The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, V3
by William H. Prescott
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[121] Recop. de Leyes de las Indias, August 14th, 1509, lib. 6, tit. 8, ley l.—Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 9, cap. 14.

[122] The text expresses nearly enough the subsequent condition of things in Spanish America. "No government," says Heeren, "has done so much for the aborigines as the Spanish." (Modern History, Bancroft's trans., vol. i. p. 77.) Whoever peruses its colonial codes, may find much ground for the eulogium. But are not the very number and repetition of these humane provisions sufficient proof of their inefficacy?

[123] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 2, lib. 2, cap. 3.—Las Casas, Memoire, apud Oeuvres, ed. de Llorente, tom. i. p. 239.

[124] In the remarkable discussion between the doctor Sepulveda and Las Casas, before a commission named by Charles V., in 1550, the former vindicated the persecution of the aborigines by the conduct of the Israelites towards their idolatrous neighbors. But the Spanish Fenelon replied, that "the behavior of the Jews was no precedent for Christians; that the law of Moses was a law of rigor; but that of Jesus Christ, one of grace, mercy, peace, good-will, and charity." (Oeuvres, ed. de Llorente, tom. i. p. 374.) The Spaniard first persecuted the Jews, and then quoted them as an authority for persecuting all other infidels.

[125] It is only necessary to notice the contemptuous language of Philip II.'s laws, which designate the most useful mechanic arts, as those of blacksmiths, shoemakers, leather-dressers, and the like, as "oficios viles y baxos."

A whimsical distinction prevails in Castile, in reference to the more humble occupations. A man of gentle blood may be a coachman, lacquey, scullion, or any other menial, without disparaging his nobility, which is said to sleep in the mean while. But he fixes on it an indelible stain, if he exercises any mechanical vocation. "Hence," says Capmany, "I have often seen a village in this province, in which the vagabonds, smugglers, and hangmen even, were natives, while the farrier, shoemaker, etc., was a foreigner." (Mem. de Barcelona, tom. i. part. 3, p. 40; tom. iii. part. 2, pp. 317, 318.) See also some sensible remarks on the subject, by Blanco White, the ingenious author of Doblado's Letters from Spain, p. 44.

[126] "The interval between the acquisition of money, and the rise of prices," Hume observes," is the only time when increasing gold and silver are favorable to industry." (Essays, part 2, essay 3.) An ordinance of June 13th, 1497, complains of the scarcity of the precious metals, and their insufficiency to the demands of trade. (Pragmaticas del Reyno, fol. 93.) It appears, however, from Zuniga, that the importation of gold from the New World began to have a sensible effect on the prices of commodities, from that very year. Annales de Sevilla, p. 415.

[127] Mr. Turner has made several extracts from the Harleian MSS., showing that the trade of Castile with England was very considerable in Isabella's time. (History of England, vol. iv. p. 90.) A pragmatic of July 21st, 1494, for the erection of a consulate at Burgos, notices the commercial establishments in England, France, Italy, and the Low Countries. This tribunal, with other extensive privileges, was empowered to hear and determine suits between merchants; "which," says the plain spoken ordinance, "in the hands of lawyers are never brought to a close; porque se presentauan escritos y libelos de letrados de manera que por mal pleyto que fuesse le sostenian los letrados de manera que los hazian immortales." (Pragmaticas del Reyno, fol. 146-148.) This institution rose soon to be of the greatest importance in Castile.

[128] The sixth volume of the Memoirs of the Academy of History contains a schedule of the respective revenues afforded by the cities of Castile, in the years 1477, 1482, and 1504; embracing, of course, the commencement and close of Isabella's reign. The original document exists in the archives of Simancas. We may notice the large amount and great increase of taxes in Toledo, particularly, and in Seville; the former thriving from its manufactories, and the latter from the Indian trade. Seville, in 1504, furnished near a tenth of the whole revenue. Ilustracion 5.

