ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA)

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Message  Javier Lun 06 Mai 2019, 5:37 am

The result was discouraging. Bessarion was unable to make peace between the hostile Louis XI and Charles the Bold. England was harassed by her own troubles. Barbo found the Emperor indifferent. The Italian princes were at sixes and sevens. The Pope did what he could with the slender means at his command. He made an alliance with Usunhassan, the Mohammedan enemy of the Grand Turk. Having blessed the banners of the Christian fleet, he rode on horseback to bless the ships at anchor in the Tiber, and bid godspeed to the eighty-seven galleys about to sail for the east to attack Satalia. Satalia resisted. The Neapolitans quarrelled with the Venetians, and went home in a huff. The fleet took Smyrna. But on the whole the Turks continued their victorious progress with little opposition. By 1475, they had conquered the Crimea, and began preparations for a grand final assault on Italy itself, while Lorenzo de Medici, egged on by Louis XI, was stirring up a new agitation against the Pope among the Italian states.

Of all the Papal peacemakers, Borgia probably accomplished most. When he sailed from Ostia for Spain in May, 1472, he was just forty years of age, tall and powerfully built, a commanding and majestic figure. On nearer view one saw that he had coal-black eyes, extremely penetrating, though they had a habit of blinking ; but his nose was crooked, and there was a certain coarseness in the whole face that corresponded well to his reputation. The legend that makes him a morose, inhuman monster is false. He was a child of his age, however, and a notable example of the evils of nepotism, for his uncle, Pope Calixtus III, had made him a Cardinal and enriched him at the age of twenty-three ; and power and luxury had been the ruin of him. But he was a gentleman of courtly manners, a charming conversationalist, a good judge of men, an administrator of great capacity, a cavalier irresistibly attractive to women. Had it not been for the priestly office that he dishonoured, he might have passed as a man of average morality in Renaissance Italy.

It was high time for peace in Castile if civilization was not to vanish utterly from that chaotic country. A hundred robber barons and some thousands of thieves and murderers preyed upon the countryside. Seville was being reduced to a shambles, its exquisite gardens torn up, its houses razed, its citizens mowed down by a veritable warfare between the Duke of Medina Sidonia and the fiery young Marqués of Cádiz. In Toledo, since the riots of 1467, the wealthy Marranos had lived almost in a state of siege. There were similar conditions in other cities. And, as if anything were needed to complete the general despair, the crops of 1473 were a failure everywhere in Andalusia, the granary of all Spain. Bernaldez gives an illuminating glimpse of the famine prices that prevailed. A fanega of wheat (about 1.6 bushels) or of corn sold for 700 to 800 maravedís ; an ox for 3,000 maravedís ; a cow 2,000 ; wine, 75 maravedís per gallon. Now, if we estimate a maravedí at about a penny, and there are good reasons for believing that ratio nearer the truth than the generally accepted lower figures, this means that while a man could purchase an ox for £12, and a cow for £8, and wine for 6s. the gallon, he must pay £2 for a bushel of wheat—and £2.10s. at the Puerto de Santa Maria. In that terrible year of starvation a man with a wife and children might have to give a cow—if he had one—for four bushels of wheat or corn.

TBC....
Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Mer 08 Mai 2019, 10:37 am

Cardinal Borgia rode in his usual magnificent state through the desolate country as the guest of Archbishop Carrillo, conversing with men of importance and getting the lie of the land. It took him a very little while to see that the recognition of Princess Isabel must be the first step in any peace programme worth considering. And, as it was plain that the Marques of Villena held the key to the whole situation, he went to visit him. Several conversations were held before Pacheco would consent to meet Isabel and Fernando ; and then a new obstacle appeared. When Carrillo learned that the Prince and Princess were going to Guadalajara for the conference, under the protection of the Marqués of Santillana, brother of Bishop Mendoza, he jealously withdrew, and had to be coaxed back by the persuasive eloquence of Borgia. The Papal Legate, meanwhile, was making excellent progress with the Marqués of Villena, probably by appealing to his self-interest—the only logic that Pacheco understood.

And then, when all was going well, the peacemakers struck another rock. Isabel sent to the parleys, as her representative, the converted Jew Andres de Cabrera, who had married her girlhood friend Beatriz de Bobadilla. She liked and trusted Cabrera. Moreover, he was governor of the Alcázar at Segovia, where part of the royal treasure was kept. He had formerly been one of Villena's intimate friends, but of late a coolness had arisen on his discovery that the Marqués was attempting to steal his governorship and certain other privileges. Therefore, when Pacheco heard that Cabrera was to take part in the deliberations at Guadalajara, he washed his hands of the whole business and left Enrique to patch up a peace as well as he could.

Meanwhile Beatriz de Bobadilla went to Segovia in disguise to win the King’s consent to Borgia’s programme. As a result, Enrique agreed to recognize Isabel as his heiress, and invited her to Segovia to receive his blessing and kiss his brotherly hand.

She accepted, and went under the protection of Cabrera. There is a picture of her on a white horse, riding in triumph through a crowded street, with the King on foot holding her bridle. Enrique received her graciously, as one long lost. Nothing of royal magnificence was lacking in the entertainment he offered her.

After one great public banquet for the Princess and Fernando, the King had a sharp pain in his side, and took to his bed. Prayers were offered for his recovery. He did recover, but ever after suffered from what was believed to be a disease of the liver. The usual suspicion of poisoning was whispered about.

TBC....
Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Ven 10 Mai 2019, 4:05 am

Meanwhile Cardinal Borgia was acclaimed everywhere as the man whose tact and intelligence had made possible at least the beginnings of peace. He had averted what promised to be an ugly civil war at the worst possible moment, even if the active participation of Castile and Aragon in the European crusade was out of the question ; and, though historians have written of his “failure" in Spain, it is difficult to see what more he could have done under the circumstances. He was fêted and honoured, at any rate, in Castile. From Segovia he went with the Prince and Princess to Alcalá de Henares, where Carrillo entertained them with all the princely generosity and splendour for which he was noted. The day before the Cardinal's party arrived so many fowls were requisitioned by the Archbishop on the farms near Alcalá, that on the morrow “hardly a cock remained that did not behold himself with consternation standing solitary on the deserted steps of the hen-roost." 6

Isabel and her husband visited Carrillo while Borgia was his guest and then returned to Segovia. It was hardly a safe place; yet where was there a safer ? And the turn of the tide of her fortunes had brought her new encouragement, new adherents. Several young knights, attracted by what they had heard of her beauty, her wisdom and her courage, went to her court to offer their swords for any service she might command. One of them was Gonsalvo de Cordoba, a youth of her own age, with the figure and presence of a Greek god. Handsome, witty, eloquent, a lover of poetry and music, he had almost superhuman strength and skill, and a nature so happy and so genial that the whole court loved him and called him “the Prince of Youth,” With the sword he had no equal. On horseback with lances, he was second to none but Prince Fernando, the best horseman in Spain. Though he had no means and was dependent on the charity of his brother the lord of Montilla, he dressed like a duke and gave gifts like a king. He had the virtues of Don Beltran de la Cueva, without his vices ; for Gonsalvo was sober and chaste in his life, and sincerely devout. Isabel wrote his name in a little book that she and Fernando kept for a memorandum of people of merit who might sometime be useful.

She still needed all her friends. For already, while she was dancing at Segovia, the Marqués was cantering to Cuellar to sow the seeds of new mischief. There his old enemy, Don Beltran, was chafing under the boredom of exile and hankering for any enterprise that had red blood in it. Between them the two royal favourites hatched a plot to assassinate Isabel’s friends Cabrera and his wife, and then to seize the Prince, the Princess and the Archbishop of Toledo. Into this pretty conspiracy they drew the Count of Benavente by promising to have La Beltraneja married to his cousin the Infante Don Enrique of Aragon. The three then broached the scheme to Enrique. Here was a chance, they argued, to settle the succession once and for all, and at the same time to get revenge on Carrillo, whose treachery, as any honest man could see, was at the bottom of all the evils of Castile.

The King liked the suggestion so well that he smuggled armed men into Segovia to wait concealed for the psychological moment to arrest Isabel, Fernando and Carrillo. His cowardice, however, made him first seek the moral support of men who could control public opinion. Fortunately, the first he approached was Bishop Mendoza. He received the following note in reply :

“May it never please God, Señor, that I should do despite to those princes who came into your power with your consent. And since at the time when it pleased you they should come you did not advise me of their coming, even less should you now advise me of their peril. But since it has already pleased you to acquaint me of it, I request you, in God’s name, not to conceive such a deed in your soul ; for I doubt not that you will have against you the whole realm, and especially the cities, who are convinced that the succession belongs by right to this princess, your sister; and there might follow, as a consequence of your act, a great deal of inconvenience, and even an actual danger to your royal person." 7

Seldom had Enrique received from a subject a communication so terse and so barren of all the conventional phrases of court flattery. He sighed, and deferred action.

TBC....
Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Dim 12 Mai 2019, 6:04 am

Isabel had already got wind of the plot, however, through Beatriz de Bobadilla. Of her own peril she took little account, but it seemed to her that Fernando, a stranger in Castile, was in much graver danger, and she persuaded him to go to Turuegano, on the theory that they would be safer apart. When Carrillo begged her not to stay in Segovia, she replied that her friend the Alcaide would protect her person ; whereupon Cabrera, at her request, increased her guard. Enrique then gave up his project and withdrew to Madrid, followed by the Marqués of Villena.

