The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, V2
William H. Prescott

Part 3 out of 8

superstitious fancy had peopled with innumerable forms of horror.

It is true that Columbus experienced a most honorable reception at the
Castilian court; such as naturally flowed from the benevolent spirit of
Isabella, and her just appreciation of his pure and elevated character.
But the queen was too little of a proficient in science to be able to
estimate the merits of his hypothesis; and, as many of those, on whose
judgment she leaned, deemed it chimerical, it is probable that she never
entertained a deep conviction of its truth; at least not enough to warrant
the liberal expenditure, which she never refused to schemes of real
importance. This is certainly inferred by the paltry amount actually
expended on the armament, far inferior to that appropriated to the
equipment of two several fleets in the course of the late war for a
foreign expedition, as well as to that, with which in the ensuing year she
followed up Columbus's discoveries.

But while, on a review of the circumstances, we are led more and more to
admire the constancy and unconquerable spirit, which carried Columbus
victorious through all the difficulties of his undertaking, we must
remember, in justice to Isabella, that, although tardily, she did in fact
furnish the resources essential to its execution; that she undertook the
enterprise when it had been explicitly declined by other powers, and when
probably none other of that age would have been found to countenance it;
and that, after once plighting her faith to Columbus, she became his
steady friend, shielding him against the calumnies of his enemies,
reposing in him the most generous confidence, and serving him in the most
acceptable manner, by supplying ample resources for the prosecution of his
glorious discoveries. [27]

* * * * *

It is now more than thirty years since the Spanish government intrusted
Don Martin Fernandez de Navarrete, one of the most eminent scholars of the
country, with the care of exploring the public archives, for the purpose
of collecting information relative to the voyages and discoveries of the
early Spanish navigators. In 1825, Señor Navarrete gave to the world the
first fruits of his indefatigable researches, in two volumes, the
commencement of a series, comprehending letters, private journals, royal
ordinances, and other original documents, illustrative of the discovery of
America. These two volumes are devoted exclusively to the adventures and
personal history of Columbus, and must be regarded as the only authentic
basis, on which any notice of the great navigator can hereafter rest.
Fortunately, Mr. Irving's visit to Spain, at this period, enabled the
world to derive the full benefit of Señor Navarrete's researches, by
presenting their results in connection with whatever had been before known
of Columbus, in the lucid and attractive form, which engages the interest
of every reader. It would seem highly proper, that the fortunes of the
discoverer of America should engage the pen of an inhabitant of her most
favored and enlightened region; and it is unnecessary to add, that the
task has been executed in a manner which must secure to the historian a
share in the imperishable renown of his subject. The adventures of
Columbus, which form so splendid an episode to the reign of Ferdinand and
Isabella, cannot properly come within the scope of its historian, except
so far as relates to his personal intercourse with the government, or
their results on the fortunes of the Spanish monarchy.


[1] Aragon, or rather Catalonia, maintained an extensive commerce with the
Levant, and the remote regions of the east, during the Middle Ages,
through the flourishing port of Barcelona. See Capmany y Montpalau,
Memorias Históricas sobre la Marina, Comercio y Artes de Barcelona,
(Madrid, 1779-92,) passim.

[2] A council of mathematicians in the court of John II., of Portugal,
first devised the application of the ancient astrolabe to navigation, thus
affording to the mariner the essential advantages appertaining to the
modern quadrant. The discovery of the polarity of the needle, which vulgar
tradition assigned to the Amalfite Flavio Gioja, and which Robertson has
sanctioned without scruple, is clearly proved to have occurred more than a
century earlier. Tiraboschi, who investigates the matter with his usual
erudition, passing by the doubtful reference of Guiot de Provins, whose
age and personal identity even are contested, traces the familiar use of
the magnetic needle as far back as the first half of the thirteenth
century, by a pertinent passage from Cardinal Vitri, who died 1244; and
sustains this by several similar references to other authors of the same
century. Capmany finds no notice of its use by the Castilian navigators
earlier than 1403. It was not until considerably later in the fifteenth
century, that the Portuguese voyagers, trusting to its guidance, ventured
to quit the Mediterranean and African coasts, and extend their navigation
to Madeira and the Azores. See Navarrete, Coleccion de los Viages y
Descubrimientos que hicieron por Mar los Españoles, (Madrid, 1825-29,)
tom. i. Int. sec. 33.--Tiraboschi, Letteratura Italiana, tom. iv. pp. 173,
174.--Capmany, Mem. de Barcelona, tom. iii. part. 1, cap. 4.--Koch,
Tableau des Révolutions de l'Europe, (Paris, 1814,) tom. i. pp. 358-360.

[3] Four of the islands were conquered on behalf of private adventurers,
chiefly from Andalusia, before the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella,
and under their reign were held as the property of a noble Castilian
family, named Peraza. The sovereigns sent a considerable armament from
Seville in 1480, which subdued the great island of Canary on behalf of the
crown, and another in 1493, which effected the reduction of Palma and
Teneriffe after a sturdy resistance from the natives. Bernaldez postpones
the last conquest to 1495. Salazar de Mendoza, Monarquía, tom. i. pp. 347-
349.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 136, 203.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos,
MS., cap. 64, 65, 66, 133.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i.
Introd., sec. 28.

[4] Among the provisions of the sovereigns enacted previous to the present
date, may be noted those for regulating the coin and weights; for opening
a free trade between Castile and Aragon; for security to Genoese and
Venetian trading vessels; for safe conduct to mariners and fishermen; for
privileges to the seamen of Palos; for prohibiting the plunder of vessels
wrecked on the coast; and an ordinance of the very last year, requiring
foreigners to take their return cargoes in the products of the country.
See these laws as extracted from the Ordenanças Reales and the various
public archives, in Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 11.

[5] Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, pp. 373, 374, 398.--Zurita, Anales, tom.
iv. lib. 20, cap. 30, 34.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages.

[6] Spotorno, Memorials of Columbus, (London, 1823,) p. 14.--Senarega,
apud Muratori, Rerum Ital. Script., tom. xxiv. p. 535.--Antonio Gallo, De
Navigatione Columbi, apud Muratori, Rerum Ital. Script., tom. xxiii. p.

It is very generally agreed that the father of Columbus exercised the
craft of a wool-carder, or weaver. The admiral's son Ferdinand, after some
speculation on the genealogy of his illustrious parent, concludes with
remarking, that, after all, a noble descent would confer less lustre on
him than to have sprung from such a father; a philosophical sentiment,
indicating pretty strongly that he had no great ancestry to boast of.
Ferdinand finds something extremely mysterious and typical in his father's
name of _Columbus_, signifying a _dove_, in token of his being ordained to
"carry the olive-branch and oil of baptism over the ocean, like Noah's
dove, to denote the peace and union of the heathen people with the church,
after they had been shut up in the ark of darkness and confusion."
Fernando Colon, Historia del Almirante, cap. 1, 2, apud Barcia,
Historiadores Primitivos de las Indian Occidentals, (Madrid, 1749,) tom.
i., tom. i. Introd., sec. 21, 24.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. vii. p.

[7] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 131.--Muñoz, Historia del Nuevo-
Mundo, (Madrid, 1793,) lib. 2, sec. 13.

There are no sufficient data for determining the period of Columbus's
birth. The learned Muñoz places it in 1446. (Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib.
2, sec. 12.) Navarrete, who has weighed the various authorities with
caution, seems inclined to remove it back eight or ten years further,
resting chiefly on a remark of Bernaldez, that he died in 1506, "in a good
old age, at the age of seventy, a little more or less." (Cap. 131.) The
expression is somewhat vague. In order to reconcile the facts with this
hypothesis, Navarrete is compelled to reject, as a chirographical blunder,
a passage in a letter of the admiral, placing his birth in 1456, and to
distort another passage in his book of "Prophecies," which, if literally
taken, would seem to establish his birth near the time assigned by Muñoz.
Incidental allusions in some other authorities, speaking of Columbus's old
age at or near the time of his death, strongly corroborate Navarrete's
inference. (See Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. Introd., sec. 54.)--Mr.
Irving seems willing to rely exclusively on the authority of Bernaldez.

[8] Antonio de Herrera, Historia General de las Indias Occidentales,
(Amberes, 1728,) tom. i. dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 7.--Gomara, Historia de las
Indias, cap. 14, apud Barcia, Hist. Primitivos, tom. ii.--Bernaldez, Reyes
Católicos, MS., cap. 118.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i.
Introd., sec. 30.

Ferdinand Columbus enumerates three grounds on which his father's
conviction of land in the west was founded. First, natural reason,--or
conclusions drawn from science; secondly, authority of writers,--amounting
to little more than vague speculations of the ancients; thirdly, testimony
of sailors, comprehending, in addition to popular rumors of land described
in western voyages, such relics as appeared to have floated to the
European shores from the other side of the Atlantic. Hist. del Almirante,
cap. 6-8.

[9] None of the intimations are so precise as that contained in the well-
known lines of Seneca's Medea,

"Venient annuis saecula," etc.,

although, when regarded as a mere poetical vagary, it has not the weight
which belongs to more serious suggestions, of similar import, in the
writings of Aristotle and Strabo. The various allusions in the ancient
classic writers to an undiscovered world form the subject of an elaborate
essay in the Memorias da Acad. Real das Sciencias de Lisboa, (tom. v. pp.
101-112,) and are embodied, in much greater detail, in the first section
of Hnmboldt's "Histoire de la Géographie du Nouveau Continent;" a work in
which the author, with his usual acuteness, has successfully applied the
vast stores of his erudition and experience to the illustration of many
interesting points connected with the discovery of the New World, and the
personal history of Columbus.

[10] It is probably the knowledge of this which has led some writers to
impute part of his work to the learned Marsilio Ficino, and others, with
still less charity and probability, to refer the authorship of the whole
to Politian. Comp. Tasso, Opere, (Venezia, 1735-42,) tom. x. p. 129.--and
Crescimbeni, Istoria della Volgar Poesia, (Venezia, 1731,) tom. iii. pp.
273, 274.

[11] Pulci, Morgante Maggiore, canto 25, st. 229, 230.--I have used blank
verse, as affording facility for a more literal version than the
corresponding _ottava rima_ of the original. This passage of Pulci,
which has not fallen under the notice of Humboldt, or any other writer on
the same subject whom I have consulted, affords, probably, the most
circumstantial prediction that is to be found of the existence of a
western world. Dante, two centuries before, had intimated more vaguely his
belief in an undiscovered quarter of the globe.

"De' vostri sensi, ch' è del rimanente,
Non vogliate negar l'esperienza,
Diretro al sol, del mondo senza gente."

Inferno, cant. 26, v. 115.

[12] Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. ii., Col. Dipl., no. 1.--Muñoz,
Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 17.--It is singular that Columbus, in
his visit to Iceland, in 1477, (see Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante,
cap. 4,) should have learned nothing of the Scandinavian voyages to the
northern shores of America in the tenth and following centuries; yet if he
was acquainted with them, it appears equally surprising that he should not
have adduced the fact in support of his own hypothesis of the existence of
land in the west; and that he should have taken a route so different from
that of his predecessors in the path of discovery. It may be, however, as
M. de Humboldt has well remarked, that the information he obtained in
Iceland was too vague to suggest the idea, that the lands thus discovered
by the Northmen had any connection with the Indies, of which he was in
pursuit. In Columbus's day, indeed, so little was understood of the true
position of these countries, that Greenland is laid down on the maps in
the European seas, and as a peninsular prolongation of Scandinavia. See
Humboldt, Géographie du Nouveau Continent, tom. ii. pp. 118, 125.

[13] Herrera, Indias Occidentals, tom. i. dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 7.--Muñoz,
Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 19.--Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap.
15.--Benzoni, Novi Orbis Historia, lib. 1, cap. 6.--Fernando Colon, Hist.
del Almirante, cap. 10.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. part.
3, cap. 4.

[14] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de Talavera.

[15] Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, p. 214.--Herrera, Indias
Occidentales, tom. i. dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del
Almirante, cap. 11.

[16] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Zuñiga,
Annales de Sevilla, p. 104.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. sec.
60, 61, tom. ii., Col. Dipl., nos. 2, 4.

[17] This prelate, Diego de Deza, was born of poor but respectable
parents, at Toro. He early entered the Dominican order, where his learning
and exemplary life recommended him to the notice of the sovereigns, who
called him to court to take charge of Prince John's education. He was
afterwards raised, through the usual course of episcopal preferment, to
the metropolitan see of Seville. His situation, as confessor of Ferdinand,
gave him great influence over that monarch, with whom he appears to have
maintained an intimate correspondence, to the day of his death. Oviedo,
Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de Deza.

