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European Background Of American History - (Vol. I of The American Nation: A History)
by Edward Potts Cheyney
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The conception of the sphericity of the earth was really a matter of mental training. In the fifteenth century those who had gained this knowledge were fewer than in modern times, but the class who did so believe were no less sure of it. Astronomers, philosophers, men of general learning, and even navigators and pilots were quite familiar with the idea and quite in the habit of thinking of the earth as a sphere. In all probability Columbus represented the beliefs of his class, as well as his own, when he said, "I have always read that the world, comprising the land and the water, is spherical, as is testified by the investigations of Ptolemy and others, who have proved it by the eclipses of the moon and other observations made from east to west, as well as by the elevation of the pole from north to south." [Footnote: Hakluyt Soc., Publications, Hist. of Columbus—Third Voyage, II., 129.] Opposition to voyages westward was based rather on the probability of the enormous size of the earth and on the supposed difficulty of sailing up the slope of the sphere than it was upon any serious doubt of its sphericity.

The habitable world was quite a different conception. It consisted of Europe, Asia, and Africa, these three continents forming a continuous stretch of land lying on the surface of the spherical earth, the rest of its surface being presumably covered with water. There was more or less speculation about the existence of other habitable lands on the earth than those which were known, but the interest in this possibility was languid at best, and it was denied by learned churchmen on biblical grounds.

The map-makers of that period continued, like those of the earlier Middle Ages, to base their work on mere half-mythical traditions, unrelieved and uncorrected by the results of actual discoveries. Their maps are still much like picture-books, filled with biblical and literary lore, indicating but a slight attempt to incorporate exact measurements and outlines. A development more revolutionary than the mere gradual increase of knowledge was necessary to break the bonds of academic tradition. [Footnote: Santarem, Essai sur L'Histoire de la Cosmographie, I., 75, 167, 178.]

Just at the beginning of the fourteenth century, however, a new line was struck out in map-making by the construction and steady development of sailing charts, or "portolani." These humble attempts at geographical representation were intended as practical aids to navigation for Mediterranean mariners, and were based on practical observation. During the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries they reached a wonderful degree of accuracy. The coasts, bays, islands, and promontories of the Mediterranean were plotted out in them and drawn with striking correctness. Some four hundred such sketch-maps remain to us, drawn by Italians from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, besides nearly a hundred made in other countries. [Footnote: Beazley, in Hakluyt Soc., Publications, 1899, cxx.] They did not undertake to give the internal features of the countries whose coast-lines they depicted, and as their main purpose was to aid Mediterranean trade, they did not extend so far beyond its shore as the erudition of the age would have made possible.

The best of the world maps of the fifteenth century were based on these Italian portolani rather than on mediaeval maps, and at the same time added such enlarged information as became common in the Italy of the fifteenth century. [Footnote: Ibid., cxxi., etc.]

Thus, at the very beginning of the fifteenth century European explorers had the benefit of the traditional ancient geography, of the new exactness of knowledge drawn from the observations of recent travellers, of the accurate but limited portolani of the Italian navigators, and finally of the more pretentious, if vague and often misleading, world maps of learned geographers. If a sailor wished to navigate the Mediterranean and its adjacent waters, if he planned to sail up the coast of Europe to the British Isles and on into the Baltic, or to pass down the Atlantic coast of Africa to Cape Nun, he might rely on the maps and charts which the Italian geographers could furnish him. Or if he launched his galleys on the Red Sea he might use their guidance down the east coast of Africa to the equator. He would also find tolerably accurate descriptions of all the southern coasts of Asia. In the interior a traveller by land could know beforehand the main features of the countries he might traverse. Beyond these limits, either by sea or by land, geographical knowledge must be sought by discovery or followed along the lines of dim report. If European sailors should follow the coast of Africa below the twenty-seventh parallel of north latitude, or of Europe above the sixtieth, or if they should direct their course into the western ocean beyond the Azores, they would be sailing into the unknown, and whatever they should find would be fresh acquisition.

The two instruments which were the most requisite for distant voyaging, the compass and the astrolabe (the predecessor of the quadrant), were already, in 1400, known and used by Mediterranean navigators. The property of turning towards the north, possessed by a magnetized needle, was certainly known as early as the close of the twelfth century; and even its use by sailors to find their directions when the sun and stars were obscured. More than one mediaeval writer describes the process by which a needle is rubbed on a piece of magnetic iron, then laid on a straw or attached to a piece of cork, and floated on water till its point turns towards the north star. [Footnote: Alexander Neckham, De Utensilibus; De Natura Rerum, book II., chap, xcviii.; Guyot de Provins, La Bible, Jacques de Vitry, Historia Orientalis; Brunette Latini, Epistolas, who mentions Roger Bacon as showing him a magnet at Oxford in 1258. Quoted in Beazley, Hakluyt Soc, Publications, 1899, cxliv., etc.] But its properties savored of magic; the earlier sailors, who hugged the shore, scarcely needed it, and it came into general use as slowly and imperceptibly as most of the other great inventions of the world.

The introduction of the compass into general use is, by tradition, ascribed to the Italian city of Amain, and it is easy to believe that the enterprising sailors of this commercial republic brought it into established recognition. By the early years of the fifteenth century the compass was provided with the card, marked with the directions, placed in the compass-box, and made a well-known part of the equipment of the navigator. [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap ix.] The mariner could now tell his directions wherever he might be, and the spider-web net-work of "compass-roses" on many of the early maps shows how anxious the map-maker was to provide lines along which the navigator might lay his course according to his compass. The makers of the better class of portolani evidently had the use of the compass in drawing their charts. [Footnote: Santarem, Essai sur L'Histoire de la Cosmographie, I., 280-305.] The changed position of the heavenly bodies as the early traveller passed northward or southward struck him with especial force. Marco Polo, describing the island of Sumatra, says, "But let me tell you one marvellous thing, and that is the fact that this island lies so far to the south that the north star, little or much, is never to be seen." [Footnote: Marco Polo (Yule's ed.), book III., chap. ix.] He also notes on his journey northward through India, when he sees it again, "two cubits above the water." When Cadamosto, the Venetian, saw the pole-star at "the third of a lance's length above the edge of the waves," he recorded it as one of the most striking phenomena of his journey towards the equator.

Two instruments were known by which the elevation above the horizon of the pole-star, or any other heavenly body could be measured. The older of these was the "cross-staff," or St. James's staff, a simple rod marked into degrees, at the end of which the eye was placed and along which a measured cross-piece was pushed, till one of its ends hid a point oh the horizon and the other the sun or star whose height was being measured. The astrolabe was a somewhat more elaborate instrument, consisting of a brass circle marked with degrees, against which two movable bars were fastened, each provided at the ends with a sight or projecting piece pierced by a hole. This was hung by a ring from a peg in the mast or from the hand, so that gravity would make one of its bars horizontal. Then the other bar was sighted to point towards some heavenly body. Chaucer, in 1400, gave to his "litel Lowis my sone" an astrolabe calculated "after the latitude of Oxenford," and wrote a charming treatise to explain to him in English its use, "for Latin ne canstow yit but smal, my lyte sone." In this treatise he described to him, among other things, "diverse tables of longitudes and latitudes of sterres." [Footnote: Chaucer, A Treatise on the Astrolabe, Prologue; Skeat, The Student's Chaucer, 396.] By means of either of these instruments latitude could be measured or calculated. Longitude was a more difficult problem; it involved the calculation of the difference of time as well as measurements of elevation of the heavenly bodies. The calculations necessary to discover actual locations from an observation were too long and complicated to be made on each occasion; and "ephemerides," or calculated tables of elevations of planets and of differences of time, were required. Just when the earliest of such tables were constructed and when chronometers came into use is obscure, but they were in existence in at least a rudimentary form early in the fifteenth century. [Footnote: Humboldt, Examen Critique, I., 274.]

The condition of Europe early in the fifteenth century as compared with its condition early in the thirteenth shows a great advance in those lines which made extensive exploration possible, and this advance was chiefly due to Italians. Increased knowledge, improved equipment, instruments of astronomical observation, navigating charts, and a face of educated navigators, made a part of the European background of American history as truly as did the incentive to exploration afforded by the search for new routes to the East. Of course much progress remained to be accomplished in the making of maps and globes, in the improvement of instruments, and in the calculation of tables during the period of discovery. The awakened scientific interest which had already shown itself as part of the Renaissance found scope in the practical requirements of distant voyages. While men were discovering new continents and seas, they were at the same time solving many problems of geographical science and perfecting the equipment by which further advance was made practicable.



CHAPTER IV

PIONEER WORK OF PORTUGAL (1400-1527)

The great period of explorations, of which the discovery of America was a part, lay between the years 1485 and 1520, between the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope by Diaz and the circumnavigation of the globe by the ships of Magellan. Long before this period of fruition, however, there was a significant movement of discovery, and an important acquisition of knowledge, experience, and boldness in exploration. This early dawn, preparatory to the later day, consisted in a series of discoveries on the west coast of Africa, due to the energy of the Portuguese and to the enlightenment of their great Prince Henry.

Portugal was especially fitted to be the pioneer in modern maritime exploration. Without geographical or racial separation from the rest of the Iberian peninsula, the national distinctness of Portugal was largely a matter of sentiment gathering around the sovereign. The nationality of Portugal had been created in the first place by the policy of its rulers, and preserved by them until the growth of separate material interests, a national language and literature, and traditions of glorious achievements confirmed the separateness of the Portuguese nationality from that of Spain.