The Marqués bedevilled the tired king with complaints and reproaches until Enrique, to silence him, gave him the city of Madrid, regardless of the fact that he had bestowed it on Cabrera.

Cabrera was already inclined toward Isabel’s cause, through the influence of his wife. Henceforth he was heart and soul in her service.

Whether or not Isabel spoke with Fray Tomás de Torquemada during her long stay at Segovia in 1473, history does not say. But it is known that she conferred with several distinguished men, both priests and laymen, about the increasing gravity of the situation between the Old Christians and the Conversos. For another incident, destined to have sanguinary consequences, had occurred while she was visiting Carrillo at Alcalá.

On March 14, the second Sunday of Lent, the Christians of Córdoba had arranged to have a solemn procession to the Cathedral. From this function the authorities had excluded the New Christians, possibly in connection with the persecution following the Toledo incident of 1467, possibly because the Conversos had become so secure in Córdoba that they openly attended the synagogues, and mocked the Christian religion. At any rate, they were excluded. The houses in the old Moorish city were covered with gaudy spring flowers, the streets carpeted and shaded with hundreds of tapestries. The procession, brilliant with many colours, moved slowly through the town to the sound of austere music. At its head was borne a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As the statue passed the house of one of the wealthiest Conversos, a girl threw a bucketful of dirty water from one of the upper windows. It splashed upon the statue. 8. There was a horrified silence, then a roar of indignation, and cries of “Sacrilege!” and the old cry of “Death to the Marranos!” A blacksmith named Rodriguez set fire to the Converso's house with the taper he was carrying. Men in the procession drew their swords, broke ranks, and rushed into the houses of the secret Jews. The massacre that followed was more bloody than the one in Toledo.

In Córdoba, however, the Conversos found a powerful champion in Don Alonzo de Aguilar, lord of Montilla. Their gold is said to have been a convincing argument with him ; furthermore, he had married a woman of Jewish descent, a daughter of the Marqués of Villena. He and his brother Gonsalvo de Córdoba drew their swords in defence of the New Christians. The Old Christians, led by the Count of Cabra, besieged Don Alonzo and his partisans in
the Alcázar. The battle raged for several days. Don Alonzo and Gonsalvo cut their way out with difficulty.

TBC....

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Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Lun 13 Mai 2019, 6:54 am

A virtual state of war persisted for nearly four years between the two factions—Don Alonzo and the Conversos on one side, and the Count of Cabra and the Old Christians on the other. But even more deplorable was the reaction in other cities of Andalusia and Castile. The old frenzy against the secret Jews flamed up in a dozen places— Montoro, Adamur, La Rambla, Santaella, Ubeda, Jaen— and everywhere the Marranos were put to the sword. But perhaps the most thorough and brutal of the massacres occurred at Segovia on May 16, 1474. And its direct cause was a crime by which Don Juan Pacheco, Marqués of Villena, brought upon his memory the just scorn of Christians and Jews alike.

None knew better than he what deadly passions slumbered in that rocky city where the stern keep towered over the Jewish alhama, the houses of the rich Conversos, and the Dominican convent of Santa Cruz. None knew better than he, who had both Jewish and Christian relatives in the vicinity, how little provocation was needed to start a street battle in Segovia. The Jews there had always been numerous and assertive. And they were specially hated by the Christians, in consequence of certain crimes imputed to them. In 1405 Dr. Mayr Alguadés and other prominent Jews were executed for the theft of a consecrated Host from the Cathedral; and certain other Jews, who sought to have the Bishop poisoned in revenge—they bribed his cook—were drawn and quartered. 9 But in Isabel’s recent memory—about the time of her brother's death in 1468— a most acute crisis resulted from the conviction of several Jews accused of a heinous crime in one of the small towns near Segovia. Colmenares records it in his History of Segovia:

“At this time in our town of Sepúlveda, the Jews, incited by Salomón Pichón, rabbi of their synagogue, stole a boy in Holy Week, and inflicting upon him the greatest infamies and cruelties (inflicted) upon the Redeemer of the world,10 put an end to that innocent life: incredible obstinacy of a nation incorrigible to so many chastisements of Heaven and earth ! This misdeed, then, like many others in the memorials of the time, leaked out and came to the notice of our Bishop Donjuán Arias de Avila,11 who, as higher judge at that time in causes pertaining to the Faith, proceeded in this matter and, on investigating the crime, had brought to our city 12 sixteen Jews of the principal offenders. Some finished in the fire;13 and the rest were drawn and hanged in that part of the meadow occupied today by the monastery of San Antonio el Real. Among them a boy, with signs of repentance and many supplications, begged for Baptism and for his life, that he might do penance by entering and serving in a certain monastery of the city. All his requests were granted—though it is known for certain that as a double apostate he fled within a few days. Better advised were the people of Sepúlveda, who, distrusting those (Jews) who remained there, killed several and forced the rest to go out of that territory, (thus) completely uprooting so pestilent a seed.” 14

TBC....
Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Mar 14 Mai 2019, 8:10 am

This passage, containing as it does the lurid spark of a much greater subsequent conflagration, is highly important in the light it sheds upon the state of public opinion in Segovia during the spring of 1474, when Pacheco cast his acquisitive eyes in that direction. Don Juan Arias de Avila, son of Jewish parents, was still the bishop there ; and the Alcaide, or royal governor, was Cabrera, the friend whom Pacheco had betrayed.

Cabrera was a man of capacity, but he was a Converso, and therefore unpopular with the Old Christians. When a gust of rage passed through the cities of Castile after the Córdoba massacre of 1473, the Marqués saw a chance to pay old scores, get rid of Cabrera, and then obtain the rule of Segovia from the King. All this might be done under cover of a popular uprising against the Conversos. Pacheco, regardless of the Jewish blood that flowed in his own veins, arranged the massacre, sent his troops secretly to Segovia, rode thither himself. 15

On Sunday, May 16, the Conversos awoke to find Segovia full of armed men, crying for their blood. Hoofs rang on the pavements, swords rattled, bullets pelted the walls, while Pacheco’s men everywhere carried fire and slaughter into the houses of the “converted” Jews. The flames greedily lapped over the hillside, devouring house after house. The corpses lay in great tangled piles on the streets.

Fortunately news of the plot had somehow reached Cardinal Borgia, the Papal Legate, at Guadalajara. He sent a warning to the King, who notified Cabrera at the eleventh hour. The Governor had barely time to snatch his sword, rally some of his troops, and dash to the rescue of the Conversos. He fought with reckless bravery and great skill. His men, inspired by his valour, swept the streets clear of Pacheco’s men, and then rode down the Old Christian mob. The Marqués and his hirelings fled from the city.

When Isabel and Fernando arrived at Segovia, there were still foul-smelling splotches of blood on the pavements and the walls of houses—the whole place stunk of charred timbers, rotting flesh, carnage, pestilence. Isabel commended Cabrera in the warmest terms, affectionately welcomed his wife Beatriz, passionately denounced those who had been the fanatical tools of Pacheco. On a recent occasion she had already shown, with a spirit reminiscent of her brother Alfonso, that she had no intention of currying popularity by even a tacit approval of the massacres. She had found Valladolid boiling with hatred, the populace ready to fall upon the detested Marranos at the slightest provocation. Some of her partisans, influential cavaliers of the city, began egging on the multitude. Isabel and Fernando fortunately learned of it in time. Putting principle above party advantage, both condemned the nefarious work in unequivocal language ; in fact, they stopped a riot that had already begun. 16

The plain speech of the young Prince and Princess cost them dear, for several of their most valuable adherents in Valladolid went over to the cause of Enrique. From then on the lives of Fernando and Isabel were actually in danger.17 They fled from the city with Carrillo, stayed for another while at Dueñas, and later proceeded to Segovia.

TBC....
Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Jeu 16 Mai 2019, 7:45 am

During the days that followed Isabel and her husband discussed the state of Castile with several of the chief men of Segovia, with Cabrera, with the bishop Don Juan Arias de Avila, possibly with the humble and abstemious Fray Tomás de Torquemada, prior of the Dominican convent of Santa Cruz. There were counsels of anger and counsels of despair. What could save the land from utter ruin, from an anarchy that might end in a second conquest of the peninsula by the Mohammedans, applauded by Jews and Conversos? What could make the children of Israel stop exploiting the Christians and proselytizing, even as Christians, to destroy Christianity? and what could make the Christians stop massacring the Marranos on every provocation ? The answer must have been obvious to the young princes. It was probably then that they formed the solid resolution that if ever they came to the throne of Castile they would subordinate all lesser considerations to the one great essential need of a government strong enough to be feared and respected by all classes. If the royal absolutism, the new Caesarism of Spain, was not conceived among the cinders and bloodstains of Segovia, it was probably quickened there.

Isabel and Fernando also discussed with their advisers certain projects for the reform of the Spanish Church. Carrillo was setting an example in his diocese. He had issued an edict that forbade dicing and the wearing of gaily coloured clothes by clergymen ; priests must say Mass at least four times a year, and bishops at least three, and both were adjured not to lead a riotous or military life —“except to take service with kings or princes of the blood.” That such an ordinance was needed speaks volumes for the laxity in the Spanish Church, and the crying necessity of further reforms.