[18] Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 11.--Salazar de Mendoza,
Crón. del Gran Cardenal, p. 215.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2,
sec. 25, 29.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i., Introd., sec. 60.

[19] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Muñoz, Hist.
del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 27.--Spotorno, Memorials of Columbus, pp.
31-33.--The last dates the application to Genoa prior to that to Portugal.

A letter from the duke of Medina Celi to the cardinal of Spain, dated 19th
March, 1493, refers to his entertaining Columbus as his guest for two
years. It is very difficult to determine the date of these two years. If
Herrera is correct in the statement, that, after a five years' residence
at court, whose commencement he had previously referred to 1484, he
carried his proposals to the duke of Medina Celi, (see cap. 7, 8.) the two
years may have intervened between 1489-1491. Navarrete places them between
the departure from Portugal and the first application to the court of
Castile, in 1486. Some other writers, and among them Muñoz and Irving,
referring his application to Genoa to 1485, and his first appearance in
Spain to a subsequent period, make no provision for the residence with the
duke of Medina Celi. Mr. Irving indeed is betrayed into a chronological
inaccuracy, in speaking of a seven years' residence at the court in 1491,
which he had previously noticed as having before begun in 1486. (Life of
Columbus, (London, 1828,) comp. vol. i. pp. 109, 141.) In fact, the
discrepancies among the earliest authorities are such as to render
hopeless any attempt to settle with precision the chronology of Columbus's
movements previous to his first voyage.

[20] Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. pp. 129, 130.--Muñoz, Hist. del
Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 31.--Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib.
1, cap. 8.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i., Introd., sec. 60.

[21] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Primer Viage
de Colon, apud Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. pp. 2, 117.--
Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 13.

[22] Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 28, 29.--Fernando Colon,
Hist. del Almirante, ubi supra.

[23] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Muñoz, Hist.
del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 32, 33.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del
Almirante, cap. 14.--Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap. 15.

[24] Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. ii., Col. Diplomat., nos. 5, 6.
--Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 412.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii.
p. 605.

[25] Peter Martyr, De Rebus Oceanicis et Novo Orbe, (Coloniae, 1574,) dec.
1, lib. 1.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. ii., Col. Diplomat., nos.
7, 8, 9, 10, 12.--Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 9.--
Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 14.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-
Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 33.--Benzoni, Novi Orbis Hist., lib. 1, cap. 6.--
Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap. 15.

The expression in the text will not seem too strong, even admitting the
previous discoveries of the Northmen, which were made in so much higher
latitudes. Humboldt has well shown the probability, _a priori_, of
such discoveries, made in a narrow part of the Atlantic, where the
Orcades, the Feroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland afforded the voyager so
many intermediate stations, at moderate distances from each other.
(Géographie du Nouveau Continent, tom. ii. pp. 183 et seq.) The
publication of the original Scandinavian MSS., (of which imperfect notices
and selections, only, have hitherto found their way into the world,) by
the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, at Copenhagen, is a matter of
the deepest interest; and it is fortunate that it is to be conducted under
auspices, which must insure its execution in the most faithful and able
manner. It may be doubted, however, whether the declaration of the
Prospectus, that "it was the knowledge of the Scandinavian voyages, in all
probability, which prompted the expedition of Columbus," can ever be
established. His personal history furnishes strong internal evidence to
the contrary.

[26] How strikingly are the forlorn condition and indomitable energy of
Columbus depicted in the following noble verses of Chiabrera;

"Certo da cor, ch' alto destin non scelse,
Son l' imprese magnanime neglette;
Ma le bell' alme alle bell' opre elette
Sanno gioir nelle fatiche eccelse;
Nè biasnio popolar, frale catena,
Spirto d'onore, il suo cammin reffrena.
Così lunga stagion per modi indegni
Europa disprezzò l'inclita speme,
Schernendo il vulgo, e seco i Regi insieme,
_Nudo nocchier, promettitor di Regni._"

Rime, parte 1, canzone 12.

[27] Columbus, in a letter written on his third voyage, pays an honest,
heartfelt tribute to the effectual patronage which he experienced from the
queen. "In the midst of the general incredulity," says he, "the Almighty
infused into the queen, my lady, the spirit of intelligence and energy;
and, whilst every one else, in his ignorance, was expatiating only on the
inconvenience and cost, her Highness approved it, on the contrary, and
gave it all the support in her power." See Carta al Ama del Principe D.
Juan, apud Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. p. 266.




Excitement against the Jews.--Edict of Expulsion.--Dreadful Sufferings of
the Emigrants.--Whole Number of Exiles.--Disastrous Results.--True Motives
of the Edict.--Contemporary Judgments.

While the Spanish sovereigns were detained before Granada, they published
their memorable and most disastrous edict against the Jews; inscribing it,
as it were, with the same pen which drew up the glorious capitulation of
Granada and the treaty with Columbus. The reader has been made acquainted
in a preceding chapter with the prosperous condition of the Jews in the
Peninsula, and the pre-eminent consideration, which they attained there
beyond any other part of Christendom. The envy raised by their prosperity,
combined with the high religious excitement kindled in the long war with
the infidel, directed the terrible arm of the Inquisition, as has been
already stated, against this unfortunate people; but the result showed the
failure of the experiment, since comparatively few conversions, and those
frequently of a suspicious character, were effected, while the great mass
still maintained a pertinacious attachment to ancient errors. [1]

Under these circumstances, the popular odium, inflamed by the discontent
of the clergy at the resistance which they encountered in the work of
proselytism, gradually grew stronger and stronger against the unhappy
Israelites. Old traditions, as old indeed as the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries, were revived, and charged on the present generation, with all
the details of place and action. Christian children were said to be
kidnapped, in order to be crucified in derision of the Saviour; the host,
it was rumored, was exposed to the grossest indignities; and physicians
and apothecaries, whose science was particularly cultivated by the Jews in
the Middle Ages, were accused of poisoning their Christian patients. No
rumor was too absurd for the easy credulity of the people. The Israelites
were charged with the more probable offence of attempting to convert to
their own faith the _ancient Christians_, as well as to reclaim such
of their own race as had recently embraced Christianity. A great scandal
was occasioned also by the inter-marriages, which still occasionally took
place between Jews and Christians; the latter condescending to repair
their dilapidated fortunes by these wealthy alliances, though at the
expense of their vaunted purity of blood. [2]

These various offences were urged against the Jews with great pertinacity
by their enemies, and the sovereigns were importuned to adopt a more
rigorous policy. The inquisitors, in particular, to whom the work of
conversion had been specially intrusted, represented the incompetence of
all lenient measures to the end proposed. They asserted, that the only
mode left for the extirpation of the Jewish heresy, was to eradicate the
seed; and they boldly demanded the immediate and total banishment of every
unbaptized Israelite from the land. [3]

The Jews, who had obtained an intimation of these proceedings, resorted to
their usual crafty policy for propitiating the sovereigns. They
commissioned one of their body to tender a donative of thirty thousand
ducats towards defraying the expenses of the Moorish war. The negotiation,
however, was suddenly interrupted by the inquisitor-general, Torquemada,
who burst into the apartment of the palace, where the sovereigns were
giving audience to the Jewish deputy, and, drawing forth a crucifix from
beneath his mantle, held it up, exclaiming, "Judas Iscariot sold his
master for thirty pieces of silver. Your Highnesses would sell him anew
for thirty thousand; here he is, take him, and barter him away." So
saying, the frantic priest threw the crucifix on the table, and left the
apartment. The sovereigns, instead of chastising this presumption, or
despising it as a mere freak of insanity, were overawed by it. Neither
Ferdinand nor Isabella, had they been left to the unbiassed dictates of
their own reason, could have sanctioned for a moment so impolitic a
measure, which involved the loss of the most industrious and skilful
portion of their subjects. Its extreme injustice and cruelty rendered it
especially repugnant to the naturally humane disposition of the queen. [4]
But she had been early schooled to distrust her own reason, and indeed the
natural suggestions of humanity, in cases of conscience. Among the
reverend counsellors, on whom she most relied in these matters, was the
Dominican Torquemada. The situation which this man enjoyed as the queen's
confessor, during the tender years of her youth, gave him an ascendency
over her mind, which must have been denied to a person of his savage,
fanatical temper, even with the advantages of this spiritual connection,
had it been formed at a riper period of her life. Without opposing further
resistance to the representations, so emphatically expressed, of the holy
persons in whom she most confided, Isabella, at length, silenced her own
scruples, and consented to the fatal measure of proscription.

The edict for the expulsion of the Jews was signed by the Spanish
sovereigns at Granada, March 30th, 1492. The preamble alleges, in
vindication of the measure, the danger of allowing further intercourse
between the Jews and their Christian subjects, in consequence of the
incorrigible obstinacy, with which the former persisted in their attempts
to make converts of the latter to their own faith, and to instruct them in
their heretical rites, in open defiance of every legal prohibition and
penalty. When a college or corporation of any kind,--the instrument goes
on to state,--is convicted of any great or detestable crime, it is right
that it should be disfranchised, the less suffering with the greater, the
innocent with the guilty. If this be the case in temporal concerns, it is
much more so in those which affect the eternal welfare of the soul. It
finally decrees, that all unbaptized Jews, of whatever sex, age, or
condition, should depart from the realm by the end of July next ensuing;
prohibiting them from revisiting it, on any pretext whatever, under
penalty of death and confiscation of property. It was, moreover,
interdicted to every subject, to harbor, succor, or minister to the
necessities of any Jew, after the expiration of the term limited for his
departure. The persons and property of the Jews, in the mean time, were
taken under the royal protection. They were allowed to dispose of their
effects of every kind on their own account, and to carry the proceeds
along with them, in bills of exchange, or merchandise not prohibited, but
neither in gold nor silver. [5]

The doom of exile fell like a thunderbolt on the heads of the Israelites.
A large proportion of them had hitherto succeeded in shielding themselves
from the searching eye of the Inquisition, by an affectation of reverence
for the forms of Catholic worship, and a discreet forbearance of whatever
might offend the prejudices of their Christian brethren. They had even
hoped, that their steady loyalty, and a quiet and orderly discharge of
their social duties, would in time secure them higher immunities. Many had
risen to a degree of opulence, by means of the thrift and dexterity
peculiar to the race, which gave them a still deeper interest in the land
of their residence. [6] Their families were reared in all the elegant
refinements of life; and their wealth and education often disposed them to
turn their attention to liberal pursuits, which ennobled the character,
indeed, but rendered them personally more sensible to physical annoyance,
and less fitted to encounter the perils and privations of their dreary
pilgrimage. Even the mass of the common people possessed a dexterity in
various handicrafts, which afforded a comfortable livelihood, raising them
far above similar classes in most other nations, who might readily be
detached from the soil on which they happened to be cast, with
comparatively little sacrifice of local interests. [7] These ties were now
severed at a blow. They were to go forth as exiles from the land of their
birth; the land where all whom they ever loved had lived or died; the
land, not so much of their adoption, as of inheritance; which had been the
home of their ancestors for centuries, and with whose prosperity and glory
they were of course as intimately associated, as was any ancient Spaniard.
They were to be cast out helpless and defenceless, with a brand of infamy
set on them, among nations who had always held them in derision and

Those provisions of the edict, which affected a show of kindness to the
Jews, were contrived so artfully, as to be nearly nugatory. As they were
excluded from the use of gold and silver, the only medium for representing
their property was bills of exchange. But commerce was too limited and
imperfect to allow of these being promptly obtained to any very
considerable, much less to the enormous amount required in the present
instance. It was impossible, moreover, to negotiate a sale of their
effects under existing circumstances, since the market was soon glutted
with commodities; and few would be found willing to give anything like an
equivalent for what, if not disposed of within the prescribed term, the
proprietors must relinquish at any rate. So deplorable, indeed, was the
sacrifice of property, that a chronicler of the day mentions, that he had
seen a house exchanged for an ass, and a vineyard for a suit of clothes!
In Aragon, matters were still worse. The government there discovered, that
the Jews were largely indebted to individuals and to certain corporations.
It accordingly caused their property to be sequestrated for the benefit of
their creditors, until their debts should be liquidated. Strange, indeed,
that the balance should be found against the people, who have been
everywhere conspicuous for their commercial sagacity and resources, and
who, as factors of the great nobility and farmers of the revenue, enjoyed
at least equal advantages in Spain with those possessed in other
countries, for the accumulation of wealth. [8]