[129] "No ay en ella," says Marineo of the latter city, "gente ociosa, ni baldia, sino que todos trabajan, ansi mugeres como hombres, y los chicos como los grandes, buscando la vida con sus manos, y con sudores de sus carnes. Unos exercitan las artes mecanicas: y otros las liberales. Los que tratan las mercaderias, y hazen rica la ciudad, son muy fieles, y liberales." (Cosas Memorables, fol. 16.) It will not be easy to meet, in prose or verse, with a finer colored picture of departed glory, than Mr. Slidell has given of the former city, the venerable Gothic capital, in his "Year in Spain," chap. 12.

[130] Sandoval, Hist. del Emp. Carlos V., tom. i. p. 60.

[131] It was a common saying in Navagiero's time, "Barcelona la ricca, Saragossa la barta, Valentia la hermosa." (Viaggio, fol. 5.) The grandeur and commercial splendor of the first-named city, which forms the subject of Capmany's elaborate work, have been sufficiently displayed in Part I., Chapter 2, of this History.

[132] "Algunos suponen," says Capmany, "que estas ferias eran ya famosas en tiempo de los Reyes Catolicos," etc. (Mem. de Barcelona, tom. iii. p. 356.) A very cursory glance at the laws of this time, will show the reasonableness of the supposition. See the Pragmaticas, fol. 146, and the ordinances from the archives of Simancas, apud Mem. de Acad., tom. vi. pp. 249, 252, providing for the erection of buildings and other accommodations for the "great resort of traders." In 1520, four years after Ferdinand's death, the city, in a petition to the regent, represented the losses sustained by its merchants in the recent fire, as more than the revenues of the crown would probably be able to meet for several years. (Ibid., p. 264.) Navagiero, who visited Medina some six years later, when it was rebuilt, bears unequivocal testimony to its commercial importance. "Medina e buona terra, e piena di buone case, abondante assai se non che le tante ferie che se vi fanno ogn' anno, e il concorso grande che vi e di tutta Spagna, fanno pur che il tutto si paga piu di quel che si faria.... La feria e abondante certo di molte cose, ma sopra tutto di speciarie assai, che vengono di Portogallo; ma le maggior faccende che se vi facciano sono cambij." Viaggio, fol. 36.


"Quien no vio a Sevilla No vio maravilla."

The proverb, according to Zuniga, is as old as the time of Alonso XI. Annales de Sevilla, p. 183.

[134] The most eminent sculptors were, for the most part, foreigners;—as Miguel Florentin, Pedro Torregiano, Felipe de Borgona,—chiefly from Italy, where the art was advancing rapidly to perfection in the school of Michael Angelo. The most successful architectural achievement was the cathedral of Granada, by Diego de Siloe. Pedraza, Antiguedad de Granada, fol. 82.—Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 16.

[135] At least so says Clemencin, a competent judge. "Desde los mismos principios de su establecimiento fue mas comun la imprenta en Espana que lo es al cabo de trescientos anos dentro ya del siglo decimonono." Elogio de Dona Isabel, Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi.

[136] Ante, Introduction, Sect. 2; Part 1., Chapter 19; Part II., Chapter 21.—The "Pragmaticas del Reyno" comprises various ordinances, defining the privileges of Salamanca and Valladolid, the manner of conferring degrees, and of election to the chairs of the universities, so as to obviate any undue influence or corruption. (Fol. 14-21.) "Porque," says the liberal language of the last law, "los estudios generales donde las ciencias se leen y aprenden effuercan las leyes y fazen a los nuestros subditos y naturales sabidores y honrrados y acrecientan virtudes: y porque en el dar y assignar de las catedras salariadas deue auer toda libertad porque sean dadas a personas sabidores y cientes." (Taracona, October 5th, 1495.) If one would see the totally different principles on which such elections have been conducted in modern times, let him read Doblado's Letters from Spain, pp. 103-107. The university of Barcelona was suppressed in the beginning of the last century. Laborde has taken a brief survey of the present dilapidated condition of the others, at least as it was in 1830, since which it can scarcely have mended. Itineraire, tom. vi. p. 144, et seq.

