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“as corrupt the minds of young princes, and by becoming the instruments of their pleasure, extract from them promises that ought not to be performed, may think themselves happy if they escape punishment.”
Soon after his accession, he called an assembly of the states, in which he received the homage of the principal nobility and magis trates. He caused many excellent laws to bé enacted, and sent commissioners to see them carried into execution. He rewarded liberally, he punished severely, and reprimanded sharply. In his endeavours to check the domineering power of his nobles, he met with much resist ance; but, unawed by their combinations, he caused the duke of Bragança, the husband of the queen's sister, to be beheaded ; because, in violation of his allegiance, he had put himself under the protection of the kings of Castile and Arragon. His liege sovereignhad, however, previ. ously given warning ; but this being disregarded, John was not of a disposition to hesitate between expedients. The example of this punishment operated as a terror to others, though it did not prevent secret cabals. The young duke of Viseu, the queen's brother, put himself at the head of a conspiracy. Apprised of his treason, the king sent for him, and asked, “ What would you do to a man who wished to take away your life?” Viseu replied, “ I would endeavour to be beforehand with him, by killing him if I could.” “ Die then by your own sentence,” said the king, and immediately plunged a dagger into his breast. When he fell, John, with ironical severity, bade him hasten to the
duke of Bragança, and tell him the issue of his contrivances, and the fate of his fellow traitors. A prodigious tumult followed this affair ; but the king avowed the reasons of his conduct, and executed exemplary punishment on all the accomplices in this plot. Some were strangled, and others thrown into cisterns, where their bodies became the of vermin.
This wholesome severity, which could only be justified from the high provocation that excited it, quieted the turbulent nobles; and the future reign of John was blessed with domestic peace.
Historians have preserved many actions and expressions of this monarch which deserve to be perpetuated. One of his judges, a man of tàlents, but inaccessible without a bribe, was reprimanded in the following terms: " Take care; I know that you keep your hands open, and your doors shut.” The kingdom of Congo,* on the coast of Africa, having been discovered in his time, some navigators complained to him that the inhabitants would not acquaint them with the situation of their mines. wisdom and justice John replied: “Do not inquire, treat them kindly; trade with them according to the rules of equity ;. carry them such things as they are fond of, and you will have the produce of their mines, without the labour of digging."
This prince was well acquainted with the im
* The Portuguese discoveries were rather the effeet of gradual advances and persevering industry than of one bold and concerted plan. The doubling the Cape of Good Hope by Di Gama alone displays a daring and original mind.
portance of a person of his rank being exact in the observance of usages. Some of his most confidential friends one day represented to him, that a certain formality to which he had subjected himself, was a mere trifle. “Call it not a trifle,” said he; “ my example is always of consequence.”
In regard to Castile, he acted with consummate prudence, and brought about a marriage between the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, and his son, the prince of Portugal. The nuptials were celebrated with great pomp in the A. D.
city of Evora; but it was not long be1490.
fore the rejoicings which took place on
this occasion, were converted to the deepest mourning. In riding a race with juvenile impetuosity, the prince's horse fell, and bruised him so dreadfully, that he lived only till next day, when he expired in great agony. This melancholy accident happened in the sight of his parents and consort, and threw the whole court into the extremes of melancholy. The king actually shut himself up for a time ; but a natural son of his, named George, being introduced to him by the advice of his physicians, to amuse his dejection, he soon conceived such a strong affection for him, that he wished, as he had no legitimate heir, to leave him his crown. This the states steadily opposed; and, at last, he was obliged to nominate the duke of Beja, who was, in fact, the nearest legal heir, and who afterwards reigned, under the name of Emanuel.
The king falling into an incurable disorder, supposed to be the effects of slow poison, and finding his dissolution approaching, employed
all his remaining strength in arranging the affairs of his kingdom. When urged by the ambassador of Ferdinand to join the league with Italy, in which so many princes were engaged, he said, “ I am as ambitious as any of them, but ambition is of another kind : I wish to be a great king, but the only way to become so, in my opinion, is to make my people a great nation. For this reason, in the vigour of my, life, I never entered into
of these alliances, and I shall not do it in my decline.” With these patriotic sentiments he
A. D. expired, in the fortieth year of his age,
1495. admired and adored by the common people, and respected by the nobles. In his reign, Columbus had discovered a new continent, and he died when Vasquez di Gama was on the point of sailing on the voyage which opened a passage to the east.
Don Emanuel was twenty-six years old when he came to the crown: he was agreeable in person, courteous in his behaviour, and universally beloved for his generosity, even when in a private condition. He has been called For: TUNATE for three reasons, and justly so. He attained to the throne, though a remote branch of the royal family, being only great-grandson of Alphonzo V.; he succeeded in almost every thing he undertook, or if he failed, such a high opinion was entertained of his abilities, that no blame was imputed to him : a third happiness, and the greatest of all, his predecessor had humbled the nobility, but Emanuel found them sufficiently tractable to be enabled to restore them to their former consequence. The mildness of his disposition and the gene:
rosity of his character induced him to protect the Jews, whom his subjects ill-treated; but the Portuguese, no longer able to oppress these unfortunate people, now required, with a tone of some authority, that they should be expelled. This was the only occasion on which Emanuel experienced the opposition of his subjects, in an affair contrary to his feelings and his better. judgment. A. D.
In the second year of his reign, Di,
Gama discovered the passage to the 1497.
East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope. The enterprising spirit of the Portu. guese, first roused into action by prince Henry, as already noticed, had prompted them to undertake numerous voyages along the coast of Africa ; and, though they seem to have been slow and timid in their operations, they gradually became emboldened by success, and stretched far beyond the boundary of ancient navigation in that quarter. When they found within the torrid zone, which had long been supposed uninhabitable, fertile countries and populous nations, they conceived the idea, that by pursuing the trendings of the coast they should eventually reach India.
Full of this grand project, Di Gama, , an officer of rank and abilities equal to the vast undertaking, sailed from the Tagus with a small squadron. Unacquainted with the proper season and route of navigation in that immense ocean through which he had to steer his course, his voyage was long and dangerous. At length, however, he was fortunate enough to double that cape, which had proved the ne plus ultra of his countrymen's attempts, the constant object