A Short History of Spain
by Mary Platt Parmele
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The brutal Berbers now had their turn. The priceless library, with its six hundred thousand volumes, was in ashes. They were in the "City of the Fairest." Palace after palace was ransacked, and in a few days all that remained of its exquisite treasures of art was a heap of blackened stones (1010). The Christians drew their broken state closer together, and gathered themselves for a more aggressive warfare than any yet undertaken. The time when the Moors were in the throes of civil war was favorable. The three kingdoms of Asturias, Leon, and Castile were in 1073 united into one "kingdom of Castile," under Alfonso VI., who had already made great inroads upon the Moslem territory and laid many cities under tribute. With this event, the name Castilian comes into Spanish history, and from thenceforth that name represents all that is proudest, bravest, and most characteristic of the part of the race which traces a direct lineage from the ancient Visigoth Kings.

Alfonso had not misjudged his opportunity. He had traversed Spain with his army, and bathed in the ocean in sight of the "Pillars of Hercules." His great general Rodrigo Diaz, known as "My Cid, the Challenger," had cut another path all the way to Valencia, where he reigned as a sort of uncrowned king; and he will forever reign as crowned king in the realm of romance and poetry; the perfect embodiment of the knightly idea—the "Challenger," who, in defense of the faith, would stand before great armies and defy them to single combat! Whether "My Cid" ever did such mighty deeds as are ascribed to him, no one knows. But he stands for the highest ideal of his time. He was the "King Arthur" of Spanish history; and so valiantly did he serve the Christian cause that the Moors were driven to a most disastrous step. With the Cid in Valencia, with Alfonso VI. marching a victorious army through the Moslem territory, and with Toledo, the city of the ancient Visigoth Kings, repossessed, it looked as if, after almost four hundred years, the Christians were about to recover their land.

The Moors, thoroughly frightened, realizing how helpless they had grown, resolved upon a desperate measure.

There was, on the opposite African coast, a sect of Berber fanatics, fierce and devout, known as "saints," but which the Moors called Almoravides. Fighting for the faith was their occupation. What more fitting than to use them as a means of driving the infidel Christians out of Moslem territory!

They came, like a cloud of locusts, and settled upon the land. Yusuf, their general, led his men against Alfonso's Castilians October 23, 1086. Near Badajos the attack was made simultaneously in front and rear, crushing them utterly; Alfonso barely escaping with five hundred men. This was only the first of many other crushing defeats; the most disheartening of which was the one in 1099, when the Cid, fighting in alliance with Pedro, King of Aragon, was defeated near Gardia, on the seacoast. Then the great warrior's heart broke, and he died; and we are told he was clothed cap-a-pie in shining armor and placed upright on his good steed Bavieca, his trusty sword in his hand—and so he passed to his burial; his banner borne and guarded by five hundred knights. And we are also told the Moors wonderingly watched his departure with his knights, not suspecting that he was dead.

The object of the Moors in inviting the odious Almoravides had been accomplished; the Christians had been driven out of Andalusia back into their own territory; but their African auxiliaries were too well pleased with their new abode to think of leaving it. One by one the Moorish Princes were subdued by the men whose aid they had invoked, until a dynasty of the Almoravides was fastened upon Spain. To the refined Spanish Arabs contact with these savages from the desert was a terrible scourge, and so far as they were able they withdrew into communities by themselves, leaving these African locusts to devour their substance and dim their glory.

But luxury was not favorable to the invaders. In another generation their martial spirit was gone and they had become only ignorant, sodden voluptuaries; and when the Christians once more renewed their attacks, they failed to repel them as Yusuf had done thirty years before.

There was another fanatical sect, beyond the Atlas range in Africa, which had long been looking for a coming Messiah, whom they called the Mahdi. They were known as the Alhomades. A son of a lamp-lighter in the Mosque of Cordova one day presented himself before the Alhomades, and announced that he was the great Mahdi, who was divinely appointed to lead them, and to bring happiness to all the earth.

The path this Mahdi desired to lead them was first to Morocco, there to subdue the Almoravides in their own land, and thence to Spain. In a short time this entire plan was realized. The Mahdi's successor was Emperor of Morocco, and by the year 1150 included in his dominion was all of Mahommedan Spain! The Spanish Arabs, when they were fighting Alfonso VI. and the "Cid," did not anticipate this disgraceful downfall from people of their own faith. They abhorred these Mahommedan savages, and drew together still closer for a century more in and about their chosen refuge of Granada.

In the early part of the thirteenth century the Emperor of Morocco made such enormous preparations for the occupation of Spain that a larger design upon Europe became manifest. Once more Christendom was alarmed; not since Charles Martel had the danger appeared so great. The Pope proclaimed a Crusade, this time not into Palestine, but Spain.

An army of volunteers from the kingdom of Portugal and from southern France re-enforced the great armies of the Kings of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre. The Crusaders, as they called themselves, assembled at Toledo July 12, 1212, under the command of Alfonso IX., King of Castile. The power of the Alhomades was broken, and they were driven out of Spain. The once great Mahommedan Empire in that country was reduced to the single province of Granada, where the Moors intrenched themselves in their last stronghold. For nearly three centuries the Crescent was yet to wave over the kingdom of Granada; but it was to shine in only the pale light of a waning crescent, until its final extinction in the full light of a Christian day.


A great change had been wrought in Europe. The Crusades had opened a channel through which flowed from the East reviving streams of ancient knowledge and culture over the arid waste of mediaevalism. France and England had awakened from their long mental torpor, Paris was become the center of an intellectual revival. In England, Roger Bacon, in his "Opus Majus," was systematizing all existing knowledge and laying a foundation for a more advanced science and philosophy for the people, who had only recently extorted from their wicked King John the great charter of their liberties.

It was just at this period, when the door had suddenly opened ushering Europe into a new life, that the Christian cause in Spain triumphed; and, excepting in the little kingdom of Granada, the Cross waved from the Pyrenees to the sea. After more than four centuries of steadfast devotion to that object, the descendants of the Visigoth Kings had come once more into their inheritance.

They found it enriched, and clothed with a beauty of which their ancestors could never have dreamed. These Spaniards had learned their lesson of valor in the north, and they had learned it well. Now in the land of the Moor, dwelling in the palaces they had built, and gazing upon masterpieces of Arabic art and architecture which they had left, they were to learn the subtle charm of form and color, and the fascination which music and poetry and beauty and knowledge may lend to life. As they drank from these Moorish fountains the rugged warriors found them very sweet; and they discovered that there were other pleasures in life beside fighting the Moors and nursing memories of the Cid and their vanished heroes.

The territory of Fernando III., King of Castile (1230-52), extended now from the Bay of Biscay to the Guadalquivir. The ancient city of Seville was chosen as his capital. It was a far cry from the "Cave of Covadonga" to the Moorish palace of the "Alcazar," where dwelt the pious descendant of Pelayo! The first act of Fernando III. was to convert the Mosque at Seville into a cathedral, which still stands with its Moorish bell-tower, the beautiful "Giralda." There may also be seen to-day over one of its portals a stuffed crocodile, which was sent alive to King Ferdinand by the Sultan of Egypt. And within the cathedral, in a silver urn with glass sides, the traveler may also gaze to-day upon the remains of this "Saint Ferdinand" clothed in royal robes, and with a crown upon his head.

Spain had begun to lift up her head among the other nations of Europe. To defeat the Crescent was the highest ideal of that chivalric age. Spain, longer than any other nation, had fought the Mahommedan. It had been her sole occupation for four centuries, and now she had vanquished him, and driven him into the mountains of one of her smallest provinces, there to hide from the Spaniards as they had once hidden from the Moors in the North. This was a passport to the honor and respect of other Christian nations. She was Spain "the Catholic"—the loved and favorite child of the Church—and great monarchs in England, France, and Germany bestowed their sons and daughters upon her kings and princes. Poor though she was in purse, and somewhat rude yet in manners, she held up her head high in proud consciousness of her aristocratic lineage, and her unmatched championship of Christianity.

We realize how close had become the tie binding her to other nations when we learn that King Fernando III. was the grandson of Queen Eleanor of England (daughter of Henry II.), and that Louis IX. of France, that other royal saint, was his own cousin; and also that his wife Beatrix, whom he brought with him to Seville, was daughter of Frederick II., Emperor of Germany.

The deep hold which Arabic life and thought had taken upon their conquerors was shown when Alfonso X., son of Ferdinand, came to the throne. So in love was he with learning and science that he let his kingdom fall into utter confusion while he busied himself with a set of astronomical tables upon which his heart was set and in holding up to ridicule the Ptolemaic theory. If he had given less thought to the stars, and more to the humble question as to who was to be his successor, it would have saved much strife and suffering to those who came after him.

