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The History Of Spain To The Conquest Of Granada
Author: Hallam, Henry 


Part V

The justiza or justiciary of Aragon has been treated by some writers as a
sort of anomalous magistrate, created originally as an intermediate power
between the king and people, to watch over the exercise of royal authority.
But I do not perceive that his functions were, in any essential respect,
different from those of the chief justice of England, divided, from the time
of Edward I., among the judges of the King's Bench. We should undervalue our
own constitution by supposing that there did not reside in that court as
perfect an authority to redress the subject's injuries as was possessed by the
Aragonese magistrate. In the practical exercise, indeed, of this power, there
was an abundant difference. Our English judges, more timid and pliant, left
to the remonstrances of parliament that redress of grievances which very
frequently lay within the sphere of their jurisdiction. There is, I believe,
no recorded instance of a habeas corpus granted in any case of illegal
imprisonment by the crown or its officers during the continuance of the
Plantagenet dynasty. We shall speedily take notice of a very different
conduct in Aragon.

The office of justiciary, whatever conjectural antiquity some have
assigned to it, is not to be traced beyond the capture of Saragossa in 1118,
when the series of magistrates commences. ^h But for a great length of time
they do not appear to have been particularly important; the judicial authority
residing in the council of ricoshombres, whose suffrages the justiciary
collected, in order to pronounce their sentence rather than his own. A
passage in Vitalis Bishop of Huesca, whom I have already mentioned, shows this
to have been the practice during the reign of James I. ^i Gradually, as
notions of liberty became more definite, and laws more numerous, the reverence
paid to their permanent interpreter grew stronger, and there was fortunately a
succession of prudent and just men in that high office, through whom it
acquired dignity and stable influence. Soon after the accession of James II.,
on some dissensions arising between the king and his barons, he called in the
justiciary as a mediator whose sentence, says Blancas, all obeyed. ^j At a
subsequent time in the same reign the military orders, pretending that some of
their privileges were violated, raised a confederacy or union against the
king. James offered to refer the dispute to the justiciary, Ximenes Salanova,
a man of eminent legal knowledge. The knights resisted his jurisdiction,
alleging the question to be of spiritual cognizance. He decided it, however,
against them in full cortes at Saragossa, annulled their league, and sentenced
the leaders to punishment. ^k It was adjudged also that no appeal could lie to
the spiritual court from a sentence of the justiciary passed with assent of
the cortes. James II. is said to have frequently sued his subjects in the
justiciary's court, to show his regard for legal measures; and during the
reign of this good prince its authority became more established. ^l Yet it was
not perhaps looked upon as fully equal to maintain public liberty against the
crown, till in the cortes of 1348, after the Privilege of the Union was
forever abolished, such laws were enacted, and such authority given to the
justiciary, as proved eventually a more adequate barrier against oppression
than any other country could boast. All the royal as well as territorial
judges were bound to apply for his opinion in case of legal difficulties
arising in their courts, which he was to certify within eight days. By
subsequent statutes of the same reign it was made penal for any one to obtain
letters from the king, impeding the execution of the justiza's process, and
they were declared null. Inferior courts were forbidden to proceed in any
business after his prohibition. ^m Many other laws might be cited,
corroborating the authority of this great magistrate; but there are two parts
of his remedial jurisdiction which deserve special notice.

[Footnote h: Biancae Comment. p. 638.]

[Footnote i: Id. p. 772. Zurita indeed refers the justiciary's pre-eminence
to an earlier date, namely, the reign of Peter II., who took away a great part
of the local jurisdictions of ricoshombres. t. i. fol. 102. But if I do not
misunderstand the meaning of Vitalis, his testimony seems to be beyond
dispute. By the General Privilege of 1283, the justiciary was to advise with
the ricoshombres, in all cases where the king was a party against any of his
subjects. Zurita, f. 281. See also f. 180.]

[Footnote j: Zurita, p. 663.]

[Footnote k: Ibid., t. i. f. 403; t. ii. f. 34; Bian. p. 666. The assent of
the cortes seems to render this in the nature of a legislative, rather than a
judicial proceeding; but it is difficult to pronounce anything about a
transaction so remote in time, and in a foreign country, the native historians
writing rather concisely.]

[Footnote l: Bianc. p. 663. James acquired the surname of Just, el
Justiciero, by his fair dealings towards his subjects. Zurita, t. ii. fol.
82. El Justiciero properly denotes his exercise of civil and criminal
justice.]