A pity it was that Carrillo did not confine his great energies to ecclesiastical matters. His vanity was always betraying him. It was a bitter day for him, in March, 1473, when Mendoza was made Cardinal of Spain, an office that Carrillo felt belonged in justice to him as primate. Pope Sixtus IV evidently thought otherwise, for he had sent the red hat to Mendoza, who received it at Segovia amid acclamations in the presence of the Princess Isabel. Carrillo’s sensitive vanity was cut to the quick at the thought that she whom he had served so well could sponsor what he considered a public slight to him. He could think of no word for it but ingratitude. In a fit of great disappointment, he retired to his estates at Alcalá, where he began certain alchemistic researches with one Doctor Alarcon, an astrologer, in the hope of producing gold to pay his debts and restore his fortunes. Under the influence of superstition, the disintegration of his strong character was rapid.

TBC....
Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Sam 18 Mai 2019, 5:54 am

The next year was a fortunate one for Isabel and for Castile. “In 1474, Our Lord sent rain and great fertility and abundance,” wrote the curate of los Palacios. Ordinarily the flux of prosperity would have strengthened Villena’s position, but death, so often the friend of Isabel, again took a hand in the game; he took the curl out of that perfumed beard and stiffened the long grasping fingers, and laid the owner of so many farms and cities in his elegant tomb at El Parral. An abscess on his cheek finally checkmated the old politician, on the 4th October, at Santa Cruz, while he was besieging another town that Enrique had given him. His last words were: “Has the castle surrendered?” 18

The King, in his fifty-first year, was left forlorn and in failing health. A new problem arose to vex his harassed soul: who ought to succeed Villena in the mighty office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago? There were three claimants, Don Alonso de Cárdenas, the Count of Parades, and Pacheco’s son, the young Marqués of Villena. Now it happened that the young Marqués went to Vazalmadrid, three leagues from Madrid, to solicit the vote of the Count of Osorno. That gentleman seized his visitor and threw him into a dungeon. The news made the King ill, for since Pacheco’s death he had discovered in himself a sentimental fondness for the younger Marqués. Disregarding the advice of his físicos, who were becoming alarmed over his kidneys and his liver, he proceeded to Madrid, and with Cardinal Mendoza, Count Haro and Carrillo, went to demand of Osorno the release of the Marqués. The Count said that the elder Villena had promised him certain moneys and lands for his vote for the Grand Mastership some years before, but after his election had failed to keep the promise. When the money was paid he would release the Marqués, and not before. Enrique remained twenty days arguing with the Count. Successful at last, he returned to Madrid with his favourite; but the strain had been too much for him and his illness suddenly became acute. The physicians could do no more. Thereupon the Cardinal of Spain and others urged the King to make a will, since he might be at the point of death, to settle for ever the question of the succession by stating categorically whether or not Juana, La Beltraneja, was his daughter. The King sighed, but made no answer. At eleven o’clock that night he ordered his secretary to write a short paper naming Cardinal Mendoza and the young Marqués of Villena his executors, and commanding his daughter to do whatever they and certain
other great lords might agree upon. According to Castillo, his chaplain and apologist, he confessed his sins “for a long hour” to Fray Pedro Mazuelo, prior of St. Jerome of the Passage of Arms, the monastery that Enrique had built to commemorate Don Beltran’s championship of the mysterious high-born lady some fifteen years before. Asked once more whether or not La Beltraneja was his daughter, he sighed, turned away his head, and expired. It was two o’clock in the morning of December 12, 1474.

In his last moments the King had expressed a wish to be buried by the side of his mother Queen María at Santa María de Guadalupe. Castillo adds that “he was so wasted in his flesh that there was no need to embalm him.” For the time being his remains were taken to San Jerónimo del Paso. He lay in state on the spot where he had watched Don Beltran hurl so many champions to the ground.

Isabel heard the news that very day at Segovia. The people were quiet but uneasy. Fernando was absent, having gone to Roussillon to fight for his father, but Cabrera and Beatriz importuned the Princess to be crowned immediately before the partisans of La Beltraneja could act. Isabel first put on mourning garments and went to the Church of St. Michael, where she had the flags of Castile and of the city lowered and covered with black, heard Mass, and prayed for the repose of her brother’s soul. As she returned to the Alcázar, she heard her name shouted in the windy streets. Children were running about screaming the tidings that the courier had brought from Madrid: “Es muerto Don Enrique ! Viva la Princesa! Castilla! Castilla por la Reina Doña Isabel!”

On that cold twelfth of December it lay with the Christian Jew Cabrera whether she or Juana Beltraneja would be Queen of Castile. Perhaps the deciding factor was the word of his wife, Isabel’s girlhood friend of Arévalo. Cabrera remained faithful. The chief men of Segovia were notified that Doña Isabel would be crowned in the public square on the morrow, Saint Lucy’s Day,

From her mother’s virtue and will power, from the degeneracy of Enrique, from the itching greed of Pacheco, from the stepmotherly hate of Juana of Castile and motherly love of Juana of Aragon, from the anger and loyalty of Carrillo, the integrity of Mendoza and the courage of Cabrera, from pestilence and famine and a thousand years of war, slow time had strangely distilled this moment. The Middle Ages were past. Modern Spain was about to be born.

TBC....
Javier
Javier

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Message  Javier Dim 19 Mai 2019, 4:22 am

VII - THE CORONATION OF THE INFANTA ISABEL AS QUEEN OF CASTILE— THE QUEEN RESTORES ORDER AT COURT — CARDINAL MENDOZA’S RISE TO POWER — BEGINNING OF WAR WITH PORTUGAL


Isabel, looking down from the Alcázar on the keen frosty
morning of December thirteenth, sees a town crammed full
of people from the four gates and the stern walls to the
scornful towers rising on perpendicular rocks above the
Enseña. All is murmuring, a confused singing, joy, expectancy.
The great keep above her is like the prow of a mighty
grey ship eager to cut through the wide shadowy sea of
greyness that the plain makes, to the harbours of new worlds.
Merchants who got up before daylight are finding the best
places to hawk their wares. From the four roads through
the four gates come troops of men armed cap-á-pie, escorting
this or that nobleman, with the flourish of pennons, the deep
booming of sackbuts, the blaring of trumpets, the shrill note
of flageolets, the rumble of kettledrums, the flare of many
brilliant colours, the flash of gold and silver on man and
beast; everywhere the stern glitter of burnished steel.

Isabel sits on her white palfrey in the courtyard of the
Alcázar waiting for the gate to open. Gems sparkle on her
bridle, at her throat, at the arch of her little foot against
the cloth of gold with which her mount is caparisoned. She
is twenty-three years old, a supple but robust figure clad
from head to foot in white brocade and ermine. Her face
is flushed a deeper pink than usual, her eyes very blue and
very clear.

The massive gate is open at last. Two officers of Segovia
in archaic splendour hold her jewelled bridle. Andres de
Cabrera, the Alcaide, takes his place beside her. On the
other side is the Archbishop Carrillo, with purple and
gold vestments over his breastplate of Toledo steel. A few
cavaliers in doublet and hose, with jaunty little velvet hats,
follow.

Isabel rides slowly into the view of the people. “Viva la
Reina!”
A shout like the roaring of waves on rocks comes
from thousands of throats and is re-echoed down the
crooked windings of the main streets. Framed in endless
colours, from the shade of filthy rags to the subtlest nuances
of porphyry and saffron, are rows of eyes and teeth gleaming
from swarthy faces, lean and yellow faces, white faces drawn
taut over hungry cheekbones, faces of cunning and lust and
lawlessness, faces peace-loving and holy, faces sensual and
fat, faces proud and stern, faces of men and women sick of
wars and crimes, faces of children, wondering.

“ Viva la Reina!” A blast of trumpets. The faces, with
much screaming, praying, blessing, cursing, laughing, are
pushed back against the cracked walls. A gorgeous procession
moves slowly along the narrow, stony street: prelates
and priests in chasubles worked in gold thread over purple
silk, walking two by two and chanting "Te Deum laudamus!”
—nobles in rich velours, glistening with precious stones and
gold chains, councilmen of Segovia in ancient heraldic
costumes, spearmen, crossbowmen, men-at-arms, flagbearers,
musicians, a great rabble following. Isabel, to
whom looking like a queen comes natural, takes her place
near the head of the procession. All move slowly ahead.
“ Viva la Reina! Castile for the Queen, Lady Isabel!”

In front of Isabel on a great horse rides a herald, holding
point upward the Castilian sword of justice, naked, menacingly
bright in the sunlight, symbol that this young woman
in white on the white jennet has the power of life and
death over all who behold her, and some ten millions besides.
Then follow two pages, bearing on a pillow the gold crown
of King Fernando the Saint.

TBC....

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Message  Javier Lun 20 Mai 2019, 9:45 am

Arriving at the plaza, where a high platform has been draped with stuffs of rich colours, Isabel dismounts, slowly ascends the steps, and seats herself on the throne with great deliberation and composure, as though she had been born for that very thing and nothing else. Trumpets . . . silence . . . speeches . . . the great crown of Saint Fernando is placed on the light auburn hair. Shouts of rapture and triumph from all sides. Andres de Cabrera kneels before her and hands her the keys of Segovia and of the Alcázar; the herald cries in a loud voice, “Castile! Castile! Castile for the King Don Fernando and his wife Lady Isabel, Queen Proprietress of this Kingdom!" More shouting. Royal flags and pennons of cities, hidalgos and military orders snap in the wind. The bells of all the churches and convents ring out jubilantly. Muskets and arquebusses are fired from the keep of the Alcázar. Heavy bombards thunder from the city walls. Isabel is a queen at last.