The desire to hold aloof from other Spanish countries turned the attention of the king of Portugal to more distant alliances, and the open western seaboard naturally suggested that these should be with maritime states. In 1294 a treaty of commerce was signed with England. A century later, 1386, a much closer alliance with that country was formed and a new treaty signed at Windsor. [Footnote: Rymer, Foedera, II., 667, VII., 515-523.] This was followed in the next year by a marriage between the king of Portugal and Philippa, daughter of the English John of Gaunt and first cousin of King Richard. This "Treaty of Windsor" was renewed again and again by succeeding English and Portuguese sovereigns and remained the foundation of their relationship until it was superseded long afterwards by still closer treaty arrangements. With Flanders, Portugal had frequent peaceful intercourse, both in trade and in diplomacy. A Venetian fleet also called from time to time at the harbor of Lisbon on the way to and from England and Flanders, and thus brought Portugal into contact with the great Italian republic, and may have aroused an interest in far Eastern trade products of which loaded the galleys.

The contract before referred to by which Emanuel Pesagno was made hereditary lord high admiral, in 1317, continued to be fulfilled by the descendants of the first great admiral through the whole fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and kept up a constant connection with Genoa. [Footnote: M. G. Canale, Storia del Commercio, Viaggi, &c., degl' Italiani, book II., chap. x., etc., quoted by Payne, New World, 96.] Thus the associations of Portugal were with a line of seaboard states extending from England to Italy. After 1263 the maritime interests of the Portuguese kings became more distinct by their conquest from the Moors of the kingdom of Algarves, giving them a southern as well as a western sea-coast. [Footnote: Stephens, Hist. of Portugal, 81.] It was at Sagres, on Cape St. Vincent, which juts out into the open Atlantic Ocean on the extreme southwest of this province, that Henry, the fifth son of John II. of Portugal, established his dwelling-place in 1419, and created a centre of maritime interest and a base of exploring effort which was of world-wide influence. Henry was duke of Viseu, lord of Cavailham, viceroy of Algarves, and grand master of the Order of Christ. He had no wife or children; his private estate was, therefore, available for the expenses of exploring voyages; and projects of geographical discovery became his chief occupation. Whatever other duties or services were required of him on account of his membership in the royal family, he always returned to Sagres and to his exploring expeditions. He possessed also the interest and support of his father and brother, who successively occupied the throne. After his death his work was carried on by his nephew, King Alfonso V. The work of Henry was, therefore, substantially the concern of the whole royal family of Portugal for three generations. [Footnote: Major, Prince Henry the Navigator, chaps. iv., vi., xiii., xviii.]

Prince Henry "the Navigator," as he has come to be called, gathered around him a body of men trained as sailors; he learned the use of charts and instruments, taught these arts to his captains, and ultimately made the neighboring port of Lagos the most famous point in the world for the departure and return of exploring expeditions. [Footnote: Nordenskiold, Periplus, 121 A. For discussion of divergent views of Prince Henry's "school of navigation," see Beazley.] During forty years expedition after expedition was equipped almost yearly and sent down along the west coast of Africa, in the effort to solve its mystery and, if possible, to sail around its southern extremity.

In the process of exploration Prince Henry was governed by some of the strongest of human impulses. The crusading spirit was hot within him, and he hoped to continue in Africa the old struggle of the Portuguese Christians against the Moorish infidels. Gentler missionary ideals caused him to plan to spread Christianity into new lands, and to make connection with Prester John, the Christian ruler of the India which lay to the eastward of Africa. [Footnote: Hakluyt Soc., Publications, 1899, cvi.-cxii. Murara, Discovery of Guinea, chaps, vii., xvi.] His interest in trade was equally strong; he was familiar with the internal trade of Africa, and he lost no opportunity of developing traffic along the sea-coast. [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap. vii]

Yet it was the instinct of the explorer that inspired Prince Henry with the steady devotion to his life work. The fine curiosity which placed geographical discovery above all material gain, and rewarded his captains, not in proportion to what they had accomplished, but in proportion to the efforts they had made to carry the boundaries of knowledge farther, kept him and them intent on the work of exploration. [Footnote: Bourne, "Prince Henry the Navigator," in Essays in Historical Criticism, 173-189.] Henry possessed, at the beginning of his explorations, little more than the traditional geographical conceptions of the later Middle Ages. Besides some twelve or fourteen extant fourteenth-century maps drawn by Italian draughtsmen, which were probably all known to Henry, his brother Pedro gave him one which has since disappeared, which had been constructed at Venice, and which "had all the parts of the world and earth described." [Footnote: Major, Prince Henry, 62.] He was probably also familiar with the classical tales of the circumnavigation of Africa.

Besides this he had some important personal knowledge. During a Portuguese invasion of the Barbary states of Africa in 1415, in which Prince Henry served with his father and brothers, and later when he was himself in command, he found that there were caravan routes whose termini were at Ceuta and other Mediterranean towns. From the Sahara and the Soudan, across the desert, came caravans to the Mediterranean coast bringing gold, wine, and slaves, and news of trading routes far to the southward.

Moreover, these routes extended to rivers and seacoasts unknown to Europeans, which must, nevertheless, be connected with the open Atlantic Ocean, and might well be on the southern shore of that continent. "He got news of the passage of merchants from the coast of Tunis to Timbuctoo and to Cantor on the Gambia, which inspired him to seek those lands by way of the sea." [Footnote: Diego Gomez, quoted in Beazley, Introduction to Azurara's Chronicle (Hakluyt Soc., Publications, 1899).] "The tawny Moors, his prisoners, told him of certain tall palms growing at the mouth of the Senegal or western Nile, by which he was able to guide the caravels which he sent out to find that river." [Footnote: Ibid.]

The first decade of Henry's efforts, from 1420 to 1430, resulted in little in the way of new discovery. The Madeira and Azores islands were rediscovered and their full exploration and permanent colonization begun. Every year saw one or more caravels sent from Lagos southward to follow the coast of the main-land; but they skirted no shores that were not desert, and turned back baffled by their own fears. Cape Boyador long remained a barrier whose imaginary dangers of reef and shoal served as an excuse for the still more unreal horrors of the "Sea of Darkness."

The next decade saw better results. In 1434 Gil Eannes, one of the boldest of the captains who were growing up in Prince Henry's service, when he reached Boyador, sailed far out to sea, doubled the cape, and, returning to the coast, landed and gathered "St. Mary's roses," and took them home to the prince as a memento of the "farthest South." [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap. ix.] The greatest barrier had been passed, that of superstitious dread, and almost every voyage now brought its result of progress farther southward. Soon the boundaries of Islam were passed, for natives were found on the coast who were not Mohammedans.

The third decade saw still further advance. In 1441 Nuno Tristam discovered Cape Blanco, the "White Cape," glistening with the white sand of the Sahara. In 1445 Dinis Diaz, of Lisbon, sailed at last beyond the desert and reached Cape Verd, the "Green Cape," [Footnote: Ibid., chap. xxxi.] fifteen hundred miles down the African coast, and as far from Gibraltar south as Constantinople was east. By this time the captains of Prince Henry had reached the fertile and populous shores where the western Soudan borders on the Atlantic Ocean, and a new obstacle to further exploration revealed itself in the attraction and the profit of the slave-trade.

The first "Moors" or negroes were some ten or twelve captured and brought home in the year 1441 by Antam Goncalvez, to satisfy the curiosity of the prince and to obtain information useful for the further prosecution of the voyages. Others were soon brought for other purposes. Of the two hundred and thirty-five Moors who made up the first full cargo of human freight, the prince gave away the fifty-six which fell to his share as one-fifth, although it is recorded with the somewhat grotesque piety of the fifteenth century that "he reflected with great pleasure on the salvation of their souls that before were lost." [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap. xxv.]

There is no reason to believe that Henry planned or wished the development of a trade in slaves; [Footnote: The statement to the contrary in the Cambridge Modern Hist., I., 10, is not deducible from any contemporary evidence.] but labor was scarce on the great estates of southern Portugal, slaves were in demand, and very different desires from those of the prince might be gratified by capturing and bringing to the slave-market of Lagos the unfortunate natives of the newly discovered coasts. Hence one expedition after another, sent out for purposes of discovery, returned, bringing tales of failure to reach farther points on the coast, but laden with human booty to be sold. Private adventurers sought and obtained the prince's permission to send out caravels, and these also brought home cargoes of slaves. Only the most vigorous pressure, exercised on the choicest spirits among the Portuguese captains, served now to carry discoveries farther.

Nevertheless, a basis of interest in distant voyages had been found which had not existed before; and the further exploration of the African coast was certain, even in default of the personal enlightenment and enthusiasm of the Navigator. The expeditions sent by the prince and private voyages made familiar to the mariners of Portugal two thousand miles of coast instead of six hundred as of old. Guinea was eventually reached.

In 1455 the Venetian Cadamosto entered into Henry's service; and, followed closely by Diego Gomez, discovered the Cape Verd Islands and passed so far around the shoulder of northwestern Africa as not only to reach the ends of the caravan routes from Morocco, and to open up trade in gold, ivory, and the products of the Guinea coast, but to suggest that there was open sea now all the way eastward to India. The temporary disappointment of finding that this was not true was left to the successors of Prince Henry, for his death occurred in 1460. But the work was still carried on by his nephew, Alfonso V., and by the next king of Portugal, John II.

