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Anxious to render some important service to his country, and to acquire a greater degree of military reputation, Don Juan resolved to turn his arms upon the infidels, and took the earliest opportunity of coming to a general engagement. Accordingly he appeared, at the head of a nu. merous army, in the plains of Granada, and de feated the enemy, with the loss of thirty thous sand men. In the course of the same year, the conqueror concluded an advantageous treaty with the king of Portugal; and caused the king of Granada to be dethroned by Joseph Ben Muley, grandson of that unfortunate prince who perished by the tyrrannical command of Pedro the Cruel.
After some obstinate conflicts with Don Juan de Soto, grand master of Alcantara, the infants Henry and Pedro, and other malecontents, the king renewed hostilities against the Moors with tolerable success; but though he triumphed repeatedly over these formidable enemies, and concluded an advantageous peace with the kings of Arragon and Navarre, his dominions were di terally convulsed by factions, and a spirit of rebellion seemed to reign predominant among his people: fresh clamours were also raised against Alvaro de Luna; the queen concurred in the mea. sures of the rebel chiefs; the prince of Asturias took up arms against his royal father, and twice made him prisoner; many of the principal nobles were arrested, proscribed, and executed; and Don Alvarez, who had never been remiss in his duty upon these critical occasions, was eventually abandoned by his patron, and doomed to perish by the hands of a public executioner.
This sacrifice of the grand master of St. Jago and high constable, was accompanied with great pomp, in order to make the stronger impression on the spectators. The scaffold was erected in one of the most public places in Valladolid, and upon a table stood a crucifix, between two light. ed flambeaux. When the sentence of death was read to the prisoner, he acknowledged that his sins had merited a severer punishment, and reminded one of his attendants, that his hat and ring, which he presented to him in a most affectionate manner, were the last favours he had to bestow. He then questioned the executioner respecting the use of a high pole with an iron hook affixed to the top of it, and, on being informed that his head was to be placed upon it, he exclaimed, * You may do as you please with my remains ; for no death can be shameful which is supported with courage and intrepidity.” After expressing a wish that the prince of Asturias might not follow the example of the reigning monarch, in remunerating his old servants, he laid himself upon a carpet, and, without the least apparent emotion, submitted his throat to the executioner's poniard. His head was then severed from his body, and exposed to the view of the populace. His remains were interred at St. Andrew's, where criminals were usually buried: but permission was, afterwards, granted to remove them to the church of St. Francis in Valladolid, and from thence to St. James's chapel, belonging to the cathedral of Toledo, which was of his own foundation.
The king, Don Juan, is said to have expressed much regret at the loss of this minister : for he soon found that instead of silencing the caX 3
bals of his courtiers by so great a sacrifice, he had lessened his own power of curbing their insolence, and he was eventually induced to keep a guard of eight thousand lances about his own person. These circumstances preyed consider ably upon his spirits, and threw him into a fever, which put a period to his mortal existence og the twenty-first of July 1453. A.D.
Henry IV. took possession of the va
cant throne, immediately after the per, 1453.
formance of his father's obsequies; and affected, by his behaviour as a sovereign, to ob, literate all recollection of the actions which had been perpetrated by the prince of Asturias. He liberated some persons of distinction from prison; renewed the ancient alliance with the court of France; regulated the treaty of accommodation which had been begun between his predecessor and the queen of Arragon; and contrived to negociate a marriage with Donna Joanna, infanta of Portugal, though that princess was no stranger to the suspicions which had been excited among the Spaniards by the dissolution of his former marriage with the infanta of Na.
The spring of 1454 opened with an expedition against the Moors; but nothing was accomplished worthy of particular narration. The king thera resolved on an excursion to the coast of Barbary, and accomplished his design, though not without much difficulty and danger. During his absence a confederacy was formed, among some of the Castilian lords, to procure a reformation in the government, and he had the mortification to hear his conduct loudly con, demned as altogether unworthy the name and
character of a sovereign prince. However, he thought it advisable to adopt lenient measures, and promised that all grievances should be redressed, provided the progress of the war against the infidels were not impeded. This declaration seemed to produce its desired success; for the states consented to carry on hostilities against the enemies of their religion; and a dangerous rebellion which had been raised, in Murcia, by Don Alonso Fijardo, was happily suppressed.
Henry, however, was conscious of meriting the contempt of his nobles, and laboured to shield himself from the effects of their resenta ment by raising up new families to considerable posts of honour, supposing that gratitude would unquestionably follow such signal marks of favour. · With this view he made Michael Luc his secretary, constable, though the towns which he, assigned for his revenue refused to acknow, ledge their new master; bestowed the mastership of Alcantara on Gomez de Solis, a gentle, man of decayed fortunes; and made Bernard de la Cueva, master of his household. • The generality of historians have
A.D, agreed that Henry IV. was justly sus
1461. pected of impotence, and his own subjects were of opinion, that the infanta Donna Joanna, who was born in the year 1461, was in reality the fruit of an illicit commerce between the queen and Bernard de la Cueva, the king's chief favorite. Henry was extremely anxious to per, suade the people into a contrary belief, and caused the infanta to be solemnly acknowledged heiress of the crown; but many of the nobles treated this proceeding with the utmost con
tempt, and even called the young princess “ Bertraneja, or the little Bertrand.”
The court of Castile seems to have been a theatre of contention between the two principal favorites, Bernard de la Cueva, and the mar quis de Villena; as the king evidently delighted in exciting them against each other by bestowe ing the spoils of the one upon the other, according as he withheld or lavished his kindness. At. length, however, Villena triumphed over his competitor, though he endeavoured to advance the interests of Bertraneja, by advising Henry to bestow his sister, in marriage, on the king of Portugal. Isabella replied, that she would never marry without the consentof the states of Castile:"" upon which Villena caused both herand her brother Alphonso to retire from the court, and, soon after, gratified his resentment by favouring a league which had been formed against his weak master.
While the king was overwhelmed with cone sternation at the idea of a general revolt, the confederates caused a spacious theatre to be erected in the great plain that lies on one side of Avila, so that all the multitude resorting thither might have a clear view and comprehension of the whole business. Upon a magnificent throne, in the centre of the stage, sat the figure of Don Henry with a diadem on his head, a sceptre in his hand, and the royal robe on his shoulders. After a pause of considerable length, a herald came forward and read a declaration containing the motives which were accounted sufficient for depriving him of the regal dignity, Whilst the herald was thus employed, the archbishop of Toledo, the marquis de Villena, the grand mas.