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CHAPTER XV. SPAIN, 1412-1516


The political history of fifteenth-century Spain may be taken to begin in Castile in 1406 with the accession of John II, the son of Henry III; in Aragon in 1412 with the election to the thrones of Aragon and Catalonia of an Infant of Castile, Don Ferdinand el de Antequera, the son of John I of Castile and grandson of Peter IV of Aragon.

The history of Castile in this century is lacking in political importance until 1474. It is merely a record of the persistence of internal discord, due to the lawlessness of the nobility and the efforts made by the kings to dominate this class and to recall it to a state of subordination and submission to the laws. Unfortunately, the two kings who succeeded Henry III—John II and Henry IV—were lacking in the qualities necessary for the achievement of this end.

John II came to the throne when he was only two years old. His minority, however, was a period of tranquillity and good government, thanks to the statesmanlike and disinterested character of his uncle Don Ferdinand el de Antequera, who not only mastered the nobles, but also boldly pushed forward the work of reconquest from the Muslims. He achieved the capture of the town of Antequera, in the north-east of the district of Malaga, in 1410. Unfortunately, his election to the throne of Aragon, of which more will be said hereafter, caused the regency to fall into the hands of the Queen-mother Catherine, and she was entirely devoid of the qualities that were essential for success. When John II attained his majority in 1419, he proved to be no better fitted for the task. His tastes were for literature, and for the pastimes and spectacles of courtly chivalry, rather than for the grave cares of government; and he left the management of public affairs in the hands of a nobleman, Don Alvaro de Luna, nephew of the Archbishop of Toledo, who became Constable of Castile.

Don Alvaro was fully capable of pitting himself against the lawless nobility and gaining the mastery over them, in spite of their incessant attacks upon him, in which they were assisted by members of the royal family. But, in order to succeed, he needed the constant support of the king; and this was often lacking, since the king had not the strength of mind to resist the palace intrigues. On several occasions Don Alvaro was banished from the Court, only to be recalled again. This continual alternation of fortune proved too great a handicap for the establishment of his political aims, so that they were doomed to failure. The end came when the king’s second wife, Isabella of Portugal, who had obtained a complete ascendancy over her husband, sided with the enemies of the Constable. Won over by his wife, King John caused Don Alvaro to be arrested, regardless of the fact that the Constable, whatever his personal defects—and they were characteristic of the governing class of his time—was his best friend and the only person capable of defeating the nobility. Don Alvaro was brought before the Council and condemned to death on the charge of attempting by sorcery to gain a hold over the king’s mind. He was executed in July 1452, and this event marked the triumph of the lawless spirit among the nobles and of the intrigues and factions of the Court.

This was clearly demonstrated when John II’s son Henry IV succeeded him on the throne in 1454; for he was even weaker than his father, and, moreover, he was psychologically abnormal. The nobles profited by these disastrous traits, and the tale of intrigues reached its height. The reign of Henry IV, which lasted for twenty years, was one continuous record of scandals of all kinds, emanating from the gossip cleverly exploited, and probably invented by one of the Court factions, that Henry IV’s daughter Joanna was in fact a bastard. On this depended the manoeuvres of the rival adherents of Henrv IV’s brother Alfonso and of his sister Isabella; each party sought to have its own candidate declared successor to the throne, though the Cortes had already decided in favour of Joanna. The culmination was reached at an assembly held at Avila by the rebellious nobles, where, after a mockery of a trial lacking in all legality, the king was deposed and driven from his throne in a grotesque ceremony, the part of Henry IV being taken by a lay figure which was stripped of crown and sceptre and cast to the ground. The assembly then proclaimed the Infant Alfonso (0b. 1468) as king.

This outrage produced a strong reaction in favour of Henry, and his troops won a victory over those of the nobles. Instead of profiting by this, the king came to terms with the rebels, recognising his sister Isabella as heiress to the throne, which was tantamount to a definite affirmation of his daughter’s illegitimacy. Isabella had refused to be elected queen when this was proposed by the nobles, but, believing in her right to the succession, she accepted the king’s recognition of her as heiress to the throne. Henry, however, changed his mind again, taking offence at Isabella’s marriage with the Infant Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469. Consequently, he revoked his decision in favour of Isabella, and made another in favour of Joanna. It failed of its purpose, since neither Isabella nor her supporters would accept this new royal judgment. Five years later (1474) the king died, and civil war immediately broke out.

The nobles were divided, some supporting Joanna, others Isabella. Joanna tried to avoid war and to refer the matter to arbitration by a commission composed of members of the Cortes. This, however, came to nothing. Then the King of Portugal, who was offered Joanna’s hand in marriage by her supporters, took sides with her; while Isabella’s party was joined by Henry’s old favourite, Don Beltran de la Cueva, who was reputed by public opinion to be the actual father of Joanna. The issue of the war was favourable to Isabella, whose troops were victorious at Toro and Albuera. Peace was signed with Portugal at the treaty of Trujillo in September 1479, which had an important bearing on the relations of Castile and Portugal in the Canary Islands and on later expeditions and conquests in West Africa. As a compensation to Joanna, an attempt was made to marry her to the son of Isabella and Ferdinand, Don John. But Joanna returned a dignified refusal to this proposal, and of her own accord entered into a convent, and remained there until her death, never ceasing to style herself Queen of Castile.

While these events were happening in the Castilian kingdom during the reigns of John II and Henry IV, Aragon was entering upon a new phase in its political history, which was marked externally by the accession of a dynasty Castilian in origin. Not that the previous kings of Aragon had been of pure Aragonese or Catalan race. Actually, they had frequently married Castilian princesses, and rarely Catalan ladies, after Catalonia had been linked under Raymond-Berengar IV with Aragon. So, much Castilian blood had mingled with the old Aragonese strain and with the newer but distant Catalan strain which derived from the marriage of the Count of Barcelona and the princess Petronilla, niece of Alfonso I of Aragon, in 1137.

The change of dynasty took place in the following circumstances. The existence of various claimants after the death of Martin I caused the menace of civil war, since public opinion was very much divided in its choice. After two years of hesitation and procrastination, the Cortes of Catalonia in 1410, and those of Aragon and Valencia in 1412, decided to settle the question by arbitration. A mixed commission was appointed, consisting of three delegates from Aragon, three from Catalonia, and three from Valencia; Majorca, Sicily, and Sardinia were not represented. This commission acted as a court deciding the question on the basis of private law, that is to say as a matter of family inheritance, following the precedent set a century before by Alfonso X of Castile in deciding the succession to the throne.

The two most important claimants from this point of view were the Castilian Infant Don Ferdinand el de Antequera, who has been mentioned before in connexion with the minority of John II of Castile, and who was, through his mother, the nephew of Martin I; and the Count of Urgel, the son of a cousin of Martin I and great-nephew of Peter IV. From the point of view of degree of kinship the advantage lay with Ferdinand. It is very probable, too, that his personal qualities, which had been demonstrated in his regency of Castile and in the war with the Muslims of Granada, played an appreciable part in helping the commission to their decision. Moreover, within the commission the candidature of Ferdinand was ardently supported by the famous Valencian preacher, Vincent Ferrer, who had great prestige among his contemporaries. The commission decided in accordance with Ferrer’s view, six votes being definitely in favour. To these may be added the vote of the Archbishop of Tarragona, who declared the election of Ferdinand to be “the most useful”, though from the point of view of kinship he preferred the Count of Urgel or the Duke of Gandia; the Catalan Vallseca also supported the view of the archbishop. The decision of the parliamentary commission was known as the “Compromise of Caspe,” from the town where the sittings were held.

