The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, V3
by William H. Prescott
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The capture of Ruvo was attended with important consequences to the Spaniards. Besides the valuable booty of clothes, jewels, and money, they brought back with them nearly a thousand horses, which furnished Gonsalvo with the means of augmenting his cavalry, the small number of which had hitherto materially crippled his operations. He accordingly selected seven hundred of his best troops and mounted them on the French horses; thus providing himself with a corps, burning with zeal to approve itself worthy of the distinguished honor conferred on it. [33]

A few weeks after, the general received an important accession of strength from the arrival of two thousand German mercenaries, which Don Juan Manuel, the Spanish minister at the Austrian court, had been permitted to raise in the emperor's dominions. This event determined the Great Captain on a step which he had been some time meditating. The new levies placed him in a condition for assuming the offensive. His stock of provisions, moreover, already much reduced, would be obviously insufficient long to maintain his increased numbers. He resolved, therefore, to sally out of the old walls of Barleta, and, availing himself of the high spirits in which the late successes had put his troops, to bring the enemy at once to battle. [34]


[1] Peter Martyr, in a letter written from Venice, while detained there on his way to Alexandria, speaks of the efforts made by the French emissaries to induce the republic to break with Spain, and support their master in his designs on Naples. "Adsunt namque a Ludovico rege Gallorum oratores, qui omni nixu conantur a vobis Venetorum animos avertere. Fremere dentibus aiunt oratorem primarium Gallum, quia nequeat per Venetorum suffragia consequi, ut aperte vobis hostilitatem edicant, utque velint Gallis regno Parthenopeo contra vestra praesidia ferre suppetias." The letter is dated October 1st, 1501. Opus Epist., epist. 231.

[2] Martyr, after noticing the grounds of the partition treaty, comments with his usual shrewdness on the politic views of the Spanish sovereigns. "Facilius namque se sperant, eam partem, quam sibi Galli sortiti sunt, habituros aliquando, quam si universum regnum occuparint." Opus Epist., epist. 218.

[3] The Italian historians, who have investigated the subject with some parade of erudition, treat it so vaguely, as to leave it after all nearly as perplexed as they found it. Giovio includes the Capitanate in Apulia, according to the ancient division; Guicciardini, according to the modern; and the Spanish historian Mariana, according to both. The last writer, it may be observed, discusses the matter with equal learning and candor, and more perspicuity than either of the preceding. He admits reasonable grounds for doubt to which moiety of the kingdom the Basilicate and Principalities should be assigned. Mariana, Hist. de Espana, tom. ii. p. 670.—Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 5, pp. 274, 275.—Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, lib. 1, pp. 234, 235.

[4] The provision of the partition treaty, that the Spaniards should collect the tolls paid by the flocks on their descent from the French district of Abruzzo into the Capitanate, is conclusive evidence of the intention of the contracting parties to assign the latter to Spain. See the treaty apud Dumont, Corps Diplomatique, tom. in. pp. 445, 446.

[5] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom, i. lib. 4, cap. 52.—Mariana, Hist. de Espana, tom. ii, lib. 27, cap. 12.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 10.

[6] D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 3-7.—Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 4, cap. 60, 62, 64, 65.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, tom. i. p. 236.—Giannone, Istoria di Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 4.

Bernaldez states, that the Great Captain, finding his conference with the French general ineffectual, proposed to the latter to decide the quarrel between their respective nations by single combat. (Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 167.) We should require some other authority, however, than that of the good Curate to vouch for this romantic flight, so entirely out of keeping with the Spanish general's character, in which prudence was probably the most conspicuous attribute.

[7] Daru, Hist. de Venise, tom. iii. p. 345.—Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, tom. i. lib. 6.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 238, 240, 252.—This may appear strange, considering that Lorenzo Suarez de la Vega was there, a person of whom Gonzalo de Oviedo writes, "Fue gentil caballero, e sabio, e de gran prudencia; ***** muy entendido e de mucho reposo e honesto e afable e de linda conversarcion;" and again more explicitly, "Embaxador a Venecia, en el qual oficio sirvio muy bien, e como prudente varon." (Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 3, dial. 44.) Martyr admits his prudence, but objects his ignorance of Latin, a deficiency, however heinous in the worthy tutor's eyes, probably of no rare occurrence among the elder Castilian nobles.

[8] Many of Martyr's letters were addressed to both Ferdinand and Isabella. The former, however, was ignorant of the Latin language, in which they were written. Martyr playfully alludes to this in one of his epistles, reminding the queen of her promise to interpret them faithfully to her husband. The unconstrained and familiar tone of his correspondence affords a pleasing example of the personal intimacy to which the sovereigns, so contrary to the usual stiffness of Spanish etiquette, admitted men of learning and probity at their court, without distinction of rank. Opus Epist., epist. 230.

[9] "Galli," says Martyr, in a letter more remarkable for strength of expression than elegance of Latinity, "furunt, saeviunt, internecionem nostris minantur, putantque id sibi fere facillimum. Regem eorum esse in itinere, inquiunt, ut ipse cum duplicato exercitu Alpes trajiciat in Italiam. Vestro nomini insurgunt. Cristas erigunt in vos superbissime. Provinciam hanc, veluti rem humilem, parvique momenti, se aggressuros praeconantur. Nihil esse negotii eradicare exterminareque vestra praesidia ex utraque Sicilia blacterant. Insolenter nimis exspuendo insultant." Opus Epist., epist. 241.

[10] D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 8.—Giannone, Istoria di Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 4.—Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 5, pp. 274, 275.— Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 61.

[11] Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 5, p. 265.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 1, chap. 57.—Gaillard, Rivalite, tom. iv. pp. 221-233.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII, p. 169.

Brantome has introduced sketches of most of the French captains mentioned in the text into his admirable gallery of national portraits.—See Vies des Hommes Illustres, Oeuvres, tom. ii. and iii.

[12] Martyr's epistles at this crisis are filled with expostulation, argument, and entreaties to the sovereigns, begging them to rouse from their apathy, and take measures to secure the wavering affections of Venice, as well as to send more effectual aid to their Italian troops. Ferdinand listened to the first of these suggestions; but showed a strange insensibility to the last.

[13] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 4, cap. 62, 65.—Carta del Gran Capitan, MS.

Prospero Colonna, in particular, was distinguished not only for his military science, but his fondness for letters and the arts, of which he is commemorated by Tiraboschi as a munificent patron. (Letteratura Italians, tom. viii. p. 77.) Paolo Giovio has introduced his portrait among the effigies of illustrious men, who, it must be confessed, are more indebted in his work to the hand of the historian than the artist. Elogia Virorum Bellica Virtute Illustrium, (Basiliae, 1578,) lib. 5.

[14] D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 8.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 10.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 42.—Summonte, Hist. di Napoli, tom. iii. p. 541.

[15] This beautiful and high-spirited lady, whose fate has led Boccalini, in his whimsical satire of the "Ragguagli di Parnasso," to call her the most unfortunate female on record, had seen her father, Alfonso II., and her husband, Galeazzo Sforza, driven from their thrones by the French, while her son still remained in captivity in their hands. No wonder they revolted from accumulating new woes on her devoted head.

[16] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, p. 237.—Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 5, pp. 282, 283.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 14.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 249.—Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 168.

[17] Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 47.—Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 4, cap. 69.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, tom. i. p. 241.— D'Auton, part. 2, chap. 11.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 247.

Martyr says, that the Spaniards marched through the enemy's camp, shouting "Espana, Espana, viva Espana!" (ubi supra.) Their gallantry in the defence of Canosa elicits a hearty eulogium from Jean D'Auton, the loyal historiographer of Louis XII. "Je ne veux donc par ma Chronique mettre les biensfaicts des Espaignols en publy, mais dire que pour vertueuse defence, doibuent auoir louange honorable." Hist. de Louys XII., chap. 11.

[18] Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 169.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 10.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 66.

[19] Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 53.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 26.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, pp. 238, 239.—Memoires de Bayard par le Loyal Serviteur, chap. 23, apud Petitot, Collection des Memoires, tom. xv.—Brantome, Oeuvres, tom. iii. disc. 77.

This celebrated tourney, its causes, and all the details of the action, are told in as many different ways as there are narrators; and this, notwithstanding it was fought in the presence of a crowd of witnesses, who had nothing to do but look on, and note what passed before their eyes. The only facts in which all agree, are, that there was such a tournament, and that neither party gained the advantage. So much for history!

[20] D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., ubi supra.—Quintana, Espanoles Celebres, tom. ii. p. 263.

[21] Brantome, Oeuvres, tom. vi. Discours sur les Duels.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 27.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 11.— Memoires de Bayard, chap. 22, apud Collection des Memoires.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, p. 240.

[22] According to Martyr, the besieged had been so severely pressed by famine for some time before this, that Gonsalvo entertained serious thoughts of embarking the whole of his little garrison on board the fleet, and abandoning the place to the enemy. "Barlettae inclusos fame pesteque urgeri graviter aiunt. Vicina ipsorum omnia Galli occupant, et nostros quotidie magis ac magis premunt. Ita obsessi undi que, de relinquenda etiam Barletta saepius iniere consilium. Ut mari terga dent hostibus, ne fame pesteque pereant, saepe cadit in deliberationem." Opus Epist., epist. 249.