Dignitaries, prelates and nobles, advanced to take the oath of allegiance and kiss the new sovereign’s hand. Carrillo knelt, that great surly warrior-priest, and Gutierre de Cárdenas, and the capable Alonso de Cárdenas, and the Prince of Youth, Gonsalvo de Córdoba, and the wiry Admiral Fadrique, and Count Haro. At the last, wonder of wonders, came the peerless knight-at-arms, Don Beltran de la Cueva, Duke of Albuquerque, to kiss the hand of Isabel. What could this mean, except that he had reason to know that the Infanta Juana was not the legitimate daughter of the late King?

But others who should have been there were missing. Where was the Duke of Arévalo? Where was Don Diego
Lopez Pacheco, Master of the Order of Calatrava? The Count of Urena? The Marqués of Villena, lord of so many manors and cities?

When the obeisances were finished, Isabel went down from the dais and walked to the Cathedral, where she humbly prostrated herself before the high altar, giving thanks to her Maker for bringing her safely through so many perils to such great honour, and asking the grace to rule according to His will, and to use the authority He had given her with justice and wisdom. This was a mere formula, it may be, with some kings: Isabel was passionately in earnest.

After God, she looked to Fernando for help in her almost impossible task, and after him to the Cardinal of Spain. Mendoza was not present, however. He had remained, at Madrid to sing the High Mass of Requiem over the poor remains of King Enrique. All was done magnificently, as befitted royal obsequies in a country with a weakness for splendid funerals; and, since the treasury at Madrid was empty, the Cardinal paid all the expenses, including the cost of a splendid tomb at Guadalupe, where the King’s body was laid by that of his mother. It was Mendoza, too, who wrote the epitaph commencing “Al Muy Alto y Esclarecido Senor Don Enrique,” remarkable for the purity and naturalness of its Castilian in an age of bombastic rhetoric. His duty performed, he rejoined Isabel at Segovia.

TBC...
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Message  Javier Mer 22 Mai 2019, 6:05 am

Fernando was riding from the north as fast as horses could carry him. The news of Enrique’s death and Isabel’s coronation had reached him in Perpignan where he had gone early in the autumn to answer a desperate appeal from his father. The aged king, lacking supplies and money, had been on the point of being captured when Fernando arrived with what troops he could pick up on the way.

Fernando then went as governor-general of Aragon to Saragossa, to endeavour to bring some order out of a state of the wildest anarchy. The whole community was being cowed and exploited by Ximenes Gordo, a rich Converso, who had taken command of the city troops and imposed his turbulent will on the populace. He had long been in the bad graces of Fernando as a partisan of Charles of Viana. The young Prince, on his arrival, invited Gordo to a private conference, and received him in a small apartment as though he were an intimate friend. The flattered tyrant, imagining he had another Enrique to deal with, did not perceive that he was trapped until the Prince began to enumerate his offences. It was too late to escape, for there were guards at the door, and in the next room a priest and a hangman, to whose respective ministrations Fernando calmly delivered his guest. The body was exposed in the market place that noon. 1

While Fernando was carrying out the severe policy that he and Isabel had agreed was necessary—though such summary executions were contrary to the laws of Aragon— he learned of the coronation at Segovia through a letter from Carrillo, and it was a grievous blow to his masculine pride. Even more painful was a second letter from Gutierre de Cárdenas describing the revival of the ancient ceremony of carrying the naked sword of justice before the Queen. Fernando cried out:

“Tell me, you who had read so many histories, did you ever hear of carrying the symbol of life and death before queens? I have known it only of kings!"

An autocrat, a soldier, and a true Aragonese, Fernando had assumed that his wife would be glad to leave in his hands the chief burden and responsibility of kingship. It was a shock to discover that she intended to interpret their marriage agreement literally. He was encouraged in his resentment by his father, the King of Aragon, and by his grandfather, the Admiral of Castile. Even Isabel’s friend Carrillo—also the friend of Fernando’s father—wrote that it was not wise to leave too much power in the hands of a woman.

TBC....
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Message  Javier Ven 24 Mai 2019, 5:52 am

In Aragon, where the law from time immemorial had excluded women from the succession, such an attitude seemed perfectly natural and just. In Castile, where no Salic law existed, it was bound to appear a selfish usurpation, especially as Fernando had agreed in the marriage treaty, which he perhaps had considered a mere formality, to respect Isabel’s title. By the time he reached Segovia the whole court was agog with gossip, controversies, conjectures.

Isabel was deeply wounded when her husband’s friends questioned her right to rule alone. It was not her first disappointment in Fernando. A bitter moment it was for her when she first learned that the Papal dispensation under which she had married her second cousin had been forged by his father, with the connivance of Admiral Fadrique and probably with the knowledge of Fernando. It was a double wound. Isabel’s piety would never have consented to the slightest infraction of the law of the Church which she believed to be the one instrument established by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind; and it was her nature to despise any taint of fraud. But she suffered most as a woman suffers who finds her husband capable of deceiving her at the very outset of their life together. She knew no peace until an authentic bill of dispensation was obtained from Rome.

There was yet another disillusionment in store for her when it came to her ears that Fernando had had an illegitimate child by another woman with whom he had been intimate just before his marriage. Henceforth she was to know the cruel torment of a jealousy which her pride could not always conceal. Yet even in her jealousy there was something individual and queenly. If she happened to notice that Fernando looked with more than casual interest on some pretty maid of honour in her court, she overwhelmed the girl with gifts, arranged a good marriage for her, or sent her off to a fine estate with a handsome pension. Other ladies of the Renaissance would have found less tactful and generous ways to rid themselves of their rivals. Perhaps there was more than piety in the custom Pulgar ascribes to her of having about her “old women who were virtuous and of good family.”

If the thought of taking revenge on Fernando in kind had ever occurred to her, she would have put it away immediately as a temptation from the devil. The theory that two wrongs could make a right never troubled her lucid mind. But though she was inflexible in her principles, she was learning perforce to be tolerant of mortal weakness. Fernando the hero, Fernando the Prince Charming of that happy year of poverty, was dead. She continued in spite of all to love Fernando the man. He was the child of his age. And men in camps had temptations that women were spared. So Isabel may have reasoned, to numb the aching of her heart. “She much loved the king her husband and fulfilled her duties to him immeasurably.” 2

TBC....
Javier
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Message  Javier Sam 25 Mai 2019, 12:27 pm

When Fernando arrived at the gate of Saint Martin, all
the great nobles and prelates who were in Segovia went
forth to greet him as King of Castile—King not by any
right of his own, but as the consort of the lawful Queen.
Yet the Aragonese faction, if small, was so influential and
clamorous that many feared a new division in the state.
The danger was averted by the conciliatory efforts of Cardinal
Mendoza, representing Isabel, and Carrillo, as attorney
for Fernando. But it was the Queen herself whose tact and
dignity manoeuvred her husband into a position where he
could only acquiesce as gracefully as possible. “She was a
woman of great heart; she hid her anger, and dissimulated
it, and as this was known, all the nobles and others feared
to incur her indignation.”
—Pulgar, who wrote that, has
preserved her words on this crucial occasion :

“This subject, Señor, need never have been discussed,
because where there is such union as by the grace of God
exists between us, there can be no difference. Already,
as my husband, you are King of Castile, and your commands
have to be obeyed here; and these realms, please God, will
remain after our days for your sons and mine. But since
it has pleased these cavaliers to open up this discussion,
perhaps it is just as well that any doubt they have be
clarified, as the law of these our kingdoms provides. This,
Señor, I say, because, as you perceive, it has not pleased
God thus far to give us any heir but the Princess Doña
Isabel our daughter. And it could happen that after our
days someone might come who, being descended from the
royal house of Castile, might allege that these realms belonged
to him even by the collateral line, and not to your
daughter the Princess, on account of her being a woman.
. . . Hence you see well, Señor, what great embarrassments
would ensue for our descendants. And . . . we ought to
consider that, God willing, the Princess our daughter has to
marry a foreign prince, to whom will belong the government
of these realms, and who may desire to place in command
of the fortresses and royal patrimony other people of his
nation, who will not be Castilians; whence it may follow
that the kingdom may pass into the hands of a foreign
race. And that would be a great burden on our consciences,
and a disservice to God, and a great loss to our
successors and subjects. And it is well that this declaration
be made now to avoid any misunderstandings in the future.”


Fernando evidently could think of no reply. “The King,
knowing this to be true, was much pleased,”
says the
chronicler, “and gave orders that nothing further be said
on the subject.”
Thirty years later he was to see how
farsighted she was in her providence for her children and for
the country. But never again, with one notable exception,
would they have a serious difference of opinion. Henceforth
in most public affairs they were to act as one person,
both signatures on all documents, both faces on all coins.
“Even if necessity parted them, love held their wills in
unison. . . . Many persons tried to divide them, but they
were resolved not to disagree."
Pulgar sees something divine
in this unanimity.

