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


 

 

PHILIP II., III., AND IV.

(From 1563 A.D. to 1699 A.D.)

Death of Isabella.—Anne of Austria.—Oppression of the Moriscoes.—Their Insurrection.—Horrors of the Conflict.—Don John of Austria.—Anecdotes.—Religion and Bigotry.—Character of Philip.—The Escurial.—Death of Philip.—Reign of Philip III.—The Regency.—Death of Don John.

[325] THREE months after the death of the wretched Don Carlos, his unhappy mother-in-law, the young and beautiful Queen Isabella, gave birth to her third child, and, with her babe, sank into the grave. This sad event gave a new impulse to the imaginations of those who had imagined a strong passion to exist between the prince and his stepmother. Though no one has cast reproach upon the fair fame of Isabella, many have attributed the death of both the prince and the queen to the jealousy of Philip. The Prince of Orange openly charges the king with the murder of both his son and his wife. The queen, when informed that she must die, seemed perfectly resigned to leave the world. With loving words she endeavored to cheer those who were weeping around her bedside. She partook of the sacrament, and the rite of extreme unction was administered.

"The queen," writes one of the Spanish annalists, "spoke to her husband very naturally, and like a Christian. She took leave of him forever, and never did princess show more goodness and piety. She commended to him her [326] two daughters and her principal attendants, beseeching him to live in amity with the King of France, her brother, and to maintain peace."

Philip seemed much affected in this last interview with his wife. Retiring to his chamber, he sent her a fragment of the true cross, richly studded with gems, to sustain her in her last moments. Immediately after the king left, the French ambassador was summoned to her dying bed.

"You see me," said Isabella, "in the act of quitting this vain world, to pass to a more pleasant kingdom, there, as I hope, to be forever with my God. Tell my mother the queen, and the king my brother, to bear my death with patience, and to comfort themselves with the reflection that no happiness on earth has ever made me so content as the prospect now does of approaching my Creator. I shall soon be in a better situation to do them service, and to implore God to take them and my brothers under his holy protection. Beseech them in my name to watch over their kingdom, that an end may be put to the heresies which have spread there. And I will pray Heaven in its mercy to grant that they may take my death with patience and hold me for happy."

Then, in response to a few words of sympathy which the ambassador addressed to her, she said, "God has given me grace to despise the world and its grandeur, and to fix all my hopes on him and Jesus Christ. Never did a thought occasion me less anxiety than that of death."

She remained perfectly conscious almost until the moment when the last breath left her body. The tolling of the bells of the city announced her death. The excitable populace filled the air with their lamentations. Her burial was attended with all the most imposing and affecting [327] ceremonials of woe. Dying suddenly, at the early age of twenty-three, she was exceedingly beautiful in death. None could gaze upon her lovely remains, her babe by her side, without tears.

Eighteen months after this event the king led to the altar his fourth bride, Anne of Austria. It is a singular fact that this lady was also destined for Don Carlos. The Emperor and Empress of Germany had earnestly sought the alliance of their daughter with the young heir of Spain. Philip did not favor the match. The reputation of Philip may be inferred from the fact that he was openly accused of having murdered Isabella, that he might marry the young Anne of Austria.

We must now turn from these domestic scenes to others of more national moment. It will be remembered that in Southern Spain there was a very considerable population of the descendants of the Moors. They were called Moriscoes, and had been constrained, by bribes and threats, nominally to embrace Christianity. They still, however, in secret clung to their old religion, adhering to the customs of their ancestors, and speaking the Arabic language. They were denounced by the clergy as heretics, and the king resolved upon measures to effect their more thorough conversion. It was accordingly decreed that the Moriscoes should all exchange their national dress for that of the Spaniards; that the women should not veil their faces; that weddings should be conducted in public, and after Christian forms; that on the day of a marriage ceremony the doors of the house should be left open, that all passers-by might see whether they practised any Mohammedan rites; that all bathing-vessels should be destroyed; that they should no longer employ the Arabic language either [328] in speaking or writing, but should adopt the Castilian tongue; and that all Arabic names were to be exchanged for Spanish ones. These edicts were enforced by the severest penalties of banishment, fine, and imprisonment.

