« AnteriorContinuar »
By Emilio CASTELAR.
DRAWN BY OTTO BACHER.
FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY J. LAURENT & co.
III. WINNING THE FAVOR OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA.
might possess a dominion over human souls, whereby to swell the ranks of true believers upon earth and of the elect in heaven; Ferdinand took pleasure likewise in the growth of the Church and of Christianity, but above such religious gratification he set the satisfaction born of domination and conquest. Daughter of a learned king, and of an English mother who died bereft of reason, Isabella had a clear perception of ideas and lived in a ceaseless state of exaltation. Son of that quarrelsome and wily king John II. of Aragon, and of a mother of masculine and ambitious nature, Ferdinand inherited on the paternal side a mixture of political and warlike temperaments, and on the maternal that incredible ambition which led him to add to his royal house and to his native country by conquest and by marriage. The two founded the Inquisition; Ferdinand
for political reasons, Isabella for religious ends. SAN LUTUS, ATTITUTKINTO imali
Both were conquerors; Isabella gained Granada for her Castile, and Ferdinand, Navarre
for his Aragon. The conquest of Granada reads DOORWAY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA. like some book of chivalry, the conquest of
Navarre like a chapter of Machiavelli. By the 'HE many journeys of Columbus since one achievement Isabella expelled the Moors;
quitting Portugal, and the little advantage and by the other Ferdinand drove the French that followed his negotiations in Seville and from our peninsula. Puerto Santa Maria, had aggravated his pov- As a natural consequence of their different erty, and he went about so ill clad that he temperaments, Isabella and Ferdinand each was named the “Stranger with the Thread- dealt with Columbus as their several natures bare Cloak.” In this straitened condition he prompted; the queen ever enthusiastic, the presented himself before the royal pair. In king, as usual, cautious, guarded, crafty, and Ferdinand political sagacity predominated; in reserved. He computed the cost of the enterIsabella the moral nature. The pious king be- prise, and the returns it might yield; she thought lieved, notwithstanding his piety, in the efficacy only of spreading the dominions of her idolof works, and professed the dogma of aiding ized Castile and winning souls to Christianity. to execute the divine will, which he generally Besides all this, the sea had its temptations for found favorable to his undertakings; Isabella, the queen of Castile, for all her enterprises and with her enthusiasm, trusted in her hopes and conquests tended oceanward, just as her great in prayer. The queen was all spontaneity, the rivers, the Tagus, the Duero, the Guadalquivir, king all reflection. She trod the paths of good and the Miño, flowed toward the main. With in order to attain to good, but he scrupled little Ferdinand it was quite the other way; his conto resort to dissimulation, deceit, and, in case of quests trended like the Ebro, the Llobregat, necessity, crime. Valiant and warlike, Ferdi- and the Turia toward the waters of the Medinand joined the strength of the lion to the terranean. The Canaries were the island doinstincts of the fox. Perchance in all history main of Isabella ; the insular possessions of there has not been his equal in energy and Ferdinand stretched from the Balearic Islands craftiness. He was distrustful above all else; to Sicily. Ferdinand dreamed only of Italy; she, above all, was confiding. He was all Isabella of Africa. Hence, the one looked tomind; she all heart. Isabella took pleasure in ward the past, the other toward the future. But increasing the number of her vassals, that she both were great with a measureless greatness,
for they assumed the stature of a great idea, the Indian project was therefore natural and inand obeyed, by ways and deeds, as much in evitable. To him it was an innovation fraught contrast as their characters, the quickening with peril to the general beliefs, and a criminal spirit and the transcendent impulses of the malversation of the public resources in behalf creative era in which they lived. The unity of an object that in truth seemed sacrilegious of the state, of the territory, of the laws was beside the completion of the seven-century epic imposed upon them by the age, and to the at- of endeavor by the reconquest of that sultana tainment of such unity were all their efforts among the cities of Ishmael, and beside the consecrated; so that, besides winning for them- triumph of the Cross that he adored with ferselves renown, they did good service to their vid and ceaseless worship. When the queen on nation and their time.