TBC....
Javier
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Message  Javier Dim 26 Mai 2019, 5:34 am

There was surely no time now for differences of any sort.
To bring order out of anarchy, to restore the prestige of the
Crown, to reform the clergy and the secular officials, to
recover from robber barons the Crown lands illegally granted
by Enrique, to reform the currency and restore prosperity to
farming and industry, to cope with the Jewish problem,
the Moorish problem, the Converso problem—this task seemed
impossible for a young woman and a young man with no
money and no troops. It would be difficult enough if they
could count on peace. They had no such assurance. To the
west they had a possible enemy in Alfonso V, the uncle of
La Beltraneja, whose vanity still smarted under Isabel’s
rejections. To the north they had a probable enemy in
Louis XI, the most profound and subtle diplomatist in the
chaos that was Europe. Saint Joan of Arc had made the
French nation possible; he was making it a permanent
reality. Could Isabel be the Jeanne d'Arc and Fernando
the Louis XI of Spain, where the task was more complicated?
Louis thought not. When they sent Pulgar to announce to
him the death of Enrique and to request him to return
Roussillon and Cerdagne to Aragon, the Spider King went
into deep mourning for his royal “brother," but as for the
two provinces, he felt obliged to keep them until he was
properly reimbursed for his great expenses in aiding Juan
of Aragon against the Catalans.

Isabel commenced her reign by sweeping out of sight the
worst of the criados who had made her brothers court so
infamous in ballad and execration. The Moorish guard
went straggling south to Granada to seek service with their
own. The highwaymen and cut-throats and extortioners
found their way to prisons or to gallows or to join the
desperate robber barons who sneered at the notion that
the young queen’s reforms would be more than a brief
gesture. They soon had to admit that she was going about
the task in a business-like way. First she appointed able and
trustworthy men to the principal offices in the kingdom :
Mendoza, the Cardinal of Spain, as Chancellor; Count
Haro as Constable of Castile; Fernando’s uncle Fadrique
as Admiral of Castile; Gutierre de Cárdenas as Treasurer
and Bursar. Such leaders, confident of royal backing,
immediately began to oust impostors and hang thieves and
murderers right and left, until “with the justice that they
executed, the men and citizens and labourers and all the
people in general who longed for peace were joyful, and gave
thanks to God, because they had lived to see a time in
which it pleased Him to have mercy on these kingdoms.
. . . And the King and Queen, with this justice which
they administered, gained , the hearts of all in such a
manner that the good had love for them and the evil had
fear.”
3

TBC....

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Message  Javier Mar 28 Mai 2019, 1:38 pm

All this, however, was in the limited sphere where their
authority was accepted. Estremadura, Galicia, Guipúzcoa
and Andalusia were battle-grounds of pillage and anarchy.
The young Marqués of Villena, from his town of Madrid,
cast a cold unappreciative eye on the new administration
functioning in Segovia. From his father Juan Pacheco he
had inherited the view that royalty was a mere convenience
for the enrichment of noblemen. Knowing Isabel’s need of
money, soldiers and friends, and confident in the possession
of a valuable ace in the custody of her rival La Beltraneja,
now twelve years old, he decided that the moment was ripe
to make certain demands. For himself he asked the Grand
Mastership of the Order of Santiago, and confirmation of
the doubtful titles to the places his father had wheedled
from Enrique El Impotente: Alcaraz, Trujillo, Requena,
Escalona, Madrid, the Marquisate of Villena and the incomes of all.
For his brothers, Don Pedro Puertocarrero and
Don Alonzo Tellez Giron, he asked similar favours. His two
cousins, the Duke of Arévalo and the Count of Urena, made
simultaneous demands. The young Marqués informed the
Queen that if she refused, he and his friends would proclaim
Juana sovereign of Castile.

To this political blackmail Isabel and Fernando replied
that there could be no division in the kingdom over Juana,
for it was notorious that she was not the daughter of King
Enrique. To settle the question for ever, they would be glad
to have her properly married, and to ask the Pope to dispose
of the Mastership. Juana meanwhile should be placed with
someone agreeable to both parties. Villena, perhaps knowing
that Sixtus IV was friendly to Isabel, replied that he
would keep the Infanta until he received his title.
Meanwhile he began making overtures to Alfonso V,
Juana’s uncle, with a view to drawing him into Castile with an
army. Isabel, hearing of this development, was much
troubled.

It may have been only a coincidence that about the
time Villena made his threat of a new civil war, his great-uncle
the Archbishop of Toledo approached the Queen at
Segovia with a request for certain lands and titles which
she and Fernando had promised him some while before their
coronation. Fernando now found himself in a dilemma.
The men who held the offices Carrillo craved had since
rendered loyal service to Juan of Aragon and to Fernando
himself in the war with France. To keep Carrillo his friend,
he must make them his enemies—unless indeed the Archbishop would compromise.

TBC....
Javier
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Message  Javier Ven 31 Mai 2019, 12:57 pm

Isabel was willing to go to any length to satisfy the friend
of her perilous childhood. She begged him to accept gifts
and offices at least equivalent to those he demanded. The
Archbishop sternly replied that he would take what he had
been promised and nothing else. While Isabel and Fernando
were casting about for some other way to pay the obligation,
he vanished secretly from Segovia, without telling them
where he was going. They heard that he was at home in
Alcalá de Henares, spending the remains of his fortune on
the alchemistic experiments of his friend, Doctor Fernando
de Alarcon, and of one Beato, who was gaining much influence over him.
Alarcon had rendered services from time to time to the Marqués of Villena.
Young Pacheco was suspected of paying him to whet the Archbishop’s anger
against the King and the Queen.

Isabel’s opinion of Carrillo’s real motive is probably
reflected in the words of her secretary: “Some imputed his
discontent to pride, and some to greed, but we believe that
it was chiefly envy of the Cardinal of Spain, because of
the honour paid him by the King and Queen.”


Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, to give him his full
name, was indeed, becoming indispensable to Isabel and
Fernando as their difficulties multiplied. Son of that
distinguished soldier and poet, the Marqués of Santillana, who
was the first to translate Dante into Castilian, he was
learned, acute, charming, and capable. But it was his
character, even more than his talents, that commended him
to Isabel and Fernando. He was one of the few men whom
they could trust absolutely in any emergency. He was not
ascetic, like Fray Tomás de Torquemada; in his youth he
had been a man of the world, as an illegitimate son bore
witness. But he had none of the turbulent pride or vanity
of men like Carrillo. His piety, if not radiant, was a sincere
and steady glow; his patriotism rooted in the pride of an
honourable old family; his sense of social solidarity and
responsibility at once firm and sensitive. In this crisis he
gave a new proof of his superiority to Carrillo by riding to
Alcalá and pleading with the old Archbishop to lay his
rancour aside and support the King and Queen in their
policy of giving Castile the peace and stability that all decent
men desired. There had been too many civil wars. They
led to nothing but anarchy and ruin. It would be tragic,
perhaps fatal, to have another. All must make some sacrifice
for the public good. And to disarm the Archbishop’s envy,
the Cardinal offered to efface himself and let Carrillo play
the chief role in a reform Cortes to be assembled at Segovia
in the spring. 4

Carrillo replied somewhat stiffly that he had always considered
Isabel the legitimate heiress, 5 and would gladly see
a Cortes assembled. But his tone was too ceremonious to
be reassuring, and the Cardinal returned to Segovia to
report to the Queen that he feared something was
brewing between Carrillo and Villena and Alfonso V of
Portugal.

TBC....

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Message  Javier Dim 02 Juin 2019, 4:49 am

If Alfonso, enriched by the discovery of gold at Saint
George La Mina in 1471, should invade Castile with several
thousand men, who could withstand him? Isabel had
scarcely 500 troops. Fernando might muster as many more
with what doubtful help his father could send him.
Meanwhile the strength that ought to be available to repel an
invasion was being squandered in a score of miniature
wars, guerrillas in the original sense of the word. There was
the Marrano or Converso war in Toledo, the war of nobles in
Seville —the war between Christians and Conversos in Segovia
—every town had one.

There was the three-cornered war for the Grand Mastership
of Santiago, which Villena claimed against Alonso de
Cárdenas and the Count of Paredes. The Duke of Medina
Sidonia, conqueror of Gibraltar, now entered that struggle
as a partisan of Villena. He was a strong champion, for
during the past three years he had accumulated a
considerable army in his constant warfare with the young
Marqués of Cádiz in and about Seville.

On the ninth of January of this crucial year of 1475, the
Duke rode out of Seville at the head of 2,000 cavalry and
2,000 infantry, to put the quietus on Alonso de Cárdenas,
and to seize certain towns belonging to the Order of Santiago,
in the jurisdiction of Cárdenas. They went forth gaily, many
noble youths in armour singing to the delight of the debonair
duke; and at the head of the column marched musicians
playing lustily on various instruments—the Duke had even
taken along the nine singers from the Cathedral of Seville. 6
Cárdenas was absent from his post, fighting against the
Count of Feria, a friend of the Duke, who had seized the
town of Jerez, belonging to Santiago, and had barricaded
himself in the Church of Saint Bartholomew. There on
the eleventh Cárdenas attacked him. They fought from
early morning until dusk and the Count fled. The Duke,
vowing vengeance on Cárdenas, swooped down, musicians
and all, on the rich farms of Santiago, and collected a huge
toll of cows, bulls, oxen, horses, which his troops drove
before them toward Llerena. It was carnival time in
Llerena when the Duke approached. He camped for the
night at Guadalcanal, a few miles away,
intending to overtake Cárdenas next morning.