[Footnote m: Fueros de Aragon: Quod in dubiis non crassis. (A.D. 1348.) Quod
impetrans (1372), &c. Zurita, t. ii. fol. 229. Bianc. pp. 671 and 811.]

These are the processes of jurisfirma, or firma del derecho, and of
manifestation. The former bears some analogy to the writs of pone and
certiorari in England, through which the Court of King's Bench exercises its
right of withdrawing a suit from the jurisdiction of inferior tribunals. But
the Aragonese jurisfirma was of more extensive operation. Its object was not
only to bring a cause commenced in an inferior court before the justiciary,
but to prevent or inhibit any process from issuing against the person who
applied for its benefit, or any molestation from being offered to him; so
that, as Blancas expresses it, when we have entered into a recognizance (firme
et graviter asseveremus) before the justiciary of Aragon to abide the decision
of law, our fortunes shall be protected, by the interposition of his
prohibition, from the intolerable iniquity of the royal judges. ^n The process
termed manifestation afforded as ample security for personal liberty as that
of jurisfirma did for property. "To manifest any one," says the writer so
often quoted, "is to wrest him from the hands of the royal officers, that he
may not suffer any illegal violence; not that he is at liberty by this
process, because the merits of his case are still to be inquired into; but
because he is now detained publicly, instead of being as it were concealed,
and the charge against him is investigated, not suddenly or with passion, but
in calmness and according to law, therefore this is called manifestation." ^o
The power of this writ (if I may apply our term) was such, as he elsewhere
asserts, that it would rescue a man whose neck was in the halter. A
particular prison was allotted to those detained for trial under this process.

[Footnote n: p. 751. Fueros de Aragon, f. 137.]

[Footnote o: Est apud nos manifestre, reum subito sumere, atque e regiis
manibus extorquere, ne qua ipsi contra jus vis inferatur. Non quod tunc reus
judicio liberetur; nihilominus tamen, ut loquimur, de meritis causae ad plenum
cognoscitur. Sed quod deinceps manifesto teneatur, quasi antea celatus
extitisset; necesseque deinde sit de ipsius culpa, non impetu et cum furore,
sed sedatis prorsus animis, et juxta constitutas leges judicari. Ex eo autem,
quod hujusmodi judicium manifesto deprehensum, omnibus jam patere debeat,
Manifestationis sibi nomen arripuit. p. 675.

Ipsius Manifestationis potestas tam solida est et repentina, ut homini
jam collum in laqueum inserenti subveniat. Illius enim praesidio, damnatus,
dum per leges licet, quasi experiendi juris gratia, de manibus judicum
confestim extorquetur, et in carcerem ducitur ad id aedificatum, ibidemque
asservatur tamdiu, quamdiu jurene, an injuria, quid in ea causa factum fuerit,
judicatur. Propterea carcer hic vulgari lingua, la carcel de los manifestados
nuncupatur. p. 751.

Fueros de Aragon, fol. 60. De Manifestationibus personarum.
Independently of this right of manifestation by writ wit of the justiciary
there are several statutes in the Fueros against illegal detention, or
unnecessary severity towards prisoners. (De Custodia reorum, f. 163.) No
judge could proceed secretly in a criminal process; an indispensable safeguard
to public liberty, and one of the most salutary, as well as most ancient,
provisions in our own constitution. (De judiciis.) Torture was abolished,
except in cases of coining false money, and then only in respect of vagabonds.
(General Privilege of 1283.)