[23] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, p. 242.—Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 4.—Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 167.—Guicciardini, Istoria, p. 283.

[24] Ibid., lib. 5, p. 294.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 22.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 63.

[25] Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 11.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, tom. i. p. 247.—Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 9.

[26] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, pp. 243, 244.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 11, 12. A dispute arose, soon after this affair, between a French officer and some Italian gentlemen at Gonsalvo's table, in consequence of certain injurious reflections made by the former on the bravery of the Italian nation. The quarrel was settled by a combat a l'outrance between thirteen knights on each side, fought under the protection of the Great Captain, who took a lively interest in the success of his allies. It terminated in the discomfiture and capture of all the French. The tourney covers more pages in the Italian historians than the longest battle, and is told with pride and a swell of exultation which show that this insult of the French cut more deeply than all the injuries inflicted by them. Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, pp. 244-247.—Guicciardini, Istoria, pp. 296-298.—Giannone, Istoria di Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 4.—Summonte, Hist. di Napoli, tom. iii. pp. 542-552.—et al.

[27]: This supply was owing to the avarice of the French general Alegre, who, having got possession of a magazine of corn in Foggia, sold it to the Venetian merchant, instead of reserving it, where it was most needed, for his own army.

[28] D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part, 1, chap. 72.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 254.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, p. 242.

[29] Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 5, p. 296.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 31.

[30] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, pp. 248, 249.—Guicciardini, Istoria, p. 296.—Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 175.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 31.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 72.

The gallant behavior of La Palice, and indeed the whole siege of Ruvo, is told by Jean D'Auton in a truly heart-stirring tone, quite worthy of the chivalrous pen of old Froissart. There is an inexpressible charm imparted to the French memoirs and chronicles of this ancient date, not only from the picturesque character of the details, but from a gentle tinge of romance shed over them, which calls to mind the doughty feats of

"prowest knights, Both Paynim and the peers of Charlemagne."

[31] Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., ubi supra.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 16.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 72.

[32] D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., ubi supra.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, p. 249.—Quintana, Espanoles Celebres, tom. ii. p. 270.—Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 14.

[33] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, p. 249.

[34] Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 15.—Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 16.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 17.




Birth of Charles V.—Philip and Joanna Visit Spain.—Treaty of Lyons.—The Great Captain Refuses to Comply with it.—Encamps before Cerignola.— Battle and Rout of the French.—Triumphant Entry of Gonsalvo into Naples.

Before accompanying the Great Captain further in his warlike operations, it will be necessary to take a rapid glance at what was passing in the French and Spanish courts, where negotiations were in train for putting a stop to them altogether.

The reader has been made acquainted in a preceding chapter with the marriage of the infanta Joanna, second daughter of the Catholic sovereigns, with the archduke Philip, son of the emperor Maximilian, and sovereign, in right of his mother, of the Low Countries. The first fruit of this marriage was the celebrated Charles the Fifth, born at Ghent, February 24th, 1500, whose birth was no sooner announced to Queen Isabella, than she predicted that to this infant would one day descend the rich inheritance of the Spanish monarchy. [1] The premature death of the heir apparent, Prince Miguel, not long after, prepared the way for this event by devolving the succession on Joanna, Charles's mother. From that moment the sovereigns were pressing in their entreaties that the archduke and his wife would visit Spain, that they might receive the customary oaths of allegiance, and that the former might become acquainted with the character and institutions of his future subjects. The giddy young prince, however, thought too much of present pleasure to heed the call of ambition or duty, and suffered more than a year to glide away, before he complied with the summons of his royal parents.

In the latter part of 1501, Philip and Joanna, attended by a numerous suite of Flemish courtiers, set out on their journey, proposing to take their way through France. They were entertained with profuse magnificence and hospitality at the French court, where the politic attentions of Louis the Twelfth not only effaced the recollection of ancient injuries to the house of Burgundy, [2] but left impressions of the most agreeable character on the mind of the young prince. [3] After some weeks passed in a succession of splendid fetes and amusements at Blois, where the archduke confirmed the treaty of Trent recently made between his father, the emperor, and the French king, stipulating the marriage of Louis's eldest daughter, the princess Claude, with Philip's son Charles, the royal pair resumed their journey towards Spain, which they entered by the way of Fontarabia, January 29th, 1502. [4]

Magnificent preparations had been made for their reception. The grand constable of Castile, the duke of Naxara, and many other of the principal grandees waited on the borders to receive them. Brilliant fetes and illuminations, and all the usual marks of public rejoicing, greeted their progress through the principal cities of the north, and a pragmatica relaxing the simplicity, or rather severity, of the sumptuary laws of the period, so far as to allow the use of silks and various-colored apparel, shows the attention of the sovereigns to every circumstance, however trifling, which could affect the minds of the young princes agreeably, and diffuse an air of cheerfulness over the scene. [5]

Ferdinand and Isabella, who were occupied with the affairs of Andalusia at this period, no sooner heard of the arrival of Philip and Joanna, than they hastened to the north. They reached Toledo towards the end of April, and in a few days, the queen, who paid the usual penalties of royalty, in seeing her children, one after another, removed far from her into distant lands, had the satisfaction of again folding her beloved daughter in her arms.

On the 22d of the ensuing month, the archduke and his wife received the usual oaths of fealty from the cortes duly convoked for the purpose at Toledo. [6] King Ferdinand, not long after, made a journey into Aragon, in which the queen's feeble health would not permit her to accompany him, in order to prepare the way for a similar recognition by the estates of that realm. We are not informed what arguments the sagacious monarch made use of to dispel the scruples formerly entertained by that independent body, on a similar application in behalf of his daughter, the late queen of Portugal. [7] They were completely successful, however; and Philip and Joanna, having ascertained the favorable disposition of cortes, made their entrance in great state into the ancient city of Saragossa, in the month of October. On the 27th, having first made oath before the Justice, to observe the laws and liberties of the realm, Joanna as future queen proprietor, and Philip as her husband,—were solemnly recognized by the four arms of Aragon as successors to the crown, in default of male issue of King Ferdinand. The circumstance is memorable, as affording the first example of the parliamentary recognition of a female heir apparent in Aragonese history. [8]

Amidst all the honors so liberally lavished on Philip, his bosom secretly swelled with discontent, fomented still further by his followers, who pressed him to hasten his return to Flanders, where the free and social manners of the people were much more congenial to their tastes, than the reserve and stately ceremonial of the Spanish court. The young prince shared in these feelings, to which, indeed, the love of pleasure, and an instinctive aversion to anything like serious occupation, naturally disposed him. Ferdinand and Isabella saw with regret the frivolous disposition of their son-in-law, who, in the indulgence of selfish and effeminate ease, was willing to repose on others all the important duties of government. They beheld with mortification his indifference to Joanna, who could boast few personal attractions, [9] and who cooled the affections of her husband by alternations of excessive fondness and irritable jealousy, for which last the levity of his conduct gave her too much occasion.

Shortly after the ceremony at Saragossa, the archduke announced his intention of an immediate return to the Netherlands, by the way of France. The sovereigns, astonished at this abrupt determination, used every argument to dissuade him from it. They represented the ill effects it might occasion the princess Joanna, then too far advanced in a state of pregnancy to accompany him. They pointed out the impropriety, as well as danger, of committing himself to the hands of the French king, with whom they were now at open war; and they finally insisted on the importance of Philip's remaining long enough in the kingdom to become familiar with the usages, and establish himself in the affections of the people over whom he would one day be called to reign.

All these arguments were ineffectual; the inflexible prince, turning a deaf ear alike to the entreaties of his unhappy wife, and the remonstrances of the Aragonese cortes, still in session, set out from Madrid, with the whole of his Flemish suite, in the month of December. He left Ferdinand and Isabella disgusted with the levity of his conduct, and the queen, in particular, filled with mournful solicitude for the welfare of the daughter with whom his destinies were united. [10]

Before his departure for France, Philip, anxious to re-establish harmony between that country and Spain, offered his services to his father-in-law in negotiating with Louis the Twelfth, if possible, a settlement of the differences respecting Naples. Ferdinand showed some reluctance at intrusting so delicate a commission to an envoy in whose discretion he placed small reliance, which was not augmented by the known partiality which Philip entertained for the French monarch. [11] Before the archduke had crossed the frontier, however, he was overtaken by a Spanish ecclesiastic named Bernaldo Boyl, abbot of St. Miguel de Cuxa, who brought full powers to Philip from the king for concluding a treaty with France, accompanied at the same time with private instructions of the most strict and limited nature. He was enjoined, moreover, to take no step without the advice of his reverend coadjutor, and to inform the Spanish court at once, if different propositions were submitted from those contemplated by his instructions. [12] Thus fortified, the archduke Philip made his appearance at the French Court in Lyons, where he was received by Louis with the same lively expressions of regard as before. With these amiable dispositions, the negotiations were not long in resulting in a definitive treaty, arranged to the mutual satisfaction of the parties, though in violation of the private instructions of the archduke. In the progress of the discussions, Ferdinand, according to the Spanish historians, received advices from his envoy, the abate Boyl, that Philip was transcending his commission; in consequence of which the king sent an express to France, urging his son-in-law to adhere to the strict letter of his instructions. Before the messenger reached Lyons, however, the treaty was executed. Such is the Spanish account of this blind transaction. [13]