A series of bold pilots now passed beyond the whole Guinea coast, crossed the equator, and made their way down almost two thousand miles more of the African coast. The belief became assured that "ships which sailed down the coast of Guinea might be sure to reach the end of the land by persisting to the south"; and stone pillars six feet high were ordered to be erected at landing-places to indicate possession and mark the stages of the route to the Indies.

Finally, in 1486, Bartholomew Diaz, the third member of his family to take part in the discoveries of Prince Henry, with two vessels sailed the remaining distance on the coast, and passed so far to the eastward that his sailors mutinied and refused to go farther. Diaz then suddenly realized that, notwithstanding the necessity for his return, he had at last found the passage-way to India dreamed of through so many ages and sought for at such heavy cost.

A period of still greater discoveries was already at hand. "It was in Portugal," says Ferdinand Columbus, "that the admiral began to surmise that if men could sail so far south, one might also sail west and find lands in that direction." The Portuguese were so wedded to the search for the southeast route, and it was so nearly achieved at this time, that their interest was but languid in the plans for a search to the westward. Another people therefore took it up, and soon the exploration of the New World was in full tide, and the period of pioneer effort passed into the era of great accomplishment.

Meanwhile Portugal saw the fruition of Prince Henry's work in the circumnavigation of Africa. Ten years later than the exploit of Diaz, in 1496, a fleet sailed from Lisbon under Vasco da Gama which was destined to round the Cape, make its way up the east coast of Africa till familiar parts of the Indian Ocean were reached; then to sail across to India, cast anchor, and secure cargo in Calicut and many other ancient ports; and to return thence safely to its port of departure. [Footnote: The First Voyage of Vasco da Gama, in Hakluyt Soc., Publications, 1898.] The Portuguese search for a new route to the lands of Eastern products was thus successful; and once found, this path became familiar. The fleet of Cabral in 1500 immediately followed that of Da Gama, and, driven to the westward as it sailed to the south, discovered Brazil, as a casual incident of its successful voyage to India. Thus, if the voyage of Columbus had never been undertaken, America would have been found within less than a decade.

Albuquerque followed around the southeast passage in 1503; a permanent traffic between Portugal and India was established, and thereafter yearly fleets of merchant and war vessels rounded the Cape. Soon most of the points of vantage of the Indies were in Portuguese control— Ormuz, Diu, Goa, Ceylon, Malacca—and the enterprising little western state had trade settlements in Burma, China, and Japan. [Footnote: Hunter, Hist, of British India, I., 110-133.] The private path of the Portuguese ultimately became the public highway of the nations. Spain, Holland, England, and France sent fleets around the Cape of Good Hope, and made use of the route to the East which the Portuguese had discovered.

The actual progress of scientific knowledge and practical equipment for navigation made at Sagres, Lagos, Lisbon, and on the seas, during the voyages sent out by Prince Henry and his immediate successors, is unfortunately not accurately known; but some glimpses of it may be obtained. "In his wish to gain a prosperous result of his efforts," says an almost contemporary historian, "the Prince devoted great industry and thought to the matter, and at great expense procured the aid of one Master Jacome from Majorca, a man skilled in the art of navigation and in the making of maps and instruments, and who was sent for, with certain of the Arab and Jewish mathematicians, to instruct the Portuguese." [Footnote: De Barros, Decadas da Asia, quoted in Beazley, Henry the Navigator, 161.]

When trained Italian navigators applied to Henry, as was the case with the Venetian Cadamosto, they were readily taken into his service, and he sent word by them that he would heartily welcome any other such volunteers. When the prince's work fell into the hands of his nephew, King John, the latter appointed the German Behaim, of Nuremberg, who lived in Lisbon from 1480 to 1484, to be one of the four members of his "Junto de Mathematicos." It was Behaim who introduced to the Portuguese the improved ephemerides calculated by the German Regiomontanus, and printed at Nuremberg in 1474. He also improved the astrolabe and the staff, drew charts and made globes, and accompanied one of the West- African expeditions in 1489. [Footnote: Major, Prince Henry the Navigator, 326-328.] Diego Gomez, one of Henry's captains, remarks, in describing his voyage of 1460, "I had a quadrant with me and wrote on the table of it the altitude of the arctic pole, and I found it better than the chart; for though you see your course of sailing on the chart well enough, yet if once you get wrong it is hard by map alone to work back into the right course." [Footnote: Quoted, in Beazley, Henry the Navigator, 297, 298.] Azurara also contrasts the incorrect charts with which Henry's sailors were provided before their explorations with those corrected by the later observations. [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap. Lxxvi.] His navigators, therefore, used the compass, the quadrant, and carefully constructed charts; but their advances in the use of this equipment are not recorded.

The first portolano to note the discoveries on the coast of Africa made by the Portuguese was that of Gabriele de Valsecca, of Majorca (1434- 1439). A map drawn by Andrea Bianco, of Venice, at London in 1448, seems to have been intended especially to indicate them, as it gives twenty-seven new names along the coast to the south of Cape Boyador. But the map which was distinctively the outcome of the new discoveries was the so-called "Camaldolese map of Fra Mauro," drawn by Mauro, Bianco, and other draughtsmen during the year 1457, in the convent of Murano in Venice. King Alfonso of Portugal himself paid the expenses of its construction, and sent charts showing the recent discoveries. It included all the new knowledge obtained up to that time by Prince Henry's explorers. It is the first large map drawn with the exactness and the reliance on observed facts of the portolano, notwithstanding the fact that it included a larger part of the earth's surface in its field than any earlier map. Though disappointing in some respects, it stands in the forefront of improved modern maps, and not unworthily represents the advance made in the knowledge of the world's surface as a result of the Portuguese efforts up to that time. The scientific importance of the discoveries of the Portuguese and the intellectual alertness of the Italians are alike illustrated by an incident that occurred at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1491. Columbus having explained to the sovereigns his scheme for a western voyage to reach the Indies, most of the Spanish prelates who were present declared his ideas heretical, supporting themselves upon the authority of St. Augustine and Nicholas de Lyra. Alessandro Geraldini, an Italian, preceptor of the royal children, who was standing behind Cardinal Mendoza at the time, "represented to him that Nicholas de Lyra and St. Augustine had been, without doubt, excellent theologians but only mediocre geographers, since the Portuguese had reached a point of the other hemisphere where they had ceased to see the pole-star and discovered another star at the opposite pole, and that they had even found all the countries situated under the torrid zone fully peopled." [Footnote: Mariejol, L'Espagne sous Ferdinand et Isabelle, 96.] In ship-building Henry and his navigators made positive progress. The Venetian Cadamosto testifies that "his caravels did much excel all other sailing ships afloat." Many varieties of vessels are mentioned in the records of Prince Henry's time—the barca, barinel, caravel, nau, fusta; the galley, galiot, galeass, and galleon; the brigantine and carrack. Of all these the caravel became the favored for the long, exploring voyages. It was usually from sixty to one hundred feet long and eighteen to twenty-five feet broad, and of about two hundred tons burden. It had three masts with lateen sails stretched on the oblique yards which were swung from the masthead, and was steered, at least partly, by the turning of these great, swinging sails. [Footnote: Revista Portuguesa, Colonial (May 20, 1898), 32-52, quoted by Beazley, Introduction to Azurara's Chronicle (Hakluyt Soc., Publications, 1899, p. cxii.).] John II. encouraged the immigration of English and Danish ship-builders and carried improvements still further. The greatest service to navigation done by Prince Henry and his successors was that of providing a school of sea-training. Not only were the whole group of early Portuguese explorers, Henry's own captains, "brought up from boyhood in the household of the Infant," [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap xiii.] but there was scarcely a name great in navigation in the succeeding period which had not in some way been connected with these voyages. Diaz, Da Gama, Albuquerque, Da Cunha, Cabral, and the other captains who made the Portuguese empire in the East, Magellan, who found still another way to India by the southwest; Estevam Gomez, who sailed to the arctic seas; Bartholomew and Christopher Columbus—were all taught or practised in that school. Columbus lived in Lisbon from 1470 to 1484, married there the daughter of Bartholomew Perestrello, the discoverer and captain-general under Prince Henry of Porto Santo in the Madeiras; and, besides his voyages on the Mediterranean and to England and Iceland, went repeatedly to the coast of Guinea and lived for some years in the Madeiras. Between 1477 and 1484 he was regularly engaged in the maritime service of the Portuguese crown. Besides these great names, many navigators who had only local repute or have remained nameless were Portuguese in birth and training, and belonged to the same maritime school. In 1502, close upon the English grants of exploring and trading rights to the Cabots, came a similar concession to "Hugh Elliott and Thomas Ashehurst, merchants of Bristol, and to John Gunsalus and Francis Fernandez, Esq., subjects of the king of Portugal." [Footnote: Rymer, Foedera] The expedition of the French captain De Gonneville to Brazil, in 1503, was guided by two Portuguese pilots; [Footnote: Pigeonncau, Hist du Commerce, II, 50.] and twenty of the sailors on Magellan's Spanish fleet of 1519, besides the commander, were Portuguese. [Footnote: Navarrete, Coleccion, II, 12] Three vessels from Dieppe, under Portuguese pilotage, in 1527, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and visited Madagascar, Sumatra, and the coast of India. [Footnote: De Barros, Decadas da Asia (Madrid ed., 1615), 42 decade, book V., chap, vi., 296.]