Zurita has explained the two processes of jurisfirma and manifestation so
perspicuously, that, as the subject is very interesting, and rather out of the
common way, I shall both quote and translate the passage. Con firmar de
derecho, que es dar caution a estar a justicia, se conseden literas
inhibitorias por el justicia de Aragon, para que no puedan sur presos, ni
privados, ni despojados de su possession, hasta que judicialmente se conozca,
y declare sobre la pretension, y justicia de las partes, y parezca por
processo legitimo, que se deve revocar la tal inhibition. Esta fue la suprema
y principal autoridad del Justicia de Aragond esde que este magistrado tuvo
origen, y lo que llama manifestation; porque assi como la firma de derecho por
privilegio general del reyno impide, que no puede ninguno ser preso, o
agraviado contra razon y justicia, de la misma manera la manifestacion, que es
otro privilegio, y remedia muy principal, tiene fuerca, quando alguno es preso
sin preceder processo legitimo, o quando lo prenden de hecho sin orden de
justicia; y en estos casos solo el Justicia de Aragon, quando se tiene recurso
al el, se interpone, manifestando il preso, que es tomarlo a su mano, de poder
de qualquiera juez, aunque sea al mas supremo; y es obligado el Justicia de
Aragon, y sus lugartenientes de proveer la manifestacion en el mismo instante,
que les es pedida sin preceder informacion; y basta que se pida por qualquiere
persona que se diga procurador del que quiere que lo tengan por manifesto. t.
ii. fol. 386. "Upon a firma de derecho, which is to give security for abiding
the decision of the law, the Justiciary of Aragon issues letters inhibiting
all persons to arrest the party, or deprive him of his possession, until the
matter shall be judicially inquired into, and it shall appear that such
inhibition ought to be revoked. This process and that which is called
manifestation have been the chief powers of the justiciary, ever since the
commencement of that magistracy. And as the firma de derecho by the general
privilege of the realm secures every man from being arrested or molested
against reason and justice, so the manifestation, which is another principal
and remedial right, takes place when any one is actually arrested without
lawful process; and in such cases only the Justiciary of Aragon, when recourse
is had to him, interposes by manifesting the person arrested, that is, by
taking him into his own hands, out of the power of any judge, however high in
authority; and this manifestation the justiciary, or his deputies in his
absence, are bound to issue at the same instant it is demanded, without
further inquiry; and it may be demanded by any one as attorney of the party
requiring to be manifested."]

Several proofs that such admirable provisions did not remain a dead
letter in the law of Aragon appear in the two historians, Blancas and Zurita,
whose noble attachment to liberties, of which they had either witnessed or
might foretell the extinction, continually displays itself. I cannot help
illustrating this subject by two remarkable instances. The heir apparent of
the kingdom of Aragon had a constitutional right to the lieutenancy or regency
during the sovereign's absence from the realm. The title and office indeed
were permanent, though the functions must of course have been superseded
during the personal exercise of royal authority. But as neither Catalonia nor
Valencia, which often demanded the king's presence, were considered as parts
of the kingdom, there were pretty frequent occasions for this anticipated
reign of the eldest prince. Such a regulation was not likely to diminish the
mutual and almost inevitable jealousies between kings and their heirs
apparent, which have so often disturbed the tranquillity of a court and a
nation. Peter IV. removed his eldest son, afterwards John I., from the
lieutenancy of the kingdom. The prince entered into a firma del derecho
before the justiciary, Dominic de Cerda, who, pronouncing in his favor,
enjoined the king to replace his son in the lieutenancy as the undoubted right
of the eldest born. Peter obeyed, not only in fact, to which, as Blancas
observes, the law compelled him, but with apparent cheerfulness. ^p There are
indeed no private persons who have so strong an interest in maintaining a free
constitution and the civil liberties of their countrymen as the members of
royal families, since none are so much exposed, in absolute governments, to
the resentment and suspicion of a reigning monarch.

[Footnote p: Zurita, ubi supra. Blancas, p. 673.]

John I., who had experienced the protection of law in his weakness, had
afterwards occasion to find it interposed against his power. This king had
sent some citizens of Saragossa to prison without form of law. They applied
to Juan de Cerda, the justiciary, for a manifestation. He issued his writ
accordingly; nor, says Blancas, could he do otherwise without being subject to
a heavy fine. The king, pretending that the justiciary was partial, named one
of his own judges, the vice-chancellor, as coadjutor. This raised a
constitutional question, whether, on suspicion of partiality, a coadjutor to
the justiciary could be appointed. The king sent a private order to the
justiciary not to proceed to sentence upon this interlocutory point until he
should receive instructions in the council, to which he was directed to
repair. But he instantly pronounced sentence in favor of his exclusive
jurisdiction without a coadjutor. He then repaired to the palace. Here the
vice-chancellor, in a long harangue, enjoined him to suspend sentence till he
had heard the decision of the council. Juan de Cerda answered that, the case
being clear, he had already pronounced upon it. This produced some
expressions of anger from the king, who began to enter into an argument on the
merits of the question. But the justiciary answered that, with all deference
to his majesty, he was bound to defend his conduct before the cortes, and not
elsewhere. On a subsequent day the king, having drawn the justiciary to his
country palace on pretence of hunting, renewed the conversation with the
assistance of his ally the vice-chancellor; but no impression was made on the
venerable magistrate, whom John at length, though much pressed by his advisers
to violent courses, dismissed with civility. The king was probably misled
throughout this transaction, which I have thought fit to draw from obscurity,
not only in order to illustrate the privilege of manifestation, but as
exhibiting an instance of judicial firmness and integrity, to which, in the
fourteenth century, no country perhaps in Europe could offer a parallel. ^q