The treaty, which was signed at Lyons, April 5th, 1503, was arranged on the basis of the marriage of Charles, the infant son of Philip, and Claude, princess of France; a marriage, which, settled by three several treaties, was destined never to take place. The royal infants were immediately to assume the titles of King and Queen of Naples, and Duke and Duchess of Calabria. Until the consummation of the marriage, the French division of the kingdom was to be placed under the administration of some suitable person named by Louis the Twelfth, and the Spanish under that of the archduke Philip, or some other deputy appointed by Ferdinand. All places unlawfully seized by either party were to be restored; and lastly it was settled, with regard to the disputed province of the Capitanate, that the portion held by the French should be governed by an agent of King Louis, and the Spanish by the archduke Philip on behalf of Ferdinand. [14]

Such in substance was the treaty of Lyons; a treaty, which, while it seemed to consult the interests of Ferdinand, by securing the throne of Naples eventually to his posterity, was in fact far more accommodated to those of Louis, by placing the immediate control of the Spanish moiety under a prince over whom that monarch held entire influence. It is impossible that so shrewd a statesman as Ferdinand could, from the mere consideration of advantages so remote to himself and dependent on so precarious a contingency as the marriage of two infants, then in their cradles, have seriously contemplated an arrangement, which surrendered all the actual power into the hands of his rival; and that too at the moment when his large armament, so long preparing for Calabria, had reached that country, and when the Great Captain, on the other quarter, had received such accessions of strength as enabled him to assume the offensive, on at least equal terms with the enemy.

No misgivings on this head, however, appeared to have entered the minds of the signers of the treaty, which was celebrated by the court at Lyons with every show of public rejoicing, and particularly with tourneys and tilts of reeds, in imitation of the Spanish chivalry. At the same time, the French king countermanded the embarkation of French troops on board a fleet equipping at the port of Genoa for Naples, and sent orders to his generals in Italy to desist from further operations. The archduke forwarded similar instructions to Gonsalvo, accompanied with a copy of the powers intrusted to him by Ferdinand. That prudent officer, however, whether in obedience to previous directions from the king, as Spanish writers affirm, or on his own responsibility, from a very natural sense of duty, refused to comply with the ambassador's orders; declaring "he knew no authority but that of his own sovereigns, and that he felt bound to prosecute the war with all his ability, till he received their commands to the contrary." [15]

Indeed, the archduke's despatches arrived at the very time when the Spanish general, having strengthened himself by a reinforcement from the neighboring garrison of Tarento under Pedro Navarro, was prepared to sally forth, and try his fortune in battle with the enemy. Without further delay, he put his purpose into execution, and on Friday, the 28th of April, marched out with his whole army from the ancient walls of Barleta; a spot ever memorable in history as the scene of the extraordinary sufferings and indomitable constancy of the Spanish soldier.

The road lay across the field of Cannae, where, seventeen centuries before, the pride of Rome had been humbled by the victorious arms of Hannibal, [16] in a battle which, though fought with far greater numbers, was not so decisive in its consequences as that which the same scenes were to witness in a few hours. The coincidence is certainly singular; and one might almost fancy that the actors in these fearful tragedies, unwilling to deface the fair haunts of civilization, had purposely sought a more fitting theatre in this obscure and sequestered region.

The weather, although only at the latter end of April, was extremely sultry; the troops, notwithstanding Gonsalvo's orders on crossing the river Ofanto, the ancient Aufidus, had failed to supply themselves with sufficient water for the march; parched with heat and dust, they were soon distressed by excessive thirst; and, as the burning rays of the noontide sun beat fiercely on their heads, many of them, especially those cased in heavy armor, sunk down on the road, fainting with exhaustion and fatigue. Gonsalvo was seen in every quarter, administering to the necessities of his men, and striving to reanimate their drooping spirits. At length, to relieve them, he commanded that each trooper should take one of the infantry on his crupper, setting the example himself by mounting a German ensign behind him on his own horse.

In this way, the whole army arrived early in the afternoon before Cerignola, a small town on an eminence about sixteen miles from Barleta, where the nature of the ground afforded the Spanish general a favorable position for his camp. The sloping sides of the hill were covered with vineyards, and its base was protected by a ditch of considerable depth. Gonsalvo saw at once the advantages of the ground. His men were jaded by the march; but there was no time to lose, as the French, who, on his departure from Barleta, had been drawn up under the walls of Canosa, were now rapidly advancing. All hands were put in requisition, therefore, for widening the trench, in which they planted sharp-pointed stakes; while the earth which they excavated enabled them to throw up a parapet of considerable height on the side next the town. On this rampart he mounted his little train of artillery, consisting of thirteen guns, and behind it drew up his forces in order of battle. [17]

Before these movements were completed in the Spanish camp, the bright arms and banners of the French were seen glistening in the distance amid the tall fennel and cane-brakes with which the country was thickly covered. As soon as they had come in view of the Spanish encampment, they were brought to a halt, while a council of war was called, to determine the expediency of giving battle that evening. The duke of Nemours would have deferred it till the following morning, as the day was already far spent, and allowed no time for reconnoitring the position of his enemy. But Ives d'Allegre, Chandieu, the commander of the Swiss, and some other officers, were for immediate action, representing the importance of not balking the impatience of the soldiers, who were all hot for the assault. In the course of the debate, Allegre was so much heated as to throw out some rash taunts on the courage of the viceroy, which the latter would have avenged on the spot, had not his arm been arrested by Louis d'Ars. He had the weakness, however, to suffer them to change his cooler purpose, exclaiming, "We will fight to-night, then; and perhaps those who vaunt the loudest will be found to trust more to their spurs, than their swords;" a prediction bitterly justified by the event. [18]

While this dispute was going on, Gonsalvo gained time for making the necessary disposition of his troops. In the centre he placed his German auxiliaries, armed with their long pikes, and on each wing the Spanish infantry under the command of Pedro Navarro, Diego de Paredes, Pizarro, and other illustrious captains. The defence of the artillery was committed to the left wing. A considerable body of men-at-arms, including those recently equipped from the spoils of Ruvo, was drawn up within the intrenchments, in a quarter affording a convenient opening for a sally, and placed under the orders of Mendoza and Fabrizio Colonna, whose brother Prospero and Pedro de la Paz took charge of the light cavalry, which was posted without the lines to annoy the advance of the enemy, and act on any point, as occasion might require. Having completed his preparations, the Spanish general coolly waited the assault of the French.

The duke of Nemours had marshalled his forces in a very different order. He distributed them into three battles or divisions, stationing his heavy horse, composing altogether, as Gonsalvo declared, "the finest body of cavalry seen for many years in Italy," under the command of Louis d'Ars, on the right. The second and centre division, formed somewhat in the rear of the right, was made up of the Swiss and Gascon infantry, headed by the brave Chandieu; and his left, consisting chiefly of his light cavalry, and drawn up, like the last, somewhat in the rear of the preceding, was intrusted to Allegre. [19]

It was within half an hour of sunset when the duke de Nemours gave orders for the attack, and, putting himself at the head of the gendarmerie on the right, spurred at full gallop against the Spanish left. The hostile armies were nearly equal, amounting to between six and seven thousand men each. The French were superior in the number and condition of their cavalry, rising to a third of their whole force; while Gonsalvo's strength lay chiefly in his infantry, which had acquired a lesson of tactics under him, that raised it to a level with the best in Europe.

As the French advanced, the guns on the Spanish left poured a lively fire into their ranks, when, a spark accidentally communicating with the magazine of powder, the whole blew up with a tremendous explosion. The Spaniards were filled with consternation; but Gonsalvo, converting the misfortune into a lucky omen, called out, "Courage, soldiers, these are the beacon lights of victory! We have no need of our guns at close quarters."

In the mean time, the French van under Nemours, advancing rapidly under the dark clouds of smoke, which rolled heavily over the field, were unexpectedly brought up by the deep trench, of whose existence they were unapprised. Some of the horse were precipitated into it, and all received a sudden check, until Nemours, finding it impossible to force the works in this quarter, rode along their front in search of some practicable passage. In doing this, he necessarily exposed his flank to the fatal aim of the Spanish arquebusiers. A shot from one of them took effect on the unfortunate young nobleman, and he fell mortally wounded from his saddle.

At this juncture, the Swiss and Gascon infantry, briskly moving up to second the attack of the now disordered horse, arrived before the intrenchments. Undismayed by this formidable barrier, their commander, Chandieu, made the most desperate attempts to force a passage; but the loose earth freshly turned up afforded no hold to the feet, and his men were compelled to recoil from the dense array of German pikes, which bristled over the summit of the breastwork. Chandieu, their leader, made every effort to rally and bring them back to the charge; but, in the act of doing this, was hit by a ball, which stretched him lifeless in the ditch; his burnished arms, and the snow-white plumes above his helmet, making him a conspicuous mark for the enemy.

