother was the only daughter of the Spanish infanta Margaret by the Emperor Leopold. But in Margaret's case, at the time of her marriage, a solemn renunciation was extorted of all rights to the succession.

Philip, Duke of Orleans, also demanded the throne because his mother Anne, wife of Louis XIII., was a Spanish infanta. Victor Asmadeus, Duke of Savoy, put in a claim in virtue of his descent from Catharine, second daughter of Philip II. These inferior claimants were, however, soon lost in the superior power of the French and Austrian contestants. Louis XIV. and the Emperor Leopold were antagonists who could trample the minor dukes and princes of Europe beneath their feet.

The wretched vacillating king, harassed by the claims of these rival parties, a little while before his death sent an embassage to the Pope for counsel.

[346] "Having no children," the king observed, "and being obliged to appoint an heir to the Spanish crown from a foreign family, we find such great obscurity in the law of succession that we are unable to form a settled determination."

The Pope had already been engaged by Louis XIV. to act as his agent. After affecting to take forty days for prayerful deliberation, he sent a reply, in which he said, "The French claimants are the rightful heirs to the crown, and no member of the Austrian family has the smallest legitimate pretension,"

Charles II. hated the French. Louis XIV. had robbed him of territory, and treated him with contempt. Enfeebled in body and mind, and on a bed of suffering, his ecclesiastics, obedient to the will of the Holy Father, denounced upon him the terrors of eternal damnation if he did not bequeath the crown to the Bourbons of France. Thus appalled, the half delirious king signed the decree which was awaiting his signature. Then, bursting into tears, he sank back upon his pillow, exclaiming, "I am already nothing." Soon after this he died, in the year 1700, in the fortieth year of his age.

Louis XIV. was prepared for energetic action. He had gathered an army of one hundred thousand men in his fortresses near the Spanish frontier, and had filled the adjacent harbors with ships of war. Immediately upon the death of Charles II. the Bourbon prince, with the title of Philip V., was proclaimed king, and took possession of the throne. Thus commenced the reign of the Bourbon dynasty over the Spanish peninsula. The other powers of Europe were much alarmed. The transference of the crown of Spain to the grandson of Louis XIV. virtually [347] united the two kingdoms of France and Spain. As the King of France took leave of the young King of Spain, he said to him, "The two nations should consider themselves but one. Henceforward there will be no Pyrenees." This boy-king, who had just entered his seventeenth year, was greeted apparently with the unanimous acclamations of the Spanish people. He soon married Maria Louisa of Savoy. She was an exceedingly beautiful child, just entering her fourteenth year. From the smallness of her stature, she appeared even more youthful than she was; but in spirit and understanding she was quite mature. To the most captivating manners and graceful deportment she added powers of fascination which gave her almost the entire control over her indolent, timid, indecisive husband.

Louis XIV. feared that she might exert an influence over her enamored husband unfriendly to France, and in favor of Turin. Orders were therefore issued that none of her Piedmontese attendants should accompany her beyond the Spanish frontier. The poor child, thus separated from her friends, wept bitterly. Her excessive grief only increased the love and sympathy of her doting and pliant husband. Louis XIV. wrote to Philip the following cruel advice:

"The queen is the first of your subjects. In this quality, as well as in that of your wife, she is bound to obey you. You should love her. But you will never love her as you ought if her tears have power to extort from you indulgences derogatory to your glory. Be firm, then, at first. I well know that your first refusals will grieve you. But fear not to give a slight uneasiness to spare real chagrin in future. Restrain her at first. She will be obliged to you in the end."

[348] But the charms and the fascinations of the young bride were far more potent than the advice of the old king. It soon was manifest that no expedient could prevent her from obtaining the entire ascendency over the mind of Philip. The next and more successful effort was made by the French party to guide, through her agency, the measures of the king.

The spirited little child, Maria Louisa, mortified by her husband's want of energy, wrote to Louis XIV., "I humbly request your Majesty to employ all the authority which you have over the king, your grandson, that he may say, with a firm tone, I will or I will not. He would be a perfect prince if he could attain this."

Leopold of Germany was enraged by the successful usurpation which Louis XIV. had achieved. He proclaimed his son, the Austrian prince, King of Spain, with the title of Charles III. England allied herself with Austria. Other powers sustained the claims of France. Thus commenced the war of the Spanish succession, which for many years deluged Europe in blood. A British fleet conveyed Charles III. to Lisbon. It was during one of the campaigns of this war that the British, in 1704, took the rock of Gibraltar which they have held, to the extreme chagrin of the Spaniards, to the present day. The Spanish people, with almost entire unanimity, defended the cause of Philip.

