FERDINAND AND ISABELLA
DEATH OF COLUMBUS.
 THE reign of Ferdinand and Isabella was made noteworthy by the three greatest events of
Spanish history: first, the final conquest of the Moors, and the consequent expulsion of
that able race from the Peninsula; second, the discovery of America, with its vast
resulting increase of Spanish territory and wealth; third, the enforcement of the
Inquisition and the establishment of a religious intolerance so severe as utterly to crush
the intelligence of the people.
Personally, Isabella must have been among the noblest of women. She was deeply and
thoughtfully religious. No faintest shade rests upon her moral character. She was shrewd
and tactful, wise, far-sighted, and ready for all highest thoughts and enthusiasms.
Perhaps she was a paragon of beauty as well; but one must not accept too blindly the
profuse extravagance of adulation with which courtier chronicles portray the features of a
young and powerful Queen.
In the very first act with which Isabella comes before our notice, she displayed both
patriotism and wisdom. Being urged by the ablest and most honorable of the Castilians to
head the rebellion against her feeble and wicked half-brother, Henry, she refused, and
insisted that the factions should become reconciled. Her course endeared her to all
parties except, indeed, the capricious King, who had no wish to see her more popular than
Under Isabella's influence a peace was arranged by which Isabella was
 declared the heir to the feeble and fast aging King, with the right of selecting her own
THE WEDDING OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA.
You may be sure that suitors without number hastened to compete for the hand of the
charming heiress to so rich a kingdom. The brother of crafty old Louis XI. of France was a
candidate, as was the Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV., the triumphant York King of
England. The King of Portugal also came to woo, and managed to enlist the Spanish King so
strongly in his favor, that Isabella found herself in much danger of being forced into the
match. By this time, however, she had made her own choice of a partner, one far more
suitable than either the treacherous English duke, the sickly French prince, or the
widowed Portuguese King. Aragon had, as we have seen, grown to be a powerful state.
Navarre had recently been added to the Aragonian dominion, and the kingdom—what with
its navy and its Italian possessions—was almost, if not quite, the equal of its
neighbor. The oldest son and heir of the kingdom of Aragon was Ferdinand, a youth of
eighteen, who had naturally made his bid for Isabella among the rest. She caused inquiries
to be made as to his character, and learned that he was handsome, manly, and clever. Just
which of the three characteristics moved her most you must guess for yourself; she was
only a year older than the young prince himself. At any rate, she sent Ferdinand word that
if he wanted her he must come in haste and take her.
Indeed, it was high time. Her brother, King Henry, was party to a plot to carry her off
secretly and marry her to whom he pleased. A few of her own partisans saved her by fleeing
with her in hot haste to Valladolid before the conspirators arrived. Efforts were made to
waylay Ferdinand upon the frontier, and he had to slip into the country in disguise and
with insufficient money to pay his expenses. It was all very exciting and romantic, and
Ferdinand won his way to his lady like a true knight-errant, and they were hastily married
amid the shouting of the good people of Valladolid, for all the world loves lovers; and
though this young pair had never before seen each other, still the efforts to keep them
apart had doubtless made them lovers for all that.
King Henry did his best after that to deprive his sister of her inheritance; but he died
only four years later (1474) of mingled age and depravity, and thus the young Queen and
her husband succeeded to the throne of Castile and Leon.
The disappointed King of Portugal attempted to fight them for it; but Ferdinand, who had
wisely kept in the background during his wife's coronation, now came vigorously forward
and at the head of the Castilian forces defeated the Portuguese so completely that a peace
was soon arranged, which included a promise of marriage between the Portuguese King's son
and the baby
 girl just born to Isabella. Five years later Ferdinand's father died, and he became King
of Aragon in his own right.
Thus at last all the little Christian kingdoms of the Spanish peninsula were, with the
exception of Portugal, united under this youthful royal couple. And seldom have a pair
seemed better mated, or king and queen proved abler. Each was wise, earnest, and
energetic. We are told that Isabella was an inch taller as she was a year older than her
husband; but Ferdinand was not the man to be overshadowed in any company; and though we
cannot find for his cold nature the same admiration we give to her intense and holy
spirit, yet it may well be that his strength and caution were just the qualities needed to
give weight and success to her less calculated impulses. Indeed Isabella seldom came
forward, leaving the task of government to her husband, except when her deeper enthusiasms
It was she who insisted that in the name of Christianity the task dropped by her brother
must be taken up and the Moorish kingdom of Granada subjugated at last.
The mighty city of Granada was then the most populous in Spain. It had been founded by the
Moors in the eighth century, and for a time remained subject to the caliphs of Cordova. It
was made capital of the province of Granada in 1235, and rapidly acquired distinction for
its trade and wealth, and as the seat of arts and architecture. By the end of the
fifteenth century its population was nearly half a million, and the city was enclosed by a
wall with more than a million towers. One of the most famous structures of the world is
the Alhambra, which was begun in 1248 and completed just a hundred years later. The
fortress which bore that name formed a part of the citadel of Granada, which contained the
palace of the ancient Moorish kings. The Spaniards call the remains of the palace the Casa
Real. They are ranged around two oblong courts, the Court of the Fish Pond and the Court
of the Lions. Nothing can surpass the richness of the ornamentation and the elegance of
the columns and arches. Yet the Moors themselves began to be sunk in sensual sloth.