[Footnote q: Biancae Commentar. ubi supra. Zurita relates the story, but not
so fully.]

Before the cortes of 1348 it seems as if the justiciary might have been
displaced at the king's pleasure. From that time he held his station for
life. But in order to evade this law, the king sometimes exacted a promise to
resign upon request. Ximenes Cerdan, the justiciary in 1420, having refused
to fulfil this engagement, Alfonso V. gave notice to all his subjects not to
obey him, and, notwithstanding the alarm which this encroachment created,
eventually succeeded in compelling him to quit his office. In 1439 Alfonso
insisted with still greater severity upon the execution of a promise to resign
made by another justiciary, detaining him in prison until his death. But the
cortes of 1442 proposed a law, to which the king reluctantly acceded, that the
justiciary should not be compellable to resign his office on account of any
previous engagement he might have made. ^r

[Footnote r: Fueros de Aragon, fol. 22; Zurita, t. iii. fol. 140, 255, 272;
Bianc. Comment. p. 701.]

But lest these high powers, imparted for the prevention of abuses, should
themselves be abused, the justiciary was responsible, in case of an unjust
sentence, to the extent of the injury inflicted; ^s and was also subjected, by
a statute of 1390, to a court of inquiry, composed of four persons chosen by
the king out of eight named by the cortes; whose office appears to have been
that of examining and reporting to the four estates in cortes, by whom he was
ultimately to be acquitted or condemned. This superintendence of the cortes,
however, being thought dilatory and inconvenient, a court of seventeen persons
was appointed in 1461 to hear complaints against the justiciary. Some
alterations were afterwards made in this tribunal. ^t The justiciary was
always a knight, chosen from the second order of nobility, the barons not
being liable to personal punishment. He administered the coronation oath to
the king and in the cortes of Aragon the justiciary acted as a sort of royal
commissioner, opening or proroguing the assembly by the king's direction.

[Footnote s: Fueros de Aragon, fol. 25.]

[Footnote t: Blancas; Zurita, t. iii. fol. 321; t. iv. f. 103. These
regulations were very acceptable to the nation. In fact, the justiza of
Aragon had possessed much more unlimited powers than ought to be intrusted to
any single magistrate. The Court of King's Bench in England, besides its
consisting of four co-ordinate judges, is checked by the appellant
jurisdictions of the Exchequer Chamber and House of Lords, and still more
importantly by the rights of juries.]

No laws could be enacted or repealed, nor any tax imposed, without the
consent of the estates duly assembled. ^u Even as early as the reign of Peter
II., in 1205, that prince having attempted to impose a general tallage, the
nobility and commons united for the preservation of their franchises; and the
tax was afterwards granted in part by the cortes. ^v It may easily be supposed
that the Aragonese were not behind other nations in statutes to secure these
privileges, which upon the whole appear to have been more respected than in
any other monarchy. ^w The General Privilege of 1283 formed a sort of
groundwork for this legislation, like the Great Charter in England. By a
clause in this law, cortes were to be held every year at Saragossa. But under
James II. their time of meeting was reduced to once in two years, and the
place was left to the king's discretion. ^x Nor were the cortes of Aragon less
vigilant than those of Castile in claiming a right to be consulted in all
important deliberations of the executive power, or in remonstrating against
abuses of government, or in superintending the proper expenditure of public
money. ^y A variety of provisions, intended to secure these parliamentary
privileges and the civil liberties of the subject, will be found dispersed in
the collection of Aragonese laws, ^z which may be favorably compared with
those of our own statute-book.

