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Southern Europe: Italy - the Papacy, Naples and Sicily, Venice, Genoa; the Moors in Spain; the Turks; Downfall of Greek (Eastern page 2

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At last an important event came in the marriage of Ferdinand (Fernando), king of Aragon, in 1469, with Isabella, heiress of Castile, a wise and noble-minded lady whose hand had been much sought by European princes. A union of this kind had long been desired by the most sagacious persons of both Castile and Aragon, and the wedded pair - he 17, she 18 years of age - were admirably matched. In 1474, Isabella succeeded to the throne of her worthless brother Enrique of Castile, and thus, with the union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon, on Ferdinand's accession in 1479, a new era for Spain began. Isabella, now in her 29th year, was of tall stature, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and ruddy hair, showing her northern descent, on both sides, from the Plantagenet race, her father being grandson and her mother great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt. Her calm, frank, regular features were well suited to a lady of the most charming manners and benignant character. Ferdinand had no authority in Castile except through his admirable wife, and was wisely and faithfully observant of her rights. His physical and mental gifts were good, and his rule shows him to have been a keen, self-controlled, energetic sovereign. There were early difficulties to meet in the restoration of the social order which had been grievously impaired under preceding monarchs. The acquisition of Navarre completed the fabric of Spanish dominion in the peninsula, except as regards the south. Isabella, aided by Cardinal Mendoza, her chief counsellor, was swift, bold, and energetic in the changes which she made.

The peculiar institution called the Holy Brotherhood, a kind of democratic committee whose proceedings were directed by a central body comprising the chief citizens - a body which, in its interference with the course of justice, had been made an engine used against the Crown - was now adroitly converted into a tribunal of vast power in support of the executive government. The great nobles were cowed, and in a few years a great degree of order and security was restored. Hundreds of castles of robber-knights were destroyed, and summary execution of malefactors on the highway gave safety to travellers. Legislation reformed the courts of law, making justice speedy and of easy attainment.

In her zeal for the souls as well as the bodies of her subjects, Isabella "the Catholic," as she was. styled, unhappily established, or re-founded, the Holy Inquisition, for the extirpation of heresy. This measure was due to the influence of her confessor Torquemada, and of Ferdinand, in whose realm of Aragon it had long existed. A bull of Pope Sixtus IV. authorised the introduction of the "Holy Office" into Castile in 1478, its original object being the conversion of the Jews, who were alleged to be plotting the overthrow of the government. The Inquisition, in Spain, seems to have been really a state-tribunal, entirely under the control of the sovereign, and not specially connected with the Church or the Roman See. Some of the Popes protested against it, and strove to moderate its action, but they were obliged at last to tolerate what they could not suppress. Under the Dominican monk Torquemada, the first Inquisitor-General in Spain, who lived till 1498, some thousands of persons died at the stake during his 16 years of office, and his successors were also terribly severe. The Inquisition became a curse to Spain, and, as we shall see, to the Netherlands under a Spanish sovereign. It is asserted that Isabella assented with reluctance to the institution, and strove to mitigate its severities, but it is certain that, between 1481 and 1492, 2,000 Jews were burnt alive in Andalusia, and that 17,000 others were allowed to save their lives, submitting to imprisonment, banishment, or loss of civic rights, only by surrendering the whole of their property, the funds being used by Isabella and Ferdinand to complete the work of centuries against the Moors.