Boabdil, at this time their King's son, was educated rather as a girl than a boy in
oriental languor and idleness.
THE EDUCATION OF BOABDIL, THE LAST KING OF GRANADA.
No time could have been more favorable for the grand campaign of Ferdinand and Isabella,
for not only was the whole Spanish people fired by one resolve, but there was bickering
and wrangling among the different factions in Granada, though they were so defiant and
self-confident that they anticipated the sovereigns by striking the first blow and
captured the notable stronghold of Zahara. This last exploit of the Moors in Spain has
such historical value that we quote the account of our own brilliant Washington Irving:
"In the year of our Lord, one thousand four hundred and eighty one, and
 but a night or two after the festival of the most blessed Nativity, the inhabitants of
Zahara were sunk in profound sleep; the very sentinel had deserted his post, and sought
shelter from a tempest which had raged without for three nights in succession; for it
appeared but little probable that an enemy would be abroad during such an uproar of the
elements. But evil spirits work best during a storm. In the midst of the night an uproar
rose within the walls of Zahara, more awful than the raging of the storm. A fearful
alarm-cry, 'The Moor! The Moor!' resounded through the streets, mingled with the clash of
arms, the shriek of anguish, and the shout of victory. Muley Abu1-Hasan, at the head of a
powerful force, had hurried from Granada, and passed unobserved through the mountains in
the obscurity of the tempest. While the storm pelted the sentinel from his post and howled
around tower and battlement, the Moors had planted their scaling ladders and mounted
securely into both town and castle. The garrison was unsuspicious of danger until battle
and massacre burst forth within its very walls. It seemed to the affrighted inhabitants as
if the fiends of the air had come upon the wings of the wind, and possessed themselves of
tower and turret. The war-cry resounded on every side shout answering shout in the streets
of the town ; the foe was in all parts, wrapped in obscurity," but acting in concert by
the aid of preconcerted signals: Starting from sleep, the soldiers were intercepted and
cut down as they rushed from their quarters ; or, if they escaped, they knew not where to
assemble, or where to strike. Whenever lights appeared, the flashing cimeter was at its
deadly work, and all who attempted resistance fell beneath its edge. In a little while the
struggle was at an end. Those who were not slain took refuge in the secret places of their
houses, or gave themselves up as captives. The clash of arms ceased, and the storm
continued its howling, mingled with the occasional shout of the Moorish soldiery roaming
in search of plunder. While the inhabitants were trembling for their fate, a trumpet
resounded through the streets, summoning them all to assemble, unarmed, in the public
square. Here they were surrounded by soldiery, and strictly guarded until daybreak. When
the day dawned, it was piteous to behold this once prosperous community, which had lain
down to rest in peaceful security, now crowded together without distinction of age, or
rank, or sex, and almost without raiment, during the severity of a winter storm. The
fierce Muley Abul-Hasan turned a deaf ear to all remonstrances, and ordered them to be
conducted captives to Granada. Leaving a strong garrison in both town and castle, with
orders to put them in a complete state of defence, he returned flushed with victory to his
capital, entering it at the head of the troops, laden with spoil, and bearing in triumph
the banners and pennons taken at Zahara. While preparations were making for jousts and
other festivities in honor of this victory over the Christians, the
cap-  tives of Zahara arrived—a wretched train of men, women, and children, worn out with
fatigue and haggard with despair and driven like cattle into the city gates by a
detachment of Moorish soldiery."
COLUMBUS RIDICULED AT SALAMANCA.
This disaster roused the Spaniards to fury. Henceforward the war was, pressed with
unrelenting vigor. Hardly had Muley Abul-Hasan reached Granada when he found that the
Christians had seized one of the bulwarks of his capital. There was still discord among
the defenders, and, at last, in 1491,. the Spanish army settled itself before the capital
for the final siege. To encourage the soldiers, Isabella herself came and resided in the
camp, and she had it built into a regular city, the city of Santa Fe (holy faith), as a
warning to the Moors that she meant to dwell there permanently until they surrendered.
There were gallant deeds of valor on both sides; but the persistency of Isabella and the
civil strife among the Moors left but one ending possible.
None saw this more clearly than the Arab leaders, who opened negotiations for surrender.
Boabdil, who had forcibly wrenched the Moorish crown from Abul-Hasan, his father, accepted
the inevitable and made his preparations for the surrender of the city, which took place
on the 2nd of January, 1492. Accompanied by. two score cavaliers, he rode out to the plain
where Ferdinand and Isabella, surrounded by their gorgeous court, awaited him. Had not the
Christian King prevented, Boabdil would have dismounted and knelt in token of his homage.