Cárdenas was a man of some imagination. Isabel had
already written his name in that little book of hers, and his
action on this occasion justified her opinion. In the dead of
night he made a forced march with his 350 horsemen,
galloped into Guadalcanal, where the Duke had not even
troubled to post a guard, and fell upon the sleepers with
shouts of  “Cárdenas!" and the blast of trumpets.
As Cárdenas arrived at the Duke’s headquarters, says Bemaldez,
the Duke departed, scantily clad. The four thousand having
fled in panic before the three hundred and fifty, the victors
ransacked the camp, taking “all the musical instruments,
cows, oxen, mules, horses, silver, garments, and the nine
choir singers”
of Seville, and in the morning rode back to
Llerena with their booty.

TBC....

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Message  Javier Lun 03 Juin 2019, 7:04 am

All this was the mere rumbling of thunder on the left.

Isabel and Fernando were at Valladolid with Cardinal Mendoza when the storm overtook them in the shape of a letter from Alfonso V. Everyone knew, said he, that his niece Juana was the daughter of King Enrique and the legitimate queen of Castile, and since he was about to marry her, he was entitled to call himself King of Castile and Leon. He had been promised the aid of the Marqués of Villena, the Duke of Arévalo, the Master of Calatrava, the Count of Urena, the Archbishop of Toledo and others of the greatest houses in Castile, and he ventured to predict that the Count of Benavente, the Marqués of Cadiz, and Don Alonso de Aguilar, all his relatives, would join him too, and so would Don Beltran, Duke of Albuquerque, when they saw him enter Castile with a great army as King. Fourteen Castilian cities had already pledged their allegiance to him. What could Isabel and Fernando, who had neither money nor troops, attempt in his despite when he invaded Castile? And by the grace of God he would do it. 7

Though bombastic in phraseology, as were most official communications of the period, the threat was not an empty one. Spies brought word that Alfonso was assembling a huge army. The most notorious criminals and robber barons in Castile were flocking to his standard; and with them many others who “desired wars and tumults, thinking that new ventures bring new gains.” 8 With Mendoza’s help, Isabel and Fernando framed a reply to Alfonso. They were amazed at his unjust demands. It was wrong to destroy the peace of two kingdoms. The very Castilians who now supported the claim of Juana had forced Enrique to disown her. . . . They cared nothing for Alfonso or Juana, only their own interest. . . . When Enrique had offered Juana to Alfonso, he had refused, knowing her title was doubtful. But if he insisted upon fighting, they would be waging a just defensive war, and the blame for the necessary loss of life and property would be his.

Neither the sovereigns nor the Cardinal had any illusion that the letter would deter Alfonso. It was really addressed to public opinion; it was propaganda.

The Queen was still unwilling to believe that Carrillo had gone over to her enemies. Vain and quarrelsome he was, but not treacherous; she resolved not to give him up without a struggle. The appeal of her secretary to the Archbishop probably reflects the Queen’s thoughts pretty faithfully under its florid rhetoric. There are phrases that recall the frank impetuosity of her own letters.

" ‘Cry out and do not cease' says Isaias, very reverend lord; and we likewise shall not see the people of this realm stop weeping for their woes, and shall not cease to cry out to you, who are said to be their author. . . . Consider, very reverend lord, your venerable days, and the years of your life, consider the thoughts of your soul, and consider that in the time of King Enrique your house was a refuge for angry and discontented cavaliers, who made leagues and plots against the royal sceptre, and encouraged the disobedient and scandalous people of the kingdom; and always have we seen you rejoicing in arms to destroy the tranquillity of the people, with allies very foreign to your profession, enemies of the public peace. . . . Leave off, Señor, being the cause of scandals and of blood. For if God did not permit David, because he was a man of blood, to build the house of prayer, how can your lordship, having been in such bloody wars as have occurred, mingle with a clean conscience in the duties which your priestly office requires? . . . How can you, a priest, take arms without perverting your habit and religion? How can you, the father of consolation, take arms without afflicting and making to weep the poor and the wretched, and giving joy to tyrants and robbers and men of scandals and of blood, by the criminal division which you create and encourage? Tell us, in God’s name, Señor, if you in your days intend to make an end to our miseries? ... Do not be willing any longer to tempt God with such inconstancies, do not desire to arouse his judgments which are terrible and terrifying.”

TBC....
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Message  Javier Ven 07 Juin 2019, 1:38 pm

Carrillo took no formal notice of this appeal. A cavalier, one of his friends, replied for him that he had no intention
of injuring the King and Queen in any way. To this gentleman Pulgar now wrote, evidently aiming over his head at
the Archbishop :

. . . “The Archbishop served the King and Queen so
well in the beginning that if he had persevered in their
service, everyone would have said that the beginning, the
middle and the end of their reign belonged to the Archbishop,
and all the glory would be his. . . . But God said,
‘Gloriam meam non dabo to the Archbishop. I will permit
those Alarcons to say what is contrary to the King and the
Queen, the King of Portugal to help rid the kingdom of
them, and then in spite of all their will and their power, I
will give my glory to this Queen, who ought to have it by
right, that the people may see that all the archbishops in
the world are not sufficient to remove or place kings on
the earth; for I have reserved that prerogative for my own
tribunal.’”


When the Archbishop’s friend again defended him in
general terms, the Jewish secretary wrote a scathing reply,
now descending to bitter sarcasm, now rising to the solemn
indignation of a Hebrew prophet. He attempts to prove
that Isabel can accomplish even the impossible, with divine
aid. To show how great works can be carried on through
peril and difficulty, he refers to Aeneas, Jupiter, Hercules
and Romulus, all of whom God mysteriously aided, even
through the agency of wild beasts. . . . King Fernando
similarly had been preserved through many wars and
plots. Isabel was in her mother’s arms when she fled from
peril to peril, fatherless, “and, what is most keenly felt by
royalty, in extreme lack of necessary things, enduring
threats, dwelling in fear and danger.”
Did Isabel herself,
recalling her childhood in this moment of bitterness, insert
the personal reminiscence? . . . Pulgar continues ironically:
“If this lord, your friend, thinks to buy this kingdom like a
bonnet, I do not wish to believe it, even if Alarcon and el
Beato tell me so. I prefer to believe in these divine mysteries
rather than in these human thoughts. Was it for this that
Don Enrique died without heirs, and for this that Prince
Carlos and Don Alfonso died, and for this that other great
obstructors died, for this that God has made all these causes
and mysteries that we have seen—in order that your friend
the Archbishop may dispose of such great realms in accordance
with his whim? I do not believe it.”


The words may be Pulgar’s, but the energy, the passionate
sincerity, and the supreme confidence in God are all so
characteristically Isabel’s that if it were not for some of the
rhetorical embellishments one could imagine her dictating
the letters. No reply came from Carrillo. Alonso de
Palencia, who tried to persuade him to return to the
Queen’s service, thought him a little bit insane.
The Archbishop told him Doctor Alarcon had had revelations more
marvellous than Saint Paul’s.

TBC....

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Message  Javier Sam 08 Juin 2019, 12:20 pm

To King Alfonso Pulgar directed one final appeal;
“respectfully” reminding him that his cause was unjust,
that he was the tool of selfish men, “and as for the fine
promises they have made you of the possession of Castile
with little work and much glory, a saying of Saint Anselm
occurs to me: ‘Very beautiful is the door that invites to
danger.’


“The people greatly love the Queen, for they know her
to be the certain daughter of King Juan . . . and no slight
account ought to be taken of this, for the voice of the people
is the divine voice
, and to oppose the divine is to attempt with
feeble vision to conquer the invincible rays of the sun.”

The secretario threatens Alfonso with the certain visitation
of God’s justice, and goes so far as to make a prophecy that
is interesting in the light of subsequent events : “Thus, my
Lord, you will spend your life suffering and giving and
asking, which is the business of a subject, rather than
reigning and issuing orders, which is the end you desire,
and the one these cavaliers promise you.”


Alfonso ignored both pleadings and threats. The Cardinal
of Spain made one final effort to avert the disaster, by asking
him for several days’ truce in which to seek an understanding
“that will be for God’s service, and safeguard the honour of
both parties.”
Alfonso replied in courteous terms that the
Cardinal’s request came too late.

Isabel had either to fight with such effectives as she could
muster, or to surrender, and it was not in her nature to admit
defeat while she could lift a finger. The common people, she
was confident, were on her side, and most of the clergy. If
Alfonso only allowed her time enough, she could raise a
democratic volunteer army of considerable size. On the
task of whetting the popular patriotism through prelates and
other friends she now focussed her tremendous energies of
soul and will.

It was at this moment that she found herself again pregnant.
To another woman it would have been the final straw.
Isabel only prayed more fervently, and resolved to do
what she could in the time that remained.

Mendoza and others assured her that her only hope was in
conciliating the Archbishop of Toledo. It was being said
everywhere, “Whoever gets the Archbishop will win.” The
Queen was advised to go to Alcalá and appeal to Carrillo
in person. She called a meeting of her council at Lozoya
to consider this unprecedented compromising of the royal
dignity. Some said that if Carrillo saw her, his pride would
succumb to his generosity and the old affection he bore her.
Others said it would be fatal for a Queen to approach a
subject as a petitioner; the reaction on public opinion would
be deplorable.