While the Moslems were building up their kingdom and making of their capital city a second and even more beautiful Cordova, there was a partial truce with the Moors in Granada. Moors and Christians were enemies still; the hereditary hatreds were only lulled into temporary repose. But Christian knights who were handsome and gallant might love and woo Moorish maidens who were beautiful; and, as a writer has intimated, love became the business and war the pastime of the Spaniard in Andalusia. Spain was unconsciously inbibing the soft, sensuous charm of the civilization she was exterminating; and the peculiar rhythm of Spanish music, and the subtle picturesqueness which makes the Spanish people unique among the other Latin nations of Europe, came, not from her Gothic, nor her Roman, nor her Phenician ancestry, but from the plains of Arabia; and the guitar and the dance and the castanet, and the charm and the coquetry of her women, are echoes from that far-off land of poetry and romance. Not so the bull-fight! Would you trace to its source that pleasant pastime, you must not go to the East; the Oriental was cruel to man, but not to beast. He would have abhorred such a form of amusement, for the origin of which we must look to the barbarous Kelt; or perhaps, as is more probable, to the mysterious Iberians, since among the Latin peoples of Europe bull-fighting is found in Spain alone. Well was it for Spain that her rough, untutored ancestors were kept hiding in the mountains for centuries, while that brilliant Oriental race planted their Peninsula thick with the germs of high thinking and beautiful living.

As the spider, after his glistening habitation has been destroyed by some ruthless footstep, goes patiently to work to rebuild it, so the Moor in Granada, with his imperishable instinct for beauty, was making of his little kingdom the most beautiful spot in Europe. The city of Granada was lovelier than Cordova; its Alhambra more enchanting than had been the palaces in the "City of the Fairest." This citadel, which is fortress and palace in one, still stands like the Acropolis, looking out upon the plain from its lofty elevation. Volumes have been written about its labyrinthine halls and corridors and courts, and the amazing richness of decoration, which still survives—an inexhaustible mine for artists and a shrine for lovers of the beautiful. But Granada cultivated other things besides the art of beauty. Nowhere in Europe was there in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries such advanced thinking, and a knowledge so akin to our own to-day, as within the borders of that Moorish kingdom.


There were other reasons beside the growing peacefulness of the Spaniards why Granada was left to develop in comparative security for two centuries. It was impossible that adjacent ambitious kingdoms, such as Navarre, Castile, Aragon, Leon, and Portugal, with indefinite and disputed boundaries, and, on account of intermarriages between the kingdoms, with indefinite and disputed successions, should ever be at peace. In the perpetual strife and warfare which prevailed on account of royal European alliances, the fate of foreign princes and princesses were often involved, and hence European states stood ready to take a hand.

Castile and Aragon had gradually absorbed the smaller states, excepting Portugal on the one side and Navarre on the other. The history of Spain at this time is a history of the struggles of these two states for supremacy. The most eventful as well as the most lurid period of this prolonged civil war was while Pedro the Cruel was king of Castile, 1350-69. This Spanish Nero, when sixteen years old, commenced his reign by the murder of his mother. A catalogue of his crimes is impossible. Enough to say that assassination was his remedy, and means of escape, from every entanglement in which his treacheries involved him. It was the unhappy fate of Blanche de Bourbon, sister of Charles V., King of France, to marry this King of Castile, and when he refused to live with her and had her removed from his palace the Alcazar to a fortress, and finally poisoned her, the French King determined to avenge the insult to his royal house. He allied himself with the King of Aragon to destroy Pedro, with whom the King of Aragon was of course at war.

Edward, the "Black Prince," was then brilliantly invading France and extending the kingdom of his father Edward III. He was the kinsman of Pedro, and when appealed to by his cousin for aid in protecting his kingdom from the King of Aragon and his French allies, Edward gallantly consented to help him; and in the spring of 1367, for the second time, a splendid army advanced through the Pass at Roncesvalles, and a great battle, worthy of a better cause, was fought and won.

So this most atrocious king—perhaps excepting Richard III. of England, whom he resembled—had for his champion the victor of Cressy and Poictiers. He was restored to his throne, which had been usurped by his brother Enrique (or Henry), but in a personal encounter with Enrique soon after (which was artfully brought about by the famous Breton knight, Bertrand du Guesclin), he met a deserved fate (1369).

Constanza, the daughter of Pedro the Cruel, had been married to John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancester), brother of the Black Prince and son of Edward III. As Constanza was the great-grandmother of Isabella I. of Spain, so in the veins of that revered Queen there flowed the blood of the Plantagenets, as well as that of Pedro the Cruel!

Because of the number of doubtful pretenders always existing in Spain, disputes about the royal succession also always existed. Such a dispute now led to a long war with Portugal, where King Fernando had really the most valid hereditary claim to the throne made vacant by Pedro's death. If his right had been acknowledged, Portugal and Spain would now be united; Isabella would have remained only a poor and devout princess, and would never have had the power to win a continent for the world. So impossible is it to remove one of the links forged by fate, that we dare not regret even so monstrous a reign as that of Pedro the Cruel!

Enrique's right to the vacant throne of his brother had two disputants. Besides the King of Portugal, John of Gaunt, who had married the lady Constanza,—by virtue of her rights as daughter of Pedro,—claimed the crown of Castile. This Plantagenet was actually proclaimed King of Castile and Leon (1386). For twenty-five years he vainly strove to come into his kingdom as sovereign; but finally compromised by giving his young daughter Catherine to the boy "Prince of Asturias," the heir to the throne. He was obliged to content himself by thus securing to his child the long-coveted prize. And it was this Catherine, who at fourteen was betrothed to a boy of nine, who was the grandmother of Isabella, Queen of Castile.

When such was the private history of those highest in the land we can only imagine what must have been that of the rest. Feudalism, which was a part of Spain's Gothic inheritance, had always made that country one of its strongholds, and chivalry had nowhere else found so congenial a soil. There was no great artisan class, as in France, creating a powerful "bourgeoisie"; no "guilds," or simple "burghers," as in Germany, stubbornly standing for their rights; no "boroughs" and "town meetings," where the people were sternly guarding their liberties, as in England.

The history of other nations is that of the struggles of the common people against the tyranny of kings and rulers. If there were any "common people" in Spain, they were so effaced that history makes no mention of them. We hear only of kings and great barons and glorious knights; and their wonderful deeds and their valor and prowess—excepting in the wars with the Moors—were always over boundary-lines and successions, or personal quarrels more or less disgraceful, with never a single high purpose or a principle involved. It was all a gay, ambitious pageant, adorned by a mantle of chivalry, and made sacred by the banner of the Cross. In the history of no other European country do we see a great state develop under despotism so unredeemed by wholesome ideals, and so unmitigated and unrestrained by gentle human impulses.


Juan II., the son of the young Catherine and the boy prince of the Asturias, died in 1454, and his son Enrique (or Henry) IV. was King of Castile. When, after some years, Henry was without children, and with health very infirm, his young sister Isabella unexpectedly found herself the acknowledged heir to the throne of Castile. She suddenly became a very important young person. The old King of Portugal was a suitor for her hand, and a brother of the King of England, and also a brother of the King of France, were striving for the same honor. But Isabella had very decided views of her own. Her hero was the young Ferdinand of Aragon, and heir to that throne. She resisted all her brother's efforts to coerce her, and finally took the matter into her own hands by sending an envoy to her handsome young lover to come to her at Valladolid, with a letter telling him they had better be married at once.

Accompanied by a few knights disguised as merchants, Ferdinand, pretending to be their servant, during the entire journey waited on them at table and took care of their mules. He entered Valladolid, where he was received by the Archbishop of Toledo, who was in the conspiracy, and was by him conveyed to Isabella's apartments. We are told that when he entered someone exclaimed: Ese-es, Ese-es (that is he); and the escutcheon of the descendants of that knight has ever since borne a double S.S., which sounds like this exclamation.

The marriage was arranged to take place in four days. An embarrassment then occurred of which no one had before thought. Neither of them had any money. But someone was found who would lend them enough for the wedding expenses, and so on the 19th of October, 1469, the most important marriage ever yet consummated in Spain took place—a marriage which would forever set at rest the rivalries between Castile and Aragon, and bring honors undreamed of to a united Spain.

Isabella was fair, intelligent, accomplished, and lovely. She was eighteen and her boy husband was a year younger. Of course her royal brother stormed and raged. But, of course, it did no good. In five years from that time (1474) he died, and Isabella, royally attired, and seated on a white palfrey, proceeded to the throne prepared for her, and was there proclaimed "Queen of Castile." At the end of another five years, Ferdinand came into his inheritance. His old father, Juan II., King of Aragon and Navarre, died in 1479, and Castile, Aragon, and Navarre—all of Spain except Portugal and Granada—had come under the double crown of Ferdinand and Isabella.

The war with Portugal still existed, and their reign began in the midst of confusion and trouble, but it was brilliant from the outset. Ferdinand had great abilities and an ambition which matched his abilities. Isabella, no less ambitious than he, was more far-reaching in her plans, and always saw more clearly than Ferdinand what was for the true glory of Spain. With infinite tact she softened his asperities, and disarmed his jealousy, and ruled her "dear lord," by making him believe he ruled her.