many occasions, before the conquest, promised The sovereigns heard Columbus after their Talavera an archbishopric, his answer always respective natures, Isabella with enthusiasm and was: “ Either will I be archbishop in Granada, Ferdinand with reserve. But the king's reserve or archbishop nowhere!” Such was Talavera. and the queen'senthusiasm tended to likeresults, The sovereigns could hardly have intrusted and made delay inevitable. The reconquest of to a person more unsuited for so high a duty Granada admitted of no rival undertaking. It the decision of this arduous problem. Talawas impossible to divert the royal minds from vera was assisted by a man of competence and that paramount purpose. So they referred the brains, the royal counselor, Maldonado; who, matter to the queen's confessor, Fray Her- however, believed the less in the scheme the nando de Talavera. Accustomed as we are to more he heard of it from the eloquent lips of modern ideas and customs, it is hard to com- its author, and went about arguing the imposprehend the genuine father-confessor of the sibility of the thing imagined and proposed by fifteenth century, the supreme counselor of the Columbus. The primary ground of his disbelief sovereigns in virtue of his office and in the con- lay in the assumption that the theory of Columfidence of the confessional. Fray Hernando de bus rested indispensably upon the spherical Talavera, first prior of the monastery of El shape of the earth, which was from every point Prado in Valladolid, later bishop of Avila and of view inadmissible, because the Psalms delastly archbishop of Granada, when seated in scribed the heavens as a stretched-out curtain, the confessional, deemed his seat higher than and because St. Augustine treated as a heresy the the throne, and held himself to be the dispenser existence of antipodes in another hemisphere, of the earthly and eternal salvation of the sov- with their feet turned toward our feet and their ereigns. Even in his first confession he had an heads downward. In that age, doubtless, when altercation with the queen ; for when Isabella religious objections prevailed above all others, desired to confess either standing or sitting, he needs must that the discoverer should study holy replied that she should do neither, but kneel writ and theological problems together, and acat his feet. He was as rightly able to call him- quaint himself with the mystical ideas of his own self Minister of State as of the Treasury, and and older times. as well Minister of the Treasury as of Instruc- Tomake clear all these vague imaginings that tion and the Fine Arts, without question as to environed his purpose, and to meet the theologithe ministry of Good Behavior; and so Isabella cal scruples that opposed his arguments, he confided to his zeal the management of the steadfastly searched the Scriptures, and found debt equally with the choice of her daily read- therein confirmation, not only of his personal ing in the royal library, and asked his counsel mission to redeem Zion from her chains, but alike concerning the most important decrees to redeem our blind and erring race in Christ. and the most ordinary household affairs. For him there was scarce a psalm or a prophecy
The good Talavera's acts were governed by but lamented the manifold transgressions of no monkish scruples; he reprimanded with the Israel that had brought captivity upon Zion, severity of the patriarch, and even with the rod and foretold a liberator who, in truth, could of the pedagogue, the foremost and most saintly be none other than himself, Columbus. The queen of Christendom. He had but one cer- book of Kings, the Psalms, the prophecies, the tain, fixed, continuous and abiding idea - the book of Job, all predicted the redemption of conquest of Granada. At a time when all his Jerusalem by such a man as he, divinely chosen thoughts were absorbed in this one idea, and and predestined to providential ends. At times, all his powers devoted to it with that force of in the confusion of his mystical conceptions, he concentration and of will which he was univer- added that not only was he personally called sally admitted to possess, Columbus came, with by the Lord to such an achievement, but that his tremendous schemes, distracting the rever- Joaquin de Flora in his writings had designated end scholastic from his traditional convictions, Spain by name, and the Bible, too, pointed out and from his purpose to regain Granada. the furthest nations of the west with singular
The aversion with which Talavera regarded clearness. He steadily claimed that this resto
ORAWN BY OTTO BACHER.
FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY J. LAURENT & Co.' STATUE OF FERDINAND, IN THE CATHEDRAL, MALAGA.
ration of the holy house of Jerusalem to Chris- they reported a priori against the possibility of tianity had from an early age inspired all his the discovery, whereupon the sovereigns put off voyages. So, therefore, he asserted that he had any new examination of it until better times. not imbibed his theory from cosmography, as- But, whilst some were thus disheartening him, trology, or any other of the profane sciences so others were aiding him with their support and thoroughly familiar to him, but from constant encouragement. Among the adepts who esstudy of the revealed word of God that leads poused his ideas shine conspicuously the Franmankind to righteousness and the truth. Yet ciscan padre, Antonio de Marchena, and the neither Hernando de Talavera nor the coun- Dominican padre, Diego de Deza. Doubtless selor Maldonado cared to believe him, and the former upheld him in Andalusia with his
VOL. XLIV. - 47.