Actual skill in navigating vessels was increased and developed to a high degree in the struggle with the adverse maritime conditions on the coast of Africa. The violent and disturbing currents, the terrible surf of the beaches, the cyclones of the Guinea coast, the trade-winds, which were always head-winds to the mariners returning from the south- west, the uncharted reefs and bars, all favored a school of seamanship which trained the Portuguese and Italian sailors to meet far worse difficulties than those likely to confront them in the later and more distant voyages to the westward.

Other experiences of the Portuguese were later utilized by the Spaniards in their American colonies. The slave-trade was a sombre precedent, followed only too readily; the system of grants of newly discovered territory to captains or contractors who would continue its discovery or conquest, exploit its resources, and pay to the crown a large share of its products was followed, somewhat intermittently, in the West Indies and Central and South America. [Footnote: Bourne, Spain in America, chap. xiv.]

One of the permanent lessons of the Portuguese explorations was the need for and effectiveness of royal or quasi-royal patronage. Italian expeditions bore no fruit and could bear none, for this requirement of patronage was but ill-afforded by her merchant cities or even by her merchant princes. It was impossible for Venice or Genoa to take a part in the new discoveries and follow the new lines of trade, not only because of their unfavorable geographical position, not only because they were then engaged in a desperate military and economic struggle to retain their old Levantine trade conquests and connections, not only because their wealth and prosperity were deeply smitten by their mutual struggles and their common losses from the repeated blows of the Ottoman conquest, but because Italy had no royal family to take under its patronage distant discovery, conquest, trade, and colonization. Italy furnished most of the knowledge, the skill, and the individual enterprise that made the great period of explorations; but Portugal, under the leadership of her great prince, was its true pioneer.



CHAPTER V

THE SPANISH MONARCHY IN THE AGE OF COLUMBUS

(1474-1525)

The limits of Portuguese discovery and dominion were soon reached; and as the fifteenth century advanced, Spain emerged not only as one of the great powers of Europe but as the first exploring, conquering, and colonizing nation of America. A century before any other European state obtained a permanent foothold in the New World, Spain began the creation of a great colonial empire there, which was soon occupied by her settlers, administered by a department of her government, converted by her missionaries, and made famous throughout Europe by the wealth which it brought to the mother-country. Such a work at such a time could only be accomplished by a vigorous and rising nation, and, in fact, Spanish advancement in Europe during this period corresponded closely with her achievements in America. There are few recorded instances of a development so rapid and a transformation so complete as that which took place in Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella, between 1474 and 1516.

For a career destined to be scarcely inferior to that any of the great empires of history, Spain had at the beginning of this period an inadequate and undeveloped political organization. Even that royal power which was the condition precedent to distant conquest and colonial organization was new. Spanish national unity, royal absolutism, and religious uniformity, which were famous throughout Europe in the sixteenth century, were all of recent growth; the centralized control over all parts of her widely scattered colonies which Spain, above all colonizing countries, exercised, was a power attained and a policy adopted only at the moment of the acquisition of those colonies.

When, in 1474, Isabella inherited the crown of Castille, and, in 1479, her husband, Ferdinand, became king of Aragon, they united, by close personal and political bonds, what had formerly been near a score of domains, variously joined or detached.

The king of Aragon had already incorporated into a personal union three separate countries—the kingdom of Aragon, the kingdom of Valencia, and the ancient principality of Catalonia, each with its own body of representatives, its own law, its peculiar customs, and its separate administrative systems. Castile was in name a political unity, having one monarch and one body of estates. Nevertheless its provinces represented well-marked ancient divisions. Leon had once been a separate kingdom, and was still coupled with Castile itself in the full title of that monarchy; while Galicia, Asturias, and the three Basque provinces were inhabited by peoples of different political history, of different stock, and living under different customs. Navarre, Granada, and Portugal, although within the Iberian peninsula, were, at the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella, still independent; though the first was destined to be united to Aragon, the second to Castile, and even the third was to be amalgamated for eighty critical years with the greater monarchy. Thus Spain was a congeries of states, joined by the marriage bond of the two rulers of its principal divisions, but by no means yet a single monarchy or a united nation. It was the work of the Catholic sovereigns to carry this unification far towards completion by following common aims, by achieving success in many fields of common national interest, and by imposing the common royal power upon all divergent and warring classes and interests in the various Spanish states.

The personality of Ferdinand and Isabella was the first great factor in the strengthening of the monarchy; for they were both individuals of authority, energy, and ability. [Footnote: Burgenroth, Col. Letters and State Papers, Spain, I., 34, etc.] Their union was the next element; for the royal power of the united monarchies could be used to break down opposition in either. Great achievements in Spain and in Europe increased their authority and power by the prestige of success. Finally, the discoveries, conquests, and colonization of America gave a unique position to the rulers of these distant possessions. Not only did the products of the American mines American commercial taxation furnish a material basis of strength and influence; not only did a great commercial marine and a great navy grow up around the needs of intercourse with the colonies; but the romantic interest of the discoveries, the wild adventures, and the wonderful success of the conquistadores, and the extent of the colonies, filled the imagination and gave an ideal greatness to the monarchs in whose name these conquests were made, and by whom the New World was ruled.

There was need for all the authority of the new sovereigns at the time of their accession in 1474. Under the weak rule of Isabella's brother, Castile had become a prey to disorder amounting almost to anarchy; in Galicia brigandage was so common as to be unresisted, except by townsmen staying within walls; in Andalusia private warfare among the great noble houses had let loose all the forces of disorder and violence; Isabella's claim to the crown was disputed and her rival upheld by foreign support. [Footnote: Maurenbrecher, Studien und Studien, 45, 46.] The united sovereigns met these difficulties with vigor, and the first two years of Isabella's rule in Castile gave repeated instances of victorious warfare, of successful assertion of authority, and of harsh justice. The turbulent districts were reduced to order and the foreign invader expelled.

The disorder in Andalusia seemed to demand personal action. In 1477, therefore, the two sovereigns made a formal entry into Seville, and the queen asserted her royal power in a way that could not be misunderstood. In true patriarchal fashion she established her tribunal in the Alcazar, sitting in a chair on an elevated platform surrounded by her council and officers, in all solemnity and according to traditional forms, listening to the complaints of high and low, rich and poor, and granting summary justice to all who claimed it, irrespective of rank or means. Her decrees were carried out, ill-doers forced to make amends, and turbulent nobles reduced to promising to keep the peace. The visit of Isabella to Seville may well be taken as the beginning of the work of the new monarchy in Spain. [Footnote: Perez, Los Reyes Catolicos in Sevilla, 1477-1478, p. 13.]

The next step towards an enforcement of royal authority taken by the new monarchs involved the acknowledgment of an institution seemingly independent of the monarchy. Spanish cities and communes had at various times formed hermandads, leagues or brotherhoods, to enforce order, to support themselves against great nobles, or to strengthen themselves for the carrying out of some object of common policy. Instances could be found in which their combined strength had been used against the king himself or his officials. On the other hand, their united power had been used efficaciously to form a sort of rural police, each city undertaking the protection of certain roads and stretches of country. [Footnote: Antequera, Hist. de la Legislacion Espanola, 194-197.]

Two influential ministers, with the approval of Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1476, obtained the agreement of the Cortes of Castile and of a junta of the towns for the formation of a santa hermandad, or "holy brotherhood," for three years, for which rules were drawn up, submitted to the monarchs, and filially promulgated. The nobles gave a reluctant assent to the requirements of these rules, so far as they affected their estates and vassals. Altogether two thousand horsemen were to be equipped, each horseman supported by a body of one hundred households. These were grouped into companies under eight captains and placed in detachments at certain distances along all the roads. Besides the armed soldiers of the brotherhood, a whole system of alcaldes was organized with exclusive jurisdiction over certain kinds of offences. A common treasury existed for the support of expenses.

When any theft, assault, arson, or rape was discovered or complained of, immediately the bells Were rung, and the nearest detachment of soldiers of the brotherhood started on a pursuit which was carried to the boundaries of the next district, where its detachment took up the pursuit, and so on until the culprit was seized or the boundaries of the kingdom reached. No town, house, or castle could refuse the right of search. When arrested, a decision of the nearest alcalde was given within five days. If convicted, the culprit had hand or foot cut off or was put to death. The favorite mode of execution in earlier times had been to bind the offender to a stake, and shoot him with arrows "till he died naturally"; but Isabella required that he should be hanged first, and that only then might his body be used as a target and a warning for others. The rapidity of pursuit and the certainty of capture of offenders, the promptitude of justice, and the barbarism of the punishments made a strong impression; and the combination of popular vengeance with official sanction made the hermandad an effective form of national police. It was introduced into Aragon in 1488.

Although this system seemed to emanate from the people, the general control over it was preserved by Ferdinand and Isabella by placing in influential positions in its administration trusted ministers of their own, and by joining themselves in its organization. When its work of insuring order was measurably accomplished and the people began to complain of its expense, the sovereigns were able to transfer the military force into a contingent for the Moorish war, and the treasury into an addition to the commissariat for the same purpose. In 1498 it was reduced to the proportions of a petty and inexpensive local police. It had proved itself, as utilized by these strong monarchs, a means of obtaining order and recruiting an army without cost to the royal treasury.

The vigor of the royal administration, however, expressed itself rather in the development of purely royal organs than in those which were so largely popular as the hermandad. A group of royal councils became, under Ferdinand and Isabella, the most powerful instruments of the royal will, the most effective means for obtaining additional power and beating down all opposition. Early in the reign, the old royal council, which traditionally consisted of twelve members, including representatives of each of the three orders of the state, was reconstituted so as to consist of one ecclesiastic, three nobles, and eight or nine letrados, or lawyers. [Footnote: Cortes de los Antiguos Reinos, 112, etc.] The last class, who made up its majority, were men learned in the Roman law, and therefore devoted to the idea of absolute monarchy; without connection with the church or the nobility, and therefore interested in the strengthening of the kingship against both; shrewd, trained, capable, and hard working.