On the first of January, 1568, the Moriscoes were assembled by the public crier, and by an imposing procession of Spanish officers, accompanied by music, in the principal squares of their cities. The cruel ordinance was read to them. With grief and indignation they listened to the atrocious decrees depriving them of their language, their customs, the privilege of bathing, and compelling their women to shock all their ideas of delicacy by appearing abroad unveiled. Some moaned piteously, wringing their hands in anguish. Some bit their lips with rage, and vowed to die rather than submit to such outrages. An immediate tumult was prevented by some of the more discreet persuading the excited multitude to appoint a committee to implore a mitigation of the decree. The most strenuous and persevering efforts were made to avert the doom. All were unavailing. In their despair the Moriscoes were goaded, after twelve months of unendurable oppression, into a general insurrection. Thus far all our sympathies are with them. They were as lambs devoured by wolves.

Suddenly our sympathies vanish. They are converted into tigers, more merciless than the most ferocious beasts of the forests. It would seem, from the history of man, that there is in his bosom a latent demon, waiting for an opportunity to burst forth. Early in 1569 the Moriscoes rose in a general insurrection. Immediately they commenced the massacre, with every conceivable circumstance of cruelty, of all the Christians, men, women, and children within their reach. Language can scarcely exaggerate the [329] horrors which ensued. Imagination can not conceive of greater cruelty. The Christians were burned to death in the buildings to which they had fled for refuge. They were tortured with all the appliances of suffering which human ingenuity could devise. The Moorish women and children vied with the men in the most diabolical deeds of vengeance. Many a Moor had perished in the flames of the Inquisition. They now retaliated, exposing their victims to the most terrible tortures which fire could inflict. The recital of such scenes of fiendish cruelty causes the blood to curdle in one's veins. In less than a week three thousand of the Christian population thus perished. It is awful to contemplate such scenes of woe caused by man's inhumanity to man. As simply one of the incidents of the struggle, a large party of Christian families fled, protected by a small band of cavalry, on foot across the flinty paths of the mountains. Many of them had neither stockings nor shoes. Their locks were disheveled by the wintry tempests, and their whole aspect presented an expression of unutterable woe. With their homes demolished, in abject poverty, their husbands and brothers killed, there was nothing before them but life-long wretchedness.

And yet these very Moors, before they had been goaded to desperation by the outrageous edicts of Philip, had been kind neighbors and friends. The Moriscoes were so numerous, rich, and powerful, that they raised an efficient army of eight or ten thousand men, and fought several battles with intensest fury. But it was impossible for them long to withstand the power of the Spanish monarchy. The atrocities perpetrated by the triumphant Christians were almost equal to those which the Moors had inflicted.

[330] There were many noble men inspired by the spirit of true religion who tried to avert these horrors. But infuriate soldiers are not easily restrained. The unchained tiger, who can cage?

"The cruelties committed by the troops," says a Spanish writer, "were such as the pen refuses to record. I myself saw the corpse of a Morisco woman, covered with wounds, stretched upon the ground, with six of her children lying dead around her. She had succeeded in protecting a seventh, still an infant, with her body; and though the lances which pierced her had passed through its clothes, it had marvellously escaped any injury. It was clinging to its dead mother's bosom, from which it drew milk that was mingled with blood. I carried it away and saved it."

Religious rites were blended with the most atrocious acts of cruelty. The Spanish army, before entering into battle, knelt in prayer, invoking God's blessing. And after a victory, when weakened by debauchery, glutted with booty, and crimsoned with the blood of women and children, these fanatics, marching under the banner of the cross, repaired in solemn procession to the churches, where they prostrated themselves in adoration and chanted the Te Deum. From these acts of devotion they would proceed to divide their pillage. On one occasion sixteen hundred Moorish girls, many of them exceedingly refined and beautiful, were delivered up to the brutal soldiery. For a fortnight the Christian camp presented a carnival of riot and debauchery.

The country of the Moriscoes was ere long overrun and subjugated. "Wretched bands wandered among the mountains, perishing of hunger and cold. A young man now took part in these proceedings who deserves especial notice. [331] He is known in history as Don John of Austria. Charles V., attracted by the beauty of a German girl, Barbara Blomberg, took her as his guilty favorite. She gave birth to a child, Don John, about the year 1547. The emperor settled a small annuity upon the mother, but for some time paid no attention to the child. He was left to grow up among the boys of the village, with no other instruction than such as he received from the parish priest. But from his earliest years he developed unusual vivacity of mind and energy of character. At length the emperor, often influenced by religious spasms, seemed to awake to the consciousness that he ought not to allow his own child to receive no better training than could be found in the cottage of a peasant.