We have not space for the details of this sanguinary war. Early in the summer of 1710, Charles III., with a strong force of English and Germans, landed at Barcelona. The army of invasion met the Spaniards under Philip near Saragossa, and utterly routed them. The English general, Stanhope, and the German general, Staremberg, led the conquering troops. Here for the first time the two rival [349] claimants for the throne met each other in battle. Both Charles III. and Philip V. were but puppets in the hands of their generals. After another short and bloody conflict, the English and German troops entered Madrid. Charles rode through the deserted streets, encountering only sullen silence, There were no voices to greet him. Nobles, clergy, populace, all alike stood aloof. Charles exclaimed in his chagrin, "Madrid is a desert."

Philip established his court at Valladolid, about one hundred and fifty miles north-east from Madrid. The peasants rose in great numbers and cut off Charles's communications with his fleet at Barcelona. Three thousand steel-clad cavaliers from France swept down through the defiles of the Pyrenees to the aid of Philip. The situation of Charles was desperate. He was in an enemy's country. Famine and sickness wasted away his troops. Not a soldier could leave his camp without danger of assassination. He had taken Madrid, and Madrid was his prison.

Philip advanced in great strength upon his capital. The English and Austrians retreated. As their last battalions left the streets, the ringing of bells, explosions of cannon, and shouts of the people announced the triumphant return of Philip. Charles, protected by a guard of two thousand cavaliers, put spurs to his horse and galloped over the mountains to Barcelona. The army, emaciate and dejected, cautiously followed, over wretched roads, through rugged mountain-passes, where the people were all hostile, and it was almost impossible to obtain any provisions. The cold blasts of November pierced the clothing of the shivering troops. Philip pursued. The sufferings of the retreat can not be described. Cold, hunger mud drenching freezing storms, cruel battles, wounds, groans, death, all com- [350] bined in the creation of scenes of misery which it is dreadful to contemplate. With but a feeble remnant of seven thousand men, having abandoned all his artillery and most of his baggage, General Staremberg at length reached Barcelona, behind whose fortified walls, protected by the fleet of England, his wearied troops found repose. The English and German army had left Barcelona but a few months before, numbering thirty thousand combatants.

When the war commenced Charles was a genteel young man of eighteen. He was then engaged to be married to the daughter of the King of Portugal. But the young lady died just before the day appointed for their espousals. Ten years had since passed away. Charles was now twenty-eight years of age, a war-worn soldier. Protected by a feeble garrison, he was closely besieged in the city of Barcelona. The English fleet had retired, and twenty-eight French ships blockaded the harbor. Days and weeks of the vigorous siege passed on. Anxiously, from the crumbling ramparts, the beleaguered troops gazed into the distant horizon, hoping to see the sails of an English fleet coming to their rescue. The garrison was reduced to two thousand. At length, on the 3rd of May, 1706, their eyes were gladdened by the sight of fifty sail of the line approaching with a large number of land troops. The force was so great that the siege was immediately abandoned. Soon after this there was an armistice between France and England, and the English troops withdrew from Spain. By the death of Joseph, Charles became Emperor of Germany. Europe generally recognized Philip V. as king of Spain. Gradually the war of the succession ceased, having continued nearly eleven years.

The queen, Maria Louisa, died, and the king took another [351] bride, Elizabeth Farnese, of Parma. This renowned woman exerted a still more controlling influence over her doting husband than the young and beautiful princess who had sunk into the tomb. She was highly educated, of pleasing countenance and graceful figure, and possessed fascinating powers of conversation. For years she governed her husband with wonderful adroitness. She was indefatigable in her devotion to him, caressing and flattering him. She seemed ever to approve of his plans, never speaking a word in contradiction, and yet she invariably led him to adopt her views as if they were his own. She encouraged him in his aversion to society, and by her gayety and vivacity so ministered to his melancholy humor as to render herself indispensable to his comfort. Thus she became the real sovereign of Spain. Years rolled on of intrigues and machinations, of crimes and sorrows, which at that time embittered many hearts and darkened the lot of humanity. The reader may be interested in taking a look into the palace to witness the daily routine of the life of a king and queen of Spain. We have a very graphic description of regal etiquette from the pen of St. Simon, an inmate of the household.

At nine o'clock in the morning the first woman of the bed-chamber drew aside the curtains of the royal couch. A French valet followed with a restorative cordial, composed of milk, wine, yolks of eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. Their majesties then said their morning prayers. The king's prime minister, or secretary of state, then came in for the transaction of business, the king and queen being both still in bed. The lady of the bed-chamber brought the queen her tapestry. As she worked upon it, she very freely gave her opinion upon the questions which were [352] brought forward. As the minister retired, an attendant brought the king his dressing-gown and slippers. His majesty then passed into his dressing-room, where three French valets and two Spanish noblemen aided him in adjusting his toilette. He then passed a quarter of an hour alone in devotion with his confessor.