[137] See the concluding note to this chapter.

Erasmus, in a lively and elegant epistle to his friend, Francis Vergara, Greek professor at Alcala, in 1527, lavishes unbounded panegyric on the science and literature of Spain, whose palmy state he attributes to Isabella's patronage, and the co-operation of some of her enlightened subjects. "——Hispaniae vestrae, tanto successu, priscam eruditionis gloriam sibi postliminio vindicanti. Quae quum semper et regionis amoenitate fertilitaleque, semper ingeniorum eminentium ubere proventu, semper bellica laude floruerit, quid desiderari poterat ad summam felicitatem, nisi ut studiorum et religionis adjungeret ornamenta, quibus aspirante Deo sic paucis annis effloruit ut caeteris regionibus quamlibet hoc decorum genere praecellentibus vel invidiae queat esse vel exemplo.... Vos istam felicitatem secundum Deum debetis laudatissimae Reginarum Elisabetae, Francisco Cardinali quondam, Alonso Fonsecae nunc Archiepiscopo Toletano, et si qui sunt horum similes, quorum autoritas tuetur, benignitas alit fovetque bonas artes." Epistolae, p. 978.

[138] The sums in the text express the real de vellon; to which they have been reduced by Senor Clemencin, from the original amount in maravedis, which varied very materially in value in different years. Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 5.

[139] The kingdom of Granada appears to have contributed rather less than one-eighth of the whole tax.

[140] In addition to the last-mentioned sum, the extraordinary service voted by cortes, for the dowry of the infantas, and other matters, in 1504, amounted to 16,113,014 reals de vellon; making a sum total for that year, of 42,396,348 reals. The bulk of the crown revenues was derived from the alcavalas, and the tercias, or two-ninths of the ecclesiastical tithes. These important statements were transcribed from the books of the escribania mayor de rentas, in the archives of Simancas. Ibid., ubi supra.

[141] The pretended amount of population has been generally in the ratio of the distance of the period taken, and, of course, of the difficulty of refutation. A few random remarks of ancient writers have proved the basis for the wildest hypotheses, raising the estimates to the total of what the soil, under the highest possible cultivation, would be capable of supporting. Even for so recent a period as Isabella's time, the estimate commonly received does not fall below eighteen or twenty millions. The official returns, cited in the text, of the most populous portion, of the kingdom, fully expose the extravagance of preceding estimates.

[142] These interesting particulars are obtained from a memorial, prepared by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, by their contador, Alonso de Quintanilla, on the mode of enrolling and arming the militia, in 1492; as a preliminary step to which, he procured a census of the actual population of the kingdom. It is preserved in a volume entitled Relaciones tocantes a la junta de la Hernandad, in that rich national repository, the archives of Simancas. See a copious extract apud Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Apend. 12.

[143] I am acquainted with no sufficient and authentic data for computing the population, at this time, of the crown of Aragon, always greatly below that of the sister kingdom. I find as little to be relied on, notwithstanding the numerous estimates, in one form or another, vouchsafed by historians and travelers, of the population of Granada. Marineo enumerates fourteen cities and ninety-seven towns (omitting, as he says, many places of less note,) at the time of the conquest; a statement obviously too vague for statistical purposes. (Cosas Memorables, fol. 179.) The capital, swelled by the influx from the country, contained, according to him, 200,000 souls at the same period. (Fol. 177.) In 1506, at the time of the forced conversions, we find the numbers in the city dwindled to fifty, or at most, seventy thousand. (Comp. Bleda, Coronica, lib. 5, cap. 23, and Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 159.) Loose as these estimates necessarily are, we have no better to guide us in calculating the total amount of the population of the Moorish kingdom, or of the losses sustained by the copious emigrations, during the first fifteen years after the conquest; although there has been no lack of confident assertion, as to both, in later writers. The desideratum, in regard to Granada, will now probably not be supplied; the public offices in the kingdom of Aragon, if searched with the same industry as those in Castile, would doubtless afford the means for correcting the crude estimates, so current respecting that country.