All was now confusion. The Spanish arquebusiers, screened by their defences, poured a galling fire into the dense masses of the enemy, who were mingled together indiscriminately, horse and foot, while, the leaders being down, no one seemed capable of bringing them to order. At this critical moment, Gonsalvo, whose eagle eye took in the whole operations of the field, ordered a general charge along the line; and the Spaniards, leaping their intrenchments, descended with the fury of an avalanche on their foes, whose wavering columns, completely broken by the violence of the shock, were seized with a panic, and fled, scarcely offering any resistance. Louis d'Ars, at the head of such of the men-at-arms as could follow him, went off in one direction, and Ives d'Allegre, with his light cavalry, which had hardly come into action, in another; thus fully verifying the ominous prediction of his commander. The slaughter fell most heavily on the Swiss and Gascon foot, whom the cavalry under Mendoza and Pedro de la Paz rode down and cut to pieces without sparing, till the shades of evening shielded them at length from their pitiless pursuers. [20]

Prospero Colonna pushed on to the French encampment, where he found the tables in the duke's tent spread for his evening repast; of which the Italian general and his followers did not fail to make good account. A trifling incident, that well illustrates the sudden reverses of war.

The Great Captain passed the night on the field of battle, which, on the following morning, presented a ghastly spectacle of the dying and the dead. More than three thousand French are computed by the best accounts to have fallen. The loss of the Spaniards, covered as they were by their defences, was inconsiderable. [21] All the enemy's artillery, consisting of thirteen pieces, his baggage, and most of his colors fell into their hands. Never was there a more complete victory, achieved too within the space of little more than an hour. The body of the unfortunate Nemours, which was recognized by one of his pages from the rings on the fingers, was found under a heap of slain, much disfigured. It appeared that he had received three several wounds, disproving, if need were, by his honorable death the injurious taunts of Allegre. Gonsalvo was affected even to tears at beholding the mutilated remains of his young and gallant adversary, who, whatever judgment may be formed of his capacity as a leader, was allowed to have all the qualities which belong to a true knight. With him perished the last scion of the illustrious house of Armagnac. Gonsalvo ordered his remains to be conveyed to Barleta, where they were laid in the cemetery of the convent of St. Francis, with all the honors due to his high station. [22]

The Spanish commander lost no time in following up his blow, well aware that it is quite as difficult to improve a victory as to win one. The French had rushed into battle with too much precipitation to agree on any plan of operations, or any point on which to rally in case of defeat. They accordingly scattered in different directions, and Pedro de la Paz was despatched in pursuit of Louis d'Ars, who threw himself into Venosa, [23] where he kept the enemy at bay for many months longer. Paredes kept close on the scent of Allegre, who, finding the gates shut against him wherever he passed, at length took shelter in Gaeta on the extreme point of the Neapolitan territory. There he endeavored to rally the scattered relics of the field of Cerignola, and to establish a strong position, from which the French, when strengthened by fresh supplies from home, might recommence operations for the recovery of the kingdom.

The day after the battle of Cerignola the Spaniards received tidings of another victory, scarcely less important, gained over the French in Calabria, the preceding week. [24] The army sent out under Portocarrero had reached that coast early in March; but, soon after its arrival, its gallant commander fell ill and died. [25] The dying general named Don Fernando de Andrada as his successor; and this officer, combining his forces with those before in the country under Cardona and Benavides, encountered the French commander D'Aubigny in a pitched battle, not far from Seminara, on Friday, the 21st of April. It was near the same spot on which the latter had twice beaten the Spaniards. But the star of France was on the wane; and the gallant old officer had the mortification to see his little corps of veterans completely routed after a sharp engagement of less than an hour, while he himself was retrieved with difficulty from the hands of the enemy by the valor of his Scottish guard. [26]

The Great Captain and his army, highly elated with the news of this fortunate event, which annihilated the French power in Calabria, began their march on Naples; Fabrizio Colonna having been first detached into the Abruzzi to receive the submission of the people in that quarter. The tidings of the victory had spread far and wide; and, as Gonsalvo's army advanced, they beheld the ensigns of Aragon floating from the battlements of the towns upon their route, while the inhabitants came forth to greet the conqueror, eager to testify their devotion to the Spanish cause. The army halted at Benevento; and the general sent his summons to the city of Naples, inviting it in the most courteous terms to resume its ancient allegiance to the legitimate branch of Aragon. It was hardly to be expected, that the allegiance of a people, who had so long seen their country set up as a mere stake for political gamesters, should sit very closely upon them, or that they should care to peril their lives on the transfer of a crown which had shifted on the heads of half a dozen proprietors in as many successive years. [27] With the same ductile enthusiasm, therefore, with which they greeted the accession of Charles the Eighth or Louis the Twelfth, they now welcomed the restoration of the ancient dynasty of Aragon; and deputies from the principal nobility and citizens waited on the Great Captain at Acerra, where they tendered him the keys of the city, and requested the confirmation of their rights and privileges.

Gonsalvo, having promised this in the name of his royal master, on the following morning, the 14th of May, 1503, made his entrance in great state into the capital, leaving his army without the walls. He was escorted by the military of the city under a royal canopy borne by the deputies. The streets were strewed with flowers, the edifices decorated with appropriate emblems and devices, and wreathed with banners emblazoned with the united arms of Aragon and Naples. As he passed along, the city rung with the acclamations of countless multitudes who thronged the streets; while every window and housetop was filled with spectators, eager to behold the man, who, with scarcely any other resources than those of his own genius, had so long defied, and at length completely foiled, the power of France.

On the following day a deputation of the nobility and people waited on the Great Captain at his quarters, and tendered him the usual oaths of allegiance for his master, King Ferdinand, whose accession finally closed the series of revolutions which had so long agitated this unhappy country. [28]

The city of Naples was commanded by two strong fortresses still held by the French, which, being well victualled and supplied with ammunition, showed no disposition to surrender. The Great Captain determined, therefore, to reserve a small corps for their reduction, while he sent forward the main body of his army to besiege Gaeta. But the Spanish infantry refused to march until the heavy arrears, suffered to accumulate through the negligence of the government, were discharged; and Gonsalvo, afraid of awakening the mutinous spirit which he had once found it so difficult to quell, was obliged to content himself with sending forward his cavalry and German levies, and to permit the infantry to take up its quarters in the capital, under strict orders to respect the persons and property of the citizens.

He now lost no time in pressing the siege of the French fortresses, whose impregnable situation might have derided the efforts of the most formidable enemy in the ancient state of military science. But the reduction of these places was intrusted to Pedro Navarro, the celebrated engineer, whose improvements in the art of mining have gained him the popular reputation of being its inventor, and who displayed such unprecedented skill on this occasion, as makes it a memorable epoch in the annals of war. [29]

Under his directions, the small tower of St. Vincenzo having been first reduced by a furious cannonade, a mine was run under the outer defences of the great fortress called Castel Nuovo. On the 21st of May, the mine was sprung; a passage was opened over the prostrate ramparts, and the assailants, rushing in with Gonsalvo and Navarro at their head, before the garrison had time to secure the drawbridge, applied their ladders to the walls of the castle, and succeeded in carrying the place by escalade, after a desperate struggle, in which the greater part of the French were slaughtered. An immense booty was found in the castle. The Angevin party had made it a place of deposit for their most valuable effects, gold, jewels, plate, and other treasures, which, together with its well-stored magazines of grain and ammunition, became the indiscriminate spoil of the victors. As some of these, however, complained of not getting their share of the plunder, Gonsalvo, giving full scope in the exultation of the moment to military license, called out gayly, "Make amends for it, then, by what you can find in my quarters!" The words were not uttered to deaf ears. The mob of soldiery rushed to the splendid palace of the Angevin prince of Salerno, then occupied by the Great Captain, and in a moment its sumptuous furniture, paintings, and other costly decorations, together with the contents of its generous cellar, were seized and appropriated without ceremony by the invaders, who thus indemnified themselves at their general's expense for the remissness of government.

After some weeks of protracted operations, the remaining fortress, Castel d'Uovo, as it was called, opened its gates to Navarro; and a French fleet, coming into the harbor, had the mortification to find itself fired on from the walls of the place it was intended to relieve. Before this event, Gonsalvo, having obtained funds from Spain for paying off his men, quitted the capital and directed his march on Gaeta. The important results of his victories were now fully disclosed. D'Aubigny, with the wreck of the forces escaped from Seminara, had surrendered. The two Abruzzi, the Capitanate, all the Basilicate, except Venosa, still held by Louis d'Ars, and indeed every considerable place in the kingdom, had tendered its submission, with the exception of Gaeta. Summoning, therefore, to his aid Andrada, Navarro, and his other officers, the Great Captain resolved to concentrate all his strength on this point, designing to press the siege, and thus exterminate at a blow the feeble remains of the French power in Italy. The enterprise was attended with more difficulty than he had anticipated. [30]


[1] Carbajal, Anales, MS., ano 1500.—Sandoval, Hist. del Emp. Carlos V., tom. i. p. 2.