From this time forward the council, in constant attendance on the king, well organized, provided with a corps of clerks and officers, and holding daily sessions, became the serviceable and effective auxiliary of royal power. It had duties of consultation, advice, and in some cases decision, on matters of internal and external policy, of legislation and administration; and, in fact, of action in the whole sphere of the affairs of state. In time the council was gradually subdivided into three bodies: the Council of Justice, the Council of State, and the Council of the Finances, whose functions were indicated by their titles. The first of these was, in a certain sense, the direct representative of the old single royal council, and was frequently known as the Council of Castile. Its president was always considered the highest personage in the kingdom, next the king; its members were of that class of letrados whom the king could most securely rely on, and to it fell the duty of enforcing the royal supremacy as against all ancient claims, privileges, and liberties.

In addition to these outgrowths from the primitive council of the king, new councils were created from time to time, analogous in powers, but holding oversight over special spheres of national interest. Some of these were temporary, others permanent. Among them were the Council of the Hermandad, which lasted only for the twenty-two years of the existence of that institution; the Council of the Suprema, or of the Inquisition; the Council of the Military Orders, the Council of the Indies, and the Council of Aragon. [Footnote: Antequera, Hist. de la Legislation Espanola, 347, 348.] These great administrative boards were a characteristic part of the Spanish system of government, a natural outgrowth of its wide-spread fields of action.

The Council of the Indies was constituted in 1511, under the presidency of Juan de Fonseca, archdeacon of Seville, and was exactly analogous to the other councils. It accompanied the king, and had under him all ultimate control in policy, in jurisdiction, and in legislation over the Spanish possessions in America and in the East. Its members were habitually drawn from those men who had had experience as public servants in the West Indies or in the Philippines. The more direct oversight of individual voyages to the Indies, the regulation of details of colonial affairs, and a large sphere of general activity were possessed by the powerful Casa le Contractacion at Seville. A Bureau of Pilots also existed, whose office it was to collect nautical information, provide charts, and give assistance to Spanish navigators. But both of these offices were under the control of the Council of the Indies. [Footnote: J. de Veitia Linage, The Spanish Rule of Trade to the West Indies, trans. by Captain J. Stevens, book I., chap. iii.]

All these councils were stronger in discussion than the execution; their archives came to include a vast mass of records and special reports on subjects falling within their respective fields, and their procedure favored penetrating investigation and full debate. But decision was hard to come at, and the consciousness that final decision after all rested with the king paralyzed effectiveness. The custom of submitting all questions of policy to investigation by the appropriate council became invariable in later Spanish history, and it resulted in cumbrous ineffectiveness. Interminable inquiry and discussion ended frequently only in suspension of judgment or a divided report. Points of policy of imminent importance had to await a dilatory investigation and equivocal conclusions. This impotence of the central organs of government did not come in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella and their immediate successors, and the growing inefficiency of the councils was long overcome by the resolution of the monarchs. Nevertheless the system was part of the price paid for centralized government, acting independently of local initiative or independence.

The preponderance of power that was being obtained by the sovereigns in the affairs of central government by means of the royal councils was gained in the local affairs of provinces, towns, and communes, by the appointment of corregidores. Such officials were appointed from time to time by earlier sovereigns to represent them in various towns, but the system had never been extended widely. In 1480 the king and queen sent one or more corregidores into every self-governing town and city in Castile where such officials did not exist already. [Footnote: Pulgar, Cronita de los Reyes, II., chap. xcv.] They were to act alongside of the older local regidores and alcaldes as special representatives of the crown, defending its rights and claims, and fulfilling its duties of general oversight and protection. As a matter of fact, the great work they accomplished was the enforcement of royal supremacy over local privileges. Little by little they extended their powers and encroached upon the local self-government, bringing to bear all the weight of the central government upon local conditions. [Footnote: Mariejol, L'Espagne sous Ferdinand et Isabelle, 172-174.] The steady pressure of the corregidores was supplemented by the periodical visits of the pesquidores, veidores, or inspectors, whose duty it from time to time to visit the various localities, examining into the conduct of the corregidores and other officials, listening to complaints against them, reporting on the revenues, condition of the roads, and other local conditions and needs.

Councils, corregidores, inspectors, and various other instruments of royal power fast sapped the strength of older institutions and gave authority and efficiency to the royal government; but they were expensive and the crown was poor. Moreover, these institutions were only the permanent elements in a policy which had a thousand temporary occasions of expense. Not even Ferdinand and Isabella could carry out so vigorous a regime unless provided with larger revenues. They determined, therefore, to emancipate the crown from its poverty. A few years after their accession they felt themselves strong enough, supported by the representatives of the towns, in the Cortes of Toledo, to convoke the great nobles and churchmen of the kingdom and demand from them an investigation into the conditions under which the ancient domains of the crown had been alienated. [Footnote: Pulgar, Cronica de los Reyes, II, chap. xcv.; Calmeiro, Introduction to Cortes de los Antiguos Reinos, II., 63, 64.] The Cardinal Pedro de Mendoza and the queen's confessor, Ferdinand de Talavera, were appointed to judge of the propriety of the gifts of former sovereigns. They did their work so adequately that pension after pension, estate after estate, endowment after endowment, were resumed by the crown. These resumptions were principally to the loss of the great noble families which had enriched themselves at the expense of the crown. None, it is true, were impoverished thereby, but a more normal relation of comparative income between sovereign and subject was established in the process. [Footnote: Mariejol, L'Espagne sous Ferdinand et Isabelle, vi., 24.] Another and more permanent addition to the royal income was made by the absorption into the crown of the grand masterships of the three military orders which existed in Castile, the Knights of Santiago, of Calatrava, and of Alcantara. In the course of three centuries of conquest from the Moslems these orders had added estate to estate, territory to territory, town to town, benefice to benefice, till their possessions extended widely through Spain, their income perhaps equalled that of the king, and their rule as landlords extended over almost a million people, or one-third the population of Castile. [Footnote: Vicente de la Fuente, Hist Generale de Espana, V., 79.] At the head of each of these orders was a grand master, whose rich income, military following, and prestige made him one of the greatest nobles in Europe. There was reason in the claim that these grand masterships were antagonistic to royalty. Those who held them were the most turbulent nobles of Spain, and in earlier times had been the leaders in many a revolt against the crown. Their military system was co-ordinate with, and sometimes in conflict with, that of the king; their estates surrounded royal fortresses and sometimes excluded royal forces from frontier districts.

In 1487 when the grand mastership of the order of Calatrava became vacant, Ferdinand presented himself in the chapter of the commanders of the order, exhibited a papal bull giving him the administration of the order, and forced the assembly to elect him grand master. In 1494, with less formality, the grand master of Alcantara was induced to resign to the king his office, receiving, in recompense, the dignity of archbishop of Seville. Two years later, when the grand master of the order of Santiago died, Ferdinand had himself elected without difficulty. [Footnote: Maurenbrecher, Studien und Skizzen, 54.] Some time after this Isabella issued a pragmatic decree, declaring that the grand masterships of the orders should always be annexed to crown. These dignities were of great value; not only did they bring in a princely income, but they practically extended the estates and patronage of the crown by all the broad lands, cities, and villages, the offices, honors, and benefices with which the piety and chivalry of three centuries had endowed the orders.

When once such foundations had been laid, the crown extended rapidly its aggressions upon the old powers, privileges, and customs of classes and local bodies. To the nobility were interdicted the possession of fortified castles, the practice of private warfare, the use of artillery, the duel, [Footnote: Mariejol, L'Espagne sous Ferdinand et Isabelle, 35.] the use of quasi-royal formulas in their documents, [Footnote: Cortes de los Antiguos Reinos, IV., 191, 192.] and other proud old feudal customs. No slight influence was exercised upon the nobility by the increasing ceremony, size, and expenditure of the court, to which they came to be attached in positions of nominal service and honorable dependence, a position altogether favorable to the supremacy of the monarchs and unfavorable to the independence of the nobility.

Side by side with the consolidation of royal power went the creation of the territorial unity of the Spanish peninsula. The greatest step was the conquest of Granada. Rich, warlike, and proud, this ancient Moorish state resisted the persistent attacks of the Catholic sovereigns for eleven years, from 1481 to 1492. [Footnote: Prescott, Ferdinand and Isabella, chap. ix.] At least once Ferdinand wearied of the struggle and the expense, and longed to turn the efforts of the united Castilian and Aragonese arms eastward, where the natural ambitions of his own kingdom drew him towards France, Italy, and the islands of the Mediterranean. [Footnote: Mariejol, L'Espagne sous Ferdinand et Isabelle, 63.] Isabella's determination, however, never wavered, and in 1492 Granada opened her gates to her conquerors, the Moorish dynasty disappeared from Spain, and their mountains and plains were added to the kingdom of Castile.