While the gloomy aspect of their fortunes pressed heavily on the hearts of
the Israelites, the Spanish clergy were indefatigable in the work of
conversion. They lectured in the synagogues and public squares, expounding
the doctrines of Christianity, and thundering forth both argument and
invective against the Hebrew heresy. But their laudable endeavors were in
a great measure counteracted by the more authoritative rhetoric of the
Jewish Rabbins, who compared the persecutions of their brethren to those
which their ancestors had suffered under Pharaoh. They encouraged them to
persevere, representing that the present afflictions were intended as a
trial of their faith by the Almighty, who designed in this way to guide
them to the promised land, by opening a path through the waters, as he had
done to their fathers of old. The more wealthy Israelites enforced their
exhortations by liberal contributions for the relief of their indigent
brethren. Thus strengthened, there were found but very few, when the day
of departure arrived, who were not prepared to abandon their country
rather than their religion. The extraordinary act of self-devotion by a
whole people for conscience' sake may be thought, in the nineteenth
century, to merit other epithets than those of "perfidy, incredulity, and
stiff-necked obstinacy," with which the worthy Curate of Los Palacios, in
the charitable feeling of that day, has seen fit to stigmatize it. [9]

When the period of departure arrived, all the principal routes through the
country might be seen swarming with emigrants, old and young, the sick and
the helpless, men, women, and children, mingled promiscuously together,
some mounted on horses or mules, but far the greater part undertaking
their painful pilgrimage on foot. The sight of so much misery touched even
the Spaniards with pity, though none might succor them; for the grand
inquisitor, Torquemada, enforced the ordinance to that effect, by
denouncing heavy ecclesiastical censures on all who should presume to
violate it. The fugitives were distributed along various routes, being
determined in their destination by accidental circumstances, much more
than any knowledge of the respective countries to which they were bound.
Much the largest division, amounting according to some estimates to eighty
thousand souls, passed into Portugal; whose monarch, John the Second,
dispensed with his scruples of conscience so far as to give them a free
passage through his dominions on their way to Africa, in consideration of
a tax of a _cruzado_ a head. He is even said to have silenced his
scruples so far as to allow certain ingenious artisans to establish
themselves permanently in the kingdom. [10]

A considerable number found their way to the ports of Santa Maria and
Cadiz, where, after lingering some time in the vain hope of seeing the
waters open for their egress, according to the promises of the Rabbins,
they embarked on board a Spanish fleet for the Barbary coast. Having
crossed over to Ercilla, a Christian settlement in Africa, whence they
proceeded by land towards Fez, where a considerable body of their
countrymen resided, they were assaulted on their route by the roving
tribes of the desert, in quest of plunder. Notwithstanding the interdict,
the Jews had contrived to secrete small sums of money, sewed up in their
garments or the linings of their saddles. These did not escape the
avaricious eyes of their spoilers, who are even said to have ripped open
the bodies of their victims, in search of gold, which they were supposed
to have swallowed. The lawless barbarians, mingling lust with avarice,
abandoned themselves to still more frightful excesses, violating the wives
and daughters of the unresisting Jews, or massacring in cold blood such as
offered resistance. But without pursuing these loathsome details further,
it need only be added, that the miserable exiles endured such extremity of
famine, that they were glad to force a nourishment from the grass which
grew scantily among the sands of the desert; until at length great numbers
of them, wasted by disease, and broken in spirit, retraced their steps to
Ercilla, and consented to be baptized, in the hope of being permitted to
revisit their native land. The number, indeed, was so considerable, that
the priest who officiated was obliged to make use of the mop, or hyssop,
with which the Roman Catholic missionaries were wont to scatter the holy
drops, whose mystic virtue could cleanse the soul in a moment from the
foulest stains of infidelity. "Thus," says a Castilian historian, "the
calamities of these poor blind creatures proved in the end an excellent
remedy, that God made use of to unseal their eyes, which they now opened
to the vain promises of the Rabbins; so that, renouncing their ancient
heresies, they became faithful followers of the Cross!" [11]

Many of the emigrants took the direction of Italy. Those who landed at
Naples brought with them an infectious disorder, contracted by long
confinement in small, crowded, and ill-provided vessels. The disorder was
so malignant, and spread with such frightful celerity, as to sweep off
more than twenty thousand inhabitants of the city, in the course of the
year, whence it extended its devastation over the whole Italian peninsula.

A graphic picture of these horrors is thus given by a Genoese historian,
an eye-witness of the scenes he describes. "No one," he says, "could
behold the sufferings of the Jewish exiles unmoved. A great many perished
of hunger, especially those of tender years. Mothers, with scarcely
strength to support themselves, carried their famished infants in their
arms, and died with them. Many fell victims to the cold, others to intense
thirst, while the unaccustomed distresses incident to a sea-voyage
aggravated their maladies. I will not enlarge on the cruelty and the
avarice which they frequently experienced from the masters of the ships
which transported them from Spain. Some were murdered to gratify their
cupidity, others forced to sell their children for the expenses of the
passage. They arrived in Genoa in crowds, but were not suffered to tarry
there long, by reason of the ancient law which interdicted the Jewish
traveller from a longer residence than three days. They were allowed,
however, to refit their vessels, and to recruit themselves for some days
from the fatigues of their voyage. One might have taken them for spectres,
so emaciated were they, so cadaverous in their aspect, and with eyes so
sunken; they differed in nothing from the dead, except in the power of
motion, which indeed they scarcely retained. Many fainted and expired on
the mole, which, being completely surrounded by the sea, was the only
quarter vouchsafed to the wretched emigrants. The infection bred by such a
swarm of dead and dying persons was not at once perceived; but, when the
winter broke up, ulcers began to make their appearance, and the malady,
which lurked for a long time in the city, broke out into the plague in the
following year." [12]

Many of the exiles passed into Turkey, and to different parts of the
Levant, where their descendants continued to speak the Castilian language
far into the following century. Others found their way to France, and even
England. Part of their religious services is recited to this day in
Spanish, in one or more of the London synagogues; and the modern Jew still
reverts with fond partiality to Spain, as the cherished land of his
fathers, illustrated by the most glorious recollections in their eventful
history. [13]

The whole number of Jews expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella is
variously computed from one hundred and sixty thousand to eight hundred
thousand souls; a discrepancy sufficiently indicating the paucity of
authentic data. Most modern writers, with the usual predilection for
startling results, have assumed the latter estimate; and Llorente has made
it the basis of some important calculations, in his History of the
Inquisition. A view of all the circumstances will lead us without much
hesitation to adopt the more moderate computation. [14] This, moreover, is
placed beyond reasonable doubt by the direct testimony of the Curate of
Los Palacios. He reports, that a Jewish Rabbin, one of the exiles,
subsequently returned to Spain, where he was baptized by him. This person,
whom Bernaldez commends for his intelligence, estimated the whole number
of his unbaptized countrymen in the dominions of Ferdinand and Isabella,
at the publication of the edict, at thirty-six thousand families. Another
Jewish authority, quoted by the Curate, reckoned them at thirty-five
thousand. This, assuming an average of four and a half to a family, gives
the sum total of about one hundred and sixty thousand individuals,
agreeably to the computation of Bernaldez. There is little reason for
supposing, that the actual amount would suffer diminution in the hands of
either the Jewish or Castilian authority; since the one might naturally be
led to exaggerate, in order to heighten sympathy with the calamities of
his nation, and the other, to magnify as far as possible the glorious
triumphs of the Cross. [15]

The detriment incurred by the state, however, is not founded so much on
any numerical estimate, as on the subtraction of the mechanical skill,
intelligence, and general resources of an orderly, industrious population.
In this view, the mischief was incalculably greater than that inferred by
the mere number of the exiled; and, although even this might have been
gradually repaired in a country allowed the free and healthful development
of its energies, yet in Spain this was so effectually counteracted by the
Inquisition, and other causes in the following century, that the loss may
be deemed irretrievable.

The expulsion of so numerous a class of subjects by an independent act of
the sovereign, might well be regarded as an enormous stretch of
prerogative, altogether incompatible with anything like a free government.
But to judge the matter rightly, we must take into view the actual
position of the Jews at that time. Far from forming an integral part of
the commonwealth, they were regarded as alien to it, as a mere
excrescence, which, so far from contributing to the healthful action of
the body politic, was nourished by its vicious humors, and might be lopped
off at any time, when the health of the system demanded it. Far from being
protected by the laws, the only aim of the laws, in reference to them, was
to define more precisely their civil incapacities, and to draw the line of
division more broadly between them and the Christians. Even this
humiliation by no means satisfied the national prejudices, as is evinced
by the great number of tumults and massacres of which they were the
victims. In these circumstances, it seemed to be no great assumption of
authority, to pronounce sentence of exile against those whom public
opinion had so long proscribed as enemies to the state. It was only
carrying into effect that opinion, expressed as it had been in a great
variety of ways; and, as far as the rights of the nation were concerned,
the banishment of a single Spaniard would have been held a grosser
violation of them, than that of the whole race of Israelites.

It has been common with modern historians to detect a principal motive for
the expulsion of the Jews, in the avarice of the government. It is only
necessary, however, to transport ourselves back to those times, to find it
in perfect accordance with their spirit, at least in Spain. It is indeed
incredible, that persons possessing the political sagacity of Ferdinand
and Isabella could indulge a temporary cupidity at the sacrifice of the
most important and permanent interests, converting their wealthiest
districts into a wilderness, and dispeopling them of a class of citizens
who contributed beyond all others, not only to the general resources, but
the direct revenues of the crown; a measure so manifestly unsound, as to
lead even a barbarian monarch of that day to exclaim, "Do they call this
Ferdinand a politic prince, who can thus impoverish his own kingdom and
enrich ours!" [16] It would seem, indeed, when the measure had been
determined on, that the Aragonese monarch was willing, by his expedient of
sequestration, to control its operation in such a manner as to secure to
his own subjects the full pecuniary benefit of it. [17] No imputation of
this kind attaches to Castile. The clause of the ordinance, which might
imply such a design, by interdicting the exportation of gold and silver,
was only enforcing a law, which had been already twice enacted by cortes
in the present reign, and which was deemed of such moment, that the
offence was made capital. [18]

We need look no further for the principle of action, in this case, than
the spirit of religious bigotry, which led to a similar expulsion of the
Jews from England, France, and other parts of Europe, as well as from
Portugal, under circumstances of peculiar atrocity, a few years later.
[19] Indeed, the spirit of persecution did not expire with the fifteenth
century, but extended far into the more luminous periods of the
seventeenth and eighteenth; and that, too, under a ruler of the enlarged
capacity of Frederic the Great, whose intolerance could not plead in
excuse the blindness of fanaticism. [20] How far the banishment of the
Jews was conformable to the opinions of the most enlightened
contemporaries, may be gathered from the encomiums lavished on its authors
from more than one quarter. Spanish writers, without exception, celebrate
it as a sublime sacrifice of all temporal interests to religious
principle. The best instructed foreigners, in like manner, however they
may condemn the details of its execution, or commiserate the sufferings of
the Jews, commend the act, as evincing the most lively and laudable zeal
for the true faith. [21]

It cannot be denied, that Spain at this period surpassed most of the
nations of Christendom in religious enthusiasm, or, to speak more
correctly, in bigotry. This is doubtless imputable to the long war with
the Moslems, and its recent glorious issue, which swelled every heart with
exultation, disposing it to consummate the triumphs of the Cross by
purging the land from a heresy, which, strange as it may seem, was
scarcely less detested than that of Mahomet. Both the sovereigns partook
largely of these feelings. With regard to Isabella, moreover, it must be
borne constantly in mind, as has been repeatedly remarked in the course of
this History, that she had been used to surrender her own judgment, in
matters of conscience, to those spiritual guardians, who were supposed in
that age to be its rightful depositaries, and the only casuists who could
safely determine the doubtful line of duty. Isabella's pious disposition,
and her trembling solicitude to discharge her duty, at whatever cost of
personal inclination, greatly enforced the precepts of education. In this
way, her very virtues became the source of her errors. Unfortunately, she
lived in an age and station, which attached to these errors the most
momentous consequences. [22]--But we gladly turn from these dark prospects
to a brighter page of her history.


[1] It is a proof of the high consideration in which such Israelites as
were willing to embrace Christianity were held, that three of that number,
Alvarez, Avila, and Pulgar, were private secretaries of the queen. (Mem.
de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 18.)

An incidental expression of Martyr's, among many similar ones by
contemporaries, affords the true key to the popular odium against the
Jews. "Cum namque viderent, Judaeorum tabido commercio, qui hac horâ sunt
in Hispaniâ _innumeri Christianis ditiores_, plurimorum animos corrumpi ac
seduci," etc. Opus Epist., epist. 92.

[2] Paramo, De Origine Inquisitionis, p. 164.--Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, tom. i. cap. 7, sec. 3.--Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist.
94.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. p. 128.

[3] Paramo, De Origine Inquisitionis, p. 163.