The Moslem inhabitants of Spain had been for two centuries dwelling in prosperity, sometimes tributary to the Christian kings, and often on friendly terms with the Catholics. Granada, their capital, was at the height of its splendour, the largest and richest town in the peninsula, capable of raising a well-equipped, trained force of 50,000 men, including some of the best archers and light horsemen of Europe. Luxury had not seriously impaired the warlike disposition of the Moors, and in an evil hour, in 1476, their king audaciously and wantonly defied the Catholic rulers by answering the demand for his annual tribute with the words "Our mint now coins not gold but sword-blades !" Ferdinand and Isabella, engrossed with internal affairs, took little heed of this challenge. In 1481, the same Moorish sovereign, Abu-l-Hassan, stormed the Spanish frontier-fort of Zahara. A body of Castilians replied to this by capturing the city and fortress of Alhama, not far from Granada. The place had been deemed impregnable by the Moors, and the loss of their king's favourite town, the centre of a renowned silk-industry, was severely felt as a disgrace, while Spaniards exulted in the achievement of the Castilian chivalry. The Catholic sovereigns were forced to interfere when a great Moorish army besieged Alhama. The king of Granada retired on the approach of an Andalusian host, and Isabella and Ferdinand now aimed at the extinction of Moorish power. Their first effort, in 1482, met with a severe repulse, including the loss of artillery and baggage. At this moment civil war arose in Granada, but the Moors again severely defeated the Christian forces, and the two Catholic sovereigns were roused to a great effort. Their army of 40,000 foot and 10,000 horse had the greatest supply of artillery and munitions of war ever seen in Spain, and comprised volunteers from all parts of Europe, including a contingent of Swiss, the people who had been winning renown by their victories over Charles of Burgundy. Queen Isabella, with a brilliant bevy of ladies, accompanied the force, riding on mules, and at her side was Cardinal Mendoza, archbishop of Toledo. Granada was at this time, with suicidal folly, torn with factious feuds, and all the efforts of Ez-Zaghal, the last great Moorish king of Andalusia, a brave warrior, and resolute ruler, could not prevent town after town from falling to the Christians in 1484 and 1485. In the following year Lord Scales, with his English archers, led the attack in capturing Loja (or Loxa), south-west of Granada. A chain of steel was already drawn round the doomed city on the north and west. As the Moors still received supplies from Malaga, the chief port of their foreign trade, the second city of their kingdom, shut in by mountains and the sea, surrounded by orchards and vineyards, gardens and pastures, and finely fortified, that point was marked out by Ferdinand for attack. Ez-Zaghal failed with a relieving force, and then the people of Granada, in a fit of madness, closed the gates of the city in his face, and gave rule to his unworthy nephew Boabdil. A heroic defence was made at Malaga, and an attempt to storm the citadel was repulsed with severe loss, the Moors piercing the Christians with well-aimed arrows, hurling down huge stones, and pouring on the assailants boiling pitch and rosin. Mining was then tried with some success, and for the first time in Spanish history some of the fortifications were blown up with gunpowder. All the Spanish chivalry was around the walls, with Queen Isabella to arouse their utmost courage and enthusiasm. The wooden towers of olden days, and the Roman testudo, or tortoise-shell of shields to protect men in undermining the walls, were tried in turn, but still the Moors held out. The last sally of their leader had been repulsed with dreadful loss, when famine came to decide the struggle, and Malaga was surrendered to the Christian forces. The whole of the brave survivors of the garrison, and 15,000 inhabitants, old men, helpless women, and tender maidens, some of high birth and gentle condition, passed into perpetual slavery.

The war was then, in 1487, suspended for a time, to enable the sovereigns to visit Aragon and deal with disorders in that kingdom, and to raise reinforcements for the army which now firmly held the western part of the kingdom of Granada. Boabdil basely congratulated Ferdinand and Isabella on their success at Malaga, while Ez-Zaghal, holding the country from Jaen, north of Granada, to Almeria on the coast, rallied round his standard all patriotic Moors. He commanded there the rugged Alpuxarras mountains, with countless sheltered valleys, watered by streams from the Sierra Nevada, and rich in flocks and herds, oranges and vines, pomegranates and mulberries. Baza (or Baeza), the second city in importance now left to the Moors, lying east of Granada, was in his possession, and on its fate depended that of the capital. In 1488, Ferdinand took the field with 100,000 men, and at once attacked Baza. Repulsed again and again by Ez-Zaghal, the Spanish king, with the loss of 20,000 from hardship and disease, at last reduced the place by famine, after laying waste all the surrounding territory. The city was surrendered in December, 1489, the success being really due to the queen's resolute spirit, when -others counselled the abandonment or postponement of the war. Ez-Zaghal, whose power was now broken, made submission, and was well treated, retaining his title of "king of Andalusia," with a small estate as vassal of Castile. Almeria was given up, and by this time little more than the city of Granada remained to the Moors. In April, 1491, the siege began, and six months were passed in constant skirmishing, in which Christian and Moorish knights often met in single combat.' Isabella and the finest chivalry of Spam were there, but even her presence did not enable the Spaniards to defeat the Moorish cavaliers in battle, and Ferdinand was again obliged-^ to resort to the help of famine. The whole country around the city, the beautiful and fertile district called the Vega, was laid waste, and at last the people compelled Boabdil to surrender. The capitulation took place on the last day of 1491, and the terms granted were assuredly most generous, and would have reflected lasting honour on Spain, if they had only been observed. The Moors, reckoned at a quarter of a million in Granada, were to have perfect freedom of worship, full possession of their property, and power to depart whithersoever they pleased. Those who chose to remain in Granada were to be subject to their own laws and officials, under the general supervision of a Spanish governor. The Spanish army then advanced, and the leading troops entered the Alhambra, where the great silver cross which had been carried in front of the king throughout the war was raised on a high tower, and the standards of Castile and Aragon waved in the breeze. Ferdinand and Isabella, with the whole host of the Spaniards, fell on their knees in thanksgiving, and the strains of the Te Deum rose from the royal choir. The luckless Boabdil (otherwise Abu Abdallah), with a small band of horsemen, met the royal procession which was then formed, and handed to Ferdinand the keys of the city. The spot is still called el itltimo sospiro del Moro, "the last sigh of the Moor," where Boabdil, on a spur of the Alpuxarras, as he rode away for Africa, stood and gazed back on the beautiful city. "Allahu Akbar," "God is the greatest," he cried with tears, and his mother Ayesha bitterly reproached him for weeping like a woman over what he could not defend like a man. Thus was Christendom, at one end of southern Europe, almost consoled for the loss sustained from the Moslem at the other, and the struggle which, with intervals of peace, had lasted between Moor and Spaniard for nearly 800 years, ended in the complete possession of Spain by the followers of the Cross.