[Footnote u: Majores nostri, quae de omnibus statuenda essent, noluerunt
juberi, vetarive posse, nisi vocatis descriptisque ordinibus, ac cunctis eorum
adhibitis suffragiis, re ipsa cognita et promulgata. Unde perpetuum illud
nobis comparatum est jus, ut communes et publicae leges neque tolli, neque
rogari possint, nisi prius universus populus una voce comitiis institutis suum
ea de re liberum suffragium ferat; idque postea ipsius regis assensu
comprobetur. Biancae, p. 761.]

[Footnote v: Zurita, t. i. fol. 92.]

[Footnote w: Fueros de Aragon: Quod sissae in Aragonia removeantur. (A. D.
1372.) De prohibitione sissarum. (1398.) De conservatione patrimonii. (1461.)
I have only remarked two instances of arbitrary taxation in Zurita's history,
which is singularly full of information; one, in 1343, when Peter IV.
collected money from various cities, though not without opposition; and the
other a remonstrance of the cortes in 1383 against heavy taxes; and it is not
clear that this refers to general unauthorized taxation. Zurita, t. ii. f.
168 and 382. Blancas mentions that Alfonso V. set a tallage upon his towns
for the marriage of his natural daughters, which he might have done had they
been legitimate; but they appealed to the justiciary's tribunal, and the king
receded from his demand. p. 701.

Some instances of tyrannical conduct in violation of the constitutional
laws occur, as will naturally be supposed, in the annals of Zurita. The
execution of Bernard Cabrera under Peter IV., t. ii. f. 336, and the
severities inflicted on Queen Forcia by her son-in-law John I., f. 391, are
perhaps as remarkable as any.]

[Footnote x: Zurita, t. i. f. 426. In general the session lasted from four to
six months. One assembly was prorogued from time to time, and continued six
years, from 1446 to 1452, which was complained of as a violation of the law
for their biennial renewal. t. iv. f. 6.]

[Footnote y: The Sicilian war of Peter III. was very unpopular, because it had
been undertaken without consent of the barons, contrary to the practice of the
kingdom: porque ningun negocio arduo emprendian, sin acuerdo y consejo de sus
ricoshombres. Zurita, t. i. fol. 264. The cortes, he tells us, were usually
divided into two parties, whigs and tories; estava ordinariamente dividida en
dos partas, la una que pensava procurar el beneficio del reyno, y la otra que
el servicio del rey. t. iii. fol. 321.]

[Footnote z: Fueros y observancias del reyno de Aragon. 2 vols. in fol.
Saragossa, 1667. The most important of these are collected by Blancas, p.
750.]

Four estates, or, as they were called, arms (brazos), formed the cortes
of Aragon - the prelates and commanders of military orders, who passed for
ecclesiastics; ^a the barons or ricoshombres; the equestrian order or
infanzones; and the deputies of royal towns. ^b The two former had a right of
appearing by proxy. There was no representation of the infanzones, or lower
nobility. But it must be remembered that they were not numerous, nor was the
kingdom large. Thirty-five are reckoned by Zurita as present in the cortes of
1395, and thirty-three in those of 1412; and as upon both occasions an oath of
fealty to a new monarch was to be taken, I presume that nearly all the
nobility of the kingdom were present. ^c The ricoshombres do not seem to have
exceeded twelve or fourteen in number. The ecclesiastical state was not much,
if at all, more numerous. A few principal towns alone sent deputies to the
cortes; but their representation was very full; eight or ten, and sometimes
more, sat for Saragossa, and no town appears to have had less than four
representatives. During the interval of the cortes a permanent commission,
varying a good deal as to numbers, but chosen out of the four estates, was
empowered to sit with very considerable authority, receiving and managing the
public revenue, and protecting the justiciary in his functions. ^d

[Footnote a: It is said by some writers that the ecclesiastical arm was not
added to the cortes of Aragon till about the year 1300. But I do not find
mention in Zurita of any such constitutional change at that time; and the
prelates, as we might expect from the analogy of other countries, appear as
members of the national council long before. Queen Petronilla, in 1142,
summoned a los perlados, ricoshombres, y cavalleros, y procuradores de las
ciudades y villas, que le juntassen a cortes generales en la ciudad de Huesca.
Zurita, t. i. fol. 71. So in the cortes of 1275, and on other occasions.]