A joint sovereignty, with a man so grasping of power and so jealous of his own rights, required self-control and tact in no ordinary measure. It was agreed at last that in all public acts Ferdinand's name should precede hers; and although her sanction was necessary, his indignation at this was abated by her promise of submission to his will. The court of the new sovereigns was established at Seville, and they took up their abode in that palace so filled with associations both Moorish and Castilian—the Alcazar. From the very first Isabella's powerful mind grappled every public question, and she gave herself heart and soul to what she believed was her divine mission—the building up of a great Catholic state. Isabella's devout soul was sorely troubled by the prevalence of Judaism in her kingdom. She took counsel with her confessor, and also with the Pope, and by their advice a religious tribunal was established at Seville in 1483, the object of which was to inquire of heretics whether they were willing to renounce their faith and accept Christianity. The head of this tribunal, which was soon followed by others in all the large cites, was a Dominican friar called Torquemada. He was known as the "Inquisitor General." Inaccessible to pity, mild in manners, humble in demeanor, yet swayed only by a sense of duty, this strange being was so cruel that he seems like an incarnation of the evil principle. At the tribunal in Seville alone it is said that in thirty-six years four thousand victims were consigned to the flames, besides the thousands more who endured living deaths by torture, mutilation, and nameless sufferings.

Humanity shudders at the recital! And yet this monstrous tribunal was the creation of one of the wisest and gentlest of women, who believed no rigors could be too great to save people from eternal death! And, in her misguided zeal, she emptied her kingdom of a people who had helped to create its prosperity, and drove the most valuable part of her population into France, Italy, and England, there to disseminate the seeds of a higher culture and intelligence which they had imbibed from contact with the Moors, who had treated them with such uniform tolerance and gentleness.

The kingdom of Granada was now at the height of its splendor. Its capital city was larger and richer than any city in Spain. Its army was the best equipped of any in Europe. The Moorish king, a man of fiery temper, thought the time had come when he might defy his enemy by refusing to pay an annual tribute to which his father had ten years before consented. When Ferdinand's messenger, in 1476, came to demand the accustomed tribute, he said, "Go tell your master the kings who pay tribute in Granada are all dead. Our mints coin nothing but sword-blades now."

The cool and crafty Ferdinand prepared his own answer to this challenge. The infatuated King Abdul-Hassan followed up his insult by capturing the Christian fortress of Zahara. His temper was not at the best at this time on account of a war raging in his own household. His wife Ayesha was fiercely jealous of a Christian captive whom he had also made his wife. She had become his favorite Sultana, and was conspiring to have her own son supplant Boabdil, the son of Ayesha, the heir to the throne. In his championship of Zoraya and her son, Abdul-Hassan imprisoned Ayesha and Boabdil, whom he threatened to disinherit. We are shown to-day the window in the Alhambra from which Ayesha lowered Boabdil in a basket, telling him to come back with an army and assert his rights. Suddenly, while absorbed by this smaller war, news came that Alhama, their most impregnable fortress, only six leagues from the city of Granada, had been captured by Ferdinand's army. It was the key to Granada. Despair was in every soul. The air was filled with wailing and lamentation. "Woe, woe is me, Alhama!" "Ay de mi, Alhama!" Indignant with their old king, who had brought destruction upon them, when Boabdil came with his army of followers, they flocked about him—"El Rey Chico!" (the boy king) as they called him. Abdul Hassan was forced to fly, and Boabdil reigned over the expiring kingdom. It was a brief and troubled reign.

In the famous "Court of the Lions" in the Alhambra, visitors are shown to-day the blood-stains left by the celebrated massacre of the "Abencerrages." The Abencerrages had supported the claim of Ayesha's rival, Zoraya; and it is said that Boabdil invited the Princes of this clan, some thirty in number, to a friendly conference in the Alhambra, and there had them treacherously beheaded at the fountain.

But whether this blood-stain upon his memory is as doubtful as those upon the stones at the fountain, seems an open question.

So stubborn was the defense, it appeared sometimes as if the reduction of Granada would have to be abandoned. Isabella's courage and faith were sorely tried. But the brave Queen infused her own courage into the flagging spirits of her husband, and kept alive the enthusiasm of the people; and at last,—on the 2d of January, 1402,—the proud city capitulated. Boabdil surrendered the keys of the Alhambra to Ferdinand—the silver cross which had preceded the King throughout the war gleamed from a high tower; and from the loftiest pinnacle of the Alhambra waved the banners of Castile and Aragon.

The conflict which had lasted for 781 years was over. The death of Roderick and the fall of the Goths was avenged, and Christendom, still weeping for the loss of Constantinople, was consoled and took heart again.


The reduction of Granada had required eleven years, and had drained the kingdom of all its resources. It is not strange that Isabella should have had no time to listen seriously to a threadbare enthusiast asking for money and ships for a strange adventure! To have grown old and haggard in pressing an unsuccessful project is not a passport to the confidence of Princes. But the gracious Queen had promised to listen to him when the war with the Moors was concluded. So now Columbus sought her out at Granada; and it is a strange scene which the imagination pictures—a shabby old man pleading with a Queen in the halls of the Alhambra for permission to lift the veil from an unsuspected Hemisphere; artfully dwelling upon the glory of planting the Cross in the dominions of the Great Khan! The cool, unimaginative Ferdinand listened contemptuously; but Isabella, for once opposing the will of her "dear lord," arose and said, "The enterprise is mine. I undertake it for Castile." And on the 3d of August, 1492, the little fleet of caravels sailed from the mouth of the same river whence had once sailed the "ships of Tarshish," laden with treasure for King Solomon and "Hiram, King of Tyre." A union with Portugal—the land of the Lusitanians and of Sertorius—was all that was now required to make of the Spanish Peninsula one kingdom. This Isabella planned to accomplish by the marriage of her oldest daughter, Isabella, with the King of Portugal. Her son John, heir to the Spanish throne, had died suddenly just after his marriage with the daughter of Maximilian, Emperor of Germany.

This terrible blow was swiftly followed by another, the death of her daughter Isabella, and also that of the infant which was expected to unite the kingdoms of Portugal and Spain. The succession of Castile and Aragon now passed to Joanna, her second daughter, who had married Philip, Archduke of Austria and son of Maximilian, an unfortunate child who seemed on the verge of madness.

Isabella's youngest daughter, Catherine, became the wife of Henry VIII. of England. Happily the mother did not live to witness this child's unhappiness; but her heart-breaking losses and domestic griefs were greater than she could bear. The unbalanced condition of Joanna, upon whom rested all her hopes, was undermining her health. The results of the expedition of Columbus had exceeded the wildest dreams of romance. Gold was pouring in from the West enough to pay for the war with the Moors many times over, and for all wars to come. Spain, from being the poorest, had suddenly become the richest country in Europe; richest in wealth, in territory, and in the imperishable glory of its discovery. But Isabella,—who had been the instrument in this transformation,—who had built up a firm united kingdom and swept it clean of heretics, Jews, and Moors,—was still a sad and disappointed woman, thwarted in her dearest hopes; and on the 26th of November, 1504, she died leaving the fruits of her triumphs to a grandson six years old.

This infant Charles was proclaimed King of Castile under the regency of his ambitious father, the Archduke of Austria, and his insane mother. The death of the Archduke and the incapacity of Joanna in a few years gave to Ferdinand the control of the two kingdoms for which he had contended and schemed, until his own death in 1516, when the crowns of Castile and Aragon passed to his grandson, who was proclaimed Charles I., King of Spain.

A plain, sedate youth of sixteen was called from his home in Flanders to assume the crowns of Castile and Aragon. Silent, reserved, and speaking the Spanish language very imperfectly, the impression produced by the young King was very unpromising. No one suspected the designs which were maturing under that mask; nor that this boy was planning to grasp all the threads of diplomacy in Europe, and to be the master of kings.

In 1517 Maximilian died, leaving a vacant throne in Germany to be contended for by the ambitious Francis I. of France and Maximilian's grandson, Charles.

It was a question of supremacy in Europe. So the successful aspirant must win to himself Leo X., Henry VIII. and his great minister Wolsey, and after that the Electors of Germany. It required consummate skill. Francis I. was an able player. The astute Wolsey made the moves for his master Henry VIII., keeping a watchful eye on Charles, "that young man who looks so modest, and soars so high"; while Leo X., unconscious of the coming Reformation, was craftily aiding this side or that as benefit to the Church seemed to be promised.

But that "modest young man" played the strongest game. Charles was, by the unanimous vote of the Electors, raised to the imperial throne; and the grandson of Isabella, as Charles I. of Spain and Charles V. of Germany, possessed more power than had been exercised by any one man since the reign of Augustus. The territory over which he had dominion in the New World was practically without limit. Mexico surrendered to Cortez (1521) and Peru to Pizarro (1532); Ponce de Leon was in Florida and de Soto on the banks of the Mississippi; while wealth, fabulous in amount, was pouring into Spain, and from thence into Flanders.

The history of Charles belongs, in fact, more to Europe than to Spain. No slightest tenderness seems to have existed in his cold heart for the land of Isabella, which he seemed to regard simply as a treasury from which to draw money for the objects to which he was really devoted. So, in fact, Spain was governed by an absolute despot who was Emperor of Germany, where he resided, and she visibly declined from the strength and prosperity which had been created by the wise and personal administration of Ferdinand and Isabella.