Salazar de Mendoza refers the sovereign's consent to the banishment of the
Jews, in a great measure, to the urgent remonstrances of the cardinal of
Spain. The bigotry of the biographer makes him claim the credit of every
fanatical act for his illustrious hero. See Crón. del Gran Cardenal, p.

[4] Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 7, sect. 5.

Pulgar, in a letter to the cardinal of Spain, animadverting with much
severity on the tenor of certain municipal ordinances against the Jews in
Guipuscoa and Toledo, in 1482, plainly intimates, that they were not at
all to the taste of the queen. See Letras, (Amstelodami, 1670,) let. 31.

[5] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 1492.--Recep. de las Leyes, lib. 8, tit. 2,
ley 2.--Pragmáticas del Reyno, ed. 1520, fol. 3.

[6] The Curate of Los Palacios speaks of several Israelites worth one or
two millions of maravedies, and another even as having amassed ten. He
mentions one in particular, by the name of Abraham, as renting the
_greater part of Castile_! It will hardly do to take the good Curate's
statement _à la lettre_. See Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 112.

[7] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, ubi supra.

[8] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 10.--Zurita, Analos, tom. v.
fol. 9.

Capmany notices the number of synagogues existing in Aragon, in 1428, as
amounting to nineteen. In Galicia at the same time there were but three,
and in Catalonia but one. See Mem. de Barcelona, tom. iv. Apend. num. 11.

[9] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 10, 113.--Ferreras, Hist.
d'Espagne, tom. viii. p. 131.

[10] Zurita, Anales, tom. v. fol. 9.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom.
viii. p. 133.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, ubi supra.--La Clède, Hist. de
Portugal, tom. iv. p. 95.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 602.

[11] Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. p. 133.--Bernaldez, Reyes
Católicos, MS., cap. 113.

[12] Senarega, apud Muratori, Rerum Ital. Script., tom. xxiv. pp. 531,

[13] See a sensible notice of Hebrew literature in Spain, in the
Retrospective Review, vol. iii. p. 209.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom.
ii. lib. 26, cap. 1.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. fol. 9.

Not a few of the learned exiles attained to eminence in those countries of
Europe where they transferred their residence. One is mentioned by Castro
as a leading practitioner of medicine in Genoa; another, as filling the
posts of astronomer and chronicler, under King Emanuel of Portugal. Many
of them published works in various departments of science, which were
translated into the Spanish and other European languages. Biblioteca
Española, tom. i. pp. 359-372.

[14] From a curious document in the _Archives of Simancas_, consisting of
a report made to the Spanish sovereigns by their accountant general,
Quintanilla, in 1492, it would appear, that the population of the kingdom
of Castile, exclusive of Granada, was then estimated at 1,500,000
_vecinos_, or householders. (See Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., Apend.
no. 12.) This, allowing four and a half to a family, would make the whole
population 6,750,000. It appears from the statement of Bernaldez, that the
kingdom of Castile contained five-sixths of the whole amount of Jews in
the Spanish monarchy. This proportion, if 800,000 be received as the
total, would amount in round numbers to 670,000, or ten per cent, of the
whole population of the kingdom. Now, it is manifestly improbable that so
large a portion of the whole nation, conspicuous moreover for wealth and
intelligence, could have been held so light in a political aspect, as the
Jews certainly were, or have tamely submitted for so many years to the
most wanton indignities without resistance; or finally, that the Spanish
government would have ventured on so bold a measure as the banishment of
so numerous and powerful a class, and that too with as few precautions,
apparently, as would be required for driving out of the country a roving
gang of gypsies.

[15] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 110.--Llorente, Hist. de
l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 7, sect. 7.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom.
ii. lib. 26.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. fol. 9.

[16] Bajazet. See Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. p. 310.--Paramo, De
Origine Inquisitionis, p. 168.

[17] "In truth," Father Abarca somewhat innocently remarks, "King
Ferdinand was a politic Christian, making the interests of church and
state mutually subservient to each other"! Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. fol.

[18] Once at Toledo, 1480, and at Murcia, 1488. See Recop. de las Leyes,
lib. 6, tit. 18, ley 1.

[19] The Portuguese government caused all children of fourteen years of
age, or under, to be taken from their parents and retained in the country,
as fit subjects for a Christian education. The distress occasioned by this
cruel provision may be well imagined. Many of the unhappy parents murdered
their children to defeat the ordinance; and many laid violent hands on
themselves. Faria y Sousa coolly remarks, that "It was a great mistake in
King Emanuel to think of converting any Jew to Christianity, old enough to
pronounce the name of Moses!" He fixes three years of age as the utmost
limit. (Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 496.)

Mr. Turner has condensed, with his usual industry, the most essential
chronological facts relative to modern Jewish history, into a note
contained in the second volume of his History of England, pp. 114-120.

[20] They were also rejected from Vienna, in 1669. The illiberal, and
indeed most cruel legislation of Frederic II., in reference to his Jewish
subjects, transports us back to the darkest periods of the Visigothic
monarchy. The reader will find a summary of these enactments in the third
volume of Milman's agreeable History of the Jews.

[21] The accomplished and amiable Florentine, Pico di Mirandola, in his
treatise on Judicial Astrology, remarks that, "the sufferings of the Jews,
_in which the glory of divine justice delighted_, were so extreme as
to fill us Christians with commiseration." The Genoese historian,
Senarega, indeed admits that the measure savored _of some slight degree
of cruelty_. "Res haec primo conspectu laudabilis visa est, quia decus
nostrae Religionis respiceret, sed aliquantulum in se crudelitatis
continere, si eos non belluas, sed homines a Deo creatos, consideravimus."
De Rebus Genuensibus, apud Muratori, Rerum Ital. Script., tom. xxiv.--
Illescas, Hist. Pontif., apud Paramo, De Origine Inquisitionis, p. 167.

[22] Llorente sums up his account of the expulsion, by assigning the
following motives to the principal agents in the business. "The measure,"
he says, "may be referred to the fanaticism of Torquemada, to the avarice
and superstition of Ferdinand, to the false ideas and inconsiderate zeal
with which they had inspired Isabella, to whom history cannot refuse the
praise of great sweetness of disposition, and an enlightened mind." Hist.
de l'Inquisition, tom. i. ch. 7, sec. 10.




Attempt on Ferdinand's Life.--Consternation and Loyalty of the People.--
Return of Columbus.--His Progress to Barcelona.--Interviews with the
Sovereigns.--Sensations caused by the Discovery.--Regulations of Trade.--
Conversion of the Natives.--Famous Bulls of Alexander VI.--Jealousy of
Portugal.--Second Voyage of Columbus.--Treaty of Tordesillas.

Towards the latter end of May, 1492, the Spanish sovereigns quitted
Granada, between which and Santa Fe they had divided their time since the
surrender of the Moorish metropolis. They were occupied during the two
following months with the affairs of Castile. In August they visited
Aragon, proposing to establish their winter residence there in order to
provide for its internal administration, and conclude the negotiations for
the final surrender of Roussillon and Cerdagne by France, to which these
provinces had been mortgaged by Ferdinand's father, John the Second;
proving ever since a fruitful source of diplomacy, which threatened more
than once to terminate in open rupture.

Ferdinand and Isabella arrived in Aragon on the 8th of August, accompanied
by Prince John and the infantas, and a brilliant train of Castilian
nobles. In their progress through the country they were everywhere
received with the most lively enthusiasm. The whole nation seemed to
abandon itself to jubilee, at the approach of its illustrious sovereigns,
whose heroic constancy had rescued Spain from the detested empire of the
Saracens. After devoting some months to the internal police of the
kingdom, the court transferred its residence to Catalonia, whose capital
it reached about the middle of October. During its detention in this
place, Ferdinand's career was wellnigh brought to an untimely close. [1]

It was a good old custom of Catalonia, long since fallen into desuetude,
for the monarch to preside in the tribunals of justice, at least once a
week, for the purpose of determining the suits of the poorer classes
especially, who could not afford the more expensive forms of litigation.
King Ferdinand, in conformity with this usage, held a court in the house
of deputation, on the 7th of December, being the vigil of the conception
of the Virgin. At noon, as he was preparing to quit the palace, after the
conclusion of business, he lingered in the rear of his retinue, conversing
with some of the officers of the court. As the party was issuing from a
little chapel contiguous to the royal saloon, and just as the king was
descending a flight of stairs, a ruffian darted from an obscure recess in
which he had concealed himself early in the morning, and aimed a blow with
a short sword, or knife, at the back of Ferdinand's neck. Fortunately the
edge of the weapon was turned by a gold chain or collar which he was in
the habit of wearing. It inflicted, however, a deep wound between the
shoulders. Ferdinand instantly cried out, "St. Mary preserve us! treason,
treason!" and his attendants, rushing on the assassin, stabbed him in
three places with their poniards, and would have despatched him on the
spot, had not the king, with his usual presence of mind, commanded them to
desist, and take the man alive, that they might ascertain the real authors
of the conspiracy. This was done accordingly, and Ferdinand, fainting with
loss of blood, was carefully removed to his apartments in the royal
palace. [2]

The report of the catastrophe spread like wildfire through the city. All
classes were thrown into consternation by so foul an act, which seemed to
cast a stain on the honor and good faith of the Catalans. Some suspected
it to be the work of a vindictive Moor, others of a disappointed courtier.
The queen, who had swooned on first receiving intelligence of the event,
suspected the ancient enmity of the Catalans, who had shown such
determined opposition to her husband in his early youth. She gave instant
orders to hold in readiness one of the galleys lying in the port, in order
to transport her children from the place, as she feared the conspiracy
might be designed to embrace other victims. [3]

The populace, in the mean while, assembled in great numbers round the
palace where the king lay. All feelings of hostility had long since given
way to devoted loyalty towards a government, which had uniformly respected
the liberties of its subjects, and whose paternal sway had secured similar
blessings to Barcelona with the rest of the empire. They thronged round
the building, crying out that the king was slain, and demanding that his
murderers should be delivered up to them. Ferdinand, exhausted as he was,
would have presented himself at the window of his apartment, but was
prevented from making the effort by his physicians. It was with great
difficulty that the people were at length satisfied that he was still
living, and that they finally consented to disperse, on the assurance,
that the assassin should be brought to condign punishment.

The king's wound, which did not appear dangerous at first, gradually
exhibited more alarming symptoms. One of the bones was found to be
fractured, and a part of it was removed by the surgeons. On the seventh
day his situation was considered extremely critical. During this time, the
queen was constantly by his side, watching with him day and night, and
administering all his medicines with her own hand. At length, the
unfavorable symptoms yielded; and his excellent constitution enabled him
so far to recover, that in less than three weeks he was able to show
himself to the eyes of his anxious subjects, who gave themselves up to a
delirium of joy, offering thanksgivings and grateful oblations in the
churches; while many a pilgrimage, which had been vowed for his
restoration to health, was performed by the good people of Barcelona, with
naked feet, and even on their knees, among the wild sierras that surround
the city.

The author of the crime proved to be a peasant, about sixty years of age,
of that humble class, _de remensa_, as it was termed, which Ferdinand
had been so instrumental some few years since in releasing from the baser
and more grinding pains of servitude. The man appeared to be insane;
alleging, in vindication of his conduct, that he was the rightful
proprietor of the crown, which he expected to obtain by Ferdinand's death.
He declared himself willing, however, to give up his pretensions, on
condition of being set at liberty. The king, convinced of his alienation
of mind, would have discharged him; but the Catalans, indignant at the
reproach which such a crime seemed to attach to their own honor, and
perhaps distrusting the plea of insanity, thought it necessary to expiate
it by the blood of the offender, and condemned the unhappy wretch to the
dreadful doom of a traitor; the preliminary barbarities of the sentence,
however, were remitted, at the intercession of the queen. [4]

In the spring of 1493, while the court was still at Barcelona, letters
were received from Christopher Columbus, announcing his return to Spain,
and the successful achievement of his great enterprise, by the discovery
of land beyond the western ocean. The delight and astonishment, raised by
this intelligence, were proportioned to the skepticism, with which his
project had been originally viewed. The sovereigns were now filled with a
natural impatience to ascertain the extent and other particulars of the
important discovery; and they transmitted instant instructions to the
admiral to repair to Barcelona, as soon as he should have made the
preliminary arrangements for the further prosecution of his enterprise.