In the very next year Ferdinand reunited to his dominions, by amicable treaty with the king of France, the two northern provinces of Catalonia, Cerdagne and Roussillon—which had been detached for thirty years. There remained Portugal and Navarre. The first of these independent kingdoms had already attained a degree of national independence, power, and wealth which prevented its absorption, though it was in the days of Spain's greatest power to be dragged for eighty years in her train. Navarre, balanced on the Pyrenees, had long been drawn alternately to France and to Aragon. In the closing years of the fifteenth and the opening years of the sixteenth century, neutrality became impossible; and in 1512 a powerful Spanish army under the duke of Alva marched into Navarre; its castles and towns capitulated, the latter under a promise of the maintenance of their privileges; the king retreated to the trans-Pyrenean part of his kingdom, and Ferdinand added to his other titles that of king of Navarre. [Footnote: Boissonade, Reunion de la Navarre a la Castille.] By the time of the death of Ferdinand, the unity of the peninsula, except for Portugal, was complete. The immediate successors of the Catholic sovereigns wore the crowns of all the countries that ever have made part of Spain.

Just as Spain became territorially one, she was made homogeneous in race and religion so as ultimately to become a land of one race and one faith. The Jew and the Moor were both destined to disappear; every element alien in blood and every element unorthodox in religion to be driven out of the land. This complete purity of blood and unity of belief were only attained long afterwards, in a period when Spain had little else than her orthodoxy to pride herself upon, but they were well begun in the time of the Catholic sovereigns.

The Jews were the first to meet with serious persecution. They were very numerous: in one town, Ciudad Real, an assessment at one time showed 8828 heads of families, or other adult males of the Jewish race. [Footnote: Lea, The Moriscos of Spain, 383.] They were famous as physicians and merchants, and, as in other lands, were often money- lenders. From time to time waves of religious antagonism swept over the country, and under the terrible pressure of slaughter and imminent danger, great numbers of Jews were baptized and became conversos, or "New Christians." These converts, freed from the disabilities of their religion and gifted with superior natural abilities, rapidly attained to high positions in church and state. Intermarriages between the New Christians and those of Castilian blood were frequent, and many families of great eminence had Jewish blood in their veins.

The conversos were under constant suspicion of being Christians only formally; it was believed that in their hearts they retained their ancient faith and secretly performed its rites; they were credited with antagonism to Christianity and suspected of practising sorcery to destroy the "Old Christians." There was some basis for the first, at least, of these suspicions. Many doubtless failed to abandon completely their ancestral ceremonies; and not only they but even some Old Christians felt the attraction of their mysterious and ancient traditions. [Footnote: Mariejol, L'Espagne sous Ferdinand et Isabelle, 44.] The practice of Jewish rites, known as "Judaizing," under the wide relationships and high connections of the conversos, long went on unchecked. In 1475 the pope conferred on his legate in Castile full inquisitorial powers to prosecute and punish "Judaizing" Christians; but the mandate was not carried out. [Footnote: Lea, in Am. Hist. Rev., October, 1895, p. 48.]

In 1480, however, the Catholic sovereigns requested from the pope authorization for the appointment by themselves of inquisitors to root out this heresy. A bull for the purpose was granted them, and on September 27, 1480, the Spanish Inquisition was established at Seville. In January, 1481, it began its work, and branches were gradually established in other centres till it had extended its tribunals to cover all Castile. Its work proved heavy; in its first eight years the tribunal of Seville alone put to death seven hundred persons and condemned five thousand more to severe penalties. [Footnote: Bernaldez, Hist. de los Reyes, chap. xliv., quoted by Mariejol, L'Espagne, 46.] One of the great councils of the realm was formed to direct its operations, at the head of which was the inquisitor-general. The third in the line of inquisitors-general extended the Inquisition to America.

The authority of the Inquisition extended only over baptized persons; and, therefore, Jews who had never given up their religion, although under many disabilities, were not subject to its jurisdiction; but immunity to unconverted Jews could not consistently be continued during a harsh persecution of Judaizing Christians, and from the commencement of the work of the Inquisition pressure was brought to bear by clergy and populace upon the sovereigns to force all Jews either to be baptized or to emigrate. [Footnote: Lea, Religious History of Spain, 437.] The policy of enforced conversion or expulsion was steadily advocated by the inquisitors; since, if the Jews were baptized they would come under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition; if they left the country, Spain would be free from the reproach of harboring heretics.

Isabella seems to have hesitated to carry out this policy, as well she might. But the tide of popular hatred rose higher and higher, driven on by the famous case of El Santo Nino de la Guardia, the reputed murder of a Christian child by Jews to obtain its heart for purposes of sorcery. [Footnote: Lea, Religious History of Spain, 437-468.] Finally, by the edict of March 31, 1492, all Jews were expelled from Spain, as they had been from England as early as 1290, and successively from many other states of Europe at intervening periods. [Footnote: Amador de los Rios, Los Judios de Espana y Portugal, III., 603.] The same year that saw the discovery of America and the capture of Granada saw the expulsion of some one hundred thousand Jews and the enforced baptism of the fifty thousand that remained. [Footnote: Isidore Loeb, in Revue des Etudes Juives, 1887, p. 182, quoted in Lea, The Moriscos of Spain, 16.] One great and costly step had been made in the direction of unity of race and religion in Spain.

The Moors in Spain were still more numerous than the Jews, though more concentrated. Through the later mediaeval centuries, in the process of reconquest, Moorish populations which made formal surrender were preserved as subjects of the Christian kings; while those that were taken prisoners in battle were retained as slaves. Both classes, protected by the laws in their religion and their property, [Footnote: Las Siete Partidas, pt. i., tit. v., ley 23, etc., quoted in Lea, The Moriscos of Spain, 2.] frequently still practised their Mohammedan faith. Practically the whole rural population of the kingdom of Valencia was Moorish, and in the cities of the southern provinces of Castile they made a considerable part of the population. In the century and a half of peace just preceding the war with Granada they increased steadily in numbers and in economic value to Spain.

The conquest of Granada, in 1492, brought the population of that country under the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella. The old body of Moorish subjects of Aragon and Castile, now reinforced by all the teeming population of the south, made an element of the population of united Spain of infinite promise. They were skilful, industrious, temperate, and moral; their agriculture and manufactures were far more advanced than those of the Christians, and they were more laborious, thrifty, and peaceable. They might be relied upon to furnish through taxation a steady and abundant income to the crown, and through their labor to make the landed estates of the nobles profitable.

Though treaty guarantees and the permanent material interests of the new sovereigns alike favored the protection and pacification of the Moorish inhabitants of Granada, other motives antagonized this policy. Religious enthusiasm and racial antipathy, as well as immediate greed, urged a disregard of the terms of capitulation, or, at least, such an interpretation of them as would drive the Moors either to conversion or exile. The latitudinarianism of earlier centuries had disappeared. The whole spirit of the time was now averse to tolerance or anything approaching local, national, or religious independence. At first, under Talavera, a sincere, earnest, and partially successful effort was made to convert the Moors individually to Christianity; but soon a demand arose and became ever more urgent that the Moors, like the Jews, should be given the simple and immediate alternative of baptism or exile. In 1500 this policy was adopted in Granada; in 1502, by royal edict signed by Isabella, it was applied to all the dominions of the Castilian crown; and in 1525 it was promulgated in Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia. As a result many of the Moors emigrated to Africa; the rest became Moriscos—that is to say, Christians in religion, although Moors in blood. Thus religious uniformity was attained in Spain. In theory, at least, every inhabitant of the united kingdom was a Catholic Christian. But the enforced Christianity required of the Moriscos produced only an outward and imperfect conformity, and the problem of this alien element remained long unsolved to plague the Spanish monarchs, and to bring untold misery on the Moriscos themselves. [Footnote: Lea, The Moriscos of Spain, chaps. v.-xi.]

Thus the fragmentary and embryonic group of Iberian nations of the fifteenth century grew into the powerful Spanish monarchy of the sixteenth. A single centralized government was created, and the divided currents of national life were gathered by it into one great stream. Notwithstanding many survivals of mediaeval conditions and later reversions to the earlier type, internal warfare and domestic disorder disappeared from the peninsula, and divergence of foreign policy no longer weakened its influence in Europe. The absolute monarchy was founded, and whatever there was of ability, enterprise, and wealth in Spain came under its control. The sovereign was in a position to give patronage to voyages of adventure, to legislate for distant dominions, and to make the most remote Spanish possessions contributory to the general objects of Spanish policy.

Spain stood out as one of the greatest states in Europe. With her close approximation to a united nationality, her all-powerful monarchy, her highly elaborate bureaucracy, her increasing body of law, soon to be codified into a great whole, her nascent literature, her military gifts and resources, the wealth and romance of the Indies, she stood on the threshold of the sixteenth century with imposing power and dignity. The part she played during that century was a conspicuous one. Her generals and her troops became the most famous and the most successful in Europe. Her diplomatic representatives were able to take the highest tone and to win most successes among European states, in the international intrigues of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. She was rich enough to pension or bribe the ministers and courtiers of half the courts of Europe, and even to dazzle the eyes and impose upon the judgment of such a sovereign as James I. of England. Her literature and her art flourished with her political greatness, and she had all the external appearance of a great, cultured, and flourishing nation.

We know now, as was recognized by some observers even then, that Spain was a hollow shell. After the reign of Charles V. population stood stationary, or declined, and wealth decreased. Philip II. enforced orthodoxy, excluded all non-Catholic literature, and summoned home all Spanish students in foreign universities, thus dooming Spain to intellectual stagnation. She exhausted her resources in unwise or hopeless foreign struggles, like the war of conquest of Italy and the effort to reconquer the Netherlands; she wasted her peculiar opportunities by driving from her borders the enterprising Jews and industrious Moriscos, and by allowing commerce and finance to fall into the hands of foreigners. But most of these errors were, at the death of Ferdinand, in 1516, still in the future; and the Spanish monarchy and nation had much of the reality as well as the appearance of greatness.