The Cortes, where the deputies had never been allowed the privilege of debate, had been at its best a very imperfect expression of popular sentiment; and now was reduced to a mere empty form. Abuses which had been corrected under the vigilant personal administration of two able and patriotic sovereigns returned in aggravated form. Misrule and disorder prevailed, while their King was absorbed in the larger field of European politics and diplomacy.

The light in which Spain shines in this, which is always accounted her most glorious period, was that of Discovery and Conquest and the enormous wealth coming therefrom; all of which was bestowed by that shabby adventurer and suppliant at the Alhambra, in whom Isabella alone believed, and who, after enriching Spain beyond its wildest expectations, was permitted to die in poverty and neglect at Valladolid in 1506! History has written its verdict: imperishable renown to Columbus, Balboa, Magellan, and the navigators who dared such perils and won so much; and eternal infamy to the men who planted a bloodstained Cross in those distant lands. The history of the West Indies, of Mexico, and Peru is unmatched for cruelty in the annals of the world; and Isabella's is the only voice that was ever raised in defense of the gentle, helpless race which was found in those lands.

The Reformation, which had commenced in Germany with the reign of Charles V., had assumed enormous proportions. Charles, who was a bigot with "heart as hard as hammered iron," was using with unsparing hand the Inquisition, that engine of cruelty created by his grandmother. And while his captains, the "conquistadors," were burning and torturing in the West, he was burning and torturing in the East. His entire reign was occupied in a struggle with his ambitious rival Francis I., and another and vain struggle with the followers of Luther.

He had married Isabel, the daughter of the King of Portugal. Philip, his son and heir, was born in 1527. The desire of his heart was to secure for this son the succession to the imperial throne of Germany. To this the electors would not consent. He was defeated in the two objects dearest to his heart: the power to bequeath this imperial possession to Philip, and the destruction of Protestantism. So this most powerful sovereign since the day of Charlemagne felt himself ill-used by Fate. Weary and sick at heart, in the year 1556 he abdicated in favor of Philip. The Netherlands was his own to bestow upon his son, as that was an inheritance from his father, the Archduke of Austria. So the fate of Philip does not seem to us so very heart-breaking, as, upon the abdication of his father, he was King of Spain, of Naples, and of Sicily; Duke of Milan; Lord of the Netherlands and of the Indies, and of a vast portion of the American continent stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific!

Such was the inheritance left to his son by the disappointed man who carried his sorrows to the monastery at St. Yuste, where the austerities and severities he practiced finally cost him his life (1558). But let no one suppose that these penances were on account of cruelties practiced upon his Protestant subjects! From his cloister he wrote to the inquisitors adjuring them to show no mercy; to deliver all to the flames, even if they should recant; and the only regret of the dying penitent was that he had not executed Luther!


Philip established his capital at Madrid, and commenced the Palace of the Escurial, nineteen miles distant, which stands to-day as his monument. His coronation was celebrated by an auto-da-fe at Valladolid, which it is said "he attended with much devotion." One of the victims, an officer of distinction, while awaiting his turn said to him: "Sire, how can you witness such tortures?" "Were my own son in your place I should witness it," was the reply; which was a key to the character of the man.

He asserted his claim through his mother, the Princess Isabel of Portugal, to the throne of that country, and after a stubborn contest with the Lusitanians, the long-desired union of Spain and Portugal was accomplished. This event was celebrated by Cervantes in a poem which extravagantly lauds his sovereign. Henry VIII. had been succeeded in England by Mary, daughter of his unhappy Queen, Catherine of Aragon, who, it will be remembered, was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. Mary had inherited the intense religious fervor and perhaps the cruel instincts of her mother's family, and she quickly set about restoring Protestant England to the Catholic faith. Philip saw in a union with Mary and a joint sovereignty over England, such as he hoped would follow, an immense opportunity for Spain. The marriage took place with great splendor, and in the desire to please her handsome husband, of whom she was very fond, she commenced the work which has given her the title, "Bloody Mary." In vain were human torches lighted to lure Philip from Spain, where he lingered. She did not win his love, nor did Philip reign conjointly with his royal consort in England. Mary died in 1558, and her Protestant sister Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, was Queen of England.

Philip had made up his mind that Protestantism should be exterminated in his kingdom of the Netherlands. He could not go there himself, so he looked about for a suitable instrument for his purpose. The Duke of Alva was the man chosen. He was appointed Viceroy, with full authority to carry out the pious design. Heresy must cease to exist in the Netherlands. The arrival of Alva, clothed with such despotic powers, and the atrocities committed by him, caused the greatest indignation in the Netherlands. The Prince of Orange, aided by the Counts Egmont and Horn, organized a party to resist him, and a revolution was commenced which lasted for forty years, affording one of the blackest chapters in the history of Europe. The name of Alva stands at the head of the list of men who have wrought desolation and suffering in the name of religion. The other European states protested, and Elizabeth, in hot indignation, gave aid to the persecuted states.

Philip had contracted a marriage, after Mary's death, with the daughter of that terrible woman Catherine de Medici, widow of Henry II. of France, and there is much reason to believe that it was this Duke of Alva who planned the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. There were sinister conferences between Catherine, Philip, and Alva, and little doubt exists that the hideous tragedy which occurred in Paris on the night of August 24, 1572, was arranged in Madrid, and had its first inception in the cruel breast of Alva.

There had not been much love existing before between Philip and Elizabeth, who it is said had refused the hand of her Spanish brother-in-law. But after her interference in the Netherlands, and when her ships were intercepting and waylaying Spanish ships returning with treasure from the West, and when at last the one was the accepted champion of the Protestant, and the other of the Catholic cause, they became avowed enemies. Philip resolved to prepare a mighty armament for the invasion of England.

In 1587 Elizabeth sent Sir Francis Drake to reconnoiter and find out what Philip was doing. He appeared with twenty-five vessels before Cadiz. Having learned all he wanted, and burned a fleet of merchant vessels, he returned to his Queen.

In May, 1588, a fleet of one hundred and thirty ships, some "the largest that ever plowed the deep," sailed from Lisbon for the English coast. We may form some idea to-day of what must have been the feeling in England when this Armada, unparalleled in size, appeared in the English Channel! If Sir Francis Drake's ships were fewer and smaller, he could match the Spaniards in audacity. He sent eight fireships right in among the close-lying vessels. Then, in the confusion which followed, while they were obstructed and entangled with their own fleet, he swiftly attacked them with such vigor that ten ships were sunk or disabled, and the entire fleet was demoralized. Then a storm overtook the fleeing vessels, and the winds and the waves completed the victory. As in the Spanish report of the disaster thirty-five is the number of ships acknowledged to be lost, we may imagine how great was the destruction. So ended Philip's invasion of England, and the great Spanish "Armada."

Philip II. died, 1598, in the Palace of the Escurial which he had built, and with that event ends the story of Spain's greatness. The period of one hundred and twenty-five years, including the reigns of Ferdinand and Isabella, of Charles V., and of Philip II., is, in a way, one of unmatched splendor. Spain had not like England by slow degrees expanded into great proportions, but through strange and perfectly fortuitous circumstances, she had, from a proud obscurity, suddenly leaped into a position of commanding power and magnificence. Fortune threw into her lap the greatest prize she ever had to bestow, and at the same time gave her two sovereigns of exceptional qualities and abilities. The story of this double reign is the romance, the fairy tale of history. Then came the magnificent reign of Charles V. with more gifts from fortune—the imperial crown, if not a substantial benefit to Spain, still bringing dignity and eclat. But under this glittering surface there had commenced even then a decline. Under Philip II. she was still magnificent, Europe was bowing down to her, but the decline was growing more manifest; and with the accession of his puny son, Philip III., there was little left but a brilliant past, which a proud and retrospective nation was going to feed upon for over three centuries. But it takes some time for such dazzling effulgence to disappear. The glamour of the Spanish name was going to last a long time and picturesquely veil her decay. The memory of such an ascendancy in Europe nourished the intense national pride of her people. The name Castilian took on a new significance.

Nor can we wonder at their pride in the name "Castilian." Its glory was not the capricious gift of fortune, but won by a devotion, a constancy, and a fidelity of purpose which are unique in the history of the world. For seven hundred years the race for which that name stands had kept alive the national spirit, while their land was occupied by an alien civilization. These were centuries of privation and suffering and hardship; but never wavering in their purpose, and by brave deeds which have filled volumes, they reclaimed their land and drove out the Moors.

This is what gives to the name "Castilian," its proud significance. But when degenerate Hidalgos and Grandees, debauched by wealth and luxury, gloried in the name; when by rapacity and cruelty they destroyed the lands their valor had won; and when the Inquisition became their pastime and the rack and the wheel their toys—then the name Castilian began to take on a sinister meaning. Spain's most glorious period was not when she was converting the Indies and Mexico and Peru into a hell, not when Charles V. was playing his great game of diplomacy in Europe, but in that pre-Columbian era when a brave and rugged people were keeping alive their national life in the mountains of the Asturias. Well may Spain do honor to that time by calling the heir to her throne the "Prince of the Asturias!"