Though not openly recognizing him, the child was transferred to the care of a capable guardian in the neighborhood of Valladolid. This gentleman, Luis Quixada, who is represented as, in zeal for the faith and in devotion to the king, one of the noblest of the Spanish grandees, received Don John into his family. The wife of Quixada, a lady of illustrious birth, was even more distinguished by her virtues than by her rank. This lady was not informed of the secret of the lad's birth. Her husband told her that he was the son of a very dear friend; and that he wished to adopt him, as they had no children of their own. The good lady received the child lovingly, for some time suspecting that he was the offspring of her husband from some intrigue previous to his marriage. This boy, whom they called by the name of Geronimo, was remarkably beautiful, and so gentle and affectionate in his nature as to win the most tender regard of his stepmother. In this noble family Geronimo acquired all those knightly qual- [332] ities which were so highly esteemed by the Spanish chivalry.

When Charles V., after his abdication, retired to his cloister life, the interest he took in the child was such that Quixada was directed to bring his family to the adjoining village of Cuacos. How often the emperor saw the child is uncertain, as he carefully kept the secret of his paternity. It is not improbable that the boy had no suspicion that the emperor was his father. A Spanish writer records that "the boy sometimes was casually seen by the emperor, who was careful to maintain his usual reserved and dignified demeanor, so that no one could suspect his secret. Once or twice the lad entered the apartment of his father, who doubtless spoke to him as he would have spoken to any other boy."

Gradually, however, rumors began to rise in the neighborhood in reference to his birth. After the emperor's death there was found a sealed testamentary paper, addressed to his son Philip, in which he acknowledged the child, gave directions in reference to his education, and settled upon him an estate in the kingdom of Naples with an annual income of about forty thousand ducats. In the mean time the queen's daughter Joanna, then regent in Spain, had heard rumors of her relationship to Geronimo. Through her secretary she wrote to Quixada. He endeavored to evade the question. She then wrote, when he was absent, to his wife. It seems, that she by this time had become enlightened upon the subject. Arrangements were made for her to bring the boy to a place where Joanna could see him. It is singularly illustrative of the times that the place selected was at an auto de fé  in Valladolid. As in modern days an appointment would be made to [333] meet at the theatre or the opera, so then the appointment was made to meet at an exciting festival where human beings were to be burned alive.

On the appointed day Dona Magdalena, the wife of Quixada, took her seat, with Geronimo, on the platform erected for the grandees, in full view of the scaffold where the victims were to suffer. As Joanna, the regent, approached with the royal train, she looked eagerly for the boy. The child shrunk back before her long and intense gaze. In his bright blue eyes, his ample forehead, his golden locks, she felt sure that she recognized the lineaments of his race, and her heart yearned over the beautiful boy with a sister's love. She approached him, in the presence of all threw her arms around his neck, and kissed him fondly, calling him her brother.

This curious scene attracted the spectators, and quite a crowd gathered around. One of the nobles then took Geronimo in his arms and carried him to the royal carriage. All mystery was now dispelled. Philip soon returned from the Netherlands, and made arrangements for a public interview with his brother and a recognition of his birth. The spot assigned was an extensive park near Valladolid. Quixada, richly dressed, and mounted on a splendid charger, with Geronimo simply attired, on a plain steed by his side, and followed by numerous vassals, reached the place appointed. Soon they heard the clattering of the royal cavalcade. Quixada pointed out the king to Geronimo, saying that his majesty had something of importance to communicate to him. The boy, previously instructed, drew near to Philip, and, kneeling, begged to kiss his majesty's hand. The king fixed his eyes very intently upon the youth and said, abruptly, "Do you know who is your [334] father?" Geronimo, disconcerted by the question, fixed his eyes upon the ground and made no reply. Philip then, alighting from his horse, embraced him cordially, saying, "Take courage, my child. You are descended from a great man. The Emperor Charles V., now in glory, is your father as well as mine."

He then presented the lad to the accompanying lords as his brother, and the son of their late sovereign. They thronged around him with expressions of homage, and the scene was concluded by the king's buckling a sword upon his brother's side and throwing around his neck the collar of the Golden Fleece. The news of the strange event spread rapidly. As the king and his retinue, with the wonderfully handsome young prince, returned to Valladolid, the whole city was in commotion, and the streets resounded with cheers. An establishment suitable to his condition was immediately provided for the young prince. One of the most splendid mansions in Madrid was assigned to him, and he was furnished with a numerous band of retainers. His name was now changed to John of Austria. It would be difficult to find in the dreams of fiction a more wonderful and sudden change than this elevation of a peasant-boy to the station of a prince of the blood. He was sent to the University of Alcala, where he had for his associates his nephew Don Carlos, whose sad fate we have already recorded, and Alexander Farnese, son of Margaret of Parma, who was also a natural daughter of Charles V.