For a short period the terms of the capitulation of Granada were honourably observed, and under the first archbishop of the conquered city, Hernando de Talavera, a good, broad-minded prelate, many Moors were won to Christianity. We are passing beyond the bounds of the period under review in order to complete this subject, and have now to note that the bigoted Cardinal Ximenes persuaded Isabella to persecute the Moors, or "Moriscos," as they began to be called, on the ground that to keep faith with infidels was to break faith with God. The mosques were closed, the manuscripts of Moorish learning were burnt, and Mohammedans were treated like Jews. Many yielded and became Christians in professed belief; others rebelled in the Alpuxarras hills, and defeated a force sent against them. They were driven off, however, to exile beyond the Strait of Gibraltar, where many Moors joined the corsairs of Algeria and the Barbary states, and took an ample revenge in their raids on Spanish commerce. The "converted" Moriscos were ill-treated by the Inquisition. Under suspicion of possible relapse, their children were taken from them, and the young men were sent to toil at the oar in the Spanish galleys. Philip II., in 1567, roused indignation by enforcing a decree which bade the Moriscos abandon their special dress, renounce bathing, their language, their customs and ceremonies, and their very names. This detestable tyranny, well worthy of its author, one of the most loathsome personages in history, provoked a serious rising in the Alpuxarras, which was only suppressed by two years of horrible warfare. Many of the Moriscos were made slaves, others went into exile, and some were transported to different parts of Spain. The raids of the Moorish corsairs on the coasts, ravaging the country for miles inland, and carrying off Christian captives, exasperated the Spaniards. Continued persecution drove more and more Moriscos from the country, and at last, in 1610, the whole of the survivors, numbering about half a million, were exiled. It is believed that the number disposed of by banishment between the fall of Granada and the above date reached 3,000,000. At the final wholesale expulsion the children under four years of age were taken to be brought up as Christians, and all property was confiscated, except what could be turned into coin or carried on the person. Every kind of outrage was perpetrated on the miserable people as they made their way to the coast. Most of the men were farmers or agricultural labourers. The poets and painters of Spain celebrated the transaction, which was a kind of suicide for the country, as a glorious event It was really the extinction of light, and, save for a brief period during which the remains of Moorish culture lingered in the land, Spain was for ages under the darkness of bigotry and ignorance. With the disappearance of the enlightened Moriscos, whole tracts which had been rich in corn and wine and oil became deserts. Science gave way to superstition, skill to incapacity, learning to such brutal indifference to knowledge that Madrid in the 18th century, had no public library-a contrast indeed to Cordova in the 13th century, where half a million volumes were gathered. The 16,000 looms of Seville soon became but a fifth of that number. Art and industry almost vanished from Almeria and Toledo. The land, devoid of the skilful irrigation of the Moors, became untilled. The populous cities of beautiful and fertile Andalusia decayed, and a horde of monks, banditti, and beggars replaced the merchants, scholars, skilled artisans, and agriculturists of Moorish times. All history presents us with no more disastrous result of religious bigotry as regards dogmas, combined with utter disregard of the benign spirit of Christianity, than that which followed the expulsion of the Mohammedans from Spain.

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