« ZurückWeiter »
though only sixteen years of age, commenced his reign with such cruel and sanguinary measures as induced his subjects to brand him with the epithet of “Cruel.” Leonora de Guzman was basely murdered, at the queen mother's re, quest, in the very act of embracing her unfortunate children; Garcilasso de la Vega, son to the chancellor of Burgos, was assassinated by the royal command ; the estates of Don Nunez de Lara were confiscated without the least shadow of justice; andthe remonstrances of the states, and the salutary advice of his grandfather, the king of Portugal, were equally despised and disre, garded by the new sovereign.
Don Pedro appears to have acted, upon all occasions, in the most cruel and tyrannical manner, insomuch that friends, relatives, ministers, and allies, were frequently sacrificed without pity or distinction. He appears, however, to have been susceptible of love, and to have bowed in admiration before the shrine of beauty ; for he became so violently enamoured of a lady of quality, named Maria de Padilla, that his most infamous courtiers converted his passion to their private advantages, and his subjects generally believed him to be under the immediate power of witchcraft.
Maria de Padilla was easily persuaded to be come Pedro's mistress, though the queen dow: ager was actually treating of a marriage for her son with Donna Blanca, daughter of the duke of Bourbon, and the nuptials were, soon after, solemnized between the king and that heiress. However, the concubine retained her dominion over the heart of her royal lover, and the unfor.
tunate bride was sentenced first to solitary imprisonment, and afterward to death.
These violent proceedings excited the murmurs of the people ; and even the queen mother, with several of the prime nobility, were so exasperated at his repeated cruelties that they determined to renounce their allegiance, and fortified themselves in the city of Torro. Pedro, howsever, took such active measures, and invested the place so quickly, that they were soon compelled to surrender, and such a number of victims were sacrificed to the king's resentment, that the queen dowager fainted at the horrid spectacle, and was removed to the palace in a state of insensibility. Shortly after the reduction of Torro, a
A.D. war broke out between the crowns of Cas.
1356. tile and Arragon ; and, though Pedro gained some considerable advantages in the first campaign, his measures were, in a great measure, frustrated by his own imprudence. The rebellion of Don Juan de la Cerda, and Alvaro Perez de Guzman, seems to have inflamed his resentment, at this time, to a pitch of ungovernable fury; and he was so extremely irritated at the escape of some prisoners whom he had marked out for destruction, that he actually glutted his revenge with the blood of his own brother Don Frederic, and of his cousin Don Juan de Arragon, each of whoin was inhumanly butchered in the royal apartments. In the following year he caused his aunt, Donna Leonora, to be put to death ; ordered the widow of Don Juan, infant of Arragon, to be taken off by poison; and or. dered a priest to be burnt alive for having presumed to warn him of his approaching fate. His treasurer, Samuel Levi, was also butchered
for no other reason than that the king might have an opportunity of appropriating his immense riches to his own use.
Mohammed Barbarossa, king of Granada, having made an irruption into the Castilian terri. tories, Pedro concluded a peace with Arragon, in order to revenge this insult; and the new war with such vigor, that Mohammed soon found it impossible to resist his arms, and resolved to elude destruction by a timely submission. With this intention he went in person to Seville, and was received with apparent cordiality : but the superb apparel of his attendants, and the report of his own wealth, had such an effect upon the avaricious mind of Pedro, that the new vassal was suddenly proclaimed a traitor, exposed to public derision, and eventually massacred, with all his attendants. A.D.
About this time, died Maria Padilla, 1361.
leaving one son and three daughters to the protection of her lover.
Pedro was desirous of legitimating these children, and car. ried his design, in an assembly of the states, by asserting that he had espoused their mother pre. viously to his marriage with Donna Blanca, Three witnesses were produced in support of this declaration ; and Don Alphonso was knowledged heir to the crown: but that prince 'was soon summoned away by the angel of death, and the king was so deeply afllicted at his loss, that he settled all his affairs under the apprehension of falling a victim to unconquerable grief.
Meanwhile, Henry de Transtamare, having escaped from the hands of his unnatural brother, and obtained the protection of Charles V. king of France, collected a prodigious number of ad
venturers for the conquest of Castile, under the banners of Bertrand du Guesclin, and Count de la Marche, whom he appointed heads of the expedition. Some English officers also tendered Their assistance, and the king of Arragon embraced with ardour the scheme of deposing his cruel enemy. Pedro exerted all his abilities against the invaders, and carried on hostilities, for some time, with tolerable success; but his efforts were at length overpowered, and Henry twas solemnly placed on the throne of Castile.
Pedro was no sooner assured that his rival had mounted the throne, than he retired to Guienne, and implored the assistance of Edward, surname ed the Black Prince. Edward cheerfully accepted an offer which might counterbalance the glory of the French, and gave his suppliant a body of troops which soon reinstated him in all his dignities; but his competitor soon found means to raise new auxiliaries, and a battle was fought, in the spring of 1369, between the two brothers, which proved fatal to Don Pedro ; for the forces of that prince were quickly defeated, and he was dispatched by the incensed victor, and his atten. dants. This monster of cruelty died in the thirty-fourth year of his age, and the nineteenth of his reign. He left behind him one hundred and fifty millions, in gold and silver, besides an immense treasure in plate and jewels; and had 'issue by two concubines besides Maria Padilla. Don Henry took immediate possession
A.D. of his brother's dominions, though his
1368. pretensions were disputed by many of the Castilian nobles, and he was threatened with a formidable invasion by the kings of Portugal, Arragon, and Granada. To an ordinary mind
these obstacles might have appeared insuperable: but Henry acted with such prudence in the cabinet, and such heroism in the field, that his enemies were eventually compelled to solicit a peace; and he found himself sufficiently powerful to make a claim upon the Portuguese diadem in right of a princess whom he had married. This claim occasioned some hostilities, by which the generality of the people were necessarily sufferers: but these were soon terminated; and Henry retained the Castilian sceptre with great glory for ten years. Historians are much divided in their, opinions of his death, some affirming that he fell a victim to a natural disease, and others asserting that he was taken off by poison. A.D.
Don Juan succeeded his father without
opposition, and was solemnly crowned, 1379.
with his consort Leonora, in the city of Burgos. He resembled the deceased prince exceedingly in his temper, and exerted himself upon all occasions to protect his subjects in the full enjoyment of peace : yet he exhibited great courage in repressing the attacks of his enemies, and acquired a considerable degree of reputa. tion by the prudence and execution of his military designs. On the decease of his first queen he espoused the infanta Donna Beatrix of Portugal; and by that marriage acquired a title to the dominions of his father-in-law Ferdinand.
Shortly after the celebration of his second nuptials, the king was informed that his brother Al. phonso had shaken off his allegiance, and forti. fied himself in Gijon. Accordingly he hastened to invest that place, and soon compelled the traitor to surrender. About the same time it was agreed, in an assembly of the states, that the era