Don John seems to have been born for chivalric deeds. After three years of efficient study, he left the University in 1564. His heroic character won for him troops of friends. His fairy-like change of condition seems only to have inspired him with nobler aspirations. In 1658 he [335] was placed in command of a fleet to punish the Barbary corsairs. He was so successful that on his return after an absence of eight months the nation greeted him with applause.

Don John was not long after sent by Philip to quell the insurrection of the Moriscoes, and to adopt measures which should prevent the possibility of any future uprising. Like sheep, the poor creatures, bound with cords, were driven from their beautiful cities in bands of thousands, and were scattered over the less populous districts of Spain. Their sufferings were dreadful. No suitable provision had been made for such a transportation. Many perished of hunger and fatigue. Not a few were kidnapped and sold as slaves. In all the arts of peace, in agriculture and the mechanic arts, the Moriscoes were superior to the Spanish Christians. The desolation which the ravages of war and exile spread over their sunny and beautiful country, contributed greatly to that impoverishment into which Spain so rapidly sunk.

Still there were many bands, often numbering thousands of warriors, who amidst the defiles of the mountains fought desperately, resolved to sell their lives as clearly as possible. In these encounters Don John, like a paladin of romance, was ever in front of the battle, seeming to court danger. Not unfrequently the Spanish chivalry were repelled with fearful loss. Upon one occasion Don John, enraged at a reverse of his arms, exclaimed:

"The infidels shall pay dear for the Christian blood they have shed this day. The next assault will place Galena in our power. Every soul within its walls, man, woman, and child, shall be put to the sword. Not one shall be spared. The houses shall be razed to the ground, and the soil they covered shall be sown with salt."

[336] Such barbarity was not inconsistent with what is called chivalry. The event proved that this was not an empty threat. The city of Galena, after as firm a resistance as history can record, was taken by storm. Don John sat upon his horse looking calmly upon the indiscriminate massacre, undeterred by shrieks, as men, women, and children were hewed down by his soldiers. At last he chivalrously consented that the remaining women, and the children under twelve years of age, should be spared, that they might be distributed among his brutal followers. The city, after having been despoiled of all its treasures, was utterly demolished. Such were the scenes which took place in Christian Spain only three hundred years ago. In view of them, statesmen and ecclesiastics thronged the churches to give God thanks for the signal victories which He had vouchsafed to the faithful. In the light of such events it must be admitted that the world has surely made progress.

One is bewildered in reading of the lives and the death of many of these men, in seeing how conscientiously they enacted the part of fiends. Quixada was slain in one of these battles of extermination against a people goaded, by the most outrageous injustice, to despair. His chronicler writes, "We may piously trust that the soul of Don Luis rose up to heaven with the sweet incense which burned on the altars of St. Jerome. For he spent his life, and finally lost it, in fighting like a valiant soldier the battles of the faith."

The king, who had urged the iniquitous war against the rights of humanity, wrote in reference to the death of Quixada, "We may be consoled by the reflection that, living and dying as he did, he can not fail to have exchanged this world for a better." And Quixada was a good knight. [337] Though he could plunge his sword into the bosoms of maidens, and hew off the heads of babes at their mothers' breasts, he was, in accordance with the estimation of the times, the soul of honor, and his integrity was unsullied. Don John was a man of warm affections. After the death of Quixada, his foster-father, he wrote the following letter of condolence to Dona Magdalena, his foster-mother, whom he tenderly loved:

"Luis died as became him, fighting for the glory and safety of his son, and covered with immortal honor. Whatever I am, whatever I shall be, I owe to him, by whom I was formed, or rather begotten, in a nobler birth. Dear, sorrowing, widowed mother, I only am left to you. And to you indeed do I of right belong, for whose sake Luis died, and you have been stricken with this woe. Moderate your grief with your wonted wisdom. Would that I were near you now, to dry your tears or mingle mine with them. Farewell, dearest and most honored mother. Pray to God to send back your son from these wars to your bosom."