As the king retired to his dressing-room the queen rose from her bed, and enjoyed about five minutes alone with the lady of her bed-chamber. These were almost the only minutes in the four-and-twenty hours which she could call her own. The queen then repaired to her toilette, "which was attended," writes St. Simon, "by the king, accompanied by two or three principal officers of his household, the children, and their governors."

The queen having finished her toilette, the royal couple repaired to the drawing-room. Here they received foreign ministers and other persons of distinction who sought a private audience. It was observed that Philip never gave any answer to any business of importance without consulting the queen. After the audience the king and queen both attended mass. They then at twelve o'clock dined. None were admitted to the table but those who had been present at her majesty's toilette. The dinner, we are informed, was always essentially the same, soup, fowls, boiled pigeons, and roast meat. There was neither fruit, salad, or cheese, and rarely any pastry. They both drank champagne. After dinner they said their prayers, and then the king and queen entered a carriage together for what was termed the chase, or the diversion of shooting. The royal couple took their station in an avenue of the park. The peasants, forming a circle, drove the game before them. They shot promiscuously at stags, boars, foxes, hares, as [353] they were driven by. After this dull and melancholy pastime, they returned to the palace and partook of a collation of pastry, fruit, and wine. The children were then admitted for a quarter of an hour to the presence of their regal parents. After this the king held a short interview with his minister.

"This was the time," writes St. Simon, "in which the queen confessed once a week. She retired with the confessor into a cabinet adjoining; and if the king thought the confession too long, he would open the door and call her. The minister entering, they again said their prayers or read some book of devotion till supper. After supper, conversation or prayers tete-a-tete  till they retired to rest."

It is not strange that a life so monotonous and dreary should have plunged the king, constitutionally dejected, into the depths of melancholy. At length Philip decided to abdicate the crown in favor of his son Louis. In anticipation of this event, he had reared the magnificent palace of St. Ildefonso. It was delightfully situated in a luxuriant valley among the mountains, where the heat of central Spain was mitigated by cool breezes from the north. The secret of the intended abdication was revealed to no one but the queen. On the 10th of January, 1724, Philip V., in the following terms, announced his design to the Council of Castile:

"Having reflected, with due consideration, upon the miseries of life, and on the infirmities, woes, and troubles with which God has visited me during the twenty-three years of my reign, seeing also that my son, Don Louis, is of competent age, married, and endowed with discretion, judgment, and talents sufficient for governing this monarchy justly and wisely, I have determined to retire wholly from [354] the government, renouncing all my states, kingdoms, and lordships in favor of the said Don Louis, in order to lead at St. Ildefonso a private life with the queen, that, freed from all other cares, I may serve God, meditate on a future life, and devote myself to the important work of my salvation."

His son, in accepting the crown, said, "God grant that, after treading awhile in your steps, I may have the same opinion of the vanity of the greatness of this world; and that, being sensibly affected with its nothingness, I may likewise imitate you in your retreat, and prefer great and solid happiness to transitory and perishing honors."

Philip, unlike Charles V., had no idea of retiring to a cloistered life. His palace of St. Ildefonso was one of almost unsurpassed magnificence. He reserved to himself a yearly pension of six hundred thousand dollars, to be continued to the queen in case of his death. He also settled upon each of his sons an annuity of one hundred thousand dollars, and upon each of his daughters fifty thousand.

Superstition, indolence, and the love of ease were probably the inspiring motive to this act. It was said also that he was influenced by the hope of succeeding to the throne of France. He judged that the opposition of the other powers to his assumption of the French crown would be obviated by his abdication of the throne of Spain. This might have induced the ambitious queen to approve of the measure.

Louis, the eldest son of Philip by the child-mother, the beautiful little Maria Louisa, was but in the seventeenth year of his age, when he was thus raised to the throne. As he was a Spaniard by birth, he was welcomed with universal acclaim. He was a very handsome young man, and so cordial in his manners that he won the epithet [355] of the well-beloved. Still he was but a boy, and for a time amused himself with many boyish freaks. In disguise he would stroll through the streets of Madrid at midnight. He would stealthily strip the royal gardens of the choicest fruit, and amuse himself with the vexation of the gardeners. He had married Elizabeth, the third daughter of the Regent-duke of Orleans, a child twelve years of age. Such were the sovereigns of Spain invested with absolute power. It does indeed seem strange that a European nation numbering millions, could, but about one century ago, tolerate such trifling as to accept these children as rulers governing a kingdom with unlimited sway.

