Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the war with such resolution, that the king of Portugal thought proper to purchase a peace at the expence of his ambition; and the infanta Joanna retired into a monastery.

Ferdinand and Isabella were certainly persons of great prudence, and admirably adapted to govern those extensive territories which had long groaned beneath the ill effects of contending parties and divided powers: yet they do not seem to have merited all the praises which have been lavished upon their characters by Spanish historians. They did not live like man and wife, but rather like two sovereign princes in close alliance; they seemed to be united rather by the bonds of interest than the silken chains of love, and they were frequntly jealous of each other in the administration, though they generally acted upon the same principles and forwarded the same purposes.

The first object of their attention, subsequent to the peace with Portugal, was the regulation of the government, which the late civil wars had thrown into the most dreadful confusion. Rapine, outrage, and murder, had become so common in most parts of the country,

that merce was interrupted, and even the intercourse between distant towns was, in a great measure, suspended. These evils were therefore suppressed by the timely interposition of the sovereigns, and the spirits of the Castilians were revived by the institution of several requisite and salutary laws : but whilst their catholic majesties were thus employed in giving vigor to their government and tranquillity to their people, an intemperate zeal led them to intro. duce an ecclesiastical tribunal into their domi.

com

nions, which was equally disgraceful to human nature, and inconsistent with the mild spirit of Christianity. This was the court of inquisition, which was authorized, by the Roman pontiff, to decide upon the liberty, fortune, and life of any individual who should be accused of hold. ing heretical opinions, or of expressing any contempt for the ceremonies of the church, without his being allowed to offer a defence, or even to be confronted with his accuser. Two thousand persons are said to have suffered death under Torquemada, the first inquisitor general; and a prodigious number of Jews and Mahometans quitted the country with precipitation in order to elude a similar fate. 1. The augmenting strength of the Spanish government announced to the Moors their sure destruction, and their catholic majesties made formidable preparations for the reduction of Granada, which now alone remained of all the Mahometan possessions in Spain. To this attempt they were equally induced by a thirst of fame and an ardent desire of planting the Chris- tian faith in that fertile territory; a crusade

readily granted by the pope for the accomplishment of that desirable project; and the unhappy dissensions which prevailed among the

Moors facilitated the design of their formidable 3 enemies. Ferdinand marched into the Moorish dominions at the head of a numerous army, and, with the assistance of his royal consort, gained some important advantages: the cities of Malaga, Baza, Guadix, and Almeria, were succes, sively taken; all communication with Africa was totally cut off; and the city of Granada Y 2

was

was

was invested, after a sanguinary war of several years continuance, by the Christian forces.

Every reader who is possest of the least sentiment of humanity must commiserate the sad fate of the unfortunate Moors, who were, at this juncture, distressed by a scarcity of provisions, crowded together in one city, and besieged by an army of seventy thousand men. Conscious of their approaching ruin, and rendered frantic by despair, they sometimes assembled in tumultuous crowds to implore the assistance of their prophet, to load their unfortunate king with execrations, or to weep in indescribable anguish over the tombs of their ancestors: sometimes they rushed out with unbridled fury upon the Christians, as if anxious to meet the death which they all expected ; and sometimes they sunk into stupor through mere weariness, and seemed entirely regardless of their fate. After a siege of eight months, however, the place was surrendered, on condition that the inhabitants should retain possession of their houses and inheritances, and enjoy the exercise of their religion, and that the king, Abdali, should receive the revenues of some fertile territories in the moun: tains of Alpujarros. Thus the important fortress of Granada, after having been held by the Moors near seven hundred and eighty years, was again brought under the power of the Christians, and the banner of the cross, together with the standards of St. James and Castile, were triumphantly displayed on the towers of the Alhambra.

After delineating the lively distress of the Moors during the siege of their capital, it is

but

but justice to remark that Ferdinand and Isabella frequently employed indulgence, clemency, and persuasion, to facilitate their designs; that they readily permitted any persons to remove into the Christian states, or to retire to Africa; and that they punished with the most exemplary severity two Spanish captains who had murdered some of the infidels committed to their care,

The Mahometans of Granada were, for some time, allowed the full enjoyment of their ancient worship, though they were eventually compelled tn abjure it or to quit the country; but the Jews were persecuted with great severity immediately after the reduction of the city; and near eight hundred thousand individuals of that nation were driven into banishment at the expiration of six months. About this time, Christopher Columbus concluded a contract with Donna Isabella for the discovery of new countries, which he accomplished with so much honor to himself and advantage to the crown of Cas

and the counties of Cerdagne and RousilIon were restored by Charles VIII. of France previously to his expedition against Italy. Their catholic majesties likewise concluded an alliance with the emperor Maximilian, and a treaty of marriage between their daughter Joanna and his son Philip, archduke of Austria, and sovereign of the Netherlands. In the following year, the princess Margaret of Austria arrived in Spain, and bestowed her hand on the prince of Asturias; and Donna Isabella, who had passed her time, during her widowhood, in acts of devotion, was prevailed on to espouse the king of Portugal." Both these marriages, however,

Y 3

proved

tile;

1499.

proved unfortunate ; for the prince of Asturias died, in a few months, at Salamanca; and the queen of Portugal expired likewise, after giving birth to a prince who was named Don Michael, and acknowledged heir to the dominions of his father, and the king of Spain. A. D.

In the autumn of 1499, the archbishops. of Toledo and Granada were

ordered to attempt the conversion of the Moorish families resident in Granada, or to compel them to retire into Africa, as they had been recently accused of holding a private correspondence with their countrymen, and of inviting them to make a descent upon the Spanish coast. "The primate seems to have de feated his own intentions by the hastiness of his temper; but the bishop of Granada applied himself with unwearied assiduity to the discharge of his duty, and made a considerable impression on several of the most intelligent among the Mahometans. By the persuasions of this prelate and the interference of the civil power, the people were induced to profess a conversion to the faith of their conquerors; and on the 18th of December, their principal mosque was consecrated for the performance of Christian worship. However, the insincerity of the new converts was soon manifested by a general insurrection; and Don Ferdinand was obliged to raise a numerous army in order to reduce them to obedience. Another revolt took place in the Alpujarros, but the rebels were quickly subdued, and consented to pay ten pistoles a family on condition of being permitted to rea tire into Barbary. Shortly after these occurrences, the archduke Philip, and his consort

Joanna,

« ZurückWeiter »