counsel and assistance against the adverse opin- Their Highnesses ordered to be paid to him to ions of Talavera's Cordovan junta, while the help defray his expenses. latter by his learning and influence opened to On the 16th of June, 1488, gave I to Cristóbal him the portals of Salamanca. There is no tra- Colomo three thousand maravedís, upon a wardition so well grounded as that which holds rant of Their Highnesses. up to the world the strange ignorance of geog- The writings of the time contain countless raphy and cosmography prevailing in the Sal- evidences of the confused clashing of ideas in amantine university, which went so far as to put all minds. As neither Vives nor Bacon had yet all its doctors unanimously on record against employed the cognition of natural phenomena Columbus, and to oppose the superstitions of in the study of material things, and as neither the vulgar mind against the presentiments, the Pereira nor Descartes had applied the obserpredictions, and the prophecies of genius and vation of psychic phenomena to the mind, there learning. Nevertheless, this popular belief is prevailed a traditional system, which, like the not only to be reversed and forever regarded ancients, heard with laughter the voice of the as groundless, but to Salamanca is to be attri- oracle, and mingled the teachings of the rebuted the beginning of the good fortune of the cently revived classic authors, resuscitated and discoverer, for with his sojourn in that learned new-come from a supernatural sphere, with the city coincides the first pecuniary aid advanced confused theories of the Christian writers. Thus, by the sovereigns to assist his scheme. for instance, Albertus Magnus averred the ex
All the investigations made and documents istence of two races of black Ethiopians, bediscovered during recent yearsconfirm the saga- longing to the two opposite hemispheres. But cious opinion of the learned Salamantine writer, these affirmations of the great medieval phiSeñor Rodriguez Pinilla, who holds that the losopher could in no wise prevail against the first flat refusal of the court to entertain the sixteenth book of “ The City of God," in which scheme of Columbus was made in the official St. Augustine outlines a universal history litercouncil at Cordova, over which Hernando de ally taken from the Bible, and denies the exisTalavera presided, and that the first signs of tence of the antipodes, because of the imposa favorable disposition on the part of the State sibility of their being descended from Adam, are seen in the sums which the sovereigns or- and because they would give the lie to the dered to be paid to the extra-official councils, blessing pronounced upon the sons of the pathe commissions of the university sitting in the triarch Jacob, and to the division of the earth great hall of San Estéban, whereupon a speedy between them as recorded in Genesis. But understanding followed between the crown and those illustrious collegians disputed alike conColumbus.
cerning the dispersion of the human race to the It is the historical and unquestionable fact, four quarters of heaven, and the distribution that soon after the conferences of Salamanca, of the solid and liquid parts of the unknown held at the beginning of 1487, the sovereigns planet. While the opponents of Columbus albegan to give the necessary orders for supply- leged as the outcome of their calculations that ing the discoverer with funds, and to provide the ocean was of vast extent, and that therefor his treatment as a royal retainer by rec- fore it was impossible to discover the Indies ognizing his right, wherever he might be, to by sailing downward to the west, owing to maintenance and lodging. In a bundle of old the physical difficulty of ascending the watery accounts of the treasurer, Francisco Gonzalez steep on the homeward voyage, his supportof Seville, which may be seen copied in the ers, relying upon the sixth chapter of Esdras, second volume of Navarrete's celebrated col- declared the land to be sixfold greater than the lection, are found the following entries : sea, and that consequently the East Indies could On the said day (May 5, 1487] gave I to Cris- their eastern shores could be but a short dis
readily be reached by going westward, since tóbal Colomo, a foreigner, who is now here performing certain things in the service of their tance beyond the Pillars of Hercules and the Highnesses, three thousand maravedís, on the Bay of Cadiz. warrant of Alonso de Quintanilla, by command
Columbus maintained these latter assertions of the Bishop (of Palencia).
with much persistence, as Padre Las Casas tells On the 27th of said month (August, 1487) gave us, resting equally on the verses of the prophet I to Cristóbal Colomo four thousand marave. Esdras, then of general acceptance, and on the dís, to go to the Royal Seat (Malaga), by com; writings of Cardinal d'Ailly, his oracle, who mand of Their Highnesses and on a warrant of likewise deemed the sea of small extent comthe Bishop. This makes seven thousand maravedis, with three thousand which were paid to pared with the land, in conformity with pashim by order, to defray the cost of another jour- sages from Aristotle, Seneca, and Pliny, who, ney on the 3d of July.
according to him, must have known much about On the said day (October 15, 1487] gave I to the earth, for the singular reason that the two Cristóbal Colomo four thousand maravedís, which first were the preceptors of Alexander and Nero,
and the latter the friend of Trajan, three widely upon which the partizans of Columbus relied traveled emperors, who in the course of their did not stop here, for they gathered a rich continual voyages and nomadic life must have harvest of other proofs from writings such as gathered abundant knowledge of the physical Pliny's “ Natural History," which, in the sevdistribution of the earth and the characteristics enth chapter of its second book, recorded facts of the various races of men. The authorities in regard to the sea and its secrets sufficient to