The great navigator had succeeded, as is well known, after a voyage the
natural difficulties of which had been much augmented by the distrust and
mutinous spirit of his followers, in descrying land on Friday, the 12th of
October, 1492. After some months spent in exploring the delightful
regions, now for the first time thrown open to the eyes of a European, he
embarked in the month of January, 1493, for Spain. One of his vessels had
previously foundered, and another had deserted him; so that he was left
alone to retrace his course across the Atlantic. After a most tempestuous
voyage, he was compelled to take shelter in the Tagus, sorely against his
inclination. [6] He experienced, however, the most honorable reception
from the Portuguese monarch, John the Second, who did ample justice to the
great qualities of Columbus, although he had failed to profit by them. [7]
After a brief delay, the admiral resumed his voyage, and crossing the bar
of Saltes entered the harbor of Palos about noon, on the 15th of March,
1493, being exactly seven months and eleven days since his departure from
that port. [8]

Great was the agitation in the little community of Palos, as they beheld
the well-known vessel of the admiral re-entering their harbor. Their
desponding imaginations had long since consigned him to a watery grave;
for, in addition to the preternatural horrors which hung over the voyage,
they had experienced the most stormy and disastrous winter within the
recollection of the oldest mariners. [9] Most of them had relatives or
friends on board. They thronged immediately to the shore, to assure
themselves with their own eyes of the truth of their return. When they
beheld their faces once more, and saw them accompanied by the numerous
evidences which they brought back of the success of the expedition, they
burst forth in acclamations of joy and gratulation. They awaited the
landing of Columbus, when the whole population of the place accompanied
him and his crew to the principal church, where solemn thanksgivings were
offered up for their return; while every bell in the village sent forth a
joyous peal in honor of the glorious event. The admiral was too desirous
of presenting himself before the sovereigns, to protract his stay long at
Palos. He took with him on his journey specimens of the multifarious
products of the newly discovered regions. He was accompanied by several of
the native islanders, arrayed in their simple barbaric costume, and
decorated, as he passed through the principal cities, with collars,
bracelets, and other ornaments of gold, rudely fashioned; he exhibited
also considerable quantities of the same metal in dust, or in crude
masses, [10] numerous vegetable exotics, possessed of aromatic or
medicinal virtue, and several kinds of quadrupeds unknown in Europe, and
birds, whose varieties of gaudy plumage gave a brilliant effect to the
pageant. The admiral's progress through the country was everywhere impeded
by the multitudes thronging forth to gaze at the extraordinary spectacle,
and the more extraordinary man, who, in the emphatic language of that
time, which has now lost its force from its familiarity, first revealed
the existence of a "New World." As he passed through the busy, populous
city of Seville, every window, balcony, and housetop, which could afford a
glimpse of him, is described to have been crowded with spectators. It was
the middle of April before Columbus reached Barcelona. The nobility and
cavaliers in attendance on the court, together with the authorities of the
city, came to the gates to receive him, and escorted him to the royal
presence. Ferdinand and Isabella were seated, with their son, Prince John,
under a superb canopy of state, awaiting his arrival. On his approach,
they rose from their seats, and, extending their hands to him to salute,
caused him to be seated before them. These were unprecedented marks of
condescension to a person of Columbus's rank, in the haughty and
ceremonious court of Castile. It was, indeed, the proudest moment in the
life of Columbus. He had fully established the truth of his long-contested
theory, in the face of argument, sophistry, sneer, skepticism, and
contempt. He had achieved this, not by chance, but by calculation,
supported through the most adverse circumstances by consummate conduct.
The honors paid him, which had hitherto been reserved only for rank, or
fortune, or military success, purchased by the blood and tears of
thousands, were, in his case, a homage to intellectual power, successfully
exerted in behalf of the noblest interests of humanity. [11]

After a brief interval, the sovereigns requested from Columbus a recital
of his adventures. His manner was sedate and dignified, but warmed by the
glow of natural enthusiasm. He enumerated the several islands which he had
visited, expatiated on the temperate character of the climate, and the
capacity of the soil for every variety of agricultural production,
appealing to the samples imported by him, as evidence of their natural
fruitfulness. He dwelt more at large on the precious metals to be found in
these islands, which he inferred, less from the specimens actually
obtained, than from the uniform testimony of the natives to their
abundance in the unexplored regions of the interior. Lastly, he pointed
out the wide scope afforded to Christian zeal, in the illumination of a
race of men, whose minds, far from being wedded to any system of idolatry,
were prepared by their extreme simplicity for the reception of pure and
uncorrupted doctrine. The last consideration touched Isabella's heart most
sensibly; and the whole audience, kindled with various emotions by the
speaker's eloquence, filled up the perspective with the gorgeous coloring
of their own fancies, as ambition, or avarice, or devotional feeling
predominated in their bosoms. When Columbus ceased, the king and queen,
together with all present, prostrated themselves on their knees in
grateful thanksgivings, while the solemn strains of the Te Deum were
poured forth by the choir of the royal chapel, as in commemoration of some
glorious victory. [12]

The discoveries of Columbus excited a sensation, particularly among men of
science, in the most distant parts of Europe, strongly contrasting with
the apathy which had preceded them. They congratulated one another on
being reserved for an age which had witnessed the consummation of so grand
an event. The learned Martyr, who, in his multifarious correspondence, had
not even deigned to notice the preparations for the voyage of discovery,
now lavished the most unbounded panegyric on its results; which he
contemplated with the eye of a philosopher, having far less reference to
considerations of profit or policy, than to the prospect which they
unfolded of enlarging the boundaries of knowledge. [12]

Most of the scholars of the day, however, adopted the erroneous hypothesis
of Columbus, who considered the lands he had discovered, as bordering on
the eastern shores of Asia, and lying adjacent to the vast and opulent
regions depicted in such golden colors by Mandeville and the Poli. This
conjecture, which was conformable to the admiral's opinions before
undertaking the voyage, was corroborated by the apparent similarity
between various natural productions of these islands, and of the east.
From this misapprehension, the new dominions soon came to be distinguished
as the West Indies, an appellation by which they are still recognized in
the titles of the Spanish. crown. [13]

Columbus, during his residence at Barcelona, continued to receive from the
Spanish sovereigns the most honorable distinctions which royal bounty
could confer. When Ferdinand rode abroad, he was accompanied by the
admiral at his side. The courtiers, in emulation of their master, made
frequent entertainments, at which he was treated with the punctilious
deference paid to a noble of the highest class. [14] But the attentions
most grateful to his lofty spirit were the preparations of the Spanish
court for prosecuting his discoveries, on a scale commensurate with their
importance. A board was established for the direction of Indian affairs,
consisting of a superintendent and two subordinate functionaries. The
first of these officers was Juan de Fonseca, archdeacon of Seville, an
active, ambitious prelate, subsequently raised to high episcopal
preferment, whose shrewdness, and capacity for business, enabled him to
maintain the control of the Indian department during the whole of the
present reign. An office for the transaction of business was instituted at
Seville, and a custom-house placed under its direction at Cadiz. This was
the origin of the important establishment of the _Casa de la Contratacion
de las Indias_, or India House. [15]

The commercial regulations adopted exhibit a narrow policy in some of
their features, for which a justification may be found in the spirit of
the age, and in the practice of the Portuguese particularly, but which
entered still more largely into the colonial legislation of Spain under
later princes. The new territories, far from being permitted free
intercourse with foreign nations, were opened only under strict
limitations to Spanish subjects, and were reserved, as forming, in some
sort, part of the exclusive revenue of the crown. All persons of whatever
description were interdicted, under the severest penalties, from trading
with, or even visiting the Indies, without license from the constituted
authorities. It was impossible to evade this, as a minute specification of
the ships; cargoes, crews, with the property appertaining to each
individual, was required to be taken at the office in Cadiz, and a
corresponding registration in a similar office established at Hispaniola.
A more sagacious spirit was manifested in the ample provision made of
whatever could contribute to the support or permanent prosperity of the
infant colony. Grain, plants, the seeds of numerous vegetable products,
which in the genial climate of the Indies might be made valuable articles
for domestic consumption or export, were liberally furnished. Commodities
of every description for the supply of the fleet were exempted from duty.
The owners of all vessels throughout the ports of Andalusia were required,
by an ordinance somewhat arbitrary, to hold them in readiness for the
expedition. Still further authority was given to impress both officers and
men, if necessary, into the service. Artisans of every sort, provided with
the implements of their various crafts, including a great number of miners
for exploring the subterraneous treasures of the new regions, were
enrolled in the expedition; in order to defray the heavy charges of which,
the government, in addition to the regular resources, had recourse to a
loan, and to the sequestrated property of the exiled Jews. [16]

Amid their own temporal concerns, the Spanish sovereigns did not forget
the spiritual interests of their new subjects. The Indians, who
accompanied Columbus to Barcelona, had been all of them baptized, being
offered up, in the language of a Castilian writer, as the first-fruits of
the gentiles. King Ferdinand, and his son, Prince John, stood as sponsors
to two of them, who were permitted to take their names. One of the Indians
remained attached to the prince's establishment; the residue were sent to
Seville, whence, after suitable religious instruction, they were to be
returned as missionaries for the propagation of the faith among their own
countrymen. Twelve Spanish ecclesiastics were also destined to this
service; among whom was the celebrated Las Casas, so conspicuous
afterwards for his benevolent exertions in behalf of the unfortunate
natives. The most explicit directions were given to the admiral, to use
every effort for the illumination of the poor heathen, which was set forth
as the primary object of the expedition. He was particularly enjoined "to
abstain from all means of annoyance, and to treat them well and lovingly,
maintaining a familiar intercourse with them, rendering them all the kind
offices in his power, distributing presents of the merchandise and various
commodities, which their Highnesses had caused to be embarked on board the
fleet for that purpose; and finally, to chastise, in the most exemplary
manner, all who should offer the natives the slightest molestation." Such
were the instructions emphatically urged on Columbus for the regulation of
his intercourse with the savages; and their indulgent tenor sufficiently
attests the benevolent and rational views of Isabella, in religious
matters, when not warped by any foreign influence. [17]

Towards the last of May, Columbus quitted Barcelona for the purpose of
superintending and expediting the preparations for departure on his second
voyage. He was accompanied to the gates of the city by all the nobility
and cavaliers of the court. Orders were issued to the different towns to
provide him and his suite with lodgings free of expense. His former
commission was not only confirmed in its full extent, but considerably
enlarged. For the sake of despatch, he was authorized to nominate to all
offices, without application to government; and ordinances and letters
patent, bearing the royal seal, were to be issued by him, subscribed by
himself or his deputy. He was intrusted, in fine, with such unlimited
jurisdiction, as showed, that, however tardy the sovereigns may have been
in granting him their confidence, they were not disposed to stint the
measure of it, when his deserts were once established. [18]

Soon after Columbus's return to Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella applied to
the court of Rome, to confirm them in the possession of their recent
discoveries, and invest them with similar extent of jurisdiction with that
formerly conferred on the kings of Portugal. It was an opinion, as ancient
perhaps as the crusades, that the pope, as vicar of Christ, had competent
authority to dispose of all countries inhabited by heathen nations, in
favor of Christian potentates. Although Ferdinand and Isabella do not seem
to have been fully satisfied of this right, yet they were willing to
acquiesce in its assumption in the present instance, from the conviction
that the papal sanction would most effectually exclude the pretensions of
all others, and especially their Portuguese rivals. In their application
to the Holy See, they were careful to represent their own discoveries as
in no way interfering with the rights formerly conceded by it to their
neighbors. They enlarged on their services in the propagation of the
faith, which they affirmed to be a principal motive of their present
operations. They intimated, finally, that, although many competent persons
deemed their application to the court of Rome, for a title to territories
already in their possession, to be unnecessary, yet, as pious princes, and
dutiful children of the church, they were unwilling to proceed further
without the sanction of him, to whose keeping its highest interests were
intrusted. [19]

The pontifical throne was at that time filled by Alexander the Sixth; a
man who, although degraded by unrestrained indulgence of the most sordid
appetites, was endowed by nature with singular acuteness, as well as
energy of character. He lent a willing ear to the application of the
Spanish government, and made no hesitation in granting what cost him
nothing, while it recognized the assumption of powers, which had already
begun to totter in the opinion of mankind.

On the 3d of May, 1493, he published a bull, in which, taking into
consideration the eminent services of the Spanish monarchs in the cause of
the church, especially in the subversion of the Mahometan empire in Spain,
and willing to afford still wider scope for the prosecution of their pious
labors, he, "out of his pure liberality, infallible knowledge, and
plenitude of apostolic power," confirmed them in the possession of all
lands discovered or hereafter to be discovered by them in the western
ocean, comprehending the same extensive rights of jurisdiction with those
formerly conceded to the kings of Portugal.