The election, which was proclaimed on 28 June 1412, was well received by public opinion in Aragon, but with some discontent in Valencia and more still in Catalonia, where feeling was in favour of the Count of Urgel, himself a Catalan. However, this did not lead in either case to open opposition. The Cortes of Catalonia even sent to Ferdinand a deputation authorised to recognise him as king and to obtain from him a general amnesty, which was to include the Count of Urgel provided that he too would recognise Ferdinand. The new king granted even more than they asked, proposing a marriage between the count's daughter and his third son, Don Henry, to whom he promised to grant the duchy of Montblanch as well as a large sum of money.

The Count of Urgel, however, was induced by the injudicious advice of his mother and of the Lord of Loarre to refuse his assent to the decision of Caspe, and to embark upon a civil war, which only lasted for a short time in spite of the assistance he received from English, Gascon, and Navarrese knights and men-at-arms, and the moral, though secret, support of the Duke of Clarence, the King of England’s son. Ferdinand soon triumphed over his rival, who surrendered at Balaguer on 31 October 1413. The king spared his life and confined him in a castle, allowing him the right of having his own servants, of receiving visitors, and other kindnesses, which considerably softened his captivity. Shortly afterwards, the war was ended by the surrender of the Lord of Loarre and the count’s mother.

Meanwhile, a section in Catalonia remained hostile and distrustful towards the new king. This attitude seems to have derived from two sentiments: the one, which may be called a national feeling, based on the fact that Ferdinand was neither Aragonese nor Catalan by birth, though in fact through his mother he had Aragonese blood in his veins; the other proceeding from the fear that Ferdinand, owing to his Castilian origin, would be a despotic ruler. This was a very questionable hypothesis, for the Aragonese kings, so far as in them lay, had taken as strong a line as the kings of Castile in their struggle with the lawless nobility and the burgher oligarchies, and had been no less careful to strengthen as much as possible the powers of the ruler against the feudal tendencies which made for the decentralisation of political and administrative functions in the usual medieval manner.

Ferdinand, indeed, though he was certainly cognisant of this Catalan prejudice, was probably not sufficiently careful to preserve a show of respect for the traditional rights and customs of Catalonia; these did not, in fact, constitute a formidable danger to the sovereignty of the king as had those of the Union which had been crushed so relentlessly by Peter IV of Aragon. He accordingly had some friction with the Catalans over certain parliamentary formalities in the Cortes of Montblanch in 1414, and over the payment of a toll at Barcelona. Ferdinand maintained the view, which was subsequently to prevail in public law, that the king was exempt from this payment. The authorities at Barcelona, on the contrary, maintained that payment was obligatory even upon the king. The king ended by yielding, owing to the popular excitement which was aroused over this question; and, fortunately, nothing worse occurred than a few minor affrays. Ferdinand, moreover, did not interfere with the political and administrative autonomy which Catalonia enjoyed in the kingdom of Aragon.

He had another much more serious problem to settle, international in character and closely affecting Spanish sentiment and interest—the Great Schism of the West. The Avignonese Pope at this time was Benedict XIII, an Aragonese of the powerful family of Luna; consequently he was called the anti-Pope Luna, though in fact the circumstances of his election were perfectly legal. He had assisted Ferdinand to win the crown of Aragon, and might logically have expected to receive the king’s support. But Ferdinand was won over by the instance of the Emperor Sigismund, who was anxious to end the schism and had secured the abdication of the other two Popes, John XXIII and Gregory XII, to pave the way for a new election; so he brought pressure to bear on Benedict XIII to obtain from him his abdication also. Benedict, however, would not hear of it. Strong in his legal position, and to that extent justified in his attitude, since he had been elected in accordance with the canonical regulations then in force, he refused to abdicate and, shutting himself up in his castle of Peñíscola in Valencia on the Mediterranean coast, continued to bear the title of Pope up to his death in 1423. And even this event did not, as was anticipated, provide a final solution of the schism.

Ferdinand I was succeeded in 1416 by his eldest son, Alfonso V, who inherited together the united States of Aragon, Catalonia, Majorca, Valencia, and Sicily. Sicily was governed at the time by Ferdinand’s other son, John, whom the Sicilians, in their desire to be independent, tried to elect as king. To avert this danger, Alfonso recalled John to Spain. He himself was soon drawn into the vortex of Italian affairs, especially owing to the problem of the old dispute between Aragon, Genoa, and Pisa over Sardinia and Corsica.

Alfonso was actually in Sardinia when he received an embassy from the Queen of Naples, Joanna II, asking for his support against the numerous enemies who were trying to deprive her of her Neapolitan realm. She promised Alfonso the title of Duke of Calabria and the succession to the kingdom of Naples on her death. Her most formidable enemy was the French duke, Louis III of Anjou, who, like his father Louis II before him, maintained his claim to the Neapolitan throne. Alfonso responded to Joanna’s appeal and accepted her conditions. He despatched a squadron against Louis who was threatening Naples with a fleet, and won a striking victory over him; and he himself captured the castle of Cena near the city of Naples.

But Joanna was quite inconstant, and once more changed her mind; under the influence of her lover, the Grand Seneschal Caracciolo, she deprived Alfonso of the inheritance and transferred it to Louis of Anjou. Alfonso refused to submit to this cavalier treatment, and began a struggle to make good his rights. This provoked a fresh war in 1423 between the kingdom of Aragon and the house of Anjou, which supported the queen; and she remained in possession of her kingdom up to her death in 1435. In her will she bequeathed the throne of Naples to the surviving son of Louis II, René of Anjou. Alfonso determined not to accept this, but to conquer the kingdom which had been promised to him. The war at the beginning went most unfavourably for him: he was captured by the Genoese at Gaeta in 1435 together with his brother John, who was then King of Navarre, and was handed over to the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti. The duke was won over by Alfonso to render him his liberty without ransom and even recognised him as King of Naples. Fortune then changed in Alfonso’s favour, and he entered Naples in triumph on 26 February 1443. René of Anjou judged it hopeless to continue the struggle and returned to France. Alfonso was careful to enter into good relations with the Pope, Eugenius IV, by assisting him against the condottiere Francesco Sforza. The Pope granted him investiture with his new kingdom on 15 July 1443, and this was confirmed by the next Pope, Nicholas V. Thus Alfonso completed the work begun in South Italy 161 years before by King Peter III of Aragon, and fulfilled too the political aims long cherished by the counts of Barcelona.

From 1443 onwards Alfonso V resided at Naples, and was rather an Italian than a Spanish monarch; for, despite the frequent appeals, backed by all the notables of the realm, of his wife, Queen Maria, who governed Aragon and the other provinces during his absence, he never returned to Spain. Of the 42 years of his reign, he spent 29 in Italy, 26 of them without a break. It used to be thought that this voluntary exile was due to disagreement with his wife, but since the monograph of the Spanish historian Gimenez Soler in 1898, this hypothesis can no longer be maintained. Probably the real reason for his permanent stay at Naples was the fear that he would lose it if he returned to Spain. Naples was to him a conquest of the greatest importance and worth the sacrifice he made for it; his Spanish subjects were not of his mind, and to them there was no justification for their king’s absence.

Alfonso was not only endowed with great political and military qualities, but he was also highly cultured; at Naples he shone as a Maecenas of the sciences, of the arts, and of letters, and he was inspired deeply with the spirit of the Renaissance. He was justly called the Magnanimous. His court was the most brilliant centre for philosophers, linguists, men of letters, and artists of his age, Spaniards as well as Italians. He enriched Naples with architectural monuments, some of which remain to the present day. He paid a compliment to the Catalan part of his Spanish kingdom by making its language the official language of his court at Naples, a proof that the kings of the Castilian dynasty were able to assimilate the spirit of their new country.

At his death in 1458, Alfonso divided his territories, giving Naples to his natural son Ferdinand (Ferrante), and the remainder to his brother John, who had been for some years, as has been said, King-consort of Navarre. The queen, Blanche, died in 1441. From his marriage with Blanche John had a son Charles, Prince of Viana, and a daughter Leonora, betrothed in 1432 to Count Gaston of Foix and married to him a few years later. So the heir to the throne of Navarre was the Prince of Viana, who was bound by an undertaking given to his grandfather not to adopt the title of king during his father’s lifetime; actually, he frequently took over the government of the country owing to the absence of his father, who was more concerned with the intrigues at the court of Castile, the struggle of the nobles with Don Alvaro de Luna, than with the interests of Navarre.

John’s second marriage, in 1447, with Joanna Enriquez, daughter of the Admiral of Castile, connected him still more closely with affairs at the Castilian Court, especially in opposition to Don Alvaro, a bitter enemy of the Admiral. Don Alvaro tried to make peace and to obtain the alliance of the Navarrese; and he applied to the Prince of Viana with this object. The prince welcomed the proposal, but his father was hostile to it. Opinion in Navarre was divided between the two views, not from any real interest in the quarrels of the Castilian Court, but because these provided a convenient excuse for the feuds of the great aristocratic houses of Navarre and for the lawless tendencies of the nobles. So the rival factions ranged themselves in two parties: the one, known popularly as the Bearnate, supporting the prince; the other, known as the Agramontais, on the side of the king, or more truly of the queen, Joanna. Civil war soon broke out, aggravating the situation in Navarre, which was already complicated by the intervention in Castilian politics against Don Alvaro. At the beginning, fortune so favoured the Agramontais that the Prince of Viana had to leave the country and take refuge in Italy. His father tried to disinherit him, and to this end made a pact with his son-in-law, Count Gaston of Foix, the husband, as has been already mentioned, of Charles’ sister Leonora. The Prince of Viana, for his part, succeeded in gaining the support of his uncle Alfonso V, King of Aragon and Naples, and of the Pope, both of whom favoured the regular succession to the throne of Navarre. Unfortunately Alfonso V died shortly afterwards (1458), and as a result Don John found himself possessed of the kingdom of Aragon, both legally and actually, while at the same time he was de facto ruler of Navarre as well. In the trial of strength Charles seemed to be hopelessly overmatched. As soon as he returned to Spain, he was arrested by his father’s orders, and his cause seemed to be irremediably lost. But then a new element entered into the situation. Public opinion in Catalonia was stirred by the injustice of the king’s attitude; and the imprisonment of the prince provoked so serious a revolt that the king had to give way, and not only set his son at liberty, but even sign a formal recognition of him as successor to the throne of Navarre (Agreement or Concordat of Villafranca, 21 June 1461) and also as the acting governor of Catalonia with the title of Lieutenant (Lugarteniente).

The sudden death of the prince three months afterwards caused a fresh outbreak of civil war, for public opinion attributed his death to poison and assigned the guilt of it to the queen, Joanna. So, the Catalans were ranged against king and queen. The army of the Generalitat (Diputación General), which directed public affairs in Catalonia, marched against the queen, who was then in Gerona. The town was besieged, but was courageously defended by Joanna and her adherents, so that the king was able to come to the rescue and forced the Catalans to raise the siege. John was determined to crush the revolt, and had collected an army composed of Aragonese, Castilian, and French troops. The Generalitat then issued a manifesto declaring the king and queen enemies of Catalonia and as such to be expelled from Catalan territory (11 June 1462). At the same time the government sought for a new monarch to aid them in their struggle with the treacherous king. In turn, Henry IV of Castile, the Constable of Portugal, and John, Duke of Calabria, René of Anjou’s son, consented to help the Catalans. René of Anjou was even named Count of Barcelona, in spite of the old enmity of the Dukes of Anjou to Catalonia, which had been so strikingly evinced in their rivalry with Alfonso V for the throne of Naples. But Henry IV’s help was only transitory; that of the Constable of Portugal was limited to himself alone, since he brought no troops, and was soon ended by his death; while John of Calabria, whose arms won fortune in the field, fell a victim to poison on 15 December 1470. The war was then in its eighth year. King John II at last ended it by offering peace on favourable terms in 1472; he was indeed forced to this by necessity, for he had become afflicted with blindness and he was left desolate by the death of his second wife.

Catalonia and Aragon thus reunited, joined forces against the King of France, to whom John II had imprudently ceded Roussillon; this province was attached to the crown of Majorca, which had been incorporated with that of Aragon from the time of Peter IV. Seven years later John died (19 January 1479), and the thrones of Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca passed to the son of his second marriage, Ferdinand II, who in 1469 had married the Infanta Isabella of Castile and on Henry IV’s death had been proclaimed, with his wife, King of Castile on 13 December 1474. So, at the beginning of 1479, the two great monarchies which emerged from the struggles of the Middle Ages in Spain were united under the sceptre of the royal pair, Ferdinand and Isabella. This opened the period, so fruitful for the history of the Peninsula, known as the age of the Catholic Kings, as a sequel to which a single monarch was to reign over the whole of Spain.

Navarre remained for the time apart, as it had been inherited by John II’s daughter Leonora, Countess of Foix. As a result, this kingdom fell under the preponderating influence of France and so remained for some years.

To understand properly the structure of political life, both in Castile and Aragon, during the age of the Catholic Kings—that is to say, from 1479 to the death of Isabella in 1504—it is necessary to realise the political relations existing between the two sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella. These relations had been fixed first of all by their marriage contract (Capitulaciones), and later by the regulations drawn up by the Cardinal of Spain and the Archbishop of Toledo as arbiters of the dispute which arose between Isabella and Ferdinand after 1474, owing to the claims of the latter to be regarded as actual sovereign of Castile. His claims, which were supported by some Castilian nobles and by opinion in Aragon generally, were based partly on the fact that Ferdinand was nearest of kin to the dynasty which had reigned in Castile from the time of Henry II, partly on the Aragonese custom which recognised female rights of succession to the throne but always preferred the ruler to be a man rather than a woman.

The above-mentioned regulations created a kind of dyarchy, in which justice was to be exercised conjointly when they happened to be together in the same place, or by either of them independently if they happened to be separated. Royal charters were signed by them both, and the coinage bore both heads upon it, while the seals also contained the arms of both kingdoms. Apart from this the administration of Castile was reserved to Isabella in her own right. Ferdinand raised some difficulties about accepting this arrangement, but eventually he gave way. The principle of equality between the two spouses which resulted from this system is expressed in the well-known formula, “Tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel como Fernando,” which is found so often on contemporary monuments; there is a magnificent specimen on tapestry still to be seen in the cathedral of Toledo. On the other hand, Isabella was not recognised to have any rights in the government of Aragon; she never interfered in the concerns of her husband’s kingdom, which remained completely distinct from those which affected Castile.

In Castile the problems were of two very different kinds. The one was of an international order—the constant possibility of war with the Muslims of Granada, and the rivalry with Portugal over Africa. The other was an internal matter—the contest between the monarchy and the nobles, which raised the question of public order, of the maintenance of the central authority of the State, and of social and political discipline. The Catholic Kings confronted all these diverse problems with equal energy, and ended by solving each of them successfully.

The war against the Muslims, the continuation, that is to say, of the Reconquest, was pursued with a deliberate persistence aiming at the absorption of the kingdom of Granada. At the death of Henry IV, with the exception of Gibraltar which had been ceded by the King of Granada, Ismail III, there had been no farther advance upon Muslim territory since that won by Don Ferdinand during the minority of John II. The brilliant campaign of Don Alvaro de Luna and Henry IV, and the victory of La Higuera (or Higueruela) near Granada in 1431, which is depicted in the magnificent frescoes in the cloisters of the Escurial, had had no positive result.

Ismail III had acknowledged himself as a tributary of the King of Castile, but his successor Ali Abu-l Hasan, also called Muley Hacen, broke this dependence and took by surprise the castle of Zahara in 1481. The Castilian forces replied to this attack by capturing Alhama on 26 February 1482, a stronghold seven leagues from Granada, the loss of which was lamented in a famous Moorish ballad of the time. The war, once started, lasted for eleven years. In view of the determined attitude of the rulers of Castile, it is remarkable that the Moorish kingdom, weakened as it was, still preserved sufficient strength to oppose a long and desperate resistance to the Christian armies. Moreover, these armies, backed by the diplomatic skill of Ferdinand and Isabella, were further materially aided by the rivalries which broke out in the royal family of Granada, especially after 1483, between Abu-l-Hasan and his son Boabdil, and also between Boabdil and his uncle Abu-‘Abd-Allah I Muhammad (“Az-Zaghal”).

In 1482 the war went unfavourably for Castile. Ferdinand besieged the town of Loja, south-east of Granada, but was defeated and pursued by the Muslims as far as Cordova. He suffered a similar disaster shortly afterwards in the Ajarquia hills near Málaga, where “Az-Zaghal” was in command of the victorious Muslims. But in the spring of 1483 fortune changed. While the town of Lucena, south of Cordova, was being besieged by a Muslim army commanded by Boabdil and his father-in-law, the general Ali Attar, a Castilian force under the Count of Cabra arrived on the scene. In the battle that ensued, Ali Attar was killed and Boabdil taken prisoner (23 April). Then the diplomatic skill of the Catholic Kings and their advisers, the Marquess of Cadiz and the Count of Cabra, was brought into play. By the pact of Cordova, Boabdil was released on condition that he would assist the Castilian troops against that part of the kingdom of Granada which was ruled by “Az-Zaghar’ (he had recently dispossessed Abu-l-Hasan), the rulers of Castile promising him their help in return.

So began a new period of civil war among the Muslims, with the throne of Granada as the stake. Father, son, and uncle (Abu-l-Hasan, Boabdil, and  Az-Zaghal) fought out their triangular duel, and thereby assisted still further the purpose of the Castilians. At one point Boabdil had to take refuge with the Christians, and once again he was set at liberty. Then Abu-l-Hasan died, but the struggle continued between Boabdil and “Az-Zaghal.”

The Castilian troops profited by these circumstances to carry on the war and to capture towns and fortresses in the neighbourhood of Granada. Zahara, Alora, Setenil, Cartama, Coin, Ronda, Marbella, Loja, Velez-Málaga, and finally Malaga itself fell in turn into their hands between 1483 and 1487. The year 1487 marked a critical stage. Most of the Muslims followed “Az-Zaghal,” in disgust at Boabdil’s open attitude of submission to the Christians for the sole purpose of maintaining himself at Granada. “Az-Zaghal” himself and his followers maintained their resistance with a splendid courage. They succeeded in raising the siege of Almeria, and in prolonging inordinately the defence of Baza, an important fortress to the west of Granada and close to “Az-Zaghal’s” headquarters at Guadix. Queen Isabella even sold her jewels to expedite military operations, and Baza was at last taken at the end of 1489. The result of this triumph for Castile was the submission of “Az-Zaghal” and the surrender to the Catholic Kings of the territory he ruled, namely the eastern portion of the province of Granada and the district of Almeria.

Only Boabdil and the town of Granada now held out. Boabdil refused to open the gates of the capital to the Catholic Kings as he had formerly promised to do, and the Castilian army besieged the town in 1491. The camp of Ferdinand and Isabella, which was pitched close to the town on its south-east side, in the farm of Gozco, was destroyed by fire; it was then decided to construct an entrenched camp, with buildings, walls, ditches, and the like—a military town, in fact, after the fashion of the old Roman encampments. This town was called Santa Fe, and it is still in existence today.

The result was easily to be foreseen. Negotiations for the surrender of Granada were opened at the end of the year; the town capitulated, and the Catholic Kings made their triumphal entry into the fortress-palace of the Alhambra, which commanded the town, on 2 January 1492. The principal conditions of the surrender were: a complete guarantee for the persons and property of the Muslims who wished to remain at Granada; liberty to all who wished to leave the country to depart, and to take their possessions with them; the preservation of Muslim religion and law; and the freeing of prisoners. The Moors of Granada were substantially placed under the same conditions as the Mudejares of old.

Thus was completed the Reconquest of the Spanish territory which had fallen into the hands of the Moors at the beginning of the eighth century. Granada was regarded as a new kingdom attached to the Castilian monarchy. In the final stage of the war, besides the Marquess of Cadiz and the Count of Cabra who have already been mentioned, the following distinguished themselves on the Christian side: the Duke of Medinaceli, Gonzalo de Cordoba, whose prowess shortly afterwards in Italy won him the title of the Great Captain, the artillery-commander Francisco Ramirez, and several other officers and soldiers whose deeds of daring can still be read in the ballads of the time. There were also foreign volunteers, like Lord Scales, who came with an English troop, and Gaston de Lyon.

The national glory and pride in its definitive victory over the Muslims were soon tarnished by the failure on the part of a section in Castile to observe some of the terms of the surrender. Cardinal Cisneros (Ximenes), who earned an illustrious name in the organisation and support of learning and letters, took upon himself to contravene the royal pledges, after the manner of Archbishop Bernard of Toledo five centuries earlier. His Christian zeal caused him to ignore the religious liberty promised to the Muslims; and he endeavoured to enforce baptism upon them. The result was a general rising of the Muslims in Granada and its neighbourhood, in the Alpujarra, Baza, Guadix, Ronda, and the Sierra of Filambres (Filabres) to the north of Almeria. This second war was long and bloody; and it resulted not in the reversal of Cisneros’ policy, but in the adoption of it by the Castilian government, making of no account the terms signed at Granada and the long and ancient tradition with regard to the Mudéjares. A royal decree of 11 February 1502 gave the Muslims of Castile and Leon the alternative of abjuring their religion or leaving Spanish soil. It was rigorously enforced, in spite of the disorders it provoked in various parts, even in the Basque lands.

This decree was not enforced in Aragon. At the request of the Cortes, and especially of the nobles who had Muslims among their vassals, the ancient privileges of the Mudejares were left practically intact King Ferdinand forbade the Inquisition to force these vassals to change their religion, which was thus preserved by the economic interests of the richer classes. Those Muslims who submitted to conversion were termed Moriscos. Their social and religious life up to the time of their expulsion in 1609 forms an interesting study, upon which modern research has thrown considerable light.

In the very year, 1491, in which Granada was on the point of falling into the hands of the Castilians, there occurred the prelude to another great event, and one far more important in its consequences for Spain and for the whole world—the discovery of America. It would be out of place here to describe the causes and the genesis of Columbus’ enterprise, or to give the details of his biography and his travels in Portugal, France, and Spain to obtain the support and the means necessary in order to undertake the voyage on which he had set his heart, and which he expected would bring him by the Western route to the lands of Eastern Asia. Even in Spain, in spite of the support he received from the very start, there were difficulties to overcome. At last, owing to his insistence and to the steps taken on his behalf by some ecclesiastics and members of the nobility, of whom the most noteworthy were Fray Antonio of Marchena, Fray Diego of Deza, Fray Juan Perez, prior of the monastery of La Rábida, the Duke of Medinaceli, the queen’s treasurer Alonso of Quintanilla, the king’s chamberlain Juan Cabrera, and the royal notary Luis de Santangel, he succeeded in arousing the interest of Queen Isabella and in gaining acceptance for his project. A contract (capitulaciones) between the Crown and Columbus was signed at Santa Fe on 17 April 1491. In this were laid down the rights and obligations of both sides, and also the principles to be adopted in the government and the development of the lands to be discovered by Columbus.

To provide for the voyage, the sovereigns ordered the authorities at the port of Palos (Huelva) to put ships and all necessary equipment at Columbus’ disposal; but this end was achieved, not so much by the royal order as by the good services of the Andalusian sea-captains Martin Alonso Pinzon and his brother Vicente, and by the Catalan captain Pedro Ferrer of Blanes. The financing of the expedition was arranged almost entirely by the notary Santangel and the Genoese Francesco da Pinedo. The sum Columbus had agreed to provide was guaranteed by Pinzon and other Spaniards and also by Genoese residents in Spain. Three vessels (carabelas) were employed on the voyage, two of them, the Pinta and the Niña, being the property of Pinzon and his brother. The third, which was also the largest, the Santa Maria (Gallega, Mari Galante), belonged to the sea-captain Juan de la Cosa, who became famous subsequently for his map of the regions first discovered and of the voyages in general. The Santa Maria was the flagship, and from it Columbus directed the expedition. The crews were mainly composed of Spaniards drawn from different parts of the Peninsula.

The start took place on 3 August 1492, from the port of Palos. Two months and a few days later, on 12 October 1492, the expedition arrived at the first point of American soil, one of the Bahama islands, called by the natives Guanahani and by Columbus San Salvador; conjecture has ranged over various islands of the group, but it cannot certainly be identified. Between this date and 16 January 1493, Columbus discovered other islands of the same group, and also both Cuba and Haiti (la Española). Though he was not yet aware of it, he had, in his projected voyage to Asia, discovered the archipelago of the Antilles, adjacent to the mainland of America. He returned to Palos on 15 March 1493, and in April was magnificently welcomed by the Catholic Kings at Barcelona. After this first voyage Columbus carried out three others, the last in 1502, in the course of which he reached the mouth of the Orinoco and the coast of Honduras, that is to say, the mainland both of South and Central America. Shortly before the end of the third voyage, in 1499, an expedition undertaken by Juan de la Cosa, in company with Alonso de Hojeda and Amerigo Vespucci (an Italian in the service of the Castilian sovereigns), availing themselves of a general permit from the Crown, in an order dated 10 April 1495, to make discoveries, to trade, and to colonise, began the great series of discoveries which followed those of Columbus; these, ranging over the lands and seas of America and Oceania, were due to Spanish enterprise and to the powerful States of the Spanish peninsula, which were shortly afterwards united under the rule of the grandson of the Catholic Kings, Charles I of Spain.

It was not only in the discovery of America that the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella left its mark on American history. In the same reign the foundations were laid for the organisation of the new countries added to the Castilian Crown, and a beginning was made, as will be seen later, in the solution of the novel and difficult problems of all kinds to which these discoveries gave rise.

As to Columbus himself, it remains to add that he was involved in political misfortune, arising from his administration of the Antilles and the rivalries among the first colonists of la Española, and that he died at Valladolid, seven months after his return to Spain from his fourth voyage. He was in easy circumstances at the time of his death, and not in the wretched conditions so often depicted. He, and his brothers with him, had enjoyed the advantages granted to him by the capitulaciones of Santa Fe, and he had also profited by the financial results of his enterprises. Though the sovereigns tried—solely for reasons of State—to reduce the privileges originally granted to Columbus, yet the lawsuit that followed resulted in the granting to Diego, the son and heir of the great navigator, the title of Admiral of the Indies, which brought with it corresponding advantages. The story of the ingratitude of Spain to Columbus can therefore be dismissed as legend. Finally, the attempt has been made to prove that Columbus was not a Genoese but a Spaniard of Galician, or even of Castilian, race, though no adequate historical evidence for this thesis has yet been adduced. However, there are still considerable lacunas in our knowledge of the life of Columbus.

Columbus’ success in his first voyage aroused the jealousy of the Portuguese, who had already discovered Madeira and were continually pushing their expeditions along the coast of West Africa, in search of an eastern route to the Indies and also in the acquisition of trade, both in slaves and other merchandise. At the beginning of the reign of Isabella, as we have already seen, a treaty in 1480, followed later by others, had decided some of the issues arising from the navigation along the coasts of north-west Africa, and the respective rights of Spaniards and Portuguese. The latter had had the foresight to obtain by papal bull the monopoly for their own expeditions. The Catholic Kings followed their example after Columbus’ first voyage, and obtained from the Pope, the Spaniard Alexander VI, four bulls, the most important, to judge by the protests of the Portuguese, being that of 4 May 1493, which drew a vertical line from the North to the South Pole to divide the actual and the future discoveries and conquests of the two countries. The objections raised by the King of Portugal to this division, and the indefiniteness of the line drawn by Alexander VI, led to so much ill-feeling as almost to produce a state of war. Fortunately the differences were settled by the treaty of Tordesillas on 7 June 1494, which fixed a new line of demarcation: for future discoveries this was taken to be 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, but 250 leagues west for discoveries already made or to be made by 20 June 1494. As is well-known, the Portuguese expeditions along the coast of Africa culminated in that of Bartholomew Dias and Vasco da Gama (1497-99), which discovered the eastern route to the Indies at the same time that Columbus, in the course of his third voyage, arrived at the Gulf of Paria, that is to say, the north-east coast of Venezuela.

Besides the new lands in the West, Spain had important interests also on the coast of North Africa. It was realised in Castile, and Queen Isabella was deeply convinced of the point, that to assure the success of the Reconquest which had been so happily completed in 1492, it was necessary to preserve Spain from fresh African invasions. To this anxiety had been added, since 1453, the fear of what might result from the victory of the Turkish Muslims and their entry and establishment in southeastern Europe. The Catholic Kings, and Isabella in particular, exerted every endeavour to control North Africa; for the majority of the Muslims of Granada who had refused to abjure their religion had taken refuge there. By the treaty of 1480 Castile had already acquired a littoral zone in Magrab; she also acquired the right to the Canary Islands, but in order to obtain actual possession military operations were necessary. Accordingly, the town of Melilla was captured in 1497, and after the last descendants of the original conquerors had renounced their rights in favour of the Castilian Crown, the Canary Islands were completely and definitively conquered by Spanish troops, assisted by the native princes, Guanarteme and Anaterve de Guimar. The work of converting the islands into a Spanish possession was speedily accomplished, the native Guanchos being given equal rights, both legal and social, with the Spaniards.

With regard to the Turks, nothing of importance happened at the time. But the Catholic Kings were justified in adopting a watchful attitude; later, on the personal initiative of Charles I and Philip II, there was a change, and military enterprises on an important scale were undertaken.

While the international activity of Castile was directed to America and North Africa, Aragon was pursuing the route traced out for it by the rights and interests of its kings, by those of the counts of Barcelona, and also by its agelong rivalry with the kingdom of France.

This rivalry was temporarily lulled by the treaty of Barcelona in 1493, when Charles VIII restored to the Crown of Aragon the districts of Cerdagne and Roussillon, which had been lost in the time of John II; while Ferdinand the Catholic pledged himself to give no assistance to the enemies of the French kingdom, the Pope alone being excepted, and to form no marriage-alliance with the royal houses of England or Naples or with the imperial house of the Habsburgs. But once again the question of Naples arose to trouble the good relations established by this treaty. Charles VIII, listening to appeals from a section of the Neapolitan nobility and from other parts of Italy as well, in spite of the weighty opposition of several personages at his court, decided to undertake his enterprise in Italy. Ferdinand the Catholic protested against the King of France’s attack upon Naples, arguing that this kingdom, being a fief of the Papacy, was logically included in the provisions of the treaty of Barcelona. Charles VIII paid no heed to this protest, and after gaining possession of Naples he had himself crowned king there, in February 1495. The result of this was the formation of an alliance, known as the Holy League, between Ferdinand, the Pope, the dethroned King of Naples (a descendant of Alfonso V), Germany, the Duke of Milan, and Venice. The armies of the League were for the most part composed of Spanish officers and men, Castilians as well as Aragonese, a further proof of the close association of the two kingdoms brought about by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella. Moreover, the commander of these armies was the Castilian general Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, who had already distinguished himself against the Muslims of Granada.

In the war that ensued there were, from the point of view of Spain, two main phases. In the first (1495-98), the French and their allies were defeated, and Naples was reconquered. Hostilities were suspended after the death in 1496 of the King of Naples, Ferrante II, who was succeeded by his uncle, Federigo; and peace was made with Charles VIII, and renewed afterwards with his successor Louis XII. The terms of this peace were laid down in the secret treaty of Granada (1500): King Federigo was deposed and the kingdom of Naples divided, Apulia and Calabria being assigned to Aragon, and Naples, the Abruzzi, and the Terra di Lavoro to France. The Pope and Venice approved the treaty. But its  execution raised difficulties as to the assignment of the districts known as Capitanata, Basilicata, and Principato. The war broke out again, and brought to the Spaniards striking successes in the land-battles of Cerignola and Garigliano and the naval battle of Otranto (1503). As a result, the kingdom of Naples was restored to the domains of the Aragonese Crown. Gonzalo de Cordoba, the great hero of these two wars, in which he was aided by subordinates who were to make their names still more famous in America, was not only the outstanding general of his age but also a skilful administrator of the Spanish possessions in South Italy.

The Catholic King was famous not only for his military achievements but also for his diplomatic skill, for he was a master in the cunning and the treachery that were the stock-in-trade of the statesmen of his day. He showed too, as did his wife, a careful forethought for the future in planning matrimonial alliances for his children with those royal houses that were most likely to advance the international position of Spain and its political future. Isabella was married to the Infant of Portugal, Dom Afonso, and after his death to King Manuel. The only son of this second marriage, Miguel, was recognised, after the death of John, the only son of the Catholic Kings, as heir to the two crowns (1498-99). The purpose behind this recognition was to unite the two parts of the Peninsula, Spain and Portugal, into a single monarchy; but the plan failed, as Miguel died when only two years old. Joanna married the Archduke of Austria, Philip the Fair, son and heir to the Emperor Maximilian, and heir to Burgundy as well. This was the second marriage which the Catholic Kings had arranged with the imperial house; the first had been between John and a daughter of Maximilian. Their second daughter, Catherine, became the wife, first of Prince Arthur, heir to the throne of England, and then of King Henry VIII. These two marriages had fatal consequences in the future. Joanna’s caused a profound change in the political orientation of Spain; it drew Castile into the current of general European politics from which it had held aloof for centuries, and which was not its natural sphere. Combined with the association with Italy and the south of France, which was the tradition of Aragon and Catalonia, this fact diverted the districts of central, southern, and western Spain from their own tradition of isolation.

Queen Isabella died in 1504. This broke the personal bond which had caused the two Spanish kingdoms to direct their efforts and their policy to the same united purposes in the many enterprises that marked the period from 1479 to 1504. The bond was not to be maintained, for the evil fate which dogged the lives of the children of the Catholic Kings willed it otherwise.

Joanna, the heiress to the crown of Castile, being afflicted with a mental malady, was incapable of governing the kingdom, and had to be kept in disguised restraint. Queen Isabella in her will had named King Ferdinand as regent of Castile, and the Cortes gave their assent at Toro in 1505. This roused the jealousy of Philip the Fair and caused frequent quarrels among the royal family. At last Ferdinand renounced the regency and retired to Aragon. Philip I did not long enjoy the authority which Joanna’s condition imposed upon him, for he died the same year that he came into Spain. A short provisional regency followed, in which Cardinal Cisneros played the chief part, and then Ferdinand was again invited. He accepted, and retained the regency until his death.

This new period of government by Ferdinand, as king in Aragon and regent in Castile, was as crowded with political happenings as the years 1474-1504 had been. First, in point of date, came Africa; there the policy pursued by Queen Isabella, described above, was continued. The inspiration of this period came from Cardinal Cisneros, who even took part himself and actually financed one of the expeditions. For some years all went favourably for the policy of the Spaniards. Peñón de la Gomera (1508), Oran (1509), Bougie (1510), and Tripoli (1511) in turn fell into their hands. The taking of Bougie resulted in the submission of Algiers and the recognition of Spanish sovereignty by the Kings of Tunis and Tlemcen. But the same year, 1511, saw a grave check to Spanish arms at the island of Gelves, which postponed for long any further progress in the conquest of North Africa.

Shortly after the defeat of Gelves, Ferdinand engaged in another enterprise, having for its objective the Spanish kingdom of Navarre, which had been under French influence since 1479. The Catholic Kings had tried on two occasions to conclude a marriage alliance with the royal house of Navarre; but both times the negotiations had failed owing to the intervention of Madeleine of Foix (Viana), the mother of the Queen of Navarre. The effective cause of the war which resulted in the conquest of Navarre and its annexation to Castile was the perfidy shewn to Ferdinand by Queen Catherine and her husband John d’Albret; on the one hand they appeared to favour Ferdinand, on the other they signed treaties with France that were definitely hostile to him. One of these treaties, at Blois in 1512, pledged Catherine and John to refuse the Spanish troops passage through Navarre. Ferdinand, who was cognisant of this agreement, asked leave from the Queen of Navarre to pass through her territory with an army in order to enter France; and, as he expected, his request was refused. Accordingly he declared war. It proved to be a simple matter, as it lasted only two months and terminated with the submission of John, who took refuge in France. Having conquered Navarre south of the Pyrenees, Ferdinand did not intend to annex the kingdom, but only to retain it during his war with France. To this end, he proposed a marriage between the Prince of Viana, the heir to the throne of Navarre, and an Infanta of Spain, on condition that the rulers of Navarre abstained from assisting the King of France. Once again this proposal was received unfavourably by Catherine and John, who shewed the extent of their animosity by their insult to him in imprisoning his ambassador and handing him over to the French. Ferdinand then decided to annex Navarre to Castile, and carried this into execution, after an unsuccessful attempt by Louis XII and John d’Albret to recover the kingdom. Thus was the territorial unity of Spain, begun in 1492 in the south at the expense of the Muslims, completed in the north by the incorporation in the Spanish structure of the ancient kingdom of Navarre. Following the tradition practised in the other parts of the Aragonese kingdom, Ferdinand loyally respected the laws and the institutions, political and civil, of Navarre, including the Cortes, which continued to exist until the end of the eighteenth century.

An interesting factor in the conquest of Navarre was the justification of it both by Ferdinand and by the Pope. A few days before the entry of the Spanish troops into Navarre, which took place in July 1512, the Pope, evidently at Ferdinand’s instigation, published a bull excommunicating Catherine and John and depriving them of their territories and dignities. Six months later, on 18 January 1513, a second bull confirmed the provisions of the first relating to the deprivation of territories, which were assigned by the Pope to the person who should achieve their conquest. This had already been accomplished by Ferdinand some months previously, but all the same the Pope’s bull gave him a legal warrant, though, even by the ideas of the time, it was of doubtful validity. Ferdinand’s own justification took a different form. It was expressed in the book written by the Castilian jurist, Palacios Rubios, on “The justice and lawfulness of the acquisition and retention of the kingdom of Navarre” published at Salamanca in 1514. The arguments of Palacios Rubios were little different from those of the Pope; they were almost exclusively religious in character, and were concerned principally with the schism from Pope Julius II led by some cardinals supported by the King of France. Ferdinand, however, as has been shewn, had been influenced in his decision to conquer and annex Navarre solely by political motives, which were stated in his manifesto of 31 July 1512. Moreover, Navarre during its independent existence had been fundamentally a Spanish kingdom, and for the greater part of its history it had been united, or at least linked, with Castile or Aragon.

In the meanwhile, affairs in Italy continued their complicated course. Julius II, who did not lose sight of the general interests of Italian policy, such as he conceived it, had formed against Venice the League of Cambrai (10 December 1508), which included Ferdinand the Catholic. Shortly afterwards, the Pope became jealous of the success of the French king and substituted the League of Cambrai by another, known as the Holy League (October 1511); in accordance with the facility with which States changed sides at that time, Venice, formerly the enemy, was now one of the partners in the League as well as the King of Aragon. The King of France, who remained outside it, sought the alliance of the Emperor Maximilian, and war began afresh. It opened favourably for the French side, but shortly afterwards a victory won by the League at Novara in 1513 forced Louis XII to abandon Milanese territory, and to conclude a truce with Ferdinand regarding Italian affairs (December 1513). The result of this war was to consolidate the position of Spain in Italy, and to this the incessant rivalries of the States which played the leading part in Italian politics considerably contributed.

Two years after the truce signed with Louis XII, Ferdinand the Catholic died (23 January 1516). In his will he named as regent of the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Granada, and Navarre his grandson Charles of Ghent, the son of Joanna and Philip the Fair; and he also bequeathed to him the throne of Aragon. The union of Spain under one ruler dates from this point, which marks the political end of the Middle Ages.

Charles was not only born at Ghent; he had also been brought up in Flanders, and had never set foot in Spain. During his absence, which only lasted until 19 September 1517, the regency of Castile was in the hands of Cardinal Cisneros, Queen Joanna being incapacitated by the increasing severity of her mental disorder.

The reign of the Catholic Kings was not only important for the political incidents hitherto recorded, and for the discovery of America which resulted in the conquest and annexation of such vast territories. It was also important both for institutional, legal, and social facts influencing most deeply the internal life of Castile and Aragon, and for other facts belonging to the domain of literature, the arts, and the sciences.

As far as Castile was concerned, the most important of all was the definitive solution of the formidable problem of aristocratic lawlessness, which had been so grievously manifested in the two reigns—of John II and Henry IV—preceding that of Isabella. The Catholic Kings applied to this problem energetic remedies, which were fully in keeping with the character of Isabella and her idea of royalty, and also with the political temperament of her husband. They made a direct and speedy attack upon, and reduced by force of arms, the lords who dared to brave royal orders, and did not hesitate to employ the sternest possible measures. At the same time they weakened the financial position of those nobles who had received grants from the previous kings to the impoverishment of the resources of the Crown, by causing the Cortes in 1480 to revise these grants and annul such as were inequitable; they deprived the nobles of the possibility of using the Orders of Chivalry as a means of gaining for themselves a dominant position, by attaching these Orders directly to the Crown and thus making the king the Grand Master of them all (1487-94); they rigorously prevented the lords from building castles, and caused a number of those in existence to be dismantled; they reorganised the administration of justice, putting it into the hands of men of middle-class extraction trained at the universities, thereby interposing a solid barrier against the arbitrary power of the nobles. In short, they attempted, and with success, to transform the nobility which dominated the provinces and the countryside into a courtier class whose political influence was henceforward to depend on the favour and will of the sovereign. So they succeeded in dislodging the old aristocracy from the castles and palaces whence it had dominated towns and countryside, by flattering its vanity and giving its members honorary posts at Court. It remained, therefore, tied to the monarchy without being a source of danger. One of the forms of this disguised subjection was the organisation (in 1512) of a palace bodyguard of 200 gentlemen chosen from the noblest families of Castile, Aragon, and Sicily. The position was not only an honour highly-coveted, but it carried with it a salary as well; and this was the beginning of the standing army, which was shortly afterwards to be organised in detail by Cardinal Cisneros, and perfected on its technical side by Gonzalo de Cordoba.

The municipal administration also, which had a tradition of practical independence but at that time was much disturbed by political and social factions, experienced the intervention of the central authority, which, in order to direct both local finance and government, dispatched veedores de cuentas (inspectors of accounts), corregidores y and other officials. Thus the Catholic Kings, while they rendered a real service to the municipalities by giving them order and discipline, at the same time fostered the development of a centralising tendency characteristic of absolute monarchy. This tendency, too, was significantly manifested in relation to the Cortes, which were seldom summoned after the reforms of 1480. One form that this centralisation took, not only in Castile but in Aragon and Catalonia also, was the nomination of municipal councillors by the Crown, and the strengthening of the representation of the upper middle-class in the Council of the Hundred Jurats at Barcelona (1493).

From the social point of view there were also important changes. Actually we know little as to the effects on the peasantry of the absentee landlordism consequent on the concentration of the nobility at Court, or as to the differences produced in the economic sphere by the transference, already noticeable, from agriculture to industry and commerce. But we do know of certain legislative reforms on the social side, such as the law of 28 October 1480, which, following the lines of the charter of 1285, authorised the peasants in the kingdom of Castile to change their residence (in other words, to remove from a seignory) and to take their possessions with them. On the other hand, there is also evidence to shew that the situation of the Christian peasants underwent no marked change, and that the abuses and the narrow dependence on their lords continued still to be the rule in most districts; and this in practice prevented any general conversion of the peasants as a whole into free tenant-farmers or small free-holders. It seems, however, that the general condition of the peasant classes in Castile was already easier and more fortunate than in the various parts of the kingdom of Aragon. That seems to be demonstrated by the frequent revolts of a social character which broke out in those parts at the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries.

Ferdinand the Catholic tried to put a stop to these conflicts by limiting the seignorial rights, especially with regard to money dues and forced labour. But the nobles put up a firm resistance, and the king had in great measure to renounce his aims. He was more fortunate in Catalonia: following a formidable rising of the peasants known as pagesos de rameneça, who were kept in the closest subjection by the land-owning class, he issued an arbitral judgment, the Decree of Guadalupe, by which the pagesos were relieved of certain payments and services to their lords, the so-called “evil usages” (mals usos). By the same decree all pagesos could become free on the payment of an indemnity to the lord.