[Footnote b: Popular representation was more ancient in Aragon than in any
other monarchy. The deputies of towns appear in the cortes of 1133, as
Robertson has remarked from Zurita. Hist. of Charles V. note 32. And this
cannot well be called in question, or treated as an anomaly; for we find them
mentioned in 1142 (the passage cited in the last note), and again in 1164,
when Zurita enumerates many of their names. fol. 74. The institution of
consejos, or corporate districts under a presiding town, prevailed in Aragon
as it did in Castile.]

[Footnote c: Zurita, t. ii. f. 490; t. iii. f. 76.]

[Footnote d: Biancae, p. 762; Zurita, t. iii. f. 76, f. 182 et alibi.]

The kingdom of Valencia, and principality of Catalonia, having been
annexed to Aragon, the one by conquest, the other by marriage, were always
kept distinct from it in their laws and government. Each had its cortes,
composed of three estates, for the division of the nobility into two orders
did not exist in either country. The Catalans were tenacious of their ancient
usages, and averse to incorporation with any other people of Spain. Their
national character was high-spirited and independent; in no part of the
peninsula did the territorial aristocracy retain, or at least pretend to, such
extensive privileges, ^e and the citizens were justly proud of wealth acquired
by industry, and of renown achieved by valor. At the accession of Ferdinand
I., which they had not much desired, the Catalans obliged him to swear three
times successively to maintain their liberties, before they would take the
reciprocal oath of allegiance ^f For Valencia it seems to have been a politic
design of James the Conqueror to establish a constitution nearly analogous to
that of Aragon, but with such limitations as he should impose, taking care
that the nobles of the two kingdoms should not acquire strength by union. In
the reigns of Peter III. and Alfonso III., one of the principal objects
contended for by the barons of Aragon was the establishment of their own laws
in Valencia; to which the kings never acceded. ^g They permitted, however, the
possessions of the natives of Aragon in the latter kingdom to be governed by
the law of Aragon. ^h These three states, Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia,
were perpetually united by a law of Alfonso III.; and every king on his
accession was bound to swear that he would never separate them. ^i Sometimes
general cortes of the kingdoms and principality were convened; but the members
did not, even in this case, sit together, and were not otherwise united than
as they met in the same city. ^j

[Footnote e: Zurita, t. ii. f. 360. The villenage of the peasantry in some
parts of Catalonia was very severe, even near the end of the fifteenth
century. t. iv. f. 327.]

[Footnote f: Id., t. iii. f. 81.]

[Footnote g: Id., t. i. f. 281, 310, 333. There was originally a justiciary
in the kingdom of Valencia, f. 281; but this, I believe, did not long
continue.]

[Footnote h: Zurita, t. ii. f. 433.]

[Footnote i: t. ii. f. 9r.]

[Footnote j: Biancae, Comment. p. 760; Zurita, t. iii. fol. 239.]

I do not mean to represent the actual condition of society in Aragon as
equally excellent with the constitutional laws. Relatively to other
monarchies, as I have already observed, there seem to have been fewer excesses
of the royal prerogative in that kingdom. But the licentious habits of a
feudal aristocracy prevailed very long. We find in history instances of
private war between the great families, so as to disturb the peace of the
whole nation, even near the close of the fifteenth century. ^k The right of
avenging injuries by arms, and the ceremony of diffidation, or solemn defiance
of an enemy, are preserved by the laws. We even met with the ancient
barbarous usage of paying a composition to the kindred of a murdered man. ^l
The citizens of Saragossa were sometimes turbulent, and a refractory nobleman
sometimes defied the ministers of justice. But owing to the remarkable
copiousness of the principal Aragonese historian, we find more frequent
details of this nature than in the scantier annals of some countries. The
internal condition of society was certainly far from peaceable in other parts
of Europe.

[Footnote k: Ibid. t. iv. fol. 189.]

[Footnote l: Fueros de Aragon, f. 1660, &c.]