[144] Hallam, in his "Constitutional History of England," estimates the population of the realm, in 1485, at 3,000,000, (vol. i. p. 10.) The discrepancies, however, of the best historians on this subject, prove the difficulty of arriving at even a probable result. Hume, on the authority of Sir Edward Coke, puts the population of England (including people of all sorts) a century later, in 1588, at only 900,000. The historian cites Lodovico Guicciardini, however, for another estimate, as high as 2,000,000, for the same reign of Queen Elizabeth. History of England, vol. vi. Append. 3.

[145] Philip II. claimed the Portuguese crown in right of his mother and his wife, both descended from Maria, third daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, who, as the reader may remember, married King Emanuel.

[146] Old Caxton mourns over the little honor paid to the usages of chivalry in his time; and it is sufficient evidence of its decay in England, that Richard III. thought it necessary to issue an ordinance requiring those possessed of the requisite L40 a year, to receive knighthood. (Turner, History of England, vol. iii. pp. 391, 392.) The use of artillery was fatal to chivalry; a consequence well understood, even at the early period of our History. At least, so we may infer from the verses of Ariosto, where Orlando throws Cimosco's gun into the sea.

"Lo tolse e disse: Accio piu non istea Mai cavalier per te d'essere ardito; Ne quanto il buono val, mai piu si vanti Il rio per te valer, qui giu rimanti." Orlando Furioso, canto 9, st. 90.

[147] "Quien podra, contar," exclaims the old Curate of Los Palacios, "la grandeza, el concierto de su corte, la cavalleria de los Nobles de toda Espana, Duques, Maestres, Marqueses e Ricos homes; los Galanes, las Damas, las Fiestas, los Torneos, la Moltitud de Poetas e trovadores," etc. Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 201.

[148] Oviedo notices the existence of a lady-love, even with cavaliers who had passed their prime, as a thing of quite as imperative necessity in his day, as it was afterwards regarded by the gallant knight of La Mancha. "Costumbre es en Espana entre log senores de estado que venidos a la corte, aunque no esten enamorados o que pasen de la mitad de la edad fingir que aman por servir y favorescer a alguna dama, y gastar como quien son en fiestas y otras cosas que se ofrescen de tales pasatiempos y amores, sin que les de pena Cupido." Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 28.

[149] Viaggio, fol. 27.

Andrea Navagiero, whose itinerary has been of such frequent reference in these pages, was a noble Venetian, born in 1483. He became very early distinguished, in his cultivated capital, for his scholarship, poetical talents, and eloquence, of which he has left specimens, especially in Latin verse, in the highest repute to this day with his countrymen. He was not, however, exclusively devoted to letters, but was employed in several foreign missions by the republic. It was on his visit to Spain, as minister to Charles V., soon after that monarch's accession, that he wrote his Travels; and he filled the same office at the court of Francis I., when he died, at the premature age of forty-six, in 1529. (Tiraboschi, Letteratura Italiana, tom. vii. part. 3, p. 228, ed. 1785.) His death was universally lamented by the good and the learned of his time, and is commemorated by his friend, Cardinal Bembo, in two sonnets, breathing all the sensibility of that tender and elegant poet. (Rime, Son. 109, 110.) Navagiero becomes connected with Castilian literature by the circumstance of Boscan's referring to his suggestion the innovation he so successfully made in the forms of the national verse. Obras, fol. 20, ed. 1543.

[150] Fernando de Pulgar, after enumerating various cavaliers of his acquaintance, who had journeyed to distant climes in quest of adventures and honorable feats of arms, continues, "E oi decir de otros Castellanos que con animo de Caballeros fueron por los Reynos estrafios a facer armas con qualquier Caballero que quisiere facerlas con ellos, e por ellas ganaron honra para si, e fama de valientes y esforzados Caballeros para los Fijosdalgos de Castilla." Claros Varones, tit. 17.