Ferdinand spoke soothing words and showed the fallen sovereign all courtesy and honor. He
made his submission and abdication also to Isabella, and then, accompanied by his mother,
rode away. At some distance on a rocky elevation, Boabdil paused and looked back at the
citadel and fortress of Alhambra and, while the tears filled his eyes, mournfully
contemplated the kingdom he had lost. The spot is still pointed out, and bears the name of
"El ultimo suspiro del moro" (the last sigh of the Moor).
Spain, so long distracted and torn by civil war, was consolidated into one compact,
powerful empire, extending from the Pyrenees to the Strait of Gibraltar, and at the same
time she acquired an immense domain in the New World.
The story of America's discovery needs no repetition. Let us, however, stop to recall King
Ferdinand's treatment of Columbus. His plans were referred to a court of judges, mostly
churchmen at Salamanca, and these laughed at him as a madman. He was turning from Spain in
despair, after seven years of wasted entreaty, when another churchman brought his project
to the notice of Isabella. "After Granada is conquered, I will listen to him," said the
COLUMBUS BEFORE ISABELLA.
So Columbus went to her camp city of Santa Fe, and we can imagine him wielding an
enthusiast's sword against the heathen Moors. Then, when Granada
 fell, he had a personal audience with the sovereigns, and when Ferdinand turned away from
him as a madman, Isabella, stirred by the dream of converting an entire world to
Christianity, spoke her famous decision: "I will undertake the enterprise for mine own
crown of Castile, and am ready to pawn my crown jewels for the expense."
So, you see, Aragon, if we may still discriminate between the united Spanish kingdoms, had
no part in the momentous expedition. Isabella's crown jewels were not pawned, though her
offer of them was no idle speech, so low had the royal treasury sunk in the long struggle
with Granada. A year later Columbus returned in triumph, and at once hundreds of Spanish
cavaliers, having lost the excitement of war at home, sought adventure in the newly
discovered world. Columbus became only one of a thousand sailors to those distant climes,
and wealth hitherto undreamed of poured into Spain.
Even before Isabella's death, in 1504, the condition of the land had changed marvellously.
What with the sudden influx of wealth, the union of the little kingdoms, and the ability
of her sovereigns, Spain stepped at one stride into the foremost place among European
countries. Yet even in this, the moment of Spain's triumph, were sown the seeds which have
led to her decay.
The causes which joined to weaken Spain irreparably were the drain made by the flocking to
the New World of thousands who supposed that gold was as plentiful there as the stones in
the streets at home; the establishment of the Inquisition; and the driving out of the
remaining Moors and Jews, who vainly hoped that the terms of the surrender of Granada
would be kept. Ferdinand and Isabella were fanatical in their religious faith, and could
not rest until it was firmly established throughout the kingdom. Those of the Moors, or
Moriscos, as they came to be called, who would abjure their religion and accept the new
one were allowed to stay, otherwise they were exiled, and were not permitted to carry
their accumulated wealth away with them. Some of the Moriscos accepted outwardly the new
religion, but they hated their oppressors with an inextinguishable hatred. They were
ordered to throw aside their picturesque costume and wear that of the Christians; they
were forbidden to bathe, and must remain as unclean as their conquerors; they were
prohibited from using their accustomed ceremonies, were commanded to speak only the
Spanish language, and even to change their names to conform with the detested tongue. In
short, they were to become Spaniards in the fullest sense.
In 1526 Charles V. confirmed this cruel decree, and, though he was prudent enough not to
enforce it rigidly, it served to wring torturing bribes from the sufferers.
EXPULSION OF THE JEWS FROM SPAIN.
The Inquisition had had a nominal existence for a long time in Spain and Portugal but it
was first rigidly enforced under Ferdinand and Isabella, the
 pretext being the discovery of certain sinister plots among the Jews. The application, in
1478, to Pope Sixtus IV. for the reorganization of the Inquisition was followed by the
action of the crown in appointing the inquisitors and taking sole charge of the whole
horrible business. The Pope protested, but the Spanish crown maintained its assumption;
and, in 1483, the Inquisition opened its appalling work under Thomas de Torquemada. In
1492 just after the surrender of Granada its cruelty expelled the Jews from Spain in a
body, torturing all who remained and refused Christianity. Then the Pope tried to lessen
the rigors of the tribunal, but little or no attention was paid to his protests. The
historian Llorente asserts that during the sixteen years that Torquemada held office,
9,000 people were condemned to the flames, and that his successor in eight years put 1,600
to a similar death. Other historians declare the statements of Llorente grossly
exaggerated, but, making all possible deductions from his figures, the work of the
Inquisition in the New as well as the Old World was frightful beyond description.
Let us sum up briefly the subsequent history of this terrible engine. Its severity was
abated in Spain in the latter part of the seventeenth century, and under Joseph Bonaparte
it was repressed, in 1808, until the Restoration; suppressed again on the establishment of
the new constitution in 1820; partially revived five years later, and finally abolished in
The persecution and deportation of the Moriscos continued until 1610, when the last half
million were driven out after the previous exiles. With their destruction vanished the
culture, refinement, the arts and sciences that had made southern Spain a beacon light
among the nations of the world.
HENRY OF CASTILE DEFIED BY THE FRIENDS OF ISABELLA.
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