The history of the century after the death of Philip II. is one of rapid decline; with no longer a powerful master-mind to hold the state together. Every year saw the court at Madrid more splendid, and the people,—that insignificant factor,—more wretched, and sinking deeper and deeper into poverty. In fact, in spite of the fabulous wealth which fortune had poured upon her, Spain was becoming poor. But nowhere in Europe was royalty invested with such dignity and splendor of ceremonial, and the ambitious Marie de Medici, widow of Henry IV., was glad to form alliances for her children with those of Philip III. The "Prince of the Asturias," who was soon to become Philip IV., married her daughter, Isabella de Bourbon, and the Infanta, his sister, was at the same time married to the young Louis XIII., King of France.

The remnant of the Moors who still lingered in the land were called Moriscos; and under a very thin surface of submission to Christian Spain, they nursed bitter memories and even hopes that some miracle would some day restore them to what was really the land of their fathers. A very severe edict, promulgated by Philip II., compelling conformity in all respects with Christian living, and—as if that were not a part of Christian living—forbidding ablutions, led to a serious revolt. And this again led to the forcible expulsion of every Morisco in Spain.

In 1609, by order of Philip III., the last of the Moors were conveyed in galleys to the African coast whence they had come just nine hundred years before.

In a narrative so drenched with tears, it is pleasant to hear of light-hearted laughter. We are told that when the young King Philip III. saw from his window a man striking his forehead and laughing immoderately he said: "That man is either mad, or he is reading 'Don Quixote'"—which latter was the case. But the story written by Cervantes did more than entertain. Chivalry had lingered in the congenial soil of Spain long after it had disappeared in every other part of Europe; but when in the person of Don Quixote it was made to appear so utterly ridiculous, it was heard of no more.

Philip III., who died in 1621, was succeeded by his son Philip IV. As in the reign of his father worthless favorites ruled, while a profligate king squandered the money of the people in lavish entertainments and luxuries. Much has been written about the visit of Charles, Prince of Wales (afterward Charles I.), accompanied by the Duke of Buckingham, at his court; whither the young Prince had come disguised, to see the Infanta, Philip's sister, whom he thought of making his queen. Probably she did not please him, or perhaps the alliance with Protestant England was not acceptable to the pious Catholic family of Philip. At all events, Henrietta, sister of Louis XIII. of France, was his final choice; and shared his terrible misfortunes a few years later.

A revolt of the Catalonians on the French frontier led to a difficulty with France, which was finally adjusted by the celebrated "treaty of the Pyrenees." In this treaty was included the marriage of the young King Louis XIV. and Maria Theresa, daughter of Philip IV., the King of Spain. The European Powers would only consent to this union upon condition that Louis should solemnly renounce all claim to the Spanish crown for himself and his heirs; which promise had later a somewhat eventful history.

Seven of the United Provinces had achieved their independence during the reign of the third Philip, who had also driven out of his kingdom six hundred thousand Moriscos; by far the most skilled and industrious portion of the community. And now, at the close of the reign of Philip IV., the kingdom was further diminished by the loss of Portugal; which, in 1664, the Lusitanians recovered, and proclaimed the Duke of Braganza King. When we add to this the loss of much of the Netherlands, and of the island of Jamaica, and concessions here and there to France and to Italy, it will be obvious that a process of contraction had soon followed that of Spain's phenomenal expansion!

During the reign of Carlos II., who succeeded his father (1665), Spain was still further diminished by the cession to Louis XIV., in 1678, of more provinces in the Low Countries and also of the region now known as Alsace and Lorraine; which, it will be remembered, have in our own time passed from the keeping of France to that of victorious Germany.

In the year 1655 the island of Jamaica was captured by an expedition sent out by Cromwell. It was between the years 1670 and 1686 that the Spaniard and the Anglo-Saxon had their first collision in America. St. Augustine had been founded in 1565, and the old Spanish colony was much disturbed in 1663, when Charles II. of England planted an English colony in their near neighborhood (the Carolinas). During the war between Spain and England at the time above mentioned, feeling ran high between Florida and the Carolinas, and houses were burned and blood was shed. Spain had felt no concern about the little English colony planted on the bleak New England coast in 1620. Death by exposure and starvation promised speedily to remove that. But the settlement on the Carolinas was more serious, and at the same time the French were planting a colony of their own at the mouth of the Mississippi. The "lords of America" began to feel anxious about their control of the Gulf of Mexico. The cloud was a very small one, but it was not to be the last which would dim their skies in the West.

The one thing which gives historic importance to the reign of Carlos II. is that it marks the close—the ignominious close—of the great Hapsburg dynasty in Spain. And if the death of Carlos, in 1700, was a melancholy event, it is because with it the scepter so magnificently wielded by Ferdinand and Isabella passed to the keeping of the House of Bourbon, whose Spanish descendants have, excepting for two brief intervals, ruled Spain ever since.


The last century had wrought great changes in European conditions. "The Holy Roman Empire," after a thirty-years' war with Protestantism, was shattered, and the Emperor of Germany was no longer the head of Europe. Protestant England had sternly executed Charles I., and then in the person of James II. had swept the last of the Catholic House of Stuart out of her kingdom. France, on the foundation laid by Richelieu, had developed into a powerful despotism, which her King, Louis XIV., was making magnificent at home and feared abroad.

For Spain it had been a century of steady decline, with loss of territory, power, and prestige. No longer great in herself, she was regarded by her ambitious neighbor, Louis XIV., as only a make-weight in the supremacy in Europe upon which he was determined. He had been ravaging the enfeebled German Empire, and now a friendly fate opened a peaceful door through which he might make Spain contribute to his greatness.

Carlos II. died (1700) without an heir. There was a vacant throne in Spain to which—on account of Louis' marriage, years before, with the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa—his grandson Philip had now the most valid claim. The other claimant, Archduke Karl, son of Leopold, Emperor of Germany, in addition to having a less direct hereditary descent, was unacceptable to the Spanish people, who had no desire to be ruled again by an occupant of the Imperial throne of Germany.

So, as Louis wished it, and the Spanish people also wished it, there was only one obstacle to his design; that was a promise made at the time of his marriage that he would never claim that throne for himself or his heirs. But when the Pope, after "prayerful deliberation," absolved him from that promise the way was clear. This grandson, just seventeen years old, was proclaimed Philip V., King of Spain, and Louis in the fullness of his heart exclaimed, "The Pyrenees have ceased to exist!"

Perhaps it would have been better for the King if he had not made that dramatic exclamation. A man who could remove mountains to make a path for his ambitions might also drain seas! England took warning. She had been quietly bearing his insults for a long time, and not till he had impertinently threatened to place upon her throne the Pretender, the exiled son of James II., had she joined the coalition against the French King. But now she sent more armies, and a great captain to re-enforce Prince Eugene, who was fighting this battle for the Archduke Karl and for Europe.

But Louis had reached the summit. He was to go no higher than he had climbed when he uttered that vain boast. Philip V. was acknowledged King in 1702, and in 1704 Blenheim had been fought and won by Marlborough, and the decline of the Grand Monarque had commenced.

The war against him by a combined Europe now became the war of the "Spanish Succession." England and Holland united with Emperor Leopold to curb his limitless ambition. The purpose of the war of the "Spanish Succession" was, ostensibly, to place the Austrian Archduke upon the throne of Spain; its real purpose was to check the alarming ascendancy of Louis XIV. in Europe.

It lasted for years, the poor young King and Queen being driven from one city to another, while the Austrian Archduke was at Madrid striving to reign over a people who would not recognize him.

Spain was being made the sport of three nations in pursuance of their own ambitious ends. Her land was being ravaged by foreign armies, recruited from three of her own disaffected provinces; while a young King with whom she was well satisfied was peremptorily ordered to make way for one Austria, England, and Holland preferred. It was a humiliating proof of the decline in national spirit, and the old Castilian pride must have sorely degenerated for such things to be possible.

Finally, after Louis XIV. had once more given solemn oath that the crowns of France and Spain should never be united, the "Peace of Utrecht" was signed (1713). But the provisions of the treaty were momentous for Spain. She was at one stroke of the pen stripped of half her possessions in Europe. Philip V. was acknowledged King of Spain and the Indies. But Sicily, with its regal title, was ceded to the Duke of Savoy; Milan, Naples, Sardinia, and the Netherlands went to Karl, now Emperor Charles VI. of Germany; while Minorca and Gibraltar passed to the keeping of England.

No one felt unmixed satisfaction, except perhaps England. The Archduke had failed to get his throne, and to wear the double crown like Charles V. Louis had carried his point. He had succeeded in keeping the kingdom for his grandson. But that kingdom was dismembered, and had shrunk to insignificant proportions in Europe, while England, most fortunate of all, had carried off the key to the Mediterranean. That little rocky promontory of Gibraltar was potentially of more value than all the rest!