[151] "Son todos," says the Admiral, "de ningun ingenio en las armas, y muy cobardes, que mil no aguadarian tres!" (Primer Viage de Colon.) What could the bard of chivalry say more?

"Ma quel ch'al timor non diede albergo, Estima la vil turba e l'arme tante Quel che dentro alla mandra all' aer cupo, Il numer dell' agnelle estimi il lupo." Orlando Furioso, canto 12.

[152] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 30.

[153] "I Spagnoli," says the Venetian minister, "non solo in questo paese di Granata, ma in tutto 'l resto della Spagna medesimamente, non sono molto industriosi, ne piantano, ne lavorano volontieri la terra; ma se danno ad altro, e piu volontieri vanno alia guerra, o alle Indie ad acquistarsi faculta, che per tal vie." (Viaggio, fol. 25.) Testimonies to the same purport thicken, as the stream of history descends. See several collected by Capmany (Mem. de Barcelona, tom. iii. pp. 358, et seq.), who certainly cannot be charged with ministering to the vanity of his countrymen.

[154] One may trace its immediate influence in the writings of a man like the Curate of Los Palacios, naturally, as it would seem, of an amiable, humane disposition; but who complacently remarks, "They (Ferdinand and Isabella) lighted up the fires for the heretics, in which, with good reason, they have burnt, and shall continue to burn, so long as a soul of them remains"! (Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 7.) It becomes more perceptible in the literature of later times, and, what is singular, most of all in the lighter departments of poetry and fiction, which seem naturally devoted to purposes of pleasure. No one can estimate the full influence of the Inquisition in perverting moral sense, and infusing the deadly venom of misanthropy into the heart, who has not perused the works of the great Castilian poets, of Lope de Vega, Ercilla, above all Calderon, whose lips seem to have been touched with fire from the very altars of this accursed tribunal.

[155] The late secretary of the Inquisition has made an elaborate computation of the number of its victims. According to him, 13,000 were publicly burned by the several tribunals of Castile and Aragon, and 191,413 suffered other punishments, between 1481, the date of the commencement of the modern institution, and 1518. (Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. iv. chap. 46.) Llorente appears to have come to these appalling results by a very plausible process of calculation, and without any design to exaggerate. Nevertheless, his data are exceedingly imperfect, and he has himself, on a revision, considerably reduced, in his fourth volume, the original estimates in the first. I find good grounds for reducing them still further. 1. He quotes Mariana, for the fact, that 2000 suffered martyrdom at Seville, in 1481, and makes this the basis of his calculations for the other tribunals of the kingdom. Marineo, a contemporary, on the other hand, states, that "in the course of a few years they burned nearly 2000 heretics;" thus not only diffusing this amount over a greater period of time, but embracing all the tribunals then existing in the country. (Cosas Memorables, fol. 164.) 2. Bernaldez states, that five-sixths of the Jews resided in the kingdom of Castile. (Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 110.) Llorente, however, has assigned an equal amount of victims to each of the five tribunals of Aragon, with those of the sister kingdom, excepting only Seville.

One might reasonably distrust Llorente's tables, from the facility with which he receives the most improbable estimates in other matters, as, for example, the number of banished Jews, which he puts at 800,000. (Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. p. 261.) I have shown, from contemporary sources, that this number did not probably exceed 160,000, or, at most, 170,000. (Part I., Chapter 17.) Indeed, the cautious Zurita, borrowing, probably, from the same authorities, cites the latter number. (Anales, tom. v. fol. 9.) Mariana, who owes so much of his narrative to the Aragonese historian, converting, as it would appear, these 170,000 individuals into families, states the whole in round numbers, at 800,000 souls. (Hist. de Espana, tom. ii. lib. 26, cap. 1.) Llorente, not content with this, swells the amount still further, by that of the Moorish exiles, and by emigrants to the New World, (on what authority?) to 2,000,000; and, going on with the process, computes that this loss may fairly infer one of 8,000,000 inhabitants to Spain, at the present day! (Ibid., ubi supra.) Thus the mischief imputed to the Catholic sovereigns goes on increasing in a sort of arithmetical progression, with the duration of the monarchy.