CHAPTER VI

POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS OF CENTRAL EUROPE (1400-1650)

America's political and social institutions are unquestionably founded upon those of England, and these will be described in their proper place in this volume. But the institutions of three other European nations were for considerable periods dominant in certain parts of the New World, and have left an impress that is even yet far from being effaced. They are those of Spain, France, and Holland.

Since the Indies were, in theory, an outlying part of the kingdom of Castile, they naturally reflected the recently achieved absolutism of the Spanish monarchy. This absolutism in Castile extended over all fields—legislation, judicial action, and administrative control. Although the most formal and permanent statutes were drawn up by the king with the consent of the cortes, or even at its request, yet the custom of issuing pragmatica, or ordinances enacted by royal authority, grew until their provisions filled a large sphere. They were promulgated on all sorts of subjects, and became, immediately on their issue, authoritative rules of action. The whole subsequent legislation for the American colonies, springing as it did from the mere will of the sovereign, was an outcome of this custom.

The king was the fountain of justice, in whose name or by whose grant all temporal jurisdiction was exercised. In no country of Europe was this principle more clearly acknowledged than in Spain. Immediately attending upon him was an audiencia, or group of judicial officers whose duty it was to carry out these functions in the most immediate cases. The audiencia was a high court of law and equity, deciding both civil and criminal cases; and, as is always the case in early stages of government, exercising much administrative and financial control through the forms of judicial action. The insufficiency for these ends of a peripatetic body bound to follow the king in all his movements was early recognized, and the royal audiencia was made stationary at Valladolid. Later a second such court was established, first at Ciudad Real, then, after the conquest, at Granada. Ultimately others were organized in Galicia, Seville, Madrid, Burgos, and several additional centres. The system was early transported and extensively developed in the American possessions, where twelve independent audience existed. There, as at home, this court system gradually superseded the more individual and military rule of the adelantado, which had been characteristic of the early conquest period. [Footnote: Moses, Spanish Rule in America, 66, etc] The adelantado was the representative of the administrative powers of the crown. Five such officials in the fifteenth century governed respectively the provinces of Castile, Leon, Galicia, Andalusia, and Murcia; another was appointed over Granada when it was conquered; and still another administered the temporal affairs of the vast estates of the archbishopric of Toledo. Their duties were partly military, partly civil, and under them were subordinate royal officers with a great variety of titles such as sarjento mayor, alferez real, alcalde. The title of adelantado was naturally given to Columbus, Pizarro, and several of the other early conquistadores as the nearest equivalent to their position as civil and military governors of the wide-spreading, newly conquered lands of America. [Footnote: Moses, Spanish Rule in America, 68, 69, 113.] The supremacy of the crown extended to the church as well as to the state. Spain, in the Middle Ages and far into modern times, presented the anomaly of a nation and government most ardently devoted to orthodox Christianity and to the church, and yet jealous and impatient of the powers of the Pope. In 1482 Isabella protested against the use of a papal provision for the appointment of a foreign cardinal to a Castilian bishopric, and claimed a right to be consulted in all ecclesiastical appointments. A serious contest ensued, the ultimate result of which was that the queen obtained a clear right of appointment, which, in the reign of Charles V., was formally recognized as such by the pope. [Footnote: Vicente de la Fuente, Hist Generate de Espana, V, 150, quoted in Mariejol, L'Espagne sous Ferdinand et Isabelle, 28.]

This position of the monarchs at home made easy and natural the adoption of their position of supreme patrons of the church in Spanish America. In the colonies conquered, settled, and Christianized under their influence they had a completeness of control, not only over appointments, but over the establishment of new church centres and the disposition of the titles to ecclesiastical property generally, which was quite unknown anywhere in Europe.

The supremacy of the crown in Spain is evidenced in no way more markedly than by its entire freedom from dependence on the military and landed classes of the country. Yet the nobility were numerous, rich, and distinguished. In the sixteenth century there were twelve dukes, thirteen marquises, and thirty-six counts in Castile, some of whom had princely estates and power. The heads of such families as that of Mendoza or Gruzman or Lara or Haro or Medina Celi were among the greatest men in Europe. Yet the highest of these nobles was still an immeasurable distance below the king. The option of royal estates, the seizure of the grand masterships, the enforcement and extension of all latent powers of the monarchy had freed the Spanish kings from all danger of control by the great nobility.

The chief characteristic of the Castilian nobility, however, was not its wealth, but its numbers. Next in rank to the great nobles, or ricos hombres, were the caballeros, the knights, and below them was a vast number of hidalgos, mere gentlemen. In Castile all were accounted gentlemen who were sons of gentlemen, legitimate or illegitimate; all those who took up their residence in a city newly conquered from the Moors, providing themselves with horse and arms without engaging in trade; those who lived without trade in certain provinces and cities which had that privilege. Whether rich or poor, those who belonged to the noble class had many privileges: they paid none of the general taxes; they were free from imprisonment for debt; they had the preference in appointments to office in state and church; they had precedence on all public occasions; and, except in case of treason or heresy, they had the privilege in case of execution of being decapitated instead of hanged. [Footnote: Mariejol, L'Espagne sous Ferdinand et Isabelle, 278-284.]

These hidalgos and caballeros, many of them poor, living on inadequate estates, in service to other nobles or in irregular ways in the towns, furnished promising material for volunteer forces in war, for distant conquest, and for an expanding government service; but they were weak elements of economic progress. The conquistadores of Spanish America, the soldiers in Italy and the Netherlands, and the drones of Spain were all to be found among the teeming lower Spanish nobility and gentry. They made admirable soldiers. With all their pride and all their indolence, Spanish gentlemen were not too proud to fight, even in the ranks and afoot; or too lazy to endure effort and privation when they were for a military end. The Spaniards as a race were then, as now, abstemious, and could make long marches on a slender commissariat. Many of them were used to the extremes of heat and cold of the mountainous regions of their native country, and were fitted for the most trying of long campaigns, All the material was ready to the hand of the king for use in his European campaigns, or to be let loose for adventure in America. With this acknowledged position of legislative, judicial, administrative, and ecclesiastical supremacy at home; with the headship of a numerous, loyal, and warlike nobility; with the possession of a numerous trained official class, it was easy for the Spanish monarchs to impose a centralized and homogeneous system of despotic government upon the distant and widespread colonies of America.

The assertion of the absolute authority of the king over the Indies was never neglected or allowed to lapse. The adventurers who discovered and explored the West Indies, Central and South America, Mexico, and much of what is now territory of the United States; the captains who conquered these lands; the governors who organized and ruled them; the colonists who occupied them—all drew their permission so to act from the king, or if they went beyond their commissions quickly legitimated their actions by an appeal to him for an act of indemnity and a more adequate commission. Foreigners were by the edict of the king excluded from the Spanish possessions, or permitted a narrow field of action there; the policy of the colonies in matters of trade, relations with the natives, religion, and finance was dictated by the king. Upon the advice of his Council of the Indies he issued a continuous series of rules and ordinances, and finally drew up for the American possessions the "New Laws."

Yet supreme over her colonies as was the absolute monarchy of Spain, a false idea of their condition would be obtained if it were forgotten that the monarchy was only one of the national institutions. Other political habits of the people were firmly established as well as that of subserviency to the crown. Spain was the classic land of participation of all classes in government through the cortes; almost as old as the monarchy were the fueros, or franchises and charters; protected by these fueros, the cities and towns had become numerous, powerful, and almost self-governing; and even rural communities had in many cases a complicated and semi-independent system of control of their own affairs.

The cortes may be neglected here, since no such representative body ever arose in the colonies; but the same is not true of local self- governing municipalities. Not only were they characteristic of Spain, but analogous institutions were established as a Spanish population grew up and was organized in the Indies, where there was a strong tendency to revert to practical self-government and thus to defeat the centralizing policy of the monarchy.

Several hundred cities, towns, and rural communities in Spain held fueros granted to them by the king, a great noble, or some ecclesiastical body. These charters in many cases dated from the eleventh or twelfth century and conceded the most extensive rights and privileges. Under them townsmen could surround themselves with a wall, organize a military force, elect their own magistrates, judge their own inhabitants, collect their own taxes, pay only a fixed sum to the crown, and in other ways live almost as a separate political body under the general protection only of the king. [Footnote: Antequera, Hist. de la Legislation Espanola, 128-139.]

Notwithstanding many differences among the towns in size, character, and political privileges, among those of Castile there was a certain similarity of organization which may be described as follows, and may be looked upon as the type on which municipalities in Spanish America were originally constructed. [Footnote: Bourne, Spain in America, chap. xv.]

The citizens who possessed full political rights were known in the most general sense as vecinos; when acting as electors they were spoken of as forming the concejo, cabildo, or council. The actual body which met and directed municipal affairs was the ayuntamiento, made up of the more important magistrates and officials, of whom there was usually a considerable number and variety. The alcaldes exercised judicial functions, both civil and criminal; the regidores had charge of the administrative work of the community; the corregidores of its oversight in the interest of the king; the alguazil mayor commanded the military forces; the mayor domo had the oversight of the town property. In some towns one or more of the alcaldes had the title of alcalde mayor, and held a presiding function. There were various lower officials, such as alarifes, rayones, and others in great variety. [Footnote: Antequera, Hist. de la Legislation Espanola, App. ix., 542.] The town officials were in some cases appointed by the king, in others elected by the vecinos, in still others divided between royal and local appointment. They were usually drawn from the body of the citizens, but in some cases from gentlemen or even noblemen who had houses in the town or simply owned property there.

