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Isabella of Castile by  Oliver Otis Howard
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FALL OF GRANADA—END OF THE WAR

"Out spoke the victor then,

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

'Ye are brothers! ye are men

And we conquer but to save;

So peace instead of death let us bring,


And make submission meet

To our king."

—THOMAS CAMPBELL.


[Illustration]

COURT OF THE LIONS, ALHAMBRA GRANADA.

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

[263] BOABDIL, after Ferdinand's apparent anger and absolute rejection, having no alternative, [264] favored the uprising of his disdainful people. He gave the brave Muza the command of his cavalry, who, during the winter and spring, by his raids into the Spaniard's possessions, recovered many strong places and did them much mischief. Verily, Ferdinand had been too hasty in making an enemy of Boabdil. Isabella advised him not to take the field too early, but to wait till the storm had spent its fury; so that in 1490 it was late in the season before anything remarkable was done. In July the sovereigns set out for the vicinage of Granada. Isabella, with her family and prominent men of her court, stopped at the safe fortress of Moelin. This year, for the first time, she consented to let the prince, Don Juan, who was only twelve years of age, accompany his father. The object of this expedition was to ravage and destroy. For a time Muza managed, by sudden blows, frequent sallies, ambuscades, and his famous retreats, to draw Ferdinand's detachments into disastrous combats, inflicting upon them great losses and greatly hindering the object of the expedition. At last this was prevented by orders from Ferdinand, instructing all commanders to avoid all such conflicts; and so the work of destruction, systematically arranged, was then carried forward till all that fruitful region, the broad vega  which the [265] brightening sunshine of patriotism had enabled the industrious peasants to cover with crops, was utterly desolated and made a black, smoking waste up to the very suburbs of Granada.

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

One strong fort in the mountains he took from the garrison, and razed everything to the ground. Many other strongholds fell one by one; his raiders penetrated even into Christian territory north of the mountains, and brought back herds and flocks; conspiracies and revolts arising in the Alpujarras country, [266] Quickened by the hopes he inspired, sprang up and took form; and he at last went so far as to undertake the siege of Solobrena, a seaport town, doubtless dreaming of thus renewing connection with Africa.

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

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

In April 1491, the grand army of Spain, of [267] between 50,000 and 60,000, embracing quotas from all the provinces, and having in it well-drilled Swiss mercenaries, was in better shape for a campaign then ever before. Thanks to Isabella. It was well equipped and well supplied.

Among the famous leaders who were commanding divisions of the host and who had taken part from the beginning, we find Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, who was the Marquis of Cadiz, really the most popular hero of the war, the Marquises of Villena and Santiago, also Don Alonzo de Aguilar, Gonzalo de Cordova, Cabara, Cifuntes, and Urena. Count Tenadilla was already at the front. Thus, with prime leaders and early mobilized, with Ferdinand at its head, the army was put in motion. The cavalry escorted the queen and her family as far as the headquarters of General Tenadilla, leaving the ladies and attendants there in the strong fortress, Alcala la Real; but Ferdinand pushed the main divisions at once into the vega, and, taking a position not more than five miles due west of Granada, near a village that was then called Los Ojos de Huascar, pitched his showy camp, April 23rd, in plain sight of Granada. He then proceeded to recover and occupy the villages and hamlets that Boabdil had taken, and so held every road of approach that it [268] was not long before the capital city was completely shut off against any incoming supply.

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

They were at first fairly well provisioned. Boabdil had a guard of upward of 20,000 warriors. These were the fiercest haters of the Christian rule and the most determined to fight to the bitter end. Muza, the most desperate character, who had risen to command, just suited the temper of his followers. At the magnificent display of Ferdinand's encampment, established almost at the gates of their capital, the Moors were rather filled with hot wrath than fear. They made repeated sorties, full of fire and fury, and they never showed the slightest hesitation. They struck upon convoys and detached columns quick and heavy blows. They challenged the Spaniards to such combats and personal encounters as belonged to that age of chivalry; which the cavaliers of Castile and Aragon, equally [269] skilful, were prompt and delighted to accept.

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

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

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

When present she always had an altar erected, where the cardinal or some bishop, [270] in the presence of the entire army, every morning celebrated the mass. Altogether, king, queen, priests, and soldiers "upon their knees besought from God the success of their enterprise and the glory of their arms."