Such was the beginning of the dynasty of the Bourbon in Spain. Philip was succeeded, upon his death in 1746, by his son Ferdinand VI., who also died, in 1759, and was succeeded by his brother, Philip's second son, who was known as Carlos III. When we try to praise these princes of the wretched Bourbon line, it is by mention of the evil they have refrained from doing rather than the good they have done. So Carlos III. is said to have done less harm to Spain than his predecessors. He established libraries and academies of science and of arts, and ruled like a kind-hearted gentleman, without the vices of his recent predecessors. His severity toward the Jesuits and their forcible expulsion from Spain, in 1767, are said to have been caused by personal resentment on account of some slanderous rumors regarding his birth, which were traced to them.


But the fate of Spain was not now in the hands of her Kings. Were they good or evil she was destined henceforth to drift in the currents of circumstance, that sternest of masters, to whom her Kings as well as her people would be obliged helplessly to bow. All that she now possessed outside the borders of her own kingdom was the West Indies, her colonies in America, North and South, and the Philippines, that archipelago of a thousand isles in the southern Pacific, where Magellan was slain by the savage inhabitants after he had discovered it (1520).

Mexico and Peru had proved to be inexhaustible sources of wealth, and when the gold and silver diminished, the Viceroys in these and the other colonies could compel the people to wring rich products out of the soil, enough to supply Spain's necessities. The inhabitants of these colonies, composed of the aboriginal races with an admixture of Spanish, had been treated as slaves and drudges for so many centuries that they never dreamed of resistance, nor questioned the justice of a fate which condemned them always to toil for Spain.

In the North the feeble colony planted in 1620 had expanded into thirteen vigorous English colonies. France, too, had been colonizing in America, and had drawn her frontier line from the mouth of the Mississippi to Canada. In 1755 a collision occurred between England and France over their American boundaries. By the year 1759, France had lost Quebec and every one of her strongholds, and she formed an alliance with Spain in a last effort to save her vanishing possessions in America.

Spain's punishment for this interference was swift. England promptly dispatched ships to Havana and to the Philippines; and when we read of the Anglo-Saxon capturing Havana and the adjacent islands on one side of the globe, and the City of Manila and fourteen of the Philippines on the other, in the midsummer of 1762, it has a slightly familiar sound. And when the old record further says, the "conquest in the West Indies cost many precious lives, more of whom were destroyed by the climate than by the enemy," and still again, "the capture of Manila was conducted with marvelous celerity and judgment," we begin to wonder whether we are reading the dispatches of the Associated Press in 1898, or history!

In the treaty which followed these victories, upon condition of England's returning Havana, and all the conquered territory excepting a portion of the West India Islands, Spain ceded to her the peninsula of Florida; while France, who was obliged to give to England all her territory east of the Mississippi, gave to Spain in return for her services the city of New Orleans, and all her territory west of the great river. This territory was retroceded to France by Spain in the year 1800, by the "Treaty of Madrid," and in 1803 was purchased by America from Napoleon, under the title of "Louisiana."

There was a growing irritation in the Spanish heart against England. She was crowding Spain out of North America, had insinuated herself into the West India Islands, and she was mistress of Gibraltar. So it was with no little satisfaction that they saw her involved in a serious quarrel with her American colonies, at a time when a stubborn and incompetent Hanoverian King was doing his best to destroy her. The hour seemed auspicious for recovering Gibraltar, and also to drive England out of the West Indies. The alliance with France had become a permanent one, and was known as a family compact between the Bourbon cousins Louis XV. and Carlos III. France had at this time rather distracting conditions at home; but she was thirsting for revenge at the loss of her rich American possessions, and besides, a sentimental interest in the brave people who had proclaimed their independence from the mother country, and were fighting to maintain it, began to manifest itself. It was fanned, no doubt, by a desire for England's humiliation; but it assumed a form too chivalric and too generous for Americans ever to discredit by unfriendly analysis of motive. Spain cared little for the cause of the colonies; but she was quite willing to help them by worrying and diverting the energies of England. So she invested Gibraltar. A garrison of only a handful of men astonished Europe by the bravery of its defense. Gibraltar was not taken by the Bourbon allies, neither were the English driven out of the West Indies. But it was a satisfaction to Spain to see her humbled by her victorious colonies!

So Carlos III. had indirectly assisted in the establishment of a republic on the confines of his Mexican Empire; apparently unconscious of the contagion in the word independence. But he quickly learned this to his sorrow. The story of the revolted and freed colonies sped on the wings of the wind. And in Peru a brave descendant of the Incas arose as a Deliverer. He led sixty thousand men into a vain fight for liberty. Of course the effort failed, but a spirit had been awakened which might be smothered, but never extinguished.

Carlos III. died in 1788 and was succeeded by his son Carlos IV.

During the miserable reign of this miserable King, France caught the infection from the free institutions in America. The Republic she had helped to create was fatal to monarchy in her own land. A revolution accompanied by unparalleled horrors swept away the whole tyrannous system of centuries and left the country a trembling wreck—but free. The dream of a republic was brief. Napoleon gathered the imperfectly organized government into his own hands, then by successive and rapid steps arose to Imperial power. France was an Empire, and adoringly submitted to the man who swiftly made her great and feared in Europe. She had another Charlemagne, who was bringing to his feet Kings and Princes, and annexing half of Europe to his empire!

Spain, all unconscious of his designs, and perhaps thinking this invincible man might help her to get back Gibraltar and to drive the English out of the West Indies, joined him in 1804 in a war against Great Britain; and the following year the combined fleets of France and Spain were annihilated by Lord Nelson off Cape Trafalgar. Family dissensions in the Spanish royal household at this time were opportune for Napoleon's designs. Carlos and his son Ferdinand were engaged in an unseemly quarrel. Carlos appealed to Napoleon regarding the treasonable conduct and threats of his son. Nothing could have better suited the purposes of the Emperor. The fox had been invited to be umpire! French troops poured into Spain. Carlos, under protest, resigned in favor of his son, who was proclaimed Ferdinand VII. (1807). The young King was then invited to meet the Emperor for consultation at Bayonne. He found himself a prisoner in France, and to Joseph Bonaparte, brother of the Emperor, was transferred the Crown of Spain.

The nation seemed paralyzed by the swiftness and the audacity of these overturnings. But soon popular indignation found expression. Juntas were formed. The one at Seville, calling itself the Supreme Junta, proclaimed an alliance with Great Britain; its purpose being the expulsion of the French from their kingdom.

Spain was in a state of chaos. Joseph was not without Spanish adherents, and there was no leader, no legitimate head to give constitutional stamp to the acts of the protesting people, who without the usual formalities convoked the Cortes. But while they were groping after reforms, and while Lord Wellington was driving back the French, Napoleon had met his reverse at Moscow, and a "War of Liberation" had commenced in Germany.

The grasp upon the Spanish throne relaxed. The captive King had permission to return, and the reign of Joseph was ended by his ignominious flight from the kingdom, with one gold-piece in his pocket (1814).


The decade between 1804 and 1814 had been very barren in external benefits to Spain, with her King held in "honorable captivity" in France, and the obscure Joseph abjectly striving to please not his subjects, but his august brother Napoleon. But in this time of chaos, when there was no Bourbon King, no long-established despotism to stifle popular sentiment, the unsuspected fact developed that Spain had caught the infection of freedom.

When, as we have seen, the Cortes assumed all the functions of a government, that body (in 1812) drew up a new Constitution for Spain. So completely did this remodel the whole administration, that the most despotic monarchy in Europe was transformed into the one most severely limited.

Great was the surprise of Ferdinand VII. when, in 1814, he came to the throne of his ejected father Carlos IV., to find himself called upon to reign under a Constitution which made Spain almost as free as a republic. He promulgated a decree declaring the Cortes illegal and rescinding all its acts, the Constitution of 1812 included. Then when he had re-established the Inquisition, which had been abolished by the Cortes, when he had publicly burned the impertinent Constitution, and quenched conspiracies here and there, he settled himself for a comfortable reign after the good old arbitrary fashion.

The Napoleonic empire having been effaced by a combined Europe, Ferdinand's Bourbon cousins were in the same way restoring the excellent methods of their fathers in France.

But there was a spirit in the air which was not favorable to the peace of Kings. On the American coast there stood "Liberty Enlightening the World!" A growing, prosperous republic was a shining example of what might be done by a brave resistance to oppression and a determined spirit of independence.

The pestilential leaven of freedom had been at work while monarchies slept in security. Ferdinand discovered that not only was there a seditious sentiment in his own kingdom, but every one of his American colonies was in open rebellion, and some were even daring to set up free governments in imitation of the United States.

Not only was Ferdinand's sovereignty threatened, but the very principle of monarchy itself was endangered.

Russia, Austria, and Prussia formed themselves into a league for the preservation of what they were pleased to call "The Divine Right of Kings." It was the attack upon this sacred principle, which was the germ of all this mischievous talk about freedom. They called their league "The Holy Alliance," and what they proposed to do was to stamp out free institutions in the germ.

In pursuance of this purpose, in 1819 there appeared at Cadiz a large fleet, assembled for the subjugation of Spanish America.

But there was an Anglo-Saxon America, which had a preponderating influence in that land now; and there was also an Anglo-Saxon race in Europe which had its own views about the "Divine Right of Kings," and also concerning the mission of the "Holy Alliance."