Poor little Elizabeth had been brought up in the palace of the Duke of Orleans, in a school of utter profligacy. She was beautiful, accomplished, and united elegance of manners with vivacity of spirit. But her father was one of the most profligate of men. Her two elder sisters were renowned for their fashionable dissipations. She was a spoiled child, full of wayward and capricious fancies. She bade defiance to all those stately forms of etiquette which were deemed of such vital importance in the Spanish court. Often she would have what were called the sulks, shutting herself up in her apartment and treating her husband and his mother with much disdain. The young king, by the advice of his father, resorted to the stringent measure of endeavoring to subdue her spirit by a public disgrace. He accordingly one night, when she was absent, in her carriage, from the palace Bueno Retiro, which was their residence, issued the following order to the officer in charge:

"The disorderly conduct of the queen, being highly prejudicial to her, health, and no less degrading to her roy- [356] al dignity, I have endeavored to prevent it by remonstrances; and in my anxiety for her amendment I even prevailed on my pious father to admonish her with great severity. But, perceiving no change, I am resolved that she shall not sleep this night at the palace in the city. And I hereby require you, and the persons whom I have selected for the purpose, to employ every requisite care for her accommodation and precious health."

As Elizabeth returned at a late hour in the night, she was met at the gate of the palace by a guard who refused her admittance, and directed her to retire immediately to the old palace in the city. The rage of the queen was as violent as it was impotent. She was by force conveyed to the apartments provided for her, where she was held in close confinement for six days. A circular letter to all the foreign ministers announced her arrest. Assuming that at the close of the six days her spirit was somewhat subdued by confinement and disgrace, the French ambassador, a man venerable in years and character, was sent to converse with her. In the interview she frankly acknowledged her frivolity, coquetry, and imprudence, but solemnly denied any criminality. She entreated forgiveness, and promised amendment.

The young king, whose aversion to her was invincible, made an outward show of reconciliation. They met again publicly as if amicable relations were restored. The queen kissed the hand of her husband, and he kissed her cheek. But both kisses were alike cold. They occupied different apartments, and lived no longer as husband and wife. Philip and his wife, Elizabeth Farnese, who still really held all the power in their hands at their retreat at St. Ildefonso, declared the young queen to be insane, and commenced [357] measures to obtain a divorce. While the domestic affairs of the royal family were thus troubled, the young king was seized with the small-pox, which in twelve days hurried him to the grave, in the eighteenth year of his age, and the eighth month of his reign. As soon as Louis was pronounced to be in danger, Philip, already satiated with his nominal retirement at St. Ildefonso, determined to resume the crown. He drew up a suitable document to secure that end, and obtained the signature of his son to it the evening before his death, though he was then in a state of delirium.

To this strange movement it seems that the imbecile monarch was impelled by his far more capable and extremely ambitious wife. The hope of obtaining the French crown was fading, and Elizabeth Farnese was anxious to reclaim the crown of Spain. Though there was considerable opposition on the part of the Spanish people to this tossing about of the crown, the energetic queen, operating through the Pope, was triumphantly successful.

The young queen, who by the death of Louis was saved from the humiliation of a divorce, caught the infection of which her husband died. The strength of her constitution saved her life. She received the accustomed appointments of a widowed queen. Disgusted with the restraints of Spanish etiquette, she ere long returned to Paris and took up her residence in the palace of the Luxembourg. Here she maintained a splendid establishment, and gave full swing to her taste for gallantries. A life of pleasure and of sin is always short, and always terminates in gloom and despair. The court at Madrid withheld her pension. Youth fled, beauty waned, poverty pressed, sickness invaded her frame, gloom darkened her spirits. She retired to the Convent of the Carmelites, and in the cloister en [358] deavored to make amends, by penance and prayer, for a life of licentious amour. Shrouded in melancholy, with remorse for the past preying upon her, she died sadly, of dropsy, in the year 1742.

Philip V., resuming the crown, returned to the Escurial to receive the homage of his court. A series of intrigues ensued in reference to marriages and alliances, which, though no longer of any interest, then shook all the thrones of Europe. The people were nothing but hewers of wood and drawers of water. Their interests seem never to have been thought of. The world moved for kings and nobles alone. Elizabeth Farnese became a power in Europe. The king was a confirmed hypochondriac, and at times manifestly insane. Often he spent whole days in bed, and gave audiences at midnight. He often declared his intention to abdicate. The queen watched over and guarded him as a physician watches over an insane patient. The guards were strictly enjoined not to permit him to leave the palace. At one time he succeeded in secretly writing his abdication, and in sending his favorite valet with it to the Council of Castile. But the vigilant queen detected the movement. The dangerous paper was recovered and destroyed. An oath was extorted from the king that he would not renew his clandestine attempt to abdicate. The queers conducted all operations in his name, signing decrees with a stamp which had been prepared with his signature. Philip was peculiarly jealous of his authority, and it required consummate adroitness on the part of his wife to disguise her dictatorship, and to make her decisions appear like the suggestions of his own mind.