Don John distributed his army into detachments, sending them out to scour the country in all directions. The wretched creatures were pursued as the huntsman pursues wolves. At length they were so crushed that further resistance was impossible. They were all driven into the interior of Spain, and Christian emigrants flocked in to occupy their abandoned houses and fields. It is impossible to state with accuracy the number of Moriscoes who survived the exterminating war, and who were thus expelled from their homes. They must, however, have amounted to many thousands. They clung together, preserving their nationality, and so rapidly increased that ere long they [338] became again quite a power in Spain. And here we must for a time take leave of Don John, though the nodding of his plume was often afterwards conspicuous in many a desperate encounter. He soon again appears in the arena of Spanish affairs.

Philip was a solitary man—like all his race, of melancholy temperament. There were no sports in which he took any interest. He never conducted military expeditions in person, was reserved, and difficult of access. But he was unwearied in the toil of the Cabinet, often laboring in solitude long into the hours of the night. The Escurial was his favorite place of retreat. His household, however, was formed on a very extravagant model, and was the most magnificent in Europe. Its host of officers, nearly all nobles or cavaliers of family, numbered fifteen hundred persons. The queen also had her establishment on a similar scale. She had four physicians and twenty-six ladies in waiting. It is said that the king spent many lonely hours in meditation and prayer. His recluse habits did not please his subjects. One of the dignitaries of the Church in the following terms ventured to remonstrate with him:

"Your Majesty's subjects everywhere complain of your manner of doing business, sitting all day long over your papers, from your desire, as they intimate, to seclude yourself from the world, and from a want of confidence in your ministers. Hence such interminable delays as fill the soul of every suitor with despair. The Almighty did not send kings into the world to spend their days in reading or writing, or even in meditation and prayer, but to serve as public oracles, to which all may resort for answers. If any sovereign have received this grace, it is your Majesty."

[339] The great lords had vast estates, with large revenues. They lived upon their estates in the summer, but in the winter generally repaired to Madrid, where they vied with the sovereign in the splendor of their equipages, the richness of their liveries, and the throng of their retainers. The millions were impoverished to enrich the few. And yet, in God's system of compensation, it is not improbable that the poor Spanish peasant in his cottage was no more unhappy than the haughty lord in his castle. It is very certain that few families in Spain could have been more wretched than the royal family was, generation after generation.

The Castilian court, enslaved by etiquette, was universally regarded as formal, sombre, and melancholy. The courtiers, proud and illiterate, furnished no topics for interesting conversation. Some of the nobles had domains whose vassal families numbered thirty thousand. Their halls were filled with retainers. A body-guard of two hundred armed men accompanied them wherever they went. Institutions, which time had formed, invested them with this unnatural and odious power of one man over multitudes of his brethren.

The magnificent palace or monastery of the Escurial, which had required twenty-one years in building, and upon which had been lavished incredible wealth and labor, became, as we have mentioned, the favorite retreat of Philip. Here Philip brought his fourth bride, Anne of Austria. She was his niece, and but twenty-one years of age. With a stately escort, she proceeded to Spain by way of the Netherlands. The match was popular with the Spaniards. They were very anxious for a male heir to the crown. The king had, since the death of Carlos, only [340] daughters. The marriage was solemnized with great pomp in the Cathedral of Segovia on the 14th of November, 1570. Anne was pretty, devotional, amiable, and fond of her needle. For ten years she enjoyed apparently a tranquil life, until she died in 1580, in the thirty-first year of her age. Her children all died in infancy excepting her third son, who survived his mother, and lived to succeed his father upon the throne as Philip III.

Spain was now rapidly on the decline. Civil war, religious persecution, banishment, and emigration were rapidly depopulating the peninsula. Vast treeless wastes appeared, covered with briers, thorns, and rank grass, where flocks of sheep, under the care of shepherds, wandered slowly. Villages and towns fell into ruin. Agriculture was neglected. The poverty was so exhausting, and the difficulty of obtaining subsistence so great, that there were scarcely any marriages. The population rapidly diminished from ten millions to six. Madrid declined from four hundred thousand inhabitants to one hundred and eighty thousand, and other cities in the same proportion. The emigration to America—to Mexico and Peru—was enormous. These emigrants were nearly all young men. Two hundred thousand persons, as priests, monks, and nuns, were devoted to a life of idleness and celibacy. God seemed to frown upon the kingdom, and pestilence and earthquakes added to its woes. The destruction of the immense Armada fitted out for the conquest of England was almost a death-blow to the Spanish monarchy. Philip, with a bankrupt treasury, his own mind enveloped in the deepest gloom, his body tortured by the combined attacks of gout, dropsy, fever, and the most loathsome ulcers, the consequence of his early debaucheries, where vermin swarmed [341] which the physicians endeavored in vain to destroy, died miserably on the 13th of September, 1598.