The queen expressed herself in the language of Scripture. "Sora cecidit super Mathiam," in allusion to the circumstance of Charles being born on that saint's day; a day which, if we are to believe Garibay, was fortunate to him through the whole course of his life. Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 9.

[2] Charles VIII., Louis's predecessor, had contrived to secure the hand of Anne of Bretagne, notwithstanding she was already married by proxy to Philip's father, the emperor Maximilian; and this, too, in contempt of his own engagements to Margaret, the emperor's daughter, to whom he had been affianced from her infancy. This twofold insult, which sunk deep into the heart of Maximilian, seems to have made no impression on the volatile spirits of his son.

[3] Mariana, Hist. de Espana, lib. 27, cap. 11.—St. Gelais describes the cordial reception of Philip and Joanna by the Court at Blois, where he was probably present himself. The historian shows his own opinion of the effect produced on their young minds by these flattering attentions, by remarking, "Le roy leur monstra si tres grand semblant d'amour, que par noblesse et honestete de coeur il les obligeoit envers luy de leur en souvenir toute leur vie." Hist. de Louys. XII., pp. 164, 165.

In passing through Paris, Philip took his seat in parliament as peer of France, and subsequently did homage to Louis XII., as his suzerain for his estates in Flanders; an acknowledgment of inferiority not at all palatable to the Spanish historians, who insist with much satisfaction on the haughty refusal of his wife, the archduchess, to take part in the ceremony. Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 4, cap. 55.—Carbajal, Anales, MS., ano 1502.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 13, sec. 1.— Dumont, Corps Diplomatique, tom. iv. part. 1, p. 17.

[4] Carbajal, Anales, MS., ano 1501.—Sandoval, Hist. del Emp. Carlos V., tom. i. p. 5.

[5] Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 4, cap. 55.—Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. p. 220.

This extreme simplicity of attire, in which Zurita discerns "the modesty of the times," was enforced by laws, the policy of which, whatever be thought of their moral import, may well be doubted in an economical view. I shall have occasion to draw the reader's attention to them hereafter.

[6] The writ is dated at Llerena, March 8. It was extracted by Marina from the archives of Toledo, Teoria, tom. ii. p. 18.

[7] It is remarkable that the Aragonese writers, generally so inquisitive on all points touching the constitutional history of their country, should have omitted to notice the grounds on which the cortes thought proper to reverse its former decision in the analogous case of the infanta Isabella. There seems to have been even less reason for departing from ancient usage in the present instance, since Joanna had a son, to whom the cortes might lawfully have tendered its oath of recognition; for a female, although excluded from the throne in her own person, was regarded as competent to transmit the title unimpaired to her male heirs. Blancas suggests no explanation of the affair, (Coronaciones, lib. 3, cap. 20, and Commentarii, pp. 274, 511,) and Zurita quietly dismisses it with the remark, that "there was some opposition raised, but the king had managed it so discreetly beforehand, that there was not the same difficulty as formerly." (Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 5.) It is curious to see with what effrontery the prothonotary of the cortes, in the desire to varnish over the departure from constitutional precedent, declares, in the opening address, "the princess Joanna, true and lawful heir to the crown, to whom, in default of male heirs, the usage and law of the land require the oath of allegiance." Coronaciones, ubi supra.

[8] Carbajal, Anales, MS., ano 1500.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 12, sec. 6.—Robles, Vita de Ximenez, p. 126.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 14.—Sandoval, Hist. del Emp. Carlos V., tom. i. p. 5.

Petronilla, the only female who ever sat, in her own right, on the throne of Aragon, never received the homage of cortes as heir apparent; the custom not having been established at that time, the middle of the twelfth century. (Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 5.) Blancas has described the ceremony of Joanna's recognition with quite as much circumstantiality as the novelty of the case could warrant. Coronaciones, lib. 3, cap. 20.

[9] "Simplex est foemina," says Martyr, speaking of Joanna, "licet a tanta muliere progenita." Opus Epist., epist. 250.

[10] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., ubi supra.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 10.—Gomez, De Rebus Gestis, fol. 44.—Carbajal, Anales, MS., ano 1502.

[11] Such manifest partiality for the French court and manners was shown by Philip and his Flemish followers, that the Spaniards very generally believed the latter were in the pay of Louis XII. See Gomez, De Rebus Gestis, fol. 44.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 23.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 253.—Lanuza, Historias, cap. 16.

[12] Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 10.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 13, sec. 2.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 15.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 1, chap. 32.

[13] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 23.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., pp. 170, 171.—Claude de Seyssel, Histoire de Louys XII., (Paris, 1615,) p. 108.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 13, sec. 3.—Mariana, Hist. de Espana, tom. ii. pp. 690, 691.— Lanuza, Historias, tom. i. cap. 16.

Some of the French historians speak of two agents besides Philip employed in the negotiations. Father Boyl is the only one named by the Spanish writers, as regularly commissioned for the purpose, although it is not improbable that Gralla, the resident minister at Louis's court, took part in the discussions.

[14] See the treaty, apud Dumont, Corps Diplomatique, tom. iv. pp. 27-29.

[15] Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 33, sec. 3.—Giannone, Istoria di Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 4.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., p. 171.—Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 75.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 32.

According to the Aragonese historians, Ferdinand, on the archduke's departure, informed Gonsalvo of the intended negotiations with France, cautioning the general at the same time not to heed any instructions of the archduke till confirmed by him. This circumstance the French writers regard as unequivocal proof of the king's insincerity in entering into the negotiation. It wears this aspect at first, certainly; but, on a nearer view, admits of a very different construction. Ferdinand had no confidence in the discretion of his envoy, whom, if we are to believe the Spanish writers, he employed in the affair more from accident than choice; and, notwithstanding the full powers intrusted to him, he did not consider himself bound to recognize the validity of any treaty which the other should sign, until first ratified by himself. With these views, founded on principles now universally recognized in European diplomacy, it was natural to caution his general against any unauthorized interference on the part of his envoy, which the rash and presumptuous character of the latter, acting, moreover, under an undue influence of the French monarch, gave him good reason to fear.

As to the Great Captain, who has borne a liberal share of censure on this occasion, it is not easy to see how he could have acted otherwise than he did, even in the event of no special instructions from Ferdinand. For he would scarcely have been justified in abandoning a sure prospect of advantage on the authority of one, the validity of whose powers he could not determine, and which, in fact, do not appear to have warranted such interference. The only authority he knew, was that from which he held his commission, and to which he was responsible for the faithful discharge of it.

[16] Neither Polybius (lib. 3, sec. 24 et seq.) nor Livy, (Hist., lib. 22, cap. 43-50,) who give the most circumstantial narratives of the battle, are precise enough to enable us to ascertain the exact spot in which it was fought. Strabo, in his topographical notices of this part of Italy, briefly alludes to "the affair of Cannae" (ta peri Kannas), without any description of the scene of action. (Geog., lib. 6, p. 285.) Cluverius fixes the site of the ancient Cannae on the right bank of the Anfidus, the modern Ofanto, between three and four miles below Canusium; and notices the modern hamlet of nearly the same name, Canne, where common tradition recognizes the ruins of the ancient town. (Italia Antiqua, lib. 4, cap. 12, sec. 8.) D'Anville makes no difficulty in identifying these two, (Geographie Ancienne Abregee, tom. i. p. 208,) having laid down the ancient town in his maps in the direct line, and about midway, between Barleta and Cerignola.

[17] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 253-255.—Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 5, p. 303.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 75, 76.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 27.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 256.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 16, 17.

Giovio says, that he had heard Fabrizio Colonna remark more than once, in allusion to the intrenchments at the base of the hill, "that the victory was owing, not to the skill of the commander, nor the valor of the troops, but to a mound and a ditch." This ancient mode of securing a position, which had fallen into disuse, was revived after this, according to the same author, and came into general practice among the best captains of the age. Ubi supra.

[18] Brantome, Oeuvres, tom. ii. disc. 8.—Garnier, Histoire de France, (Paris, 1783-8,) tom. v. pp. 395, 396.—Gaillard, Rivalite, tom. iv. p. 244.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., p. 171.

[19] Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 76.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 253-255.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 17.

[20] Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 75.—Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 396, 397.—Fleurange, Memoires, chap. 5, apud Petitot, Collection des Memoires, tom. xvi.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, ubi supra.— Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. pp. 303, 304.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., pp. 171, 172.—Brantome, Oeuvres, tom. ii. disc. 8.

[21] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 255.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 15.—Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 180.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 256.—Fleurange, Memoires, chap. 5.