The bodily and mental maladies of the king gradually increased. He became very moody. Frequently he would [359] neither transact any business himself nor allow it to be transacted by others. Occasionally he would revive and push matters with the utmost vigor. But generally he dragged on a miserable existence in a state of extreme dejection, passing most of his time in bed. No one could fail to be struck with the deplorable contrast which his existence presented between human wretchedness and regal splendor. He died suddenly, in a fit of apoplexy, in July, 1746. He left several children, all of whom, aided by the intrigues of his wife, attained eminent positions of wealth and power. His second son, Ferdinand, succeeded his father. The queen had an annual income of seventy thousand dollars settled upon her, with the palace of St. Ildefonso. This ambitious woman survived her husband, many years, retaining to the last her energy and vivacity.

Ferdinand VI., the only surviving son of Philip and Maria Louisa of Savoy, was thirty-four years of age upon his accession to the throne. His stepmother, Elizabeth Farnese, had never treated him kindly. All her energies were devoted to the promotion of the interests of her own children. He however generously forgave his mother all her injustice, and manifested no spirit of revenge. He was short in stature, of unprepossessing personal appearance, moderate in his abilities, and subject to violent fits of passion. He was economical, truthful, and anxious to promote peace at home and abroad. Unfortunately he inherited the melancholy temperament of his father, and that hypochondriac malady which plunged him almost into insanity upon the slightest sickness or anxiety. Averse to business, incapable of application, he left the burden of affairs with his ministers, and devoted himself to the chase and other pursuits of pleasure. Apparently he was con- [360] scious of his utter want of administrative ability. When some one complimented him upon his skill in shooting, he replied, "It would be extraordinary if I could not do one thing well."

The wife of Ferdinand VI., Maria Magdalena Theresa Barbara, was the daughter of John V., King of Portugal, and was two years older than her husband. She was unwieldy in figure and plain in features, but so amiable, sprightly, and agreeable in address that she won the warm affection of Ferdinand. She was however subject to occasional seasons of extreme dejection, when her mind brooded upon the terrors of sudden death or of lasting poverty. She had no children, and had sorrowfully relinquished all hope of offspring.

The shrewd men who gathered the reins of government in their hands, one of whom was a successful opera singer, paid no attention to the wants of the people, but were all engrossed by the intrigues and plans of alliance which then agitated the courts of Europe, engaged as they were in the innumerable and complicated wars to which dynastic ambition gave birth. England and France, ever two rival powers, each had their agents in Madrid, endeavoring, by bribes and by threats, to obtain the alliance of Spain. England even proposed, as the price of an alliance, to surrender Gibraltar to Spain. Ten or twelve inglorious and uneventful years thus passed away, when Barbara, who had long been in declining health, died, in August, 1758.

The blow was fatal to the semi-insane king. He was plunged into the deepest state of melancholy. Immuring himself in one of his palaces, he assumed obdurate silence, refusing to attend to any business, and at times even to partake of any food. For seven days he kept his bed, refusing [361] to see any persons but his two physicians. Then again for days and nights he would not enter his bed. Apparently he did not sleep at all, but would walk about his room with no other covering but his shirt, occasionally sitting down for half an hour in his chair. Death came to the relief of the unhappy man on the 10th August, 1759, in the forty-seventh year of his age, and the fourteenth of his reign.

By the death of' Ferdinand VI. without issue, the crown devolved upon his half-brother, the son of Elizabeth Farnese, then King of Naples. He assumed the title of Charles III. His mother, then living, was appointed to the regency until he could arrive in Spain. The king's first-born son was idiotic. In arranging for the succession, the king appointed his second son, Charles, heir to the Spanish crown, and his third son, Ferdinand, he appointed King of Naples and Sicily.

The king, with all the royal family excepting Ferdinand, was conveyed in a fleet of sixteen ships of the line to Spain. It is said that the Neapolitan people gathered around him upon his embarkation with tears. A four day's voyage conveyed the royal family to Barcelona. Charles III. was cordially received in Spain, where he was born. His mother he had not seen for twenty years. In his little realm of Naples Charles had devoted much attention to the subjects of finance, commerce, and agriculture. The new king is represented as a man of respectable abilities, good memory, and of uncommon command of himself. Being of the House of Bourbon, he ever retained a strong affection for France, and favored the French rather than the English alliance.

The Jesuits had now attained so much wealth and power that they became rivals of the king and the court. It [362] was an age of ignorance. The priests were at every dying bed. Many a remorseful sinner, hoping to make some amends for his crimes, bequeathed large sums, if not all his possessions, to the Church. Thus the Jesuits, bound together by the most rigorous rules which fanaticism could frame, became the most powerful society ever known upon earth. Adopting the maxim that "the end sanctifies the means," there was no crime of falsehood, treachery, murder, which in their eyes did not become a virtue, if its perpetration aided in promoting the interests of what they called the Church. Conscious of their power, they caused kings and courts to tremble before their arrogance. It was long before any statesman was found bold enough to strike at this formidable spiritual Colossus.