His son, Philip III., succeeded him in a weak and languishing reign, during every year of which Spain was rapidly falling into decay. By his insane edicts all the Moriscoes were banished from the kingdom. Large numbers took refuge in Africa. One hundred and fifty thousand crossed the Pyrenees, and found homes in France. Philip III. was an ultra religionist. His reign was called the golden age of churchmen. He multiplied monasteries and ecclesiastics. The Cathedral of Seville alone had one hundred religious officials. It is however the uniform testimony that the peasants and tenantry of the ecclesiastical bodies were far more humanely treated than those who held land of the nobles. It was estimated that one-fifth of the land was owned by the Church. During the reign of Philip III. Spain was rapidly sinking into the abyss of impoverishment and disgrace. In 1621 Philip III. died, and Philip IV. ascended the throne.

The reign of Philip IV. was marked only by increasing abuses, imbecility in the administration, and the progress of decay. There was no happiness in the palace or in the cottage. Both the Court and the Church frowned upon popular education, and upon that spirit of commercial or industrial enterprise which would elevate the masses, and thus instruct them in their rights. It was deemed dishonorable and wicked to take interest for money. Thus treasure could only be hoarded up in plate, jewels, and coin. Men in high stations were often poorly clad and hungry.

Philip IV. died in the sixtieth year of his age, leaving an only son, Charles, a sickly child of four years, under the regency of his mother, a weak but very ambitious woman. The [342] queen took a Jesuit priest, Father Nitard, as her adviser, and thus he became in reality the sovereign of Spain. The haughty airs which the upstart assumed offended the proud old Spanish grandees. Don John, whose lineage as son of the emperor, and whose chivalry and popular manners had rendered him a general favorite, marched upon the queen at the head of seven hundred cavaliers. The silly woman was in an agony of despair. She threw herself upon the floor, wrung her hands, and exclaimed frantically,

"Alas! alas! what does it avail me to be queen and regent if I am deprived of this good man, who is my only consolation. The meanest individual is permitted to choose a confessor. I alone am deprived of my spiritual guide."

She was compelled to dismiss her favorite, and the unhappy man came near being torn to pieces by the populace of Madrid. The queen soon chose another favorite, Don Valenzuela, a man of humble birth, but of fascinating manners. His vanity, his ostentation, his assumption of the airs of a successful lover, his motto, "I alone have permission," drew the most scandalous imputations upon the character of his royal mistress, and rendered him exceedingly obnoxious to the nobles.

When Charles was fifteen years of age, he had, by the royal law, attained his majority. This weak, puny boy thus, by the law of hereditary descent, became the absolute monarch of a nation numbering from to eight twelve millions of inhabitants. His mother, with her tears and blandishments, still governed her feeble child, and conceited Valenzuela governed his doting mistress. It is difficult to record these facts without feeling the risings of indignation. And yet it has been well said that every nation has as good a [343] government as it deserves. The people of Spain were so debased that they were satisfied with this. They were delighted to witness the agonies of heretics burned at the stake. They would have fought with desperation, nobles and peasants, to defend their king against any one who should attempt to introduce free institutions. Such a people can only be gradually lifted up from their ignorance and debasement.

Some wise men gained access to Charles II., as the title of the frail child was, and induced him by night to escape from the palace, where, to use a popular but expressive phrase, he had been "tied to the apron-strings of his mother." There was general rejoicing as he assumed the reins of government and appointed Don John prime minister. But the treasury was bankrupt. There was every where misery, which no governmental reforms could immediately remove or alleviate. There were powerful influences opposed to all reform. Don John experienced the inevitable fate of all who attain power. Popular favor rapidly gave place to popular odium.

To strengthen the rapidly-waning power of Spain, Don John negotiated the marriage of the young king Charles with Maria Louisa of France, daughter of the Duke of Orleans, who was brother of Louis XIV. But the minister was assailed with incessant clamor. From every quarter voices of denunciation reached his ears. The chivalric prince could recklessly brave danger; but contumely and abuse it was hard for him to bear. Sinking into a state of deepest melancholy, his health rapidly declined. A lingering and incurable disorder seized him. On the 17th of September, 1679, he died, in the fiftieth year of his age.


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