No account, that I know of, places the French loss so low as 3000; Garibay raises it to 4500, and the French marechal de Fleurange rates that of the Swiss alone at 5000; a round exaggeration, not readily accounted for, as he had undoubted access to the best means of information. The Spaniards were too well screened to sustain much injury, and no estimate makes it more than a hundred killed, and some considerable less. The odds are indeed startling, but not impossible; as the Spaniards were not much exposed by personal collision with the enemy, until the latter were thrown into too much disorder to think of anything but escape. The more than usual confusion and discrepancy in the various statements of the particulars of this action may probably be attributed to the lateness of the hour, and consequently imperfect light, in which it was fought.

[22] Quintana, Espanoles Celebres, tom i. p. 277.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 255.—Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. pp. 248, 249.— Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 17.—Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 181.

[23] It was to this same city of Venusium that the rash and unfortunate Varro made his retreat, some seventeen centuries before, from the bloody field of Cannae. Liv. Hist., lib. 22, cap. 49.

[24] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 255.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 256.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 80.

Friday, says Guicciardini, alluding no doubt to Columbus's discoveries, as well as these two victories, was observed to be a lucky day to the Spaniards; according to Gaillard, it was regarded from this time by the French with more superstitious dread than ever. Istoria, tom. i. p. 301.— Rivalite, tom. iv. p. 348.

[25] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 8, 24.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 250.

The reader may perhaps recollect the distinguished part played in the Moorish war by Luis Portocarrero, lord of Palma. He was of noble Italian origin, being descended from the ancient Genoese house of Boccanegra. The Great Captain and he had married sisters; and this connection probably recommended him, as much as his military talents, to the Calabrian command, which it was highly important should be intrusted to one who would maintain a good understanding with the commander-in-chief; a thing not easy to secure among the haughty nobility of Castile.

[26] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 255.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 256.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 80.—Varillas, Histoire de Louis XII. (Paris, 1688,) tom. i. pp. 289-292. See the account of D'Aubigny's victories at Seminara, in Part II. Chapters 2 and 11, of this History.

[27] Since 1494 the sceptre of Naples had passed into the hands of no less than seven princes, Ferdinand I., Alfonso II., Ferdinand II., Charles VIII., Frederic III., Louis XII., Ferdinand the Catholic. No private estate in the kingdom in the same time had probably changed masters half so often. See Cartas del Gran Capitan, MS.

[28] Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. p. 304.—Giannone, Istoria di Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 4.—Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. p. 250.—Summonte, Hist. di Napoli, tom. iii. pp. 552, 553.—Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. xiv. p. 40.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 81.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 18.

[29] The Italians, in their admiration of Pedro Navarro, caused medals to be struck, on which the invention of mines was ascribed to him. (Marini, apud Daru, Hist. de Venise, tom. iii. p. 351.) Although not actually the inventor, his glory was scarcely less, since he was the first who discovered the extensive and formidable uses to which they might be applied in the science of destruction. See Part I. Chapter 13, note 23, of this History.

[30] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 30, 31, 34, 35. —Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 255-257.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 15.—Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 183.— Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, pp. 307-309.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 18, 19.—Ammirato, Istorie Florentine, tom. iii. p. 271.-Summonte, Hist. di Napoli, tom. iii. p. 554.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 84, 86, 87, 93, 95.—Sismondi, Hist. des Francais, tom. xv. pp. 407-409.




Ferdinand's Policy Examined.—First Symptoms of Joanna's Insanity.— Isabella's Distress and Fortitude.—Efforts of France.—Siege of Salsas.— Isabella's Levies.—Ferdinand's Successes.—Reflections on the Campaign.

The events noticed in the preceding chapter glided away as rapidly as the flitting phantoms of a dream. Scarcely had Louis the Twelfth received the unwelcome intelligence of Gonsalvo de Cordova's refusal to obey the mandate of the archduke Philip, before he was astounded with the tidings of the victory of Cerignola, the march on Naples, and the surrender of that capital, as well as of the greater part of the kingdom, following one another in breathless succession. It seemed as if the very means on which the French king had so confidently relied for calming the tempest, had been the signal for awakening all its fury, and bringing it on his devoted head. Mortified and incensed at being made the dupe of what he deemed a perfidious policy, he demanded an explanation of the archduke, who was still in France. The latter, vehemently protesting his own innocence, felt, or affected to feel, so sensibly the ridiculous and, as it appeared, dishonorable part played by him in the transaction, that he was thrown into a severe illness, which confined him to his bed for several days. [1] Without delay, he wrote to the Spanish court in terms of bitter expostulation, urging the immediate ratification of the treaty made pursuant to its orders, and an indemnification to France for its subsequent violation. Such is the account given by the French historians.

The Spanish writers, on the other hand, say, that before the news of Gonsalvo's successes reached Spain, King Ferdinand refused to confirm the treaty sent him by his son-in-law, until it had undergone certain material modifications. If the Spanish monarch hesitated to approve the treaty in the doubtful posture of his affairs, he was little likely to do so, when he had the game entirely in his own hands. [2]

He postponed an answer to Philip's application, willing probably to gain time for the Great Captain to strengthen himself firmly in his recent acquisitions. At length, after a considerable interval, he despatched an embassy to France, announcing his final determination never to ratify a treaty made in contempt of his orders, and so clearly detrimental to his interests. He endeavored, however, to gain further time by spinning out the negotiation, holding up for this purpose the prospect of an ultimate accommodation, and suggesting the re-establishment of his kinsman, the unfortunate Frederic, on the Neapolitan throne, as the best means of effecting it. The artifice, however, was too gross even for the credulous Louis; who peremptorily demanded of the ambassadors the instant and absolute ratification of the treaty, and, on their declaring it was beyond their powers, ordered them at once to leave his court. "I had rather," said he, "suffer the loss of a kingdom, which may perhaps be retrieved, than the loss of honor, which never can." A noble sentiment, but falling with no particular grace from the lips of Louis the Twelfth. [3]

The whole of this blind transaction is stated in so irreconcilable a manner by the historians of the different nations, that it is extremely difficult to draw anything like a probable narrative out of them. The Spanish writers assert that the public commission of the archduke was controlled by strict private instructions; [4] while the French, on the other hand, are either silent as to the latter, or represent them to have been as broad and unlimited as his credentials. [5] If this be true, the negotiations must be admitted to exhibit, on the part of Ferdinand, as gross an example of political jugglery and falsehood, as ever disgraced the annals of diplomacy. [6]

But it is altogether improbable, as I have before remarked, that a monarch so astute and habitually cautious should have intrusted unlimited authority, in so delicate a business, to a person whose discretion, independent of his known partiality for the French monarch, he held so lightly. It is much more likely that he limited, as is often done, the full powers committed to him in public, by private instructions of the most explicit character; and that the archduke was betrayed by his own vanity, and perhaps ambition (for the treaty threw the immediate power into his own hands), into arrangements unwarranted by the tenor of these instructions. [7]

If this were the case, the propriety of Ferdinand's conduct in refusing the ratification depends on the question how far a sovereign is bound by the acts of a plenipotentiary who departs from his private instructions. Formerly, the question would seem to have been unsettled. Indeed, some of the most respectable writers on public law in the beginning of the seventeenth century maintain, that such a departure would not justify the prince in withholding his ratification; deciding thus, no doubt, on principles of natural equity, which appear to require that a principal should be held responsible for the acts of an agent, coming within the scope of his powers, though at variance with his secret orders, with which the other contracting party can have no acquaintance or concern. [8]

The inconvenience, however, arising from adopting a principle in political negotiations, which must necessarily place the destinies of a whole nation in the hands of a single individual, rash or incompetent, it may be, without the power of interference or supervision on the part of the government, has led to a different conclusion in practice; and it is now generally admitted by European writers, not merely that the exchange of ratifications is essential to the validity of a treaty, but that a government is not bound to ratify the doings of a minister who has transcended his private instructions. [9]

But, whatever be thought of Ferdinand's good faith in the early stages of this business, there is no doubt that, at a later period, when his position was changed by the success of his arms in Italy, he sought only to amuse the French court with a show of negotiation, in order, as we have already intimated, to paralyze its operations and gain time for securing his conquests. The French writers inveigh loudly against this crafty and treacherous policy; and Louis the Twelfth gave vent to his own indignation in no very measured terms. But, however we may now regard it, it was in perfect accordance with the trickish spirit of the age; and the French king resigned all right of rebuking his antagonist on this score, when he condescended to become a party with him to the infamous partition treaty, and still more when he so grossly violated it. He had voluntarily engaged with his Spanish rival in the game, and it afforded no good ground of complaint, that he was the least adroit of the two.

While Ferdinand was thus triumphant in his schemes of foreign policy and conquest, his domestic life was clouded with the deepest anxiety, in consequence of the declining health of the queen, and the eccentric conduct of his daughter, the infanta Joanna. We have already seen the extravagant fondness with which that princess, notwithstanding her occasional sallies of jealousy, doated on her young and handsome husband. [10] From the hour of his departure she had been plunged in the deepest dejection, sitting day and night with her eyes fixed on the ground, in uninterrupted silence, or broken only by occasional expressions of petulant discontent. She refused all consolation, thinking only of rejoining her absent lord, and "equally regardless," says Martyr, who was then at the court, "of herself, her future subjects, and her afflicted parents." [11]

On the 10th of March, 1503, she was delivered of her second son, who received the baptismal name of Ferdinand, in compliment to his grandfather. [12] No change, however, took place in the mind of the unfortunate mother, who from this time was wholly occupied with the project of returning to Flanders. An invitation to that effect, which she received from her husband in the month of November, determined her to undertake the journey, at all hazards, notwithstanding the affectionate remonstrances of the queen, who represented the impracticability of traversing France, agitated, as it then was, with all the bustle of war-like preparation, or of venturing by sea at this inclement and stormy season.