The right of three European Powers to restore to Spain her revolted colonies in America was denied by President Monroe; not upon the ground of Spain's inhumanity, and the inherent right of the colonies to an independence which they might achieve. Such was the nature of England's protest, through her Minister Canning. But President Monroe's contention rested on a much broader ground. In a message delivered in 1823 he uttered these words: "European Powers must not extend their political systems to any portion of the American continent." The meaning of this was that America has been won for freedom; and no European Power will be permitted to establish a monarchy, nor to coerce in any way, nor to suppress inclinations toward freedom, in any part of the Western Hemisphere. This is the "Monroe Doctrine"; a doctrine which, although so startling in 1832, had in 1896 become so firmly imbedded in the minds of the people, that Congress decided it to be a vital principle of American policy.

But there was another and more serious obstacle in the way of the proposed plan for subjugating the Spanish-American colonies. The army assembled by the Holy Alliance at Cadiz was an offense to the people who had seen their Constitution burned and their hopes of a freer government destroyed. Officers and troops refused to embark, and joined a concourse of disaffected people at Cadiz. A smothered popular sentiment burst forth into a series of insurrections throughout Spain, and the astonished Ferdinand was compelled, in 1820, to acknowledge the Constitution of 1812. This was not upholding the principle of the "Divine Right of Kings"! So, under the direction of the Holy Alliance, a French army of one hundred thousand men moved into Spain, took possession of her capital, and for two years administered her affairs under a regency, and then reinstated Ferdinand, leaving a French army of occupation.

In this contest two distinct political parties had developed—the Liberal party and the party of Absolutism. As Ferdinand VII. became the choice of the Liberals, and his brother Don Carlos of the party of Absolutism, we must infer either that it was a Liberalism of a very mild type, or that Ferdinand's views had been modified since the "Holy Alliance" took his kingdom into its own keeping. But his brother Carlos was the adored of the Absolutists, and a plot was made to compel Ferdinand to abdicate in his favor. This was the first of the Carlist plots, which, with little intermission, and always in the interest of despotism and bigotry, have menaced the safety and well-being of Spain ever since. From the year 1825 to 1898 there has been always a Don Carlos to trouble the political waters in that land.

So the mission of the "Holy Alliance" had failed. Instead of rehabilitating the sacred principle of the "Divine Right of Kings," they saw a powerful liberal party established in a kingdom which was the very stronghold of despotism. And instead of stamping out free institutions, six Spanish-American colonies had been recognized as free and independent states (1826). Spain had for three centuries ruled the richest and the fairest land on the earth. She had shown herself utterly undeserving of the opportunity, and unfit for the responsibilities imposed by a great colonial empire. She had sown the wind and now she reaped the whirlwind. She did not own a foot of territory on the continent she had discovered!


In 1833 King Ferdinand VII. died, leaving one child, the Princess Isabella, who was three years old. Here was the opportunity for the adherents of Don Carlos.

The "Salic law" had been one of the Gothic traditions of ancient Spain, and had with few exceptions been in force until 1789; when Carlos IV. issued a "Pragmatic Sanction," establishing the succession through the female as well as the male line; and on April 6, 1830, King Ferdinand confirmed this decree; so, when Isabella was born, October 10, 1830, she was heiress to the throne, unless her ambitious uncle, Don Carlos, could set aside the decree abrogating the old Salic law, and reign as Carlos IV.

In the three years before his brother's death he had laid his plans for the coming crisis. Isabella was proclaimed Queen under the regency of her depraved mother Christina. The extreme of the Catholic party, and of the reactionary or absolutist party, flocked about the Carlist standard; while the party of the infant Queen was the rallying point for the liberal and progressive sentiment in the kingdom; and her cause had the support of the new reform government of Louis Philippe in France, and of lovers of freedom elsewhere.

The party of the Queen triumphed. But the Carlists survived; and, like the Bourbons in France, have ever since in times of political peril been a serious element to be reckoned with.

During the infancy of the Queen, Spain was the prey of unceasing party dissensions; Don Carlos again and again trying to overthrow her government, and again and again being driven a fugitive over the Pyrenees; while the Queen Regent, who was secretly married to her Chamberlain, the son of a tobacconist in Madrid, was bringing disgrace and odium upon the Liberal party which she was supposed to lead.

In 1843 the Cortes declared that the Queen had attained her majority. Her disgraced mother was driven out of the country and Isabella II. ascended her throne. Isabella had a younger sister, Maria Louisa, and in 1846 the double marriage of these two children was celebrated with great splendor at Madrid. The Queen was married to her cousin Don Francisco d'Assisi, and her sister to the Duke de Montpensier, fifth son of Louis Philippe.

If, upon the birth of Liberalism in Spain, that kingdom could have been governed by a wise and competent sovereign, the concluding chapters of this narrative might have been very different. No time could have been less favorable for a radical change in policy than the period during which Isabella II. was Queen of Spain. Personally she was all that a woman and a Queen should not be. With apparently not an exalted desire or ambition for her country, this depraved daughter of a depraved mother pursued her downward course until 1868, when the nation would bear no more. A revolution broke out. Isabella, with her three children, fled to France and there was once more a vacant throne in Spain.

The hopes of the Carlists ran high. But the Cortes came to an unexpected decision. They would have no Spanish Bourbon, be he Carlist or Liberal. The reigning dynasty in Italy was at this moment the adored of the Liberals in Europe. So they offered the Crown to Amadeo, second son of Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy. Three years were quite sufficient for this experiment. The young Amadeo was as glad to take off his crown and to leave his kingdom, as the people were to have him do so. He abdicated in 1873.

The Liberal party had been regretting their loss of opportunity in 1870. France had passed through many political phases in the last few years, and the present French Republic had just come into existence. Again Spain caught the contagion from her neighbor, and Spanish Liberalism became Spanish Republicanism.

When Castelar, that patriotic and sagacious statesman, friend of Garibaldi, of Mazzini, and of Kossuth, led this movement, many hopefully believed the political millennium was at hand, when Spain was about to join the brotherhood of Republics! But something more than a great leader is needed to create a Republic. The magic of Castelar's eloquence, the purity of his character, and the force of his convictions were powerless to hold in stable union the conflicting elements with which he had to deal. The Carlists were scheming, and the Cortes was driven to an immediate decision.

The fugitive Queen Isabella had with her in exile a young son Alfonso, seventeen years of age. Alfonso was invited to return upon the sole condition that his mother should be excluded from his kingdom. An insurrection which was being fomented by Don Carlos II. led to this action of the Cortes, which was perhaps the wisest possible under the circumstances. The young Prince of the legitimate Bourbon line was proclaimed King Alfonso XII. in 1874.

A romantic marriage with his cousin Mercedes, daughter of the Duke de Montpensier, to whom he was deeply attached, speedily took place. Only five months later Mercedes died and was laid in the gloomy Escurial. A marriage was then arranged with Christina, an Austrian Archduchess, who was brought to Madrid, and there was another marriage celebrated with much splendor. The infant daughter, who was born a few years later, was named Mercedes; a loving tribute to the adored young Queen he had lost, which did credit as much to Christina as to Alfonso.

The hard school of exile had, no doubt, been an advantage to Alfonso; and at the outset of his reign he won the confidence of the Liberals by saying "he wished them to understand he was the first Republican in Europe; and when they were tired of him they had only to tell him so, and he would leave as quickly as Amadeo had done." There was not time to test the sincerity of these assurances. Alfonso XII. died in 1885, and joined Mercedes and his long line of predecessors in the Escurial. Five months later his son was born, and the throne which had been filled by the little Mercedes passed to the boy who was proclaimed Alfonso XIII. of Spain, under the Regency of his mother Queen Christina.


At the beginning of the nineteenth century the foreign dominions of Spain, although reduced, were still a vast and imperial possession. The colonial territory over which Alfonso XIII. was to have sovereignty at the close of that century, consisted of the Philippines, the richest of the East Indies; Cuba, the richest of the West Indies; Porto Rico, and a few outlying groups of islands of no great value.

Nowhere had the Constitution of 1812 awakened more hope than in Cuba; and from the setting aside of that instrument by Ferdinand VI. dates the existence of an insurgent party in that beautiful but most unhappy island. Ages of spoliation and cruelty and wrong had done their work. The iron of oppression had entered into the soul of the Cuban. There was a deep exasperation which refused to be calmed. From thenceforth annexation to the United States, or else a "Cuba Libre," was the determined, and even desperate aim.

After a ten-years' war, 1868-78, the people yielded to what proved a delusive promise of home-rule. How could Spain bestow upon her colony what she did not possess herself? When in 1881 she tried to pacify Cuba by permitting that island to send six Senators to sit in the Spanish Cortes, it was a phantom of a phantom. There was no outlet for the national will in Spain itself. Her Cortes was not a national assembly, and its members were not the choice of the people. How much less must they be so then in Cuba, where they were only men of straw selected by the home government, for the purpose of defeating—not expressing—the popular will? The emptiness of this gift was soon discovered. Then came a shorter conflict, which was only a prelude to the last.