In 1757, in consequence of some bold intrigues in which the Jesuits were engaged in Portugal, and their implication in a memorable attempt to assassinate the king, the Portuguese court, roused to desperate action, issued a decree confiscating the property of the Jesuits and banishing them from the kingdom. These bold measures against the formidable organization in some degree dissipated the terror which their name and power had inspired. The literati of France opened upon them a merciless warfare, with assaults of ridicule and contempt so fierce as to create against them a general feeling of aversion. The result was that, in 1764, they were expelled from France. The decree declared them to be a political society dangerous to religion and devoted to self-aggrandizement. There was not much sense of right in those days. The end sanctified the means. Their assailants did not hesitate to resort to any measures whatever which would excite odium against the Jesuits. Forged letters were circulated in the names of the chiefs. [363] False charges of the most horrible nature were propagated against them.

The Jesuits, or Society of Jesus, had originated under Ignatius Loyola in Spain. There can be no question that Loyola was as sincere  and conscientious  as was ever fanatic in this world. The Duke de Choiseul, who had contributed much to the expulsion of the Jesuits from France, now consecrated all his energies to secure their expulsion from Spain. Rumors were circulated, no one can tell whether true or false, of their conspiracies against the Spanish Government. A forged letter was presented from the head of the order at Rome, calling upon the leaders in Spain to promote an insurrection.

It so happened that at this time, much to the chagrin of Charles III., the English party in Madrid gained the ascendancy. The populace of Madrid, in wild insurrection, swept the streets, shouting "England forever;" "Down with the French." They demanded the dismissal of the king's favorite minister Squilaci. A conflict was the result. For forty-eight hours Madrid was in the hands of the mob. Many of the king's guard were killed. Their bodies, shockingly mangled, were dragged through the streets, and were burned upon bonfires. Charles was compelled to yield to the clamors of the mob, and was consequently almost frantic with mortification and rage. At the same time there were similar insurrections in other parts of the kingdom.

The skill with which these insurrections were managed clearly indicated that they originated in and were controlled by some secret intelligence far superior to any thing which was to be found in the minds of the besotted populace. The king, brooding over his humiliation, was led to suspect the Jesuits. In his sullen humor he retired to Avanjuer, [364] and for eight months refused to take up his residence again at Madrid. The French minister was unwearied in his endeavors to induce the king to imitate the example of France. Thus influenced, Charles III. became the implacable foe of the Jesuits. But their power was so great, from their numbers, their talents, and their various opportunities of controlling the public mind, that it was necessary for the king to move with the utmost caution.

Charles sent circulars to the governors of each province, with secret instructions that they were to open them only at a particular hour and in a particular place. At the appointed moment, at midnight on the 31st of March, 1767, the colleges of the Jesuits in all parts of Spain were surrounded with troops, and all their inmates arrested. They were then led, carefully guarded, to carriages previously collected for their transportation, and were thus conveyed to different places on the coast, where frigates were in waiting, which bore them to Civita Vecchia, in Italy. So perfect were the precautions and so prompt the execution, that nothing was known of their arrest by the inhabitants of the places of their residence until the next morning.

In this movement, as everywhere in the events of this sad world, we see the suffering caused by the cruelty of man. The Pope forbade their landing in his dominions, saying that his treasury was too poor to maintain them. The weather was hot; they were crowded like convicts in the transports; many perished. For three months they were beating about in the Mediterranean. At last they were landed upon the island of Corsica, where they were crowded into warehouses, without beds or any of the necessaries of life. The Pope finally permitted them to be landed in Italy, where he settled upon them a maintenance [365] which Spain promised to pay, amounting to one shilling a day for each. However dangerous may have been the character of this society, dreadful is that despotism which enabled a weak, passionate man to arrest, simply at his own good pleasure, a large religious order, without trial, without accusation even, and to banish them forever from their native land, under circumstances of cruelty more to be dreaded than death. Under this despotic proscription, the Jesuits were forbidden to make any attempt whatever in justification of their conduct. In the edict for their expulsion every inhabitant of Spain was prohibited from publishing any thing for or against them; and it was declared that if a single Jesuit should send forth the slightest apology in their favor, the pensions of all should instantly cease.

In a letter to the Pope the king announced that the tranquillity of his states and the honor of his crown rendered it necessary for him to expel the Jesuits, but that he would assume the expense of their maintenance. The Pope very reluctantly acquiesced in the expulsion of such zealous partisans of the Holy See. In the correspondence which ensued, both the pontiff and the king, in words at least, breathed the spirit of humanity and of piety. The Pope, after warmly eulogizing the order, implored the king, "as he loved his wife then in heaven, who on earth manifested so much attachment to the Society of Jesus; as he loved the Church, the spouse of Christ; as he regarded the wishes of the Pope himself; as he loved the sweet name of Jesus, which was the glorious device of the sons of Saint Ignatius, that he would revoke or suspend the execution of his order." But the king, in a reply full of expressions of respect and affection, remained firm in his resolve.

[366] The Jesuits, though persecuted, still had power. The king had daily proofs of the success of their secret intrigues. The year after their expulsion the king showed himself upon the balcony of the palace to the people. To the surprise and confusion of the whole court, the immense multitude simultaneously, and as with one voice, demanded the return of the Jesuits. A new Pope was ere long elected, Clement XIV. Spain exerted so powerful an influence in his elevation that, in gratitude, he yielded to the solicitations of Charles III., accompanied by those of other Catholic courts, and abolished the Order of Jesus in 1793. The Inquisition had by this time lost somewhat of its sanguinary power. And yet the intolerance which remained may be inferred from the following incident:

A gentleman by the name of Don Olavide, a man of wealth, who stood high in court favor, and who was distinguished for his literary acquirements, established a journal in Madrid which attracted considerable attention. Extensive travel had enlarged his mind, so that he regarded with strong disapproval the fanaticism of the Papal Church. He even ventured to ridicule the idleness and licentiousness of the monks, and to point out the varied mischiefs which arose from the celibacy of the clergy. The jealousy of the Church was aroused, his words were carefully watched, and a formal accusation of heresy was preferred against him before the tribunal of the Inquisition. After two years of imprisonment, during which the irresponsible inquisitors, in their secret conclave, investigated his offenses and decided his fate, Olavide was called before them to receive his doom, from which there was no appeal.

The hall of the Inquisition was a long gloomy apartment with windows near the ceiling. Under a black canopy at [367] one end of the room a crucifix was placed, as if constituting a throne. In front of this stood a table, with chairs, at which the two inquisitors sat. Their functions were invested with so much solemnity and awe that the highest grandees of the realm stood at their side as servants, without hat or sword. Before the table there was a stool for the prisoner, and two stools for his guards. There were benches along the walls which were crowded with spectators, who were summoned to witness the scene. The accused, emaciate and enfeebled by long and cruel imprisonment, was brought before his judges. An eye-witness thus describes the ceremony:

"Olavide soon appeared, attended by brothers in black, his looks quite cast down, his hands closed together, and holding a green taper. His dress was an olive-colored coat and waistcoat, white canvas breeches and thread stockings, and his hair was combed back into a bag. He was seated on the stool prepared for him. The secretaries then read, during three hours, the accustomed accusations and proceedings against him.

"They consisted of above a hundred articles, such as his possession of free books, loose pictures, letters of recommendation from Voltaire, his having neglected some external duties of devotion, uttering hasty expressions, his inattention to images, together with every particular of his life, birth, and education: all were noted. It concluded declaring him guilty of heresy. At that moment, in utter exhaustion, he fainted away, but was brought to the recovery of his senses, that he might hear the sentence pronounced against him.

"It was no less than this: deprivation of all his offices; incapacity of holding any office hereafter, or of receiving [368] any royal favor; confiscation of his property, banishment to thirty leagues from Madrid, from all places of royal residence, from Seville, the new colony, and from Lima, the place of his birth; prohibition from riding on horseback, or wearing gold, silver, or silk; and eight years imprisonment and monastic discipline in a convent.

"The sentence being read, he was led to the table, where, on his knees, he recanted his errors and acknowledged his implicit belief in the articles of the Roman Catholic faith. Four priests in surplices and with wands in their hands then came in. They repeatedly laid their wands across his shoulders, while a miserere  was sung. He then withdrew. The inquisitors bowed, and the strangers silently departed, with terror in their hearts but discretion on their lips."

Rigorous as this punishment was, it was mild compared with that which would inevitably have been inflicted upon the accused but a few years before. He then could not have escaped being burned alive, probably after having experienced terrible tortures.

The possession of Gibraltar by England was a great mortification to the pride of Spain. Innumerable were the efforts of the Spanish Government, by diplomacy, by purchase, by intrigue, by war, to obtain possession of that portion of its territory. But all was in vain. The British Government held its conquest with a grasp which no influence or power could relax. About the year 1781, Spain, in alliance with France, made one of the most desperate and energetic attempts recorded in history to regain Gibraltar. The world-renowned rock, burrowed into innumerable chambers and galleries, was garrisoned by seven thousand veteran troops. They were supplied with an abun- [369] dance of the heaviest artillery and all the munitions of war. An allied army of French and Spaniards advanced, by trenches, along the low and narrow neck of land which connects the stupendous rock with the mainland. A squadron of ten immense floating batteries made the attack by sea, aided by a powerful fleet of gun-boats and ships of the line. These batteries were of enormous strength and magnitude. They bore an armament of two hundred and fourteen of the heaviest guns, and were manned by over five thousand men.

The front of these floating fortresses was covered by three massive layers of solid heavy timber three feet thick. A shelving roof was contrived, to glance off shells and grapeshot. The exterior was covered with cordage and wet hides, to prevent conflagration. Beneath the roof there were reservoirs of water, which, by an ingenious contrivance, was conveyed by channels through all the woodwork of the structure like veins in the human body, so that red-hot shot cutting these pipes would be immediately inundated. These batteries were to be aided in the attack by numerous bomb-vessels and gun-boats and ten ships of' the line. The assault was to be made simultaneously by both the land and the sea forces.

These majestic preparations roused the ardor of all Spain. The king was exceedingly excited. He could talk of but little else, and was sanguine in his conviction that the British invaders would soon be driven from Spanish soil. As the hour for the tremendous cannonade approached, thousands of spectators lined the adjacent hills. The most distinguished of the nobility of France and Spain had gathered to the spot. The attack commenced on the morning of the 13th of September, 1781. The batteries [370] were moored at regular distances within six hundred yards of the works. The cannonade which ensued was the heaviest which earth had then ever known. Four hundred of the heaviest pieces of artillery were pealing forth their sublime thunderings every moment.

Hours elapsed while the conflict continued unabated, and no one could perceive any superiority on either side. The floating batteries seemed to baffle all the powers of the Gibraltar guns; and no more impression seemed to be made upon the rock itself than if the shot had been hurled against the eternal cliffs of Sinai. The English commander inquired with surprise, as the hours passed away, and his heaviest shells rebounded harmless from the batteries, and his balls of fire kindled no conflagration, "What can be the composition of these machines, on which red-hot balls produce no effect?"

At last, as night came on, some of the shot penetrated. Two of the batteries were on fire. Billows of smoke were followed by bursting flames. Rockets were thrown up as signals of distress. Numerous boats were instantly sent from the fleet to rescue the crews from these floating masses, which were now furnaces of flame. But the English, to baffle this attempt, sent out twelve gun-boats, which swept the water with grape and canister, and drove back the rescuing boats to the fleet. At this awful moment numbers were seen hanging to the burning sides of the vessels, shrieking as the flames enveloped them. Others were floating upon pieces of timber, with agonizing cries imploring help. From others of the batteries flames began now to ascend. The fate of the enterprise was decided, and the assailants, no longer continuing their fire, as far as possible withdrew.

[371] The fire of the garrison immediately ceased, and the English commander did every thing in his power to rescue the perishing. But, notwithstanding all his efforts, two thousand perished in the flames or in the sea. The Spaniards themselves set fire to the remaining batteries to avoid their capture. Before the morning dawned the majestic armament had vanished. The semblance of a siege was for a time kept up, but at the approach of a powerful naval force from England the allied fleet retired.

The possession of Gibraltar by England has ever been, and so long as it continues must ever be, a thorn in the side of Spain—an insuperable obstacle in the way of the establishment of any cordial alliance between the two nations. In the year 1788 Charles III. had attained an advanced age. Though he had encountered political disappointments and domestic sorrows, he endeavored to find recompense for them in the pleasures of the chase, to which he was passionately attached. This pastime was the peculiar foible of the Bourbon race of kings. We are told that Charles was irreproachable in his morals. After the death of his wife, Amelia of Saxony, who bore him thirteen children, he lived a pure life, and manifested his attachment to his departed companion by declining repeated and pressing offers of the most beautiful and accomplished princesses in Europe.

He was scrupulously devoted to the interests of his religion, while jealous of any encroachments of the Pope or clergy on the civil authority. He was, on the whole, a well-meaning, kind-hearted man. His ruling passion, the love of shooting, absorbed every other feeling, and took the precedence of every other pursuit. He considered that day lost in which he had taken no part in his favorite amuse- [372] ment. He kept a minute diary of his exploits as a sportsman. To a foreign ambassador, just before his death, he boasted that he had killed with his own hand five hundred and thirty-nine wolves, and five thousand three hundred and twenty-three foxes; adding, with a smile, "You see that my diversion is not useless to my country." Being a member of the House of Bourbon, his natural bias was strongly in favor of France. The people generally spoke of him as the good old king. An English traveller who visited his court writes:

"I believe that there are but three days in the whole year that he spends without going out a-shooting, and those are noted with the blackest mark in the calendar. No storm, heat, or cold can keep him at home; and when he hears of a wolf, distance is counted for nothing. He would drive over half the kingdom rather than miss an opportunity of firing upon that favorite game. Besides a numerous retinue of persons belonging to the hunting establishment, several times a year all the idle fellows in and about Madrid are hired to beat the country and drive the wild boars, deer, and hares into a ring, where they pass before the royal family."

The latter part of the year 1788 Charles was seized with a cold. This led to an inflammatory fever, which hurried him to the grave, in the seventy-third year of his age, and the seventeenth of his reign. He gathered his family around his dying bed, and affectionately took leave of them, entreating them earnestly to adhere to the religion of their ancestors. The crown thus descended to his son Charles IV., then thirty years of age.


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