One evening, while her mother was absent at Segovia, Joanna, whose residence was at Medina del Campo, left her apartment in the castle, and sallied out, though in dishabille, without announcing her purpose to any of her attendants. They followed, however, and used every argument and entreaty to prevail on her to return, at least for the night, but without effect; until the bishop of Burgos, who had charge of her household, finding every other means ineffectual, was compelled to close the castle gates, in order to prevent her departure.

The princess, thus thwarted in her purpose, gave way to the most violent indignation. She menaced the attendants with her utmost vengeance for their disobedience, and, taking her station on the barrier, she obstinately refused to re-enter the castle, or even to put on any additional clothing, but remained cold and shivering on the spot till the following morning. The good bishop, sorely embarrassed by the dilemma to which he found himself reduced, of offending the queen by complying with the mad humor of the princess, or the latter still more, by resisting it, despatched an express in all haste to Isabella, acquainting her with the affair, and begging instructions how to proceed.

The queen, who was staying, as has been said, at Segovia, about forty miles distant, alarmed at the intelligence, sent the king's cousin, the admiral Henriquez, together with the archbishop of Toledo, at once to Medina, and prepared to follow as fast as the feeble state of her health would permit. The efforts of these eminent persons, however, were not much more successful than those of the bishop. All they could obtain from Joanna was, that she would retire to a miserable kitchen in the neighborhood, during the night; while she persisted in taking her station on the barrier as soon as it was light, and continued there, immovable as a statue, the whole day. In this deplorable state she was found by the queen on her arrival; and it was not without great difficulty that the latter, with all the deference habitually paid her by her daughter, succeeded in persuading her to return to her own apartments in the castle. These were the first unequivocal symptoms of that hereditary taint of insanity which had clouded the latter days of Isabella's mother, and which, with a few brief intervals, was to shed a deeper gloom over the long-protracted existence of her unfortunate daughter. [13]

The conviction of this sad infirmity of the princess gave a shock to the unhappy mother, scarcely less than that which she had formerly been called to endure in the death of her children. The sorrows, over which time had had so little power, were opened afresh by a calamity, which naturally filled her with the most gloomy forebodings for the fate of her people, whose welfare was to be committed to such incompetent hands. These domestic griefs were still further swelled at this time by the death of two of her ancient friends and counsellors, Juan Chacon, adelantado of Murcia, [14] and Gutierre de Cardenas, grand commander of Leon. [15] They had attached themselves to Isabella in the early part of her life, when her fortunes were still under a cloud; and they afterwards reaped the requital of their services in such ample honors and emoluments as royal gratitude could bestow, and in the full enjoyment of her confidence, to which their steady devotion to her interests well entitled them. [16]

But neither the domestic troubles which pressed so heavily on Isabella's heart, nor the rapidly declining state of her own health, had power to blunt the energies of her mind, or lessen the vigilance with which she watched over the interests of her people. A remarkable proof of this was given in the autumn of the present year, 1503, when the country was menaced with an invasion from France.

The whole French nation had shared the indignation of Louis the Twelfth, at the mortifying result of his enterprise against Naples; and it answered his call for supplies so promptly and liberally, that, in a few months after the defeat of Cerignola, he was able to resume operations, on a more formidable scale than France had witnessed for centuries. Three large armies were raised, one to retrieve affairs in Italy, a second to penetrate into Spain, by the way of Fontarabia, and a third to cross into Roussillon, and get possession of the strong post of Salsas, the key of the mountain passes in that quarter. Two fleets were also equipped in the ports of Genoa and Marseilles, the latter of which was to support the invasion of Roussillon by a descent on the coast of Catalonia. These various corps were intended to act in concert, and thus, by one grand, simultaneous movement, Spain was to be assailed on three several points of her territory. The results did not correspond with the magnificence of the apparatus. [17]

The army destined to march on Fontarabia was placed under the command of Alan d'Albret, father of the king of Navarre, along the frontiers of whose dominions its route necessarily lay. Ferdinand had assured himself of the favorable dispositions of this prince, the situation of whose kingdom, more than its strength, made his friendship important; and the lord d'Albret, whether from a direct understanding with the Spanish monarch, or fearful of the consequences which might result to his son from the hostility of the latter, detained the forces intrusted to him, so long among the bleak and barren fastnesses of the mountains, that at length, exhausted by fatigue and want of food, the army melted away without even reaching the enemy's borders. [18]

The force directed against Roussillon was of a more formidable character. It was commanded by the marechal de Rieux, a brave and experienced officer, though much broken by age and bodily infirmities. It amounted to more than twenty thousand men. Its strength, however, lay chiefly in its numbers. It was, with the exception of a few thousand lansquenets under William de la Marck, [19] made up of the arriere-ban of the kingdom, and the undisciplined militia from the great towns of Languedoc. With this numerous array the French marshal entered Roussillon without opposition, and sat down before Salsas on the 16th of September, 1503.

The old castle of Salsas, which had been carried without much difficulty by the French in the preceding war, had been put in a defensible condition at the commencement of the present, under the superintendence of Pedro Navarro, although the repairs were not yet wholly completed. Ferdinand, on the approach of the enemy, had thrown a thousand picked men into the place, which was well victualled and provided for a siege; while a corps of six thousand was placed under his cousin, Don Frederic de Toledo, duke of Alva, with orders to take up a position in the neighborhood, where he might watch the movements of the enemy, and annoy him as far as possible by cutting off his supplies. [20]

Ferdinand, in the mean while, lost no time in enforcing levies throughout the kingdom, with which he might advance to the relief of the beleaguered fortress. While thus occupied, he received such accounts of the queen's indisposition as induced him to quit Aragon, where he then was, and hasten by rapid journeys to Castile. The accounts were probably exaggerated; he found no cause for immediate alarm on his arrival, and Isabella, ever ready to sacrifice her own inclinations to the public weal, persuaded him to return to the scene of operations, where his presence at this juncture was so important. Forgetting her illness, she made the most unwearied efforts for assembling troops without delay to support her husband. The grand constable of Castile was commissioned to raise levies through every part of the kingdom, and the principal nobility flocked in with their retainers from the farthest provinces, all eager to obey the call of their beloved mistress. Thus strengthened, Ferdinand, whose head-quarters were established at Girona, saw himself in less than a month in possession of a force, which, including the supplies of Aragon, amounted to ten or twelve thousand horse, and three or four times that number of foot. He no longer delayed his march, and about the middle of October put his army in motion, proposing to effect a junction with the duke of Alva, then lying before Perpignan, at a few leagues' distance from Salsas. [21] Isabella, who was at Segovia, was made acquainted by regular expresses with every movement of the army. She no sooner learned its departure from Gerona than she was filled with disquietude at the prospect of a speedy encounter with the enemy, whose defeat, whatever glory it might reflect on her own arms, could be purchased only at the expense of Christian blood. She wrote in earnest terms to her husband, requesting him not to drive his enemies to despair by closing up their retreat to their own land, but to leave vengeance to Him to whom alone it belonged. She passed her days, together with her whole household, in fasting and continual prayer, and, in the fervor of her pious zeal, personally visited the several religious houses of the city, distributing alms among their holy inmates, and imploring them humbly to supplicate the Almighty to avert the impending calamity. [22]

The prayers of the devout queen and her court found favor with Heaven. [23] King Ferdinand reached Perpignan on the 19th of October, and on that same night the French marshal, finding himself unequal to the rencontre with the combined forces of Spain, broke up his camp, and, setting fire to his tents, began his retreat towards the frontier, having consumed nearly six weeks since first opening trenches. Ferdinand pressed close on his flying enemy, whose rear sustained some annoyance from the Spanish ginetes, in its passage through the defiles of the sierras. The retreat, however, was conducted in too good order to allow any material loss to be inflicted on the French, who succeeded at length in sheltering themselves under the cannon of Narbonne, up to which place they were pursued by their victorious foe. Several places on the frontier, as Leocate, Palme, Sigean, Roquefort, and others, were abandoned to the Spaniards, who pillaged them of whatever was worth carrying off; without any violence, however, to the persons of the inhabitants, whom, as a Christian population, if we are to believe Martyr, Ferdinand refused even to make prisoners. [24]

The Spanish monarch made no attempt to retain these acquisitions; but, having dismantled some of the towns, which offered most resistance, returned loaded with the spoils of victory to his own dominions. "Had he been as good a general as he was a statesman," says a Spanish historian, "he might have penetrated to the centre of France." [25] Ferdinand, however, was too prudent to attempt conquests which could only be maintained, if maintained at all, at an infinite expense of blood and treasure. He had sufficiently vindicated his honor by meeting his foe so promptly, and driving him triumphantly over the border; and he preferred, like a cautious prince, not to risk all he had gained by attempting more, but to employ his present successes as a vantage-ground for entering on negotiation, in which at all times he placed more reliance than on the sword.