By the marriage of Ferdinand with Isabella, and by the death of John II.,
in 1479, the two ancient and rival kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were forever
consolidated in the monarchy of Spain. There had been some difficulty in
adjusting the respective rights of the husband and wife over Castile. In the
middle ages it was customary for the more powerful sex to exercise all the
rights which it derived from the weaker, as much in sovereignties as in
private possessions. But the Castilians were determined to maintain the
positive and distinct prerogatives of their queen, to which they attached the
independence of their nation. A compromise therefore was concluded, by which,
though, according to our notions, Ferdinand obtained more than a due share, he
might consider himself as more strictly limited than his father had been in
Navarre. The names of both were to appear jointly in their style and upon the
coin, the king's taking the precedence in respect of his sex. But in the
royal scutcheon the arms of Castile were preferred on account of the kingdom's
dignity. Isabella had the appointment to all civil offices in Castile; the
nomination to spiritual benefices ran in the name of both. The government was
to be conducted by the two conjointly when they were together, or by either
singly in the province where one or other might happen to reside. ^m This
partition was well preserved throughout the life of Isabel without mutual
encroachments or jealousies. So rare a unanimity between persons thus
circumstanced must be attributed to the superior qualities of that princess,
who, while she maintained a constant good understanding with a very ambitious
husband, never relaxed in the exercise of her paternal authority over the
kingdoms of her ancestors.

[Footnote m: Zurita, t. iv. fol. 224; Mariana, l. xxiv. c. 5.]

Ferdinand and Isabella had no sooner quenched the flames of civil discord
in Castile than they determined to give an unequivocal proof to Europe of the
vigor which the Spanish monarchy was to display under their government. For
many years an armistice with the Moors of Granada had been uninterrupted.
Neither John II. nor Henry IV. had been at leisure to think of aggressive
hostilities; and the Moors themselves, a prey, like their Christian enemies,
to civil war and the feuds of their royal family, were content with the
unmolested enjoyment of the finest province in the peninsula. If we may trust
historians, the sovereigns of Granada were generally usurpers and tyrants.
But I know not how to account for that vast populousness, that grandeur and
magnificence, which distinguished the Mohammedan kingdom of Spain, without
ascribing some measure of wisdom and beneficence to their governments. These
southern provinces have dwindled in later times; and in fact Spain itself is
chiefly interesting to many travellers for the monuments which a foreign and
odious race of conquerors have left behind them. Granada was, however,
disturbed by a series of revolutions about the time of Ferdinand's accession,
which naturally encouraged his designs. The Moors, contrary to what might
have been expected from their relative strength, were the aggressors by
attacking a town in Andalusia. ^n Predatory inroads of this nature had
hitherto been only retaliated by the Christians. But Ferdinand was conscious
that his resources extended to the conquest of Granada, the consummation of a
struggle protracted through nearly eight centuries. Even in the last stage of
the Moorish dominion, exposed on every side to invasion, enfeebled by civil
dissension that led one party to abet the common enemy, Granada was not
subdued without ten years of sanguinary and unremitting contest. Fertile
beyond all the rest of Spain, that kingdom contained seventy walled towns; and
the capital is said, almost two centuries before, to have been peopled by
200,000 inhabitants. ^o Its resistance to such a force as that of Ferdinand is
perhaps the best justification of the apparent negligence of earlier monarchs.
But Granada was ultimately to undergo the yoke. The city surrendered on the
2nd of January, 1492 - an event glorious not only to Spain but to Christendom
- and which, in the political combat of the two religions, seemed almost to
counterbalance the loss of Constantinople. It raised the name of Ferdinand
and of the new monarchy which he governed to high estimation throughout
Europe. Spain appeared an equal competitor with France in the lists of
ambition. These great kingdoms had for some time felt the jealousy natural to
emulous neighbors. The house of Aragon loudly complained of the treacherous
policy of Louis XI. He had fomented the troubles of Castile, and given, not
indeed an effectual aid, but all promises of support, to the princess Joanna,
the competitor of Isabel. Rousillon, a province belonging to Aragon, had been
pledged to France by John II. for a sum of money. It would be tedious to
relate the subsequent events, or to discuss their respective claims to its
possession. ^p At the accession of Ferdinand, Louis XI. still held Rousillon,
and showed little intention to resign it. But Charles VIII., eager to smooth
every impediment to his Italian expedition, restored the province to Ferdinand
in 1493. Whether by such a sacrifice he was able to lull the king of Aragon
into acquiescence, while he dethroned his relation at Naples, and alarmed for
a moment all Italy with the apprehension of French dominion, it is not within
the limits of the present work to inquire.

[Footnote n: Zurita, t. iv. fol. 314.]

[Footnote o: Ibid., t. iv. fol. 314.]

[Footnote p: For these transactions see Garnier, Hist. de France, or Gaillard,
Rivalite de France et d'Espagne, t. iii. The latter is the most impartial
French writer I have ever read, in matters where his own country is
concerned.]

 

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