Isabel, after a moment of reflection, said:

“Since I have great confidence in God, I have little hope
in any service and little fear of any injury that the Archbishop
can do the King my lord and me. And if the Archbishop were
another and a greater person, I would attach more weight to
my going to him. But since he is my subject,
and has been familiarly in my service, I wish to go to him,
because I think that the sight of me will change his will,
and enable him to withdraw from that new enterprise which
he thinks of embracing. And merely to satisfy the opinion
of the people, who know that he has served the King my
lord and me, I wish to make this attempt, that I may not
let him do wrong if it is possible to prevent it. Moreover, I
do not wish to keep with me the accusing thought that if I
had gone to him in person, he might have withdrawn from
this evil road which he wishes to take.”
9

Though experienced diplomats groaned inwardly, there
was nothing more to be said, since the Queen had made up
her mind. Without further ado she mounted a horse and
took the high road for Toledo with the Duke of Infantado,
Count Haro and the Duke of Alba. At Colmenar Viejo she
made a halt while the noblemen went on to Alcalá to prepare
the Archbishop for her visit.

TBC....

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Message  Javier Ven 14 Juin 2019, 12:37 pm

Carrillo received Count Haro with gloomy courtesy. The Count, at great length, appealed to his pride, his vanity, his generosity, his loyalty. Obviously moved, the old prelate asked to be excused, that he might confer with his friends. Haro waited. After an hour the Archbishop returned. His manner was stern, somewhat truculent. Evidently Alarcon, the alchemist, and el Beato, the star-gazer, had done their work in the interim. The Count now informed him that the Queen was nearby, and would call upon him at any hour he desired.

Carrillo frowned, and flushed to the roots of his white hair.

“If she comes in at one gate of Alcalá,” he said, “I will go out at the other. I took her from the distaff and gave her a sceptre, and I will send her back to the distaff!”

Haro went back to Colmenar. The Queen was in the church when he sent her word of his return. It was like Isabel, anxious though she was for news, to wait until Mass was over before she received him. He briefly made his report.

The Queen could hardly believe his words. Pale with anger and disappointment, she put her hands to her hair in a tortured gesture, as if to hold her wits together, and closed her eyes. She remained silent until she was mistress of herself. Then looking up, she said, “My Lord Jesus Christ, in Thy hands I place all my affairs, and I implore Thy protection and aid”; and, mounting her horse, rode on toward Toledo. 10

Worse news awaited her there. Alfonso V, with 20,000 men, had crossed the border into Estremadura on the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 25, with a great fanfare of trumpets and kettledrums, and had marched to Placencia, where his Castilian allies joined him. There the young Marqués of Villena presented to him the Infanta Juana. On a platform hurriedly erected in the public square, the plain, rather staring girl of thirteen was pronounced the wife of the fat moustachioed king of fifty, her uncle. All present kissed their hands and hailed them King and Queen of Castile and Leon.

Isabel proceeded methodically to interview leaders of public opinion and to raise such troops and supplies as she could. Fernando in the north was engaged in a similar task, riding desperately from place to place—Salamanca, Toro, Zamora—appealing to the people’s patriotism against the invader. He found them sluggish, tired of wars, ready to purchase peace at almost any price, as the 40,000,000 well-fed Spaniards of the fifth century had bought it from 30,000 Vandals. The base-born Alcaide of Castro Nuno, 11 whom Bernaldez calls “a menial corrupt fat worm, the powerful scourge of the countryside," to whom seven great cities paid tribute, turned a cold and suspicious eye on the hard young King with the long nose. Moreover, Fernando had been unpopular with many in Castile since the attempt of his friends to rob Isabel of her rights. It was evident that the chief appeal to the country must come from Isabel herself. But there was no time for her to say or do much. Alfonso had only to continue his march, cut her off, take her prisoner or put her to flight, and he was master of the kingdom.

Isabel, wearing a breastplate of steel over her plain brocade dress, pressed her lips silently together as she mounted her horse and took the road to the north.

TBC...
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Message  Javier Dim 16 Juin 2019, 4:09 am

VIII - THE QUEEN’S MILITARY GENIUS—THE CHURCH SACRIFICES HER TREASURES—THE BATTLE OF TORO—DEFEAT OF ALFONSO V OF PORTUGAL

Instead of marching to seize Isabel, Alfonso V proceeded to Arevalo in the heart of Castile, and camped there. His reasons were excellent. From the centre of the kingdom he could negotiate with nobles in all parts of the country; likewise, his presence there would leave Isabel and Fernando no central place in which to assemble an army. Thus counselled the wisdom of the wise, but it was a wisdom that turned out to be folly, since it gave Isabel the one thing she needed—time.

She pounced upon her advantage with all the energy of an awaking genius. Tireless, seemingly ubiquitous, she was almost constantly on horseback, going from one end of the kingdom to the other, making speeches, holding conferences, sitting up all night dictating letters to her secretaries, holding court all morning to sentence a few thieves and murderers to be hanged, riding a hundred miles or two, over cold mountain passes, to plead with some lukewarm nobleman for five hundred soldiers. She knew and understood the word “necessity.” She did not yet know the meaning of the word “impossible.” All things were possible to God, and God was on her side. If she suffered from certain physical miseries, that was only to be expected; the work had to be done, it was necessary. Wherever she went the common people cheered her, and their ancient hatred for the Portuguese who had humiliated their ancestors at Aljubarrota (1385) flamed anew under the molten fire of her words. She would always conclude each harangue with a passionate prayer:

“Thou, O Lord, who knowest the secrets of the heart, of me Thou knowest that not by an unjust way, not by cunning or by tyranny, but believing truly that these realms of the King my father belong to me rightfully, have I endeavoured to obtain them, that what the kings my forebears won with so much bloodshed may not fall into the hands of an alien race. Lord, in whose hands lies the sway of kingdoms, I humbly beseech Thee to hear the prayer of Thy servant, and show forth the truth, and manifest Thy will with Thy marvellous works: so that if my cause is not just, I may not be allowed to sin through ignorance, and if it is just, Thou give me wisdom and courage to sustain it with the aid of Thine arm, that through Thy grace we may have peace in these kingdoms, which till now have endured so many evils and destructions.” 1

Moved to tears by her exhortations, the people believed her words, because it was obvious that she herself believed them with the irresistible sincerity of a child. Thanks to her skill as a propagandist, and to Alfonso’s inertia, the end of June saw a considerable mobilization of hidalgos and the proletariat at several points. Isabel herself took command of several thousand men at Toledo, rode among them in armour, like Jeanne d’Arc; gave commands, organized, exhorted.

It was little better than a rabble, some on horses, some on mules, more on foot; but it was a rabble animated by a religious confidence in the powers of the young Queen. At their head she marched to Valladolid, to make a junction with the troops Fernando was bringing from the mountains of the north, from Old Castile, Biscaya, Guipúzcoa and the Asturias by the sea. None came from Andalusia, because of the distance and the civil wars there. None came from Murcia, for Isabel thought it more practical for her adherents there to make war on the estates of the Marqués of Villena, to keep him from helping Alfonso. But a host of 42,000 men seemed to have sprung up by some miracle at Valladolid.

They were indifferently equipped and badly disciplined. Of the twelve thousand cavalry, only 4,000 were properly armoured and caparisoned. The rest rode a la jineta, Moorish fashion. The 30,000 infantry included yokels from farms, runaway apprentices, even jailbirds released wholesale by Fernando on condition that they should fight. This was no time to be fastidious. While Isabel struggled with the commissariat, Fernando quickly whipped the recruits into thirty-five battalions. Leaving Valladolid in July, he struck southwest to the River Douro.

Isabel, making her headquarters at Tordesillas, where she could watch developments and maintain Fernando’s line of communications, suffered a painful reaction from her gigantic labours as soon as the tension relaxed. The result was a miscarriage.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Ven 21 Juin 2019, 1:12 pm

Alfonso, having shilly-shallied for two months at Arévalo waiting for reinforcements, had finally marched to Toro and Zamora, both of which opened their gates to him. These two powerful places on the Douro commanded the gateway from Portugal into the most populous part of Castile. Their loss was a sore blow to Fernando, and, to make matters worse, he learned that Louis XI, recognizing Alfonso as King of Castile, had sent an invading army into Guipúzcoa. His only hope of success against such great odds was to strike a sharp decisive blow at Alfonso and then march north against the French. Rapidly, therefore, he followed the Portuguese along the river to Toro. In his enthusiasm he rejected the opinion of veteran cavaliers that Toro, protected in the rear by the river and flanked by bristling forts, could be taken only after a long siege. Investing the town, he sent his cartel to Alfonso, daring him to bring out his army and fight, or better still, to settle the issue by personal combat and thus avoid the shedding of innocent blood. Alfonso replied that he would gladly fight Fernando if he were sure of the security of his person, and suggested that Queen Isabel and Queen Juana be exchanged as hostages. If cavaliers on both sides smiled at the thought of the fat Alfonso meeting the lean and able-bodied Fernando in the lists, the Portuguese may have found a subtle revenge in linking the name of Isabel with that of the poor child whom everyone in Castile had been calling a bastard these thirteen years. Fernando retorted that it was futile to speak of exchanging the queens, “because of the inequality existing between them, an inequality notorious to all the world.” He offered the Princess Isabel or any other hostage.