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

One day a small body of Moors, well mounted, galloped nearer than usual to the Spanish outposts, when one of their number sprang over the barriers and pushed straight for the handsome pavilion, which, by the ensign floating over it, he rightly judged to belong to the queen. Checking his fiery steed for an instant, he hurled his lance into the open space near the pavilion. He then turned off, and was outside of the enclosure before the laggard guards could make an effective effort to arrest him, and swiftly joined his [271] own cavalcade, which, amid clouds of dust, was galloping off to Granada. Attached to that lance was a message insulting to the queen. The indignation that ensued among those Spanish cavaliers and how they planned to avenge the affront may well be imagined.

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

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

It is recorded that Charles V., the grandson of Isabella, many years afterward, gave to [272] Pulgar and his descendants the right of burial in that mosque (converted by the Spaniards into a church), together with other special privileges during the ceremonies of the Catholic worship.

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

While the party was thus beholding this charming spectacle, once seen not to be forgotten, they descried a column of troops emerging from the city. The indomitable Muza had caught sight of the queen's large escort, and had watched it move along the ridge as if inviting battle. He must of course accept that challenge. Soon the Moors came [273] through the suburbs in eager haste, faced the Spanish battalions in the plain, and dared them to fight. Isabella had strictly charged the marquis not to attack nor to allow the acceptance of any challenge to small combats. She greatly desired to have her survey without the loss of life. But the Moors persevered in their taunting insults, though not quite willing, where the Spaniards appeared so well posted, to commence a general attack. At last a Moorish horseman, large and muscular, clad in armor—the same, in fact, who a few days before had cleared Ferdinand's barriers and launched his labeled spear into the foreground of the queen's pavilion—rode into the space between the hostile lines. He approached sufficiently near the cavaliers for them to see that he was dragging in the dust by a cord the very placard which Pulgar had nailed to the door of the mosque. The "Ave Maria," that the infidel scorned and so treated, stirred in every Catholic heart something more than anger. The labeled spear had been a grievous insult to them and their queen; but this was to them a blasphemy aimed at their most sacred object of loyal worship. From all who witnessed the outrage there was a shout of wrath so deep and so indignant that the Moors knew well that no ordinary storm would follow.

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

The terrible Muza could stand this by-play no longer. Having a few pieces of artillery at hand, with them he opened the battle, which, like all such contests, had at first its varying fortunes. But the Moorish infantry early gave way under the strong charge of a Spanish battalion, and fled from the field, and Muza was obliged to order a retreat. The eager horsemen of the Marquis of Cadiz followed up the Moors, fighting furiously to the very gates of Granada, and some 2000 of whom were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. Many Spaniards fell, but their loss was [275] considerably less than that of their foes. Isabella was nearer a battle than ever before. The very spot, in a small thicket, where she, with some of her family, was concealed is to-day pointed out to the visitor. A laurel tree, with hundreds of new and separate shoots from its roots, covering much ground, is said to be the one she planted. A small pedestal surmounted by a statue, which shows the handsome, youthful face of the queen, is near at hand. There is also the bishop's house and the monastery promised by her at the time and consecrated to San Francisco.

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

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

After the exciting events just related, the days came and went with very little to record, till one night there was an occurrence which excited the whole encampment and materially affected the sovereigns. Isabella, in her own pavilion, had retired for the night. She was [276] soundly sleeping, when, about two o'clock in the morning, she was startled from sleep by a bright light. The night breeze had blown a curtain against a burning wick, which, left by some servant too near, had set it on fire. In an instant the curtain, the hangings, and soon the whole pavilion itself were in a blaze. The queen, in her night-dress, had barely time to escape, while the fire, propelled by flying sparks and cinders, caught other tents and extended the swift conflagration.

The next day she said: "In order to forestall another accident of this kind, we must build a city upon the same emplacement." While the new structures were under construction, the army and all connected with it bivouacked and quartered in the villages and groves near at hand. Workmen, skilled and unskilled, were drawn from the nearest cities of Andalusia, and large details for work were made from the army itself. In less than three months the Moors, with no little dismay, saw a new city built with stone and mortar and timber, presenting to Granada its substantial shape from across the vega. Isabella, declining to allow the use of her own name for the new city, gave it the name Santa Fé. By this act she showed what was always uppermost in her thoughts and heart—the Santa Fé, the holy faith; for this the whole war [277] had been prosecuted from the beginning. This bright city, fresh and clean, should be a witness for her army and people. It has been a standing witness ever since—a perpetual memorial.

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

But at last a spy carried word of the secret negotiation to the uncompromising Muza. Then there was a sudden uprising; some 20,000 joined in an insurrection. Boabdil fled before their fury to the citadel of Albaycin and shut himself in. He then sent for the wisest and best of his opponents and ad- [278] dressed them kindly, substantially as follows: "I must now warn you of what is advantageous to you. Your good has been my thought all along, and not my own interest, which I have been unjustly suspected of providing for. Nothing was easier than to have gone to the enemy and put the Alhambra into his hands. Your conduct against me would justify this course. Yet hitherto we have been enabled to make a defence; till now we have not failed of provisions, and as long as there was the faintest hope of a successful resistance I have not spoken a word concerning peace. I acknowledge that long ago I committed a great fault, from pride, in rising against the king, my father, and for that I am sufficiently punished. But now that there remain to us no resources whatever, I have become convinced that I must negotiate with the enemy—make a treaty, if not advantageous, at least the best possible under these hard circumstances. I cannot understand the motives of the mutineers who oppose a peace so carefully and wisely managed. If, on your side, you can find any remedy, if there remain any resource, I shall be the first to break off negotiations. But as all abandon us, as we have no forces, no provisions, no succor to hope for, what madness has seized us and blinded our eyes? When two evils present them- [279] selves, the wise tell us to shun the greater. What we have belongs to the conqueror. If he leave us anything, we will he beholden to the grace and generosity of our enemy. I cannot say that they (the sovereigns) will keep their word; they have violated it only too often; perhaps some blame for this attaches to ourselves. The most potent motive which obliges men to observe good faith is to place confidence in them. On the other hand, what hinders our taking precautions? Have we not the right to demand sureties, to exact strong places and important hostages? The great and pressing desire our enemies have to' terminate as soon as possible this war will cause them, without doubt, to accommodate all the difficulties that lie in their path."

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

Muza was perhaps an exception. There is a legend that, even after a truce had been agreed upon, he one night clad himself in [280] armor and sought and found personal combat with a group of Spanish cavaliers who were curiously sauntering about outside the walls of Granada. He fought fiercely one knightly dual after another till he himself was slain.

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

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

The commissioners came to an agreement [281] after many preliminary and long conferences. The preliminary work ended November 28th, 1491. Then Gonsalvo put the terms into formal and acceptable shape:

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

II. All Christian captives to be set at liberty.

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

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

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

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

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

VIII. The sovereigns were to give up all hostages then held, including Boabdil's son, and the Moors to furnish 400 hostages, to be [282] restored when the terms for which they obligated themselves should be fulfilled.

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

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

There is a French account of the transference of the keys of the city which differs in some respects from that commonly believed. It is in substance as follows: "Upon this day (January 2nd, 1492) every arrangement was perfected for proceeding to the city and taking possession of the Alhambra. It was at that time possible, by passing around to the right of the city from Santa Fé, to reach the fortress by a narrow way, which was rough and steep. Toward evening the king, the queen, and their suite traversed this narrow road. They were followed by an escort of certain nobles of the realm, principal officers of the army, and a considerable body of troops. As they approached the gates of the [283] city which led to the fortress they met, mounted and accompanied by 50 Moorish cavaliers, the King of Granada himself, Boabdil, who had come out to present to the sovereigns the keys of the fortress. Boabdil, as soon as he saw the queen, dismounted, and moved quickly toward her to kiss the hand of the sovereign; whereupon she, gently drawing back her hand, from sympathy for him, declined to receive this humble act of submission. Boabdil then put the keys into the hands of the king as he said to him, 'We surrender to you the city and the realm. Both now belong to you; make use of them with clemency and moderation.'

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

Ferdinand, leaving Tenadilla all the guard he could spare, led the queen and the rest back by the same route to the vega, and returned to Santa Fé to make preparations for his triumphal entry into the city. This entrance was to be made on the evening of Jan- [284] uary 6th, 1492, by quite another way—through the Gate of Triumph.

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

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

The great day of rejoicing (January 6th) finally was at hand. Ferdinand and Isabella now marched at the head of the entire army. Who could describe the richness of their royal dress or the magnificence of their appointments? The nobility and the great churchmen followed their sovereigns. Then came that faithful army which had so grandly performed its part. De Nervo says of them: "All, veteran and brave soldiers, intoxicated [285] with joy, proud of their queen and of themselves." Such triumphant processions arc inspiring. They are the reward of great achievements. They are somewhat emblematical of the highest and noblest aspirations of the soul.

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

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

Irving declares of him in this worship: "In the fervor of his spirit, he supplicated from Heaven a continuance of its grace, and that this glorious triumph might be perpetuated." Would that a king, who could at such a time kneel before God and earnestly offer such a [286] prayer, might then have been baptized with a little of the spirit of his Master, so as to practise the "clemency and moderation "which the humbler Boabdil besought at his hands!

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

There was soon, however, abundant reason [287] for abandoning the specific terms of the surrender of Granada and the Moorish realm. The major portion of the people of the province in the great city and outside of it, with all their chagrin and hatred and their fierce natures unchanged, could not bear the constant pressure and hectoring of their triumphant foes. They conspired, then quarrelled, then rebelled. A statesman, reviewing the results, would say: "It is not possible to mix oil and water. The State religion and the State law—to wit, the religion and law of Castile, must prevail."

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

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

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

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

Spain recovered a large province "hitherto held by a people whose difference of religion, language, and general habits made them not only incapable of assimilating with their Christian neighbors, but almost their natural enemies." She prevented the Mohammedan ambition from attempting extension in Europe. She secured many new and "commodious havens" for her commerce. She now consolidated all the scattered fragments of the Visigothic empire into a great monarchy, putting the boundaries where nature seemed to suggest they should be. She as a State from a very low standing now began to rise till she came abreast of any kingdom in Europe. Under the long, feudal reign of petty lords, the inhabitants of small divisions [289] had quarrelled with each other till national feeling among Spaniards, at the time of Isabella's accession, was almost extinct. Through the wars of succession, civil and foreign, and more largely through that great war of Granada (over ten years in duration), Isabella had guided her people till they had now "common notions" and "common action." Together they learned the faults and weakness of Moorish tyranny and Moorish anarchy, and so came more and more to venerate their own institutions as Isabella's influence gradually developed them.

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

The military advance in material, organization, discipline, and tactics, due more to Isabella than to her husband or any of her advisers, was immense. In material she drew from abroad the best improvements that existed. In organization she established national and permanent forces, whose officers the sovereigns appointed, where she had found only local temporary militia or partisan bands attached to jealous, independent, and quarrelsome chiefs. In discipline an army was formed that could keep the field for long [290] campaigns and endure even hardships of winter marches, camps, and sieges. It was an army obedient to orders and loyal to its head. From this army sprang many great captains, who, in the fields of Granada, had learned well the lessons of war—captains who, "with that invincible infantry, spread the military fame of their country over all Christendom."

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

There were some mistaken principles prevailing, like that of the alleged necessity for the external unity of Christ's Church, and that of the asserted Divine right of the sovereigns. The former left the frightful Spanish Inquisition, which Christendom now hates as it does the bloody guillotine of France, yet the roots of which have crippled and do still cripple the efforts of Spain's best thinkers and actors in all their modern efforts to keep up in the race of progress with sister nations. It caused intolerance like that of Russia to-day in dealing with the Jews, and drove multitudes of them to settle in other lands. Spain lost the benefit of their thrift, their industry, [291] their commerce, and their other virtues, and did not accomplish their conversion—which, undoubtedly, sincere men had desired—to the reasonable and glorious religion that our Lord really had founded. The latter hard point, the Divine right of sovereigns, had its advantages as a fanciful theory, as a practical solvent, indeed, in the caldron of bad mixtures which existed; but in Spain the monarch was never a czar; and, little by little, the sovereign authority of that kingdom has been lessened till now the king is scarcely more than the executive head of the large portion of the people.

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

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


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