This municipal organization and certain other ancient institutions tended to reappear in the colonies, and thus to modify and limit that absolutism of the central government which was without doubt the leading characteristic of the Spanish colonial system. The provincial interests of the colonists also opposed the monarchy. The great distance of the colonies from Spain, the rigidity of official custom, the difference between the interests of the colonists and the desires of the government, and the lack of vigor at home combined to prevent a really effective control of the colonies. "Obedezcase, pero no se cumpla" (Let it be obeyed, but not enforced) was a saying sufficiently descriptive of the attitude of the colonies towards unpopular decrees from home.

The servitude of men of dependent races, which became such a fundamental characteristic of Spanish America, is an instance of this incompleteness of control by the central government. Slavery was a product of American conditions and was not general in the mother- country. A small number of Moorish slaves captured in war and of negroes imported through Portugal were scattered through Spain, but they did not form a class, and were protected rather than depressed by the law. [Footnote: Lea, The Moriscos of Spain, 2.]

Slavery in America was always distasteful to the home government, and only reluctantly permitted because of the apparent necessities of the case and in the hope of ameliorating the lot of the Indians. The whole plan of the asiento was based on the principle of regulating and limiting slavery. The shameful extermination of the native races of the West Indies is a long, sad history of kindly intentions and wise regulations on the part of the home government, made nugatory by the determined self-interest and heartless cruelty of the colonists. [Footnote: Lea, "The Indian Policy of Spain" (in Yale Review, August, 1899); Bourne, Spain in America, chap. xviii.] The fervor of Las Casas could readily obtain from the Spanish monarchs proclamations declaring the freedom of the Indians and even definite statutes providing for their good treatment; but neither his fervor nor the monarch's power could secure the enforcement of the laws or save the miserable natives. [Footnote: Lea, "The Indian Policy of Spain" (Yale Review, August, 1899), 132, 135, 138, 141, 143. etc]

In theory the Spanish sovereigns ruled the Indies with an autocratic sway. In practice the colonies were governed by a bureaucracy or, more commonly, allowed to drift. Yet by the forms of Spanish rule they were deprived of all wholesome local freedom, of all power of independent action, and of all deliberate choice of their own policy. They did not, therefore, develop during their colonial period a robust provincial life and character; and only late and with great difficulty did they struggle into independence and obtain self-government. [Footnote: Paxson, The Independence of the South-American Republics, chap. i.]

The institutions of France which were transferred to the New World or which exercised a direct influence on its political development belong to a period a century or a century and a half later than those of Spain which have just been described. Yet during that period there had been no essential alteration in the general direction of political development in France, and the system which Canada reflected in the seventeenth century was a more elaborate rather than a different system from that of the sixteenth. This development had, indeed, been in progress since the Hundred Years' War, and consisted in the steady rise of the power of the centralized monarchy. In Spain we have seen a sudden growth of absolutism and centralization within one reign. In France the foundation of the absolute monarchy was laid earlier, it was constructed more uniformly, and the resulting edifice was more firm and symmetrical.

The extension of the royal household, the sub-division of the royal councils, the creation of the parlements, [Footnote: Lavisse, Histoire de France, V., pt. i., 215.] the appointment of governors of provinces, bailiffs, and intendants, and the establishment of a complicated hierarchy of financial and judicial officers and official bodies, [Footnote: Ibid., V., 247.] were processes which arose from the fundamental conditions of France and from the genius of her government. In this development there were periods of rapid growth, as that of Francis I.; of temporary reaction, as that of the religious wars. Of the periods of the former none was more important and definitive than that which was in progress during the years in which Canada was struggling into existence—that is to say, the reigns of Henry IV. and Louis XIII., from 1589 to 1643. By the latter date, that of the accession of Louis XIV., the work was accomplished. France was, in theory and in practice, a despotism. It was so in theory, for Louis himself could declare, "All power, all authority, are in the hand of the king, and there can be none other in the kingdom than those which be established there." The epigram attributed to that monarch, "L'etat, c'est moi," was not an exaggerated description of the royal functions, according to the views of the king and of his most thoughtful ministers. "The ruler ought not to render accounts to any one of what he ordains. ... No one can say to him, 'Why do you do thus?'" said Bossuet. In his copy-book as a child Louis XIV. was taught to write, "To kings homage is due; they do what they please." In practice the absolute power was no less a reality, since by royal decree the king not only made war and peace, determined upon foreign and internal policy, established religion, and codified law, but also disposed of the property of his subjects through arbitrary taxation. A systematic scheme of government, in which all lines should converge upward to the sovereign, could be drawn more justly for France in the seventeenth century than for any political structure since the Notitia Dignitatum was drawn up for the later Roman Empire.

The royal government was as simple territorially as it was in functions. It extended over all the territory of France and of the French possessions beyond the seas. Instead of a collection of provinces, of some of which the king was direct ruler, of others only feudal lord, as had been his position in the fourteenth century, he was now king equally over every one of his subjects in every part of his dominions. The administration of this territory had been transferred from its feudal lords to the king by the appointment in the fifteenth century of governors of the provinces, whose position was almost that of viceroys.

An even more effective instrument of royal control was afterwards created in the form of the intendants. Dating in their beginning from the middle of the sixteenth century, reintroduced by Henry IV. in his reconstruction of France after the religious wars, [Footnote: Rambaud, Hist. de la Civilisation Francaise, I., 537.] these officials were settled upon by Richelieu in the period between 1624 and 1641 as the principal agents and representatives of royal power. Eventually each province had its intendant alongside of the governor, and these thirty- four officials exercised the real government over France. They were drawn not from the great nobility, as were the governors, but from the petty nobility or purely official class; they had no local connections or interests apart from the crown which they served; they could be removed at will; they exercised powers only by consent and direction of the crown; they were, therefore, absolutely dependent. On the other hand, they were habitually invested with powers of almost unbounded extent. They could withdraw cases from the ordinary judges and hear and decide them themselves; they recruited and organized the army; they had oversight of the churches, the schools, roads, canals, agriculture, trade, and industries; they must see that peace was kept; and they must watch over and report on the actions of all other royal officials in the province, including the governor. It was the intendant who made the despotic government of the king a reality. John Law declared, in a letter to D'Argenson, that "this kingdom of France is governed by thirty intendants."

This despotism undoubtedly made France great, but it cost a terrible price. Like all supreme powers, it was jealous, and suffered no other public institutions to exist alongside of it. In competition with its power all older bodies became weak. The Estates General did not meet again after 1614; the parlements humbled themselves; provincial, municipal, and communal governments dropped into obscurity; the individual man, unless he was a functionary, lost all habit of political initiative, independence, or criticism. The mighty machine of the government was too vast, too complicated, and too distant for the common man to do aught but submit himself to it and lose much of his individual force thereby.

Enforced orthodoxy in religion was a natural outcome of the unity and symmetry of government; hence, notwithstanding the large number of Huguenots, the economic value of the Protestant element in the population, and the tolerance which might be expected from so enlightened a government, the Edict of Nantes was repealed in 1685, and, theoretically at least, all the population of France and of the French possessions were after this time orthodox Catholic Christians, thus again obtaining uniformity, but at the price of almost irreparable loss of population and of activity of mind.

Yet alongside this supreme despotic government had been preserved certain relics of feudalism. The sovereigns and great ministers who had humbled the aristocracy did not wish to humiliate it. While depriving the nobles of all political power they had carefully preserved to them their social privileges. This was done partly by giving them a favored position in the administration of the great machine of centralized royal government, partly by allowing the continuance of old feudal privileges. To the nobles were reserved all the higher positions in the army, navy, civil service, administration of the provinces, and in the church; [Footnote: Rambaud, Hist. de la Civilisation Francaise, II., 75-78.] and the government of French possessions beyond the seas was in almost all cases given to noblemen.

Of the feudal privileges of the nobility a number were profitable in money or gratifying to pride. Every landed noble had some degree of jurisdiction, frequently that of "high, mean, and petty justice"—that is to say, the right of trying and settling a large variety of judicial matters among his tenants; his right of punishment extending in some cases even to the infliction of the death penalty. He had the right to receive certain payments upon every sale or lease of the lands of any inhabitant of his fief; he received fees upon sales of cattle, grain, wine, meat, and other articles within the limits of his lands; he alone had the privilege of hunting and fishing or of collecting a fee for granting the privilege to others; and he alone could keep a dove-cote or a rabbit-warren; he had the banalites—i.e., the right of requiring all tenants on his estates to grind their grain at his mill and to bake at his oven; he had corvees—the right to a certain amount of unpaid labor from his tenants; his land was exempt from the taille, the most burdensome of taxes; and he had many other and diverse seigneurial rights, often, indeed, more vexatious to the tenant than they were profitable to the seigneur. [Footnote: Rambaud, Hist. de la Civilisation Francaise, II., 84-90.] These rights of land-holders were survivals from an earlier period; but they were survivals which still had great value and considerable vitality. Although permitted to exist by the absolute monarchy, they were in reality antagonistic to it in spirit, and might at any time, and actually did, become a serious disadvantage to it. Among the more primitive surroundings of Canada these privileges of a landed aristocracy obtained new life and vigor, and feudalism played a conspicuous if not a leading part in the troubled history of that colony. [Footnote: Parkman, The Old Regime in Canada, chaps. xii.-xv.]

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