Alfonso replied that he would accept only Queen Isabel, for if he won the duel and she remained free, the war would continue—a singular tribute from an enemy to Isabel’s genius. There the parleys ended.

Fernando had besieged Toro only three days when he discovered, to his consternation, that his communications had been cut by the Alcaide of Castro Nuno, who had gone over to the Portuguese. Within twenty-four hours bread jumped in price from two to ten maravedis a loaf, and Fernando’s forty-two thousand men were threatened with starvation or surrender. A hasty council of war was held in a church. So noisy and irate was the discussion, for the young cavaliers declared for attacking Toro at once, that it was bruited through the camp that they were trying to seize the King. The rabble crowded about the church doors crying “Give us our King! Give us our King!” until Fernando showed himself, saying, “Here I am, brothers! You need not fear treason. These are all my loyal vassals.”

Fernando sided with his younger officers, for he counted on the spoils of Toro and Zamora to pay his men. But with all his impetuosity, there was in him a streak of caution that made him see what was obvious to the older captains, that if he tried to storm Toro without heavy artillery he would fail, and must then withdraw under less favourable circumstances. He ordered a retreat.

The soldiers grumbled at first and, as they went, broke their ranks and fell to pillaging the countryside. If Alfonso had pursued immediately, he could have cut them to pieces. As it was, only a remnant of the great host straggled back to Medina del Gampo at the heels of a silent and crestfallen Fernando. July was not yet past, and Isabel's labour had gone for nothing. A final drop of wormwood in her cup was the news that Carrillo had joined Alfonso with 500 lances, probably 2,000 men.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Sam 22 Juin 2019, 7:29 am

The convalescent Queen wasted no time in recriminations.
Fernando had had his lesson and would profit by it. Her
duty was to persuade the country to give her a second and
a better army. Nothing stimulated her like a task that
others called impossible. The word “fate” like the word
“impossible” was hardly in her vocabulary. Failure to her
meant rather God’s chastisement of human stupidity and
inefficiency. They were justly punished for their impatience,
their rash presumption, their sins and the sins of their
fathers. God had tried them, to see how they would remain
faithful in misfortune, but He would never forsake them,
for they trusted in His mercy; He would surely give them
the victory if they but persevered. Let them avoid their
past mistakes and walk humbly before Him—God was
reasonable; and was anything difficult for Him? Thus the
Queen consoled Fernando.


At her summons, the three estates met in Cortes at Medina
del Campo to shake their heads gloomily over various proposals
to raise money for the payment of soldiers and the
purchase of artillery. To Isabel’s courage and will they
paid almost the tribute of idolatry; but idolatry could not
be turned into maravedís. It was the Cardinal of Spain
who suggested a practical solution. The Church, like the
State, said he, lacked funds; but all the churches possessed
treasures of silver plate accumulated as gifts and heirlooms
throughout many centuries. The clergy wanted peace. If
anyone could restore it to the land, the Queen could. Let
them lend her half the silver treasures of the Church, to
melt into money.

The clergy voted unanimously to make the loan for three
years, with no security but the Queen’s personal word. Into
the receptacles placed in all the churches poured priceless
relics, some of them a thousand years old. At the thought
of melting them down in that great patriotic holocaust, the
Queen suffered acutely, and might have drawn back if the
Cardinal had not overcome her scruples. What were
souvenirs and baubles compared to peace? A sum of
30,000,000 maravedís, possibly a hundred thousand pounds
in English money, was realized. The debt lay heavy on
Isabel’s conscience until it was liquidated. She commanded
the fathers of the monasteries of San Jeronimo to make sure
that all churches were repaid at the end of three years.

The help of the Church marked the turning-point in
Isabel’s fortunes. Troops were paid; new recruits enlisted,
confiding in the Queen’s promises; gunpowder and heavy
bombards were brought from Italy and Germany; merchants
eager to give the Queen credit brought in food and clothing,
and the great camp near Valladolid sang with the clangour
of smiths and armourers, the tramp of drill squads, the
neighing of horses, the creaking and roaring of artillery, the
putter of arquebus and espingarda practice. By December 1,
less than five months after the retreat from Toro, the new
army was ready for the field. Fernando had not over 15,000
men, but they were disciplined and well armed. Once more
he marched toward Toro.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Dim 23 Juin 2019, 4:18 am

Alfonso had been delayed by troubles he had not anticipated.
Villena had had to withdraw from the Portuguese
army all his forces to meet an attack by the Count of Paredes,
one of Isabel’s captains. Even the town of Villena rebelled
against him, declaring for the Queen. From the border of
Estremadura Alonso de Cárdenas, he who had defeated the
Duke of Medina Sidonia, invaded Portugal with fire and
sword, taking with him as lieutenant the Prince of Youth,
Gonsalvo de Córdoba; and from Portugal came frantic
appeals to Alfonso to return and protect his own kingdom,
even while he was urging his son, Dom Joao, to bring him
reinforcements. On the whole, Alfonso was bitterly disappointed
in his Castilian allies. Many were like Don Beltran who,
after waiting a long while to see which way the dice would fall,
suddenly appeared, like a bird of brilliant plumage, in Fernando’s camp.

Mendoza took advantage of Alfonso’s disillusionment to
send him a secret message suggesting peace. The fat king
offered to retire on condition that he kept Toro and Zamora,
besides the kingdom of Galicia and a sum of money. Isabel
was willing to buy him off, but declared she would never
consent to giving away a single battlement of her father’s
kingdom.

At this juncture, the people of Burgos appealed to Isabel
for help against the tyranny of their Alcaide, who had gone
over to the enemy. It was an important place. Fernando
sent there his bastard brother, the Duke of Villahermosa,
and Count Haro with as many troops as he could spare, and
later, when the situation became critical, went himself, at
the Queen’s instance, and besieged the enemy in the Church
of Santa Maria la Blanca. Isabel sent him some of her
artillery for the purpose. Portuguese reinforcements compelled
him to withdraw, but he returned with more troops,
and instituted a long siege. Isabel, anticipating that Alfonso,
then at Peñafiel, would attempt to relieve Burgos or to cut
off Fernando, went from Tordesillas in person to post careful
guards on all the roads to the north. She galloped to
Toledo, 130 miles south, to bring back new levies from that
place. She made a wide and rapid swing to Leon, more
than 200 miles to the north, to rescue the province from a
treacherous governor, whom she faced down with her usual
aplomb. She kept in touch with Fernando, with half a dozen
armies, with nobles and clergy in all parts of the kingdom,
and through them with the public opinion to whose impulses
she was so sensitive.

To keep Alfonso occupied while Fernando was at Burgos,
she sent the Count of Benavente to make a raid on the
Portuguese, with instructions not to hold Penafiel if he took
it, for the defences were weak, but to withdraw at once and
attack elsewhere. Flushed with a few small successes, the
Count forgot his instructions and was defeated and captured
one night by King Alfonso.

Leaving Toro in the hands of the robber baron, Juan de
Ulloa, Alfonso then led his army twenty miles down the
Douro to Zamora. Isabel from Tordesillas followed every
move he made. It was clearly Zamora that she must strike,
and she intended to strike as soon as Fernando could leave
the siege of Burgos in other hands. Advices from him said
that his sappers were mining the walls.

At this critical moment the Queen received startling
information from Zamora, information that made her pore
over her map all night, her greenish-blue eyes afire with the
anticipated triumph of military genius when it detects a
vital flaw in an enemy’s defences. There on the map in the
light of the flickering candle lay the River Douro like a great
eel making a winding trail across Old Castile, Leon and
Portugal, to be swallowed at last in the Atlantic. Here was
Toro, and here, westward, was Zamora, on a high place,
inaccessible except by a powerfully fortified bridge,
commanded by a skilled leader, Francisco de Valdez. And
Valdez had just sent the Queen a secret messenger to say
that he was willing to deliver the fort commanding the bridge
if she would send troops by night to take it.

Fernando was the only man whose courage and resourcefulness
she dared trust in so secret and important an operation.
But realizing that his absence from Burgos might
be fatal to the morale of his troops there, she wrote to him
in code that he must pretend illness and then slip away
unnoticed. Besides the Queen, no one knew of the plot but
the Cardinal and a monk who acted as intermediary. The
King trusted no one but his brother, the Admiral and Count
Haro. These three, quietly taking charge of operations, let
it be known next day that he was confined to his quarters
by a slight illness. But during the night Fernando, leaving
his quarters alone, had gone to a place outside Burgos where
his secretary had horses waiting, and by riding all night
through a bleak country where more than one enemy would
have been glad to capture him, he arrived just before dawn
at Valladolid. Isabel, having galloped there to meet him,
hid him during the day in her bedroom. She had a small
picked force of cavalry assembled under tried leaders who
had no idea where they were going. As soon as it was dark
Fernando placed himself at their head.

The King had ridden sixty miles the night before from
Burgos to Valladolid; it was another hard ride of fifty to
Zamora, and the road passed under the very walls of Toro,
which the enemy held. At Tordesillas, a third of the
distance, the Queen had fresh horses ready. They bolted
past Toro without being challenged.

TBC...

ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) - Page 3 23915810
Javier
Javier

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