A handful of ragged revolutionists, ignorant of the arts of war, commenced the final struggle for liberty on February 24, 1895, under the leadership of Jose Marti. At the end of two years a poorly armed band of guerrilla soldiers had waged a successful contest against 235,000 well-equipped troops, supported by a militia and a navy, and maintained by supplies from Spain; had adopted a Constitution, and were asking for recognition as a free Republic. The Spanish commander Martinez Campos was superseded by General Weyler (1895), and a new and severer method was inaugurated in dealing with the stubborn revolutionists, but with no better success than before. In August, 1897, an insurrection broke out anew in the Philippines, and Spain was in despair.

America calmly resisted all appeals for annexation or for intervention in Cuba. Sympathy for Cuban patriots was strong in the hearts of the people, but the American Government steadfastly maintained an attitude of strict neutrality and impartiality, and with unexampled patience saw a commerce amounting annually to one hundred millions of dollars wiped out of existence, her citizens reduced to want by the destruction of their property,—some of them lying in Spanish dungeons subjected to barbarities which were worthy of the Turkish Janizaries; our fleets used as a coastguard and a police, in the protection of Spanish interests, and more intolerable than all else, our hearts wrung by cries of anguish at our very doors!

But when General Weyler inaugurated a system for the deliberate starvation of thirty thousand "Reconcentrados," an innocent peasantry driven from their homes and herded in cities, there to perish, the limit of patience was reached. It was this touch of human pity—this last and intolerable strain upon our sympathies—which turned the scale.

While a profound feeling of indignation was prevailing on account of these revolting crimes against humanity, the battleship Maine was, by request of Consul General Lee at that place, dispatched to the harbor of Havana to guard American citizens and interests. The sullen reception of the Maine was followed on February 15, 1898, by a tragedy which shocked the world. Whether the destruction of that ship and the death of 266 brave men was from internal or external causes was a very critical question. It was submitted to a court of inquiry which, after long deliberation, rendered the decision that the cause was—external.

It looked dark for lovers of peace! President McKinley exhausted all the resources of diplomacy before he abandoned hope of a peaceful adjustment which would at the same time compel justice to the Cuban people. But on April 25, 1898, it was declared that war existed between Spain and America.

Less than a week after this declaration, in the early morning of May 1, a victory over the Spanish fleet at Manila was achieved by Commodore Dewey, which made him virtual master of the Philippines; and just two months later, July 1 and 2 were made memorable by two engagements in the West Indies, resulting, the one in the defeat of the Spanish land forces at San Juan, and the other in the complete annihilation of Admiral Cervera's fleet in the Bay of Santiago de Cuba—misfortunes so overwhelming that overtures for peace were quickly received at Washington from Madrid; and the Spanish-American War was over.

The colonial empire of Spain was at an end. The kingdom over which Alfonso XIII. was soon to reign had at a stroke lost the Spanish Indies in the West, and the Philippines in the far East. To America was confided the destiny of these widely separated possessions, Porto Rico being permanently ceded to the United States; while, according to the avowed purpose at the outset of the war, Cuba and the islands in the Pacific, as soon as fitted for self-government, were to be given into their own keeping; a promise which in the case of Cuba has already been redeemed, all possible haste being made to prepare the Philippines for a similar responsibility and destiny.

The quickness with which cordial relations have been re-established between Spain and the United States is most gratifying; and too much praise cannot be bestowed upon that proud, high-spirited people, who have accepted the results of the war in a spirit so admirable. In the loss of her American colonies, Spain has been paying a debt contracted in the days of her dazzling splendor—the time of the great Charles and of Philip II.,—a kind of indebtedness which in the case of nations is never forgiven, but must be paid to the uttermost farthing. If history teaches anything, it is that the nations which have been cruel and unjust sooner or later must "drink the cup of the Lord's fury," just as surely as did the Assyrians of old. Another thing which is quite as obvious is that the nations of the earth to-day must accept the ideals of the advancing tide of modern civilization, or perish! A people whose national festival is a bull-fight, has still something to learn. Much of mediaevalism still lingers in the methods and ideals of Spain. In the time of her opulence and splendor these methods and ideals were hers. So she believes in them and clings to them still. She has been the victim of a vicious political system, to which an intensely proud, patriotic, and brave people have believed they must be loyal.

In no other land—as we have seen—is the national spirit so strong. Certainly nowhere else has it ever been subjected to such strain and survived. And this intense loyalty, this overwhelming pride of race, this magnificent valor, have all been summoned to uphold a poor, perishing, vicious political system.

But the Zeitgeist is contagious. And at no time has its influence in this conservative kingdom been so apparent as since the Spanish-American War; soon after this was over, Alfonso ascended the throne of his fathers. The important question of his marriage after long consideration was decided by himself, when he selected an English Princess, niece of Edward VII., for his future Queen. The Princess Ena is the daughter of Princess Beatrice,—youngest child of Queen Victoria,—and Prince Henry of Battenberg, who was killed some years ago during one of the Kaffir wars in South Africa. A royal marriage uniting Protestant England and Catholic Spain would at one time have cost a throne and perhaps a head; and the cordiality, and even enthusiasm, with which this union has been greeted in England shows what seas of prejudice have been sailed through and what continents of sectarian differences have been left behind; proving that the Zeitgeist has been busy in England as well as in Spain.

The royal marriage of these two children—(the King having just passed his twentieth birthday)—attended by the traditional formalities, and a revival of almost mediaeval splendor, took place at Madrid, June 1, 1906. The many romantic features attending the courtship of the boy King and his English girl-bride invested the occasion with a picturesque interest for the whole world. And yet—impossible as it would have seemed—there existed some one degenerate enough to convert it into a ghastly tragedy. While returning to the royal palace over flower-strewn streets, after the conclusion of the marriage ceremony, a bomb concealed in a bouquet was thrown from an upper window, hitting the royal coach at which it was directly aimed. The young King and Queen escaped as if by a miracle from the wreck; and the destruction intended for them bore death and mutilation to scores of innocent people in no wise connected with the Government; and Madrid, at the moment of her supreme rejoicing, was converted into a blood-stained, mourning city.

Never did anarchistic methods seem so utterly divorced from intelligence as in this last attempt at regicide. If it had succeeded, an infant-nephew would have been King of Spain, with a long regency, perhaps, of some well-seasoned Castilian of the old school!

There was an incident in connection with this marriage which deeply touches the American heart. The special envoy, bearing a letter of congratulation to the King from President Roosevelt, was received with a warmth and consideration far exceeding what was required by diplomatic usage, and the stars and stripes helping to adorn Madrid for the great festival gave assurance that Spain and the United States are really friends again.


A.D. Ataulfus, 411-415 Wallia, 415-420 Theodored, 420-451 Thorismund, 451-452 Theodoric I. (Defeated Attila), 452-466 Evaric (Completed Gothic Conquest in Spain), 466-483 Alaric, 483-506 Gesaleic, 506-511 Theodoric II., 511-522 Amalaric, 522-531 Theudis, 531-548 Theudisel, 548-549 Agilan, 549-554 Athanagild I., 554-567 Liuva I., 567-570 Leovigild, 570-587 Recared I., 587-601 Liuva II., 601-603 Witteric, 603-610 Gundemar, 610-612 Sisebert, 612-621 Recared II. (3 months). Swintila, 621-631 Sisenand, 631-636 Chintila, 636-640 Tulga, 640-642 Chindaswind, 642-649 Receswind, 649-672 Wamba, 672-680 Ervigius, 680-687 Egica (son of Wamba), 687-701 Witiza, 701-709 Roderick, 700-711 Theodomir, } Kings without a kingdom { 711-743 Athanagild II.,} { 743-755


A.D. Pelayo (of Royal Gothic birth), 718 Favila (son of above), 737 Alfonso I. (son-in-law of Pelayo), 739 Fruela I. (son of Alfonso), 757 Aurelio, 768 Mauregato, 774 Bermudo I., 788 Alfonso II., 791 Ramiro I., 842 Ordono I., 850 Alfonso III., 866 Garcia, 910 Ordono II., 914 Fruela II., 923 Alfonso IV., 925 Ramiro II., 930 Ordono III., 950 Sancho I., 955 Ramiro III., 967 Bermudo II., 982 Alfonso V., 999 Bermudo III., 1027 Fernando I. (also King of Castile), 1037 Alfonso VI., 1065 Urraca, 1109 Alfonso VII. (also King of Castile), 1126 Fernando II., 1157 Alfonso IX. (Aided Conquest of Moors), 1188 Fernando III., 1230


Alfonso X. (el sabio), 1252 Sancho IV., 1284 Fernando IV., 1295 Alfonso XI., 1312 Pedro I. (el cruel), 1350 Enrique II., 1369 Juan I., 1379 Enrique IV., 1454 Isabel I. (married to Fernando II. of Aragon), 1474


Carlos I. (Charles I. Elected Charles V. of Germany, 1519), 1516 Philip II., 1556 Philip III., 1593 Philip IV., 1621 Carlos II., 1665

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