At the other end of the social scale, on behalf of the wealthy middle class in particular, the Catholic Kings deferred to a custom already of long standing in Castile and elsewhere, and, in one of the laws passed at. the Cortes of Toro (Leyes de Toro,1505), sanctioned the institution of majorats, that is to say, the entailing of an estate, usually in favour of the eldest son. This fostered the creation or continuance of great aristocratic or middle-class patrimonies. The laws of Toro are also important in other respects in the domain of private law; they mark quite definite drift away from the older laws and customs and towards Roman law.

Another fact of great importance from the social and economic point of view also happened at this time. It is well known how heterogeneous was the racial composition of the population in all the Spanish kingdoms. This was brought about, during the Middle Ages, by the grafting on the original Spanish-Latin stock of a succession of new strains, Visigothic, Jewish, Muslim from different sources (Arab, Syrian, Berber), not to mention other European elements, the amount of which, though appreciable, may be disregarded, except perhaps the Frankish strain in Catalonia. We shall probably never know to what extent racial admixture took place between the Spanish-Latins and the Germans at the end of the seventh century, but we do know that there was considerable admixture of Spaniards with their Muslim conquerors and still more with Jews. Documents of the late Middle Ages speak quite explicitly of the large amount of Jewish blood that was to be found in most Spanish families, even in the most highly placed. When full allowance has been made for the fact that these statements were definitely depreciatory in character, and exaggerated by passion and malice, there still remains much truth in them.

This heterogeneity attracted the attention of the Catholic Kings and of many of their contemporaries, but they looked on it as a political rather than an ethnical question. And they were much more concerned with the Jewish than with the Muslim aspect of the problem, owing to the existence from the fourteenth century onwards of a growing movement of acute anti-Semitism. Moreover, the facts show clearly the difference in sentiment towards the two races, for while in the case of the Muslims it led no farther than the imposition of baptism upon them, in the case of the Jews it led to their expulsion.

It seems clear that the principal reason for this measure was the desire on the part of the Catholic Kings to bring about religious unity, as a means, in their view, to internal peace, the realisation of which was being frustrated by the existing hatred towards the Jews. Undoubtedly, too, they knew that the expulsion of Judaism, whether brought about directly, or indirectly by forcing the Jews to change their religion, would bring with it evil economic consequences for Spain. These consequences, which were later to be responsible for saving the Muslims in Aragon from the harsh measures adopted against their co-religionists in Castile, were apprehended at the time by contemporaries; in spite of their Christian sentiments, they did not overlook the danger of the expulsion from the point of view of industry, commerce, and other branches of the economic life of the nation. Notwithstanding, the expulsion was ordered during the years 1483?-86, but it was not then carried into execution. It was repeated on 31 May 1492, in the same terms that were to be used in the case of the Muslims in 1502. By the ordinance of 1492 the Jews had to be baptised under pain of banishment from Spain within four months.

It is not possible to obtain exact statistics of the numbers who were baptised or who chose to leave the country; estimates vary from 200,000 to half a million. It was from the Jews who then left Spain and took refuge in different parts of Europe or in North Africa that the Sephardim are descended; for Sepharad, from which their name is derived, was used by them to designate Spain. The economic effects which had been anticipated did in fact happen. One of these, which historical research is now bringing to light, was the fact that rich Jewish merchants among the exiles from Spain gave assistance, especially in regard to America, to other countries; and they as a result were able to vie with Spain in the control, the commerce, and the colonisation of the New World.

The expulsion, moreover, did not settle the Jewish problem in Spain. The people, and the clergy of course in particular, distrusted the sincerity of the converted Jews in their new beliefs. There is definite evidence to prove that this suspicion, if not always, was sometimes at any rate well-founded. Nor is there anything surprising in this, considering the manner in which the change of religion was brought about.

It was in order to deal with these Judaising Christians that the Catholic Kings established in Castile a special tribunal against heretics, the Tribunal of the Inquisition, which was already in existence in Aragon since the thirteenth century. In Castile these offences came within the ordinary episcopal jurisdiction, and their treatment was based on the penal legislation of the State. The Inquisition, on the other hand, was absolutely independent of the bishops, but was closely connected with the civil authority of the king. Its organisation and administration were highly developed, all the details being precisely elaborated. It owed its foundation to a royal decree issued at Seville in 1477, and it was recognised and accepted by Sixtus IV in bulls of the years 1478, 1482, and 1483. In 1483 the Supreme Council of the Inquisition was created by papal bull. The tribunal was presided over by a Grand Inquisitor, nominated at first by the king; but the third (the famous Torquemada) and subsequent ones were nominated by the Pope. It was Torquemada who drew up the original rules of the new Inquisition, and these were put into force in 1488. Four years earlier the old Aragonese Inquisition was reorganised on the model of that set up in Castile in 1477, though the change met with some opposition. In 1487 it was also introduced into Catalonia, where the opposition was much stronger, for reasons other than religious. When it was finally established at Majorca in 1490, the Catholic Kings had attained uniformity in jurisdiction and procedure in this department, a most important one at a time when the storm-clouds of religious revolt were already lowering over Christendom. Another novelty was the requirement of “purity of blood” (limpieza de sangre) as a condition for admission into public posts, the ranks of the clergy, and the Orders of Chivalry; this definitely isolated the converts or new Christians, and kept the original Christian element in the Spanish people uncontaminated.

As to the internal organisation of the Church, the Catholic Kings paid particular heed to the religious Orders and the purging of the morals of the clergy; vigorously supported by Cisneros, they boldly took in hand the work of reform, which was in part satisfactorily accomplished.

In the American countries where Spanish rule was beginning to be established there also arose problems both social and religious. The former, so far as they concerned the union of the races and equality of treatment, were soon decided in the affirmative by the administration, in accordance with the natural bent of the Spaniards; intermarriage between the white and the coloured races was allowed, and the Indians were granted political liberty and equality under the law by a manifesto of Queen Isabella of 20 June 1500, which was repeated in later decrees. As to the religious question, it is well known that the aim of converting the infidels and pagans figured as one of the foremost reasons for expeditions to non-Christian countries, and that it was laid down as an essential condition in the papal bulls which granted the conquered lands to the Portuguese or the Spaniards. The Catholic Kings tried to produce and to maintain religious unity in their new territories, both by the preaching of the gospel and the conversion of the Indians, and by prohibiting non-Catholics or the descendants of Muslims or Jews from going to the Indies. These were not the only points in which the Catholic Kings shewed their concern for their American lands. They elaborated so completely the organisation of the new territories added to the Crown that, except for the institution of viceroyalties which came a little later, of the universities, and of governorships (intendencias) which belong to the eighteenth century, all the essential elements in the political, administrative, religious, and social structure of Spanish America can be said to have been introduced, and even to some extent perfected, during the twenty-four years of the joint reign. Evidently, from the very beginning, the sovereigns and their counsellors in the government of the country visualised very clearly the problems arising from Spain’s position as mother-country to the rulers of the Indies.

Finally, it was in the age of the Catholic Kings that the Spanish genius in letters, the arts, and the sciences came into flower; at this moment it began to shew its originality and to lay the foundations for the great development of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The literary Courts of John II in Castile and Alfonso V at Naples—the latter a product of the Renaissance having all knowledge for its aim, the former more truly medieval in character—foreshadowed the Court of the Catholic Kings, wherein the most striking features were the devotion to study and the protection of culture. As formerly Alfonso X of Castile, and again as Alfonso V of Aragon more recently, the Catholic Kings attracted to their palace teachers and persons of eminence, women as well as men, foreigners and Spaniards alike; they gave their protection to the art of printing, newly-introduced into Spain; and, by a law of 1480, they gave authority for all books that could be of use to the national culture to be freely imported into the country.