This bull he supported by another, dated on the following day, in which
the pope, in order to obviate any misunderstanding with the Portuguese,
and acting no doubt on the suggestion of the Spanish sovereigns, defined
with greater precision the intention of his original grant to the latter,
by bestowing on them all such lands as they should discover to the west
and south of an imaginary line, to be drawn from pole to pole, at the
distance of one hundred leagues to the west of the Azores and Cape de Verd
Islands. [20] It seems to have escaped his Holiness, that the Spaniards,
by pursuing a western route, might in time reach the eastern limits of
countries previously granted to the Portuguese. At least this would appear
from the import of a third bull, issued September 25th of the same year,
which invested the sovereigns with plenary authority over all countries
discovered by them, whether in the east, or within the boundaries of
India, all previous concessions to the contrary notwithstanding. With the
title derived from actual possession, thus fortified by the highest
ecclesiastical sanction, the Spaniards might have promised themselves an
uninterrupted career of discovery, but for the jealousy of their rivals,
the Portuguese. [21]

The court of Lisbon viewed with secret disquietude the increasing maritime
enterprise of its neighbors. While the Portuguese were timidly creeping
along the barren shores of Africa, the Spaniards had boldly launched into
the deep, and rescued unknown realms from its embraces, which teemed in
their fancies with treasures of inestimable wealth. Their mortification
was greatly enhanced by the reflection, that all this might have been
achieved for themselves, had they but known how to profit by the proposals
of Columbus. [22] From the first moment in which the success of the
admiral's enterprise was established, John the Second, a politic and
ambitious prince, had sought some pretence to check the career of
discovery, or at least to share in the spoils of it. [23]

In his interview with Columbus, at Lisbon, he suggested, that the
discoveries of the Spaniards might interfere with the rights secured to
the Portuguese by repeated papal sanctions since the beginning of the
present century, and guaranteed by the treaty with Spain, in 1479.
Columbus, without entering into the discussion, contented himself with
declaring, that he had been instructed by his own government to steer
clear of all Portuguese settlements on the African coast, and that his
course indeed had led him in an entirely different direction. Although
John professed himself satisfied with the explanation, he soon after
despatched an ambassador to Barcelona, who, after dwelling on some
irrelevant topics, touched, as it were, incidentally on the real object of
his mission, the late voyage of discovery. He congratulated the Spanish
sovereigns on its success; expatiated on the civilities shown by the court
of Lisbon to Columbus, on his late arrival there; and acknowledged the
satisfaction felt by his master at the orders given to the admiral, to
hold a western course from the Canaries, expressing a hope that the same
course would be pursued in future, without interfering with the rights of
Portugal by deviation to the south. This was the first occasion, on which
the existence of such claims had been intimated by the Portuguese.

In the mean while, Ferdinand and Isabella received intelligence that King
John was equipping a considerable armament in order to anticipate or
defeat their discoveries in the west. They instantly sent one of their
household, Don Lope de Herrera, as ambassador to Lisbon, with instructions
to make their acknowledgments to the king for his hospitable reception of
Columbus, accompanied with a request that he would prohibit his subjects
from interference with the discoveries of the Spaniards in the west, in
the same manner as these latter had been excluded from the Portuguese
possessions in Africa. The ambassador was furnished with orders of a
different import, provided he should find the reports correct, respecting
the equipment and probable destination of a Portuguese armada. Instead of
a conciliatory deportment, he was, in that case, to assume a tone of
remonstrance, and to demand a full explanation from King John, of his
designs. The cautious prince, who had received, through his secret agents
in Castile, intelligence of these latter instructions, managed matters so
discreetly as to give no occasion for their exercise. He abandoned, or at
least postponed, his meditated expedition, in the hope of adjusting the
dispute by negotiation, in which he excelled. In order to quiet the
apprehensions of the Spanish court, he engaged to fit out no fleet from
his dominions within sixty days; at the same time he sent a fresh mission
to Barcelona, with directions to propose an amicable adjustment of the
conflicting claims of the two nations, by making the parallel of the
Canaries a line of partition between them; the right of discovery to the
north being reserved to the Spaniards, and that to the south to the
Portuguese. [24]

While this game of diplomacy was going on, the Castilian court availed
itself of the interval afforded by its rival, to expedite preparations for
the second voyage of discovery; which, through the personal activity of
the admiral, and the facilities everywhere afforded him, were fully
completed before the close of September. Instead of the reluctance, and
indeed avowed disgust, which had been manifested by all classes to his
former voyage, the only embarrassment now arose from the difficulty of
selection among the multitude of competitors, who pressed to be enrolled
in the present expedition. The reports and sanguine speculations of the
first adventurers had inflamed the cupidity of many, which was still
further heightened by the exhibition of the rich and curious products
which Columbus had brought back with him, and by the popular belief that
the new discoveries formed part of that gorgeous east,

"whose caverns teem
With diamond flaming, and with seeds of gold,"

and which tradition and romance had alike invested with the supernatural
splendors of enchantment. Many others were stimulated by the wild love of
adventure, kindled in the long Moorish war, but which, now excluded from
that career, sought other objects in the vast, untravelled regions of the
New World. The complement of the fleet was originally fixed at twelve
hundred souls, which, through importunity or various pretences of the
applicants, was eventually swelled to fifteen hundred. Among these were
many who enlisted without compensation, including several persons of rank,
hidalgos, and members of the royal household. The whole squadron amounted
to seventeen vessels, three of them of one hundred tons' burden each. With
this gallant navy, Columbus, dropping down the Guadalquivir, took his
departure from the bay of Cadiz, on the 25th of September, 1493;
presenting a striking contrast to the melancholy plight, in which, but the
year previous, he sallied forth like some forlorn knight-errant, on a
desperate and chimerical enterprise. [25]

No sooner had the fleet weighed anchor, than Ferdinand and Isabella
despatched an embassy in solemn state to advise the king of Portugal of
it. This embassy was composed of two persons of distinguished rank, Don
Pedro de Ayala, and Don Garci Lopez de Carbajal. Agreeably to their
instructions, they represented to the Portuguese monarch the
inadmissibility of his propositions respecting the boundary line of
navigation; they argued that the grants of the Holy See, and the treaty
with Spain in 1479, had reference merely to the actual possessions of
Portugal, and the right of discovery by an eastern route along the coasts
of Africa to the Indies; that these rights had been invariably respected
by Spain; that the late voyage of Columbus struck into a directly opposite
track; and that the several bulls of Pope Alexander the Sixth, prescribing
the line of partition, not from east to west, but from the north to the
south pole, were intended to secure to the Spaniards the exclusive right
of discovery in the western ocean. The ambassadors concluded with
offering, in the name of their sovereigns, to refer the whole matter in
dispute to the arbitration of the court of Rome, or of any common umpire.

King John was deeply chagrined at learning the departure of the Spanish
expedition. He saw that his rivals had been acting while he had been
amused with negotiation. He at first threw out hints of an immediate
rupture; and endeavored, it is said, to intimidate the Castilian
ambassadors, by bringing them accidentally, as it were, in presence of a
splendid array of cavalry, mounted and ready for immediate service. He
vented his spleen on the embassy, by declaring, that "it was a mere
abortion; having neither head nor feet;" alluding to the personal
infirmity of Ayala, who was lame, and to the light, frivolous character of
the other envoy. [26]

These symptoms of discontent were duly notified to the Spanish government;
who commanded the superintendent, Fonseca, to keep a vigilant eye on the
movements of the Portuguese, and, in case any hostile armament should quit
their ports, to be in readiness to act against it with one double its
force. King John, however, was too shrewd a prince to be drawn into so
impolitic a measure as war with a powerful adversary, quite as likely to
baffle him in the field, as in the council. Neither did he relish the
suggestion of deciding the dispute by arbitration; since he well knew,
that his claim rested on too unsound a basis, to authorize the expectation
of a favorable award from any impartial umpire. He had already failed in
an application for redress to the court of Rome, which answered him by
reference to its bulls, recently published. In this emergency, he came to
the resolution at last, which should have been first adopted, of deciding
the matter by a fair and open conference. It was not until the following
year, however, that his discontent so far subsided as to allow his
acquiescence in this measure.

At length, commissioners named by the two crowns convened at Tordesillas,
and on the 7th of June, 1494, subscribed articles of agreement, which were
ratified, in the course of the same year, by the respective powers. In
this treaty, the Spaniards were secured in the exclusive right of
navigation and discovery in the western ocean. At the urgent remonstrance
of the Portuguese, however, who complained that the papal line of
demarcation cooped up their enterprises within too narrow limits, they
consented, that instead of one hundred, it should be removed three hundred
and seventy leagues west of the Cape de Verd islands, beyond which all
discoveries should appertain to the Spanish nation. It was agreed that one
or two caravels should be provided by each nation, to meet at the Grand
Canary, and proceed due west, the appointed distance, with a number of
scientific men on board, for the purpose of accurately determining the
longitude; and if any lands should fall under the meridian, the direction
of the line should be ascertained by the erection of beacons at suitable
distances. The proposed meeting never took place. But the removal of the
partition line was followed by important consequences to the Portuguese,
who derived from it their pretensions to the noble empire of Brazil. [27]

Thus this singular misunderstanding, which menaced an open rupture at one
time, was happily adjusted. Fortunately, the accomplishment of the passage
round the Cape of Good Hope, which occurred soon afterwards, led the
Portuguese in an opposite direction to their Spanish rivals, their
Brazilian possessions having too little attractions, at first, to turn
them from the splendid path of discovery thrown open in the east. It was
not many years, however, before the two nations, by pursuing opposite
routes of circumnavigation, were brought into collision on the other side
of the globe; a circumstance never contemplated, apparently, by the treaty
of Tordesillas. Their mutual pretensions were founded, however, on the
provisions of that treaty, which, as the reader is aware, was itself only
supplementary to the original bull of demarcation of Alexander the Sixth.

Thus this bold stretch of papal authority, so often ridiculed as
chimerical and absurd, was in a measure justified by the event, since it
did, in fact, determine the principles on which the vast extent of
unappropriated empire in the eastern and western hemispheres was
ultimately divided between two petty states of Europe.


[1] Zurita, Anales, tom. v. fol. 13.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1,
quinc. 1, dial. 28.

[2] Zurita, Anales, tom. v. fol. 15.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS.,
cap. 116.--Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. pp. 678, 679.--Abarca, Reyes de
Aragon, tom. ii. fol. 315.--Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 1492.--Oviedo,
Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 4, dial. 9.

[3] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 125.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos,
MS., cap. 116.--Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, ubi supra.

The great bell of Velilla, whose miraculous tolling always announced some
disaster to the monarchy, was heard to strike at the time of this assault
on Ferdinand, being the fifth time since the subversion of the kingdom by
the Moors. The fourth was on the assassination of the inquisitor Arbues.
All which is established by a score of good orthodox witnesses, as
reported by Dr. Diego Dormer, in his Discursos Varies, pp. 206, 207.

[4] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 136.--Peter Martyr, Opus Epist.,
epist. 125, 127, 131.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v. fol. 16.--Bernaldez, Reyes
Católicos, MS., loc. cit.--Garibay, after harrowing the reader's feelings
with half a column of inhuman cruelties inflicted on the miserable man,
concludes with the comfortable assurance, "Pero abogaronle primero por
clemencia y misericordia de la Reyna." (Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap.

A letter written by Isabella to her confessor, Fernando de Talavera,
during her husband's illness, shows the deep anxiety of her own mind, as
well as that of the citizens of Barcelona, at his critical situation,
furnishing abundant evidence, if it were needed, of her tenderness of
heart, and the warmth of her conjugal attachment. See Correspondencia
Epistolar, apud Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 13.

[5] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 2, cap. 3.--Muñoz, Hist.
del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sect. 13, 14.

Columbus concludes a letter addressed, on his arrival at Lisbon, to the
treasurer Sanchez, in the following glowing terms; "Let processions be
made, festivals held, temples be filled with branches and flowers, for
Christ rejoices on earth as in Heaven, seeing the future redemption of
souls. Let us rejoice, also, for the temporal benefit likely to result,
not merely to Spain, but to all Christendom." See Primer Viage de Colon,
apud Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i.

[6] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, tom. i. dec. 1, lib. 2, cap. 2.--Primer
Viage de Colon, apud Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i.--Fernando
Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 39.

The Portuguese historian, Faria y Sousa, appears to be nettled at the
prosperous issue of the voyage; for he testily remarks, that "the admiral
entered Lisbon with a vainglorious exultation, in order to make Portugal
feel, by displaying the tokens of his discovery, how much she had erred in
not acceding to his propositions." Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. pp. 462,

[7] My learned friend, Mr. John Pickering, has pointed out to me a passage
in a Portuguese author, giving some particulars of Columbus's visit to
Portugal. The passage, which I have not seen noticed by any writer, is
extremely interesting, coming, as it does, from a person high in the royal
confidence, and an eye-witness of what he relates. "In the year 1493, on
the sixth day of March, arrived in Lisbon Christopher Columbus, an
Italian, who came from the discovery, made under the authority of the
sovereigns of Castile, of the islands of Cipango and Antilia; from which
countries he brought with him the first specimens of the people, as well
as of the gold and other things to be found there; and he was entitled
admiral of them. The king, being forthwith informed of this, commanded him
into his presence; and appeared to be annoyed and vexed, as well from the
belief that the said discovery was made within the seas and boundaries of
his seigniory of Guinea,--which might give rise to disputes,--as because
the said admiral, having become somewhat haughty by his situation, and in
the relation of his adventures always exceeding the bounds of truth, made
this affair, as to gold, silver, and riches, much greater than it was.
Especially did the king accuse himself of negligence, in having declined
this enterprise, when Columbus first came to ask his assistance, from want
of credit and confidence in it. And, notwithstanding the king was
importuned to kill kim on the spot; since with his death the prosecution
of the undertaking, so far as the sovereigns of Castile were concerned,
would cease, from want of a suitable person to take charge of it; and
notwithstanding this might be done without suspicion of the king's being
privy to it,--for inasmuch as the admiral was overbearing and puffed up by
his success, they could easily bring it about, that his own indiscretion
should appear the occasion of his death,--yet the king, as he was a prince
greatly fearing God, not only forbade this, but even showed the, admiral
honor and much favor, and therewith dismissed him." Ruy de Pina, Chronica
d'el Rei Dom Joaõ II., cap. 66, apud Collecçaõ de Livros Ineditos de
Historia Portugueza, (Lisboa, 1790-93,) tom. ii.

[8] Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 40, 41.--Charlevoix,
Histoire de S. Domingue, (Paris, 1730,) tom. i. pp. 84-90.--Primer Viage
de Colon, apud Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i.--La Clède, Hist. de
Portugal, tom. iv. pp. 53-58.

Columbus sailed from Spain on Friday, discovered land on Friday, and re-
entered the port of Palos on Friday. These curious coincidences should
have sufficed, one might think, to dispel, especially with American
mariners, the superstitions dread, still so prevalent, of commencing a
voyage on that ominous day.

[9] Primer Viage de Colon, Let 2.

[10] Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sec. 14.--Fernando Colon, Hist.
del Almirante, cap. 41.

Among other specimens, was a lump of gold, of sufficient magnitude to be
fashioned into a vessel for containing the host; "thus," says Salazar de
Mendoza, "converting the first fruits of the new dominions to pious uses."
Monarquía, pp. 351, 352.

[11] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 133, 134, 140.--Bernaldez, Reyes
Católicos, MS., cap. 118.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. pp. 141,
142.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, ubi supra.--Zuñiga, Annales de
Sevilla, p. 413.--Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap. 17.--Benzoni, Novi
Orbis Hist., lib. 1, cap. 8, 9.--Gallo, apud Muratori, Rerum Ital.
Script., tom. xxiii. p. 203.

[12] Herrera, Indias Occidental., tom. i. dec. 1, lib. 2, cap. 3.--Muñoz,
Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sec. 15, 16, 17.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del
Almirante, ubi supra.

[12] In a letter, written soon after the admiral's return, Martyr
announces the discovery to his correspondent, Cardinal Sforza, in the
following manner. "Mira res ex eo terrarum orbe, quem sol horarum quatuor
et viginti spatio circuit, ad nostra usque tempora, quod minime te latet,
trita cognitaque dimidia taptum pars, ab Aurea utpote Chersoneso, ad Gades
nostras Hispanas, reliqua vero a cosmographis pro incognitâ relicta est.
Et si quae mentio facta, ea tenuis et incerta. Nunc autem, o beatum
facinus! meorum regum auspiciis, quod latuit hactenus a rerum primordio,
intelligi coeptum est." In a subsequent epistle to the learned Pomponio
Leto, he breaks out in a strain of warm and generous sentiment. "Prae
laetitia prosiliisse te, vixque a lachrymis prae gaudio temperasse, quando
literas adspexisti meas, quibus de Antipodum Orbe latenti hactenus, te
certiorem feci, mi suavissime Pomponi, insinuasti. Ex tuis ipse literis
colligo, quid senseris. Sensisti autem, tantique rem fecisti, quanti virum
summâ doctrinâ insignitum decuit. Quis namque cibus sublimibus praestari
potest ingeniis isto suavior? quod condimentum gravius? a me facio
conjecturam. Beari sentio spiritus meos, quando accitos alloquor prudentes
aliquos ex his qui ab eâ redeunt provinciâ. Implicent animos pecuniarum
cumulis augendis miseri avari, libidinibus obscoeni; noetras nos mentes,
postquam Deo pleni aliquandiu fuerimus, contemplando, hujuscemodi rerum
notitiâ demulceamus." Opus Epist., epist. 124, 152.

[13] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 118.--Gallo, apud Muratori,
Rerum Ital. Script., tom. xxiii. p. 203.--Gomara, Hist. de las Indias,
cap. 18.

Peter Martyr seems to have received the popular inference, respecting the
identity of the new discoveries with the East Indies, with some distrust.
"Insulas reperit plures; has esse, de quibus fit apud cosmographos mentio
extra Oceanum Orientalem, adjacentes Indiae arbitrantur. Nec inficior ego
penitus, quamvis sphaerae magnitudo aliter sentire videatur; neque enim
desunt qui parvo tractu a finibus Hispanis distare littus Indicum,
putent." Opus Epist., epist. 135.

[14] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 2, cap. 3.--Benzoni, Novi
Orbis Hist., lib. 1, cap. 8.--Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap. 17.--
Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 413.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante,
ubi supra.

He was permitted to quarter the royal arms with his own, which consisted
of a group of golden islands amid azure billows. To these were afterwards
added five anchors, with the celebrated motto, well known as being carved
on his sepulchre. (See Part II. Chap. 18.) He received besides, soon after
his return, the substantial gratuity of a thousand doblas of gold, from
the royal treasury, and the premium of 10,000 maravedies, promised to the
person who first descried land. See Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, Col.
Diplom., nos. 20, 32, 38.

[15] Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. ii. Col. Diplom., no. 45.--
Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sec. 21.

[16] Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, Col. Diplom., nos. 33, 35, 45.--
Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 2, cap. 4.--Muñoz, Hist. del
Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sec. 21.

[17] See the original instructions, apud Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages,
Col. Diplom., no. 45.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sec. 22.--
Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 413.

L. Marineo eagerly claims the conversion of the natives, as the prime
object of the expedition with the sovereigns, far outweighing all temporal
considerations. The passage is worth quoting, if only to show what
egregious blunders a contemporary may make in the relation of events
passing, as it were, under his own eyes. "The Catholic sovereigns having
subjugated the Canaries, and established Christian worship there, sent
_Peter Colon_, with _thirty-five_ ships, called caravels, and _a great
number of men_ to other much larger islands abounding in mines of gold,
not so much, however, for the sake of the gold, as for the salvation of
the poor heathen natives." Cosas Memorables, fol. 161.

[18] See copies of the original documents, apud Navarrete, Coleccion de
Viages, tom. ii., Col. Diplom., nos. 39, 41, 42, 43.

[19] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 2, cap. 4.--Muñoz, Hist.
del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sec. 18.

[20] A point south of the meridian is something new in geometry; yet so
says the bull of his Holiness. "Omnes insulas et terras firmas inventas et
inveniendas, detectas et detegendas, versus Occidentem et meridiem,
fabricando et constituendo unam lineam a Polo Arctico, scilicet
septentrione, ad Polum Antarcticum, scilicet meridiem."

[21] See the original papal grants, transcribed by Navarrete, Coleccion de
Viages, tom. ii., Col. Diplom., nos. 17, 18. Appendice al Col. Diplom.,
no. 11.

[22] Padre Abarca considers "that the discovery of a new world, first
offered to the kings of Portugal and England, was reserved by Heaven for
Spain, being forced, in a manner, on Ferdinand, in recompense for the
subjugation of the Moors, and the expulsion of the Jews!" Reyes de Aragon,
fol. 310, 311.

[23] La Clède, Hist. de Portugal, tom. iv. pp. 53-58.

[24] Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 463.--Herrera, Indias
Occidentales, loc. cit.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sec. 27,
28.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. pp. 606, 607.--La Clède, Hist. de
Portugal, tom. iv. pp. 53-58.

[25] Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 413.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del
Almirante, cap. 44.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 118.--Peter
Martyr, De Rebus Oceanicis, dec. 1, lib. 1.--Benzoni, Novi Orbis Historia,
lib. 1, cap. 9.--Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap. 20.

[26] La Clède, Hist. de Portugal, tom. iv. pp. 53-58.--Muñoz, Hist. del
Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 4, sec. 27, 28.

[27] Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, Doc. Diplom., no. 75.--Faria y Sousa,
Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. p. 463.--Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1,
lib. 2, cap. 8, 10.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. pp. 606, 607.--La
Clède, Hist. de Portugal, tom. iv. pp. 60-62.--Zurita, Anales, tom. v.
fol. 31.

[28] The contested territory was the Molucca Islands, which each party
claimed for itself, by virtue of the treaty of Tordesillas. After more
than one congress, in which all the cosmographical science of the day was
put in requisition, the affair was terminated _à l'amiable_ by the Spanish
government's relinquishing its pretensions, in consideration of 350,000
ducats, paid by the court of Lisbon. See La Clède, Hist. De Portugal, tom.
iv. pp. 309, 401, 402, 480.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. pp. 607,
875.--Salazar de Mendoza, Monarquía, tom. ii. pp. 205, 206.



Early Education of Ferdinand.--Of Isabella.--Her Library.--Early Promise
of Prince John.--Scholarship of the Nobles.--Accomplished Women.--
Classical Learning.--Universities.--Printing Introduced.--Encouraged by
the Queen.--Actual Progress of Science.

We have now arrived at the period, when the history of Spain becomes
incorporated with that of the other states of Europe. Before embarking on
the wide sea of European politics, however, and bidding adieu, for a
season, to the shores of Spain, it will be necessary, in order to complete
the view of the internal administration of Ferdinand and Isabella, to show
its operation on the intellectual culture of the nation. This, as it
constitutes, when taken in its broadest sense, a principal end of all
government, should never be altogether divorced from any history. It is
particularly deserving of note in the present reign, which stimulated the
active development of the national energies in every department of
science, and which forms a leading epoch in the ornamental literature of
the country. The present and the following chapter will embrace the mental
progress of the kingdom, not merely down to the period at which we have
arrived, but through the whole of Isabella's reign, in order to exhibit as
far as possible its entire results, at a single glance, to the eye of the

We have beheld, in a preceding chapter, the auspicious literary promise
afforded by the reign of Isabella's father, John the Second, of Castile.
Under the anarchical sway of his son, Henry the Fourth, the court, as we
have seen, was abandoned to unbounded license, and the whole nation sunk
into a mental torpor, from which it was roused only by the tumults of
civil war. In this deplorable state of things, the few blossoms of
literature, which had begun to open under the benign influence of the
preceding reign, were speedily trampled under foot, and every vestige of
civilization seemed in a fair way to be effaced from the land.

The first years of Ferdinand and Isabella's government were too much
clouded by civil dissensions, to afford a much more cheering prospect.
Ferdinand's early education, moreover, had been greatly neglected. Before
the age of ten, he was called to take part in the Catalan wars. His
boyhood was spent among soldiers, in camps instead of schools, and the
wisdom which he so eminently displayed in later life, was drawn far more
from his own resources, than from books. [1]

Isabella was reared under more favorable auspices; at least more favorable
to mental culture. She was allowed to pass her youth in retirement, and
indeed oblivion, as far as the world was concerned, under her mother's
care, at Arevalo. In this modest seclusion, free from the engrossing
vanities and vexations of court life, she had full leisure to indulge the
habits of study and reflection to which her temper naturally disposed her.
She was acquainted with several modern languages, and both wrote and
discoursed in her own with great precision and elegance. No great expense
or solicitude, however, appears to have been lavished on her education.
She was uninstructed in the Latin, which in that day was of greater
importance than at present; since it was not only the common medium of
communication between learned men, and the language in which the most
familiar treatises were often composed, but was frequently used by well-
educated foreigners at court, and especially employed in diplomatic
intercourse and negotiation. [2]

Isabella resolved to repair the defects of education, by devoting herself
to the acquisition of the Latin tongue, so soon as the distracting wars
with Portugal, which attended her accession, were terminated. We have a
letter from Pulgar, addressed to the queen soon after that event, in which
he inquires concerning her progress, intimating his surprise, that she can
find time for study amidst her multitude of engrossing occupations, and
expressing his confidence that she will acquire the Latin with the same
facility with which she had already mastered other languages. The result
justified his prediction; for "in less than a year," observes another
contemporary, "her admirable genius enabled her to obtain a good knowledge
of the Latin language, so that she could understand without much
difficulty whatever was written or spoken in it." [3]

Isabella inherited the taste of her father, John the Second, for the
collecting of books. She endowed the convent of San Juan de los Reyes at
Toledo, at the time of its foundation, 1477, with a library consisting
principally of manuscripts. [4] The archives of Simancas contain
catalogues of part of two separate collections, belonging to her, whose
broken remains have contributed to swell the magnificent library of the
Escurial. Most of them are in manuscript; the richly colored and highly
decorated binding of these volumes (an art which the Spaniards derived
from the Arabs) show how highly they were prized, and the worn and
battered condition of some of them prove that they were not kept merely
for show. [5]

The queen manifested the most earnest solicitude for the instruction of
her own children. Her daughters were endowed by nature with amiable
dispositions, that seconded her maternal efforts. The most competent
masters, native and foreign, especially from Italy, then so active in the
revival of ancient learning, were employed in their tuition. This was
particularly intrusted to two brothers, Antonio and Alessandro Geraldino,
natives of that country. Both were conspicuous for their abilities and
classical erudition, and the latter, who survived his brother Antonio, was
subsequently raised to high ecclesiastical preferments. [6] Under these
masters, the infantas made attainments rarely permitted to the sex, and
acquired such familiarity with the Latin tongue especially, as excited
lively admiration among those over whom they were called to preside in
riper years. [7]

A still deeper anxiety was shown in the education of her only son, Prince
John, heir of the united Spanish monarchies. Every precaution was taken to
train him up in a manner that might tend to the formation of the character
suited to his exalted station. He was placed in a class consisting of ten
youths, selected from the sons of the principal nobility. Five of them
were of his own age, and five of riper years, and they were all brought to
reside with him in the palace. By this means it was hoped to combine the
advantages of public with those of private education; which last, from its
solitary character, necessarily excludes the subject of it from the
wholesome influence exerted by bringing the powers into daily collision
with antagonists of a similar age. [8]

A mimic council was also formed on the model of a council of state,
composed of suitable persons of more advanced standing, whose province it
was to deliberate on, and to discuss, topics connected with government and
public policy. Over this body the prince presided, and here he was
initiated into a practical acquaintance with the important duties, which
were to devolve on him at a future period of life. The pages, in
attendance on his person, were also selected with great care from the
cavaliers and young nobility of the court, many of whom afterwards filled
with credit the most considerable posts in the state. The severer
discipline of the prince was relieved by attention to more light and
elegant accomplishments. He devoted many of his leisure hours to music,
for which he had a fine natural taste, and in which he attained sufficient
proficiency to perform with skill on a variety of instruments. In short,
his education was happily designed to produce that combination of mental
and moral excellence, which should fit him for reigning over his subjects
with benevolence and wisdom. How well the scheme succeeded is abundantly
attested by the commendations of contemporary writers, both at home and
abroad, who enlarge on his fondness for letters, and for the society of
learned men, on his various attainments, and more especially his Latin
scholarship, and above all on his disposition, so amiable as to give
promise of the highest excellence in maturer life,--a promise, alas! most
unfortunately for his own nation, destined never to be realized. [9]

Next to her family, there was no object which the queen had so much at
heart, as the improvement of the young nobility. During the troubled reign
of her predecessor, they had abandoned themselves to frivolous pleasure,
or to a sullen apathy, from which nothing was potent enough to arouse
them, but the voice of war. [10] She was obliged to relinquish her plans
of amelioration, during the all-engrossing struggle with Granada, when it
would have been esteemed a reproach for a Spanish knight to have exchanged
the post of danger in the field for the effeminate pursuit of letters. But
no sooner was the war brought to a close, than Isabella resumed her
purpose. She requested the learned Peter Martyr, who had come into Spain
with the count of Tendilla, a few years previous, to repair to the court,
and open a school there for the instruction of the young nobility. [11] In
an epistle addressed by Martyr to Cardinal Mendoza, dated at Granada,
April, 1492, he alludes to the promise of a liberal recompense from the
queen, if he would assist in reclaiming the young cavaliers of the court
from the idle and unprofitable pursuits, in which, to her great
mortification, they consumed their hours. The prejudices to be encountered
seem to have filled him with natural distrust of his success; for he
remarks, "Like their ancestors, they hold the pursuit of letters in light
estimation, considering them an obstacle to success in the profession of
arms, which alone they esteem worthy of honor." He however expresses his
confidence, that the generous nature of the Spaniards will make it easy to
infuse into them a more liberal taste; and, in a subsequent letter, he
enlarges on the "good effects likely to result from the literary ambition
exhibited by the heir apparent, on whom the eyes of the nation were
naturally turned." [12] Martyr, in obedience to the royal summons,
instantly repaired to court, and in the month of September following, we
have a letter dated from Saragossa, in which he thus speaks of his
success. "My house, all day long, swarms with noble youths, who, reclaimed
from ignoble pursuits to those of letters, are now convinced that these,
so far from being a hindrance, are rather a help in the profession of
arms. I earnestly inculcate on them, that consummate excellence in any
department, whether of war or peace, is unattainable without science. It
has pleased our royal mistress, the pattern of every exalted virtue, that
her own near kinsman, the duke of Guimaraena, as well as the young duke of
Villahermosa, the king's nephew, should remain under my roof during the
whole day; an example which has been imitated by the principal cavaliers
of the court, who, after attending my lectures in company with their
private tutors, retire at evening to review them with these latter in
their own quarters." [13] Another Italian scholar, often cited as
authority in the preceding portion of this work, Lucio Marineo Siculo, co-
operated with Martyr in the introduction of a more liberal scholarship
among the Castilian nobles. He was born at Bedino in Sicily, and, after
completing his studies at Rome under the celebrated Pomponio Leto, opened
a school in his native island, where he continued to teach for five years.
He was then induced to visit Spain, in 1486, with the admiral Henriquez,
and soon took his place among the professors of Salamanca, where he filled
the chairs of poetry and grammar with great applause for twelve years. He
was subsequently transferred to the court, which he helped to illumine, by
his exposition of the ancient classics, particularly the Latin. [14] Under
the auspices of these and other eminent scholars, both native and foreign,
the young nobility of Castile shook off the indolence in which they had so
long rusted, and applied with generous ardor to the cultivation of
science; so that, in the language of a contemporary, "while it was a most
rare occurrence, to meet with a person of illustrious birth, before the
present reign, who had even studied Latin in his youth, there were now to
be seen numbers every day, who sought to shed the lustre of letters over
the martial glory inherited from their ancestors." [15]

The extent of this generous emulation may be gathered from the large
correspondence both of Martyr and Marineo with their disciples, including
the most considerable persons of the Castilian court; it may be still
further inferred from the numerous dedications to these persons, of
contemporary publications, attesting their munificent patronage of
literary enterprise; [16] and, still more unequivocally, from the zeal
with which many of the highest rank entered on such severe literary labor
as few, from the mere love of letters, are found willing to encounter. Don
Gutierre de Toledo, son of the duke of Alva, and a cousin of the king,
taught in the university of Salamanca. At the same place, Don Pedro
Fernandez de Velasco, son of the count of Haro, who subsequently succeeded
his father in the hereditary dignity of grand constable of Castile, read
lectures on Pliny and Ovid. Don Alfonso de Manrique, son of the count of
Paredes, was professor of Greek in the university of Alcalá. All ages
seemed to catch the generous enthusiasm; and the marquis of Denia,
although turned of sixty, made amends for the sins of his youth, by
learning the elements of the Latin tongue, at this late period. In short,
as Giovio remarks in his eulogium on Lebrija, "No Spaniard was accounted
noble who held science in indifference." From a very early period, a
courtly stamp was impressed on the poetic literature of Spain. A similar
character was now imparted to its erudition; and men of the most
illustrious birth seemed eager to lead the way in the difficult career of
science, which was thrown open to the nation. [17]

In this brilliant exhibition, those of the other sex must not be omitted,
who contributed by their intellectual endowments to the general
illumination of the period. Among them, the writers of that day lavish
their panegyrics on the marchioness of Monteagudo, and Doña Maria Pacheco,
of the ancient house of Mendoza, sisters of the historian, Don Diego
Hurtado, [18] and daughters of the accomplished count of Tendilla, [19]
who, while ambassador at Rome, induced Martyr to visit Spain, and who was
grandson of the famous marquis of Santillana, and nephew of the grand
cardinal. [20] This illustrious family, rendered yet more illustrious by
its merits than its birth, is worthy of specification, as affording
altogether the most remarkable combination of literary talent in the
enlightened court of Castile. The queen's instructor in the Latin language
was a lady named Doña Beatriz de Galindo, called from her peculiar
attainments _la Latina_. Another lady, Doña Lucia de Medrano, publicly
lectured on the Latin classics in the university of Salamanca. And
another, Doña Francisca de Lebrija, daughter of the historian of that
name, filled the chair of rhetoric with applause at Alcalá. But our limits
will not allow a further enumeration of names, which should never be
permitted to sink into oblivion, were it only for the rare scholarship,
peculiarly rare in the female sex, which they displayed, in an age
comparatively unenlightened. [21] Female education in that day embraced a
wider compass of erudition, in reference to the ancient languages, than is
common at present; a circumstance attributable, probably, to the poverty
of modern literature at that time, and the new and general appetite
excited by the revival of classical learning in Italy. I am not aware,
however, that it was usual for learned ladies, in any other country than
Spain, to take part in the public exercises of the gymnasium, and deliver
lectures from the chairs of the universities. This peculiarity, which may
be referred in part to the queen's influence, who encouraged the love of
study by her own example, as well as by personal attendance on the
academic examinations, may have been also suggested by a similar usage,
already noticed, among the Spanish Arabs. [22]

While the study of the ancient tongues came thus into fashion with persons
of both sexes, and of the highest rank, it was widely and most thoroughly
cultivated by professed scholars. Men of letters, some of whom have been
already noticed, were invited into Spain from Italy, the theatre, at that
time, on which, from obvious local advantages, classical discovery was
pursued with greatest ardor and success. To this country it was usual also
for Spanish students to repair, in order to complete their discipline in
classical literature, especially the Greek, as first taught on sound
principles of criticism, by the learned exiles from Constantinople. The
most remarkable of the Spanish scholars, who made this literary pilgrimage
to Italy, was Antonio de Lebrija, or Nebrissensis, as he is more
frequently called from his Latin name. [23] After ten years passed at
Bologna and other seminaries of repute, with particular attention to their
interior discipline, he returned, in 1473, to his native land, richly
laden with the stores of various erudition. He was invited to fill the
Latin chair at Seville, whence he was successively transferred to
Salamanca and Alcalá, both of which places he long continued to enlighten
by his oral instruction and publications. The earliest of these was his
_Introducciones Latinas_, the third edition of which was printed in
1485, being four years only from the date of the first; a remarkable
evidence of the growing taste for classical learning. A translation in the
vernacular accompanied the last edition, arranged, at the queen's
suggestion, in columns parallel with those of the original text; a form
which, since become common, was then a novelty. [24] The publication of
his Castilian grammar, "_Grammatica Castillana_," followed in 1492; a
treatise designed particularly for the instruction of the ladies of the
court. The other productions of this indefatigable scholar embrace a large
circle of topics, independently of his various treatises on philology and
criticism. Some were translated into French and Italian, and their
republication has been continued to the last century. No man of his own,
or of later times, contributed more essentially than Lebrija to the
introduction of a pure and healthful erudition into Spain. It is not too
much to say, that there was scarcely an eminent Spanish scholar in the
beginning of the sixteenth century, who had not formed himself on the
instructions of this master. [25]

Another name worthy of commemoration, is that of Arias Barbosa, a learned
Portuguese, who, after passing some years, like Lebrija, in the schools of
Italy, where he studied the ancient tongues under the guidance of
Politiano, was induced to establish his residence in Spain. In 1489, we
find him at Salamanca, where he continued for twenty, or, according to
some accounts, forty years, teaching in the departments of Greek and
rhetoric. At the close of that period he returned to Portugal, where he
superintended the education of some of the members of the royal family,
and survived to a good old age. Barbosa was esteemed inferior to Lebrija
in extent of various erudition, but to have surpassed him in an accurate
knowledge of the Greek and poetical criticism. In the former, indeed, he
seems to have obtained a greater repute than any Spanish scholar of the
time. He composed some valuable works, especially on ancient prosody. The
unwearied assiduity and complete success of his academic labors have
secured to him a high reputation among the restorers of ancient learning,


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