Nothing is so striking to the imagination as numerical estimates; they speak a volume in themselves, saving a world of periphrasis and argument; nothing is so difficult to form with exactness, or even probability, when they relate to an early period; and nothing more carelessly received, and confidently circulated. The enormous statements of the Jewish exiles, and the baseless ones of the Moorish, are not peculiar to Llorente, but have been repeated, without the slightest qualification or distrust, by most modern historians and travellers.

[156] In the two closing Chapters of Part I. of this History, I have noticed the progress of letters in this reign; the last which displayed the antique coloring and truly national characteristics of Castilian poetry. There were many circumstances, which operated, at this period, to work an important revolution, and subject the poetry of the Peninsula to a foreign influence. The Italian Muse, after her long silence, since the age of the tricentisti, had again revived, and poured forth such ravishing strains, as made themselves heard and felt in every corner of Europe. Spain, in particular, was open to their influence. Her language had an intimate affinity with the Italian. The improved taste and culture of the period led to a diligent study of foreign models. Many Spaniards, as we have seen, went abroad to perfect themselves in the schools of Italy; while Italian teachers filled some of the principal chairs in the Spanish universities. Lastly, the acquisition of Naples, the land of Sannazaro and of a host of kindred spirits, opened an obvious communication with the literature of that country. With the nation thus prepared, it was not difficult for a genius like that of Boscan, supported by the tender and polished Garcilasso, and by Mendoza, whose stern spirit found relief in images of pastoral tranquillity and ease, to recommend the more finished forms of Italian versification to their countrymen. These poets were all born in Isabella's reign. The first of them, the principal means of effecting this literary revolution, singularly enough, was a Catalan, whose compositions in the Castilian proved the ascendency which this dialect had already obtained. The second, Garcilasso de la Vega, was son of the distinguished statesman and diplomatist of that name, so often noticed in our History; and Mendoza was a younger son of the amiable count of Tendilla, the governor of Granada, whom he resembled in nothing but his genius. Both the elder Garcilasso and Tendilla had represented their sovereigns at the papal court, where they doubtless became tinctured with that relish for the Italian, which produced such results in the education of their children.

The new revolution penetrated far below the superficial forms of versification; and the Castilian poet relinquished, with his redondillas and artless asonantes, the homely, but heartful themes of the olden time; or, if he dwelt on them, it was with an air of studied elegance and precision, very remote from the Doric simplicity and freshness of the romantic minstrelsy. If he aspired to some bolder theme, it was rarely suggested by the stirring and patriotic recollections of his nation's history. Thus, nature and the rude graces of a primitive age gave way to superior refinement and lettered elegance; many popular blemishes were softened down, a purer and nobler standard was attained, but the national characteristics were effaced; beauty was everywhere, but it was the beauty of art, not of nature. The change itself was perfectly natural. It corresponded with the external circumstances of the nation, and its transition from an insulated position to a component part of the great European commonwealth, which subjected it to other influences and principles of taste, and obliterated, to a certain extent, the peculiar features of the national physiognomy.

How far the poetic literature of Castile was benefited by the change, has been matter of long and hot debate between the critics of the country, in which I shall not involve the reader. The revolution, however, was the growth of circumstances, and was immediately effected by individuals, belonging to the age of Ferdinand and Isabella. As such, I had originally proposed to devote a separate chapter to its illustration. But I have been deterred from it by the unexpected length, to which the work has already extended, as well as by the consideration, on a nearer view, that these results, though prepared under a preceding reign, properly fall under the domestic history of Charles V.; a history which still remains to be written. But who will attempt a pendant to the delineations of Robertson?


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