In this, his good star still further favored him. The armada, equipped at so much cost by the French king at Marseilles, had no sooner put to sea, than it was assailed by furious tempests, and so far crippled, that it was obliged to return to port without even effecting a descent on the Spanish coast.

These accumulated disasters so disheartened Louis the Twelfth, that he consented to enter into negotiations for a suspension of hostilities; and an armistice was finally arranged, through the mediation of his pensioner Frederic, ex-king of Naples, between the hostile monarchs. It extended only to their hereditary dominions; Italy and the circumjacent seas being still left open as a common arena, on which the rival parties might meet, and settle their respective titles by the sword. This truce, first concluded for five months, was subsequently prolonged to three years. It gave Ferdinand, what he most needed, leisure, and means to provide for the security of his Italian possessions, on which the dark storm of war was soon to burst with ten-fold fury. [26]

The unfortunate Frederic, who had been drawn from his obscurity to take part in these negotiations, died in the following year. It is singular that the last act of his political life should have been to mediate a peace between the dominions of two monarchs, who had united to strip him of his own.

The results of this campaign were as honorable to Spain, as they were disastrous and humiliating to Louis the Twelfth, who had seen his arms baffled on every point, and all his mighty apparatus of fleets and armies dissolve, as if by enchantment, in less time than it had been preparing. The immediate success of Spain may no doubt be ascribed in a considerable degree to the improved organization and thorough discipline introduced by the sovereigns into the national militia at the close of the Moorish war, without which it would have been scarcely possible to concentrate so promptly on a distant point such large masses of men, all well equipped and trained for active service. So soon was the nation called to feel the effect of these wise provisions.

But the results of the campaign are, after all, less worthy of notice as indicating the resources of the country, than as evidence of a pervading patriotic feeling, which could alone make these resources available. Instead of the narrow local jealousies, which had so long estranged the people of the separate provinces, and more especially those of the rival states of Aragon and Castile, from one another, there had been gradually raised up a common national sentiment like that knitting together the constituent parts of one great commonwealth. At the first alarm of invasion on the frontier of Aragon, the whole extent of the sister kingdom, from the green, valleys of the Guadalquivir up to the rocky fastnesses of the Asturias, responded to the call, as to that of a common country, sending forth, as we have seen, its swarms of warriors, to repel the foe, and roll back the tide of war upon his own land. What a contrast did all this present to the cold and parsimonious hand with which the nation, thirty years before, dealt out its supplies to King John the Second, Ferdinand's father, when he was left to cope single-handed with the whole power of France, in this very quarter of Roussillon. Such was the consequence of the glorious union, which brought together the petty and hitherto discordant tribes of the Peninsula under the same rule; and, by creating common interests and an harmonious principle of action, was silently preparing them for constituting one great nation,—one and indivisible, as intended by nature.

* * * * *

Those who have not themselves had occasion to pursue historical inquiries will scarcely imagine on what loose grounds the greater part of the narrative is to be built. With the exception of a few leading outlines, there is such a mass of inconsistency and contradiction in the details, even of contemporaries, that it seems almost as hopeless to seize the true aspect of any particular age as it would be to transfer to the canvas a faithful likeness of an individual from a description simply of his prominent features.

Much of the difficulty might seem to be removed, now that we are on the luminous and beaten track of Italian history; but, in fact, the vision is rather dazzled than assisted by the numerous cross lights thrown over the path, and the infinitely various points of view from which every object is contemplated. Besides the local and party prejudices which we had to encounter in the contemporary Spanish historians, we have now a host of national prejudices, not less unfavorable to truth; while the remoteness of the scene of action necessarily begets a thousand additional inaccuracies in the gossipping and credulous chroniclers of France and Spain.

The mode in which public negotiations were conducted at this period, interposes still further embarrassments in our search after truth. They were regarded as the personal concerns of the sovereign, in which the nation at large had no right to interfere. They were settled, like the rest of his private affairs, under his own eye, without the participation of any other branch of the government. They were shrouded, therefore, under an impenetrable secrecy, which permitted such results only to emerge into light as suited the monarch. Even these results cannot be relied on as furnishing the true key to the intentions of the parties. The science of the cabinet, as then practised, authorized such a system of artifice and shameless duplicity, as greatly impaired the credit of those official documents which we are accustomed to regard as the surest foundations of history.

The only records which we can receive with full confidence are the private correspondence of contemporaries, which, from its very nature, is exempt from most of the restraints and affectations incident more or less to every work destined for the public eye. Such communications, indeed, come like the voice of departed years; and when, as in Martyr's case, they proceed from one whose acuteness is combined with singular opportunities for observation, they are of inestimable value. Instead of exposing to us only the results, they lay open the interior workings of the machinery, and we enter into all the shifting doubts, passions, and purposes which agitate the minds of the actors. Unfortunately, the chain of correspondence here, as in similar cases, when not originally designed for historical uses, necessarily suffers from occasional breaks and interruptions. The scattered gleams which are thrown over the most prominent points, however, shed so strong a light, as materially to aid us in groping our way through the darker and more perplexed passages of the story.

The obscurity which hangs over the period has not been dispelled by those modern writers, who, like Varillas, in his well-known work, Politique de Ferdinand le Catholique, affect to treat the subject philosophically, paying less attention to facts than to their causes and consequences. These ingenious persons, seldom willing to take things as they find them, seem to think that truth is only to be reached by delving deep below the surface. In this search after more profound causes of action, they reject whatever is natural and obvious. They are inexhaustible in conjectures and fine-spun conclusions, inferring quite as much from what is not said or done, as from what is. In short, they put the reader as completely in possession of their hero's thoughts on all occasions, as any professed romance-writer would venture to do. All this may be very agreeable, and, to persons of easy faith, very satisfactory; but it is not history and may well remind us of the astonishment somewhere expressed by Cardinal de Retz at the assurance of those who, at a distance from the scene of action, pretended to lay open all the secret springs of policy, of which he himself, though a principal party, was ignorant.

No prince, on the whole, has suffered more from these unwarrantable liberties than Ferdinand the Catholic. His reputation for shrewd policy suggests a ready key to whatever is mysterious and otherwise inexplicable in his government; while it puts writers like Gaillard and Varillas constantly on the scent after the most secret and subtile sources of action, as if there were always something more to be detected than readily meets the eye. Instead of judging him by the general rules of human conduct, everything is referred to deep-laid stratagem; no allowance is made for the ordinary disturbing forces, the passions and casualties of life; every action proceeds with the same wary calculation that regulates the moves upon a chessboard; and thus a character of consummate artifice is built up, not only unsupported by historical evidence, but in manifest contradiction to the principles of our nature. The part of our subject embraced in the present chapter has long been debatable ground between the French and Spanish historians; and the obscurity which hangs over it has furnished an ample range for speculation to the class of writers above alluded to, which they have not failed to improve.


[1] St. Gelais seems willing to accept Philip's statement, and to consider the whole affair of the negotiation as "one of Ferdinand's old tricks," "l'ancienne cantele de celuy qui en scavoit bien faire d'autres." Hist. de Louys XII., p. 172.

[2] Idem, ubi supra.—Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. p. 410.—Gaillard, Rivalite, tom. iv. pp. 238, 239.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 23.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 15.—Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. p. 233.

[3] Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. p. 388.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 13, sec. 3.—Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. p. 300, ed. 1645.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 9.

It is amusing to see with what industry certain French writers, as Gaillard and Varillas, are perpetually contrasting the bonne foi of Louis XII. with the mechancete of Ferdinand, whose secret intentions, even, are quoted in evidence of his hypocrisy, while the most objectionable acts of his rival seem to be abundantly compensated by some fine sentiment like that in the text.

[4] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 10.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 13, sec. 2.—Mariana, Hist. de Espana, tom. ii. pp. 690, 691.—et al.

[5] Seyssel, Hist. de Louys XII., p. 61.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., p. 171.—Gaillard, Rivalite, tom. iv. p. 239.—Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. p. 387.—D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, chap. 32.

[6] Varillas regards Philip's mission to France as a coup de maitre on the part of Ferdinand, who thereby rid himself of a dangerous rival at home, likely to contest his succession to Castile on Isabella's death, while he employed that rival in outwitting Louis XII. by a treaty which he meant to disavow. (Politique de Ferdinand, liv. 1, pp. 146-150.) The first of these imputations is sufficiently disproved by the fact that Philip quitted Spain in opposition to the pressing remonstrances of the king, queen, and cortes, and to the general disgust of the whole nation, as is repeatedly stated by Gomez, Martyr, and other contemporaries. The second will be difficult to refute, and still harder to prove, as it rests on a man's secret intentions, known only to himself. Such are the flimsy cobwebs of which this political dreamer's theories are made. Truly chateaux en Espagne.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse